Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Questions and Answers


Questions:
What should I write today?
What does success look like to me?
Why are does everything move so fast?
Why does life seem endlessly busy with all of our modern conveniences?
How do we fix this?
What book is your favorite?
How are there people who don't read?
Why are we sad and stressed and overwhelmed?
How do I stay healthy when everything is dangerous?
What information do I trust?
How do I make things better?
What do I do now?

Questions & Answers:
What should I write today? This.
What does success look like to me? A life filled with JOY and LOVE.
Why are does everything move so fast? Breathe and take it all in.
How is life busier with all of our modern conveniences? More to manage, more to do.
How do we fix this?  Be mindful.
What book are you reading now? The Sun is Also a Star.
How are there people who don't read? This I will never understand.
Why are we sad and stressed and overwhelmed? Everyone has a story.
How do I stay healthy when everything is dangerous? Everything in moderation.
What information do I trust? That which serves the betterment of all.
How do I make things better? Show up.
What do I do now? Begin.

Answers:
This.
A life filled with JOY and LOVE.
Breathe and take it all in.
More to manage, more to do.
Be mindful.
The Sun is Also a Star.
This I will never understand.
Everyone has a story.
Everything in moderation.
That which serves the betterment of all.
Show up.
Begin.


I couldn't figure out what to write today. Lately, it feels like I have all of these questions swirling around in my head, so I just started to write them down. This is what happened...kind of cool! I didn't want to write this morning, but I didn't want to miss sharing a slice MORE. Showing up and developing a writing ritual created this piece of writing.

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.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Celebrating Writers!


On this rainy Saturday morning,
I celebrate my student writers
who have found their voices
and share them with the world.

They inspire me.
They make me smile.

They are worth celebrating!

Here is a "rant" written by Jenna. Some of my sixth graders love to write rants about things that are frustrating to them. They LOVE sharing their rants!





Adhithi is new to our classroom and she wrote this beautiful poem about scars. This is one that's stayed with me. Powerful!


Sophie's notebook pages always make me smile! It's like I can see the evidence of her thinking ON the page!

Remember those rants? Laurie is the student who started writing and sharing rants. I asked her to write a "How To" about ranting and this is what she shared with me yesterday. I offer it to you here. She has found her voice and I love how she encourages others to find their own! 
 

We love watching "Kid President" videos. The genius behind those videos has begun a new adventure called, Montague Workshop.


We watched a video yesterday called "Because You Were" which inspired these words...


Today I celebrate writers!



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

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"Just Take it Bird by Bird, Buddy"



The title is from my favorite Anne Lamott book, "Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life". I first read this book in the mid-nineties when it was first published. This book, along with "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg, served as my writing bible when I was in graduate school. This was the first time I remember thinking, "I love writing." And wondering, "Could I be a writer?" 

Her story, her words...changed my life. As she wrote, I read and read. I shared. I listened. It was a relationship between me and the story. Her storytelling is brilliant, funny, real, and powerful. I can't stay away, so when I heard that she was speaking thirty miles away from me, I HAD to go. 

Tickets purchased. Directions scouted. Plans made. I attended alone. It's how one should always meet a hero. The drive, though only thirty miles, took almost two hours...DC traffic! I could hardly wait!

The venue was beautiful. I grabbed a bottle of water and a chocolate chip cookie to nibble on as I waited. I sat next to a woman who was sitting on the floor, alone. We chatted for a couple of moments and agreed that these nights, listening to our favorite authors, were our rock concerts.

Finally, we were being seated. LOOK at my seat! I knew it was going to be a good seat when the usher said, "Wow!" 

Yes, I took a picture of my seat!



LOOK at all of the leg room. I had lots of space and I was very comfortable! About ten minutes after I took my seat, she quietly and with no introduction or fanfare walked onto the stage. I confess, I had tears in my eyes. I've been reading her stories for more than twenty years and now I'm in the same room as she is...it was a moment for me.

Her talk was entertaining. I love how she kept waving to the people sitting all the way at the top! I love how she kept losing her place and moving on to something else! I love how she connected with the audience. 

My hand rarely stopped moving. I took pages and pages of notes. I didn't want to miss anything. Here are some of my favorite lines, 

"Where I first found salvation was in the written word," in talking about reading as a child.

"Seek truth. Go outside! Talk to others who need to talk. Listen." 

"Mercy is grace in action. It means having a heart for other people's trouble."

Over and over again she repeated, "Show yourself mercy. That means radical self-care."

