The Week in Review

I’m loving my son’s second grade teacher, Lori Talbot!  On Fridays she gathers the class and they brainstorm: what did we learn this week?  She records their ideas on the board, then, in writing they respond to the following.

Three things I learned this week are:

Three skills/strategies that I worked on are:

I have been reading:

My favorite part of the week was:     Why?

The best part? She sends the sheet home for parents to read.  And my son is actually able to tell me about what he did in school.  I love how reflective this piece of teaching is.  (Not to mention the interesting dinner conversations.)




Help! My Bulletin Board is Bare!

Don’t stress over your beginning of the year bulletin board.  It’s supposed to be empty. (Till your students make something).  When you do put up some kid work, make it simple.  And make it interesting to read.  Here’s one of my favorite ideas.  I saw this outside Steve Mahalic’s second grade class in Glen Cove, New York.  He posted a big sign that said, “Why Is Reading So Important?”  Then he invited his new students to respond.  Here are some sample answers:

If you can’t read your diary, you won’t know what you wrote.

Reading is important because you can learn things and get smarter.

Reading food labels is important because you should always read the calories first and then you can make it.

Reading is important because if you are going to Six Flags and you don’t know how to read a map you are not going to get there.

You can do similar bulletin boards for writing, math…any subject, really.  It will get your kids thinking and it makes a good read for people passing by.





Richness of Experience

I’m reading Martha Beck’s wonderful book, Expecting Adam, her account of being pregnant and raising a kid with Down syndrome.  And I’m thinking: Martha Beck has it exactly right.  She tells about having her son repeatedly tested so that he can attend first grade, a process both endless and repetitive.  After many tests, one day Adam starts faking it, pretending he can’t answer the questions.  But he knows the drill–once the questions become too hard he gets a treat and the testers let him go play.  That day Beck’s realization is this:

“After spending the first decades of my own life in a desperate attempt to pass every arbitrary test placed before me by the educational system and the rest of society, I have to be constantly reminded that the end goal of all this striving is to live joyfully, and that there are often more direct ways of achieving this than conforming to rigid standards set by social custom.”   She goes on to explain how this philosophy becomes her career.  As a career counselor she lives life as a pursuit of joy and suggests to her clients that they “structure their lives around richness of experience, rather than security.”

Wow.  Richness of experience.  So that’s what it’s all about!  And now: Can I actually teach this?  Can I live it and pass it on to others?  I can and I will.

I feel rich already.