SOL: NCTE Weekend Decompress

For the past four years, I have attended the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) conference, which always takes place the weekend before Thanksgiving. This gathering of teachers from all over the country is always such an inspiring time of learning for me. It is also a very special reunion weekend when I get to see old friends as well as meet and make new friends.

I am always left after these 3 days feeling super saturated with renewed vision for my teaching, new ideas for my students, and a suitcase full of books – many signed by the authors and/or illustrators themselves.This year I am feeling especially grateful for the friendships I have with fellow educators with whom I connected this weekend. They affirmed me, challenged me, and encouraged me as I return to continue the work and all I want to accomplish with my 20 young learners. My teacher soul is rejuvenated and excited to explore new ways to engage my students through reading and writing.

My new friend from Texas, Amy Bettis, a fellow kinder teacher comrade and I hope to find ways to connect our classrooms and have students share their learning with each other. Technology opens doors and crosses vast distances that otherwise would keep us from such opportunities, and we are excited to explore new possibilities with our students.

My NCTE weekend is again behind me, but I hold tight to wonderful memories, inspirational learning, and new friendships I took away. Facing the months before me, I have a reservoir of vision for my teaching and a belief in my students for what will certainly be a journey filled with joyful learning amidst much exciting discoveries together.

Oh, Procrastination!

“Our greatest weariness comes from work not done.”
~ Eric Hoffer

I am a procrastinator. I actually believe at times that I have it nearly perfected. What I haven’t mastered though, is procrastinating without consequence. When my to-do list that I am ignoring is looming about, whether there are 2 things to complete, or 20, I am not at peace. It nags at me, and often manages to get in the way of my enjoyment of whatever else I am trying to do instead of what I should do.

Over spring break last week I found plenty of side distractions that brought me far greater joy than the tasks I knew I needed to attend to. Yet while I was perusing the aisles at Target, or indulging in catching up on old blog posts from a favorite food blogger, dog-gone-it, those lesson plans and that closet full of winter clothes continued to be ignored.

What was frustrating through all of it was the weariness from procrastinating. As much as I enjoyed the distraction from doing the things I enjoyed, the reality that I had a list of other things I needed to do never left me. Such is the battle we face when we procrastinate.

By the last night of spring break, the closet of clothes was still as it was at the start of spring break. Lesson plans were done, along with a few other things on the to-do list, so overall, my battle with procrastination was a win. I just wish I hadn’t waited as long as I did. Next time, I think I’ll try writing a list to help keep me motivated.

What works for you in the procrastination battle?

#SOLC18 22/31: Reflective Wisdom with Amy Krouse Rosenthal

While packing to chaperone my 2 high school daughters’ choir tour this week, I knew I would have lots of reading and writing time on the long stretches of bus riding. One book I knew I wanted to bring was Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

I opened the book yesterday and after two sittings, sadly, I reached the end. Amy’s beautiful persona comes through on every single page. The unique interactive element of the book offers readers multiple opportunities to experience and even try out a number of her thought provoking reflections on life.

I was especially drawn to where Amy reveals the meaning of a Japanese term and shares her interpretation of it from her life.

Pronounced mo-noh noh ah-WAY-ray it means an awareness of the impermanence of all things, and a wistful, gentle sadness at their passing.

Borrowing from Amy’s interpretation, here is mine:

Celebrate! World Read Aloud Day

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

On Thursday this week, I, along with my kindergarten class, participated in our first ever World Read Aloud Day. Earlier this fall a friend shared a link to Kate Messner’s blog where Kate shared an extensive list of authors who do free Skype in the classroom visits. This was too good to be true!

I scanned the list, and found author & illustrator, Monica Carnesi. Her picture books looked wonderful, and I knew my students would love the opportunity to meet her via a Skype visit. I emailed her, and we soon confirmed a time to connect.

To familiarize my students with her work, we read both of her books in preparation for our visit. The book we chose to have her read and share with us was a delightful story titled Little Dog Lost. Oh my, if you have not read this book, you must. It tells the true story of Baltic, a dog who finds himself adrift on a chunk of ice on a river in Poland and how he is at long last rescued. My students were captivated by this story, and even more so when Miss Monica appeared live and in person on our Smart Board to read it to us!

Monica was a delight! The children hung on her every word, fully appreciating this extra special experience with a real author and illustrator. She read the story, then shared actual photos and stories about Baltic beyond what we learned from the story. They couldn’t get enough!

Baltic, shorty after his resuce – very cold, but oh so happy to be safe!

She graciously gave time for our questions, and answered each one with the greatest of detail and clarity for my young readers to understand. She was so wonderful and personable with my students! Here is young Dylan at the camera asking her question:

After our Q&A she gave us a tour of her studio and even showed us some of her actual drawings from the book, as well as a sneak peek at her next book she is working on! We felt quite lucky to be in the know of this rather secret information!

During writing workshop that afternoon, we wrote and illustrated our own reflections from the experience to share with Monica. Some students created tiny books about Baltic, while others shared how much they loved Baltic and what a brave dog he was. Connecting a story to the creator behind it made a lasting impression on them, I am certain. They continued to talk about it even the next day, some returning to their tiny books, while others started new pieces.

