It is mid summer – hot, humid and my thinking and actions have slowed down to a crawl. I guess it is appropriate also due to my age. I am a few years from retirement so it makes sense to move a little slower in the summer.
So on Friday I met with one on my new teammates for next year struggling a bit to get my gears moving. She is a first year teacher and really wanted to get a jump on the fall planning. We will both teach literacy and science. She will have two 5 th grade sections and I will have 1 section of 5 th grade and one of 4 th. She had called me and was worried, had lots of questions. It was great the old and new developing what this new year will look like.
This young teacher gave me a run for my money. Questions were thrown at me from all sides. These were not your simple questions like do you use name tags at the beginning of the year. They were complex questions – Should we use the Cafe Model at the beginning of the year for literacy? What structures do you change in your readers and writers workshop as you integrate science and art? How will we incorporate Words Their Way in our tight time frame? Should we move to a middle school model with our 5th graders and create a word study model with Latin and Greek roots extending the Words their Way they have already had? ( these are just a few we talked about during the day)
We began working at 10 am just after she had signed her new contract. We worked steady reviewing materials, both asking and answering questions till about 2 pm when I said we had to break for lunch. My head was spinning but I was also so excited. I had not had this kind of collegial give and take for years. We quickly went out for sandwichs and my partner was tracking the to do list on her phone as we eat.
We returned within a 1/2 hour to continue our discussion. We laid out a curriculum map for the year, filled in big ideas for September and early October and then began to wrestle with the actual lay out of the 2 hour block we will be teaching to each group.
It was 4:30 when we found a good breaking point. We had covered so much in one day. I agreed to type up our plan, our other notes were on a shared google doc. She had found rubrics and basic lessons we could adapt and move to the Smart board Flip charts. (Yikes – I am going to need to review that technology again!)
Whew – I had not thought that hard in weeks.
It felt great to be sharing. The old one at the edge of retirement and the new one at the edge of her new career. It will be an amazing year if I can keep up with this young power house.
As I drove home I marveled at the strength, knowledge, skill and poise she had as we maneuvered through the day. How did she get to be such an accomplished young woman?
I remember her being handed to me at 4:00 am on July 19 th not that long ago just as the sun was rising. It had been a hard labor with many stress points but we made it through and we named her Melissa Dawn.
Now that Melissa Dawn, my daughter, is standing with me as we begin a new year of teaching. The world gives us amazing journeys.
[This year Words from JL will continue the adventures, joys and struggles of a mother and daughter learning with and from each other as we teach side by side and JL.)