Five on Friday!

Five Favorite Podcasts right now:

  1. Reading Glasses
  2. Professional Book Nerds
  3. The Librarian is In
  4. Better Leaders Better Schools
  5. From the Front Porch

 

Five Podcasts I Always Listen to No Matter What:

  1. What Should I Read Next
  2. The Simple Show
  3. All The Books
  4. Book Riot Podcast
  5. Well Read (on hiatus right now though)

 

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Anne Bogel is AMAZING!

Anne Bogel is an amazing woman and I have been a fan for years.

When her new blog post on Modern Mrs Darcy is posted, I read that first.

When her summer reading guide is released I am there!

When her online book club started I was in the first group.

When her podcast comes out every Tuesday I am downloading and listening to it immediately.

When she recommends books I am searching on Amazon where ever I am!

Soooooo….

When I found out she was writing a book I was thrilled!

 

Then I was accepted to become part of the launch team and was able to read the book early which is equivalent to enjoying the whole bakery with sprinkles not just one cupcake.

As someone who loves personality tests this book talks about several measures with real stories and applications. All of us want to know more about ourselves and how and why we react to situations and people. I know that discovering I was an introvert several years ago was mind blowing for me. 

As a teacher coach,  I plan to use personality tests as part of my trainings this year so the insight from Anne’s book will be helpful. I am beginning my Workshop Wednesdays next week, and personality and collaboration is the topic.

Although I was familiar with most of the measures explained in the book, the real life explanations from Anne added to my understanding. I even learned about a couple new measures!!

I am the type of reader that is: THE INSIDER. I want to know all the books that are coming out and what the buzz is about them. I also pay attention to Man Booker Prize and National Book Award lists. I want to know which authors are from the Iowa Writers Workshop. I pay attention to the critics from the New York Times Book Review but I still make my own decisions about what I want to read…and what I chose to recommend.

This book is a great read full of useful information. If you want to know more about yourself and the people around you pre-order the book by clicking on readingpeoplebook.com. The release date is September 19, 2017.

Check out Anne’s blog too! http://www.modernmrsdarcy.com

#readingpeoplebook

Morning Routines

I have been listening to the audiobook Deep Work by Cal Newport. This book has been on my radar multiple times over the past several years, but it has never stuck with me in a meaningful way until now. Books have their way of coming into my life when I most need them. I feel like now is the time for this book to work its magic. I have checked it out of the library and skimmed it more than once, but listening to it seems to resonate better at this time in my life.

Writing rituals and routines are always something in my reading and thinking wheelhouse and a morning routine is part of the strategies talked about in Deep Work.  Two years ago I found the website My Morning Routine which is a site which interviews different people and asks them a series of questions about the success of morning routines. The basic question is, “What is your morning routine?” and “How long have you stuck with the routine?” There is research that links the idea of a solid routine to successful life. Tim Ferris has talked about this concept in his books and his podcast. With so much research I feel this is the time to intentionally create a routine and stick to it to better use my time.

My plan is to carve out time at the beginning of my work day to be able to establish a quality routine that involves some deep work. I am the type of person that needs to be able to have the daily time to focus my attention to deep work rather than shallow work. Some people can carve out a whole day once a week or certain times a month but I do not believe this practice would be effective for my learning style. I have allowed myself to become distracted more lately and need to train my brain to GO DEEP and am hoping this book and some of the strategies will help me be more successful.

I have experimented with different pieces of morning routines for as long as I can remember including exercise, meditation, reading, morning pages, etc. I will experiment with the new routine for 2 weeks and then modify if needed. I used to run every morning which allowed me to think and process the day but my new schedule and life do not allow for this anymore.

New Morning Routine:

  1. Set intention for the day
    1. I have been saying an intention to myself for years. It is how I remind myself what I am working on personally and professionally. It simply starts with “It is my intention….” Currently the words intentional, inspire, and create are contained within my intention.
  2. Check calendar for the day (which was set before leaving work the day before)
  3. Add any activity or meetings for the day.
  4. Write a few notes for what I intend to write for the day and block time in the day for when I will write.
  5. Read and annotate professional book including the connections I need to make to bring pertinent information to the teachers I work with..
  6. Get more coffee.
  7. Start the day with “Here we GO!”

Wish me luck!

 

 

Yes and No

I have been contemplating what I am saying “YES” to in my life and “NO!” This idea has been inspired by Tsh Oxenreider from The Simple Show and her amazing podcast series. She rereads the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown every year which is a title I have also read.

