Friday, March 24, 2017

Love my lunch ladies! - #SOLSC Day 24



I love March, when during the Slice of Life Challenge, I commit to writing on a daily basis. It's fun during 31 days of posts to watch the ebb and flow of my writing. Some days I'll be incredibly pleased with how a post turned out; other days I'll just be glad I posted anything at all. A huge thanks to the gang at Two Writing Teachers for hosting, organizing, and commenting on this ginormous event each year. I appreciate the community of writers you encourage the entire month of March, and all the Tuesdays the rest of the year. Thank you, thank you.

**This March, I plan to connect as many posts as possible to my #OLW for the year - SAVOR.** 


Make a couple extra hash browns today. Karen will want some for lunch today for sure.

Many people talk about the most important people in a school being the secretaries and the custodians. I totally agree, but would like to add one more category to that list - the cooks in the cafeteria. I am of the firm belief that developing a rapport and a relationship with the people cooking the food is incredibly important.

In the school I just exited, the cooks are Cheryl and Alisha. At lunchtime every day, I head down to the cafeteria kitchen to fill my cup with ice from the machine. Each day, I check out what is on the student lunch choices. And each and every day, Cheryl and Alisha greet me with incredibly warm words and smiles.

As we've chatted over the past year when I'm in that building, they have learned I love three specific things from the school lunch: hash browns, tater tots, and Goldfish Giant Graham Crackers. So when I come to get my ice, they have those things waiting for me on days they are being served. I love that I've chosen three of the most un-nutritious things possible, and they never judge me.

Make a couple extra hash browns today. Karen will want some for lunch today for sure.

A smile, a warm welcome, and some hash browns. I've come to savor that combination. I will miss it.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Love these third graders / hate to say goodbye - #SOLSC Day 23


I love March, when during the Slice of Life Challenge, I commit to writing on a daily basis. It's fun during 31 days of posts to watch the ebb and flow of my writing. Some days I'll be incredibly pleased with how a post turned out; other days I'll just be glad I posted anything at all. A huge thanks to the gang at Two Writing Teachers for hosting, organizing, and commenting on this ginormous event each year. I appreciate the community of writers you encourage the entire month of March, and all the Tuesdays the rest of the year. Thank you, thank you.

**This March, I plan to connect as many posts as possible to my #OLW for the year - SAVOR.** 

I love working and collaborating with adults as a coach, but when that work allows for interaction with students as well, those are opportunities I savor.

Today was my last day ever in another one of my schools. There have been some state assessments during my time here, but there has also been some wonderful learning. Many of those learning opportunities involved me collaborating with teachers in their classrooms with their students.

Let me share three scenarios that happened on my last day today:

Scene 1 - 3rd Grade

With piano versions of Disney songs quietly playing in the background, a purposeful hum of activity was happening in one writing workshop. The teacher and I were working on refining conferring skills, and we had the privilege to spend time with several students talking about their opinion pieces. As we conferred, we found one teaching point for each child, and they left our table beaming with the confidence of assured writers with a plan. It made my heart sing seeing their pride.

Scene 2 - 3rd Grade

In another classroom, the vibe was a bit more frenetic as students were planning, scripting, practicing, and recording themselves and partners sharing about their favorite books or book series. Though the noise level was higher, the energy and focus were spot on. I spent some time with one specific student who felt stressed to get everything done. He did it, though - he got his script done, practiced it several times, worked on his eye contact, and let me record him until he was happy with the results.
 He looked at me with big eyes after and said, "I made really good eye contact because I didn't have to read the script the whole time. I really knew it!"
His obvious pride in himself made me smile for hours.

Scene 3 - 3rd Grade

This entire year, I have spent much time thinking and collaborating with one teacher, and that work brought me into contact with her students frequently. Today, I swear, my heart just melted.
When they found out it was my last day at their school and I wouldn't be back next year, her students decided they wanted to take a picture with me and put it on their "family" wall - the wall showing pictures of them being a family and community. They also gave me my own small version of the family wall picture on construction paper, and they all signed it. As if that wasn't enough, the entire class wrote thank you notes to me and their teacher bound them into a book.
Heart melt... right?

