Monday, August 13, 2012

Whistling In The Dark


Slice of Life sharing is hosted by Stacey and Ruth at their blog, Two Writing Teachers.  Please visit, or add your own slice! 

        I am back to work, although the real thing (meaning the students arriving) doesn’t happen for another week.  I have met with some teachers, dusted and moved things around my office. I’ve been browsing files and adding new ideas to them in order to give good support to those I work with.  What do they need:  magic words, lesson ideas, book suggestions for read alouds, mentor texts and possible book for groups.  Some need a big picture and others want to discuss the smaller ones.  All of us are doing what some call “whistling in the dark” because until the students are here for a few weeks, we can only speculate, surmise, imagine, wish, read and talk about general ideas.  By now it is hard to wait.  Teachers are restless during these days before school really starts.  They move desks and tables, make endless lists, cut out cute pictures, rearrange book baskets, hang flags.  They are tired, yet tireless in the talk about the future. 
First Inspiration!

        So that is part of my job, to support, and then help everyone wait, too.  There is only so much I can do these next weeks.  I have a tech tool class to prepare, and I am ready with a few ideas but will wait to see student goals and knowledge before I do more. 
        What do you do in this waiting period? 



 One thing that fills some time is preparing my new writers notebook.  I transfer some ideas from the past ones, teacherly ideas like Donald Murray’s writing about keeping a daybook and some favorite quotes, some of which I’ve copied from other slicers.  I have an entire line of desktop stickies filled with new quotes and ideas, some of those favorites are put into my notebook.  I collect samples of pages, too, for others to see, and favorite poems that I either handwrite or copy and tape into the notebook.  And I write questions:  What works, what does not?  What do you notice?  What will you take away this time
I am in the midst of reading Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston, having just finished Penny Kittle’s Write Beside Them in a Google group with some of the slicers; it was terrific, a good inspiration to help begin the year.  I am skimming (re-reading) some of Stacey and Ruth’s Day by Day book about writing workshop and re-reading Ralph Fletcher’s Mentor Author, Mentor Texts to recall what’s in these good resources.  Have I mentioned that I’m reading, and reading, taking notes, and then some more?
I think this is also called the teacher’s way of twiddling our thumbs.  We’re waiting.

40 comments:

  1. This reminds me of The Waiting Place in Oh, the places you'll go! Thanks Linda, for the thoughtful way you encourage all of us to prepare to meet our students! Also thanks for sharing a little glimpse into your notebook! I like your inspirational quote and picture...it sparks an idea for me-What kind of readers and writers will be growing this year?

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    1. Thanks Amy. Your question is a good one, and teachers wonder and wonder until the year begins.

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  2. I'm with you, I've set up my room, thought of plans, but am waiting. Waiting for class lists to be handed out tomorrow so I know who I have, and waiting for the students to arrive, one week from today. Don't want summer to be over but can't wait to start!

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    1. Yep! We can't 'do' until we 'see' who they are, can we? Hope your class is wonderful, Katherine.

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  3. The anticipation is so high beginning a new year. "What will my students be like?" fills the thoughts of teachers. I love the newness of starting a school year, everything seems possible. You are such a great resource to the staff. They are lucky to have you nearby to help out when and where needed.

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    1. It's fun to work with them, isn't it Elsie? Thank you for the compliment. I think even when I retire, August will roll around & I'll get excited!

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  4. Ahhh... this was the tough time for me. I did very little and felt guilty about it. I just didn't want to get into my classroom in August. I stayed away and began having those sweat dreams... I agree with you Linda, I needed the energy of those kids to get Fired Up And Ready to Go :)

    For now I'm just shopping---- new Macbook, new car :)

    Bonnie

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    1. I think we will all do something energetic in August if we've been teachers. I'd like to have a new MacBook but will have to wait a while I think. Best wishes in the new car choice!

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  5. Twiddling thumbs here too. Can't wait to put some of Kittle's ideas to work!

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    1. You are so right, Deb. We can't do anything until those students show up!

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  6. Yes the waiting period. I love that you are filling your notebook. Me too!
    Ruth

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    1. Starting the notebook gives me a good start, & something to show immediately. Thanks Ruth.

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  7. You captured many of the anxieties I've started to have as the clock ticks down. Love how you are "recreating" a notebook. It sounds like you are using your time wisely.

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    1. Well, I'm really not twiddling my thumbs, but it sometimes feels like it. No matter how much talk, we really are anxious to have those students! Thanks Dana. Best to you!

