I really struggle to get it all in. Plans for the upcoming week begin on Thursday, in a team meeting with my co-teacher who is a special educator. I fine tune the plans over the weekend. My plan book is evidence of the robust instruction that I design for each week. Despite my preparedness to launch those plans, I'm surprised, at the end of each day, at what goes unaccomplished.
I have worked hard to limit the time wasted on transitions. I have no fluff in my day. There is no time spent on instruction or activities that don't address standards. Still, there are not enough moments in my day to accomplish all the things I set out to accomplishment and all the things that are critical to my students' success.
What I have done a good job of is igniting a passion in my students for reading. Our #classroombookaday challenge is an enormous success. I recently asked students to reflect about their year. I asked a simple question: "How is your year going? Tell me and give me three reasons to support your answer." I couldn't believe how many students cited #classroombookaday as a reason why they were having a good year. It really is a time when we all come together to have a shared experience. The books we're reading are carefully selected. They afford our students opportunities to view the world through a different lens. They expose our students who diversity and the very real and very different problems of others. In other words, #classroombookaday is helping my students to become far more empathetic.
In addition, we are reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Charlotte's Web. The kids are LOVING both books. After each chapter of The Sorcerer's Stone, the students write a letter to Harry which highlights the major events in the chapter. This is another opportunity for students to become empathetic while also demonstrating their comprehension and writing skills. The letters give me insight into which writing skills need to be highlighted in upcoming lessons. In the coming weeks, scaffolds that support students in highlighting major events will be gradually removed. Letters will begin to demonstrate which of my students can determine main ideas and support those ideas with details. This week, after reading Charlotte's Web, I will ask my students to respond to text dependent questions with varying depths of knowledge. Students will receive some support in their work, but again, supports will be gradually removed as instruction provides students with the skills and strategies that will enable success.
I go in to every week with a plan. Each week's plan is robust. Rigor and attention to the standards are always in the forefront. Yet, I still struggle to get it all in. Focusing on a single goal each week helps to keep me focused on what is most important. I work to make every day count. This week. I'm counting on five days of focused instruction and work that will make a difference for my students. That is always the plan!