#TeacherPoets – Week 3 “Assignment”

23 Apr

teacher-poets

Hi TeacherPoets.

Thanks for another great Saturday session!  The highlight for me was Betsy and Michelle sharing their poems with us, and the caring, thoughtful responses from all of you. It was inspirational to have we, educators, come together over a love of writing.  Thanks for that gift.

I want to make sure I mention the great contributions many of you are also making to our TeacherPoets community page. Links to original poems, published poets, even whole conversations are popping up even in comments you are leaving each other.

If you haven’t looked around recently, I highly suggest getting lost in there for awhile (shout outs to many of you, including Jennifer’s supportive comments, Catherine and Fran’s recent revisions they both posted, Sheri’s holy-cow-you-took-notes-as-poems(!!), and Kevin’s always-coolness in combining great writing and awesome tools).

Everyone is welcome, no prior poetry writing experience necessary to join in the fun.

 

Recap of Week 2:

During the second Saturday session we talked about specificity again, this time in descriptions of things. We looked at how evocative poems can actually be quite literal in the way they detail objects. It is the micro-details, the specific ways of calling our attention to bits of these things, that brings them to life. So often the poet’s gift to us is helping us notice details we may too often overlook.

The archive of our first and second live Hangout on Air is here (the videos have already been viewed more than 300 times!):

 

 

As I mentioned at the start, we also workshopped two original poem from TeacherPoets. What I love about these conversations is that we not only help to improve one poem, we also learn more about how readers receive our written words.  It’s a process of helping others while also helping ourselves grow as writers. Betsy and Michelle were our brave first time sharers, and the community – including those of you on twitter – did a terrific job with specific, caring feedback. It was an awesome experience.

Assignment for Week 3: Ideas are Puzzle Pieces

A Writing Invitation:

  • Try on the writing exercise we practiced last Saturday.
    • Pick an object, a photo, or something else to observe.
    • Then, describe the small details. Aim to not be mysterious, instead say exactly what you see (see the video).
    • As you write, try to capture surprising details others might miss. Play with language, but again be clear. Don’t leave your reader confused about what you are describing.
    • Write a new poem (or revise an old one) with this strategy.
  • If you’d like, post a link to your poem (or leave the full text in a comment) on our TeacherPoets Community page, file it under “Session Three”.

Mentor poems to read:

  • Mosquitoes by Aimee Nezukumatathil (second poem on this page), for how she connects a few concrete experiences to tell of a larger experience
  • It Took All My Energy by Tony Wallace, for how he leaves some mystery for us as readers but grounds this in a series of very clearly described events
  • Also, share links to other poems you love that dive deeply into specific descriptions.  Add them to our TeacherPoets Community Page.

Workshopping This Week:

This Saturday we have a three more TeacherPoet’s original poems! Please download each of these, write all over them, and be ready to share your comments live on Saturday.  These poems are in draft form and ready for your input:

Comments can be given live on Saturday via twitter using our hashtag #TeacherPoets.

And remember:

Kinda like Fight Club: don’t talk about the TeacherPoet poems outside of TeacherPoet workshop. Wait until Saturday to share your feedback!

Session Three Live Stream

Here is the direct link to Session Three’s live streaming session on 4/26 from 11-noon EST.  All you need is an internet connection to view:

 

 

 

See you Saturday! Happy writing!

 

 

#TeacherPoets – Week 2 “Assignment”

16 Apr

teacher-poets

Hi TeacherPoets.

Saturday was a lot of fun! Every moment of our conversation, the tweets coming in, most of all the passion and joy of everyone participating.  Thanks for helping me rise up out of the blues of March into this great new spring. It was much needed inspiration for me and I hope for you, too.

Recap of Week 1:

During this first session we talked about the power of condensing time and emotion into manageable bites. That taking on huge emotions (joy, fear) or giant topics (love, death) can be not only an overwhelming task as a writer, but can also lead to writing that is too broad. Finding the smaller the pieces – almost like finding focus in a research topic – helps our writing become more specific. The more specific our writing the more universal the feelings and ideas really can become.

