Musings on a Tuesday Evening

I am caught between a rock and a hard place…of my own doing.

I have made it my mission to say, “Yes. Then, let’s talk about how it went,” when students ask me, “Can I…” or “Am I allowed to…”(This last one really grates on me, for some reason. But that’s a post for another time.)

Nevertheless, I find myself still saying, “No,” more often than “Yes”. I find myself waffling rather than assenting clearly and with confidence: “Yes. Try that out and then let’s chat about how it went for you.”

The classroom is a busy place. My students crave validation, permission, reassurance. They depend on me, as the adult in the room, to tell them I like their work. That they can use the iPad for writing and that what they’re doing, if not awesome already, is on its way to getting there. And, they are persistent.

But what am I after?

I look out at the sea of faces in my classroom and I am on a quest to identify learners who are independent, confident, and intentional problem solvers.

What I sometimes forget is that if my students are going to go from point a to point b, I need to create the situations to help them get there, one step at a time. And, it does take time.

When I explain the why of what we’re doing as clearly as possible without being wordy. (I’ve been told by some of my students that I talk a lot. I wasn’t surprised. I was hoping that they wouldn’t notice. LOL! You can be sure that I made a point of changing that the very next day.)

One way I’ve done this is to use the following sentence frame:

We are studying (topic/concept/skill) so that (how is this going to help us learn better/do something we want to do/improve in a particular area/skill, etc). 

This is not intended so that the teacher is the only one providing the why of a lesson or a unit. Ideally, we want our students to be thinking about this, too.

Today a student came up to me and told me about how she had discussed her reading goal with her parents last night and, as a result, had created a calendar of sorts to help keep her on track. This was not a requirement; she was motivated to do this on her own so that she could keep track of her goal. Tomorrow she’s going to share this with the class.

So, I have to ask myself: why was she self-motivated? Was she the only one or were other kids who were also motivated to follow up on their goals? When I talked to two students today, they were clear about their goals and how they were going to approach them. They have given this some thought.

The sentence frame I used for this was:

I will (goal) by (date or time frame) so that (how is this going to help us learn better/do something we want to do/improve in a particular area/skill, etc.

Maybe it was the so what part of the frame that helped kids connect to their goals. Maybe it was the intentionality: I will…Or maybe it was committing to a date that helped them take this, more or less common classroom exercise, seriously.

Only time will tell.

Stay tuned.

Cross posted to The Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday.




8 thoughts on “Musings on a Tuesday Evening

  1. I love the idea of “yes and…” I used to have a sign hanging in my classroom – it just said “Yes.” I had it there to remind me to say yes as often as possible. I think I need to start using this language with my own kids – “yes, and then let’s talk about how it went…” That is amazing language.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Terje says:

    Student agency is a word that keeps coming up – the question of how we give them choice, voice and ownership. Your slice gives an example. It is a challenge for a teacher because the level of independence and motivation is so varied among the students.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like your sentence frames. They state things clearly and give a time frame when one is needed. K earning is more effective when we know why we are learning a skill and how it will help us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the frames allow kids to focus their thinking. Not all of them may need that, but some do. When those that do hear how others reflect or frame their thinking, it may open up many other possibilities for the rest of the class.


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