Make the Time: 15 things that matter

Time There is only so much of it in each school day.

I always tend to get introspective after a few days away from the classroom so part way through Spring Break I have been thinking about things . . . Specifically what matters in terms of time and how we spend it? What are the things I really want to honour? What things need to be happening?

Here’s my list

Make the Time . . . 

For Joy

There needs to be happiness and celebration as we learn. In our classroom, this is where we begin.

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

For Gratitude

We have a Gratitude Circle at least once a week where we share something we feel grateful about. Sharing our happiness and what we appreciate is a gift to others. Gathering in a circle to breathe, share and be calm is powerful. Especially on Halloween 🙂

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

To Play

Play happens daily in our classroom. It lets us get creative, solve problems, practice negotiation and always, helps to build our social skills. Plus, of course, it is FUN!

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

To Be Lost in a Book

I always say, “Being lost in a book is the best place to be.” If there is lots of time for reading, there is more likelihood this will happen. Often.

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

To Read Aloud

Read aloud builds community. And of course so many amazing literacy skills are practiced: listening stamina. appreciation for the sound of language, sense of story, inference and prediction skills, etc.

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

To Calm and Regroup

Sometimes after very exciting activities (like pumpkin carving) we need down time (like reading to our pumpkins). Balance.

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

To Breathe

We do mindful breathing three times a day. When our K/1 buddies come up for buddy reading, we participate altogether. This daily time to center and focus means something.

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

For Mentorship

Some of the best teaching is not done by me.

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

For Time Spent with lots of Adults

Lots of interactions for many reasons. Here is a student sharing his great reading with supervision aides and office staff just before recess.

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

For Time with Different Ages

Playtime outside with our K/1 buddies = lots of fun. Building relationships is what it is all about.

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

For the Mess

When we do interesting things and make discoveries, there are things everywhere. Clean up is easy. Thinking is messy.

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

To Switch it up

Sometimes, we need to abandon a lesson and go in a different direction. Here I had planned a place value review. The students needed to be architects. So we were architects and we demonstrated our knowledge of hundreds, tens and ones the next day.

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

To Work Together 

Great learning happens when we stand back and let the children figure it out together. And of course wearing blue lab gloves and working with fancy coloured water makes it all the more interesting . . .

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

For Upset

Because it happens. We get sad. Mad. Frustrated. Grumpy. Mean. We are a community and we need to weather it together. The learning is in the acceptance, the forgiveness and the moving on.

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

To Laugh

Right?

 Make the Time: 15 Things that Matter There's a Book for That

These are fifteen things I value.

Also significant? What I didn’t put on the list . . .  

What about you? What would be on your list of what matters? Please share in the comments!

20 Years, 20 Things

This is my 19th year as a teacher with the Vancouver School Board. If I add up a few months working as a substitute teacher, a temporary contract and two years teaching abroad, I think I can legitimately claim that I have been teaching for 20 years.

 20 Years, 20 Things. What I have learned after 20 years in the classroom. There's a Book for That

After 20 years, what do I know? That there still is and always will be much to learn. I find that exciting and inspiring, not daunting. However, after teaching this long and still loving my job, I can say I have learned a thing or two (20 things in fact – one to honour each year) and in the September of a new school year when pencils are still sharp and excitement is in the air, I made a list. Because that’s what teachers do.

In no particular order because they are all equally important, some wisdom shared:

1. Teach the children in front of you. Not the children you think should be there. Don’t take a curriculum and impose it on a group of learners. Start with who your students are and where they are. Go from there. Take them far!

2. Relationships, relationships, relationships. Without them, good luck. With them, wow!

3. Choose celebration over cynicism. Educators can easily bemoan what is happening in education. Dwell in that place and you will be blind to the wonder and magic that happens everyday with the students in our classrooms. Feel lucky about that and take time to celebrate the daily learning, growth and joy.

4. Laugh a lot. Kids are really funny. Laugh with them and stress dissipates. For everyone.

5. Be one of many teachers in the room. Promote mentorship between your students. Children learn beautifully from each other when we set up learning environments that promote this.

 20 Years, 20 Things. What I have learned after 20 years in the classroom. There's a Book for Tha

6. Make curiousity as valuable, if not more valuable, than the acquisition of specific knowledge. When we spend time collecting facts, we have a finite collection. When we wonder and build on each other’s questions, there are endless possibilities. We don’t need all the answers. We do need lots of questions.

7. Don’t collect “stuff” to facilitate your teaching (files, units, boxes of ____), collect ideas, collect mentors, collect blogs to follow. The environment will thank you. Your students will thank you. You will thank you.

8. Fill your room with student art. Not only does it create a beautiful place and a source of student pride at every turn, but in the regular making of art, so much happens. Creativity. Risk taking. Problem solving.

9. Take nothing personally

10. Can you answer this question: “What one thing do I want my students to really learn this year?” There is no right answer. But it’s a really great question.

 20 Years, 20 Things. What I have learned after 20 years in the classroom. There's a Book for Tha

11. Value community. We are one of many people teaching the children in our classrooms. Students come from varied, interesting and diverse backgrounds. Honour their parents. The extended families. The community that surrounds the school. Make connections to the key players – community centre staff, public library staff, recreation program staff, community health nurses, etc. We are all in this together.

12. Say yes a lot. And when you are tempted to say no, ask a question. The room becomes a happier place.

13.  Be a reader. A voracious one. And then share your reading life with your students.

14. Learn. Children will teach you countless things daily if you open your eyes and your mind. Acknowledge when it happens. Just the other day, a child demonstrated compassion in a situation when I had reacted with frustration. I thanked him publicly for the lesson and then immediately acted on what he had taught me. I am a learner in my room as well as a teacher.

15. Learn from the wisdom of others. So many people are doing so many amazing things in classrooms all over the world. Tap into that. Begin sharing. And borrow the brilliance.

 20 Years, 20 Things. What I have learned after 20 years in the classroom. There's a Book for Tha

16. At the end of everyday, make sure you can think of at least one moment that was magic. Savour it and smile.

17. Adore your students. Interact with them so that they always feel this. You won’t need systems to manage behaviour, you will have relationships. When things don’t go well, when mistakes are made, when conflicts arise, the mutual respect and care will carry you through.

18. Ask yourself this question: “What lifetime habits are being learned in this classroom?”

19. Be a storyteller. Our classrooms are a window into how we as a society look after our children. Speak up.

20. There’s a book for that! The power of books is endless. Read to your students daily multiple times. Sharing books together builds community. Shakes up thinking. Touches hearts. Builds knowledge. Connects us.

 20 Years, 20 Things. What I have learned after 20 years in the classroom. There's a Book for Tha

What would be on your list? What has your teaching journey taught you? Please share, disagree, elaborate, question and wonder in the comment section.