I just read some words in TEACH LIKE A PIRATE by Dave Burgess that resounded with me. Those words made me slam down his book and grab my computer. Well, I didn't really slam it. After all, I was reading on my iPad.
Dave told the story of a teacher asking him to let her in on the secret of how he ran his classroom so well—so easily. She said, "It's easy for you. You're creative.” Hmm! That sounds like a compliment—yes! I hear similar words from folks who read my book, PRISONERS WITHOUT BARS: A Caregiver's Tale. And yes, I thought it was a compliment too, and I know it's supposed to be. It obviously means that my book was easy to read. GOOD! That was my intent.
But when I think further on those six words, I cringe. Did my admirers think that I didn't labor over putting words together to make sentences, paragraphs, and chapters? Did they not know that I squeezed blood out of my keyboard to make every word sound like music—like water flowing gently down the stream? No! They didn't see that. How could they? They didn't see my T-I-C (tush in chair) for hours and hours and hours, pushing through each chapter and reliving every moment of my story. They didn't see my frustration while my mind searched, wandered, and searched some more for the exact right word or words. They weren't sitting with me at my desk for the past twenty years as I honed my craft. If I made my book easy to read, that's great. Like I said, that was my intent.
So when Dave Burgess's classroom looked easy to run, when it looked as if it were running like a well-oiled machine, I'm certain it was. But that was his intent, and it took him years to perfect his system too. I realize the hard work that he put in because I did the same in my 1st or 3rd grade classrooms too. They almost ran themselves.
If you were a fly on the wall, this is what you might see. Each day, my kiddles were presented with a multitude of learning situations and were daily engaged in projects of their choosing. My room looked like chaos, but it was controlled chaos. (I challenged anyone, especially my principals and administrators, to visit my classroom and ask any child what they were doing and why they were doing it.) My process allowed me to focus on small reading groups or individual writing conferences. It allowed me to provide extra assistance to any student in need. It was perfect. Did it take a lot of work behind the scenes to organize my controlled chaos? Yes! Absolutely! But it was worth every minute.
You can read about my methods and my madness in my book, IF I RAN THE SCHOOL: How I Made My Primary-Grade Classroom a Play Yard for Learning, when it's published.
And now back to Dave Burgess's book, TEACH LIKE A PIRATE, to find more tidbits of learning.
Warning! I may have to slam his book closed again when I find a new tidbit I can't pass up. But don’t fret, I’ll open it again until the final page.
As I say after each post:
If you enjoy Bookity Blog, please pass it on to all your friends and they to theirs. (I’d like to drive up the readership. Sometimes it feels like I am writing in a vacuum. So go ahead. Send it to 10 of your friends.)
If you hate my blog, go ahead and send it to your enemies. (10 enemies would be good.) I won’t mind.
(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)
I am the author of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver's Tale. It's the true story of how my husband almost left me--three times.