Friday, June 21, 2013
The Gifts of Summer: Space to Enjoy and Reflect
This week has been a week of both hyper-focused professionalism and hyper-enjoyable summer. What a blessing!
During the day, I've been working with my dear colleagues Margaret and Julie and a host of amazing teacher consultants with the Columbus Area Writing Project Advanced Summer Institute in Digital Composition.
blogger husband and two kids, including a fun night at Benny's Pizza in Marysville. The silly, summer feel around our house this week can be best summarized by sharing that we are now the proud owners of a custom-made Mickey Mouse balloon (Thanks, balloon lady!). Mickey is residing in the (currently unused) crib in the nursery -- Clark sleeps in our room -- and has stirred up many thought-provoking questions, like, "What happened to Mickey's nose at night?" (he deflated, dear) and suddenly maternal feelings, like, "I gonna show Mickey how I go to bed. He needs a diaper."
Clearly, the daily transitions between my personal and professional worlds are a bit more jarring during the summer than they are during the school year. The other middle school teachers and I joke that two-year-olds and twelve-year-olds are really not so different. Going between an infant and toddler and a group of professionals, though, is quite different, and can sometimes boggle my already boggled brain.
One morning this week, before #cawpasi, I squeezed in a meeting with Rob, a doctoral student doing research in my classroom. Rob is himself a former teacher of young adolescents, so he has a great perspective on the blends of theory and practice. He had to say very little in our conference Tuesday to make me realize that I need to revisit my beliefs about how children learn to read and write, because sometimes life gets in the way of me teaching in a way that I believe is best for kids. In the summer, even while I'm juggling my fun mom time, I have the space to reflect and to pull myself back to my (ever-evolving) principles.
This year, I'll be teaching in a new grade level, and I know, come August, I'll be wrapped up in the nuts and bolts -- the new curriculum, the shared reads, and the ways that seventh graders are different than sixth graders. I'll also be wrapped up in figuring out how to still be a 100% mom to my sweet babies and 100% wife to my husband. Too often, reflection unfortunately falls by the wayside in favor of survival. To avoid straying from the heart of workshop -- from the child-first mentality that's at the core of my teaching soul -- I need to make a habit of frequently returning to my principles, which I'm fortunate to reflect on and refine in the lazier days of summer.
Here's a snippet of what I recorded in the Google Document that I'll be sharing with the mentors who help me think:
I have so much rattling around in this brain of mine after a rich week of being on the "other side" of professional development -- the side of the person who is supposed to deliver the content. Funny, though -- it turns out that I'm developing a set of beliefs about PD, as well, that in a lot of ways mirrors my beliefs about student learning. Stay tuned...
(#cawpasi'ers, that's how I end a post when I run out of time and battery ;))