The archive of our first live Hangout on Air is here:

 

Assignment for Week 2: The Magical Specifics of Things

During this Saturday’s session we will talk about specificity again, this time in descriptions of things. How deeply evocative poems can actually be quite literal in their descriptions. It is the micro-details, the specific ways of calling our attention to bits of these objects, that brings them to life.

So often the poet’s gift to us is helping us notice details we may too often overlook.

A Writing Invitation:

  • Try on the writing exercise we practiced last Saturday.
    • Think of a big topic or emotion in your life.
    • Then, locate a sliver. You could use the concentric circles exercise or make a timeline or other strategy (see the video).
    • Write a poem about that sliver. Carry your big emotions with you, but write through a small, specific experience.
  • If you’d like, post a link to your poem (or leave the full text in a comment) on our TeacherPoets Community page, file it under “Session Two”.

Mentor poems to read:

Workshopping This Week:

Last week we practiced “workshopping” Dorianne Laux’s On the Back Porch (if you missed it, check out the video to see how).

Starting this Saturday, we will workshop 2-3 of our TeacherPoet’s original poems each week! Please download each of these poems, write all over them, and be ready to share your comments.  These poems are in draft form and ready for your input:

Comments can be given live on Saturday via twitter using our hashtag #TeacherPoets.

Important:

Kinda like Fight Club: don’t talk about the TeacherPoet poems outside of TeacherPoet workshop.

While you may want to strike up a conversation with any of our poets, it is best to wait until we’re all in the safe, sharing space together and collecting feedback as a group.  So keep good notes, but wait to share them until we’re live again on Saturday.

Session Two Live Stream

Here is the direct link to Session Two’s live streaming session on 4/19 from 11-noon EST.  All you need is an internet connection to view:

 

I’m so grateful to be a part of this amazing profession with all of you.  Happy writing!

 

 

#EnergizeResearch is in it’s 4th Printing!

15 Apr

Thank YOU readers! My book Energize Research Reading and Writing is in it’s fourth printing!

Energize Research Reading and Writing

I’m honored to be a part of your classrooms as you rethink more student-centered, engaging, and rigorous research and informational text instruction.

Join in the conversation on twitter using the hashtag #EnergizeResearch. I especially love when you share your work and that of your students. Always energizing!

Thanks for all you do!

Yay #TeacherPoets! (Archived Video of Session One)

12 Apr

teacher-poetsHere’s a quick post to first just thank all of the Live teachers poets and the ton of you viewing online and tweeting along with us. If you could have seen the screen that I saw, it was a rush of tweets and Google Q&A comments.

This experience was the caffeine I needed. I’m leaving today’s session feeling joyful and energized, my hope is that we collectively gave that give to you as well.  Thanks all.

Here is the archived video of our first session.

  • We introduced our group.
  • I led a writing strategy and shared some of my own revision process.
  • We then “workshopped” a published poem.
  • Finally, I set up our work for next week.

 

 

Feel free to share the video with your TeacherPoet friends. Then, join us live (or recorded) the next three Saturdays from 11-noon EST.

Until then, join our Google+ TeacherPoets Community to share with fellow educators.

Also, on Wednesdays the new “Assignment” will officially post. I shared this upcoming week’s assignments at the end of our session (see the video), but the official post is Wednesday when the EXCITING addition will be the original work of a few of our TeacherPoets, which you can read and prepare to “workshop” on Saturday along with us.

Thanks for all you do, all you give, and all you believe in.  Happy Writing!

#TeacherPoets – Assignment Week 1

9 Apr

teacher-poets Hi TeacherPoets. We’re gearing up for our first live session, this Saturday (4/12) from 11:00-noon EST. Join our community page to join in the conversation that has already started, to catch the live stream from that page (or the direct stream below), and to catch weekly “writing assignments.”

