Sunday, August 14, 2016

In This Moment

Being both a principal and a mom, I know a thing or two about time.  For one thing, I am always trying to find more of it!  Minutes, hours, days, school years seem to fly by faster than the ones before.  It seems like more often than not, I look up at the clock in my office and it reads 8:00am, and then suddenly I am glancing up and it's 3:30pm.  Where does the time go?

My younger brother recently became a father, and I love getting pictures of my tiny, perfect nephew. I look at those pictures and it seems like a lifetime ago that my daughter was that little.  But it was actually only 20 months ago.  Again, I think, where does the time go?

The other night, as I was about to go through our regular bedtime routine, Emerson asked for me to rock her in the chair.  This was a pleasant surprise.  The two of us snuggled into the big purple rocker, wrapped ourselves up in a knitted blankie, and began to rock.  As I stared into her sleepy eyes, she whispered the names of different family members, neighbors, friends, and pets.  She was comforted in the fact that I reassured her they were all going "night night" just like her.  In the nightlight lit room, we quietly sang "Twinkle Twinkle" and "Eensy Weensy Spider" and her favorite, "Wheels on the Bus."  And even though it was too dark to see the words, I read her the book On the Night You Were Born; no need to see the words on the pages since I know them by heart now.  After that, I'm not sure how long we rocked.  All I know is one second she was giving me a kiss, holding my face in her hands and saying "my mommy," and then the next second her eyes were closed and I was listening to the familiar sound of her sleeping and breathing.

For a few minutes, it seemed like time stopped and nothing else mattered.  In that moment, nothing else mattered.

In that moment, I could have rocked all night and watched her get a little bit older.  I could stare at her forever with tears in my eyes, still full of amazement that I made this tiny, perfect human.  I don't like that minutes, hours, days will go by again and I will think where did the time go?  How many more rock to sleep nights will we have together?

For now, I am going to do my best to remember to slow down, let those moments happen and tuck them into my heart pocket.

Those minutes, hours, days, school years are going to keep flying by.  But which moments are you going to slow down for and remember?

And just because we all need a good cry now and then, take a listen...

Monday, August 1, 2016

Feedback: The Sound of Silence

**Reflection post for UDL course, How would student feedback be useful?

In the classic song, "The Sound of Silence", Simon and Garfunkel sing about "people talking without speaking" and "people hearing without listening."  Their message a few lyrics later?  They don't want the only sound to be the sound of silence.  They sing "hear my words that I might teach you, hear my words that I might reach you."

Why did this song pop in my mind when I started thinking about student feedback?  Well, probably because I don't think it's an area that we have really addressed and tapped into as educators.  When you ask teachers if they take feedback from their students...sometimes you get a blank stare and the sound of silence.  For some reason, feedback for many of us humans is a tough pill to swallow.  It's not everyone's favorite activity...to have someone come into your classroom and watch you work.  We get nervous.  We think about making the wrong move or saying the wrong move and then because we thought that, we get ourselves all flustered in the middle of a lesson that we normally had no problem doing.

Here's the thing.  You have a lot of someones watching you work everyday.  Even if their eyes aren't always on you, they are usually listening.  And we all know how brutally honest they can be!  Since it is our students who are with us day in and day out, they should be the ones to give us honest feedback.  They should be the ones to help us improve.  It's their future on the line, and if we aren't doing what's best for them, if they aren't hearing us or we aren't reaching them, then we need to know that and make improvements.

Think about this.  If one teacher asks her students for feedback, makes changes and improves her teaching, that class benefits.  If all of the teachers in the school ask for student feedback, make changes and improve, then the whole school benefits.  Teachers improve.  Students improve.  Teaching improves.  Learning improves.  Seems pretty simple to me.