DRAFT of Idea: July 23, 2014

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What I Learned While Teaching Others, by Jennifer Sniadecki DRAFT

*Establish Routines and Follow Them*

Routines are required because routines are reassuring.

Routines lead to relaxing and getting down to work without distractions…

or trouble.

Teachers teach procedures and routines in the first weeks of school so that students can have order and consistency in their lives, so they can feel successful, and so they can learn to get down to business without worrying about the small stuff. Don’t sweat the small stuff (they say). Having routines makes life easier – really! Students know where to turn in homework, when to go to their lockers, and how to get to the lunchroom independently when teachers help them to learn the daily procedures. Harry and Rosemary Wong even wrote about it in The First Days of School. But I’m finding more and more that teachers need the procedures and routines just as much as the students.

(The following is a personal story that is meant to show how teachers need routines just as much as students. Thank you for allowing me to share.)

As a “veteran” teacher, I’m supposed to know how to teach content, manage my classroom, and manage my time. Daily tasks such as taking attendance, transitioning to the related arts classes, and end-of-day dismissal procedures need to be taught, practiced, and mastered by staff and students alike. I’m still learning…nowhere near mastery yet. Here’s one tidbit I learned:

Slice of Life Tuesday: Original Ideas

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What is an original idea? Who has original ideas, really?

The definition of the adjective, original, is “belonging or pertaining to the origin; the beginning of something.” (dictionary.com) Synonyms include new, novel, fresh, and inventive.  I’m sad to say that I don’t have an original idea in my head. When I looked at the webpage again, there were a few more definitions, including: “arising or proceeding independently of anything else” and “capable of or given to thinking or acting in an independent, creative, or individual manner.” Still not feeling better, people! One more look: “created, undertaken, or presented for the first time.” There. Here on my blog, an original post — presented for the first time? Ah…nope. Not doing it for me.

Teachers are thieves. It’s a researched fact. We steal from each other all the time. Ideas, topics, “mentor texts…” yes, it’s all stealing. As I was thinking about writing something original today, I remembered that I heard that phrase often: “Teachers are thieves.” I feel badly, but why? “If everyone else is doing it…” (no, I don’t want to jump off a cliff, Mom.)  I really just want to be original, just once.

Many times, students have trouble writing because they feel like I do now. They don’t know what to say, or how to say it in a way that makes the topic original. What do we do? We tell them, “It’s ok.”  We show them mentor texts, we have them read more, and we have them keep on writing. The action of putting the pencil to the paper is what teachers are really looking for. We want to see evidence of thinking, and that students are willing to write what they think. They produce, then, their own, original ideas.

I read an interesting post on http://www.ted.com (TED talks!) about “What according to you is an original idea?” (www.ted.com…2011). Reading the comments section, the replies made me feel better about this “originality” problem. I don’t have to come up with the idea, but I have to DO something new and different with it.  I asked myself, “What do I want to DO?” Well, I want to write a SOL post right now, that’s what I want. And I want it to be original.

So here’s my first ever — original — post on originality. Or is it? Have I written this before?

Let me check.

(While I’m doing that, you have a great week!)