Saturday, September 14, 2013

s - - l - - o - - w

Have you slowed down yet?  No, really, how slow are you going? 

We just completed day 6 and there is cracking and breaking in the masks – the masks of self-protection and self-preservation, the masks of hesitation and wariness of 7 & 8 year olds who are terrified of third grade.  I’m starting to see things happening......not related to work, not to test prep, not to scores.  The kids are beginning to trust and put themselves out there, they’re beginning to take risks and to offer ideas, they're making decisions and giving direction. I must move carefully.

I’m keeping myself in the slow lane, bright orange triangle firmly attached, flashers blinking wildly – I am not keeping it a secret that I have yet to touch serious academics. I have to start slow now.  No worries, I’ll catch up and gain speed later.

My week has been full of starting off slowly, working on building a team and building trust.  The kids have worked together to come up with, refine, and define our “essentials”, not teacher imposed rules, but rather things we expect each other to live by in order to create & maintain our community of learning.  We have worked on routines and relying on self & one another, on pride in personal best. And we have worked together to be responsible for keeping our learning space pretty darned spectacular (Do you have ANY idea how much kids love carpet sweepers?!?!  Best purchase E-V-E-R!!).   

Each day we have spent a huge chunk of time on “team challenges”, with the sole purpose of building trust, teamwork, respect, and student choice & voice – there’s more in store for next week too!  In any situation where you have to rely on others & take risks you need to have the foundation of trust and the same is true for kids.  As high stakes testing and teacher evaluation gain momentum and the pressures mount on us daily, it’s pretty easy to lose sight of that.  But without a firm foundation of trust, learning, understanding, active engagement, and intrinsic motivation will be challenging to any child.  It’s “only” day 6......there are 176 more where those came from and in order for those days ahead to be incredibly successful I have to take it slow now.

Some of my favorite memories of professional development are the times when great friends & colleagues and I would pack up and trek off to New Hampshire for SDE conferences.  For years the motto of founder Jim Grant has been “Childhood should be a journey, not a race”.  I’m teaching more like that now than ever before. 

I’ll see you along the journey.  
And for now, I’ll be the one with my flashers on.

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