Have you ever done a Skype visit with an author? Kate Messner has another blog post of more authors you can contact. Now that I have done one, I am hooked. What better way to celebrate books with your students than with the actual author? I believe this experience demystified the person behind the name on the cover of a book for my students. They could see that real people are the people writing the words and drawing the pictures in the very books they read! And who knows, maybe the experience will plant a seed in a future author or illustrator whose books will delight a future kindergartner just like them.

 

Poetry Friday: Super Objective

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Today’s #PoetryFriday is hosted by Carol @ Beyond LiteracyLink

I am currently reading a new book titled Brave Leadership by Kimberly Davis. I cannot say enough about how much I love this book and her call to action for readers. This book is for everyone, because simply put, we all have an impact in our world with the people we come in contact with each and every day.

Kimberly challenged me to look inside myself as a leader and ask, “In my role, what do I care about? Why do I personally care? What is the impact I want to have on those I lead?”

When considering answers to these questions, I find that I often get sidetracked in worrying about what others might think about me. Will I offend someone? What if they disagree with me? Worse yet, what if I make a mistake?

Kimberly’s book sheds light on what brave leaders do to combat these misleading questions; I discovered that I must adjust what I allow myself to focus on. The best of leaders focus on achieving purpose outside themselves through actionable moves.

Enter the Super Objective. As an educator, I have developed my own personal philosophies and beliefs around teaching and learning. Kimberly reveals that the problem with philosophies and beliefs is they simply live in your head and require nothing of you. Without action in our beliefs, we have no impact.

As I contemplate what my Super Objective is, I want to frame it in active words that put me on an active path in order to more effectively lead my students. I must remember that it is not simply a belief; I must be able to measure my actions against what I say I want to do.

I don’t want to focus my objective on a number or on a score. I’ve learned from Kimberly that if I focus solely on a measurable goal (e.g., All of my students will know 95% of their letter names and sounds by the end of the year) I can find myself on a slippery slope where I lose focus, my authentic self disappears, and my Super Objective is no longer leading me. Goals are good, but they need to be the byproduct of my actions, and ultimately I will achieve better results as long as I remain anchored in my Super Objective.

Reading and learning from Kimberly’s book, I felt the desire to write a poem. I wanted to encapsulate my new discoveries into a nugget of inspiration I could turn to again and again. Here is my haiku that will serve as my own personal mantra as I carefully contemplate what my Super Objective will be.

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Would you like to know more about Kimberly and Brave Leadership? The first and best place is her website: http://www.braveleadershipbook.com/

Another great opportunity is to join us on Twitter Thursday, February 8 at 8:30EST when Kimberly joins the Good To Great Twitter chat to share conversation about her book. If you have never done a Twitter chat, I encourage you to come! Enter the hashtag #g2great and you’re in! The conversation will be lively and fast-paced, but the beauty of Twitter chats is you can take your time, reading tweets and interacting at your on pace. The Good To Great community is a warm & welcoming group of educators from many backgrounds, and we love newcomers. Hope to connect with you there!

#MustReadIn2018

At the start of the new year I have enjoyed reading the many blog posts featuring The Best Of 2017 book lists. My go-to bloggers with the very best lists include Nerdy Book Club, Dylan Teut, and two of my favorite podcasters; from All The Wonders, Matthew C Winner, and from Books Between, Corrina Allen. If you are looking for excellent lists of the best books from 2017, you will find them on any and all of these posts, guaranteed.

I have been encouraged to see many of the titles on these lists are books I discovered and read this past year. I was also excited to find even more titles I somehow missed along the way. When I recently stumbled upon a tweet from Jill Merkle sharing her blogpost about joining Carrie Gelson’s #MustReadIn2018 challenge, I was instantly motivated to put together my own TBR list for 2018.

As a kindergarten teacher, I read a lot of picture books, but it also important to me stay immersed in middle grade books. I strive to diversify across the genres, so my lists span a variety of books that included both fiction and nonfiction. When I drafted my first list, I had over 30 titles! Of course I will keep all of these titles on my radar, but for my #MustReadIn2018 list, I whittled it down to 9 picture books and 6 chapter books.

What I appreciate about Carrie’s challenge is the opportunity for participants to post 3 updates during 2018 to share progress on their reading. I look forward to reading others’ posts and continually be kept abreast of the must-reads in the year ahead, as well as share what I have read and recommend to others.

Do you have a #MustReadIn2018 list? There are no hard and fast rules to join the movement; just a passion for reading and a love of sharing what you are reading! Simply go to Carrie’s website, https://thereisabookforthat.com

Poetry Friday: This Is Just To Say

I am enjoying my final day at the Montana National Writing Project. It has been an incredible 2 weeks of learning on the campus of the University of Montana with a diverse group of K-16 educators.

Earlier this week we were introduced to a unique style of poetry known as This Is Just To Say. You can read the original here and/or discover a wonderful book full of them here. As a fledgling poet, I was immediately drawn to the unique approach to this style of poetry, and was excited for the opportunity to try one in our workshop.

I hope you enjoy my piece, and if you have not ever written one yourself, I encourage you to have a go with one – and share it with me!

This Is Just To Say

Thank you to Heidi @ My Juicy Little Universe for hosting Poetry Friday today. Please share your poetry with everyone by clicking the image below.

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