Happy New Year to everyone! This is a wonderful time of year in schools. Most of us are ready for some routine back in our lives after a week or more of unstructured time. With this return to school, we are entering a known space and community, in a way that is different than returning to school in September. These next six weeks are fertile ground for incredible learning, with opportunities to dive deeply into the topics in front of us in each of our classrooms.
It is a good time to do some reflecting on our habits of mind. I was thinking back recently about when a group of teachers was first working on coming up with the Habits of Mind. I remember vividly one meeting that was full of thoughtful argumentation, and it was about the habit that we ultimately named, "Analyze and Interpret." At one point in the development of this Habit of Mind, we were calling it, "Slow Down, Think, and Ask." And perhaps really at the crux was the first phrase – slow down. As human beings we are quick to jump to interpretations without slowing down to analyze, to really notice what is in front of us without judging. It's not that we're terrible, judgmental people. I think it really may be a way that our brains are wired – to look for things to match with something we think we already know. There is a lot that can be gained from slowing down... in many different realms of life. In this slowing down, we give ourselves time to analyze rather than assume. I've also been thinking a lot about the ways in which we can teach this process of slowing down, or analyzing. One way – reading a word problem multiple times and thinking about all aspects of the problem before trying to do anything with the information that would lead to solving. Another way is through poetry – it is rare that the first read of a poem yields true understanding. So slowing down to read a poem multiple times can help teach this kind of analysis. The 5th graders have been slowing down a lot this year as they have been observing their plant experiments in science. They are looking so closely at every miniscule change that happens to that they can record it, analyze it, and make sense of it.
Are there opportunities in your family life for slowing down to analyze? I wonder if it would be helpful for children to hear about situations you are analyzing and how you go about doing that. How do you make yourself slow down? Sometimes it’s the very act of asking a question that makes you slow down and analyze. I look forward to hearing from you and your children about where and how you’re finding ways to slow down and analyze.