It’s the middle of September. My reading and writing workshops are far from what I want them to be. We are not yet settled into our daily routines. I long for the predictability and the comfort that comes when our students just know what to do and do it seamlessly. There is so much that still needs to be taught. There is so much that I need my students still to know.
And then comes Dot Day. Smack dab in the middle of September, one of the toughest months of the school year.
And the temptation, for me, is to skip it. To not disrupt the very fragile and still so new routines that we are trying to establish. And that temptation is real and strong.
And then I remember. I remember the point of Dot Day. A day to celebrate creativity, imagination and individuality. These are the things I believe in. And if I truly do believe in them, then I must make space in my classroom to celebrate them. Because we can say all we want that we want to celebrate the uniqueness of each and every student, but unless our actions match our words then what we say is meaningless.
You see I feel this need to rush all the time. To plow through what I have to teach. To ensure that everything we do in my classroom is helping my students to become better readers and writers. And in that rush, it is easy to believe that there is only one way to help my students to become better readers and writers. I teach my mini-lessons, I give them time to practice, they share what they are doing and learn from one another.
But then I think about how much more there is to being a reader and a writer than what I am teaching in my mini lessons. I think about what it is that is holding so many of my students back from being able to take the necessary steps that will propel them forward as both readers and as writers. And what is often holding them back is the fear of being wrong. It is the fear of not doing things in the one way that their teacher wants them to do things. It is an unwillingness to take a risk, to try something they aren’t sure will be successful. They doubt themselves. They don’t see themselves as readers and writers because they believe that readers and writers all look one certain way.
And Dot Day has the ability to fight all of that. It is a day where we celebrate different ways of thinking and being. It is a day where we celebrate taking risks. It is a day where we say there is no one way to be an artist or a reader or a writer or a citizen of this world. It is a day where the students who don’t often feel successful or valued in our school systems get to shine. It is a day when our students see that everyone has the ability to make a positive mark on our world.
In my classroom, I switched out all of our regular school supplies with art supplies for Dot Day. And while I was working to make this change with the help of a dear friend and coworker other teachers happened to walk by my room. And a few remarked how cute it was that I was making this change. And then again, on Dot Day, I was told how cute it was that the kids were making their own dots and how cute their representations of how they plan to make their mark on the world were. And I know that no harm was meant with these comments of cuteness. I know that no ill-will was intended, but I also hope that others teachers might start to realize that Dot Day is more than cute. It is more than fun. It is more than a nice activity.
It is a message that we are choosing to send to our students. We are choosing to let them know that there is more than one way to be a student. That more than one kind of person is going to be celebrated in our classroom. That there is more than one way to think about every single thing that we do. That we want them to take risks and be brave and think in new ways. That who they are matters in this room. These are the message that we send on Dot Day. And that is far more than just cute.
To catch a glimpse of what Dot Day looked like for us this year, take a look at our class video with pictures from the day.
You can also see how my students, and others, plan to make their mark on the world by looking at our collaborative Padlet.