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I reflect on my teaching practices in order to make new commitments to improve these so that they are better aligned with my belief system and not someone else's. Alternatively, I recommit to continuing or extending a routine or habit that has worked well or that I know is beneficial to learning. This recommitment issue is the one I want to address in this post, particularly as it refers to my personal growth as a writer, a blogger, and a learner. I have lately become aware of the true meaning of doing what's necessary before doing what's pleasurable. Not that I want to be all about business and nothing about play. Quite the contrary; it's about recognizing priorities and what's important to do for one's growth, both emotional and intellectual. So, as often as I have in the past committed to writing every day, much in the same way that I read every day, I have just as often given it up for lack of time, lack of paper, lack of ideas, and/or lack of confidence that what I have to say is worth saying. So, here I am recommitting to slicing weekly as one way to continue ruminating on my teaching philosophy and practices. I am hopeful that this community of bloggers will keep me honest and nudge me along as I try to build this writing habit. Back to this idea of doing what's necessary before doing what you like or is pleasurable. At another iteration of my life I would have scoffed at this idea. What do you mean do what's necessary? I think it should all be about pleasure, joy, happiness. And, yes, these are important but they don't always get me anywhere I want to go. I am not talking about a deadline or a goalpost, necessarily. What I am talking about is knowing what I want to do - improve as a writer, for example - and do what it takes to get there. This isn't always a pleasurable or easy task. It takes time, energy, and even self-doubt but it is worth it in the end. And, the end is what I need to keep in view. Then, what seems like an effort now will become less so the more I do it. I talk about this with my students all the time, now: if you want to get better at reading then you have to put in the time it takes get better at reading by reading all the time. If you want to learn more Spanish then you have to listen more carefully, take risks using the language, and have a certain amount of faith that the time you have invested will result in a positive outcome. They get this because the results are almost immediate. And, guess what? It's a pleasurable feeling after all! That's it. It's all good.

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Mini Lessons

Sometimes, I plan too many teaching points for one lesson. For example, instead of focusing on one strategy that students need in order to become more proficient readers and writers, I try to teach several strategies at the same time. 

Sometimes, I stretch out a teaching point beyond the 10- or 12-minute time limit I've given myself because I worry that my mini lesson wasn't enough or my students won't have understood what I intended to teach. So, sometimes, I beat the lesson to a pulp one too many times, or forget to have the kids practice the lesson before they go off to read or write. (Asking students to practice a lesson after you teach it, with you right there to observe and help guide students through the process, is very effective. Try not to skip this step!)  

Here's an example of a mini lesson that lasted less than 10 minutes and resulted in better learning.

My students are in the second round of historical fiction book clubs. In a couple of weeks, we will start …

A Confession

I have a confession to make.

I want to write a book. 
A professional book. 
I think I have a lot to say. 
I think others could benefit from my experience.
After all, I have been an educator for over 30 years.

But, what could I possibly say that hasn't been said before?
What new knowledge could I add to the table?
Who would even bother to read what I have to say?

These are questions borne of fear.
Fear of not being good enough.
Fear of not being able to complete such a daunting project. 
(At least, that's what it feels like to me right now.)
Fear that I won't make time.
Fear that I'll run out of time.

But, over the last couple of days, I've gotten some encouraging words of support from the Innovative Teaching Academy - 
#ITA17 Facebook group. 

You can do it!Write for yourself.
But the message that is propelling me forward is this one: 
It doesn't matter how many times something has been said...each time someone else says it, new people hear it...and that's where you make the d…


Today's post is short and sweet because I just got back from a night of playing Bunko with friends. 

I share some questions I'm grappling with in my classroom. 

No answers. 

Just questions.

(1) What purpose do math stations serve in my classroom?

(2) How can I continue to engage writers without overwhelming them or me?

(3) How can I determine if my tangled readers are learning to be better readers from the books they choose to read?

(4) How can I strike a balance between student choice and making sure my students learn what they need to learn at any given time?

(5) Am I demanding too much from my students?

As I find responses and solutions to these issues, I will post some ideas on my blog.

Any thoughts are more than welcomed!