Tag Archives: snail

At a Snail’s Pace

In my profession, May roars, leaving me windblown and mud spattered in the wake of the urgency to squeeze in every last bit of learning, every memorable project, and all the performances, displays, meetings, and endless, but somehow necessary, paperwork before school ends in mid June.

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And May is rich.  Students have blossomed into their most curious, creative, innovative, and independents selves.  They seem to peak as the rains ease and the skies warm, classroom routines providing the inner rhythm, the back beat, that allows imaginations and a year’s worth of learning to come together in perfect synergy.  The classroom is busy in May, with students leading the charge…both eager for school to end and reticent leave the comfortable place the classroom has become.

But there is a week in May where time crawls to a snails’ pace.  State testing, mandated in public schools, demands that my students spend hours demonstrating their learning.  During those times I hear each click of the clock reverberate against my eardrums.  The room is unnaturally quiet as students work through question after question designed to test their mastery of third grade.  The work is not too hard for my students, but it is too long…and requires them to operate very differently from our typical classroom routine.

It seems almost from birth, our students were encouraged to collaborate.  They’ve learned to work in groups, sort out misunderstandings through discussion and conversations, negotiate roles and responsibilities, turn to each other for support and critical feedback…until it’s time for the test.  Then they are asked to be quiet, to read and understand complex questions independently, write and revise without feedback, and sit for long stretches of time.

The minutes drag as I roam the room.  I check to make sure these first time test takers are progressing through their tests rather than spending inordinate amounts of time on any one question.  I search their faces, ready to intervene when signs suggest they are ready to crumble.  I remind them to use their tools, to take a breath, to stretch, and to check their work. That clock slows to a snail’s pace, each click requiring the coil of the snail’s body to snap forward, oozing its slimy self toward its destination.

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After the second day of testing I can feel the mood shift.  Novelty got us through day one and two, but day three feels heavy.  The hands of the clock are now mired in sludge.  Students need more encouragement to keep moving forward.  I need to summon some super powers to settle the boiling tummy, churning with uncertainty.  A walk and a talk helps, we are able to settle in again.

I’m proud of my students.  They did it.  All persisted, all persevered, all finished the tests in front of them.  And honestly, that is accomplishment enough at this stage of the game.  Now we can get back to the real learning–the noisy, messy, complex, interactive projects that bring joy to the classroom.  I’ll be the one who is windblown and mud spattered and reveling in the mess.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close to Home

It’s hard to believe that the summer is coming to a close.  And even though I work during the summer, this last week has been filled with those beginning of the school year meetings and classroom preparation. All of that has kept me close to home, squeezing a few photos in here and there, mostly using my trusty phone as camera.

As I checked out our classroom garden bed in front of the classroom, I noticed the native milkweed has started to take off and the tropical milkweed is still going strong.  There weren’t any monarchs or caterpillars around, but I did noticed this tiny snail crawling on the plants.  (I did play around with prisma a bit, trying to create more color contrast to make the snail “pop.”)

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And then of all crazy things, my husband and I decided to go to a concert on a Tuesday night!  We are lucky to have this wonderful concert venue in town that is smallish and is outdoors.  I caught a glimpse of the sun going down in the distance as we headed to the amphitheater.

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It is such a treat to sit outdoors in the comfortable late-summer evening, listening to good music…and even singing along.  We saw Melissa Etheridge and Pat Benatar…two great shows in one!  It was fun playing around with trying to capture the action, distance, and lighting (this is unedited).

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Yesterday, to end my work week, I grabbed my camera (Sony a6000) and headed to the beach for a quick mental health break on my way home. The tide was high, so the beach was narrow, but there were still plenty of people enjoying the water and sand.  These sneaky seagulls found an apple…probably someone’s unattended snack and managed to carry it to the water’s edge.  They were having quite a party–snatching a bite, keeping an eye out for people and other seagulls, then heading back in for another bite.  At one point one of the seagulls picked the whole apple up, spread its wings and moved it down the beach.  It was quite a show!

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I see this rock pretty regularly as I walk down the beach.  D and T must be quite committed to showing their love to have spent the time to carve it so deeply in this sandstone.  I do wish they would have considered a way to show their love that didn’t mar the natural beauty of the beach!  You can see that my walk was shortened–there was no way to get around that corner ahead without getting wet!

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But the short walk was a perfect way to shift from preparing the classroom to coming home to enjoy a weekend of relaxation before the kids arrive on Monday.  And I couldn’t resist a shot of the ordinary–the railing along steep ramp up to the parking lot with the puffy white clouds in the blue sky.

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So, what are you noticing close to home? What might you capture with that phone in your pocket?  What do you see on that daily walk, at the corner park, or even from your car window (not when you are doing the driving!)?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #closetohome for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

You don’t have to venture far this week, what will you discover close to home?  I can’t wait to see what you find through your lens!