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What’s MOST Important?

There is a WORLD of possibilities for EACH of us … reach for the STARS!
Photo from Global Grade 3s

I am struggling.

I know the teacher I want to be. I strive to be the kind of teacher I would want for my own children. I am a learner and I know I was born to teach. It is HUGE work but, oddly, I bounce into school each and every day, excited for my next adventures with my amazing Grade Threes. We learn a LOT from one another. I CAN’T imagine a MORE rewarding career.

I am a reader and I am always growing. Why am I struggling? I am torn. I am inspired by all that I read through my UNBELIEVABLE twitter PLN. I see ALL the amazing possibilities. There are just NEVER enough hours in the day to truly accomplish everything I would like to experience with my students.

At this point in the year, I know my learners pretty well. They are my “daytime family”. I know where they are as readers, as writers … how comfortable they are with math … but I know them BEYOND where they are “academically”. We share who WE are … what makes us tick, what EXCITES us, what scares us … we’ve developed trusting relationships.

Still, I’m struggling.

Within my classroom is a wide range of abilities and interests. I see them BEYOND their marks and “current functioning”. Some of us are strong mathematicians. It’s just the way we think. Some of us have the gift for writing and can express our written thoughts with ease. Some are readers … I mean AVID readers who LOVE it. And, some of us are incredibly artistic. Some of us are even lucky enough to have it ALL!

It’s report card time. We don’t all FIT into “reading at level O” at this point in the school year. Developmentally, we’re just NOT ready yet. Maybe reading won’t EVER be a strength … but … there are strengths in OTHER areas. Ugh. I HATE giving 2s. I want to BUILD learner confidence … I want to delve DEEPER ¬†into our curiosities … and passions. No matter HOW I weave all the student learner outcomes into our inquiries I ALWAYS have those Provincial Achievement Exams sitting at the back of my brain. But my heart says we’re NOT cookie cutter learners … NONE of us are.

At the end of the year, they’ll have to write a narrative story based on a picture prompt. They’ll probably do okay … most of them … but that writing won’t even BEGIN to compare to the amazing writing they do when they write for their “authentic” global audience on the classroom blog. Already I can hear their voices SHINE through into these pieces.

What’s MOST important? Relationships. Trust. Developing a safe and nurturing learning environment together where it’s GOOD to take risks with our learning.

I struggle with what I know in my heart. Helping students develop an understanding of who they are as learners … their strengths, passions, helping them to SEE that life long learning can be joyful and fulfilling … this is what I strive for … while trying to support their individual learner needs. They are, EACH of them, SO much more than a mark on a piece of paper.

How do I fit it ALL in?

I have a DREAM … I am REACHING for the stars … but … how do I fit it all in? Maybe I need LONGER teaching days … or FEWER student learner outcomes, (although I do see their value), or maybe each grade should last for TWO years … IMAGINE the possibilities with more TIME to fit it ALL in? I do!

I wonder:

  • How do you fit it all in … and find a balance?

~ by Laurie Renton on April 27, 2013 . Tagged: , , , ,



2 Responses to “What’s MOST Important?”

  1.   Lorraine Says:

    It is as if you have read my mind! I need two full years (24 months) to teach Grade Six! One of my friends always reminds me that teaching is like going to a really good restaurant. Everything on the menu looks wonderful, but you just can’t eat it all!
    The one thing that I would change in Education, if I could change anything I wanted, would be report cards. They would be COMMENTS ONLY, just written feedback, no grades, no marks, no levels. This is what your child has succeeded at, this it what they need to work on next. Enough said!
    Lorraine

    •   Laurie Renton Says:

      Hi Lorraine!

      I know – there is definitely not enough time in the day to accomplish everything we would like to do! I threatened my kids, this year, with not letting them “move on” … two years would be SO lovely with each group of learners you have. They were ready … I was not! I love the Grade Three curriculum. It has SO many possibilities for going deeper. We often explore our “I wonders”, but not nearly as much as I would like. I would truly love to incorporate some genius hour work this coming year. I’m just not sure about the logistics yet. I have bookmarks and references coming out my ears … I just need to think about the “how” part now! I’m still in the “reflection” stage!

      I love the way your friend describes this journey like a restaurant. One of my colleagues says “There’s too much curriculum, there has ALWAYS been too much curriculum, there will ALWAYS be too much curriculum … so … focus on the “big ideas” and the rest will fall into place.” Gulp. Sadly, I want it ALL!!! Magical days of personalizing, questioning, inquiring, making meaning … going deeper … building community, sharing our strengths and passions … yup … I want it ALL!!! :)

      Our report cards are moving toward change. I’m not sure what they will look like as they are still in “draft”. We may pilot them this coming year. Currently, we are on a N/A 1 2 3 4 5 system, with lots of room for comments. We will be moving toward an EX EV EM SR IE, (Exemplary, Evident, Emerging, Support Required, Insufficient Evidence), with fewer comments, I think. I will mourn the loss of comments – those comments tell you so much more about a learner, (their strengths, areas for growth, etc.), than a mark on a paper. I will be interested to see how they evolve. If they lose the comment section … I will find a way to continue to make that happen. I feel that they are a critical piece of the whole.

      Laurie :)

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