Habits of Mind:It’s All about My Summer Break

About Lori H Rice

Lori Rice is a fourth-grade teacher at West Elementary in Wamego, Kansas, who has taught K-2 reading as well as kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade since 1996. She has a passion for creativity, learning, questioning and the whole child. Her classroom is a place of acceptance and celebrating differences.

Teachers often hear varying degrees of this sentence: “Yeah, but you get summers off!”  We give everything that is asked and more during the ten months of the school year.  The idealistic views from society are we then spend the summer months sleeping in, lounging at the pool and we put our teacher hat on a shelf for two-three months. I have been out of school for just over a month and the reality of a teacher’s summer is quite different.

Last school year I implemented Habits of Mind with my students. Striving for accuracy and persistence is important to all career paths, but especially in education.  We ask our students to persist and strive for accuracy and precision. Modeling this practice should come from teachers as well.  Teachers know their work is never done, and we are constantly striving to attain the highest possible standards for our classrooms.  We take pride in our students and classrooms.  This habit of mind, however, requires time to check over your work.  I find this time during the summer.

I have lived.  I am a mother of three and have enjoyed spending time with my children this summer.  They are often put second to my classroom children and families during the school year.  That is not a proud thing to say as a mother, but it is true.  I rarely take personal days and I spend time at home grading papers, planning lessons, and thinking about what my classroom children need for almost ten months of the year.  Sometimes this means my own children do not get my full attention.  During the summer I get the privilege of being their mom.  I am not Ms. Rice to anyone because I don’t have a classroom list.

I have learned.  This summer I have only taken one class for professional development. Last summer I took three.  I do not need any more college credits because I took the last credits I need for this licensing round last summer, but I think it is important to always be learning.  The summer provides me with time to go out and learn.  I learn about things for my students outside of the offerings of my district.  I often focus on technology and learning about things that will offer my students new things. I become a student which strengthens what I can offer my own students.

I have read.  In the past I have implemented a small amount of project based learning in my classroom, but I know this is an area I need more information about to implement it better.  I have spent this first month of my summer reading two books about project based learning.  I have used this new learning to look at my curriculum and schedule with new eyes to see where I can use this technique. I have a plan for implementing project based learning into my classroom next year. Having the time to focus my attention on reading will have a large impact on my classroom.

I have reflected.  I used Superheroes last year as our classroom community theme.  It was very successful and provided my students with fun writing prompts at the beginning of the year.  Anything that can motivate 9-year-olds to write in August deserves to be used again.  So I have looked at my plans and found, even more, resources to add to our Superhero theme.

I do not have a class list.  I don’t know how many children will be in my room next year.  I do not have faces to put with the activities and ideas and learning going on this summer.  I do, however, know everything I do has a reason and a purpose.  I know spending time with my children and being a mom helps me understand families.  I know learning about computer programming helps with the Robotics class I will sponsor again after school.  I know project based learning will bring an excitement and depth of knowledge to the lessons I use it with next year.  I know creating another classroom of Superheroes will enable an undetermined, unnamed list of students to learn beyond what they thought possible and I will send them out into our world ready to handle the challenges they will face. Accuracy and precision take a reflection time.  The summer is about focusing on this Habit of Mind.  Sometimes the best way to move forward is to pause and take a step back.  What are you focusing on this summer?

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
By | 2017-06-10T19:18:48+00:00 July 10th, 2013|Featured, Opinion|0 Comments

About the Author:

Lori Rice is a fourth-grade teacher at West Elementary in Wamego, Kansas, who has taught K-2 reading as well as kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade since 1996. She has a passion for creativity, learning, questioning and the whole child. Her classroom is a place of acceptance and celebrating differences.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.