This Spring, Celebrate Student Growth

On Feb. 2, 2018, the not-so-surprising weather report was that we were in for another six weeks of winter. Technically, that would mean that winter would be over on April 9. Yet the week of April 12, another snowstorm hit Boston and much of the Northeast. On April 6, traveling to Chicago, I needed not only my winter coat but also a hat and gloves. Where is the spring sun, just a little glimmer of hope for warmer days? More winter week seven, week eight; you get the picture.

Though our weather has not been predictable, I am going to guess that as April came to an end, you have experienced some expected results. In fact, for those of you who teach reading intervention, I’ll bet you’ve heard some feedback like this from your “once-struggling” readers:

  • Can I please finish this page/chapter before I rotate?
  • Today in science/social studies we were learning about… and I shared… from what I learned from my video on… or book about…
  • I am so grateful for this class because…
  • My Lexile has increased by… I am so proud of myself. 

Hopefully these conversations are reassurance that the trajectory and mindset have changed. Bright eyes are abundant. Yes, many of us were bypassed on the spring weather, but we don’t have to miss the May flowers, or the growth that has been waiting to pop. When I was in the classroom, my mantra for the month starting on May day was, “Make the Most of May Minutes.” Being that I enjoy having fun with words and other connections, of course, I completely had fun with the m’s. The target was for my students to understand that there were plenty of days still ahead for learning; therefore, May was not the month to let time melt in your hands.

In Florida, where I live, testing has been over for more than a month, and in some states, such as New Jersey, testing is part of the month’s plan. I am going to take a guess that most of you are somewhere in between or at a similar instructional point. Regardless of where you are, stop and take a moment to ask:

  • What goals make the most sense for the end of the year? What are the data indicating?
    • Improving in a specific zone?
    • Wrapping up a book?
    • Taking a challenge quiz?
    • Tracking the number of words read as a class?
    • Using a targeted test-taking strategy to improve rSkills or End of Workshop test results?
  • How’s everything going? What are you the proudest of based on your Dashboard data? Where do you want to focus your energy for the remaining part of the year?
  • Is there anything you would change?
  • What do you find frustrating, but worth the effort?
  • What will you be reading this summer?

It’s not always easy to find the time to ask the questions, but the minutes you invest to plan, set goals, reflect, and listen in the long run give back. The focus provides attainable and measurable end-of-year goals. Students are reminded that the instructional minutes in May and June are equal to those in August and September. As an educator, your heart and mind have earned the reassurance from the answers.

Think about the joy you felt on the first sunny, semi-warm day this year. You ran out and you celebrated. Working with students in reading intervention programs like READ 180 and System 44 is a journey for both students and teachers—and this journey progresses through the seasons. In fall, frustration drops just like the leaves; in the winter, productive perseverance may feel cold. But spring and summer bring the warmth, aka growth. In a 180 classroom, the a-ha and not yet are forever woven, season to season and year to year.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, and fittingly, we announced the winners of our 180 Educator Awards. As summer nears, we all need to pat ourselves on the back and shout, “I did this!”

You are about to end another school year. Stop and smell the flowers; celebrate the growth. I’m with you. Love what you do! Do what you love!

This post appeared originally on the 180 Educator Community.

Watch this space next week for the announcements of our 180 Award student winners.