Out in the blogger and Twitter world there is a phrase that's being used - One Little Word. Pick One Little Word that will be your goal, that you will concentrate on, that will center you this year. At first, I was thinking nice idea, but not one for me to write about. But it kept nagging at me, and popping up in my thoughts throughout the day.
Today, it hit me. I've got that one word.
That's it. Encourage.
2013 was a crazy year. We were working so hard at figuring out the CCSS, how to put them into our lessons, how to center our lessons around them. And then we also had to make sure we were assessing everything correctly. How do we mesh new assessments with old assessments? How do we add these new standards to what we've already been teaching? Do we throw everything away? Do we start fresh? Do we do what we were always doing and add these new things? It's been really hard figuring everything out - and I know I haven't yet. And in the midst of everything, teaching has become overwhelming, hard, frustrating... it's just too much. I hear it all the time, "I don't like teaching anymore. The kids never have fun. I'm afraid they are going to hate reading."
And somewhere, in all of this, we forgot what we're doing. Loving reading. It's our job to do that. To show kids how to love reading. To help them understand what type of reader they are. To share books. To love books.
But in 2014 I want to encourage myself: reading is fun, it's enjoyable, it's what I love. Can I go back to making teaching reading fun again? I think I can. We need to hold close to us what's important. Books. Good, quality literature. Get good books and read them. Use excellent books and use them to teach the standards. I know I will enjoy teaching more when I'm excited about what I'm reading.
And I feel like I'm in a lucky position because I work in a K-4 building. We are fortunate enough to be able to do a lot of read alouds and share our reading and thinking together. What a fantastic way to share books and our own enthusiasm for books. We get to encourage young readers to find a favorite book.
So here's what I'm thinking.
I'm going to encourage myself everyday to remember to put the books first. Plan the lessons using the standards and writing and speaking and listening after. Kind of like a "if you build it, they will come" kind of moment. You know, if you read it, you can teach it... (say it just like James Earl Jones, it sounds cool...)
I encourage all teachers to go back to what's important. Enjoy teaching again. Do we need to go back and think about how we're teaching? Will we keep doing things that we've been doing? Sure. Will we change things? Sure. But this time we're going to think about what's important.