 

Each week on Wednesday, I’ll post a reading and writing “assignment” for the week.  These are invitations to engaging with poetry and our work together.  Take on as much or as little as you’re able.

Assignment for Week 1: Slivers Are Big

During our first live streaming session we will talk about the power of taking on manageable bites.

Our lives often interact with huge emotions (joy, fear) or giant topics (love, death) but trying to take them on can be not only an overwhelming task as a writer, but can also lead to writing that is too broad for a reader.

The smaller the piece – almost like finding focus in a research topic – the more specific our writing becomes. Then, the more specific our writing becomes, the more universal the feelings and ideas can come across to readers of our poems.

 A Writing Invitation:

  • Starting next week these invitations will be specifically about writing poems. For this week your invitation is to respond to this question: “Why Poetry?”  A few sentences, a poem maybe, or a quick comment. Please leave your response on our TeacherPoets Community page.

Mentor poems to read:

  1. The Summer I Was Sixteen by Geraldine Connolly, for the one moment in time she uses to reflect on the huge topic of adolescence and growing older
  2. Making a Fist by Naomi Shihab Nye, who takes a universal fear and packages it in a tiny scene and an even smaller movement of the body
  3. You’re invited to post on our TeacherPoets Community page links to other poems that take on a large topic through a small, specific time or action

Workshopping This Week:

Starting next week, original poem’s from our Live Group educators (the folks on camera with me) will be posted in this section. As practice, this Saturday we will “workshop” this poem by a professional poet.

  • Please follow the link and print out this poem (or download a mark-up-able copy to your device):
  • Read and write all over it, prepare comments as if you were talking to this poet:
    • Compliments: Which parts were particularly strong to you? Why? How did it effect you as a reader? Where were you delighted? Happily surprised? Moved? And so on.
    • Questions: Where did you find yourself confused? Lost? Where did your reading become choppy or confused? Which points did you want a little bit more? A little less?
    • ConsiderationsWe can’t write the poem, that is the poet’s task, however we can raise considerations: I wonder if there are actually two poems here…  I wonder if we could hear more from… I wonder if the second stanza could… I wonder…
  • On Saturday we will then practice “workshopping” this poem, so bring your written-all-over copy.

If you would like to read an example of responding to a poem through “workshopping,” then read (or listen to) Workshop by Billy Collins (in which he workshops his own poem as he’s writing/reading it… it’s pretty funny stuff.).

Happy reading, writing, reflecting, and rejuvenating!

Join Us Live! Session One of #TeacherPoets this Week!

8 Apr

Here we are – yes in the midst of standardized testing season, yes in still pretty rainy and still somewhat cool April, but also yes in Poetry Month!

To pull ourselves out of the doldrums and return to our enthusiasm and passion for teaching and learning, join me and some fellow educators for #TeacherPoets! We’re an online community/course/experience/cheering-crowd-of-enthusiasm that is joining together for four weeks this month to write, reflect and rejuvenate.

teacher-poets

Each week for 4 weeks we will meet online on Saturdays from 11-noon EST to do a little poetry reading, writing, and then work together in a poetry workshop, giving feedback to our fellow TeacherPoets.  April 12, 19, 26, May 3.

 

How to Join

Super simple!  We will stream live on YouTube. (I told you it was simple.)

Grab your pen, paper then watch and write along with us. On Saturday you can come back to this post and click the little play button on the video down there (try it now!):

 

 

During the broadcast tweet us at #TeacherPoets to share your insights and ideas.

Want to Get More Involved?

You can join our TeacherPoets community page.  There you can join in on posted “writing assignments” and interact with fellow educators. Each Wednesday the new “assignment” will be posted.

You can also ask questions and leave comments each week before live broadcasts, by going to the Session announcement and clicking the little “Q&A” on the video screen: here’s Session One.