Things I have been saying NO to lately:

+ Feeling bad about truly putting my family first

+ Apologizing for statements about what I believe in

+Toxic people

 

Things I have been saying YES to:

+Family

+Honoring my knowledge, experience, and expertise in the field of education

+New learning and not knowing everything!

+Spending time with people I want to and that are enriching to my life

+Word Connect on my phone

+What really matters

+Reading

+Writing

+Being bored and thinking

 

What are you saying yes and no to in your life?

 

Happy New Year!

Today was the first day back for the new school year. I always think of the first day of school as the new year rather than January 1st. It is a new beginning and a fresh start. January 1st is the time for me to revisit the goals and aspirations I set in August.

The events and situations that I find myself in this year are dramatically different than last. Last year I was new to the corporation and knew no one. This year I had many familiar faces to greet me at the district meeting. Last year no one knew who I was when I walked in the building. This year I have already had meetings with my teachers to discuss the students and curriculum and more are scheduled for tomorrow and the rest of this week! The year is off to a booming start and I prefer it that way! As Thomas the Tank Engine would say: I felt like a very useful engine today.

I have many goals starting my 22nd year of education. Some are small like my own dress code for work to big frameworks I want to implement with my Workshop Wednesdays this year. I want to help my teachers with teaching reading to our middle school students. I want to focus on relationships with teachers and students. I want to write and read more personally and professionally. Rest assured, all these goals are written in a measurable way in my little black book I carry around with me everywhere!

The words I decided in January for 2017 were CREATE and INSPIRE. This is the time of year for me to check in with those words and continue the goals.

One of the best things about today was the laughter! I am blessed to work with some amazing people and I was reminded of that fact many times over today.

It is going to be a great year!

 

Reading is My Binky

Reading is my comfort and much more than a hobby. It is part of an innate coping mechanism I seem to possess. As a runner training for a marathon or ultra you run many daily miles for months. When it comes to tapering before the race many runners get cranky, myself included. You get twitchy from so much time and less miles. You feel like you are someone else you don’t like. You have a an itch that has no scratch. Reading is my universal itch scratcher. When I don’t read, much like when I don’t run, I get twitchy and irritable. It is my automatic activity for pleasure, information, general happiness, and escape.

In college I took the most classes I could every semester except for one. That semester was remarkable and memorable to me because I a class was dropped at the last minute, and I decided to just let the universe guide my schedule and take the break of less hours. I realized quickly I had way too much time on my hands that was usually slated for studying and dictated by professors’ syllabus so I went to the library. I loved the library at my college and found the new releases shelf that semester. I had no idea it even existed before then. I read almost everything on the shelf. I wish I had the record. I remember reading a book about how Starbucks was started and how it was created to be a third place. In the back of my Franklin planner I used to keep a running list of the books I read. For some reason I decided to discard this list over a decade ago. I cannot recall why I did this – probably because I felt “I didn’t need it anymore.”

I read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and was “caught” reading it in an undergrad linguistics class. I had a classmate come up to me randomly and ask what class I was reading it for. My answer was no class and I remember looking at her incredulously not fathoming why anyone would not read something that wasn’t assigned to them. I was irritated that she assumed I was reading it for a class and not on my own accord. I love that book still and refer to it often.

I am constantly searching for a book that changes me. I have read many books that I have not liked for one reason or another but have been compelled by the same book and find myself thinking about it later. One of these books is 1984. It took me a long time to read it but I enjoyed the story. I didn’t find it difficult to read but had a hard time. The Bone Clocks is another novel that I enjoyed for the concept. I thought it was too long but felt compelled to keep coming back to it. The Course of Love made me angry. I did not like the characters choices but was simultaneously fascinated by the concept of the characters actions being explained by philosophy.

When my life exploded into something I didn’t recognize a couple years ago I went to the library. I looked up the national book award long list and I read the books on that list. I was angry that the books were on the shelves. I figured these books are supposed to be so great why are more people not checking them out? I would leave for work in the morning from my apartment and think about all the activities I would participate in when I got home. I never did any of them. I would stop by the store and decide what to have for dinner based on what protein was on sale and then read. I would get to the point where I would feel like I had absorbed so many words that I needed to talk about the books with someone and then I would consider going to book club but then not go. Reading is a solitary activity for me most of the time.

In middle school I spent my lunch times in the library reading. I was often asked by people how I chose books. I didn’t really have an answer for them. I was picking books for me and the idea that anyone would be concerned with my choices was baffling. I enjoyed this time and it was a good break from the craziness of middle school for me.

