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New Habits in the Making

Today is the second day of a ten-day break. I don’t go back to school until Feb. 10th, so I’ve had time to read and write a lot. This always leads me to reflect about teaching and life in general. I start to think about what I can improve, both on a personal and a professional level, and make plans to implement those changes. So, here’s a list of the changes that I want to make, in no particular order. 

(1) Big confession: I don’t look forward to recess duty. Usually I stand in one spot during the 20 minute lunch recess, look around to make sure everything is OK, and then go back to being annoyed at having to do recess duty. Not fun! It bears mentioning that there are at least three teacher assistants on duty as well, so the kids are adequately supervised. This is a golden opportunity to observe the kids in a more natural environment: at play with their friends. So, instead I will walk around the field and engage in conversations with as many kids as possible.  When I take the time to observe students from a closer angle, I get a sense of how they interact with each other, who may not have someone to play with, and where the trouble spots are. As a fifth grade teacher, this is also a good opportunity for me to get to know the third and fourth graders, some of whom will be my students in the near future.

(2) When I find myself on the verge of saying or doing something I might regret later, I am going to take a deep breath and take a step back from the situation before reacting or responding in any way. This is so hard for me! I am realizing that I am impulsive and I “lose” it more often than I’d like to admit, which makes things worse not better. This is a huge challenge for me, but I will feel so good once I develop this new habit.

(3) When I read a blog, I will leave a response in the comments section. I’ve tried committing to this in the past, but I haven’t been very successful. I want people to respond to my posts so it seems only right that I do this for others. Reminding myself of the learning that happens when a conversation gets started on a blog will help me to do this.  

(4) I will not take on any new books to review for MiddleWeb until I finish the ones I have. This one is also hard for me because it takes so long for books to get to Ecuador that I want to make sure I have a book waiting to be reviewed at all times. However, that isn't fair to the author since I end up stockpiling books because I can only write one book review at a time. I might be sitting on a book that another reviewer might get to right away. I love getting new books, so this is definitely a hard change for me to implement.

I am excited about making these changes. They may seem small or inconsequential, but I know they will make a difference in my attitude and well-being. 

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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!