Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tuesday that Feels like Monday

Good Morning!

I almost missed writing this post because I thought it was Monday. No work yesterday because of Presidents' Day...well, no school because of the holiday. I was very productive this weekend (and that's not the norm)... 


I did laundry.
I graded.
I wrote.
I planned.
I created.
I paid bills.
I read.
I saw a musical.

I took walks in the warm weather.
I enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee.
I grocery shopped.
I cleaned...

and now it's Tuesday. 
I hope you enjoyed your weekend and have a lovely Tuesday. 


Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Celebrating Perspective

This week has reminded me to question perspective. There were some things in my life causing me stress or sadness. I decided to write about them. Seeing things from a different perspective and questioning my perspective turn into lightbulb moments for me. I'm choosing to believe that everyone has a story and is doing the best they can. I'm reminding myself that I, too, am doing the best that I can. 

With my students, we created mission statements to focus our perspective during class. I can't tell you how amazing it is to hear the words that they wrote being read aloud, every single day. Here's one class sharing their mission statement:  


We begin our time together reminding ourselves of our goals and our potential.

Yesterday started out as a dreary Friday. In my communications class, the first class of the day, there were yawns and sighs and not much energy. We decided to change our perspective. In the morning news, we heard that it was Random Acts of Kindness day. We brainstormed ways we've shown kindness or been shown kindness and we decided to share kindness in our school. 

The students grabbed sticky notes and wrote compliments and positive thoughts on them. 



We got up and snuck down to the seventh and eighth-grade houses and began to spread kindness. 



It worked! When we returned to the classroom, there was a pep in our step. Students decided to spread kindness to the sixth-graders too! Even the most cynical student announced, "That was fun."

Watching the students find the sticky notes brightened the day and changed our perspective. 



Teachers and students were finding sticky notes all day. Some created their own and added to the fun! I am a huge fan of Parks & Rec, so a teacher friend put these sticky notes on my classroom door.

What a day of sharing kindness! Certainly, something to celebrate. 

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space to share our celebrations. Please join us and share your own!


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Three A.M. The Bewitching Hour


This past year has brought some changes and disruptions to my sleep patterns. The one pattern that has stuck around is waking at three AM. Wide awake...the no going back to sleep awake. For weeks I was frustrated and worried until I relaxed into it.

Research waking at this time and you'll discover some unsettling suggestions about ghosts and demons. I believe that if someone from beyond is waking me, it's someone I love. Maybe my dad is nudging me to get up or maybe it's my grandmother saying hello. That brings me joy and comfort.

More research brings me to a song I used to listen to a lot, by Matchbox Twenty.



That's just a nice musical break for you.

I know I had read something about creativity and waking in the early morning. In searching for that, I just found this great blog post from Medium called, "Why You Keep Waking Up at 4 A.M., And why creatives should embrace it".

This post reminds me that these early morning moments are to be treasured and nurtured. I write. I read. Today I woke up with an inspired idea for a lesson with my sixth graders. 

Lean into it. Don't fight it. Life isn't exactly the way we want it or the way we dreamed...sometimes it's better and sometimes not. Many mornings, I wish I'd slept longer. My choices remain: fight it or lean into it. By choosing to lean into this time, I've embraced the solitude and used the time to be more creative. 

This time is precious to me. I feel like the whole world is asleep and I'm the first one awake. Greeting the day ahead with joy and hope!

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it.
Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Every Day, English Opens a New Chapter

I am going to let the words of my students speak today. We are working together on writing a class mission statement. I've written about the process here and here. One class is still in the revision process. They are at the point where they have completed individual or small group statements and they are on their way to revising for one statement.

Here are some of their ideas...














Many of these posters have been revised already. The next step is sharing and revising.

In my other class, we revised as a class. (Have you ever tried that? Revising with an entire classroom full of sixth graders. It isn't easy, but it was lots of fun.) Each group shared their mission statement. We applauded and then we picked out the best words, phrases, and ideas to include in one class mission statement. 


As we finished for the day, I reminded them that the loud and messy process we just completed is called revision. I said, "It's hard and messy, sometimes loud and fun, but it's always worth it." One of my students asked, "Is it like teaching?" Yes.

We completed our mission statement. It's done. Before you remind me that it's too long, I know. I don't care. We know how short mission statements should be, but we are revising that for our purposes. The students want to stand and say our mission at the beginning of each class. I can't wait to start today. Here's the final version. These words are written by them. This is THEM...