I have savored all 36 of my years in education. When I try to explain it to non-teachers, they don't always understand. These three scenarios are just 3 of over a bajillion reasons that I love being an educator.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Looking forward to exercise - #SOLSC 3/22/17


I love March, when during the Slice of Life Challenge, I commit to writing on a daily basis. It's fun during 31 days of posts to watch the ebb and flow of my writing. Some days I'll be incredibly pleased with how a post turned out; other days I'll just be glad I posted anything at all. A huge thanks to the gang at Two Writing Teachers for hosting, organizing, and commenting on this ginormous event each year. I appreciate the community of writers you encourage the entire month of March, and all the Tuesdays the rest of the year. Thank you, thank you.

**This March, I plan to connect as many posts as possible to my #OLW for the year - SAVOR.** 

If you've talked to me, or read my blog posts, in the past six months, you know that retirement feels very bittersweet for me. Saying goodbye to educator friends in my district is going to be difficult. I know I am not done with education by a long shot, but there are so many other possibilities out there for me to discover soon.

I realized the enormity of one possibility this evening. I opened my digital calendar to the week after retirement, and started plugging in some exercise/fitness activities I wanted to start doing that very first week:

  • Monday - walking with a friend
  • Tuesday - strength training
  • Wednesday - slow flow yoga class and walking with a friend
  • Thursday - water aerobics and swimming laps
  • Friday - yoga class
  • Saturday - meet with my trainer
Whoa!! I just planned my entire first week of retirement. That seemed crazy. A conversation began in my head.

It's retirement, Karen. It's not about being on a schedule every day like when you were working full time.
But... I now have the capability of working out in the mornings. You know I tend to not exercise in the afternoon or after.
But every day?!! Doesn't that seem a bit excessive to schedule like that in retirement?
Maybe. But if I schedule it now, maybe it will just become a habit; something I do on any given day.

And then I got really excited about this possibility! I got so excited, I went back into that first week of scheduled exercise, and did some editing - I made each item a repeated weekly event. After awhile, I won't need the schedule (I don't think). But I plan on truly savoring those morning workouts each day, beginning May 29!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Music to my ears - #SOLSC 3/21/17


I love March, when during the Slice of Life Challenge, I commit to writing on a daily basis. It's fun during 31 days of posts to watch the ebb and flow of my writing. Some days I'll be incredibly pleased with how a post turned out; other days I'll just be glad I posted anything at all. A huge thanks to the gang at Two Writing Teachers for hosting, organizing, and commenting on this ginormous event each year. I appreciate the community of writers you encourage the entire month of March, and all the Tuesdays the rest of the year. Thank you, thank you.

**This March, I plan to connect as many posts as possible to my #OLW for the year - SAVOR.** 


I never travel without a book on tape in the car. I'm amazed at how much I can listen to just driving around doing errands and doing my sales.

I love to read with my ears.

They listened to two books on tape - one going down to Florida and one coming home. He said it really made the time pass quickly.

The narrator pronounced his name "Oo-va".

The narrator made this a delightful listen as she used a slow Southern drawl for the characters. 

People all around me were talking about audio books, and how much they enjoyed them. About a year ago, I decided to give it a whirl.

The third snippet above was my husband as we were in the car bound for Hilton Head last spring. He wanted to try it since a couple we knew had tried it and enjoyed it. I loved the idea of sharing a book, so I downloaded the Audible app as we drove, read the books' descriptions to him, as well as the reviews of the narrator. We chose a book, and it was great!! Eleven hours of prime listening.

Since that occasion, I have become addicted to audio books. Like my friend above, I now always have a book on tape in the car. I have extremely short commutes, but it has still been wildly entertaining, even if just for a few minutes some days. I'm so bad, that last night when I dropped my car off for service at the dealership, and got a loaner, I kept my books on CD with me, and remembered what track I was on as I exited one vehicle and got in the next one. The first thing I did after turning on the ignition was to put the CD in and get back to the right track.