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  8. It never ceases to amaze me how industrious we teachers are at this time of year...I love your description - "we can only speculate, surmise, imagine, wish, read and talk...." This anticipation is both hopeful and magical! What an invaluable resource you must be to your colleagues.

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    1. Wouldn't it be lovely to have those who are complaining watch teachers prepare? Teachers work so hard! Thanks Maureen.

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  9. Enjoy this time of anticipation building. I will be heading back on Thursday and the kids will come after a week. It seems like I will have plenty to do. It will be interesting to see if it feels like waiting or just enough time to feel ready.

    I loved the glimpses into your process of setting up your notebook.

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    1. There are piles & piles of things in every classroom just waiting also, to be put away, and to be used, by the students! Thanks for commenting.

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  10. I am the restless teacher you described. For me your voice in this slice is calm and soothing.

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    1. We do manage to move around a lot, physically & mentally, don't we Terje? Thanks!

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  11. This “whistling in the dark” is so true. I love that most of us love that process of dreaming about their class and do some great goal setting. I just guess in our building we just could not even imagine the impact of 34 first graders...I love your notebook, Linda. xo

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    1. Are there really 34 in one classroom. That sounds like my first classroom. I still wonder how I did it! Thank you for the compliment.

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  12. I love that you said that teachers "whisper in the dark." You described what we do behind the scenes so well. Our corporation started today, being retired and having to get my fix,I just had to deliver something to Ruth. It's still in my blood to feel the anticipation, hopes,and desires of those involved. I planned on staying an hour at most and ended staying 4 hours! I really do miss the comraderie of teachers every day. Love your sketch. I'm planning to do more sketching. One gets lost that way, and you can go softly into writing.

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    1. I love hearing about your visit, Tam. I expect I will be doing that too not too long from now, missing those first days. I don't think the feelings will ever leave. Nice to hear from you!

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  13. Glad I'm not the only one who feels this way! I've been feeling like there's so much to do, and yet all of it is far from the real work of teaching! I've been preparing my Moodles and arranging the room and buying supplies and reading up for possible ideas... but the real planning and teaching is just this nebulous cloud in front of me until I meet the kids!

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    1. I like those words 'nebulous cloud' Jennifer. You are so right, somewhere there is a reason for all this work!

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  14. I begin to feel this way too, and I'm retired! I've begun working with a homeschooler so have fed some of my teaching addiction..

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    1. When I was home with my kids, I tutored, so like you Donna, it kept my teaching going. I'm glad you're back in it again!

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  15. I can feel your "itchiness" to get things going and your anticipation of what is to come. Soon enough the children will be there, so relish this time to think, share, read and write. Have a great school year.

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    1. Hi

      I read this post two times.

      I like it so much, please try to keep posting.

      Let me introduce other material that may be good for our community.

      Source: Preschool teacher interview questions

      Best regards
      Henry

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    2. Thanks Judy and Henry for stopping by. It is a marvelous time of anticipation!

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  16. I read what you said this way. While others may twiddle their thumbs when waiting, teachers are reading, reading and taking notes. That got me thinking in a different way. Like what would "twiddling thumbs" look like for other professions. Fun.
    Soon you will be back in full swing and maybe wondering(like I do after 11days with students) how did I get so far behind. Ha...

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    1. Oh, funny, you are so right. I do believe we are often feeling behind. It's just part of the package I guess. thanks Kim!

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  17. This is fidgeting time for me, lots of starts and stops and tryi g to figure out what is the most important place to make a beginning. I am trying to give myself a lot of grace :)

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    1. Yes, we are thinking that way, aren't we? In the final minutes all we can really do is leap! Thanks Juliann-best wishes to you.

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  18. I like the idea that I'm whistling in the dark. Whistling for me is a way to beckon, call attention to, play - which is exactly what I'm doing with all the ideas rolling around in my head!

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    1. Yes, we're all just having fun playing while we wait, aren't we? Thanks Amelia.

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  19. I'm not sure I have had enough free time this summer to feel like I'm twiddling my thumbs, but I am preparing. The anticipation is definitely high at this time of the year. I am also reading and rereading...taking notes, flagging pages, adding ideas to my notebook.

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    1. I think the twiddling thumbs means that in addition to all those things you are doing, there is still a piece that is twiddling, or maybe jiggling in nervous anticipation. Thanks, Robin.

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  20. Hahahaha. I like your description 'twiddling your thumbs' as teachers. While others may grow impatient with the waiting and anticipation, I prefer to think of this as the perfect time for the teachers to breathe and relax - kind of like the calm before the storm. I'm sure it's going to be an exciting school year for all of us. :)

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Having a conversation is a good thing!