Mirrors into Windows

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 29 2012


Aaaaaand we’re back! Why hello there, readers. Now in the new year and new semester, my school-world is rife with resolutions. In my personal and professional life I’m working, now, on pursuing happiness, finding the j-factor, living a little – whatever you want to call it. And while some of my students still think that the month is December, or Wednesday, I’m really trying to take the fact that it’s the end of January seriously. Five more months! Less than 100 school days! Where has the time gone? (Lord, when is dismissal?)

D- has stopped throwing chairs! J- and L- are off their one-tantrum-per-day run! T- knows all his letters! Woohoo!

But: K- is getting worse, falling further and further behind. J- has still not started speech therapy (it’s been “in the works” for months) and still can’t pronounce most letter sounds. I need to figure out how to use more technology in my room. JW’s mom wants him tested for learning disabilities. Now that most of the class knows letters, it’s on to sight words and blending and reading and the work is never done!

I feel like I’m playing whack-a-mole, that arcade game where the little moles pop their heads up and you have to hit them with a foam hammer. I think there are some games with alligators instead of moles. You get one and another pops up in the other corner. You get that one and now it’s two more at a time! The moles in this analogy are Classroom Issues – not children, of course – and my hammer-wielding arm isn’t too tired yet but perhaps at risk of a repetitive strain injury?

I actually like that there is always more to work on, and I feel incredibly relieved that my “moles” are more academic and less behavioral now. But in my class of 24, it seems like I’m always at risk of not giving a particular student all of the attention that he or she deserves. Some demand it (tantrums) and some are in most obvious need (developmental delays), but really all need that tailored support, enrichment or remediation, differentiated homework, morning hug, lunchtime conversation. And as I “whack” away, I have to remind myself to prioritize, keep a global perspective, and yet, not let that one get past me!


On a different note, I finished giving the Diagnostic Reading Assessment to all of my kids and now have official reading levels for them, so we’ll be using my leveled classroom library to build those reading skills. The goal is for all to be at or above a first grade level. One is there already! It’s pretty exciting to see them reading and I am loving our school-wide implementation of DEAR time (Drop Everything and Read). In kindergarten it’s kind of Drop Everything and Tell Yourself a Story As Quietly As You Can While You Look At the Pictures, but that’s a start. They love it, too, and I am going to spend the second semester amping up a love of reading and writing that will hopefully stick with them through the rest of their school years.

I leave you with a treasure from the reading assessment:

Me: “Point to each word with your finger and read the story to me.”
Actual text: “The ball is red.”
T- reading: “What else is red? Oh, a ball that a boy kicks. He is getting it into the goal. I like to play soccer.”

One Response

  1. Ivette

    DEAR was one of my favorite parts of middle school — that’s how I was introduced to Harry Potter!

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