Today started off with many hectic thoughts zig-zagging through my mind. Nine conferences tomorrow — nine sets of folders and files to review. Three reading assessments to administer. Language Arts, math, and general ordering to get done. New curriculum involving migration and immigration to develop. A messy desk to clean. An air stone to put into the aquarium. Chlorine-free drops to find. Boardwalk reappearing down at the river. As I walked to my “back office”, I quickly glanced at the tank to look at the salamander eggs. “Don’t look any different” I thought to myself as I set to work.
Knowing that we had a bit of finish up work, I decided to christen the day “We Need to Get Things Done Wednesday”. I created a checklist of the four essential items that needed to be finished or it would need to go home. The students came on in. One boy, who had stopped me on my neighborhood walk yesterday to say he had shot video of a robin, had his video camera in his hand for me to upload. Another girl, who had finished writing a story to go along with an immigration picture held her blue notebook in her hand for me to read. I then heard someone say, “wow — these eggs are a lot different!”. Quickly, salamander egg observations was added to the “To Do List”. I started to read the story when another child walked up with a lap-top with an article about Acid Rain for me to review. My Instructional Technology Specialist colleague walked in and started seeing students who had question. The immigration story was wonderful, the acid rain article was informative. Two students were done with their four items and went over to the salamander tank. As part of a new blog, I had taken video footage so we could document change. Since there was obvious change, I would need to do it again today. When would I possibly fit that in? A lightbulb went off in my head and I told the two girls that they would be doing the video-shooting and blogging today. Another student finished her to do list, observed the eggs, and then was interviewed by my salamander egg team. She finished her interview, and then went on to work on the beginning clip of the Global Education projects that the high school kids are working on. If you walked into the room at that moment, 20 kids were hard at work, being totally responsible for doing their work. I kept reading incredible immigration stories, great facts about acid rain, showing kids how to print out their literary essays, while marveling in all that was being accomplished in our room (and it wasn’t even 10:00 a.m. yet) We needed to stop to go to gym. After dropping them off and heading to write a conference workshop proposal with a colleague, it struck me how I was feeling. I was experiencing that runner’s high. Years ago, I was a competitive distance runner. I loved that feeling of being out on a long run on a beautiful fall day. Every thing is clicking, you are taking in the atmosphere around you and soaking it up. At 10:15 a.m., I was in that zone. Everything in Room 305B was clicking. I was soaking up the rich learning that was going on all around me. My cranky shins won’t allow me the benefit of that actual runner’s high, but I was so pleased to be able to re-create the feeling without running a step. After I collected the kids from gym, I asked them, “what did I like about this morning?” The kids picked right up on it — we were independent, we were working hard, we were having fun, we were focused. We counted that there was 11 different things going on in the room. As one girl said, “we were awesome.” I have to agree, they are awesome, and it was really awesome for me to be able to experience being in the zone while teaching. I thanked them for inspiring me and then we set back down for some more learning. This has been the most wonderful year for me. No, I didn’t get done all I needed to do to be ready for conferences, but having 20 students and 1 teacher in the zone is far more meaningful in the long run.