If you applied to the Live Writing Group (on camera!) those confirmations have started going out, you will receive an email today or tomorrow at the latest.

If you registered for the streaming video (or didn’t but still want to attend) you are all welcome! Just join the TeacherPoets community page or simply watch the live stream on Saturday.

 

Looking forward to joining together! Happy Poetry Month! Happy Writing!

Apply Now: TeacherPoets Workshop Series

2 Apr

teacher-poets

 Wondering what this is?  Here’s the flyer: TeacherPoets Announcement and a previous post.

Here are the links you’ve been waiting for!  Be sure to select the ONE you are interested in.  If you run into any trouble, no worries.  They will stay live until Saturday at noon:

Live Group application

To apply for one of the limited seats in the Live Group: click here.

If chosen, you will interact live with me and other participants! Additionally, during one week you will submit a poem in advance and receive live feedback on air!

Q&A: What will your technology experience be like?

Visit the Google+ Hangouts on Air page to get acquainted

And here’s a way-too-in-depth, but none the less really helpful video on being a “guest” on a Hangout On Air.

Q&A: Will my technology work? I’m nervous.

If you are selected we’ll find a time to test out your technology with you before our first meeting. And at the first session plan to arrive 30 minutes early so we can “green room” before we go live.  No worries!

Viewing the Streaming Video (without Talking Live) Register your Interest

To register your interest in viewing the live Streaming Video: click here.

We will use your contact info to connect you with our TeacherPoets Google+ Community and send you invites to each session.

Alternatively, you can forego sharing your personal information and simply check for the Hangout url which will be posted on the community page and on my blog. (be sure to subscribe to this blog to receive updates – click the “subscribe” button on the right sidebar).

The week of April 7th all of the how and where info will be posted.

I’m so excited!

Thanks for all of your interest and enthusiasm. I’ve had lots of tweets and hundreds of readers of the initial invitation post.

I can’t wait to write, reflect, and rejuvenate together!

Join! Let’s Rejuvenate with a Poetry Workshop

30 Mar

I tweeted yesterday that I stumbled upon inspiration. Deep in the murky weather, just as schools across the country are marching towards standardized testing season (here in New York the first round begins on Monday), I – like I’m sure many of us – have been feeling a bit gloomy.

One piece of inspiration was when my friend Monique tweeted with the hashtag #testprepdetox.

Yes!

 

Test Prep Detox!

 

 

The other is that I opened my subscription to a professional magazine and right in the center was a fold out poster about poetry month.

 

Yes!

 

Poetry!

Writing Poetry in the Company of Others

A little known fact about me is that I was a few credits shy of double majoring in creative writing, poetry to be exact. I studied with incredible poets – Quan Barry, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and others (I’ve even been in the same room as MacArthur Fellow–”Genius Award” recipient–Alice Fulton. Amazing.).

While this English major eventually turned, instead, to education. The process of being in adult writing workshops, in the company of other writers, to this day inspires my work.

“Workshopping” a poem, story, or play is similar to, but not exactly the same as, a school-based “writing workshop.” It does, however, shares similar threads.

It’s a representation of what the writer-reader relationship really is… you write but then turn over everything to your readers, they now make their own ideas. When workshopping a poem you get the unique opportunity of being able to hear your readers (other members of your workshop) and then make revisions with those voices in mind. You learn so much about how your words are received and how to make your purpose and voice clearer.

I found those times were inspiration packed, soul-filling, and reflective. I think it’s a big reason why I love writing and studying responsive writing instruction with educators.

 

An Invitation to Our Own Poetry Workshop

This April, in honor of #testprepdetox and Poetry Month, I’m organizing a four-session, online, adult poetry workshop I’m calling TeacherPoets.

Here is a downloadable flyer: TeacherPoets Announcement

Who Should Join? Educators and authors involved in K-12+ education interested in writing and talking about your own poetry.

Be ready to write poems, share them openly with others, revise with feedback, and share your passions and talents with fellow educators.

