Sunday, February 14, 2016

Question 3

This is part 3 of an educators' writing challenge that is making the rounds on the internet. It's called "Five Questions", and the idea is to answer them and then tag some other teachers to try it, too. My good friend and writing group buddy, Ellen, shared her responses and tagged all of us at our recent meeting. I was happy to accept, mostly because I knew right away I could serialize my responses and that meant five days of ready-made topics for this blog!

3. What are three things you hope to accomplish before the end of the school year?

Of course I'd really love to resolve that CLT thing I wrote about in Question 1. Believe me, I am working on it. Just the other day I read a poem with my students by Portia Nelson called Autobiography in Five Short Chapters, which is all about accepting responsibility when things go wrong rather than blaming circumstances or other people. I know I need to ask myself what I can do or change to make this professional relationship functional and productive, and I intend to keep trying to avoid that hole until I can walk down another street. (Read the poem to get the metaphor!)

Secondly,  I have probably reached the last third of my career, and I want to find a way to keep the next 10-15 years as fresh and rewarding as the best years of the first 23. That could mean some big changes for this gal who has spent her entire career in one discipline at one grade level at one school mostly in one classroom. Will I figure it all out this year? Maybe not, but I hope to start.

Finally, we have an 8th grade student at our school who has been a challenge to work with for the last couple of years. I knew him well in sixth grade, but now he has the raging hormones and general angst of any 13 year old boy. He also has Downs syndrome. His meltdowns and temper tantrums are well-known throughout the building, but his father is very supportive and involved in his son's schooling.

Henry is in Heidi's homeroom this year, and she has worked hard to channel his restlessness and energy in a positive and appropriate direction. As an example, she arranged for him to work at the school store a couple of mornings a week with members of the National Junior Honor Society. At first he loved it, but after a few weeks he wanted to quit, so Heidi mentioned it to his dad.

"We are not a family of quitters," his father told him. "Are you needed in this job?'

His son said he was.

"Are you contributing?" the father continued.

His son answered yes again.

"Then you must continue," his father said.

This story resonated deeply with me when Heidi told me about it, and although I'm not in any danger of quitting, my third goal for this year is simply to continue.

(Which brings us to Question 4... more on that next time!)

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