5-Minute Friday: LOOK

It’s Friday again, and that means another 5-Minute Friday challenge from Lisa-Jo Baker. If you want to join in or read other people’s posts, check out her page here: http://lisajobaker.com/five-minute-friday/. Here’s my take on this week’s word and something I’ve been thinking about since a meeting I had earlier this week…


In any classroom, good teachers know that the most important thing is seeing your students. Knowing them. Understanding who they are. We can’t be good teachers if we don’t really listen to and look at the children who walk into our classrooms each morning.

And with instruction, particularly in the workshop model where one-on-one conferring is essential, knowing your students is a must. Lucy Calkins, author of many books including The Art of Teaching Writing, described this conferring as having 3 parts: Research, Decide, Teach. Inherent in the research part of a conference is looking at and really understanding what each child is working on as a writer (or reader, or mathematician, or scientist). We might ask questions, read some of their writing, listen to them explain their work or read alongside them. The goal is to really know what they’re thinking, what they’re doing well, and what they’re trying to do. And then compliment them on something they are doing well. Everyone likes to feel good about their work before hearing a suggestion, don’t we?

Recently, I’ve heard my own student voice in my head during a few interactions I’ve had as a new mom. Times when I was struggling to breastfeed my daughter or figure out sleep routines and sought advice, I’ve heard a part of me yelling, “Wait! You’re not listening! You don’t know me! You don’t know what I’ve been trying.” And then I’ve been left feeling ignored, given rote information that doesn’t really apply to me or my situation, and, frankly, pissed off.

We adults have a lot of opinions, and “experts” are often expected to just give their opinions, perhaps without listening. However, here’s a lesson from the classroom for the greater world—do a little research, really look and see and understand, before you try to teach others. It makes a difference.


5-Minute Friday

I recently stumbled upon a website called “Lisa-Jo Baker: tales from a Gypsy Mama” http://lisajobaker.com/. I honestly don’t remember how I found it or what I had been searching for–I’ve been doing a lot of web searches lately at three or four in the morning when I’m up feeding L but not quite awake. The searches range from “cloth diaper systems” (we’re starting as soon as I get our system set up!) to “3 month old sleepier than usual” (she was taking lots of naps). So, I’m not sure what led me to Lisa-Jo Baker’s website, but I found myself reading and I subscribed to her email. That’s how I found out about her 5-Minute Friday writing challenge where she posts a word or topic and invites others to just write for five minutes. The idea is that on days when you don’t want to write, just push yourself, just write for five minutes. I could use that today (after the excitement of putting my first post out there, I was a little nervous to try again, hesitant to pick a topic). So, thank you, Lisa-Jo. Here goes….


Before Louisa was born, I was always in a hurry. In a hurry to get to work because I pressed snoozed one too many times. In a hurry to get from my classroom to a meeting to another classroom. In a hurry to make one more chart, send one more email, make one more copy. And it wasn’t her birth that slowed me down, but the car accident I was in 7 days before she was born.

In my pre-motherhood life, I never could say “no”–not when it came to work. I didn’t want to say “no”. The busier I was, the better. I loved (and still do love) sharing my ideas, being involved, and helping my colleagues. Teaching excites me. I could talk about curriculum or students or a single lesson for hours. So, even when at 37 weeks, my doctors admitted me into the hospital to monitor the baby and my fluid levels, I still wanted to work. I stopped teaching, but wanted to finish the work that I could. It literally felt like a race to the finish. Could I get it all done before the baby arrived?

That’s why I was at work that Tuesday. I was meeting with my two of my colleagues to look ahead at coming year’s calendar and units of study. It was a meeting I had scheduled so that I could support them in their planning before my impending leave…We met all day, but then I left right at 3, which wasn’t typical, but I had errands to run. Yep, I just had to order the new bureau for our bedroom and then from there, I’d be running to get my nails done. All part of getting ready, right?

Well, it was rush hour as I headed back through the city from the furniture store. I looked down, or over, for a moment and realized, “Oh, I have to slow down–there’s a car in front of me.” But, instead of hitting the brake, I hit the gas and crashed right into that car.

I won’t and can’t describe how terrifying that car accident was. My car ended up being completely totalled, but everyone involved, thankfully, walked away with very minor injuries, if any. I spent the night in the hospital because I did have a few contractions. But the baby was okay–actually, the baby and the fluid levels, ironically, looked the best they had since my 37 week appointment.

That next morning, I finally realized I couldn’t race anymore. I had to let go, at least for a little while. Since then, life has redefined “busy” for me…it’s not running from here to there. “Busy” this week was getting outside three times in one day with my daughter 🙂 I’m sure “busy” will take on yet another meaning when I’m back at work, but I think (I hope) I won’t be in such a race.