We’ll use the hashtag #TeacherPoets and here’s a button you’re welcome to add to your social media:

teacher-poets

What We’ll Do

From 11:00AM-Noon EST on 4 Saturdays:

  • April 12,
  • April 19,
  • April 26,
  • and May 3

we’ll join together in an online poetry workshop.

We will not be focusing on the teaching of poetry to students, per se.

Instead, our focus will be on fostering our own adult writing lives through weekly writing exercises, sharing of our work, and the hallmark of our sessions—interactive feedback conversations called “workshops.”

These sessions are designed to keep us actively writing, exploring, reflecting, and, above all, inspired.

We’ll be using Google’s Hangouts on Air – their newest incarnation of Hangouts. It’s like a Skype call only on steroids. As in Oprah has done one.

 

How to Join

Involvement is free. I’m donating my time because I love the power of poetry to help us reflect and connect and because I need this battery recharge as much as you do!

There are two ways to join:

  • Watch the video streams live and tweet along with us. I’ll post how during the week of April 7.

or

  • Apply to be in the Live Group. You’ll be broadcasting live (from the comfort of your laptop or device) with me and fellow TeacherPoets! During one of the 4-weeks a poem you submit will be workshopped live, receiving feedback both from our Live Group and online viewers. (Did I say how excited I am!)

Google has strict limits on the number of on-camera participants, so to be a Live Group member please apply.

The application will go live THIS WEDNESDAY AT 10AM EST on my blog and will remain live for just a few days. Application reviews will be done on a first come basis.

Here is the downloadable flyer once again: TeacherPoets Announcement

 

I can’t wait! Let’s write, reflect, and rejuvenate together!

Applying for 2014-15 Services

8 Mar

Dear friends,

In April I will begin booking services for the 2014-15 school year. If your school or organization is interested in on-site or on-line professional development or speaking engagements please be sure to join the growing wait list before April 1st for your best chance at being added.

For more information or to apply, use the contact form on the bottom of my Services Page.

This school year has been exciting and such a joy teaching and learning inside of classrooms with teams of teachers, speaking at conferences and workshop days around the world, and connecting with educators online in webinars and interactive sessions.  I’m looking forward to 2014-15.

Also, there are some surprises in store (announced soon!), be sure to follow me on twitter or subscribe to this blog to so you don’t miss the big announcement.

Looking forward to continued collaboration, inspiration, and together becoming our best so students can become their best.

Thanks for all you do,

Chris

by Camdiluv used under Creative Commons lic

Co-hosting #NCTEchat w Meenoo Rami on 3/16 8pmET

6 Mar

March 2014 chat

I’m looking forward to joining Meenoo Rami on March 16 when we co-host NCTE’s #nctechat!  We will be facilitating a discussion on professional collaboration (one of my favorite topics!). These group twitter discussions are always loads of fun and incredibly inspirational.

New to tweet chats? Here is my how-to post.

So You Think You Want to Tweet Chat

Also, if you missed Kate Roberts and I co-hosting #nyedchat this past week, the archive can be found here. We led a conversation on teaching reading in NYS, where we are now and where we could be. Tons of educators (not only from New York) joined in to talk about the opportunities and challenges of state level initiatives around reading. Kate and I spoke right after about how energizing the conversation felt, how inspired we felt by the ideas being shared.

Hope to see you online Sunday night!

Day After

16 Feb

I know about as much of what to do right now as you do.

We all know that this case, and this verdict, is a deeply private tragedy for the Davis family. A deeply private tragedy for the other boys who “survived” in terms of mortality, but certainly have lost in countless ways.

We also all know that this is one case and one verdict in an endless sea of atrocity.

I recall shortly after the Newtown shooting, commentator Ben Stein had a segment on CBS Sunday Morning where he challenged the national outrage and pressure to tighten gun regulations. He pointed to some set of statistics that said that our large cities have the strictest gun laws and yet the greatest gun violence rates, and therefore people like him out in the mountains shouldn’t have to face the same regulations.

