Take Time

Today marks the beginning of our third week of school. We began the year with bright optimism and high hopes. We watched our students joyfully return to school, thrilled to be able to sit by a friend at lunch, play on the play structure with their classmates, and share their learning with one another.

Reality quickly set in: First one teacher got COVID, then another—and often there are no subs to cover classes while teachers are out. Class by class, students have become infected. We are tasked with staying current on the ever-changing requirements by our local Health Department. As we look at where our learners are and what they each need, the work begins to feel daunting.

Sitting in reflection over the weekend, I thought about what my colleague, Bethany Van Osdel, in Burnsville, MN, had shared with me about the work her district was planning on engaging in as collaborative teams. This reflection made me realize that now, more than ever, we need to take time to …

  • get to know each student as a person and as a learner
  • sit with this reality and not let it overwhelm us
  • really look at the data we have on students and allow that data to inform our instructional decisions as we prepare to teach
  • think about how our students are progressing, taking full advantage of the formative assessments in Collaborative Literacy
  • pause and reflect on a regular basis as we ask ourselves, which students show …
    • a lack of understanding
    • partial understanding
    • that they understand
    • advanced understanding
      … and as we engage in that reflection, ask ourselves “Why?”
  • talk with our colleagues about our thinking, not being afraid to ask those with better results than our own what they did in their teaching that resulted in more of their students having greater success
  • plan for reteaching rather than simply moving ahead
  • confer with our readers and writers often, strengthening our relationships as we give them that little strategic nudge, allowing them to move to the next level as a reader or writer

And as we come to the end of each day, we need to take time to celebrate those small, sweet moments we have with our learners—savoring the unique perspectives they bring to the classroom community—and look forward to all that we will achieve together this school year.