How do I find my way down this path? I am given a path to travel down, my district’s version of Common Core as given to use by the sample units created by the state. These units, idiosyncratic labors of love created by various teachers throughout the state, provide me with a framework and daily lessons. These units don’t seem to be traveling the pathway to the Common Core that Calkins suggests I travel. Here I am, though, traveling this rough and rocky path I have been directed to walk upon. As I travel down this path, I find that there are places I want to stop and spend time, and there are other places I’d like to avoid altogether, yet I travel with my collaborative companions (as our district likes to see us all on the path together) feeling like we must stay close to one another.
I recall the paths I traveled down before with my literacy guides Atwell, Calkins, Gallagher, Anderson, Rosenblatt and many more. And here I am now, moving forward but seeking the sacred from the past.
My writers have had no choice, and my writers haven’t found their voice. I’ve read the mandated books—we’ve gone deeper. Choice books are found in the media center, but little is done with those texts. I am slashing the obstacles out of my way as I forge my way along this new path, but I find myself wondering what I can do to keep what was sacred before—memoir to make meaning out of life and to find your voice, time—time to read and write.
Sure my kids can find textual evidence and can respond to a text like my students have never done before. They are more college ready—they will be able to write the essays of high school and college better than the middle schoolers of the past.
Still, though, I wonder what I have lost. I am not helping them find their true writer’s voice. I am not helping them find their passion as readers and writers. And I am not sure my students have any idea that putting the pen to the paper can help them solve their own problems, discover who they are or who they can become. Poets are not found in the walls of my classroom today. Academic writing—the writing that exists between the four corners of the text—has its place and its purpose, yet personally connecting helps kids understand so much more. If all these students are prepared for high school, college, and career, but if I haven’t shown them the true power from reading and connecting and writing for self discovery, then I will have abandoned the many guides that have helped me find myself.
I will continue to seek the sacred from the past and present as I travel this path of Common Core.