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Bluebird of happiness

I ordered this five minutes ago, (because it’s payday, and these things must wait for paydays) and even indulgently asked for free same-day shipping. I am so grateful for Three Teachers Talk for promoting Newkirk’s new book.

My great and burning question may be answered by this text: How do we help students look past their peers’ acceptance and gain self-respect and confidence? 

After I receive the book, I’ll follow up on my tweet: the ideas he put forth are the ultimate playlist of pedagogy –putting these concepts into practice will be the trick.

Looking for theme teaching ideas? Check out this great post by Gwen Flaskamp: she provides the step by step path using the greats: Notice and Note, Book Love, and Falling in Love with Close Reading.

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the perils of control

 

My head hurt all weekend since an odd idea came to me late last week. Did you ever get an off-hand comment that seemed vaguely critical and out of context the only explanation could be it was growing in the background for a long time? Writing is processing, and thinking about how to frame bizarre moments on this rainy Sunday afternoon solved the pain.

The best thing about my PLN is that we all understand that sharing, curating, and responding are part of the culture of being a creative collaborator. There are no egos, no “stay in your lane’s” or titles and job descriptions that prevent us from sharing our ideas and resources freely and kindly. From Notice and Note Facebook page and other groups that share ideas and insights I have made new friends. And–never doubt it that it’s a small educational world after all. A good friend and former colleague who moved back to Florida last year is friends with a teacher who’s become a good professional friend via these channels. You just never know.

But what I do know is good work is good work: the younger teachers I work with, even though I’m not officially in the ELA group/department anymore (insert long trombone sound here) they continue to work with me, and we seek out ideas and resources. Which is why I was perplexed last week. What is expected from a staff in terms of sharing? What if a teacher decides she is not going to share her resources? What if, like I am simply because I’ve been in my building so long, should not be the Keeper of Continuity and Nooks and Crannies Resources? For one thing, that title doesn’t fit on a business card. Quite impractical.

One of the…trends?…I’m hearing and seeing is this idea that more seasoned teachers aren’t supposed to share their expertise. It’s curious and confusing. We, teachers, are constantly asked to wash and rinse a laundry basket full of mixed messages:

  • Share your resources and time!
  • Take on a student teacher!
  • Mentor younger teachers!
  • It’s not your job anymore, so don’t share!
  • Keep your advice to yourself!
  • You’re (fill in the blank: overwhelming, emotional, fractured, walking wounded)
  • Too many emails
  • Not enough emails
  • Too passive
  • Too aggressive
  • If you send it, no one will read it
  • More training
  • Less training
  • Walk on eggshells
  • Stand up to bullies
  • Let her do it
  • Open your classroom door!
  • Keep your door shut!
  • Don’t smile!
  • Welcome them!
  • Open your heart!
  • You’re bleeding on the carpet!
  • You do it.
  • Stop doing that.
  • Can you?
  • Will you?
  • Just….

How do we shut out the static and tune in to what’s essential? How do we enjoy our days at our jobs? Our professional, heavily invested-in, challenging, humanly flawed jobs?

Yes. Shut the door. Temporarily at least. And just listen to students. Whatever the grown-ups are saying or thinking doesn’t matter too much on the periphery. When we work together instead of working outside-in to inside-out, perhaps some authentic professional relationships will grow.

Read Stuff Students Say by Alice T. Rust.

Follow Jackie Gerstein and feel her joy in her teaching.

Follow John Spencer and see how a creative fellow nerd brings passion and respect to new and seasoned teachers alike.

Follow Three Teachers Talk and Sarah Donovan/Ethical ELA.

Thank goodness there are folks in my real and virtual worlds who do appreciate what I offer and encourage and support me. It is through that love, and it is love and not control, that sustains us all.

PS This is the best advice of all:

 

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beautiful framing…

Amy Rasmussen wrote a piece for Three Teachers Talk:

What if We Teach as if Teaching is a Story?

And this–

Last week I attended a professional development meeting with George Couros, author of the Innovator’s Mindset. I jotted tons of Couros’ quotes in my notebook, all important to the kind of teacher I keep striving to become:

“How do you cultivate questions of curiosity and not compliance?”

“Data driven is the stupidest term in education.”

“Your childhood is not their childhood. Nostalgia is what gets us stuck.”

“Relationships matter! Nobody in this room is as interesting as YouTube. If you are all about the content, you are already irrelevant.”

“You need to make the positives so loud that the negatives are hard to hear.”

“Would you want to spend the whole day learning in your own classroom?”

“Every day is where your legacy is created.”

Once I got over my fleeting envy at her having the opportunity to hear George Couros speak, the overwhelming sense of luck and joy that someone captured these thoughts and framed them in a way that speaks to me, and encourage me to be better–forgive myself of missteps and be better. Every day.

The only one I may disagree with is the nostalgia piece. It requires more nuance. A few years ago students started a Flashback Friday, where they asked me questions about my child-teenage hood, and I answered as honestly as possible. Agreeably, getting bogged down in nostalgia isn’t healthy for anyone. I’ve often said nostalgia is a heckuva drug. It’s the Mirror of Erised. But a relevant story in the context of a teachable moment is not the same as nostalgia. Just yesterday I explained why there are the terms “cc” and “bcc” on emails.

And yes, I do try to make my classroom one I want to be in. I heard the phrase ‘dogfooding” years ago, and took it to heart: basically, eat your own product. Yesterday I was frustrated with one class because they could not stop side talking. I told them what they were learning (about Outlook email–poor little future borgs, as my cohort member from WABS/STEM, told me) wasn’t the most exciting, but they had to listen and follow along step by step. That may be the hardest thing about computer instruction, and I’ve been very honest with them. Everyone in that class is all over the map, and sometimes we just have to keep in step.

Today I’ll take with me these words, and try to do better. And laugh to myself about the data-driven line.

Follow George Couros @gcouros

Follow Three Teachers Talk @3TeachersTalk

PS Newkirk is AWESOME.

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Saving the Slipping Summer: First Days

Three Teachers Talk just posted the superlative just-in-time idea. Go through the post which wanders and meanders through their thinking process which all of us teachers are going through now: just what would be the best, most important, bang-for-the buck first days lessons, and get to their landing place: User Manuels. 

Our Day One Writing: Personal User Manuals

This is really a great idea: it’s a personality/reading/writing inventory as well as deeply personal and engaging. I have the composition notebooks, I have the pencils. Now all I need are some students. But this is my last week of summer break, and I’m not quite ready yet. Maybe I should create my own “Mrs. Love’s User Manuel” first.