Lesson #1: It's okay to deviate from the lesson plan.
There were several times this year where my students challenged me to look at the situation in a different way. Whether it was guidelines on how to complete an assignment, where I wanted to go next in the lesson, or how I visualized classroom routines, I learned that sometimes it's okay to change the original plan. My way is not always the best way and keeping an open mind and being flexible can go a long way. However, I caution there is a different between flexible and bendable (letting students walk all over you). Read about a time this year in Writing Workshop when letting go of control opened the door to an awesome experience for my students and me: Different Lesson Plan Blog Post.
Lesson #2: Give choice in reading and writing.
Between the massive amounts of independent reading books, literature study books, and guided reading books my students read, along with the amazing free write pieces and published pieces written in a variety of genres, my hypothesis continues to be proven: more choice = more success for students as readers and writers. To read more about how I ran free writes in my classroom, check out this blog post: Free Write Blog Post.
Lesson #3: Push students a tad out of their comfort zone.
One of my favorite parts of this year was watching my students develop powerful relationships with their accountability buddies. Looking back from the "end of the year perspective," I can definitely say accountability buddies contributed to a more positive overall classroom atmosphere and helped build trust, compassion, and responsibility for many of my students. Read about how I implemented accountability buddies here: Accountability Buddies Blog Post.
Part of being a teacher is knowing that we were one small step in a student's journey to "growing up." Something we may have said or done, as teachers, could in return potentially shape the next step our students take. I'd by lying if I said I wasn't ready for summer because I can hardly wait, but the thought of the end of this school year makes my heart sink a little because I know this is the last time I will be with the twenty-five thirteen and fourteen year olds that have brought a smile to my face through the 180 school days we have spent with one another. Good-bye to another beautiful year, and hello to a summer of endless possibilities.
“It's the emptiest and yet the fullest of all human messages: 'Good-bye.”