This Much I Know is True – Putting Your Beliefs in Writing

beliefs

This week I was lucky enough to Skype with Ruth Ayres, who is working with me as a Writing Coach. I feel very confident in my ability to teach reading, but I’m not completely satisfied with my writing program as yet. When Ruth posted that she would be available to work as a Writing Coach, I was thrilled beyond belief to have the opportunity to learn from someone with her knowledge and skills. This year my District adopted new curriculum for both Reading and Writing, and I’ll admit I’m finding the Writing more challenging to work through. I wanted some extra insight and a chance to get feedback from someone who really ‘knows her stuff’.

I’ve been feeling more than a little frustrated with the way things were going in my Writer’s Workshop. I couldn’t quite put it into words, but it just didn’t FEEL right. I contacted Ruth and she listened patiently to my frustration and confusion and in her sweet and thoughtful way said “I think a little list in your notebook called, “This I Know About Teaching Writers…” might unleash some of your beliefs and help you filter through the (new writing) resource.” So I sat down and started writing. WOW. This assignment really did ‘unleash’ my thinking in a way that nothing else could have. Putting my philosophy about teaching writing on paper really made me think about what I do and what I believe to be TRUE. It gave me clarity and direction and helped me pinpoint why I’d been having so much trouble. I think the hardest part about adopting a new curriculum as a veteran teacher, is that we already have some knowledge about what works well for our students and a philosopy that guides the way we have taught that subject. Correlating what we believe with what the new curriculum is asking can be a stressful and sometimes conficting experience.

However, the very act of putting in writing what I believe gave me such a sense of peace. I took a breath and gave myself permission to admit what I know and believe is true for my students, and ultimately I realized I’m just not that far apart from the new curriculum I’m teaching. I may not teach it in ‘exactly’ the same way, but the bottom lines are there.

I will be forever grateful to Ruth for giving me this assignment and I HIGHLY recommend it for every teacher. Putting what you believe about teaching in writing is an experience that will both center you, and help your every day teaching. When you know what’s at the core, the edges are not so blurry.

Have a great week

Annabel

Thank you Ruth for your wisdom and patience. Ruth’s Website

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If you’re interested, here is what I came up with: My Writing Truths

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Create Your Own Sunshine

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My nerdlution commitment to writing has stalled after one entry.
I mean, how does one write a blog about education without sounding overly cheery, or overly negative?

On one hand, I want to write about the wonderful things I see happening in my classroom every day as students develop their love of books and begin sharing their enthusiasm with one another. On the other hand, I’m busy trying to cope with almost 50% of my students being below grade level, and desperately trying to get them where they need to be. Each day I feel the push and pull that I suspect many teachers experience – I celebrate the growth and the small victories, but am constantly reminded that this is not enough. I hear the drum beat of “proficient and advanced” in my ear, in the constant stream of data analysis, and in the endless discussions of benchmarks and common core standards. I’m relieved beyond belief that my students don’t have to face the STAR testing this year, but I’m terrified of what awaits them in with Smarter Balanced in 2014.

Push and pull. Push and pull.

In the end, I think I just need to blow up that balloon and let it go. My students are working as hard as they can, and they will all make growth this year. It may not be the two grade levels worth of growth they need, but it will be enough. Enough for them and enough for me. Knowing that I have given my all.

Ok, I’m a pretty positive person, so I guess I’m going to err on the side of overly cheery. Sometimes you just have to create your own sunshine.