Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's okay.


Writing Workshop is something that I have grown passionate about in the past few years. I was blessed enough to have a very knowledgable and wise veteran teacher mentor me in the area of writing during my second year of teaching. Since then, I have marveled at the way kids can evolve in front of my eyes. This teacher, let's call her Mrs. R. showed me how writing workshop can be joyful learning. It can be a time of getting to know students, having students getting to know me, celebration, fun, and of course, learning!

Today, during an informal meeting, some colleagues and I were milling around about focus statments for our writing workshop lessons in the upcoming weeks. Yes, we looked at the standards, and our district's pacing guide, etc. but I was constantly drawn back to thinking about what my writer's need now. I challenged a couple of my colleagues to just think about what their writers need. I wonder how often we let ourselves think about what they need- not what they have to know, and how fast it will be on a test, but rather the most pressing NEED.

One teacher talked about mini-lessons where she encouraged students to flip back through old stories before getting new paper. I agree, this can be a powerful challenge. It is great for students to look at previous work and reflect. However, the more she talked, the more it was apparent that she wanted kids to go back and "finish" every story. Do they NEED to finish every story?

This got me to thinking... is this really what I want for my writers? Do I finish every piece of writing I start? Can we teach a lot of valuable things about writing when some pieces don't get finished? I had to reflect back onto my own summer challenge- where I tried to write a slice a day for a month. It was tough for me. I had a hard time thinking of subjects, stories, and ideas that were worthwhile. I still do!

I think I have to remind myself as a teacher- it's okay. It's okay if they don't finish every story. It's okay if their interests change, and they abandon an idea. It's okay if a newer and better idea comes along. It happens to me all of the time! Lots of Tuesdays, I sit down to slice and something entirely different than what I had planned ends up on the screen. It's okay. It's okay. It's okay. There are still teachable moments there...

Happy writing!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Nearly five years ago I started my life here. I started in a new place. New roads to get lost on. New students to teach. New friends to make.

Scared doesn't do my mind and heart justice. It took a long time for me to get cozy in my new life. Finding friends wasn't easy for me. I allowed (and sometimes still do) my job to take up a lot of my free time. So, going out and meeting new people was rough. One simple start was a television show.

L and her husband, J watched the same silly show in their basement. I can't even remember how it happened exactly, but we started joining forces and watching together. The winter seemed a little more bearable, a little warmer, and a little more friendly.

Through time L didn't seem like just a colleague anymore. Sure, we spent time together at school talking about teaching strategies, our students, our struggles and triumphs. Soon we became more. We decided to share life together. I don't think we knew quite what that meant at the time. Living in the same house helped us to become friends and not just colleagues.

Time has allowed me to know her love of organization, her love of snacks, her practicality, her insane sense of smell, and her talent for losing her phone.

More than that, time has given me the chance to see her as a wife to J. She loves and accepts him. She values his leadership and skills.

I am lucky to get to see her as a sister and daughter. She values family. She works hard at keeping in touch with them and their everyday lives. She welcomes them into her home.

Time has now let me see her as a mommy. Baby J can't know yet how lucky he is to have her. She lights up when she holds him, delights in his existence, and sacrifices for him.

I am thankful for the time see my friend. From her I have learned love, strength, acceptance, joy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tough Choices

Feelings pushed
the smile.

It was hard to
Did they notice?

I made the
It was time
to follow


Tears bubbled
and flowed

I knew
it would
hurt someone.

Did it have to be me?