The beginning of each school year is always chaotic. Sometimes it’s the overwhelming chaos that can feel debilitating. Other times it’s that quiet chaos that only you know ensues. At times it creeps up on us in silence, yet we know it’s found its way into our spiraling minds. But always, it lives within our being because, quite simply, we are so wildly passionate about upping the ante with each and every group of students that crosses our threshold. This year, I welcome the chaos.
I have complete and utter belief that the Reading Writing Workshop (RWW) is exactly what my students need. Better yet, I know in my soul, that it’s exactly what they deserve for their lives; both inside and outside of room 382.
We have a promising year ahead full with mentor texts, writer’s craft, brilliant student generated ideas, ‘aha’ moments, and all of the unknown that we are willingly going to dive into – together. But, I would be remiss if I pretended that chaos and uncertainty were not eagerly awaiting our arrival.
Between rolling out the RWW in its entirety last year, more summer classes at the lovely campus of UNH’s Literacy Institute, and a month in the Bronx writing with the NYC National Writing Project; I have been planning. Incessantly. Yet, I very quickly realized that all of my planning may be better utilized at some other time, in some far off distance, or at the very least, later in the year.
My plans are fantastic. I feel it in my gut.
Yet I know they will be utilized and enjoyed when the time is…right.
You see, the beauty within the RWW is that the authentic and natural flow is magical. Straight up, hands down – magic. The luxurious task of choosing which piece of literature to start with when oh-so-many are enticing. The creation of one’s Writer’s Notebook. The roller coaster writing that sheds light on our own movement and development as writers. The organic inquiry that surfaces. All of it. Every piece is essential.
So you can imagine that after rounding day three of educating, fully engulfed by a feeling of unease, I knew that all of my planning was by no means an effort to be mourned but most definitely an effort that needed reshaping. As to not let the chaos (starting its crawl toward my vulnerability) completely immobilize me, I made a decision right then and there. I was by no means going to shift my expectations. Instead, I had decided to rework all ideas I had about what my students would find engaging. Because the reality is, my new students are not the same students as last year.
Mystery books have flown off the shelves – for the first time ever! Color is most often preferred when expressing themselves vs. the written word. There is an untapped intellectual power among every young adult occupying each individual seat that is awaiting its own explosion. Their passions have yet to be discovered within the context of our learning community. And, not unlike years worth of previous students, they are incredibly focused and hardworking.
When students are not meshing with the material; when the sparkle does not twinkle in the corner of their eyes as they try to explore new found interests; or they have absolutely no questions…something’s wrong. Very, very wrong.
I am responsible for guiding students through the beauty of the RWW to foster their own strength, perseverance, and dedication toward the development and growth that is inevitable to happen. I feel the promise and hope. I am no longer vulnerable nor am I even remotely entertaining the potentially consuming chaos. Instead I am enjoying the exploration of new mentor texts while listening intently to the views and beliefs of my wildly intelligent learners.
Here’s to an invigorating year full of unforeseeable experiences, ideas reworked, and chaos debunked.