Today is March 31st....really? Can't be, can it? I'm fairly certain that in my little bubble of the world January 3rd was only 2 weeks ago and I'm still floundering trying to figure out 5th grade! Somewhere between 2 weeks and 3 months?! we're headed into April. I love April for multiple reasons. First, it usually means spring and flowers and rain showers that make everything smell like, er...new? We have been blessed with an early spring here so some flowers have bloomed and I do believe the smell-like-new-rain shower is on its way! Secondly, for the last four years of my life, April meant the last month of college. By the beginning of May I would be packing up to move home and finishing up my finals for the year. I am more than thankful April does not mean I only have one more month of fifth grade left. I don't think I'm ready for that yet. Lots of people are counting down (we're somewhere is the 40s I think?) the number of days until summer arrives. I'm not. I don't enjoy change, I don't welcome change, and usually if I can, I run wildly in the opposite direction of change. It's slightly ironic seeing as how the past three months of my life I have spent changing who I am as a teacher, hopefully becoming a better one. Most days I still feel quite insecure in my teaching. Ask partner teacher how many times in any given day I interrupt with various questions....most of which I probably should be able to just make a decision and move on. Yet I have this anxiety that I'm not capable of making the right decision. So I ask him, he's better at this and more experienced at it. If my initial answer matches his I know I'm good....if it doesn't, I'm thankful I didn't go with my instinct! haha, Want an example?
We're a Storytown Reading Curriculum school and in 5th grade there are 30 lessons. Well, we will be finished with 30 lessons prior to being finished with school....by a few weeks. Exciting?! I KNOW!!! That means we can do literature circles!! My kids have been hinting for a month or so that they are tired of the routine curriculum and would really like to read chapter books. I haven't told them that we're going to read chapter books yet, I kind of want to surprise them :) Anyways, partner teacher and I will be in the same boat as we stay together on which lessons we're doing when. I'm a bit of an over planner and tend to have anxiety about new things...eh literature circles in this case! I wanted to start organizing my groups now, because I know the next four weeks will go by quickly and I'll be into the circles before I'm ready to jump if I don't start now! So I laid my groups out, rearranged, and laid out again. Fourteen hundred (slight exaggeration?!) questions later, I was satisfied that I had good groups! I went over to partner teacher and said "I have my groups. Do you think 5 is too many?" He laughed. Simply laughed at me. "M, you're not going to want more than 3 going at the same time." came his reply. In my head I'm thinking "I could handle 5. There are 5 days in a cycle, each day I meet with one group. I have five good groups laid out, I don't want 3." I think my face gave away my disagreement. "Trust me. You don't want 5 groups....3 max." he said. I left the room and threw my tantrum in the hallway. haha Twenty minutes later I had 3 groups. The farther into the planning I get, the more thankful I am that partner teacher laughs at me and tells me that no, 5 is way too many groups. Just go with 3.
Have you taught literature circles before? Ideas or suggestions? Do's and don'ts? Am I diving into a bottomless swimming pool?! Happy teaching!