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It's not always supposed to...

...look pretty planned
...align to the standards
...make you happy quiet

The list could go on and on - and if you're a planner/perfectionist like me it's hard to let go and let things unfold naturally in your classroom.

BUT, BUT! The more I let go and embrace the teachable moments, the better my teaching becomes. It's scary...let those plans go for an afternoon.

Don't worry, I've started ripping the band-aid off for you.

Here are the not so pretty / planned / quite / teacher-centric moments from our class these last two weeks:

We are SO fortunate to be visited by Bernie's Book Bank every year - which provides our kiddos
with 5-8 grade level appropriate books that they can take home to read and keep. But I hadn't planned on their arrival.

So we're just rocking through our normal morning routine and we get the call that we can go get the books. Alright, I start planning, "After we come back we can just get right back into our stuff and get moving, we only have 15 minutes til blah..blah..blah..."

Well of course, someone asks, "Can we look at the books?" My first thought is "No, we gotta move here kids," but I ended up responding, "Well, why not?"

We looked at the books, traded for our favorites and admired how our friends read. And the kids WERE SO HAPPY! I gave up ~15 minutes of planned time to let them enjoy. It did so much more for them than the lost time did for me.

Bottom line, it was a moment that my kids fell in love at school. And I want them to fall in love with school each and EVERY day.

Like this day....

It was "Qq" day. And things had gotten pretty weird. It was a long morning, I had like 34 coffees, we had an assembly & two specials.  It was after lunch and we still hadn't been able to practice our letter of the day. So I'm thinking, "How the heck am I going to reel these babes in to teach them Qq."

And that's when we became queens. Things got a little crazy, I may have requested to be referred to as "Queen McGinnis," no one could talk in their kid voice - we all had to practice being queens.

And now everyday, everyone knows letter Qq. Why can't I be clever everyday? Rawr. 
Point is, I could have been frustrated, rushed, annoyed. But when things get a little weird, unplanned, and not so pretty, and the real learning happens. 

Real learning, from a older student who was out taking a break. She happened upon our read aloud, "The Three Ninja Pigs," and asked to read. Not the best timing, but I knew it would mean more to her and my students than it would to me, so go for it! My students listened to her better than they do to me. And I got to model being a good listener.

For being such good listeners, while they turned to talk about the book, I googled "Kid Ninja School" and did a quick looksy through the video. We took a 10 minute brain break to go to "Ninja School" like the Three Ninja Pigs. It got my babes up and moving after the read aloud and allowed them to focus for the following activities. Again, it wasn't pretty or planned, but it worked and the kiddos were so engaged.

This doesn't look pretty either...but it was such a beautiful moment.

My two little energetic boys were playing Crocodile, Crocodile from Growing Kinders. The little guy in the black sweatshirt kept looking at the cards when he was picking. So the little guy in the blue says, "Hey, do you want me to help you? Is it ok if I hold your head away?" Black sweatshirt says, "YEAH YEAH! I just can't stop looking! Can you do it?" And each turn blue t-shirt holds his head, then takes his own turn, looking away. I wanted to jump in as I was hearing the interaction and saw the hands on approach, but then I just watched and waited. They accomplished this center better than any others that day. I was SO proud. It was a little unconventional, but it worked, and allowed them to play nicely together. Another "plan" gone to the wind...

Are 100% of my days at school planned for, yes. I am organized and planned to a fault. 

BUT I do try to let my kids run with our learning targets whenever necessary. Is it always comfortable to me?  No, but we're all students in our classroom. I learn from our kiddos as much as they learn from me, maybe even more! I am also blessed with administrators who value kid-centric learning and won't fault me when things are not perfect to a "T." Which, in turn allows me to take chances that engage my students. 

Letting go also helps me not end up like this by lunch. (Shameless dog picture, I know. She's just so cute!)

This week I am challenging myself to let go even more as we only have three days of school to accomplish everything. I have our targets planned and our read alouds, math, and centers organized. I know something will go awry, and allow us to have our "falling in love with school" moments once again - and I am EXCITED for those moments!

What about you, what unexpected joys did you encounter last week? How did that change your teaching for the better?


  1. LOVE the shameless dog pics! I love pitties!

    My principal told us "Common Core is loud," and I always try to remember that. Not everything will be perfect (very rarely does it work out perfectly!), but our kids are learning and having fun, and that's all that matters!

    Thanks for the honestly lovely stories!


    1. Thanks Deirdre! I love that, "Common Core is loud." Exploring should be! :o)

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