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

Taking Time To Do It Right

It is a funny thing about famous quotations: you think you know who said it, then you look online and you find five or six different attribution for the same quote. What has happened, of course, is that five or six people have said it around other people and those people wrote it down and attributed it to them, even if the quote wasn’t an original one. As a blogger, I like to put the occasional image in my post, mostly to make it slightly more interesting to see when the link pops up in various social media sites, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, or what have you.

Instead of agonising over the question of who actually said what, I am going to go with the image that has been designed well. In this case, I am selecting the one shared by Zig Ziglar’s official website:

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I have been thinking about this notion for the past several days. We usually hear this version of it: “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” I like that Mr. Ziglar (and others) have pointed out that sometimes we have to do it poorly until we learn how to do it well. This is especially true in the classroom.

There are so many different routines, procedures, and tasks that students are asked to complete. If we demanded perfection or nothing, well, nothing would ever get done. So we often have to acknowledge that doing it poorly is a step toward doing it well. But that also means that, as a teacher, I have to make sure we take the time to do it right–whatever “it” may be.

My students have been working on increasing their reading stamina so that they can stay focused on one text for an extended period of time without me constantly redirecting and refocusing them. The purpose is for them to learn to stay on task so that I can work with individual students or small groups and know that the rest of the students is still doing what they are supposed to be doing. Two days ago, the class as a whole was reading for 30 minutes without interruption. I was so excited because I felt I could get started with the crucial one-on-one assessments that help me understand my students as readers.

But then yesterday everything fell apart. I don’t know why. But it was disastrous. I was frustrated. My students were frustrated. The other teachers helping in my room were frustrated. The impulse to just give up was strong.

But we didn’t give up. We talked about it, we processed, we brainstormed, we planned, and we set new goals. Then we started a new day. I took a step back and had the students really focus on thinking about what they needed to do in order to be successful. Then we tried it again. Today was so much better! Not only were students focused and reading, but the entire room felt much calmer and relaxed.

Sometimes we just have to take a step back and be willing to take the time to do it right.

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