It is nearing in on the end of the year. Today was the three week mark with students and then exam week. I am not counting down I am actually doing everything I can to slow time. This year has gone too fast. I chose to take on a student teacher. I had big plans that sort of materialized but then never got off the ground. I missed time with some of my kids, I have regretted that, not the student teacher but the missed time. The missed time, the late start, it has been a hill to climb to rebuild the relationships and restart that literacy love.
We have tried so many things. Independent reading, book clubs, whole class novels, authentic writing tasks with mentor texts, essay responses, one-pagers, Notice and Note, Articles of the Week… you name it. This year has been a collection of moments that still come back into my mind. The small little spark that lead to Project Speak that is slowly wrapping up as students are finishing off essays and TED Talks and all sorts of ways to represent their choice topics, the conversations around The Danger of a Single story and the adventure we have taken in 7th grade to tell our stories. Literacy work is beautiful and always changing. Jason Reynolds just said today at the end of his short documentary found here that language is always changing, evolving and growing. Our teaching should be doing that as well. We should be looking at what is working at what is not. We need to be so aware in those moments to not lose ourselves in “what we like” but to listen to what is going on around us and to grow and evolve with our students. That is what brought me to more inquiry based work, to explore multi-genre work. To provide my students with a flexible way to show their learning.
These last few weeks as I listen to my students share about why they think we need to teach better, test less, examine what we are eating, discuss gun control , maintain heifer weights (yup you read that right), treat celebrities better, end child poverty, focus on mental health and target the problems of social media I have learned how different my students are. I have learned that their interests are unique and their concerns are real. Things have not always gone smoothly and some of us are VERY behind but sitting beside them I am learning how best to help them. I can encourage them. Those moments where I see that spark of curiosity, that fire that agitation can stir up I am hopeful that we are on the right track with 3 weeks left to finish strong.
My grade 7 class is writing, writing about books, their life, music and poems. We have laughed about my embarrassing stories pf lost loves in High School and drowning my sorrows while belting out Always by Bon Jovi (yeah that happened) and they have shared stories of their own. The most powerful moments have been going through their poetry as they exam Where they are from. Golden Lines about treat nights with family and parties with friends to sitting on the porch with Grandpa to watch the Sunset. As the year ends I am choosing to live in those moments, to savour them because they won’t last long. Next year we get new ones but these ones, these laughs, these lines they will only happen once. As the year ends we need to remember that and celebrate it.
Tomorrow I am at track. I might bring a journal and when not taking pictures maybe I will write my own poem to share but for today I will watch Jason Reynolds speak again, read a little bit and probably go back and watch the little 7th grader on Americas Got Talent that sang about her story and almost brought me to tears. It is the moments that are most important, let’s not rush and miss them.