I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Blog Challenge. If you would like more information about this challenge click here.
Several years ago I learned about the 36 questions to become closer to someone. In the New York Times, the article was titled The 36 Questions that Lead to Love. I am always fascinated by questions. As an introvert, I learned to have a question ready when attending a social event in case the conversation lulled. I prefer to have deeper conversations as opposed to surface level ones.
As part of the challenge this year, I will be answering some of the questions and then you have the opportunity to journal about the question, ask a person you want to be closer to, or answer in the comments.
This question always strikes me as odd because I do not have a hunch about how I will die. I hope that I live a long life. I take care of myself and eat well so I hope my body decides to stick around. I am always learning and keep my mind sharp too. I would be more upset if my mind starting going then my body honestly.
There are people who think about their death more than I. There are moments of course. There are plans. I want to be buried in a forest with a tree as a headstone, not in a traditional cemetery.
I read The Immortalists several years ago (highly recommended if you haven’t read it) and the children had learned the date of their death from a fortune teller. The story follows the lives of the 4 siblings and how this data informed how they lived their lives. It was fascinating and you cannot help but think how you would react.
In my life I have found that how I think I will react to a situation is sometimes different than when I am in the middle of it. I have learned to not make assumptions and judgements and be a little more graceful with myself and others.
In the US Read Across America day is celebrated on March 2, Dr. Seuss’ birthday. As an elementary reading specialist, I took advantage of all of these special “holidays” created around reading to promote books and fun to my students. (Another one is read for the record day which began with Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpillar)
I used to facilitate a school wide rotation of Dr. Seuss centers. At the time, we had an early childhood vocational program that helped create centers for the event for several years.
I have dressed up as the Cat in the Hat more times than I can count. If I look hard enough, I can probably find the newspaper clippings proving it.
On Tuesday evening while in the car I was listening to the Creative Kindergarten podcast and she was talking about how Read Across America day has changed from a Dr. Seuss focus to a more diverse focus this year. NEA had gotten complaints in some fashion about the connection to this author.
I do not have an objection to it being changed to be more diverse. We need more diverse books in classrooms. As my friend Lisa Vahey says, we need to have books that are windows and doors. Children need to see themselves in the text and they also need to learn about people different from them.
Personally, I like to read to learn about how others think. I want to know how characters would handle a situation I have never been in. I feel it prepares me if I ever AM in that situation.
I have always thought about Dr. Seuss’ characters being universal especially the ones that are …animals? As I write this I struggle for a word that describes Sneeches and the Lorax accurately. Larger ideas can still be discussed when reading Dr. Seuss.
As a writer, I am fascinated that Green Eggs and Ham was a writing dare to Seuss. He was challenged to write a book with 50 words or less. I love a prompt of a list of words to construct a story and I am certain I have given that prompt to students.
All of this controversy makes me wonder about people. The conversation needs to be had and the addition of more authors and types of books is a step in the right direction. But does name calling need to occur? Does being nasty about it make it more memorable? That idea is NOT what we want to be modeling for children.
Let’s keep the fun and the wonder. Let’s keep the positive and forward moving parts and then add where we are lacking with respect and kindness to everyone whether you would eat green eggs and ham with Sam I am or not.
I love questions. I love to ask them of others and to reflect on them in my own writing and mind. I have a question collections from reading and also from podcasts. The end of the year is a great time to think about which questions I want to ask more regularly.
Here are 5 Questions I am pondering lately:
What gives me life at work?
What wears me out at work?
Is there anything I can do to eliminate or diminish the effects of #2?
What do I truly want to change?
What do I miss from my teaching life?
Number 5 is the one that is popping out to me the most lately. Being a coach I am often just outside the teaching. I co-teach with others and model lessons but there is something different about having students that are my own day to day.
Student action and reactions to what I plan is exciting to me. I truly look forward to the discussions I have with students.
One thing I did recently was to make the notecatcher for students look like sketchnotes. My model on the large chart paper looks like the student version.
I want my 7th graders to be motivated and I was thinking about how I would like notes to be more fun.
In my own classroom I used to take risks and ask kids in my class all the time to evaluate our practices and reflect. My goal was always to give them strategies they would use forever, not just for the next assignment or test.
I miss the day to day schedule and the micro movements to change students behavior and academic action. I miss family meeting time, the group written chart story and mini-lesson, the independent writing time and conferencing. I miss the many real alouds a day and writing practice time.
I need to incorporate a time blocking schedule to my coaching life. The schedule between 3 offices gets tiresome some weeks. I need to dedicate certain days to certain tasks to keep myself on track and get more focused work completed.
Questions 1, 2, and 3 had me thinking about my first teaching job and a life-changing conversation. A good friend and I in the first building I ever worked in, had a discussion about what I missed about college. She asked me specifically what I missed with the idea that I could incorporate those missed experiences into my life now. The idea was to take the essence of the actions and make it real again. I took that to heart and made some changes that were wonderful.
Question #4 had both a small and large impact on my thinking today. The small impact is a self-editing idea that I learned in high school. A teacher advised reading my piece one sentence at a time, starting at the end. Taking the sentence out of context allowed me to focus on the sentence itself without the content of the story surrounding it. I would be less likely to skip over important details this way.
I would love to be able to work from home a couple days a month but not sure that is possible with the new schedule.
Also click here to read my article ENGAGEMENT: Invite vs Direct
During this past week, I have had many life-giving teaching conversations.
We are piloting a new curriculum for literacy and it is the most excited I have ever been for a program. Immersion is the word that comes to mind when I think of all the experiences which are created.
Students are immersed in a reading writing workshop where the pace is quick but not hurried. Every time I visit a classroom I forget about the time. Late last week I was in a 7th grade room where the students were working with character related to the setting in a novel.
In the debrief with the teacher I made the observation that students do not have a problem discussing what they are supposed to during the turn and talk portions of the lessons. Traditionally, if the routines are not clearly established students will go rogue with their conversations and talk about lunch or the neighborhood instead of what they are supposed to. It is often a struggle for teachers. In this program, I have not seen that at all. There might be a side comment but it is always AFTER they have discussed their point in relation to the materials. I asked the teacher why she thought that might be.
I am so glad you are joining me for coffee today! This post is inspired by Eclectic Alli. My summer has officially started and I am feeling amazing! Let’s take our coffee and go for a little walk and then we can sit under the trees as the time stretches on.