Friday, October 08, 2010

Hitting a Wall

Well, it's October 8. I started school on August 17. I genuinely enjoy this class. Really, I do. But today, I hit a wall. Lack of sleep + tummyache this afternoon may have contributed a bit to this. Regardless, I'm thankful for a relaxing evening with the hubs. I am also so thankful that I don't have to go through these days alone. I need to be reminded that the Lord knows the day I'll have before I have it, and He's in control of even the little things. When I'm tired and weak, He is so strong.

Today, my class made compost bags. (I drove 25 minutes to Bayleaf U.S.A., a live bait shop, to but 132 night crawlers. I met the nicest store owner in the world. He's the kind of person that would make me want to take up fishing, just so I could frequent the store.) Anyway, I took my class outside in this beautiful weather to make compost bags with huge, wiggly worms. It took my whole morning, a bust because I ran out of time for writing, and I had an awesome lesson prepared. Eek.

I am no longer a rookie teacher. I'm a couple of years in, and I actually have files for each unit. I have gotten to the point where I'm reflecting and changing things. That part is really exciting. I like making my own decisions in the classroom as to what I want to do.
I've also realized I'm a big picture kind of teacher. I know where I want my students to go and what I want them to understand, but I have trouble figuring out how to get them there. So this year I've tried to make each mini-lesson extremely explicit and to informally assess more often along the way.
Today, this was why I hit the wall. I assessed on a couple of objectives in the past couple of days. I had my students predict what would happen to the grass in the compost bags. Half couldn't do it. We took a quiz. Most bombed. I went through an EOG prep about poetry. Near-disaster. Maybe the problem was that it was Friday, or that it was 85 degrees in my classroom, or that I assessed too early or too much. But I almost cried. We ended the day with a family meeting where I discussed:
1) Which problems can be solved on our own (My pencil broke. Where do I put this pushpin? Do we have homework on Friday? I found a piece of paper on the floor.)
2) Is what I'm saying helpful or important? (It's hot in here. Why is it so hot in here? The window's open and now it's loud.)
3) Hygiene. (We don't pick our noses in third grade. We wash our hands everytime we use the bathroom.)

I read one of my favorite picture books, Smoky Night by Eve Bunting. I love Eve Bunting. She writes these amazing picture books that I literally would read to a high school class if I could. They delve into very deep issues, like the L.A. riots, war, immigration, and homelessness. The books always end in hope, and for some of my kids, that's a big deal. The issues raised in her books are not all foreign to my students, and for some hit much closer to home that a book about a birthday party. I wish you could listen in on the discussions I have with kids. I love how it clicks when they find the symbol for hope in each book, like the bird in Fly Away Home or the fish in Gleam and Glow.

I also read Dreams by Langston Hughes. It was pretty tough for my low-readers, but the higher readers ate it up. They really understand, as well as a third grader can, the metaphors for dreams. It was awesome to hear them talk about their goals in life.

Again, sometimes I get too "big picture." I have to remember that they're only 8. But hearing them get really excited about something that isn't Diary of a Wimpy Kid is too wonderful to pass up.

On the home front, things are wonderful. We've been through some things recently and especially in the past couple of weeks that I thought could have driven us apart. But instead, praise the Lord, they have united us. We discovered how on the same page we were about a lot of things, and I am exceedingly grateful for that.

Sadly, tonight we couldn't go to see my beloved Avett Brothers. Way too expensive. So we consoled ourselves with a trip to Target for some necessary odds and ends and a dinner at Wendy's. Oh, domesticity. The best part is that neither of us are upset about this. On a Friday, there's nothing better than a carefree evening of no responsibility and complete lounging.

(And now, I am unbelievably thankful to Christie, who was fortunate enough to attend the Avett Brothers, and who just called me during one of my favorite songs ever.)

Please listen. I hope your heart melts like mine does. It makes me want to go back in time and change the month of my wedding.

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