5 Things I Loved About Last Week #celebratelu 10/25/14

celebrate link up

Ruth Ayres hosts a weekly celebration at her blog. I appreciate this invitation to look for the positives in my week.

1. A good conversation with one of my son’s teachers. Parent-teacher conferences were a mixed bag this week and largely left me frustrated–not with my son, but with the priorities of his school (sitting still, being quiet, doing what you’re told without questioning why you need to do it–yes, those are certainly the hallmarks of a healthy democracy). The final conference was a breath of fresh air: this teacher talked to me about what my son is learning and what he’s doing right. She saw him as a person, not a problem needing to be controlled. And she never once asked me how she could make him stay in his seat! (I’d like to see the teachers sit still and listen passively for eight hours a day. Why do we demand that children do what we ourselves could never be capable of doing?)

2. Poems that practically teach themselves. We’ve made our way to the seventeenth century in my British Literature survey course, and this week, we read “To His Coy Mistress” and “The Flea.” All you really have to do to teach “The Flea” is read it out loud and say, “What? I mean, WHAT?” And there they go. I just don’t know any literature that’s more teachable to college students than “seize the day/sexy times” poetry.

3. The #britlitclass hashtag on Twitter. I caught up on our course hashtag this morning and loved seeing the intense engagement students have with this literature. The backchannel has been very active during class, and students are clearly enjoying the readings and the discussion. My concern in this class is always to help students see that this literature may be old, but we can still have conversations with it, and I can see those conversations and “talkings back” happening on Twitter.

4. YA Book Club. A small but committed group of English majors joined me for our monthly Young Adult Book Club on Wednesday. So far, we’ve read and discussed The Maze Runner, Doll Bones, and This One Summer. Next up is John Corey Whalen’s Noggin. The students choose the books–I haven’t so much as suggested any of these titles, and look at the list they’ve come up with on their own! I need the extra motivation to read YA, and I also love talking books with other readers who love to read as much as I do.

5. A Friday morning spent reading. I woke up feeling very cranky on Friday. I prescribed time on the couch with a big stack of books, a couple of cats, a snuggly pit bull, and a giant mug of coffee. It didn’t hurt when FedEx arrived with two boxes of new books either.







22 responses to “5 Things I Loved About Last Week #celebratelu 10/25/14”

  1. Terje Avatar

    I wish for more number fives in everyone’s life (even when they don’t feel cranky.)

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Isn’t that the truth, Terje! How I love a long stretch of uninterrupted time for reading!

  2. Linda Baie Avatar

    Sounds like some very good things this week, Elisabeth, & some challenging ones. I’ve had a few students who did much of their work standing up. I would have thought they might get tired, but no, it suited them well. I’m sorry that your son has to be challenged by the sitting, instead of emphasizing the learning that is so much more important. My grandson had a terrible Kdg teacher who continually complained that he had ‘uncontrollable body movements’. We laugh at that now, & use the term in funny ways, but then it wasn’t so humorous. She was let go by the holiday break, & luckily he had a wonderful rest of the year. All I can say is fight for what you know is true for your son, & hopefully some changes can happen!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The teacher I had the good conversation with suggested that I ask my son’s other teachers if he could work sitting on the floor, standing, or walking around. I am sure that several of his teachers would totally agree that he also has “uncontrollable body movements”!! ARGH. At least you and your grandson can laugh about it now. I am trying to get my son to see the humor in some of the teachers he’s having the most conflict with, but right now, he feels so rejected and dismissed, he isn’t able to find the funny. I have another meeting at the school next week–trying to channel my most diplomatic and likable self!

      1. Linda Baie Avatar

        It’s a real plus that you have that teacher as an ally, Elisabeth. I’ll cross my fingers for you and for your son, too!

