Thursday, January 8, 2015

What's New and A Hug

When will I ever not say "I'm tired?"

Won't be today. Because, I'm tired!


I haven't even checked my blog reader this week. So, friends, I will get caught up this weekend and send some comment love. School and home have kept me busy. Not extra busy, normal busy.

See, I'm trying out a new thing. And it is wonderful and tiring all in one big ball.

Over the break I learned of teachers going deskfree. I've read plenty about not having a teacher desk, and that went three years ago. But what I'm talking about is kid-deskfree.

Mrs. Jones and I got pretty excited about the idea. We stayed up late dreaming. We worked extra in our classrooms. We talked it over with our principal. We talked it over with each other. We did A Ton of research on the internet. We got our custodian on board. And we began implementation this week, and it's been fantastic.

Today 8 desks moved out and one circle table moved in.

Weird how a panoramic photo squashes the room...

Here's what I've noticed so far...

1. The kids could move to get a drink or pencil and not trip over a desk.

2. The kids chose where to write during writing time. And boy did they write!!! For 15 minutes. Sustained. Check out the beauty...

There were a couple of side conversations, but then they got right back to work.

More of what I have noticed...

3. Since the kids move more, it seems to me that they are more attentive to me when I'm giving direct instruction.

To give direct instruction I pull all of the students up front. And there is room for all of them, no one is crowded.

4. Since they are all near me, I am able to be sure (as best as I can) that all are "getting it."

5. They have been smiling A LOT.

6. They seem happy to read, write and do math, instead of having recess all day long which would be their choice.

7. When they have finished a given task, they can move onto another task: read a poem in the pocket chart, take it apart, and read it again (it is really fun with a pointer); retell a story with retelling cards; read books for fun; or add "ch" words to a circle map that we started first thing this morning. See, awesome. And they have space to do this without stepping on someone or interfering with the direct instruction that someone else is getting.

8. I moved to the kids who needed instruction (instead of them coming to me) and that saved time which means more instruction.

9. Kids can make choices. I give the parameters and then let them choose. They have more perseverance when they make their own decisions.

10. I am super excited to develop more areas in the room to allow for purposeful practice of skills that I have explicitly instructed.

11. It has been even easier to differentiate the practice or instruction, because I can SEE. I see the kids. I see what they are doing. There is no hiding (at least, I hope not).

12. This is why I'm tired---I am constantly assessing, differentiating, redirecting, teaching, noticing and that, my friends, is mental and physical work.

Now, a story.

As the kids were leaving today I gave each a hug (as is my ritual). But there is one sweet boy that has never hugged me. He has his hand ready for the high five long before he reaches me, and that has been ok for us. As he approached today I got my hand ready. 

However, he nearly knocked me over with a huge hug around my waist. Quickly I grabbed him in a return hug. Then he was off to find his mom.

I was so stunned that I nearly forgot to hug the next in line.

I do not know what caused the change. It could be any number of factors. But I do know how it made me feel to have him hug me for the first time. 

Like a Rock Star.

He may not hug me tomorrow and that will be ok. I will let him lead for the rest of the year. But I will definitely be available for him--in the classroom, in the hallway, and when we say good-bye at the end of the day.
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  1. I was anxiously awaiting your description of your deskless classroom. It sounds great!

  2. What I "hear" is that energizing exhaustion. The kind where you are so exhausted only to wake up the next day with anticipation of what great things might happen in the world of education today. Correct me if I'm wrong, but when I achieve that kind of exhaustion, my cup runneth over. And the transition from high 5 to hug is a big one. I have one learner who has transitioned from thumbs up to high five and that was a biggie for him, so I was thrilled.


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