Every year, I set four major goals for my work with students that guide everything I do in the classroom. These goals are: (1) that my students love to read. (2) That they love to write. (3) That they develop a mathematician's mindset. And, (4) that they be curious about the world. If I can accomplish any of all of these to some degree, I feel I will have been successful.
Most years I have a range of kids in my classroom. Some do school very well. These are the kids who watch me carefully, almost surreptitiously, so they can determine how I want things done in the classroom. But, they get thrown off when they realize that I'm more likely to let then figure things out for themselves than to tell them what to do.
Then, there those kids who've had negative experiences with reading, writing, and/or math. It takes them almost all year to let go of those negative experiences so they can learn about themselves as readers, writers, mathematicians, thinkers and inquirers. So they can value what they know and can do.
"You mean, we don't get to read today?" was spoken out loud by one of my most (previously) reluctant readers. I had just announced that I was going to demonstrate a strategy to keep a conversation going. This strategy is from The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. In this lesson, students respond to a conversation partner by saying, "I heard you say...This makes me think..."
That was when my student blurted out, "You mean, we don't get to read today?" I chuckled and explained that we would do just that very shortly.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected this student to request independent reading time - a protected daily time in our class - much less to complain about not having enough time to read!
The truth is that there is now a festive feeling in our classroom when we read, write, talk, do math and wonder.
Some of my students may not score at the top end of the F & P assessments in June.
They may not get high scores on the MAP test.
They may not look like what someone thinks they're supposed to look like in all of these areas at the end of their 5th grade year, but I know.
I know where they started out.
I know how they've engaged in productive struggle.
I know how their smiles light up their faces when they get to the end of a book.
I know their reactions when they realize that's it. The book is over. There's no more to read.
I know which books have made the rounds in our classroom.
I remember how they'd glare at me at the beginning of the year when I would suggest a book they might like. Not comprehending what I was after. I could almost hear them say, "Who is this teacher?"
I know how much English some of my ELL's have gained since school started in August.
This is what counts.