Staying true to my values…
…just to be clear, I value sauvignon blanc. KIDDING! (Kind of.) Let me explain.
As is the Mrs. Mimi way, I have overcommitted myself in the pursuit of “having it all.” Also, the notion of “having it all” while raising children during a global health crisis? Poppycock.
Many of you know that I have decided to homeschool the Mini Mr who is currently in second grade. No problem, I thought. I taught second grade for years, I thought. I’ve got this, I thought.
And then came writing. I asked him to *gasp* write a story. In the next moment, my delightfully creative, story telling son turned into a boneless creature no longer able to hold a pencil or keep his head in an upright position. When I did finally convince him that jotting down his ideas literally wouldn’t kill him, he proceeded to write a breakfast-to-bed story with one sentence on each page, mixed capitals, misspelled high frequency words and no evidence of craft or elaboration. I smiled. I reminded myself to stay positive. “I believe in the power of starting with strengths,” I chanted to myself.
Here it comes.
I’m going to name a strength now.
I am not going to panic.
The barn is not on fire, the barn is not on fire, the barn is not on fire…does anyone else smell smoke though?
Instead of sticking with what I value (which includes starting by naming student’s strengths and drinking copious amounts of coffee), I panicked. And rather than naming a strength, I said, “Why is this so hard?”
Then I called one of my closest friends and fellow educator and cried. She said, “What would you do if he wasn’t your son and was just a student in your classroom?”
Huh? And that was all I needed. I took a breath and…cue the music…I went back to what I valued as a teacher and to what I know works best.
“If he was a student in my classroom, I would layer instruction. I would pick read aloud to serve as specific mentors, I would create opportunities for us to write shared stories, I would share my stories and think aloud about my choices as a writer, I would sit with his writing, find it’s strengths and name them for him, I would think about what I know about him as a person and a learner and use that to make our writing experiences more relevant to him and then I would sit alongside him and give him feedback, feedback, feedback.”
“I think we’re done here,” she said.
So now we’re in it. I am capitalizing on the trusting relationship we have and we are just diving in and doing it. Obviously, we have a long way to go, but today, after he wrote about the super hero who flew in to save the food fight in the school cafeteria, he turned to me and said, “this is the first time I have ever thought that writing was fun.”
I think we are on to something.
And, as a newly re-minted teacher of a student who I also happened to give birth to, I think I am on to something. Teaching during COVID (or “crisis teaching” as I like to call it) has forced me to revisit my priorities and my values on a daily (sometime hourly) basis. I have to be willing to set aside the tried and true tricks that worked in my classroom and try something new. This is uncharted territory for all of us. But with a trusted Super Colleague, a clear set of values and
so so so much wine a willingness to try something familiar in a new way, I think we’ve got this.