What struck me then and strikes me again now, is not that he was against gun control–I disagree with him, but I was not surprised–instead, it was the feeling that “those people” in “that city over there” are unrelated to “me.”

What I do know is this:

Every act of racism is our act of racism. Every child lost is our child lost. Every family is our family. Every city is our city. Every law is our law.

I also know:

You can’t fix it all. I think that’s where we feel defeated. That’s where we go only so far and then stop.

I also know:

What you can do is a little. That little bit that you do is more than what was done before.

One example of that is the #DangerousBlackKids hashtag that is circulating on twitter today. Through a stroke of genius and inspiration, the tag is people posting photos of black children doing everyday kid stuff. It makes you laugh, cry, and get angry. It hit me. So, I wrote this. That one small act, that’s turned into a twitter trend, is pushing me to not talk about defeat. It is pushing me to talk about the promise our children hold and the promise we as adults must hold for them.

I know this:

While you can’t do it all, you can do some.

You can continue to teach all children, and right now especially our African American boys, that they matter.

You can tutor.

You can mentor.

You can write.

You can talk.

You can reflect.

You can speak up at that innocuous comment you overhear someone say.

You can tell your story, your friend’s stories, your student’s stories, your children’s stories.

You can use the pronoun “our.”

Every bit you do is more than was done yesterday. Use your power.

Guest Post: EdWeek Classroom Q&A – Ways To Develop Life-Long Readers

16 Feb

Larry Ferlazzo gathers questions from educators and then collects both invited responses from experts in our field and comments from readers. It’s a brilliant form of collaboration through his EdWeek “Classroom Q&A” column.

This week, a college education student asked how to engage early elementary students in reading habits, comprehension, and building their life-long love of reading. My response, along with Donalyn Miller’s and Mark Barnes’ appears this week in the first installment of responses. Now it’s your turn, Larry invites you to leave your own tips or comments at his post, some will be published next week.

image by Larry Ferlazzo for EdWeek Teacher

Thanks for all you do.

Happy V-Day treats from Falling in Love with Close Reading

13 Feb

Kate and I have been so touched, honored, energized, (a little overwhelmed, in a good way), by all of the generous comments and cool experiences many of you have been sharing about your work with our book.

Falling in Love With Close Reading cover

We love your love and love you back.

So. We talked with our friends at Heinemann and brainstormed two special things.

One has been going on for about two weeks for those of you on twitter who follow @HeinemannPub and/or Kate, I and ends at midnight tonight, a chance to win a book bundle of 5 selected books from Heinemann:

  • Falling in Love with Close Reading
  • Book Love, by Penny Kittle
  • Energize Research Reading and Writing, by me
  • Finding the Heart of Nonfiction, by Georgia Heard and
  • Children Want to Write, a collection of Don Grave’s essays and archival footage edited by Tom Newkirk and Penny Kittle

More on that twitter contest here. Winners are chosen tomorrow and announced by @HeinemannPub on twitter (woo!).

The other is that Falling in Love With Close Reading will have a special (and very cute) price tomorrow: $14.14  February 14, 2014. Aww.

All day tomorrow through Heinemann.com use the promo code “FiLwCR” for this offer.  Only good on Valentine’s Day.

Public domain, photo by Chordboard used under Creative Commons lic

Thanks for the love everyone! We love your compassion, courage, and belief in our amazing profession.

Upcoming Learning Love

I’ll be talking about close reading during a full day pre-conference session at Write To Learn 2014 in MO. Info/register here.

Kate and I are presenting ideas from our book in the Seattle and Portland areas in April. Info/register here.

My 3-session webinar series on Energizing Research Instruction (it should be called “love, not plagiarism”) begins in March. Info/register here.

Visit my events page for many more of my 2014 speaking engagements.

Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve (and Walls and Actions and)

10 Feb

As I work with schools and districts across the country, I find one question becomes essential above all else:

Is your heart visible?

by Amada44 used under Creative Commons lic

Michael Fullan describes that when organizations and schools falter it is not because there is a resistance to change, but because too many initiatives are taken on all at once with little time to get good at any of them.

The more scattered our focus, the less focused we truly are.

I find the question–is your heart visible–is an important one.  What we make visible in our classrooms, in our schools, even in our lives, shows what we value, what is important, and what we feel and believe.

At my home, for instance, if you walk into my daughter’s bedroom you’ll find mountains of art supplies and in-progress projects of all kinds. Paper, glue, crayons, scissors, pipe cleaners, googly eyes and mountains of little characters she has created. In my son’s room puzzles rule, as well as maps (oh so many maps. Seriously, if anyone needs a globe or map we have extra), and his illustrated dictionary is always open on the floor.

From the time each of us are young, we gather what is important, keep it close at hand, curate it, and sometimes even display it for others to see. In our schools and classrooms, when we make our hearts visible we not only own a deeper sense of our mission, we also invite our students and our community to share it with us.

Show Off Your Love

At New Milford High School, for example Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal) and his team display a belief in technology as a tool for collaboration, innovative, and risk-taking.

The first striking feature is that New Milford HS looks like nearly every other building in the US. It’s stately, yet aging, and locker filled hallways lead to linoleum-green classroom floors. The heart is not held up, or held back, by the physical plant. It is in the vision of the staff and students.

Take Laura Fleming‘s Library/Media Center. A MakerBot 3-D printer, lego robotics, a little circuit station, and more. She has devoted part of her space for experimentation.  “No one signs up, they just come when they want to come and try what they want to try. Not just the students, staff come to play around, too,” Laura pointed out during my visit.

It’s easy to be dazzled by the cool stuff. The message is bigger, though. There is a keen sense that learning is about doing, making attempts, rethinking things, trying again.

This is carried throughout the building, students and teachers see learning as a blend of online and off, and as risk-taking. One teacher we ran into in the hallway I said, “I’m not technology phobic like I used to be, because I’ve learned that it’s all about trying something out.”

As the building leader, Eric  believes in making his beliefs visible but then also stepping back to allow his staff to experiment and grow.

At another school, Cantiague Elementary, principal Tony Sinanis wears an incredible love of his community all over everything – his office walls, his blog and my favorite, his twitter account.  He regularly tweets and retweets images of students and teachers at work with captions celebrating their work.

Recently I was able to visit his school, one focused on supporting students’ growth in literacy. His belief in literacy meant he has made room in his budget for a terrific literacy coach and together the school has been spending a good amount of time on best-practices in reading instruction.  As with all things, what you focus on often grows and what you don’t can sometimes stagnate. Together we wondered if students were writing enough each day, to really practice the skills they were learning.

In another example of making your heart visible, his school, in what felt like less than day after my visit, looked at students’ current writing and made a decision to make the time and celebrate the time students would spend writing.

A big shift happened, and so quickly, because a focus was placed on making a school value more visible.

Reflecting on Your Heart

These are two of the many examples of schools and organizations who are striving to unite their communities in the best interest of learners.  In the busy, sometimes scattered, often frantic pace of the school year, it is important to stop at times and reflect. Is your heart visible in your classroom? In your school?

Step back and take a look:

  • When you look around your classroom, what do you see the most of?  Is it what you value?
  • When you look through your students notebook and folders, what does their work say to you? Do you see evidence of why you are an educator? Evidence of why you love what you teach?
  • When you walk through the hallways of your school, what do classrooms and displays have in common? Can you see the heart of your community or is it unclear?
  • If you talk with your colleagues, is your community’s heart visible in conversations?

Sometimes these questions reveal the lack or erosion of a shared belief system, other times they reveal qualities you may have forgotten were there.

