The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Eye On The Ball

I came down with something on Wednesday afternoon that kept me home from class in the evening and lingered long enough to keep me home from work on Thursday. It wasn’t too serious, though, and I was pretty much back on my feet by Thursday afternoon, which let me go to a birthday celebration for my wife with her parents and siblings. Because my birthday was just this past Monday and my wife’s birthday was actually Wednesday, there is a lot of birthday-ing in my family during the last week of January. There is also a tradition of stretching out gifts. My mother-in-law gave two professional books that I have wanted for quite some time now: The Ball and What Great Principals Do Differently: Eighteen Things That Matter Most, both by Todd Whitaker. (I already have a copy of What Great Teachers Do Differently, a book that I thought I reviewed a year ago but apparently never did. Oops!)

I read The Ball this morning while getting ready for work. It only took me about 20 minutes. It is a short story about a teacher and a former student who meet and discuss the challenges they have experienced in their lives that have managed to knock them off course, to take their eyes off the ball. Through their conversation, they both realise changes that need to be made to reinvigorate themselves and, in the process, reinvigorate those they work with.

This was a very timely read, as it is something that I have been discussing often with my colleagues. It seems like there have been so many new initiatives and laws and regulations and procedures and policies thrown at us from every direction that we have a hard time focusing on what is most important. I thought about some of the things I have done in my classroom over the past three and a half years that have fallen by the wayside because we just don’t seem to have enough time to do it and I realised that I need to make the time. The small things that bring joy into the classroom are the same things that bring engagement. As I wrote earlier this week, I want my students to want to be here. That’s not going to happen if they don’t find school to be a joyful place.

So I made a decision to bring back something that has been missing for several months: Read, Write, Think! This is my time for my students to engage in preferred activities that foster improved metacognition, teamwork, collaboration, and skill development. I announced this morning that we would be bringing it back on Fridays. We did Read, Write, Think! in the afternoon this week, but I will probably move it back to the morning next week because I have a tutor who will be coming to the room on Friday afternoons and I want to honor her time.

It is a small change, but I think it is something that will help us get our eye back on the ball, back on the goal of schooling being somethings students want to do, instead of something they have to do.

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One response

  1. Scott

    “The small things that bring joy into the classroom are the same things that bring engagement.”

    Great quote!

    Excited for “read, write, think” and not even in your class. Something we adults should do from time to time as well.

    February 2, 2015 at 7:10 pm

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