Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday Sayings: Facilitator




This week I learned what a facilitator is. The teacher devotional I'm reading defined it as "one who makes things easy or less difficult." The words "accelerate, advance, enable, promote, and serve" were also included. The thought led me directly to the most obvious question. 

Am I a facilitator?

In this very moment, I have my doubts. Let's take writing for example. Although I have a passion for teaching writing, have studied writing from many of my favorite gurus, and have taught several teachers how to teach writing, I'm currently baffled as to how I can make it easy or less difficult for 20 out of my 25 students. 

I have a gift, as many early elementary teachers do, for reading the hieroglyphics of young writers, yet even I can only read the writing of five of my writers. I was hoping to use Calkins' new Units of Study this year. It's much too advanced, so I've put on the breaks and returned to her older units. Unfortunately, even the lessons there are proving to be a struggle. The required stamina, effort, and skills are missing in huge quantities. I've never run into this before.

Once I get over my woe-is-me attitude, and I must do that quickly, I have to find a way to make writing easy or less difficult for these 20 students. As Routman has referenced, their strengths are indeed initially small. It doesn't seem much to work with, especially compared to what I'm accustomed to, but comparison is the thief of joy. 

So they're not like any class I've ever had. What am I going to do about it? I have a responsibility to teach them, even if it varies from how I've taught before. I have to find a way to accelerate, advance, enable, promote, and serve this particular group of students. I must be a facilitator. 



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16 comments:

  1. I know that these students are so blessed to have been chosen for your classroom. I also know this will take all of your skills and more courage than usual. I've got your back, my dear.

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    1. Laur, thank you for having my back.

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  2. You will have your students developing and strengthening their writing skills in no time! At the end of the year, you will be amazed at far they have come!
    Lori
    Conversations in Literacy

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    1. Lori, I'm for sure looking forward to being amazed.

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  3. You have a lot of kiddos this year! If anyone can do it, you can! :) That's what I face in the beginning of Kinder-some students are still just even making scribbles for words. If you write every day (which I know you do) it will happen.

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    1. Miss Trayers, there have been days when I've thought I was teaching kinder. :) Anyway, we'll keep writing...every day.

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  4. It is very hard for me to believe that you could not be a facilitator in this situation. You have such a deep passion for teaching and you wil find a way to get your kids growing in their skills. But you are not alone. We have made so many changes to our units in writing bc we needed them to match where they are. Lucy did not do that for us.

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    1. Em, I know Lucy would expect us to be professionals who make these types of decisions for our students. This is just one of those years when the changes are so drastic. Thank you for confirming that I'm on the right track though.

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  5. Hi Tammy,
    Just piggybacking on what Em said. We have made A LOT of changes to our writing units. I'm not ashamed to say we haven't really started writing yet in the sense of putting words on paper. We've been working on being illustrators and oral story telling. Lucy was just too much for our little firsties so.... we wrote our own curriculum. I know you're an amazing teacher that will help your firsties become amazing writers, bu if you want to peek at it, let me know! I love sharing (and getting feedback). :)
    Happy Writing!
    Maria

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    1. Maria, thank you for sharing about the changes you've made. I'd be very interested in seeing what you've done. Thank you!

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  6. I had that class last year, and felt as you did. At the end of sept., I realized they needed to learn how to behave as writers first. So we practiced and practiced what writers bodies do. They stay in one spot, they start right away, they stretch out words, and make a plan. They had my blessing to draw and label. Once they had the stamina to behave like writers, we were able to chip away at skills. Baby steps! The new Lucy is too hard. That's okay, because we know how to teach writing. (I also instituted fine motor Friday, which was Legos and other fun things, and taught handwriting separate from writing. I think fine motor development is part of the problem).

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    1. Suburban Pies, you made some very smart changes. You're so right. They have to know how it looks and feels to be a writer. It makes such a difference. Thank you for sharing.

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  7. You're in a difficult position, but you're a fabulous teacher with an amazing attitude, so you'll make it work. I've never had that many non-writers but perhaps if you think of them as kindies and go from there. Just have them draw pictures and label. I haven't read all the comments yet, but the one above me sounds perfect. I'd also throw in a small guided writing group each day. It's scary and I feel for you but there's no question in my mind that you'll get those kids moving along. Hang in there, my friend.

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    1. Barb, the thing is...I'm struggling to think of them as kindies. (I didn't sign up for kindergarten.) Small guided writing groups is definitely something I'm needing. I can do this. I can do this.

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  8. I'm in a similar situation, Tammy. Much of my class is below grade level in reading, which is making everything a challenge. I've got to meet them where they are and figure out how we can get where I want (and hope) them to be! I know you'll get your writers where you want them to be soon!

    Crystal

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    1. Crystal, thank you for your vote of confidence. I'm sorry you're facing something similar. It's for sure a challenge.

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