Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Time of Change

I have taken a break from frequent postings over the past couple months as my family slowly packed and moved out of our home. We are blessed to be staying with family (my sister, brother in law, neices and nephew) as we patiently wait for news about our next home. "Camp DiCesare" is what our living situation has been termed by a neighbor and I think the name fits. Needless to say, you can imagine the change we are all bravely (and some generously) experiencing.

So I started thinking about the way each one of us feels about change. Reaction to change seems to depend on so many possible variables. Some of us dive into new places, circumstance and situations unafraid. While others need some support, time or comfort when something is new. We all have different comfort levels for change in our lives and even in the classroom. Next year, I will not be changing grade levels (staying with first) but I will be thinking about the many changes I will adopt in my teaching.

Some of the changes I am thinking about are subtle, like changing my room set up and the size of my whole group space on the floor. I want to condense it so I can use the whole space more wisely. Other subtle changes include switching book baskets that aren't as loved and replacing them with newer books or series.

Larger changes that I am thinking about are the "bigger picture changes" that reflect my beliefs and the messages I want to send in the classroom and home to parents. One of these bigger changes is fine tuning my curriculum night presentation so that I can effectively share with next year's parents what is most important for young learners: (using pictures of students) working together, listening to each other, sharing, noticing the world around them and teaching them how to ask questions and search for answers. Sending these messages helps the families understand what I believe in and what will be most valued in the classroom. Another change I am thinking about is modeling and providing more opportunities for kids during reading workshop share. This time is trickier for me than writing workshop share. With writing workshop share, I can often find and ask kids to share writing that demonstrates an idea introduced during minilesson (while engrossed in a unit of study). Kids are excited to share and take turns well as I keep track of who and what is shared in my assessment notebook. With reading workshop share (I am a little less organized) I find myslef asking for volunteers to show how they've tried a strategy or reflected on some reading behavior or choice but I am less able to make my way around the room because I often grab a group of kids for guided reading, a book share or a student for aconference. I find often it is the same kids volunteering. This winter I read a great post called Share Time written by Katie Keier and Pat Johnson on their blog: Catching Readers Before They Fall (also the name of their book) about ideas they use for student sharing during reading workshop. They talk about the three structures they use for young readers during share: selected students, partner shares, or "whip around the circle" shares. I am hoping to use their ideas to help me think about and change up my reading workshop share next year.

For me, change is what pushes me to grow and search for answers. When I am frusterated by change, reflecting on what I'm supposed to learn or how the change will help me, brings me closer to accepting and embracing change as an opportunity.