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!
Hope is a concept that has come up several times over the last couple of weeks. At my FABULOUS Jim Knight training for coaching HOPE is an integral part of the IMPACT CYCLE for coaching. It is a HOPE that teachers and students can get better at what they do and learn.
Jim Knight says there are 3 attributes for hope:
You need to aspire to some type of goal
You need a pathway to get there
You have to have agency – the belief you can get there
Anne Lamott also has a new book out called Almost Everything: Notes on Hope. She wanted to write a book about all the hopeful things she knew in a world that is surrounding us with negativity and hopelessness. I picked up this book from my library holds yesterday and cannot wait to dig in. Solinet is another author who has thoughts on hope.
What do you have to say about hope?
I hope to have an impact in my job every day. I have hope that the 8th grader I am teaching to read will continue to grow from his pre-primer level. I hope that the sense of peace and connection that has been nurtured over the past weeks will continue with my fellow coaches.
“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.”– Samuel Smiles
I hit the 50,000 words mark this morning about 9 am! I am happy with the story overall. I am going to let the manuscript sit and start to revise in January. I will have to outline what I have and then move large pieces around but there is something magical now!
I will be able to take a chapter at a time to my IRL writing group as well.
I often use Todd Henry’s questions when I am coaching and when I am reflecting with fellow writers. Here are my answers for today.
What are you working on?
I am working on my novel in progress for NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month). I am 45, 000 words in. I can see the finish line of 50,000 by Friday. It has been so much easier this year with the support of my Storyaday group of writers.
What is inspiring me?
I have been reading Kathy Fish’s flash fiction. I really would like to get into one of her flash fiction workshops. I will try when she offers it again. It fills up quickly.
My husband and I watched a documentary about Bill Murray and how he starts random acts of fun. It was inspiring to keep myself open and available.
My Storyaday writer group is inspiring me.
Two Writing Teachers is always inspiring for teacher blogs and prose.
Where do I need prodding?
Right now, I don’t need any external motivation. I am internally motivated for the moment.
The first snow descended yesterday as I drove home from work. The tiny flakes sprinkled my windshield and melted from the warmth of the car. It continued to happily come down throughout the evening. Dinner was pot roast and homemade bread which made for a perfect evening.
This morning the roads are shiny reflecting the lights of the cars as they plug along. The blue sky was light just before the sun came all the way up. The grass looks like it has powdered sugar sprinkled on it.
Snow makes me happy
Winter makes me happy and the coziness it brings.
As I pulled into the parking lot it rained leaves to remind me that we are still in fall, not yet winter.
We have the patterns we engage in because we love them and patterns we follow because we have to. Ultimately, I understand that the “have to’s” are a choice as well but we don’t want to have an accident or get fired.
Daylight savings time is a break in the routine that is out of our control. I read the articles about how certain states are trying to end this practice. I had read someone state it was expensive that I thought was odd. There are added wages for certain jobs because they work overnight. Doesn’t that even out for the company when we spring ahead though?
I am not sure we are saving anything – why is it called that? Yes, there is the sun in my eyes on the morning commute now and it is dark when I come home. I didn’t save any sunshine. It isn’t in a bottle that I can open when I need it. It isn’t in a Sunshine bank account that I can withdraw from.
I have said before:
Daylight savings time is JET LAG with NO TRAVEL
As always, in life and in teaching there are adjustments to be made. In a week, I will be used to the new routine, but I will still be searching for the sunshine.
My refrigerator masquerades as a freezer in my office. It likes to pretend. This is normally helpful for quickly making my Diet Coke cold or keeping “emergency” lunches on the days I forget to pack my sustenance.
It is not a good thing when you forget you had an extra can of DIET COKE in there overnight. When you open the fridge to enjoy the frosty beverage you find frozen coke all over the bottom and a bulging can that looks like something from a horror movie.
Then you kick yourself for being in a hurry the afternoon before and not remembering to take the can out of the fridge to avoid this situation.
Oops…I am more upset I lost a can of Coke rather than the mess!
Yesterday I met for a second time with my 7th graders who are participating in Genius Hour. The 45 minutes was the highlight of my school day.
This is what it looked like:
The students finished their analog planning on the sheets
Whip Around Share Out
Assignments were given for each group of what they need to do before next Monday – mostly research.
I am super excited about the projects and how they are shaping up!
Here is a sampling of the projects:
Two students are planning The Random Happiness Project
Two students are planning a motivational presentation to be broadcast for the entire school
One student is making a People of Michigan City presentation to show what our community really looks like
One student wants to raise awareness of elephant poaching and to give people 3-5 action steps of what they can do to help
It is interesting that one of the most talkative girls is having trouble narrowing her big picture idea to an actionable list. She wants to jump in with both feet and no plans! It is very telling for her process. A place I need to intervene.
The buzz of work, while the time was clicking away, was energizing. You know that buzz when great ideas are flying around the room – THAT was what my room sounded like yesterday at 11a.m.
Two projects sounded the same when they did their “elevator pitch” in the whip around but we unpacked it and came to realize the end results were different: one focus was truly happiness and the other was motivation. The audiences were different as well. It was a great discussion about focus and intent.
I need to take some pictures of the students. We were so busy I forgot! They are so excited about this time and I hope to capture that feeling in their expressions.
I am loving this process because it is teaching students to be lifelong learners which is a basic philosophy I have had since I started teaching.