This summer I picked up Time for Meaning: Crafting Literate Lives in Middle & High School by Randy Bomer. I have successfully carried this book to and from work many days, it has been on vacations, it has even sat with me in waiting rooms. I would love to tell you that it has been with me all these places because of how dearly I loved the book, but that’s simply not true. I wanted to love it, but maybe I just wasn’t ready.
I think I had to walk the journey on my own for a bit. Fail and succeed. Be really frustrated and really proud. And I’ve certainly been there this year, taking risks in my classroom, doing my best to figure out how to grow a community of readers and writers. Maybe if I had picked up this book sooner I might have missed out of some of the frustration, but sometimes frustration is a key part of the journey.
As I was reading this morning, I was reminded of how I felt in the beginning of this year, introducing the concept of journal writing to my class. It was labor intensive, it required me to be at full brainpower—all the time. It took me awhile to learn that I couldn’t possibly teach them every skill I wanted them to know by the end of September.
“For now, I had to let go of my hyperactive concern with the excellence of the writing and be satisfied teaching a process. Learning the new technology of using a notebook to work on a piece of writing took up the writer’s energy and attention—and mine. Later, there would be time to pay the proper attention to learning from literature to write well. As I would again and again, I was learning to ask, What’s my exact purpose here? And then teach in a more focused way.”
So, now as we move into the last marking period, I’m not worried about the process; the kids get it. I’m not reading every word they write anymore, but I am relishing in the moments that they run to me with their words begging me to hear a line they have crafted just like their favorite author.
They don’t know it all. I’m still overwhelmed with the magnitude of what I want to teach them. But again and again, I am learning to ask, What’s my exact purpose here? And then teach in a more focused way.