Fridays are usually busy and I like how quickly the day moves. Also, the students work all week to earn what we call “Free Choice Friday.” If a student has completed all assigned work and corrections as well as being a good “team member,” he gets to choose any educational activity he wants and work with friends. (For example, the student can play chess or a math game.) Selfishly, it gives me the last forty-five minutes of the day to clean up and get organized for the following week. Everyone is upbeat on Fridays.
If someone asked me to describe a typical day in my classroom the first words I would say would be laughter and enthusiasm. On this particular day, they both seemed to be absent. My regularly amusing grammar lesson was dull and lifeless. I love to create raps and rhymes to help the students learn what are typically dull concepts. The class had mastered action and helping verbs and when we moved onto linking verbs, they seemed lost. I wasn’t the least bit amusing or clever, either. What was I doing wrong? Was it poor planning? Had I moved too quickly? Had I failed to set the appropriate anticipatory set? How could they not understand? Was I failing? (Yes, I do have a tendency to be a bit dramatic!) This failed lesson left a sour taste in my mouth that I couldn’t seem to shake. As I moved through the rest of my day, my regular rhythm of tasks and lessons seemed a tick off. The day just wouldn’t end, and when it did, I was more than relieved.
So on Sunday morning, with the lesson plan template before me, I wondered and reflected on my frazzled Friday. In the quiet solitude of the moment I tweeted. I wrote:
“Not happy with my teaching on Friday. Didn't have my rhythm. Can't wait for Monday to redeem myself. Do other tchrs self-critique?
I wasn’t expecting what happened next. The first to respond was @peoplegogy who explained that he isn’t a scripted educator and always tries to find the rhythm of teaching. Then, @librarybecky responded with “'I’ve sometimes told kids I need a do over.” Within minutes, @debiowens, @sumrthyme, @saune and @flourishgkids had all answered a resounding “YES!” They surrounded me phrases such as “absolutely,” and “don’t be so hard on yourself.” Even @readingcountess tweeted “Yes-some days are diamonds, some days are duds. When they are duds, I limp home feeling like a loser!” Of course, I immediately returned a reassuring tweet about my admiration for her ability as I followed her blog.
I was so grateful for this unexpected support that I tweeted the following:
“This is why I love Twitter. Woke up wondering if other tchrs self reflect and now feel surrounded by teacher support - on a Sunday morning.”
“Could everyone come to my school?”
I was so enthralled with the number of encouraging tweets, I wanted everyone to come with me to my school and keep the positive feeling flowing. I imagined everyone walking through my classroom door and giving me “a thumbs up” or mouthing, “Way to go, Nancy.” Can you tell we’ve been working on the visualization strategy in Reading Workshop? Next, in the mentions column of TweetDeck I found:
@librarybecky: "Everyone is at your school...in a virtual way. Love my PLN! "
My somber Sunday was suddenly bright and hopeful. I am never alone with my worries, self –doubt or self-criticism. Supportive educators are a tweet away to encourage me. Moreover, I was reminded that the best teachers consistently reflect on their teaching. The best teachers are the ones who worry and constantly strive to do and be better.
So, thank you to @librarybecky and all of the others in my PLN. When I walk into school on Monday, I will hear the echo of the tweets I received on Sunday and wrap myself in them like a great big hug. I will remember the time you took to encourage me and share your thoughts. I can’t wait to return the favor. I love my PLN.
(By the way, I am working on a new rap for linking verbs.)