Friday, July 1, 2016

Poetry Friday~Possibilities

Today I finished part one of the National Writing Project through the Southern Maine Writing Project. This has been a stretching journey for me but one I am so grateful I did. I'm sharing my first real attempt at poetry here today, both as a celebration of completing this part of the journey, but also to push myself to make my writing more public.  This piece was first sparked by an activity we did on the first day of the writing project, where we were asked to choose an item from a table that sparked a memory based on the smell.  I chose a box of crayons. 


September brings a
    brand new box.
Each created for a specific purpose
    waiting with anticipation
        for the artist to tap
           into their creative uniqueness.

A rainbow of possibilities….

The artist’s understanding of the
    medium will be essential.
Pushed too hard, they break;
   held too gently, they may not
            reach their potential.

Mixing and matching
     the kaleidoscope of variant colors
The artist will meld the bold, the vibrant
      with the muted and delicate
Uncovering the subtle shades of
      individualistic greatness
All the while creating a sense of iridescent harmony.

A rainbow of possibilities.

I created the digital piece using Canva.

Monday, March 14, 2016

{solsc} The Flip! #sol16

The March Slice of Life Challenge
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I was a cheerleader. Not the technical, super athletic gymnast type of cheerleader. I was more of the super LOUD, extra enthusiastic type of cheerleader.  I could lead chants and execute cheer moves with great precision. Yes, I was that girl practicing cheer moves at the bus stop, on the playground, walking to check the mailbox, pretty much anytime, anywhere. I was very serious about being a cheerleader.  

One Saturday night when I was about 15 years old, I let my pride get the better of me. My best friend, Tammy, had come over for a sleepover.  As we sat around the living room, the conversation somehow led to my dad challenging me to a cheering competition.  Being the serious cheerleader that I was, I jumped at the chance to show old dad just how good I was! As any gentleman would do, my dad let me go first.  I "Ready!Okayed" with gusto then executed a near flawless cheer.  It was inspiring! The crowd erupted in applause!  Okay. Maybe it was just polite clapping.  But I had performed my very best. And after all, I was up against my dad. What did he know about cheering? Not a whole lot...or so I thought.

He congratulated me on my well executed cheer and then he "Ready! Okayed!". It wasn't bad,  a little over exaggerated, but not bad. I was feeling okay. He was making up some kind of cheer that made absolutely no sense. Another good sign that things were going my way. His movements were completely over the top. Seriously over the top.  I started planning out the words of encouragement I would use to console my poor dad.  And then it happened...right there in the middle of my living room with eight foot ceilings. My old dad....did a backflip to end his routine. A backflip people!

How is a girl supposed to compete with that?!?  Of course, I couldn't. The judges (my mom, my younger brothers, and my best friend) gave the victory to my dad.  My old dad beat me that night...and handed me what would be one of my most favorite memories!

So really, I was the winner after all.

Friday, March 11, 2016

{solsc} PL Day #sol16

The March Slice of Life Challenge
hosted by The Two Writing Teachers
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"School [districts] should always be on a pathway of self-improvement, with the expectation that teachers will outgrow themselves." Lucy Calkins 

I remember hearing those words in Lucy's opening remarks, kicking off the 2015 Coaching Institute on the Teaching of Reading. They were powerful! Today I was reminded again, of how powerful those words were.   I am grateful to work in a district the ascribes to this philosophy.  

Today was a professional learning day for teachers. In my role as literacy strategist, I am responsible, along with my coaching colleague, for providing the professional development on these days.  I always approach these days hopeful that teachers will view the day as a beneficial use of their time.  I spend a lot of time thinking (code for worrying) about if teachers will find the ideas and information we share tied to the work they are doing, not something "extra" that they have to find time to do. I want them to walk away feeling validated, while also feeling empowered to go deeper.

I'm exhausted and need to spend time reflecting with my coaching colleague on how we can improve for the next time. But my teaching heart is bolstered by the ways I saw and heard teachers expressing ways they can outgrow themselves. Tonight I'm letting those conversations, reminders that none of us (myself included) ever truly "arrive",  replay themselves in my mind as I crash on the couch after a long but very affirming week!  

