In a few hours, I am going to venture down a new path, a path that I have thought a lot about, a path that I have prepared for, but a path that I have not traveled before. Fortunately, I will not go it alone. I will have twenty-four young souls along with me–they, too, new to this particular path. Today, we will take a tour along the select-and-support trail. Today, we will begin our grading conferences. Today, I will listen. Today, I will learn. Today, I will live in a world that I have created to make my kids feel empowered, challenged, connected, supported, valued, respected, and safe. For that, today is the test.
Over the weekend, thinking about this “world,” I, on a whim, started a # movement on Twitter, #myroom. Movement may be too strong a word, but I wanted to challenge my Tweeps to think about their own rooms, their own worlds. And so I threw it out there into the Twitterverse, and though the response has been modest, it has gained some ground, and my teacher friends are chiming in. Of course, I felt obligated to jump into the challenge as well, sharing my own list for how I want kids to feel in my room. My goal here, really, is to create both an opportunity for reflection and accountability for myself. Before making public my purpose, I had to reflect deeply on what it is that I really want kids to feel while they experience life and learning with me fifty-five minutes a day. By making public my purpose, I am compelled to hold myself to account, to make sure my walk is matching my talk.
And so, today, I walk. I will walk the path with whom I hope are twenty-four kids who feel empowered. They get to put their finger on their learning. They get to select and support a mark that they believe best reflects their learning journey in my class this semester. And I created that opportunity. I say that not to brag. I say that to advance my notion that we are creators of worlds, for we have the power of choice, and those choices that we make in our rooms become the worlds in which kids dwell, worlds in which they shine, or worlds in which they suffer. And that is the responsibility that comes with our choices. We wield a great and terrible power, a power that is brought to bear every moment of every day in our classrooms. And that is why I believe it is vital that we continuously reflect on our choices in light of the simple question, “How do I want kids to feel in my classroom?” My own reflections, thus, cast light on both my successes and my failures. Kids shine in my class. But kids suffer, too. And , for that, all that I can do is do my best to do better. Do. Reflect. Do Better.
Today, I do. It will not be perfect. I will need to no doubt make changes. But it will be real–a mix of wins and fails. And as I reflect on the twenty-four conversations today, and the hundred-some to follow, I will find ways to get better. In these moments, I want my kids to feel empowered. But that does not mean I simply acquiesce to their selections. Power is not merely measured in freedom. Power is truly measured against resistance. As I wrote last week in my Do I Like My Kids Too Much post, I have to check my feelings a bit for I am vulnerable to them, and I have to provide the necessary “professional resistance” so that we arrive at a place of meaning. Today, that is our path. And to be honest, I am nearly giddy with anticipation. I know–though there will be some disappointment–that the kids are going to blow me away today. They will shine, and I will bask proudly in their light. I am inclined to record a few, but I always worry that the camera will diminish the authenticity I seek. We’ll see. Either way, it’s going to be thrilling. Never have I been excited for “grading.” Never.
Along today’s trail we will…
…begin with Smiles and Frowns.
…conduct grading conferences (goal is 6 per period, 5-7 minutes)
…have work options (table talks, finish Night, Passion Papers)
…end with a Sappy Sy Rhyme.
Happy Tuesday, all.
Do. Reflect. Do Better.