Monday morning I greeted my class with a smile and a wave. They filed in with a cheery, “Good morning,” to which I would continue to smile and wave. Then something occurred to one of them.
“Mrs. Scannell, did you lose your voice?” I waggled my hand in that little ‘sort of’ signal. “Oh!” was the reply.They all seemed to get a little quieter. I had struggled with my voice all weekend and although better, it was not even close to 100 percent. And I knew today was going to be rough.
I had made the decision to come in and not get a sub. My kids this year kind of devour subs (and I don’t mean the foot long ones!). They don’t intend to be that way. They don’t even realize it when they are going overboard. They think it’s everyone else, not them. It’s something we have been working really hard on all year. And lately I do believe we are getting somewhere. But a day with a sub would undo a lot of the progress we have been making. The class would do something they would later regret. It would not be good.
So there I was, minimal voice but armed with a plan. My plan? Teach my lessons on the rug so the class is up close when I am talking. Spend more time on independent work so I can conference with small groups. The timing was perfect because they are wrapping up their nonfiction pieces and need time to revise and edit. And I would use the white board and Classroom to deliver more of what I need them to know.
And my secret weapon: DEAR time!
When I told the class I would reward them (clever, right?) for their good behavior with DEAR time, they cheered. “Can we have DEAR time every day?” one asked. “Yeah, every day!” others joined in.
“Well, let’s take it one day at a time,” I replied. I was really hoping for a quick recovery back to 100%!
At the end of DEAR time on Monday they all moaned and wanted more time. It was time to go home so I told them not today but I asked them, “What is it that you like about DEAR time?” Inside my head I was thinking that some of them get pretty distracted during independent reading time so I was wondering what made the difference.
“It’s really quiet so nothing disturbs you.” (Yup, it was really quiet, reading with them today was a pleasure!)
“It’s better than when you are, like, talking to some of the kids, like working with them. Because that gets distracting.” (I never thought of it that way but any talking encourages more talking.)
“We get to stretch out wherever we want.” (This observation must go hand in hand with the previous one because during Independent Reading I invariably have to ask them to return to their desks to read to keep them focused, but not today during DEAR time.)
“We get to read what ever we want!” This was met with a lot of agreement. During DEAR time I notice that most of the children are reading the books they are reading for class but I have noticed that some readers bring in books from home. Books that are not on their reading level. I especially notice some of my more distracted readers doing this. I made a really important mental note to self about that!
Over the course of the week my voice followed a pattern of being stronger in the morning but weakening by lunchtime. My class has been very very good. I’m glad I made the decision to come in and get their help making it through each day. Oh, and we fit DEAR time in on Wednesday and on Thursday. Each time it gets a little better. Today is Friday and what better way to end a week of learning and helping each other than with a good book and DEAR time!