Thursday, July 13, 2017

Why I create stuff I can't use...

Recently I was asked about what "stuff" I have created for 7th grade social studies, which is the subject and grade level that I teach every day. I make no secret about my love of creating materials for teachers, and most people that know me are clear: If you are looking for me on my day'll find me at Starbucks. With my laptop. And my Common Core standards. School got out weeks ago and I have been working on creating a "Reader's Workshop" toolkit for upper elementary teachers. I can't really even count up the number of hours I have spent with the standards and looking for the best ideas to help teachers to help kids. 

What have I created for 7th grade social studies? Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. 

I don't need to. I have time to plan my daily lesson. I teach the same lesson five times in a day. And I have an hour of planning time each day to make sure I am on the right page. I got it. 

I create ELA materials for upper elementary teachers because I WISH someone had done that for me. I recently wrote about becoming a 5th grade teacher against my will. It's so true.  I was ill-equipped and ill-prepared. While I create, I always think back to those days. I would have thought I had died and gone to heaven if someone had given me the toolkit that I am currently working on for teachers. Nobody gave me anything. Except for some Lucy Calkins books. And, well, you may know that I don't love Lucy. What I needed was guidance and materials that I could use right that second. I didn't need lots of theory thrown at me, or the big ideas from people that have never actually done the job I was being asked to do. If someone had shown me the toolkit I just finished for Narrative Reading and Reader's Workshop, I would have paid $10,000 for it. I'm not exaggerating. I would have welcomed the credit card debt that came with that purchase because I would have had exactly what I needed to teach my 10-year-olds to love reading, but also keep them focused on the really important analytical skills they need to grow as readers.  I needed some help when I was drowning. I create things I can never use because I hope drowning teachers will see it as a life vest. 

So I guess I DO create stuff for myself. But I am creating it for myself...circa 2010. And I think the Tera that was teaching 5th grade then would have really appreciated it. I didn't have the time then to create anything. I was drowning trying to figure out how to get from one day to the next. I was teaching reading, writing, math, and science. I learned so much that year. Like in order to take a day off...sub plans will take roughly four hours. And if that day off is because I was sick...make that six hours. Cause I'm sick. And can't focus. 

Why do I continue to create ELA materials for elementary teachers? Even though I don't teach ELA or elementary school anymore? Because I can. And because they need it. And because I want to be the kind of educator that provides real support...not the kind that creates new tasks and rules for elementary teachers to follow...and then calls it support. I think there is plenty of that kind of help already. 

I plan to keep creating. This is my way of paying homage to the hardest working (and often the most undervalued) people I know: Elementary teachers. 

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