Every day, English opens a new chapter. I will pick up my books and pens and take down the monster that is known as doubt.  In English, there is no limit to what you can write or what you can read. I will explore new ideas in my daily writing with creativity. I will listen and be involved for the better of the class.


This room is where we are on the same team, so we will forgive and understand because everyone has a story. We express ourselves with confidence Staying focused and showing kindness to others will be the key to success for this year. This is the room where you can be yourself.
Be kind to everyone, everywhere, every day.


We’re savage--no one can change that. In the end, there is one thing you need to take away from this class, and that is…… YOU CAN DO IT!



Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Kindness Warrior



I'm celebrating kindness today. This week a friend called me a "kindness warrior". I love that and I am claiming that title by recognizing and celebrating moments of kindness.

I have so many moments spent with students this week that are filled with kindness!
* Students collaborating and creating class mission statements
* One class spontaneous bursts out singing when they hear anything close to a song lyric.
* Students helping each other out and offering encouraging words
* Laughing with students
* Sharing new book titles with each other and listening to their work as writers.
* One of my favorite moments: I was pointing out that the work we were doing with our class mission statements was revision. And revision is messy and hard, sometimes loud and fun, but always worth it. A student raised her hand and asked, "So, is teaching like revising?!?!" YES! Yes it is!


Other moments of kindness from this week...

* A co-worker listening to me through my tears and helping me see my way through
* Text from mom checking up on me
* Lunch with a friend
* Encouraging words
* Cuddles from Bella
* A night out with friends
* Notebook writing

It's the little things that need to be celebrated and noticed. It's the laughter we have to harness and the joy we have to see. It's out there. As a kindness warrior, I will search it out. Will you join me as a fellow kindness warrior? We need all of the warriors we can get!


Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space to share our celebrations. Please join us and share your own!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Why I Teach!

This is why I teach. 

In my last post, I wrote about a new mission statement that my principal wrote for our school. This comment on my post gave me a great idea...

I decided to try this out with my students and we began our journey to create a class mission statement. Yesterday, we read and analyzed some mission statements. When we felt like we understood what a mission statement is, we started brainstorming words and ideas to include in a class mission statement.

Today, we visited youtube and listened to Montague's Workshop and Kid President for some inspiration. 



We continued to plan and we started to draft. Students were working hard and the room was abuzz with excitement. We aren't finished, but I couldn't wait to share these amazing mission statement drafts.

Why do I teach? THIS is why I teach...













Somehow we will revise and revise and revise to create one unified mission statement. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Who Are You?





Monday morning started out as any other in school. We turned on the morning announcements to begin our day. Our principal ends each day with sharing part of our school's mission statement. He does this every day. It becomes part of the fabric of our community since we hear it daily. Here's the full mission statement:



On this particular morning, there was a change. Mr. Phillips paused and changed the mission statement. I noticed the seventh and eighth-grade students in my class, look up and pay attention to this change.

Here is what he said, "
We offer every student and staff member here, each day, an unlimited welcome. No matter who you are, what your background, religious beliefs, ethnicity, or how you look, speak, or dress – that welcome is unlimited and unchanging. Today, treat each person with dignity, so that dignity can grow into understanding. For, in the end, there is only one true school rule – treat others with the respect and kindness that you would expect to be treated. Be committed to THAT today, and have a great day."

This found me flabberghasted, sitting in front of my students with tears in my eyes. I shared it on social media and I've seen it shared so many times. We need this now! These ideas. These words and we need to declare them to the world!

I decided to write my own personal mission statement. (I'd like to write one for me as a teacher and as a writer too, but I decided to start to write something for me as a person.) I didn't know where to begin, so I searched online and I found that there are lots of sites to help. 

I'm still on an early draft. Once I got the idea of what goes into a mission statement, I turned to my book for help. I'm reading Blessed are the Weird by Jacob Nordby. He is the writer that created the Beatitudes of the Weird...


This book is filled with the most beautiful ideas. I am savoring every last syllable. And the words he uses...I can not stop annotating!


I used these words. I created a list...

...and from that list, I began to craft my mission statement. Here are my early drafts...



I'm enjoying much of draft #1, but I still need to revise. I'll return with my finished, polished statement. What will your mission statement declare? Who will you be to the world? 
Jacob NOrdby