The best news is that showing your heart only takes a little bit of bravery–once you begin an incredible path lies before you.

by Gian Cayetano used under Creative Commons lic

Nerdlution Round 2: More lution, Less not doing it

26 Jan

nerdlution button tiny

The first official nerdlution has come to an end!

How did you do?

Some of you rocked it in truly inspiring ways.

Some of you –> me <– had an enthusiastic start and an eh last half.

(If you missed it, here’s my original Nerdlution FAQ).

Whether you nerdlutioned for 1 day or all 50, Colby’s post today says it best:

“At times I felt like a bit of a failure. I wasn’t able to write all 50 days, but I did write more during the 50 days of Nerdlution then I have ever written in a 50 day stretch. Not bad.”

I think that’s just the point: We ALL failed.

Well, that’s not the whole point.

The bigger point within that failing in little and big ways is what was at the center of this of this funny little movement: find something you would enjoy doing, aim to do it more than before, and live within the realness of your trying to get there.

Round Two

Today, in two different posts, Colby Sharp and Michelle Haseltine invite all of us to jump into round 2. Another 50 days of nerdy+resolutions, starting tomorrow.

Colby invites you to post your new nerdlution(s) at his blog.

Michelle offers to host a Thursday nerdlution blog post  round-up, she’ll collect anyone’s posts from each week, just leave a comment on her blog with the link.  

Others of you are already posting your new #nerdlutions. Franki, one of the fellow founders, has moved on from apples to lipstick. …you’ll have to ask her.  Katherine writes about setting new goals and also shares her need to be kinder to herself for any “failures,” I love this point and it inspired my round 2 nerdlution.

But first, what we learned from Round One

Okay, I just want to preface this by saying that I swear to you at times in my life I can be fit. I’ve flipped tires, people. Tires. In a gym. Doing push-ups on them even. That ‘s got to count for something.

That little burst of defensiveness came in and out of my self-talk during this first 50 day experiment. You see, I also was reminded during round one that I’m not as fit as I imagined I was.  Though, happily was more than I feared. 50/50 ain’t bad. For example, trying to do 100 push-ups every single day is incredibly painful and the exact opposite advice any trainer would ever give you. (Truth: I planned that goal in my “I’m just going to eat cake a lot” workout phase.)

I learned I need to have a more realistic goal. I also learned, though, that it still should be somewhat rigorous – just beyond my fears of what I think I can’t do.  Because a good 50% of the time, I actually met it and was so amazed, and sore, and proud, and sore at the end.

Reading other people’s triumphs and failures across these 50 days I’ve learned other things:

  • Success can breed success.
  • Equally true, failure can breed failure.
  • If you are stuck on a desert island and only amazing, technological wizardry can help you (or song lyrics), then Kevin Hodgson is your answer
  • It’s easy to feel embarrassed when you don’t live up to a public goal.
  • It’s easy to assume you’re the only one.
  • Apples everyday is actually a thing. And it becomes more interesting the more Franki writes about it.
  • Everyone fails.
  • Everyone succeeds.
  • Telling your true experience – the ups and downs – to others, ultimately helps you.
  • It helps everyone else, too.

My Round 2

I’m still sticking with mostly one nerdlution for this round, but modifying:

  • 100 push-ups per day, 3 days per week
  • Another high intensity something, 3 days per week. Time doesn’t matter (key for me not feeling like a failure on “off” days, anything is better than nothing and some days I’ll be inspired to do more than others) – a few planks or a short run or long gym time
  • A day off

Mentally (this is new for me to set a part of a goal, thanks Katherine for the inspiration) I want to:

  • Know I will, without a doubt, “fail” at some point. There, no surprises now.
  • Be forgiving to myself when I do.
  • Restart slow if I have to.
  • Ask for support – because the best part of nerdlution is the amazing and positive community.

See you at Colby’s blog, Michelle’s, twitter, or just out there with a smile on your face.

Hive fives all around!

Billy Mills, 1964 Olympics, public domain

 

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