Classroom community continues to be on my mind as the school year begins. We are three weeks into our year and last week I already started to get overwhelmed. I read an excellent post by Deb Frazier entitled: Building A Community of Learners-The First Six Weeks.
“But as I watched their innocent faces it was obvious they knew they were being judged on their performance. There is no undoing this feeling, the kids now own that embarrassment and worry. I struggle to find the benefits of early assessment. Assessing students before they've developed relationships and established routines seems like a "pop" exam before the syllabus is passed out. I understand and value timely pre-assessment but, how does assessment in the first 3 weeks enable a student to feel valued and respected, both of which are necessary for their success?”
As I read Deb’s article although she teaches first grade, she reflected my thoughts, and I totally agree with her. My students are ten years old and are familiar with the testing that is required, and I still see that look in their faces. I feel like I have “lost control” of my first six weeks. Our district has shifted toward required MAP testing this year. For fifth graders, three separate tests on reading, math and science. In addition, reading and word assessments. I wonder why I allow myself to get pulled into a tailspin when I know all of these assessments must be given the first month of school? Why do I get so focused on theses tests and lose the other parts of our school day?
I took some time away from school this weekend allowing myself to try and jump back into summer when I was thinking about how to build strong readers and writers. Choosing several picture books to guide those important first mini lessons. I went back to my twitter favorites and remembered those important conversations that I don’t want to lose, but I had put on the back burner. I need to remember to stop and pause even after the first three weeks of school. The conversations and the book talks that we have already had are helping my students switch genres or finding time to read in their busy schedule. I realize as I finish typing this post that testing is not over taking the first six weeks. It is just a part of the first six weeks. Shifting my focus to the other parts of our day is where I need to spend my time.
|Ending our week in writing clubs for our newsletter.|