Trying hard to be
Not really working.
Lean…Dream/Do…Progress…Venture…Grow. This is my 5th anniversary writing “One Little Word.” Time flies!
After leaning towards my dreams, doing what it took to jump-start my new career and lifestyle, progressing/moving towards my goals, venturing out and taking action…I’m ready to grow.
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” The traditional interview question. I’d have to say that 5 years ago, I did see myself here — a reader, writer, lifelong learner, school librarian, mom, wife, grandma…Now I’m ready to grow.
(That was my post on January 1, 2019 — Almost a year ago!)
Did you forget about me? I never forgot, but I didn’t write on Tuesdays for Slice of Life this whole year. I’m guilty — put it on the backburner. How could I forget where I came from?
The team at Two Writing Teachers (http://www.twowritingteachers.org) are my friends and teammates; they have been since 2014. I’m going back. I miss them!
As I revisit my ONE LITTLE WORD for 2019, Grow, I realize that to grow you need to know where you came from. The “Slicers” have been my family as I’ve grown over the years, and even when I flew from the nest (this year), they asked about me (at #NCTE19) and now I’m flying home for the winter.
The dictionary defines “grow” as a verb — to increase by natural development, as any living organism or part by assimilation of nutriment; increase in size or substance (dictionary.com). I have definitely grown this year in my experience as a librarian, lead reader, writer, and professional development presenter. I love where my career is taking me; I love what I do. I will make sure I share more here with my “Slicer” friends — this exciting adventure of growth and development.
I looked back on my first year as a school librarian (21st year of teaching middle school), and I have to say—no matter what happens to me next year or beyond—I was successful THIS year. NOTHING to do with TEST SCORES, but I built up readers and spread the book love.
On April 7th, Kwame Alexander surprised a child reader (and his teachers) from my soon-to-be-closed school. He and Hafeez and Randy drove the REBOUND bus to this 5th grader’s house and allowed this child to see firsthand what meeting an author and being a reader means. Reading saves lives. Reading is fun. Reading can and will lead you to a successful future.
Even though I couldn’t be there, these awesome teachers and a Newbery-winning author made this child’s day! THANK YOU, Kwame and Hafeez, for all the coordinating and all the bugging you had to put up with (from me) to make that day happen. THANK YOU for coming to South Bend, IN! THANK YOU for supporting students and reading.
LOVE LOVE LOVE from this school librarian.
I pondered these paragraphs from Henry David Thoreau’s essay, “Walking,” today:
I’ve been seeking nature lately; I’m not sure why, but it may be because the world seems overwhelming right now. However, the sun shined today right as I left school, after a grey, snowy 24 hours. And the moon is most mysterious and beautiful this winter, making me mindful of nature again and again. I walked around the driveway tonight in the freezing cold, looking…allowing Thoreau’s words to sink in. Getting back to nature — ah! Life! Love! Bliss!
Purposeful PD is Powerful. I’m all about getting together — whether it’s eating lunch, traveling to an interesting new place, or meeting with fellow staff at a team meeting, I like socializing with others. But when that meeting happens because everyone wants to learn something new and improve their teaching…Wow!
Our professional development this month is based on helping our students improve writing skills. Many teachers are looking for ways to improve test scores, but we really want our students to think of themselves as writers and write well because they are sending a message to an audience. Thank goodness we have many mentor authors (and illustrators!) to guide us, and we have Jeff Anderson and Whitney LaRocca’s new book, Patterns of Power, to push us towards our goal. Jeff and Whitney are excellent teachers; I was the PD facilitator today at each grade-level team meeting. We had engaging conversations around this “powerful” professional title and learned a great deal about how to teach writing conventions using “invitations” (created by Jeff Anderson).
What do we notice about our students’ writing (in general), and how can we help them to write better sentences/paragraphs/texts? We followed Jeff’s “invitation to notice” a mentor sentence. We noticed that pauses came with commas, names had capital letters, and that “when” and “if” are “comma-causer” words, indicating that the sentence was not complete. Then came the “invitation to imitate.” This time was used to thoughtfully create sentences like the mentors. We discussed how students might do this in classrooms. We finished today by talking about “focus phrases,” a term coined first by Terry Thompson in The Construction Zone (another fabulous professional book).
Staff members are looking forward to next week, when we continue discussing the Invitational Process, and trying Patterns of Power lessons with students.
Thank you Jeff and Whitney! We appreciate your guidance!
(Patterns of Power book image from Stenhouse.com)
Progress. My One Little Word for 2017 served me well. My goals to get the house in order, to present more professional development at school, and to travel to my favorite places all got the “Check” off the list. As I said in January, “That’s me this year — ‘in progress.'”
