I’ve thought a lot about comfort zones lately, and on this first day of the 2017 SOL challenge, I figured that this would be a great topic for today as many of us are stepping outside of our comfort zones to participate. As I reflected on how easy it is to stay within the confines of our comfort zones, I thought about one of my students and how she pushed out of her own comfort zone and inspired me.
Our Title 1 family reading night and annual parent meeting was in January. This meeting encourages parent involvement and communication and is one of the federal requirements for Title 1 programs. I spoke briefly about the Title 1 program at my school and shared some of the official documents about our school and district programs. I showed the families our Title 1 Facebook page where I post pictures and videos and I encouraged them to connect via Facebook. Students and their families also selected books to order from the Scholastic Reading Club flyers (which were funded by our Title 1 program). However, the biggest part of the evening focused the spotlight on the students as they shared poetry, reader’s theater, and demonstrated word building activities.
However, as we prepared for the event and a group of students practiced their reader’s theater script, one of my shy, quiet students told me that she was unsure about participating. Specifically, she was nervous about being in front of a large group of people and as the event neared, I created an alternate version of the script that did not include her part because I really didn’t think that she was going to participate. Although I encouraged her to join us at family reading night, I recognized her discomfort and I didn’t push her. I did spend some time talking with her about what she could expect, but I left the choice up to her and her mom. Before we started practicing, I borrowed the librarian’s puppet stage and the students performing reader’s theater sat behind the stage and used puppets that represented their different characters. I explained to K that during the actual performance, she would be behind the puppet stage, thinking that maybe she’d feel more comfortable with this idea. But still, as the school day ended, I figured that I wouldn’t see K that night.
Families arrived a school at 5:30 that evening and I was pleased with the turnout. Whole families, including grandparents and younger siblings, filled up the seats in the library. As I greeted everyone, I noticed K and her mom and a huge smile broke out on my face. I hurried over to her and told her how happy I was to see her. While K still looked a little unsure, she picked up her script and puppet before she took her place at the puppet stage. I made sure that she sat further behind the curtain and I pulled up a chair beside her. As the students started the performance, the smile on my face grew. K did a great job with her part and when it was finished, I couldn’t wait to tell her how proud I was of her. While I was proud of her fluent reading, I was prouder of the fact that K stepped out of her comfort zone to be a part of the performance. It would have been easier to stay at home and not put herself out there in front of a roomful of people. But K persevered and challenged herself.
This month of slicing requires that we step out of our comfort zones and explore what it means to be a teacher-writer. There will be times when we question ourselves and hesitate to hit that “Publish” button. There might be times when writer’s block makes the blinking cursor our worst enemy. There may even be times when comments on our posts might be few and far between. But we will persevere because that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the month will be worth it. Here’s to a great #sol17!