Slice of Life Challenge day 4 #sol17

Title:  “Important”

My heart slowly relaxed as the familiar, mechanistic churning noise filled my ears.   I had just gently pressed the blue “Start” button on the copy machine.  “Thank goodness,” I thought.  The wonderful, yet not always dependable friend we call The Copier, had been experiencing some issues as of late.  So I was relieved beyond measure to know she was feeling better and would be able to produce the copies necessary for the teacher training I was planning.

Suddenly, I heard a voice next to me.  “We need to talk.”  I turned.  It was my assistant principal.  It struck me at that very moment that linguistically those words do not imply anything more than a general statement.  Diagramming this sentence, really all we would come up with would be subject/verb/prepositional phrase, or something like that (it’s been too long since those mundane days!).  And yet I noticed, “We need to talk” consistently strikes fear into my heart– especially when it is delivered by a superior in the workplace.

“Um, okay,” I stammered.

“I have some concerns,” she added.  Okay, now if my anxiety hadn’t been linguistically justified before, it probably had a pretty strong case now.  I grabbed my copies and followed her to her office.  The door closed behind me, and I heard the metal blinds ominously rattle behind me as it clicked shut.  Once inside, my assistant principal, facing me directly, began explaining that she had attended an important meeting on a student recently.  And when searching for an important piece of information regarding the student’s reading records, she had come up empty.  Silence.  Pause. “So do we have this information?” she asked, looking me- the Reading Consultant- straight in the eye.

“Yes, we have that,” I responded.  Phew.

After a brief search of our Google drive and a physical file cabinet, we discovered that we had both a spreadsheet and a physical record.  At that point, my AP and I looked at each other and– I am going to admit– felt pretty good.  This kid had not “slipped through the cracks”, as the saying goes.  Decisions could now be made in future meetings that were based on real data we had collected on the student. We had not missed him.

As teachers, mentors, parents, guardians, specialists, and administrators, we need to realize our jobs matter.  Each of the students under our purview possess incredible potential.  And knowing that, each of them must be taken seriously, because the educational decisions we make for each child should be based on what we know about them already.  It is about being responsive not to some outside force, but to each individual child.  

I can’t say we will get it right each time, because let’s face it– working with kids is hard.  It just is.  But it was nice to know we got it right this time.

Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

13 thoughts on “Slice of Life Challenge day 4 #sol17”

  1. Suspenseful. Phew! All’s well that ends well. I am wondering, what about day-to-day observations by the classroom teacher – formative assessment on a daily basis? Did the records include classroom snapshots, too? That makes it so much more about the individual child instead of testing results in a filing cabinet. It sounds like you are responsible for the reading records of all the students. That’s a huge responsibility and a lot of pressure!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As I read this I thought about the ways the panic gives rise to poor ways of communicating. I’m glad it worked out okay–especially for the child and you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I guess because we care so much about children, this piece was so suspenseful. At times, all the data input can feel overwhelming. Yet, your story reminds so well why we do it. For a child. “The educational decisions we make for each child should be based on what we know about them already.” Once we know exactly where they are, only then can we know how to create next steps. Thanks for a detailed, suspenseful writing piece that reminds me of the importance of time-consuming grading and data entry.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You had me sitting on the edge of my seat … I hate hearing those words too, even though I’m not usually the one “getting in trouble” but those words sure make one feel like it! Happy to hear the conversation ended with a positive. We have been shouting that word RESPONSIVE all year long. Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing your slice!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lanny,
    What a fun post to read and I am so glad you found what you needed! My principal says, “Now, take a deep breath.” When you hear this you know something is coming that you’re going to need to breath through!
    Loved the suspense!


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