Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Finding the Sweet Spot--March 3: Slice of Life Challenge

Life's Slices: Finding the Sweet Spot

Yesterday, I grabbed a wave! After all my moaning about winter, I decided to have a Spring Fling!
So, I met a friend at Peachwave, our little slice of sweetness not far from the Flagpole (Newtown's trademark) in the center of town.

We talked about life and friends and traveling, but eventually, as all teachers do, we turned our thoughts back to teaching. Sometimes I wonder what other people think about when their brains are allowed to chill. For those who don't know this, teachers, for 180 days, are tethered to classroom/kid thoughts! I'd had the luxury of a half day outside and inside my own classroom, talking literacy and writing and kids' response.

Our trainer, Gary, is a taskmaster. He pushed us through, and pulled us out and forced us to re-examine the work we are doing and the work we've done in the past. He's Columbia...TCRWP, and we're lucky to have him. Because even though it requires an enormous amount of time to plan an afternoon out, it gives us so much to bring back in return.

Yesterday, I pulled a quiet student, one who, I know, gets anxious in the spotlight, but who knows she can trust me to never push her too far outside her comfort zone. I put her through the paces with a running record, then got inside her head a little bit to see what she's thinking while she reads. It was a simple running record...something I did all the time when I taught second grade. But now, I was facing a fifth grader, and I could see, that while she was reading the text easily, she wasn't thinking the big thoughts I wanted her to think.

So yesterday, in my sweet spot of one on one teaching, I was thinking...what if this is not the just right book for her? Is that in itself a crime? How much is she really struggling? I mean, she could answer the literal types of questions. But I know I want much more from her than that.

Later on, I tossed on my snowshoes and hiked an arduous two miles around a cornfield in deep, deep snow. My poor golden was doing the dolphin, up and down, riding what looked like a wave through miles of snow. This is too hard for him, I began to think. The guilt started to settle in. And in reality, it was just on the edge of being beyond my own ability too. The snow was super deep and the wind was picking up and pelting me in the face. And then my thoughts returned to my student. Is that book really too hard for her?

So today's teaching challenge...is to return to the theory and test it out, to see how her partner is doing in this book as well. They went off to the library and selected these books, and as is the case in most school libraries, there are no green or yellow labels, and that is why I was testing her out in the first place. You do have to love the books you're reading, but sometimes, we have to teach to the depth of that love. It's my job to be sure that each individual student can find their sweet spot, and today I'm gifted with another opportunity to help her find that level of sweetness in this book!


Katy Collins said...

Your slice really had me thinking from start to finish. "Finding the sweet spot" can apply to so many parts of our teaching lives...it is almost hard to define until you're actually there! I enjoyed your description of your interaction with your student and appreciated that I'm not the only one that brings my kiddos home with me, worrying about if I pushed them too far or left them just short of what they're capable of doing...I wish you many "sweet spot" moments ahead, and thanks for sharing!

Marilyn Miner said...

My favorite line was "sometimes you have to teach to the depth of that love." Awesome post.

Stacey said...

You should connect with Beth Moore since she's a snow shoe-er (is that a term?) too. Here's her SOL blog: https://writeanotherone.wordpress.com.

gael lynch said...

Thanks, Stacey! I will!