Thursday, March 10, 2016

{solsc} Shine #sol16

The March Slice of Life Challenge
hosted by The Two Writing Teachers
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This week my colleague, Matt, and I had the pleasure of hosting site visits for two different teams of educators from other school districts.  We wanted the visits to be useful for these teachers so we planned out a schedule that provided them with observations in three classrooms, where they were able to see the reading and writing workshop in action.  After each workshop,  the host classroom teacher joined us for a debrief session, allowing our visitors to ask questions about not only what they had observed, but also general questions about each teacher's experience with using the Units of Study for Reading and Writing. 

Watching our host teachers navigate their reading/writing workshop, the observer might think it's seamless and effortless. Transitions are smooth. Students are engaged. There's a tone within the classroom that its members are about to embark on serious work. There's community. There's REAL reading and busy work to be found here! However, what was seen in these classrooms was accomplished through reflective effort on each teacher's part. I get to see this mastery every day, but to see it again through someone else's eyes, was so powerful.

Moving into each debrief, we made a conscious decision to take a back seat, allowing our teachers to take the lead in the conversations. I was reminded yet again just how fortunate I am to be doing this coaching work.  Each teacher articulated their 'story' with confidence, answering questions with thoughtful reflection of the instructional decisions and teaching moves they made. As I listened to them talk, I was struck by the fact that this was even more about giving my teachers the opportunity to reflect, as it was giving visiting teams the opportunity to see the work in progress.

And here's the thing that makes this all the more wonderful. Our visitors could come back tomorrow, unannounced, and see the exact same level of excellence in our classrooms. This is the work we do, every day, whether the spotlight is shining on it or not.

I'm just fortunate to be able to shine the light. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

{solsc} Glorious! #sol16

The March Slice of Life Challenge
hosted by The Two Writing Teachers
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I stepped out of the school building this afternoon, anxious to see if the weatherperson had forecasted the day correctly. March weather in Maine has a reputation for being persnickety, often times feeling like the excess baggage of winter.  So when the long range forecast indicated highs in the high 60s today, I did not get my hopes up. I mean, it's only the 9th day of March.  No way could we possibly see temperatures that high this soon.

Well, we didn't have highs in the high 60s. No. The weatherperson got it wrong. Again. Instead we had a high of 75.  Yep. You read that right. 75 degrees on March 9, 2016 in Maine.  I wasted no time getting to my car, popping open my sunroof, and starting home. As I started the 35 minute commute, my mind was busy rearranging my after school plans. The prep work for Friday's professional day was moved several rungs down the priority ladder, as going for a walk quickly moved to the top!

What a glorious afternoon! Usually I'm trying to keep a swift pace as I walk but not today. Instead I meandered through the cemetery across from my house, breathing in the warm fresh air, listening to the birds and taking in the early spring smell of mud.  As I returned home, I admit, the weather  really got the better of me.  I went right out to the pool shed to pull out the grill. Yep. First grilled meal of the season.  And since I'd already gone that far...I topped this glorious glimpse of what's to come with a trip to get an ice cream.

I know this weather won't last. I know there's a really good chance Winter will make it's presence known again before Spring finally takes hold for good. But this one day, holding out a carrot of what's to come, was a welcome distraction in my otherwise ridiculously busy schedule.

It won't be long now, my friend! 

Monday, March 7, 2016

{solsc} Today I... #sol16

The March Slice of Life Challenge
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Today I...

   ....voxed words of encouragement to a coaching colleague dealing with a difficult situation

   ....taught myself how to trim and combine video clips into one video

   .....created a new anchor chart, complete with little people drawings, for a lesson

   ....watched previous modeled lessons begin to take hold as readers became more engaged in reading a professional article on coaching

   .....prepped for two site visits later this week

   .....finalized schedule for an upcoming TC Staff Developer visit

   .....worked on content for Friday's Professional Learning Day

  ......participated in a webinar on Synthetic Phonics 

  ......had dinner with a former colleague, catching up on our professional lives 

  ......helped my niece, an education major, with an assignment on my drive home

  ......wrote something for the seventh day in a row

Sunday, March 6, 2016

{solsc} Strong. #sol16

The March Slice of Life Challenge
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"You lift my weary head. You make me strong instead."

Words wash over my tired soul,
       repeating the promise of strength. 
Although the lyrics have moved on,

       tears stream down;  

Emotions bottled up release 

        in the solitude of the moment.

Exhausted from holding up the shield 

        of confidence and positivity

I drop the shield and stand, 

        allowing the promise of whose I am

Wash over my tired soul. 

Image credit: Proverbs 31 Ministries