It’s 2017, and I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some optimism.
2016 was hard for me, though it shouldn’t have been, by society’s standards. I left the high school classroom, became a new mom, and began a new career as a college instructor.
All great new things, right? But, I didn’t deal with those changes very well. I constantly worried and wondered about what could go wrong–would we have enough money to live once I quit teaching? Would Ruthie be okay if she didn’t finish her bottle? Would I have trouble with my students respecting me because I was so young?
I framed everything in the negative. I constantly fretted, and I knew no joy in my life. Amy noticed this when she said, “you know, I haven’t heard you sing your words in a long time.”
I didn’t sing much in 2016.
But, it’s a new year, and I’ve come to terms with some things. I’ve stopped framing my identity as a woman whose life got sidetracked by motherhood, for one. I’m a mom now, first and foremost, and the rest of my life distracts me from that identity. And I love that: I think having some intellectual outlets that keep me busy–teaching, writing, reading, exercising–make me a better mother. And I am happier.
I’ve been reading a lot about purpose vs. happiness, and I want to reframe my thinking and my teaching around this concept. Purpose and meaning take a long time to foster, unlike happiness, which rewards us with instant gratification. But that gratification is fleeting, in life and in learning. It’s better to think longer.
I’m going to try to be purposeful in how I plan and teach my courses this spring. My students and I will read Visible Learners by Krechevsky et al, which focuses on cultivating a learning environment that is “purposeful, social, representational, empowering, and emotional.” I want to craft that kind of classroom, and I want my students to craft that kind of classroom, too.
So, in terms of planning my five courses this semester, I’m beginning my thinking by wondering how my preservice teachers, their students, and I can feel purposeful. I’m structuring my courses to include lots of dialogue, writing, and low-stakes assignments. Opportunities for talk, revision, and choice abound.
I want to approach this whole year–the semester, and 2017 as a whole in terms of being a mom–with a more positive perspective, thinking more about my purpose and less about the negative. I’ll ask myself, with every lesson I teach or assignment I craft or text I select: how will this help my students, and their students, and me, be purposeful?
I’ll think long. And I feel so optimistic about that.
How will you plan and teach with purpose this year? Please share in the comments!
Shana Karnes lives in West Virginia and teaches sophomore, junior, and senior preservice teachers at West Virginia University. She finds joy in all things learning, love, and literature as she teaches, mothers, and sings her way through life. Follow Shana on Twitter at @litreader.
Tagged: Readers Writers Workshop
When I read this, I thought about how purposeful also means “for me.”
Purposeful readers can choose a book they are excited about reading. Purposeful readers ask other teachers if it’s okay if they read if they finish their other work early.
Purposeful writers start researching and drafting when I’m in a brainstorm mini-lesson stage. Purposeful writers talk about their topics in the hallways and by their lockers.
It can be really, really, really hard to teach and model purpose, and sometimes I’ve found it helpful to talk about the range of behaviors that would be considered acceptable/unacceptable. For example, on nonfiction writing, Kanye, Mariah Carey, and evidence for the existence of Bigfooot are all legitimate topics.