Monday, August 27, 2012

You only have so much time...

In the past few weeks, I have observed the Pinterest trends move from exciting summer activities to back to school gifts for teachers.  These gifts tend to be full of puns and are all very cute but they don't look anything like the back to school gifts I have received in my time as an educator.  My favorite treats were things like a styrofoam cup of icy horchata delivered to me at afternoon dismissal, a single wilted carnation that was presented with pride, and this note that was left on my desk at the end of the first day of school seven years ago.

I love how this simple note from a seven year old reminds me of what children really want from their teachers.  They want us to be nice to them ALL DAY (that's the kicker there! :)) and they want access to the resources we possess that are so often unavailable to them from any other source.  They really don't care how many times our classroom photo gets repinned on Pinterest or how cute our fonts and clip art are (although there is nothing wrong with any of those things).  But, at this time of year when there are just not enough hours in the day, I believe it is worth remembering what our students really care about.

I read a lot of books about education but the author that most touches my soul is Regie Routman.  I know that sleep is important these days but her Essentials books are the few books I would say are worthy of losing a few hours of sleep in order to read at this time of the year.  She truly knows how to bring us back to what is essential and what are the non-essentials.  

In her book, Reading Essentials, Regie reminds teachers to "live an interesting life" because "you can't come to work each day enthusiastic about teaching if all you did the night before was grade papers."  She goes on to say:
Staying till six or seven each evening doesn't necessarily make us more effective teachers.  Our students will not become better readers because we create fabulous projects and centers, give them lots of paperwork, and grade lots of papers.  They will become better readers if they receive excellent instruction and have lots of time to read and talk about books.  

As bilingual/dual-language teachers, you may often feel that you are doing even double the work of the teacher next door.  If you feel like the school year has barely started and you are already overwhelmed, please take time to remember what is essential because you only have so much time.

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