One of the most powerful and admirable things about Gail and Joan – the Sisters – is how they openly share their teaching life. They don’t preach that they have all the answers, and anyone who has spent more than a nanosecond in a classroom knows that absolutely no one can have all the answers. Teaching is organic; it changes from day to day and sometimes from minute to minute. It changes from year to year as well as the culture of the classroom is fluid and dependent on the humans that make up the class.
According to The Sisters, one of their most frequent troubleshooting queries is about children who don’t seem to develop the stamina required during independent work periods. Fake reading, avoidance tactics (bathroom visits, taking FOREVER in the bathroom), whatever you call these behaviors, the kids aren’t reading and are often sucking away valuable teaching and learning time.
Joan and Gail call these kids “barometer” kids — depending on which way they are going directly impacts the entire atmosphere in the classroom.Last year I think I had quite a few kids who could make or break the learning in the day. Some of this distraction was a cry for attention and some was something deeper. Whatever the cause – attention or organic — the impact on all of us in the room was immense. Here’s a link to what they have to say about one of their students who had difficulty building stamina.
The Daily Five structure demands that children learn to own some of the responsibility for their own learning — and that includes building the stamina it will take so that I, the teacher, will not always need to be the ring-master.
It will take a bit of trust for me to let go, to trust that my students are capable of learning how to do just that — to be trusted to make good learning choices without me getting in the middle of things.
We will all be learning new things this school year.