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Beyond “What am I doing TOMORROW!”

September 18, 2013

Teacher Musings:

I’m heading to work in the dark, the days fly by in a whirl of do-nows, reflection questions, attendance taking, form Bs, book celebrations and”Miss!!!” and the day ends with my reading and commenting on paragraphs that require textual evidence.  The school year is officially in full-swing.

During my first few years teaching, this cacophony and chaos of school starting would also involve this constant refrain in my mind:

“What am I doing TOMORROW?” 

Now, in my ninth year teaching, the refrain is still there, but not nearly as loud or panic-inducing.  Already, in the second week of school, the refrain is

“How do I use what I see my students doing now to plan for tomorrow?”

See, I know what I am doing tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that.  In fact I know what I’m doing twelve, twenty-four, even thirty weeks from now in my class.

I know that every Tuesday and Thursday we will have independent reading time.  I know that every Monday we will introduce a text for the week (except for the weeks when students are working on revising their work for portfolios). I know the general structure of the days, the weeks and the units, because those structures are the things my co-teacher and I thought long and hard about as we planned.

Screen shot 2013-09-18 at 3.22.33 PM

As I enter my ninth year of teaching, I’m excited that my course is focused on a few big goals, and that my co-teacher and I have put in the structures that support those goals.  We have a structure for the week that is centered around reading texts for comprehension, and then reading selected passages in order to analyze the effect of literary devices.  We have a unit structure that is pushes students to revise and edit their work for a real audience.

What I realized during this summer planning process is that I have moved away from stressing about the day-to-day planning, and I’m more focused on how structures and routines can move students towards long-term learning goals. Not that this is news, but no 1-2 day lesson on reading strategies is going to make a kid magically be able to comprehend on a higher level. What will help a kid become a better reader is actually reading with appropriate structures and support in place.  While implementing those structures and support effectively, to meet the needs of every kid, is obviously a challenge and skill I haven’t mastered, at least I’m focused on the structures and support rather than the day-to-day lesson.

This feels like much better place to be than when I that voice wouldn’t shut up about “what is happening TOMORROW!!”

Yummy Stuff:

As the neighborhood vegans, we often get food from neighbors who bought it for one recipe, and then don’t want to use the rest of it.  We’ve been given 1/2 blocks of tofu, loads of greens from people’s gardens, and most recently, carrot juice!  Well, the carrot juice languished in our fridge for a while, with LP asking for a bit of it now and again.  I finally shook myself out of that back-to-school fog and decided to do some baking with it.  I’m still on the hunt for a good muffin recipe that is healthy enough to be a snack, which seemed like the perfect way to try some carrot juice.  I adapted a muffin recipe from Vegan Brunch and got these little gems!  In the future I want to add some oats, nuts, or apples to up the “healthy” factor, or even use maple syrup instead of sugar, but for a first try these made some yummy snacks for me and the little guy to take to school.

Carrot Raisin Muffins


2 cups whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup applesauce

1 cup carrot juice

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup raisins


1) Mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda). Make a well in teh center of the mix

2) Add in the wet ingredients (applesauce, carrot juice and vanilla).  Combine gently, just until the dry ingredients are moist.

3) Fold in the raisins

4) Bake in a 375 (preheated) oven for 23-27 minutes.  They are done when a toothpick inserted comes out dry.


  1. My oldest has an early morning ballgame and if I am up early enough, I shall make muffins!

  2. Anonymous permalink

    Yay! They really are good snack muffins. I can also report that they kept for a few days in a ziploc bag. They were kind of dry by day 3, but they were fine when we heated them up in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Enjoy!

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