11/22/2010 05:39 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Let's See, What Can I Fix Today?

I heard the comment the other day, "if it can't be fixed in five minutes, with what's on hand, then don't mention it." I started thinking about students in Reading Workshop and how this might apply to them, and their education.

Seventy-three missed homework assignments this year really doesn't matter as much as having the right attitude and learning today. There is no way to fix all of the hours that a student didn't read at home. There is no way to change an F from the first grading period.

But, just maybe with a little work, and a discussion of today's assignment, a student can figure out that character development is how a character changes from the beginning to the end of a story. There is no way to "fix" a parent that won't follow through with checking the assignment book each night, but a student can spend some free time making up missed work. It's impossible to immediately make a student read at grade level. However, with a little effort, we could fix mistakes written in response to a passage.

Things I can fix:
  1. The climate of today's class.
  2. A student not understanding the task at hand.
  3. Mistakes on an assignment.
  4. Today's lesson and how it's being taught.
  5. A greeting and smile to make every student feel welcome.
Things I can't fix include:
  1. Last week, last semester, and last year.
  2. Parents' problems.
  3. Intercom interruptions (no really, I like having class interrupted 6 times a day paging the custodian).
  4. Teacher jokes that nobody laughs at even though they are really funny to me.
  5. The economy.
  6. Peas for lunch.
  7. Floods, blizzards, thunderstorms and hail.
  8. Dog bites, cat scratches, and bee stings
  9. Broken hearts and she doesn't love me anymore.
  10. Missed shots, interceptions, and strikeouts.
  11. Broken arms.
  12. Cavities.
  13. Bad hair and bad breath.
  14. Blogs with never ending lists.
  15. Testing.
  16. And on, and on, and on...

So much of the debate today regarding education is rhetorical. Realistically though, little changes would go a long way towards improving education. I guess I better do my part in improving education and get busy for the next five minutes and focus on what I can control. What about you? What can you fix?