We’re six days deep into the school year here in West Virginia, and I am so happy, fulfilled, and content. The start of this year has been the smoothest of my seven years, and our readers and writers workshop is coming together more quickly than it ever has. I think it’s because of all of the invitations and welcomes that have been flying around our classroom, rather than the commands and directives of years past.
Amy’s post on inviting students to just talk helped me simplify the structure of my first week of lessons. I strove to make our first days together as inviting as possible–as laid back, relaxed, and caring as I could. Students were drawn to our classroom library with an invitation to check out whatever book they’d like. They were intrigued by an invitation to write daily–nulla dia sine linea, in the words of the inimitable Donald Murray–as we set up our writer’s notebooks. I invited students to just read for pleasure, to just listen to a poem to enjoy it, and to just write for fun.
My invitations all centered around simplicity.
I want to slow down my thinking this year. It seems my brain is always flying at a hundred miles a minute, and I bet my students’ minds are too. I will invite my students to simplify their thinking–to streamline their thought processes, open their minds, and just write. Just read. Just talk.
This year, I’m inviting everyone in our classroom–adults and students–to put away their phones. We read this article to understand why that may be necessary, as our devices can distract us without our consent. Part of this conviction came after I read M.T. Anderson’s Feed, an award-winning YA novel about the mindlessness technology can fill our lives with.
I’m inviting learners to resist letting their lives be frittered away by detail, to simplify, simplify. We will do more with less, and we will do all of our reading, writing, and thinking more deliberately. These first six days have been marked by that simplicity, and I hope to continue that trend all school year long.
What are your goals this school year? What do you hope to achieve with your learners?