Depending on my income determines how many books I buy. The invention of Google Library Extension makes it easy to check on availability and reserve books at the library. It is even easier than Amazon. For many periods I just bought all the books I wanted. I will never figure out how much money that was. The constant is books and reading. No matter where the books come from, I always find a way.

What I Learned from the 2016-2017 School Year

I joyfully started a new position this school year as a curriculum coach. The previous three years I was a teacher coach at a charter school and learned how to be effective through training, practice and coaching. Using that knowledge helped me begin the new school year with practices that served me and my new school well.

1. Relationships Are the Most Important

I intentionally focused on building relationships with my teachers from the moment I walked into the door. I made myself visible. I listened. I did not repeat anything anyone told me. I also made a point to not name drop, and this included with the principal. I was always open for meetings with teachers, and would do my best to meet with people when they needed me rather than what necessarily fit into my schedule. This sometimes meant forgoing lunch which was acceptable.

I tried my best to be positively frame every situation. I tried to solve problems that I could as quickly as possible. Just talking to people and engaging with them is part of the relationship building. I kept having to remind myself of this fact when I would feel like “I wasn’t working.” Thank you notes and genuine appreciation went a long way. Teachers do not get recognized enough for the great things they do everyday in the classroom and their individual strengths and I tried to highlight these behaviors whenever I could.

2. Don’t Show All Your Cards

I have a lot of skills and have had a variety of experiences from the last 21 years in education. I attempt to have my actions show my knowledge base rather than telling people. Lots of knowledge and experience in a variety of areas can alienate people rather than bring them closer, depending on the context. When topics arose I would reference a situation I had been in before and how I solved it as much as possible. I would sometimes use other teachers’ experience I had witnessed if I myself had not been in the situation. I would always answer questions about my experience when asked. I was not trying to be evasive,  but rather not to bombard people with too much information.  I have a variety of skills and experience but I do not know everything. I get obsessed with topics and then conduct my own research and then drop researchers names like we are friends!

3. Until you have to…

There were several points in the year that someone asked me a direct question and then I was very honest about how I handled a situation in the past. Sometimes this sharing was not in a light the teacher liked. During an RTI meeting I had to bring up that in a past corporation I was part of a group that reworked all the forms for our special education co-op. I know the law and how RTI intervention works and why. There is a difference between RTI intervention and intervention groups, which is a practice that good teachers should do anyway. One of the teachers figured out through the questions that I was asking that my experience was more in depth than I had indicated. I appreciated that she took me aside after the meeting to ask about it rather than calling me out in the meeting.

I also have had to be ready to stand my ground and defend research and practice from my own classroom. I use post it notes for kids to encourage academic behavior I desire which also builds the relationship with the student. Sometimes it is a simple, “Thank you for getting right to work.” or “Thank you for following directions perfectly.” Other times it is “You read so fluently!” or “I wish I would have written this sentence myself.” I had a teacher tell me that practice would work for a few days, but it wouldn’t work longer than that. I had to firmly tell her that it worked well for a solid 8 week period and then when I went back into the classroom throughout the year. I use this practice with all the students I have whether they are adults or children. It is motivating and effective.

4. Listen and observe

Listen to teacher and student needs. Really listen. Listen to the questions people ask or what they comment on. Then provide training or resources. Don’t push too hard and FOLLOW-UP! It can be a conversation in the hallway or an email. Paying attention to the little things can make a big difference. My Workshop Wednesdays were a big hit with my teachers because it addressed needs they had expressed to me.

5. Facts NOT Emotion

Use facts as much as possible. One of the conversations I had several times with teachers was about student evidence. As a teacher, we need to focus on high, medium, and low work not high, medium, and low kids. Using the work, teachers can determine many teaching behaviors that affect the student achievement and outcomes.

6. No One Can Take Knowledge Out of Your Brain

I have been through many trials and tribulations throughout my teaching career. There are some fundamental truths I believe :

  1. Reading is the gateway to learning.
  2. True modeling works.
  3. I won’t ask you to do anything that I am not willing to do or have already done myself. (I use this mantra with adults and students.)
  4. All the training you immerse in, the reading you do, and the products you create based on these areas cannot be taken away from you. It is part of who you are and makes you a better individual and educator.

I am looking forward to next year and building on the relationships with the teachers that are returning. The teachers and I are learning what skills we all have to be able to utilize all the experts in the building. Teachers will be more effective and students will achieve more! It will be an exciting year! Summer here we come!

