I sat in my empty classroom on Monday, spring break just started, and looked at what I have to cover in quarter four of 7th grade English. What the standards tell me a 7th grader needs to know. Great things, and yet…We need to get back to the basics. Somewhere in the mad rush of trying to cover everything within the 45 minutes that strangle our English class, we seem to have lost touch with what English is really all about; amazing books, deep conversations, and writing, so much of it so that we lose our fear of being bad writers and just start to embrace the process.
So as I looked around at the empty chairs, I knew exactly what to do. Monday morning we will start with a circle, a to-do list of dreams facing the students. I will ask them to discuss expectations and rules, I will ask them about their thoughts on what the standards say we need to get to and then I will ask them this is this quarter to please
Find one poem that speaks to you
Read one amazing book that you must pass on to someone else
Write something that makes you proud
And have a deep conversation with someone face to face
Those are the opportunities that I need to create, those are the things that matter. Beyond the standards, beyond what we need to cover. We need to have incredible experiences in English, not just survive the last quarter. Our students are bigger than the standards we teach. What are your plans for after the break?
I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark, who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press. Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.