What I’m Doing Right…For Once

March Madness is not, in my world, connected to basketball.  March is Reading Month, making it four straight weeks of near-religious observance of the joys of readng.  It has also been the month in which I do my Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) for each of my students.  And this year, the month we finished collaborative digital stories on endangered species, culminating in a mini film festival.  I’m tired.

I’ll be reviewing assessments tonight, and that usually brings me down for a while, since it is my failures that grab my attention.  Yes, there’s still time, but I feel freaked out and discouraged about the progress of a few of my little ducklings–at this point it is tradition.  Sure, I’ll forgive myself, share out the blame among parents, past teachers, God, and the ducklings in question–eventually.  But first I’ll hold myself accountable and feel crappy.

So this might seem like a bad time to review a video  that a wonderful colleague of mine recorded last Fall.  In it I’m doing a focus lesson, guided groups and conferencing for readers workshop.  A lesson I hadn’t taught before.  But I’ve been carrying the thing around for many weeks, and just made myself watch until I got over my bad hair, all the fidgeting with my outfit, and how weird my voice sounded.  And after a few minutes, I started paying attention to the teaching. 

It was good.  I mean, I really rocked that workshop, those kids were engaged, and we were learning.  Is this surprising, even though it shouldn’t be?  Kind of.  It is one thing to have a sense that these things are happening, but another to actually watch the happening from the outside.  My district doesn’t practice video-recording lessons as a regular way to reflect on teaching, so this is the first time I’ve seen myself in action since I student-taught back at the dawn of this millennium.  And maybe, just maybe, part of me was still picturing my teaching as it was captured back then–enthusiastic, but not terribly focused or smooth or, for that matter, student-centered.  Back then I would have killed to teach like I do now. 

So instead of starting to analyze this pile of reading assessments in “hot mess” mode, I actually get to go into the process with this picture of a skilled reading teacher inside my head.  And it’s a picture of me.

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