"Buy yourself beautiful socks. These are desperate times."


After her talk, she was signing books. It was already close to ten o'clock and I had to teach the next day...but once in a lifetime. I was four from the end of the line. As I waited, I reminded myself to breathe. I reminded myself to say, "Thank you." As the line moved, I got so excited. 
She signed my book! She signed MY book. I said, "Thank you." And other silliness. 

The moment I'll take with me is this...I asked, "How are you?" She stopped. That startled me a bit. She looked at me. She looked me in the eyes and said, "I'm fine," she paused and then asked, "How are you?" Those words felt like they were spoken in slow motion. It felt like the world stopped and she really saw me and heard me. 
I met Anne Lamott.



  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, April 4, 2017

Poetry and the Professor



April is poetry month. I love poetry, even though I've had a troubled past with poetry in school. The words never showed me the same meaning that they showed to everyone else. Instead of celebrating my creativity and original viewpoint, instead of asking me how I came to that conclusion, I was told that I was wrong. This professor told me, "That's not what the poet meant." She wrote it on papers. I felt like I was never able to really get it.

That feeling of ineptitude continues to live deep inside of me, even though my love for poetry is stronger. Sometimes, I feel like a fraud when it comes to poetry. I fear being told how wrong I am. It's like that professor was trying to come between me and poetry, instead of creating a true love for us. I was there and willing to do the work.

This professor taught me a valuable lesson. Building the passion and love for reading and writing is my most important job as a teacher. When students love books and words, they are willing and eager to learn the nuts and bolts of these things. If they are coming from a deficit, always believing that they aren't good enough, the relationship shuts down and valuable learning can't truly happen.

That professor didn't teach me poetry. She showed me the dangers of deficit teaching. I'm grateful that my love for poetry survived and I'm grateful to her for helping mold the teacher I am today.



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.

Friday, March 31, 2017

A Poem of Slices

As I was reading posts a few days ago, I came across this post titled, Slicing Titles Make a Poem. I was intrigued and immediately I thought this would make a great last day post! Rereading through the titles made me smile. I'd already forgotten some. In my work to create a poem, I tried to keep the titles very true to form. I added three words to the entire poem. For me, the revision was mostly about moving around and making the lines fit together. I had fun revising and creating this poem. Here it is...


Currently…Introverting
Real peek into an ugly moment
From grumpy to grateful
It’s the small things
Like conversations about flamingos and
A day with a friend and lots of chocolate

Am I a writer?
I don’t wanna write
How do I notebook?
Here’s my day in notebook entries
My day in six-word memoirs
We are writers

Words hurt, words heal
The seven writers I’d like to meet
You can blog about it

Why am I teacher?
You teach middle school?!?!
Sixth graders save the day
Sacred words, sacred friends
I can’t keep quiet
Ten years in the blink of an eye
Nostalgia

What’s left?
Reading moments
Tribes
Favorites party
Starting over
Flexible seating
What’s your theme song?
Podcasts


This has been a poem of slices.
Thank you for another amazing year!




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.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

What's Left?

This is the next to the last day of the slicing challenge and I'm searching for a meaningful and interesting idea for a post. I have lots of blog posts from other bloggers saved to use as inspiration, but I'm not feeling them right now. I just spent thirty minutes looking through blogs for more ideas. Nope. The only thing that comes to mind is this: "Everything's been written already. What else do I have to say? It's been said." You know what those words tell me?!?! That the judge is taking over. I'm too tired to push it away effectively. I've nudged that voice over enough to compose these words, yet I feel doubt regarding their importance. Writers...We write. We tell stories. We tell the truth.

"Is any of it original? Is that even important?" NO. Stop!

I showed up here. I searched and listened and searched some more. I tried and failed. I tried again and now I'm writing these words. Are they brilliant? Nope. Why? They tell my story today. I'm struggling to think creatively, yet I showed up. I'm here doing the work and that's what writers do. What's left? Write. Show up. Push through. Do the work. The words will come. The story will emerge as long as the writer is there.

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.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Day in Six Word Memoirs

My day (Tuesday) in six-word memoirs...

Alarm woke me, well rested.
Cheerios. News. Walk dog. Get coffee.
Beautiful sun shining over the school.

Suddenly, rain pouring from the sky.
Thunder and lightning make it exciting.
Lots of debating, writing, and reading.
Big news. Good news. Transitions. Beginnings.
Days almost over, time to write...
Only two slices left. I'm sad...
but proud of this accomplishment. Yay!


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.