Time for a little well-deserved R & R.
I wonder how many of our readers are aware that this phrase actually has its origins in military jargon. According to the curators at The Sixties Project, sponsored by Virginia University at Charlottesville, this phrase means “rest and recreation” and “a three to seven-day vacation from the war for a soldier.” Other definitions from web sources speak to the use of this phrase to describe time away from the battle front.
You can draw your own comparisons to education here. As a veteran of the United States Navy, I’ve always seen my role in the classroom as being a part of a kind of joint task force humanitarian mission.
And the reason I bring any of this to you this morning is because my summer vacation is almost over.
We’re nothing if we aren’t timely in these kinds of posts.
But, I was going through some note the other day when I happened upon this quick scrawl of some ideas for Room 407. You can find these little “gems” in my composition books. Some place where I am playing with a phrase or some letter combinations.
Or my attempt to draw a cow. This keeps the creative spark going, you know? Try drawing a realistic cow without doing things to it like making it cute or putting a ring in its nose. Attention to detail—isn’t this what we are always asking of our students. But I digress. Which sounds like digest. Which is interesting for the cow in that its four-chambered stomach. . .
Here is what I found on one particular page of my personal notes. What’s interesting is the number of times I see an R being crossed out for another R or when I wanted to couple this R to that R, but here is what was left:
Reflect and Realize
Recognize and Respond
Read and Reach
Reap and Repeat
And now I’ll try to go back to try to remember what I was thinking on that day.
You know, I should really try to write this stuff down. It makes it so much easier when I come back to it later.
R&R: Reflect and Realize
Good. As a student at Indiana University Southeast, I had a tradition at the end of each semester. I don’t know how many people are aware that I even did this. I would walk the perimeter (or what the sidewalk and paths would allow for perimeter) of the campus.
I did this in order to reflect back upon the lessons, activities, and assignments I completed in the course of that semester. This walking through the semester at the end gave me some time to reflect on where I had been, what I had done, what I did well, and what I could do better.
This walking time also gave me some time to realize that taking time to look back is the best way to enter now before moving on. For me—well before I knew that someone else was probably already using it—this walking, reflecting, and realizing was all part of coming to the notion of the two states of learning: now and next.
The payoff for this piece of well-deserved R&R was well worth I think. And I am certainly not in a position to offer to you what you need to reflect upon or what you need to realize, but I can suggest that any time toward the end of the year is a good time for this. So is the end of the summer vacation.
And. . .you could really do this on day #15 of the school year.
#115 would work well too.
R&R: Recognize and Respond
We all know when it is not going exactly as planned, right?
I love the word “recognize.” Look at it real quick. It’s a weird little word that has a verb in it that I know I don’t use very often. Oh, we like to make it flowery (cogitate and cognizant), but do we have difficulty with “cognize?”
Here. I set recognize all by itself:
This word literally means to re-know, re-perceive, and re-become aware of.
It may be the English teacher within me, but I know I am not alone in my love for prefixes. With prefixes, sometimes you get to do it again.
And teachers well-versed in the attributes of R&R will recognize when things are not going exactly as planned. If they were required to keep accurate records of such things, you’d see multiple seating charts throughout the course of the year. And if you drilled down into the day-planner, you’d have to listen to the teacher’s personal narrative of the decision to move Billy to the front or when Sally got her new glasses or when the project-based learning project required that we get a little closer this marking period.
And the response is what is really important here. Ignorance is not bliss within the learning community. Oh, sure it may seem like everyone is having a blast, but a blast almost always becomes a bust if recognizing and responding are not in place.
And, if you are looking to the end of your own summer vacation, recognizing this and responding to this could make all of the difference in how that first day of school goes down.
R&R: Read and Reach
Just the other day, I finished my 600th book for my 1000 book reading goal in 2012. It was the milestone I wanted to reach during summer vacation in order to bring down the monthly reading goal required within the first part of a new school year beginning on August 7th.
And I don’t mean to toot my own horn here. My grandmother was wise to remind me every now and then that as loud and impressive as it may seem, it is not the whistle that moves the train.
I know that reading within my content area, from the professional resources aimed at my practice, and from a variety of sources of voices is THE best way to grow personally and professionally. You don’t set a 1000 book reading goal without being open to the multitude of titles and subjects you might encounter of the course of a year.
And the reach that comes of this? I have a wonderful working relationship with Ms. Abby Johnson, our children’s department librarian at New Albany-Floyd County Library. This summer, we led two reading events for young guy readers with authors Phil Bildner and the creative team behind the Vordak the Incomprehensible series of books. My own children know the name of the man who runs the local independent bookstore.
With reading, it’s really about the reach. When Sarah Kajder tweeted on Saturday morning about a title related to the Olympics, I was able to tweet back a response that helped Sarah put that book into a reader’s hands. And because of her reach. . .and my response, the KID walked away with the gold.
Reach out to other readers. #TitleTalk is a conversation led by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp on the last Sunday evening of each month. If you are reading this today, the next conversation is this evening. If you’ve never participated in one of these discussions, you are really missing out on an opportunity to reach.
Follow. Follow. Follow. Follow.
Twitter is what you make it, and if you want to make it a community of readers, then do just that. Donalyn Miller and I have talked before about what a Twitter feed might look like for a car enthusiast or a musician, or an artist, or a business owner. What does Twitter look like for the reader? Take a look at the #FF suggestions on Friday mornings and get in there.
When you reach through your reading (and this is not simply reaching for the pre-packaged curriculum guide), you reach your readers. I’m convinced of this.
R&R: Reap and Repeat
Our R&Rs (say that. . .three times. . .quick) may come in different couplings, but I wanted to go back to that notation from earlier this year to bring something that would make sense to me so that I could share it with you.
Have you ever noticed that when you explore ideas through writing that they become a little more transparent? A little more clear? So clear that we can see our own reflection in the ideas we have rendered on the page? Do we recognize that this is EXACTLY what we want our students to experience and to do in the new school year? And if we have come to this realization. . .well. . .how will we respond?
And when we do reflect, read, realize, respond, and reach, we’ll recognize when it is time to return. It’s the repeat.
And now, closing in on a respectful word limit for the day, it is time to return (prefixes. . .I love them) to the military-jargon’s intention for R&R: rest and relaxation.
It’s Sunday morning after all.
Oh look. A Sunday book.
Yesterday, it was a Saturday book, but it is no less beautiful a day later.