In addition to what I have going in the car, I also always have one or two books on my Audible shelf - I listen to these as I take walks or do chores. It truly makes the time pass in such an enjoyable way. I've noticed my walks are longer now that I listen to books as opposed to when I used to listen to music.

I do not do well with auditory processing; I have really had to retrain my brain. There have been many times I have had to skip back because my brain took a mental break, and I missed important plot elements. And as a reader (don't hate me here), it's been a great way to keep me from cheating and reading the ending before I truly was at the end.

I really savor this new form of reading. It is music to my ears.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A good coaching day - #SOLSC 3/21/17


I love March, when during the Slice of Life Challenge, I commit to writing on a daily basis. It's fun during 31 days of posts to watch the ebb and flow of my writing. Some days I'll be incredibly pleased with how a post turned out; other days I'll just be glad I posted anything at all. A huge thanks to the gang at Two Writing Teachers for hosting, organizing, and commenting on this ginormous event each year. I appreciate the community of writers you encourage the entire month of March, and all the Tuesdays the rest of the year. Thank you, thank you.

**This March, I plan to connect as many posts as possible to my #OLW for the year - SAVOR.** 

"Walk out of your room
beneath the morning sky;
let the sun enter your heart,

and find a way 
to keep it there."

from "Spin a Song" celebrating Rumi by Marjory Wentworth
(Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets)

Sun entered my heart today, and I plan on keeping it there. Today was a day of coaching sandwiched between state assessment dates that had me celebrating why I love this job so much. 

This was a day teachers and I had the gift of time (and lack of distraction from the state assessment) to dig in deeply to topics that will allow us to refine our practices, and by doing that, help students grow as learners. Some of the conversations I had today: 

1) Met with one teacher to chat about refining her art of conferring.  Planned our work, and then modeled conferring with several students in writing workshop - focused on the following point: "turn an 'almost' into a strength" - thanks to Ruth Ayres for that nugget!! After each conference, had a "turn and talk" with the teacher to focus on what she noticed and further questions.

2) Using ideas from Amplify (Ziemke and Muhtaris) as our resource, helped a teacher develop an outline of a rubric to use with students merging reading, speaking/listening, and technology skills. Students will help define what it means to "achieve" in the categories of the rubric.

3) Met with another teacher to think about how to create a rubric with students to help them with  self-assessment on their reading goals. Made plans to co-teach mini-lessons around this rubric creation for the next three days.

4) Planned future collaboration with yet another teacher. She decided she would like to work on fine-tuning how she assesses students' written work. Independent from each other, she and I will use our district feedback form for informational writing to assess 5 pieces of writing. Then, we will come together, and talk about the similarities and differences in how we assess. And once we calibrate how we assess, the work will spread to the rest of her grade level teammates.

Work like this is so rewarding - the kind of embedded professional development that is a win-win for all stakeholders -- students, teachers, coaches, administrators, parents.  Feeling the "sun in my heart today"and looking forward to savoring the next eight weeks with more of this type of professional development!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Great Girls' Day! - #SOLSC Day 19


I love March, when during the Slice of Life Challenge, I commit to writing on a daily basis. It's fun during 31 days of posts to watch the ebb and flow of my writing. Some days I'll be incredibly pleased with how a post turned out; other days I'll just be glad I posted anything at all. A huge thanks to the gang at Two Writing Teachers for hosting, organizing, and commenting on this ginormous event each year. I appreciate the community of writers you encourage the entire month of March, and all the Tuesdays the rest of the year. Thank you, thank you.

**This March, I plan to connect as many posts as possible to my #OLW for the year - SAVOR.** 

Today was a great day. I went to a baby shower.

To get to the baby shower, my oldest daughter came to our house, and we drove together. There were many threads of conversation in the car for 40 minutes.

I'm sorry I was running late; I was having a bad hair day and I couldn't figure out my outfit and accessories.
I think your hair looks great.
Are you getting excited for vacation?
I'm so proud of you for your promotion at work.