Bookish Reminders

Over the weekend as I was listening to several book podcasts I was reminded of books I loved but have not thought about in a long time. Here are a few that stood out to me:

Image result for ella minnow pea

I loved this book because it is so clever. I do not like to reread books, but this is one of the books I will reread at a later date. It was recommended to me by a college student while I was riding in a van with Donalyn Miller to an Indiana Reading Association dinner. I was surprised I had never heard of it before that evening.

 

 

Image result for Griffin and sabineThis trilogy is amazing and I even bought the stationary set that has the artwork to these books. I have come back to this text over and over. It is comforting and reminds me of college.  The concept is fascinating to me and I believe this series has contributed to the obsession I have with time.

 

Image result for 84 charing cross road

I read this book early in my teaching career after it was recommended to me by a friend I taught with. I have such great memories of it that I recently bought another copy. I am unsure which move lost the first copy I owned. Another book I plan to reread eventually.

 

BONUS PICKS!!

 

Image result for love letters ar gurney

This book was not mentioned on a podcast but thinking about the others reminded me of this text. I was at the Barnes and Noble in Indianapolis one evening and there was an event where two actors were reading the play. I was mesmerized and bought a copy that night. I still have the copy I originally purchased.

Image result for solitaire mystery

This book was recommended by my best male friend in high school and I loved it. I do not remember what it is about but is waiting on my kindle to be read again.

 

BOOKS THAT ARE ON THE TBR PILE

I need to read Rainbow Rowell…her name keeps coming up.

There were also some books that were talked about that I have not read but I have on my kindle because they were recommended to me before. The never ending TBR list gets out of control and I forget what is on it!

Image result for sorcery and cecelia

 

Image result for H is for hawk

As much as I read I will never get through all the books I desire to read. I will keep reading and acquire as much knowledge and words that I can accumulate.

Stoking the Fires of Young Writers #1

Inspiring students to write when they are not required to do so takes passion and creativity. Here are some ideas that I have used in various age leveled classrooms to get them to write.

I wanted a writing teacher when I was younger because I love the art from a young age. I was always writing stories. I try to be the writing teacher I needed when I was in school. Being a writer myself, I think about what I would do as an adult writer and try to modify that behavior for my students as I teach.

  1. Establish A Writing Community

The right attitude needs to be fostered for students to write. Routines needs to be established along with expectations. The teacher needs to model their own writing to students. The teacher needs to model how to read like a writer. The teacher needs to provide opportunities for publishing and sharing.

2. The Teacher Needs to be A Writer

Teaching writing is a task I have seen many teachers shy away from because they are not confident. You need to think of yourself as a writer – with a “lowercase w” as Ralph Fletcher would say. A writer with a capital W gets a paycheck!

Students must believe you have the knowledge to lead them to become the authors they can become. To do that you need to write. Write in front of them and write beside them. You can truly understand if a child is having trouble with a particular part of a story if you have struggled with the same issues.

I also believe in writing model pieces for your students. I do this before the lesson is taught and then also write again in front of them. This process also helps to find issues with your writing prompts. If you cannot write to the prompt as an adult then most likely the students will have the same issue. It gives you the opportunity to change the prompt before you give it to students!

3. Cultivate the Real Student Writer

I use materials and resources that real writers use – not just teaching resources.  I have used The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, and Inner Outings by Charlene Geiss and Claudia Jessup.

Teach writing like it is an experience, not just an assignment. Teach the students like they are authors, not just children. It is important to honor their feelings and imagination while they are young since they seem to lose a lot of creativity as they progress through the grade levels. The spark that is their own voice needs to be respected and seen. Writing is not about formulas and plugging words into it. I do not want to read the same story over and over and your students don’t want to write that either.

A little freedom and trust can produce some amazing pieces from the most unexpected students. I worked with a group of fourth graders that most would call troublesome and they matured into such writers with incredible insight that I was moved to tears. Performance can be a true part of the writing process. They realized they had something to say and worked to make it clear to their audience.

I will share some specific writing activities I have successfully used with students in a later post.

4. Use Mentor Texts

To be a great writer, you have to read. Read aloud and point out what the author did craft wise or just lines you wish you have written yourself. If you are writing a specific genre piece then read books in that genre.

I also model how I use my writer notebook and the students see me carry it around all the time. When I am circulating during writing time and I say to a student, “Oh, I love how you said that. I never thought about it that way before, I am going to write a note about that in my writer’s notebook.” Then I do it right in front of them!

 

Keep writing!