Saturday, June 20, 2015

Closing doors- opening windows ?

The end of school year is always a precarious time. Everyone is exhausted from diving to the finish line. You feel that that you have created such a strong bond with the students you've spent every day with for months and months. You reflect back on the learning and growing and really are so impressed with the miraculous journeys.

On a personal level, I am at a hugely precarious juncture, as I am being considered for the job of my dreams right now. I will probably know the fate of that situation early next week. I know I'd have so much heart, soul, experience and learning to share with this new community of learners. I've provided the committee with every shred of evidence I can think of, to convince them to take a chance on someone who has not yet been a principal. All I can do is wait and pray at this point.

In the meantime, in class this week I have a few touching stories to remind myself that if this door closes:

 1. The room I am left in in,  is an incredible place and I am very lucky to even be there.
 2. The lessons I teach every day about grit and tenacity won't let me give up, and I know I will have a friend or colleague ( and probably several) who will always be there for me to help me through tough times and help me look for the next window.

Story number 1 - I do end of year reflections. I ask students about the topics they feel they have become the strongest experts on, the ways they've grown as a learner and person, the policies, projects and resources in my classroom that I should "keep" or "ditch" . Again this year I am overwhelmed by the variety of experts, the amazing learning, the honest and helpful feedback from my students. I love when I anonymously read aloud the "keep" and "ditches" and get powerful arguments from students who want to defend, what someone else wants to ditch . And the several responses of "don't  change a thing, this class is perfect and I've loved coming here every day" don't hurt either.

Story number 2 - One class of my six  (a grade 6 class),  due to scheduling conflicts, is ahead of the others and completed all the reflection activities, so I gave them a choice of free time or finishing up a movie they watched one day last week. Only one student voted to continue the movie. Students split themselves up into small groups to play card games, talk or draw; a few read or draw alone comfortably). I use these times to monitor and observe friendships and note what students do when they aren't programmed or scheduled or told what to do (like the other 99.9% of their lives) .

That one child who has been struggling on and off socially throughout the year was visibly unhappy when everyone split off and he didn't have anyone approach him about joining an activity. (He really would have preferred to finish the movie, he doesn't want to read or draw alone) After giving him a few minutes, I called him over and said

Me - "you know if you just ask "Can I join ?, any group would let you "
Him - " no I really can't do that"
Me-" Do you want me to go with you ?"
Him - "No,  can I just go to the nurse, my neck hurts"
Me - I realize that if I switch the activity to the movie and ask groups not to talk, it will be obvious and may reverberate in resentment from some students. I also can't assist putting him in a group against his will because that will embarrass him. Sometimes I can make eye contact with a student and get them to realize what is going on, but no one is really paying attention to us. So I say I have a few errands I needed him to run if he wasn't busy and his neck is ok . He is reluctant, but a little grateful for the exit strategy.

Then in swoops a superhero student (and not one I would have predicted) who is watching my interchange from with ### from across the room .  He says "Hey Mrs. Foley, you know I really really want to watch the movie too. Maybe we can put it on and sit close to the front of the room and the people talking softly won't bother us. " I want to hug this child . Great idea ! A few others joined him and ### was rescued and supported by these peers.

I know my peers will rescue and support me from any disappointments too.

I know we have all had a great year of learning and growing and we all have many adventures ahead. I will be fine continuing in the middle school classroom if that is the outcome and if I do get the position I am desiring any blog fans will be inundated with my new adventures and experiences.

Have a great summer !


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