And then we picked up two more passengers. My aunts (my mom's sisters) were invited to the shower, and I offered to stop in their town and pick them up since they lived on the route to the shower. More threads of conversation filled the car.

Have you heard anything about your parents' tombstone?
How has your therapy been going?
I miss your dad and mom so much.
How are your grandkids?
How do you like living in Grandview? How is your sister doing?
Did you know they were adding a bedroom on to their house at the lake?
What kind of car is this? It rides so smoothly.

Once at the shower, the celebration was all about my niece, Jen, and her baby. So many family and friends gathered to "shower" them both with gifts and love. It was a thing of beauty, and I'm so glad I got to be a participant. And watching Jen's emotions as she saw my aunts climb the stairs brought tears to my eyes - for her, they were a representative of the one grandmother who wasn't with us anymore, but through them, she was there in spirit.

Back in the car for the two hour drive home, and more time with three of my favorite females. Threads of conversation filled the car again.

This day was about love, family, threads of conversation, missing my mom and dad, celebrating a new person entering our lives soon, and caring for one another.

Today was a great day. I went to a baby shower.

Jen, Aunt Bert, Aunt Florence


Aunt Florence, Aunt Bert, Kate, and me

Kate and me

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Pivotal point in my career - #SOLSC Day 18



I love March, when during the Slice of Life Challenge, I commit to writing on a daily basis. It's fun during 31 days of posts to watch the ebb and flow of my writing. Some days I'll be incredibly pleased with how a post turned out; other days I'll just be glad I posted anything at all. A huge thanks to the gang at Two Writing Teachers for hosting, organizing, and commenting on this ginormous event each year. I appreciate the community of writers you encourage the entire month of March, and all the Tuesdays the rest of the year. Thank you, thank you.

**This March, I plan to connect as many posts as possible to my #OLW for the yearSAVOR.** 

***And I apologize to any reader who has heard the story embedded in this post before, but this story changed my professional life forever. As I reflect back on a 36 year career, this story is worth telling one more time.***

What was one of the pivotal points of your career?

My trainer asked me this question during our training session today. We had been talking about my retirement, and her question, coming as I was doing a variety of arm exercises, felt like it came out of left field. But I was able to respond immediately.

The summer I came to Dublin, and was assigned to teach fourth grade. I moved in across the hall from a teacher who was new to Dublin as well. At our first meeting  after the usual pleasantries, she asked me if I had ever heard of writing workshop, Donald Graves, or Lucy Calkins. My reply to her was a triple no; I had heard of none of those. So she handed me two books she had read about writing workshop and asked if I would read them, and think about them with her. My love for workshop and really learning more about the art of teaching began then, in August of 1986.

There have been other pivotal points in my career, but I truly believe that all the other moments would not have happened had Mary Lee Hahn not moved in across the hall from me in August of 1986.

Our first exchange shaped the arc of my professional career for the 31 years I have taught in Dublin. It began with that conversation, but morphed into so much more.

Hey, I had the best lesson in writing workshop today. Do you have time to chat so I can share and process what happened?

Oh my gosh. My mini-lesson flopped today. Can I run it by you?

I'm trying to think of how to help this writer. Would you mind taking a look at her writing with me?

I've been acquiring all these poetry books, and I have enough now to devote one entire bookcase to them. How cool is that?!! 
(Now anyone who knows ML at all, knows this last comment was definitely her! The rest of the comments could have been either of us on any given day.)

For the two years we were on the same 4th grade team, we were in each other's rooms before school, at planning, and after school, working on the art and craft of our teaching, especially in regards to literacy. I lost track of how many professional books were purchased and read during our time together at Deer Run.

Our relationship was the standard to which I have held all future collegial, collaborative relationships.

I hope that, at some point, I have been able to give the gift of professionalism and caring about the art of teaching literacy to someone else, the same way Mary Lee gave it to me. Because it truly is a gift that I have been savoring for a lifetime.

The first two professional books ML introduced to me.