It’s been an interesting week and a half. After an invigorating week of subbing when school resumed in January, I came down with a cold, a virus that knocked me out. Just beginning to feeling back to my old self. I had to give up walking, so picked up reading books (that I had put to the side), more. I had to give up some Twitter chats, my brain needed a rest, (tweets and blogs had me thinking, of course). And here I am building up my stamina (for reading, walking, joining in, and writing a post).
Two thoughts, two questions, two ideas percolating here.
What if I were still in the classroom, not as a substitute teacher, with all the responsibilities, “teacher” entails? How would I balance staying home with getting better? I do remember how often I pushed myself when I wasn’t feeling great. I do remember wondering who will cover for me, how will my kids’ fair. The never ending conundrum of the classroom teacher. I never assumed I was indispensable, more to the point, what were the choices: pushing myself to work or stay home and worry. Terrible choices, not really good options. Of course if a fever was part of the cold, then again my decision was made for me. So once again not really a choice. I perseverate on “choice,” just let me have a few more minutes of your time.
Now the other thought, the one weighing more heavily on my mind (choice will come into play), the question What Is Your Why? I have been pondering this for a long time. As a question of hindsight; hindsight being a great teacher, I say. In a given day, much to do, so much we ask of our students (and of ourselves), do we stop and wonder “why?” We spend time micromanaging our students. We say we have moved to giving students choice and voice. We have incorporated Makerspace, Geniushour, Project Based Learning, Responsive Classrooms, RULER and other innovative ideas into our classrooms. And added to this, the curriculum that has to be covered. Somethings got to give, and that’s where our “why” is so imperative. If we can reflect and look at why it’s important for our students to have free choice play time, why we set time aside for independent reading daily, why hands on math manipulatives support math learning, why we advocate for kindness, mindfulness lessons, why curiosity and wonder drives what we do, (and many other “whys), doesn’t the question of choice become part of our students’ voice, supported by us.
I will be going back to subbing this week. And when I can, when I have a choice, I will ask my “why” before I teach my lesson, before I ask for certain behavior, before there is little time to make room for my students’ voice? I need to ask my “why” so my students can have their choice, to make decisions for themselves. Little steps come before leaps, in my opinion. Have you looked at your “whys?” Will you be looking at your “whys?”
This slogan another student and I wrote many, many years ago in elementary school. We thought about the environment even then! If we worry about “trees” how do we not think about our kids. They deserve all that we have to offer. “When you know better you do better.” – Maya Angelou