Unfortunately, the picture above looks like my running trail now in December. We had some snowfall in November and now there is none. Yesterday it rained all day. Honestly, it is disappointing. I keep looking at the weather report in Minnesota with envy.
I am thinking about what is deeply nourishing to me and what has run its course and needs to be nixed. In simple terms what stays and what goes. I like to think of it sometimes in the realm of what do I say YES to and what do I say NO to.
Writing is deeply nourishing.
Talking with writers is deeply nourishing.
Coaching teachers and students is deeply nourishing.
Reading is nourishing in a diverse way. There is different reading for different purposes. Some types are more nourishing than others.
Thinking about what to get rid of completely in my life – physical and mental has been a process I have embarked on for the last couple of years.
I think the CONNECT word is good for me for 2019 especially in the realm of writing. It goes hand in hand with the readings and podcasts I have been inputting as well. I always love how these things I am thinking about converge together.
My thoughts are around how I can connect more with other writers, other teachers, and other coaches. I have some IRL opportunities were this is a real time of possibility and thriving.
What are you pondering?
BTW, I am reading an AMAZING BOOK! It is magical and wonderful.
I sit at my desk with my coffee and think about this new season. Today is the Winter Solstice and the longest night of the year. It is also a Full Cold Moon tonight. I also read there is supposed to be a meteor shower early tomorrow morning just before dawn.
I carry a word with me throughout the year. I had thought it was to be YES for 2019 but the idea of connection has come up so much over the last cycle that I believe the word for 2019 is really CONNECT.
To connect to myself.
To connect with friends.
To connect more with my husband and children.
To connect to creativity.
To connect to the universe and my intuition.
This season is full of transition again for: an end and a beginning. Today I greeted the day in heavy darkness and rain. I would have preferred snow on this first day of winter but will appreciate the stillness and peace that came with the morning.
I am thrilled to be included in the anthology I Wrote it Anyway edited and created by Caroline Donahue from the Secret Library Podcast. If you want to hear more about the WHY behind the book and the process of publishing a passion project which also happens to be an anthology, tune into this fantastic DIYMFA podcast.
My essay is titled My Almost Secret Writing Life.
Here is a link if you would like to purchase the book. All proceeds of this collection benefit 826 LA in the US and Arts Emergency in the UK.
This book is perfect for any writer on your holiday gift list. If you have a friend or loved one who is holding back from writing this may be the inspiration they need!
Today is a special shout out to two wonderful people in my life!
Leanne and Kristin are two ladies who are wonderful human beings and I am SO delighted and grateful they are part of my life! Through training and time this fall we have become so much more connected. They helped me realize I need more connection, not more walls. We have laughed and cried and learned together.
I love you both! Both are amazing educators and coaches and kids and teachers are lucky at the buildings where they are spreading joy and knowledge.
There was a slightly different mix of coaches at this training. I drove into the city this time which was pretty stress free and the drive was full of sunshine.
We used feedback cards after Jim established a procedure for them. Red/Yellow/Green cards can be used with students to show answers really quickly and can also build community. Jim Knight said, “There is power in a collective response.”
A lot of the conversation was around relationships.
We learned how to use several data collection measures which are awesome and actionable. I have used several over the years but these were deep and focused.
One of the specific strategies we talked about was creating a learner-friendly culture. Bill Stickland opened a school that has beautiful things everywhere you look, a building that is full of sunshine and fresh real flowers.
He believes that change can only happen if you see change, including your surroundings. I have the book on hold at the library and am looking forward to it coming in.
Many of the conversations throughout the day continually reminded me that little things matter to ALL people. The thoughtful note, the smile, the nod, the acknowledgement of you being in front of someone…and the sunlight and the flowers.
How do you make your learner space inviting? This could be a writer space or a teaching space. What are your sunlight and flowers? Enjoy them today and share with someone else.
