School Week Round-Up: Week Twenty-Two

Three day week last week, five day week this week. My body feels the difference.

Lessons: We worked on our test prep lesson again this week. Four down, two to go, and then for third graders: the actual test. Reflecting on it, I realize that, yes, so much of what had to be done was to help kids with time management; composing paragraphs on a computer; typing; and so on. But there were emotional skills at work too, I realized. The task required a certain kind of endurance that we’ve had to build up over time. And it was a little hard to see the difference month by month, but easy to see the difference when you compared the first time with the fourth time. Students are just more able to work on a task for a long period of time. There are fewer complaints and requests for the restroom or water fountain. They just… got more used to it with practice. (And do not think for a second this is the computer lab alone. So much of the credit goes to third grade teachers, who have kids writing each and every day.)

I think about it like basketball practice. You start by practicing things that are not in and of themselves basketball, like running up and down the court, like passing and shooting and dribbling the ball, like pivoting in certain ways. Then you start putting those things together when they start to feel more automatic to you. You practice dribbling and running. You practice passing and shooting. Then, you actually start playing basketball. You scrimmage, you keep score. Finally, you’re ready for the game. And yes, it is nice to win the game. But I was never good enough at basketball to make a difference in the score. For me, the victory was that I was able to do something that I wasn’t able to do before – play basketball. It didn’t really matter how I did compared to my teammates or other teams, because I was able to do it, so I got to wear a uniform and be on the court for a few minutes.

Anyway, that’s also how I’ve been explaining it to students who ask, “Why are we doing this?” when we practice with prompts. So I’ve put a lot of thought into my metaphor.

Support: First, I appreciate when my colleagues come up with work-arounds for the problems that just continue to dog them. But, those often feel like an inconvenience or annoyance, especially over time. So it is extremely satisfying to find a better fix for that kind of issue. That happened on Wednesday. A first grade teacher had developed a work-around for the fact that a very specific program did not interact well with her Smart Board. Every other thing she did on the Smart Board worked as expected, but this one program with our reading curriculum would not respond to touch. It would still respond on the laptop, though. The issue was, the laptop and Smart Board are so far away from each other in her room, she had to have a student sit at her desk and click the right thing on cue. And it was workable, but she started to feel like the clicking student was missing lesson content, or at least wasn’t experiencing the lesson content the way the other students were. So in I came. We tried a couple different things like updating firmware before I actually read into the particular program’s running requirements. It mentioned which versions of Safari and Firefox you needed… we had been using Google Chrome. And, Google Chrome continues to be the most-often-used browser (we use G Suite for Education, after all). But, we tried everything all over again with Safari and it worked without a hitch.

Things I Did Well:
I had a couple of days where my schedule just… fell in together nicely. One task or commitment wrapped up just in time for another to begin. It happened so conveniently that I should probably not take credit for it. Unless I did something to curry the favor of the schedule gods. Please keep loving me, schedule gods.

Things I Will Do Better: I do not understand why I love my bed so much, and yet I procrastinate so much before going to it. More sleep please.

Cold Prickly: I have a chronic illness. It is one that is extremely manageable, to the point of being almost forgotten about. But, my body will remind me when I start to stretch myself a little thin. Outside of school, I made a lot of commitments over the past ten or so days. I traveled out of state, marched in D.C., slept on a floor during my stay; I also hosted extra trivia nights to cover for other local hosts who couldn’t. So I was dragging a little bit this week. I still haven’t had to take more than one-half day of unplanned absences this year. (Yes, I’ve taken some time for appointments, and a personal day, but those were all planned ahead of time so I could make sure I rolled out the red carpet for my sub.) So I’m going to recharge my batteries this weekend and hopefully keep anything creeping up at bay.

Warm FuzzyA kid farted in class the other day, and her classmates laughed, but more importantly, she laughed to. “It happens a lot,” she explained. “She does this all the time!” one classmate said. I felt such a kinship with all of them in that moment, because deep down, we were celebrating one of the fundamental truths of life:


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