Tag Archives: choices

A Slice of Letting Go

Slice of LIfe

This is part of Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life. Find out more, and join in here!

Home. It’s where the heart is. Home is where your family is. It’s certainly not the big box you keep all your furniture in, right?

Let go. This is my mantra these days, as we have gotten our house ready to sell.

I said it to myself as I boxed up, threw out, gave away stuff. I said it as we staged the house, making it look like we would never in a million years leave legos all over the floor, or crumbs on the counter, or clutter on the dining room table, or laundry in the washer.

Let go. I said it as I stood outside in my green backyard next to my apple tree, painting the last of a few doors that needed to be finished. I repeated it as I looked at the view of mountains and blue sky.

I say it each time I ask my husband  to remind me why we decided to move. (We need more space, it’s time to move closer to my school, it’s good for the kids in the long run, it’s best for our family. Repeat after me; We need more space, it’s time to move closer to my school, it’s good for the kids in the long run, it’s best for our family…)

Let go: As we turned on all the lights, put never-used white towels on hooks, never-used tablecloth on the table, never-used throw pillows, for showings and open houses; and as we took all those things off again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat, each time we ushered kids out of the house.

I remind myself to let go when I tell L that, “Moving is hard. And, we can do hard things.” I also remind myself that deciding to move when your daughter is 12 is maybe not the best decision.

Let go: As we initialed 20 times accepting an offer.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 6.39.08 AM

Now I sit in my dining room. It’s pleasant. It’s clean. There’s no clutter. (Well, a little has crept back on shelves and the coffee table, corners…. if you know where to look, to be honest) Our personal pictures are packed away from the staging, and Mr. Thought tells me this is good. We are slowly letting go of this being our home.

So I work to let go. I focus on the positives.We finally made the decision to move after years of debate, and we followed through! We had a fast sale! (Well, knock on wood… still lots of hoops to jump through, t’s to cross, i’s to dot…) We are blessed with the chance to get a house that fits our family better! A new young couple gets to start their life in this great house, in this wonderful neighborhood! It feels good to think about their excitement.

But, I still tear up when I talk about it, and it’s still hard for me to think about this not being our home.

Reflections on Teaching: Choices


I’ve always had choice as a part of my classroom, but sometimes I forget how powerful giving choices can be. Our Social Studies unit has a lot of information packed in to the year: All you ever could learn about Ancient Civilizations in 180 days!  We do a lot of great nonfiction reading strategies; we talk to the text, we discuss and gather information, metacognate and share our thinking with each other!


But sometimes I forget. I forget that I would need a break if I were a student in middle school, that I would want a chance to learn about things that I choose to learn about. (In reality, I’d probably want to just plan the whole curriculum if I were a student… but I’m taking baby steps here!)

Nobody is really pressuring me from above in terms of my pacing… I mean, we have a curriculum, and essential questions and a scope and sequence. There are activities for me to choose from, and everyone is very understanding. The last civilization we are supposed to learn about is Rome, and the general consensus is… Rome shouldn’t be but usually is taught in a week….  in June….  The real point is that we are teaching students those big ideas about Ancient Cultures and the pieces of what makes a civilization. But I still feel a certain amount of self pressure with my pacing – I’m perpetually behind.

But still… It’s a lot of reading, and note taking, and It had been awhile since I had “pirated it up” with cave painting and famous archeologist visitors… Our time in Egypt was limited, but I figured I could give the kids a day of choice. I took some of the activities that were in the unit, sent the kids a google doc, and let them loose. They could learn about Pyramids through a web quest that ends with a lego challenge, read about hieroglyphics and try their hand at writing some, or learn about papyrus and make some of their own.

Messy Learning: My favorite!

Talk about an a-ha moment that I should not have to have over and over again. Forgot is the wrong word, lazy still doesn’t hit it. I have been trying to be engaging with the curriculum and the reading strategies, the content and the understandings… but that isn’t what engagement really is. Engagement is more about sending students on quests to their own understandings, getting out the glue, mixing up some quick papyrus,  and sitting on the rug to build lego pyramids.

Legos with 6th graders

It is powerful to watch the student choose and engage in the curriculum. It shouldn’t be a treat really, it should be a normal. It is a goal of mine to find more times to step aside from the planning and have my students take the opportunity to direct their own learning.

It is sitting on the floor with the kids (or helping them dip paper bag strips into wet glue… ) that you find out who has a million legos at home, who doesn’t, who did the web quest, who didn’t, and who is understanding content, who isn’t.  I’d say it’s a vital part of formative assessment, really.

"papyrus" made with paper bags and glue.
“papyrus” made with paper bags and glue.

Why is it that every time I remember to give choices, sit on the floor and build or create or read with a student I am reminded that I should do it every day. Get on the floor, dump out the legos and listen to all that my students know.

I say I’m doing it right when the principal walks in and she can’t see me right away… I have to raise my hand and say hello. That’s me, down on the floor with a pile of legos and a group of 6th graders who made their own choices about what and how to learn.