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!

Celebrate! Silly Snowmen Stories

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Teaching writing is hard work. Every classroom of students presents unique and different challenges for the classroom teacher. This year I am teaching kindergarten for the first time, and working alongside these little learners has proven to challenge me in ways I did not anticipate.

Simply holding a pencil for some of my students is a challenge. Others arrived in my room with stories already churning inside of them, eager for pencil/marker/crayon and paper. Between those ends of the spectrum were many who have been slowly finding their way as emergent writers, leaning in during mini lessons, willing to try new ideas in their writing along the way.

I purchased a book at NCTE in November titled Text Structures from Nursery Rhymes. Authors Gretchen Bernbei, Kayla Shook, and Jayne Hover present 53 lessons using nursery rhymes to help our youngest primary grade writers grasp an understanding of text structure in writing. What I love about this book is how they reveal how we can break down simple nursery rhymes to reveal the story telling taking place in them. From there the fun begins, as together, teacher and students apply these elements to their own stories, first in shared writing experiences, and finally to students infusing the structures into their own story ideas.

I am just beginning to introduce these lessons to my budding writers. Over the past 2 weeks we have been focusing on descriptive writing using the nursery rhyme, I’m a Little Teapot. Most of the children grasped the text structure elements in our shared writing, but applying it to their own ideas during independent writing proved challenging for many. At times I felt defeated. Some days as we closed our workshop, I questioned my approach, wondering if we should (or I could!) continue. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I had the stamina to keep trying.

What I have learned in my years of teaching writing in grades 1-3 is that often writing is messy. Many days can be down right ugly. Venturing into new and more challenging work is tricky, but when I have persevered with my students, patiently re-teaching when necessary and adding support  where needed, time and time again they flourish. So when their initial attempts to apply the structure lesson to their own ideas was missing the mark, I decided to try a shared entry point for writing, and have everyone write around the same topic.

Enter Snowman craftivity!

Who doesn’t love a snowman project in the middle of the January doldrums? Our frosty snowman scenes (thanks to a final wash of “magic water” to create a blizzard-like look of snow) were just the inspiration my kiddos needed to share funny stories of their snowmen. 

 

At the close of this week, I proudly poured over my students’ snowmen stories. From my independent writers to those who needed step-by-step support and everyone in between, I could not be more excited to celebrate where each of them are in their writing journey. I won’t say the days we spent this week were all easy, but I will say they were filled with lots of laughs, smiles, and joy as proud writers sat up a little taller when it was their turn to share their writing from the Author’s Chair.