Saturday, June 25, 2016

Celebrate: Joy in Friendships

Celebrating this week is so easy.  I'm celebrating joy!  I've spent the last two days in Warsaw Indiana at the All Write Conference.  There was 48 hours of complete joy.  Actually 54 hours including the #carPD which solved all my life and school problems.  All Write always inspires me and each year I walk away with several different concepts to ponder for the rest of the summer.  One of my favorite parts are the vocabulary I think about differently.  
  • Tell you own story.  Look around your story is everywhere.
  • If something hasn't happened for you add the word YET to the end of the sentence
  • Find JOY in everything. As Kristine Mraz told us, "I found joy that when I checked on my kindergarten class that no one had used scissors inappropriately." 
I know there will be several posts coming this summer from my learning at the conference, but I want to celebrate the joy of friendships.  I have found the most supportive group of colleagues through twitter. My virtual PLN is a blessing to me. 
  • When we walked in the Wyndam Hotel, the first thing I hear is "Hi Maria so glad you're able to come." thanks Ruth for always encouraging celebrations and joy
  • Conversations with my teammate from 6:15 AM - 11:30 PM changed who I am and will make me a better person.  
  • JoEllen McCarthy, our cheerleader, always inspires me not only to think differently but also more positively.  Her passion for picture books and knowledge always costs me money and warms my heart.  
  • Listening to Terry Thompson speak for the first time was complete JOY.  He shared uplifting stories from his classroom especially about his second grade boys who help him start everyday perfectly after breakfast duty.
  • Jeff Anderson made my Friday!  We shook hands and he told me thank you for all the tweets of support.  And I of course thanked him for totally turning around my writing workshop with the power of sentence observation and this year learning about breaking down an author's sentence to smaller ones and putting it back together. 
Sitting on our porch, drinking my tea, reflecting on my days and knowing that today is going to be marvelous, I am celebrating how blessed and thankful 
I am. Here is the link up this week for Celebrating.

Couldn't agree more!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Slice of Life: I Wanted then I Realized

It's still early on Tuesday morning for summer.  I feel a sense of pride when I accomplish all my goals for the day by 9:02 and the only one left is to write my slice.  But I have been gathering my thoughts for awhile. Starting last week on vacation, as we journeyed around the East coast. I was sharing one of my favorite cities, Boston, with my husband, and I realized once again that I'm always a teacher.  Being his travel guide with tons of sentence starters like

  • Did you know?
  • At this location...
  • Back in 1700's 
  • This is one of my favorite locations
  • Let's use the map
  • Let's ask someone
I wonder if it's hard to live with a teacher.  I think I already know that answer.  I've been to Boston 10 times prior to this visit, and he'd never been there.  I wanted him to love the city just like I do.  

Isn't that what happens in my classroom sometime? I spend all my energy preparing lessons. I read several professional books, take notes, participate in twitter talks, Voxer a friend, and finally write the plan.  I want the lesson to be strong. By this time in my teaching career I know not perfect is almost not possible. I am beginning to realize I have more invested in the lesson than my students.  That is what I'm thinking about this summer.  What I want....then I realize.  I've been saying to my colleagues for a few years now that my students aren't as invested.  This year I made shifts with my classroom set up, organization, and lessons. I saw several moments when I knew they were invested. Those moments came when they were the decision makers, and I was not the leader of group. 

Every moment of summer is a lesson for me both personally and professionally. Our day in Boston taught me several lessons that I will take back to the classroom in August. I always enjoy joining Two Writing Teachers for Slicing on Tuesday. 

Checking off our Eastern Coast bucket list trip.

You have to visit Make Way for Ducklings in the Boston Commons

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Slice of Life: When the Lights Go Out

Another year comes to a close, yesterday was our final day of school. This year presented several different challenges. My group of learners challenged my thinking (how to handle different types of behavior) I am still thinking about that blog post. There were moments when I thought I had the most thoughtful planned out lessons and as I opened the lesson I knew quickly it was a dud! There use to be moments in my teaching  career when I would fight though a bad lesson forcing it to work. One part of teaching that I am thankful for are the years of experience, I now have the courage to stop at that specific "dud" moment. Hit the breaks - take a huge right turn and change directions. I was honest with my class and if you could have been a fly on the wall, you would have heard this conversation.

  • Me "I notice that not everyone is engaged during the opening of the mini lesson."  "Can someone tell me why you appear to be bored?"
  • Student "It feels like the same thing as yesterday - we've done character traits with evidence sooooo many times."
  • Me  "How could we change this lesson so it doesn't feel sooooo similar?
  • Student: "We could choose a character from our read aloud."
  • Student:  "We could break into small groups and use our read aloud."
  • Student:  "Could we write a script and choose two favorite characters?"
After these conversations, my response was Yes, Yes, and Yes.  There was a different type of buzz and especially their the attitudes and looks on their faces. The lights are out in my classroom but the reflection time of summer is one of most valuable times that I find as an educator.  

Thanks to The Two Writing Teachers for encouraging me to reflect and share my Slices on Tuesday even though I'm a little late to the party.   

I'm extremely thankful to the learners in Room 234 for helping
me continue to grow as a teacher.