just find out what 4th graders read, you’ll be fine

I walked along the river, I organized the office, I walked through the mall, but what finally started to calm my panic was searching booklists on Good Reads.

I found out yesterday that I will be moving from my beloved 2nd grade classroom upstairs to 4th grade and I’ve been carrying around a backpack full of anxiety ever since. It’s not that I’m against the move. I certainly wasn’t looking for it, didn’t ask for it, but it is a move I saw in my future. It’s just that school starts in 4 weeks, and I’m away at the Writing Institute next week, so that gives me 3 weeks to move everything and prepare myself for the 4th grade curriculum.

Yes, I’ve been in touch with my Literacy Coach, and happily she’s my roommate for next week’s Writing Institute so we’ll have lots of time to talk and plan. She already sent me the first unit and a few calming words. And yes, I have plans to meet with the teacher who is switching grades with me so we can trade grade level tips and I reached out to my 4th grade teaching friend for support. And both the Principal and AP have graciously offered to help me move and have promised time with support personnel to get up to speed on the grade level standards. Everyone is great and I know I will have all the support I need.

I still felt like running. I couldn’t bear to be in my own skin and nothing I did settled me.

I brought my daughter to the library earlier today and for the whole time I was in that building I was calm. My arms didn’t itch, my leg didn’t hop, my stomach didn’t churl. My holy place. That’s what I needed, to surround myself with books. Well, the girls had things to do so I couldn’t stay there. I dropped them off and headed for the closest bookstore as soon as I could. Kate DiCamillo jumped off the shelf first. Yes, 4th graders can read her novels on their own. How wonderful. I ran my eyes over shelf after shelf of young reader novels and breathed without hiccough. I grabbed a coffee (and, to be fully honest, a slice of cheesecake – come on, I’ve been stressed) and sat to draft changes on my classroom website. Then I hopped over to Good Reads to see if I could get a list of titles to add to my reading list. To get me started:

The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

The Flight of the Phoenix by R.L. LaFevers

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamilo

Surrounding myself with these books, with the idea of these books, relaxed me. I started to go into planning mode. How will I organize the classroom library? How will I plan for book reviews and sales pitches to get the right books into the right hands? Can I set up little reading nooks? Will students take on the challenge of writing their own stories based on their favorite genres? How am I going to encourage that writing?

The transition to fourth grade is not going to be easy, but underneath the panic is real excitement to take on this new challenge. And with my new reading list, I’m ready to take on the next 4 weeks.

I’m not ready to quite think about what comes after that.

One page at a time.

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