I worked with a colleague who, on the last day of school, after the last kindergartener gleefully bounds out of her room, stands in her empty classroom, breaths deeply, looks around and says aloud, "Well. That was that."
The end of the year brings up many emotions for teachers. We wonder if we've instilled a love of reading in our most reluctant reader. We worry we haven't helped the new kid integrate as best he could. And we regret not spending enough time having students write poetry. But, once the children have left, we truly do get a sense of "That was that." There's no going back. Only forward.
And I find the best way forward is a good dose of reflection followed by lots of learning. (Some time on the beach and a cocktail don't hurt, either!) So, what are you reading this summer? My summer professional reading list grows long as the school year progresses and colleagues from around the world mention books I "must" read. I scribble down the titles knowing I'll only get to them in the summer.
In addition to traveling, relaxing and sitting on the beach I'll be making my way through the following books. For more information on each, click the link to my blog. And if you do decide to read along with me, let me know what you think!
The Journey is Everything - Katherine Bomer
If you haven't read anything by Katherine Bomer, you simply must! Her writing is powerful and inspiring. Her latest book is a topic I've been thinking about for a couple of years: writing authentic essays. We typically teach students to write the standard five paragraph essay. I was taught that way, weren't you? But is that the most authentic and effective structure for essays? I've been arguing that it's not.
In Katherine's book she makes a case for teaching students to use their voice and thoughts to create powerful essays that have meaning for the young authors as well as for those who read them.
Purposeful Play - Mraz, Tyler & Porcelli
I'm sure many of you early years teachers have had the experience of a parent, colleague or administrator pop into your classroom while the children are emulating architects by building the latest skyscraper, feeding a doll a bottle while dressed in an apron and too big shoes, and using scissors and glue to clumsily shred paper in order to make a cast for a classmate.
With a perplexed look on their faces, the visitors will often ask, "Why are the kids just... playing?"
If we trust Einstein's judgement when he says that "Play is the highest form of research", then we must allow ample time for purposeful play. In their new book, Mraz, Porcelli and Tyler make the case for the critical necessity of play in the classroom. When children play they're learning language, thinking abstractly, making sense of their emotions and processing events in their lives. When we don't allow children to play, the disservice we do has long lasting and dire effects.
So whether you're a believer in play or wondering why teachers are devoting time to it, check out Purposeful Play and find out how you can best support your youngest learners.