Monday, January 28, 2013

Rescheduling our Plans

Picture this:  You plan a lesson thoroughly.  You've accounted for differences in your students' learning.  Resources are at the ready.  You have even rehearsed some of the dialogue of your lesson.  Enthusiasm is high.  But, before you know it, the clock shows that you have run out of time.   Really?  How in the world could the time have gone that quickly?

Rescheduling is part of life.  Personally, I've been experiencing it quite a bit with friends and other outside appointments lately.  We know it's just part of life.  It's unavoidable many times.  But in having to reschedule, we often become slightly agitated, somewhat frustrated, or even annoyed or disappointed.  After all, we've planned carefully, and, in the case of teaching, we want our kids to experience our lessons when our energies are focused and our enthusiasm is high.

So, how do we handle the reality that is rescheduling?  I am reminded again of a mantra that I am working to embrace this year more than ever.  It's the idea of "quality versus quantity."  I can become slightly uncomfortable when it appears I've "checked off" fewer activities within my reading or writing workshop, because, let's face it, when we think productive, we often think in terms of quantity.  At least I do. So, a real shift in thinking must take place in order to continue to be ready to face each day, despite any interruptions, difficulties, or rescheduling efforts that need to take place.

How does that translate in the reading/writing workshop?  For me, it involves asking essential questions like:

  • Despite the need to put off something until the next day, were kids engaged in texts?
  • Although one class of students may be "behind" another class in terms of pacing, did students learn something new today?
  • Although my mini lesson wasn't as thorough as I would have liked, did students actively add to their schema or background knowledge in some way?
  • Though kids may have had slightly less time to read or write, were they participating in these tasks in real, meaningful ways?
  • Even if the schedule needs to be altered, did kids see a love of reading and writing demonstrated in my classroom today?
Asking myself these questions, in spite of any interruptions or changes in my schedule helps me to honor my day in its own way.  After all, this is what happens in real life.  We make meaningful plans in our daily schedule.  We have purpose and reasons behind these tasks.  We make appointments and have to do lists. But, inevitably, we often don't get everything done in one day.  So, we move those tasks to the next day.  Therefore, we plan for it another time.  It's the same with our workshop time.  I need to give myself permission to be okay with this, even for the discomfort it sometimes brings.

When I am flexible enough to reschedule my plans, I can perhaps realize an even better journey the next day.  I might think of a new idea, or perhaps have a bit more time to expand on a concept or strategy, or maybe explain part of a lesson even better due to the time I had to process from the day before.  

Rescheduling is not always easy, but it's part of our busy lives as teachers. Taking it in stride is not always easy, but when I remind myself to be thoughtful and remember quality over quantity, keeping in mind the questions above, I can progress well with my students, one day at a time.

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