  3. Holly Mueller Avatar

    Bravo to the teacher who saw your son’s gifts! Sitting all day must be torture for kids. I love seeing pictures of classrooms that have those exercise balls as seats. Wouldn’t that be fun to try? Like Linda, I have students who listen to me and do their work while standing up. It’s fascinating. I can’t imagine making them sit down. It doesn’t bother me at all. Great celebrations involving books, too – can’t beat that!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I love seeing those unconventional classrooms too, Holly. I look forward to a time when school actually works for kids, because surely we can eventually figure out how to get it right! I also love reading that you have students who do their work standing up. Whatever works!

  4. carriegelson Avatar

    So happy that you had this positive conversation with your son’s teacher. It is hardly like school is a “removed from the world” place so why does it need such odd rules and standards. One of my new students talked to me this week about why she likes math in my class. One of her biggest reasons? “We can sit anywhere to do our work, even on the floor or carpet so I can always be comfortable.” Small things are big things. Hurray for your time with books and the boxes of new titles 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Heaven forbid we invite children to be comfortable while they learn! When I was a high school teacher, the principal was constantly chastising me for letting students sit on the floor and lay down during reading time. As you say, small things are big things. Oh, and I read several wonderful new books yesterday that I am looking forward to writing about on Monday!! Now, off to the library for some historical fiction. I might be a convert to this genre yet!

  5. jarhartz Avatar

    So good to see that this teacher really sees your son and his gifts. What a team you make. You’ve got him at school and at home. I have some students who must be on the floor to do work. My main concern is me tripping over them!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      They keep you on your toes, quite literally! We’ll see what happens next week. Fingers crossed for a successful second conference!

  6. Carol Wilcox Avatar

    I always felt so sad after parent teacher conferences. So few teachers noticed what was good about my son- his kind spirit, his compassion for the underdog, his artistic bent. So many told me about his inability to sit still, poor organization, etc., etc. etc. Thank heaven for Friday’s gifts!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I know that many of the behavior problems would lesson or even disappear if my son felt valued, if he believed his teachers like him. Surely that’s one very easy gift we can give every child: the gift of valuing them.

  7. cvarsalona Avatar

    I am so glad that at the end of your week you had snuggle time with your books-very special. I hope that your son will continue to grow as a learner under the guidance of his teacher. So glad to have made your acquaintance.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks for visiting and commenting! I am so grateful for teachers who can look past some of the challenging behaviors and see the child inside who does want to learn and does want to be liked.

  8. Ruth Ayres (@ruth_ayres) Avatar

    Elisabeth, It is hard to stand up against complacency in traditional education. I, too, am often left frustrated after parent-teacher conferences. It’s probably why we let our kids make messes, build contraptions, and learn to problem solve around home! Your son will grow up and be strong and sure of himself because he has people like you pouring truth into him.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Ruth. I find all of this especially challenging as a teacher educator! I try to remind myself to be a parent in these meetings, not a teacher, not a teacher educator.

  9. macrush53 Avatar

    Such good stuff. I had a conversation with someone about making kids sit and how it’s important to let them stand if they need to at times. I can’t sit all the time. I loved the book Doll Bones.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I can’t sit all the time either! Doll Bones is certainly one of my recent favorites.

  10. Deb Day (@mrsday75) Avatar

    Elisabeth, I love your post this week. Each and every celebration resonated with me in some way. Love that your students are using the hashtag as a way to share thoughts. I haven’t quite got there with many of my students, although my College Prep Lit kids are having great book discussions in their small groups. It’s the first time I’ve taught this class and I wasn’t really sure where to go or what to do with it, but we seem to be finding our way.

    As for your parent teacher conferences, It’s a good reminder for me since we have conferences coming up soon. My goal is to always find at least one positive thing to say about each kid (they challenge me in class even!) It’s not as hard as some people imagine. And I wish you were close and could see my classroom. But you can check it out here http://deb-day.blogspot.com/2014/08/come-take-little-tour.html

    Have a great week!

  11. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    I’m glad to hear your son has a teacher who doesn’t see his need to move around as a problem. I have to admit that I need to better embrace this idea in my own classroom.

  12. […] celebration of teachers who get it, snarky course hashtags, and uninterrupted stretches of time for […]

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