Highlights included clearing clutter and completing maintenance in the house. Each month gave me a different task and celebration.We had 3 successful garage/yard sales and kept up with the yard using our new sprinkler system. Because the driveway took away part the hill from our side yard, mowing the grass was easier. I even organized the storage closet in November while looking for Christmas decorations.
I gained confidence as a presenter at my school with some interesting literacy professional development, and I even booked my first “gig” out-of-town as a presenter for reading workshop. I love sharing my learning with others. I hope to present much more in the coming year and beyond. My sixth grade students engaged in a Mock Caldecott unit of study, and we read a lot of books and wrote for many purposes. I wrote much more (well, not recently) and I was proud of my book reviews and guest blog posts (I’ll have another guest post tomorrow, in fact. Check out www.teachmentortexts.com). And…I landed my dream job as a librarian! That was the best part of 2017.
I ran around nearby cities to promote Kwame Alexander’s book, SOLO (he wrote with Mary Rand Hess). I was selected to be on his Solo Launch Team, which was Absolutely Amazing! Although I missed the big party in New York City, I had a great time, and the book is awesome. Read it! (By the way, REBOUND — a companion to THE CROSSOVER — will be out next year. Put that book on your list, too.)
My husband and I enjoyed a relaxing spring break in Florida, and I also traveled to Warsaw for All Write Institute, Chicago for the Scholastic Reading Summit, Michigan for NerdCampMI, and St. Louis for NCTE’s Annual Convention (where I reunited with my #G2great friends). Wow! What a year. I will keep up that same travel schedule in 2018, and hopefully add some more states to my “visited” list.
What a year of progress! I wonder…what should my One Little Word be for 2018?
I’m upset about the word FIDELITY in education. This word has given me headaches for at least 2 years now, as I attend meeting after meeting, session after session, on how, if teachers would just use “the program” or “the strategy” or “the textbook” “with fidelity,” that students will be successful in school. Teachers are evaluated, schools are graded, and the one thing that is reported about education is if we could all just make this one change — fidelity — then we could all succeed in life. I looked up “fidelity in education.” Here’s what Google showed in the first pop-up screen (a Google definition of “fidelity in education”):
“Fidelity of implementation occurs when teachers use the instructional strategies and deliver the content of the curriculum(s) in the same way that they were designed to be used and delivered.” (Yep. It said, “curriculums.”) Does that ever happen? (A question for another time)
The second intriguing link (from the Center on Instruction’s RTI CTRL:http://www.rtictrl.org/files/Fidelity%20Checklist%20A.pdf showed a Fidelity Checklist — a checklist/worksheet that an observer can use to collect data on if a teacher is using curriculum “with fidelity.” The sheet includes Instruction/Presentation, such as “teacher and student materials ready,” “follows steps and wording in lessons,” “provides students many opportunities to respond,” and “completes all parts of teacher-directed lesson.” The checklist also has a category for General Observations of the Group, including “student engagement in lesson,” “student success at completing activities,” and “teacher familiarity with lesson formats and progression through activities.”
Oh, wait! There’s more! A third link at www.rtinetwork.org/getstarted/evaluate/treatment-integrity-protocols says this about Fidelity Checklists:
“These protocols have been developed by a variety of sources (publishers, graduate students, practitioners) and no claim is made for their sufficiency or thoroughness. They are posted as an aid to practitioners and researchers and should generally be considered as experimental products that require research as to their psychometric characteristics.”
Let’s all take a hard look at “FIDELITY” in education. Please. Let’s go back to the question of “WHY.” WHY do my students need to work with this program? WHY will they gain more if they complete this task, rather than that task? WHY does minutes with a program mean more than an intelligent conversation (I’m thinking here, a conversation around a book’s theme, for example.)?
WHEN will society change?
(Just my evening of rambling. Please take this post with a grain of salt, or respond intelligently, as you wish. Thank you for reading.)
Low point = Staff meeting called to tell us that our school is closing in June 2018
High point = NCTE Annual Conference and reunion with all my PLNs from afar
I’m exhausted tonight. Mentally and physically exhausted. I think the past 7 days have given me that full gamut of emotion that makes me want to just get under the covers and sleep.
Sleep to escape.
Sleep to dream new dreams.
Sleep to re-adjust, renew, and rekindle the fire.
I worked all day (every period full of life and middle school drama) and met up with a former colleague after school (always nice to catch up). When I got home I did some laundry, put the dishes away, talked to my husband for a while, and started watching the Cubs. But there’s one thing I didn’t do today…
I didn’t write.
So, there I was, scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, all the while thinking, “I should write my Slice today. I need to get that done.” I watched more TV, and checked my email. Then I opened Twitter again. After all day, here’s what I found:
So here I am, typing my Slice. Sometimes you need a good kick in the butt. Thank you, Jess Keating and Kelly Gallagher, for motivating me to write tonight. Now I intend to watch more of the Cubs, but I’m more likely to fall asleep within the hour.