Last Wednesday I hosted Workshop Wednesday during team times. The invitation was specifically sent out to the English teachers but everyone was welcome as always. The email informed the staff the topic was Independent Reading. This meeting is voluntary so I always let staff know ahead of time so there is no surprise. I was pleasantly surprised myself when my content teachers showed up as well. Their attendance really showcases how dedicated they are to the new reading culture in our middle school.
Last year there was not consistent Silent Sustained Reading, Independent reading, or choice reading. It doesn’t matter what the label was, but there was not enough time or support it seemed to pull it off.
It was decided with the new block scheduling this year there was time to implement Independent reading time. Now is the time where teachers have tried various components and how to differentiate for their classes and students. I am so proud that all of the teachers who keep the choice piece sacred. All the decisions made were around that central idea.
The purpose of the meeting was to celebrate reading in our building and the culture they are all perpetuating. It was also to make lists of what was the reality of the reading time and what we want to make consistent across the school. To make a school wide definition decided by the teachers – not anyone else.
It was a great discussion about conferencing, book talks, reading identity, first chapter Friday and what it looked like and sounded like in their respective classrooms.
We talked about what they needed and how to make reading spaces more inviting.
There was celebration about reading memories, students asking for more reading time, and books disappearing because the students want to read them so badly.
Taking inspiration from THE ART OF GATHERING by Priya Parker, I had my version of “15 Toasts”. I had silly plastic champagne glasses with sparkling water. Everyone had a toast to make in the area of a reading memory or the first memory they had of reading. One teacher shared she sat in the back of her third grade classroom because it was where the bookcases were and she could snatch books and read no matter what subject was being taught. There was one book that she loved so much she stole. She still has it! After the meeting she came to show me the book!
I also incorporated the Google Jamboard which I had never used before. It is designed to be used on an interactive white board but I just used the post it note function for everyone to share something exciting going on in their classrooms. I hope to foster some relationships between teachers to visit each other’s rooms and share ideas that are working.
I am excited for the conversation when I can get all the stakeholders together and make some decisions for the achievement of our teachers and the students!
If we were having coffee I would encourage you to get the Caramel Brulee Latte. It is just sweet enough for a change. I will have one too and then switch back to strong black coffee.
If we were having coffee I would confess that my Christmas tree is not up yet. We debated whether to get a real tree or not this year. Last year we got a real tree which was beautiful but it did not smell at all. A tree is ordered and will show up on the doorstep by Wednesday. There are a couple other decorations up, but not many. As a gift, we received a faux fireplace cabinet which my hubby put together. The stockings are hung and I have several reindeer around the house.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have been writing everyday but not finishing anything right now. I had a dinner with a couple ladies from my IRL writing group which was delightful. We write very different genres and types but we get along great. It is fun to talk about process.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have had the best time at work lately. I have been implementing the new ideas and learning from my week of professional development and have seen changes in attitude in teachers and their practice which of course effects students! It has been lovely to be able to follow a set of structures that are effective. I go back to training tomorrow and I am super excited about it.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am climbing out of my reading slump. I am a little farther into the NINE PERFECT STRANGERS book and I love books with strong characters. The book is sucking me in and I am happy about it.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went Christmas shopping yesterday while my daughter was at gymnastics. It was early so there were not a lot of people. I was able to find what I was looking for and didn’t feel like I was supposed to be somewhere else. There were a lot less stresses than what I had last season and I am relieved about it.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am looking forward to my holiday break starting at the end of the week. I am looking forward to my training tomorrow and the rest of the week at school!
In the past I was hardly ever still. This has become a newly acquired skill. I used to drag myself out of bed no matter what to run. No matter what else was going on, no matter how tired I was. That is not the case now.
I like being still now. I feel I need to commit to meditation but haven’t yet. Writing ideas usually come then so it is beneficial. I try moving meditation which is calming.
I am still here.
I am still learning.
I am still loving.
I am still writing.
I am still reading…BUT…have been in a slump. I listened to the Secret Library Podcast and heard the author Mary Laura Philpott talked about being in a reading slump herself and some of the books that helped her out of it.