Tuesday, September 8, 2015

It Takes Time

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It is day 11 of the school year. I am still in teaching the routines mode. Routines take time to get established.

Today was our day to begin writing about our independent reading in our reading journals. We do such writing once a week. I believe, as does Linda Rief, that it is good practice for readers and writers. Week one we previewed many books in the class. Daily, I talk titles and share books. Last week I reminded students to have their chosen independent reading book with them. I encouraged them to read if they finished activities quickly and had down time in classes.

Today was the day we took out our independent reading books and began in our reading journals. Guess how many students, on average, in each class period had not yet chosen a book to read? 

You might be right. 

The number is always bigger than I want it to be. It is always bigger than I remember it being the year before. 

But it is not January (yet). 

Getting reading workshop going and going smoothly takes time. I haven't  added students as editors to our shared Reading Record on Google Drive. I haven't blocked off a chunk of guaranteed time each class period to read.  The beginning of the year eats time: schedules, the code of conduct, getting the roster right, assessing summer assignments--there is a lot to do at the beginning of the year.

Setting up routines take time. It takes time to gather email addresses and input students into the Classroom Organizer app. It takes time to assess students' interests and target them during daily book talks. 

Today was day eleven. 

We are still establishing routines. You can see it in my lesson plans online.

Somewhere around fourth or sixth period, I pulled out my reflection journal while students were gluing directions in their reading journals (handouts below). I quickly wrote about taking my time and remembering how long it takes to get a workshop established and running smoothly. I dumped it on the page, took a deep breath and set that thinking aside.

Every class is different. Every student is an individual thinker and reader. The good news is that more
I change this "form" each year and add pictures of current
Florida Teen Reads and award winners like the
Amelia Walden Award  to the margins.
than half of the students in every class had a book with them to read. The other good news is that the rest of the kids quickly consulted their Book Pass preview pages and checked a book out from our classroom library. 

I wonder if anyone has thought gamefully about these first weeks of school?

Would Classroom DoJo help my students remember the minutiae or is it just a way to punish kids with rewards?

On my way home today one of my heroes, Jane McGonigal,  was on National Public Radio's Marketplace talking about Super Better and gameful thinking. Gameful thinking is goal oriented and flexible; it views challenges as overcome-able.  I do too.

That's why I stayed at school doing what needs to be done to input initial assessments and set up systems until long past the duty day. Marketplace comes on our National Public Radio station at six after all.

I over came a few challenges and made progress toward many goals. It helps that my son is now a freshman and has band practice on Tuesdays. I can use the afternoon and not rush.

It takes time. 

I know the book lovers (and yet to be book lovers) in my classroom will find titles that will ignite their passions and capture their hearts. I know that come January, kids will have ten or more books to talk and write about. Now is the time to put the routines in place that will enable that to happen. 

Patience young grasshopper. 


  1. How funny...that is where my post went too! It takes time!

  2. Hearing this helps me. We finished say 7 and still on routines. I, too, forget how much practice needs to be done in the beginning of the year! They will get there. We will all get there. I started conferencing with students. I got through ONE student in TEN minutes. I need practice too. LOL!!! :)

    1. Thanks, Michelle, It takes me a week or two to remember that I am not picking up where we left off at the end of last year. New year, new kids, means time spent getting it going. I know that like you I will need conferring practice too. We start those next week!

  3. More than one of you are talking about taking it slow, patience, getting the routines down. I love all that you teach the students, Lee Ann, that you offer choices, allowing students to begin to think about who they are & what they would like to discuss in any particular book. And I see that you are ready for a number of, I guess I would call it "results", like those who were not ready with a book. No problem, check one out now! Let us not make a problem when there is a ready solution is an important concept that I've tried to share with those young teachers I've mentored. Sounds like you understand & I bet your students do, too.

    1. Thank you for seeing my solutions focus and my positive thinking stance. Thank you, Linda. You know, better than any of us, I bet, that it takes one day, one class period, one solution, one lesson at a time.

  4. Yes! That's exactly what I wrote about today, too! My sixth graders are still believers in reading, anxious to jump into a book. I still despair over the change that takes place over time, when they become so much less enthusiastic about the magic of a great book. Thanks for this post!

    1. I had problems getting to your blog this morning, Tara. I will try again now. I am the person who tries to re-kindle that book love. I do not know what happens between 6th and 10th grade (other than a LOT of content knowledge demands), but I do my best to get kids re-interested in reading for pleasure. You are welcome for the post. I enjoyed writing it.

  5. There is nothing like the beginning of the year to remind us of just how far we take our students by the end of the year. It is exhausting and we are all craving that routine to be established...quickly. But it does take time and lots of patience. True words!

    1. Right?! I do crave that routine that closed last year. Thank you, Jennifer for sharing your thinking and validating my own. Happy new school year to you.