Keeping the door open

Ending week two of a new school year – I sit in wonder of a year looking very different than I had pictured this summer.  My students are a wonder, they are smart, they see and infer deeply when I am reading to them.  They are students with great potential.

What I had not for seen is the great needs that we are beginning the year with.  Two groups of students ( am 5th graders – pm 4th graders) whose reading levels stretch from early second grade to middle school 8th grade skills.   Students who are ready to listen to a picture book, draw a picture and maybe write a few words to students who viewed an image and write two pages.  Students who know how to “do school” to students who are still working on impulse control at all times.

It will be a year of wonder, growth and much determination.  A year of helping students as beginning writers but being there to push writers who are there to take the next steps.

It will be a year of learning for me as well.  I will need to learn how to stretch – that kind of stretch needs the help of others.   I need to stay positive looking for those who are able to support when I can not.   It will be a year of not closing my door and teaching but a year of opening the door to all advise, thoughts and people who can step in to help bring my early learners forward and continue the hard work of keeping my stronger students moving in the right direction as readers and writers.

It would be easy this year to hid in my classroom and struggle this out alone.  It is what we often do as teachers.   We say, “They are my students and I must figure this out.”  Yes, they are ours for a year, yes we need to figure this out but the alone is wrong.  It is a community that makes a difference for students.

I began these two weeks discouraged with the needs and overwhelmed with the skills my students have and don’t have.  I was looking at this work as something I can not do.   No, I can’t not do it alone.  It is work that needs to be done by many.

Some of you are here at the Two Writing Teachers blog and web site to help with ideas for writing.    Some help will be at my building as I ask and reach out to staff to support students.   Some help will be at home with family and friends who help me to see what I can do and how to keep the world of teaching in balance.

I wonder as you begin your new year – Are you keeping your door open to help? Who is there to help you learn and support you as you take on the task of educating both students and your self?   Let us know where you find support.

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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