A Tangent Towards Growth

How often in team meetings do we find ourselves on a brief tangent, an unexpected turn in a conversation that is sometimes distracting, while other times leads to a helpful insight. A year ago, it seemed my career was taking a tangent, diverging from World Languages to the base classroom. I felt like a kid on their first day in Spanish class. The classroom was familiar, yet everything I heard was in an obscure language. Number talks? Lucy Calkins? Running records? I was in the classroom but not the classroom I was comfortable in.

During the year, I found myself leaning into something very different and very stimulating. With guidance from the Sixth Grade leads, I tried my hand at teaching in the four academic classes. Lesson planning became an artistic process of learning, creating, and risk-taking. In my excitement for new subject areas, my mind continued to drift to World Languages. How did this all translate?

zoom-out-icon-png-32This reflection harkens back to a pre-planning presentation from Maryellen a few years back about perspectives. I remember her talking about zooming in and zooming out. (Perhaps the TTT segment “WHAT IS THAT?” comes to mind.) I spent a year zooming out, and looking at children with a new lens. I sat in on parent sharing conversations and graduation practice. I dabbled in new curriculum, Opera rehearsals, and field trips. A year later, I’m zooming back in, making a b-line to language instruction, while seeing the big picture of Sixth Grade life.

So, how did this translate? Like a number talk, I look for flexibility and creativity in language production. The Lucy Calkins mini-lesson architecture informs writing and grammar lessons. The World Languages team uses benchmark assessments, similar to a running record, to track growth in language production over time.

At the time, I could not see how spending a year in the base classroom might better prepare me for language education. Now I cannot help but wonder what other tangents I might take to new areas of growth.


Learner, Thinker, Writer: Julia Kuipers serves the Trinity School community as a World Languages Teacher & Sixth Grade Associate.


Photo: “www.freeiconspng.com.” Web. 03 Oct. 2016.

4 thoughts on “A Tangent Towards Growth

  1. Julia, I has been great working with you. Your insight and ability to get things done has added immensely to our team. Just remember, there is usually a lesson in every setback, every move forward, and every moment of being stagnant. Your “tangent” not only taught you something, but made us (6th team) stronger. You are appreciated!

  2. Wow! What a great piece, Julia! I ditto what Javonne said. Your ability to zoom out last year not only gave you a new perspective but helped our team grow as well. I am so glad you had the ability to work on four different subjects and with four different teaching styles. What an opportunity for you and us! Thanks for all you do.

  3. Thank you for your encouragement! I have experienced so much unexpected growth and joy from being on the Sixth Grade team, and I’m feeling pretty lucky to be where I am.

  4. Often the best lessons we learn that prepare us for the future are ones gained from an unexpected turn, tangent, success, or even failure. Great post. It also makes me think about the power in observing others as fantastic professional growth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *