We’ll Get There #SOL19

We'll Get There

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?

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From the heart #SOL19

“Mrs. Wyman? I love you.”

Well that’s not something I hear every year on the first day of school! But it came from the heart of one very excited Kindergartener today during her one hour visit with her parents. She could have stayed all day if we let her, but that will come next Monday, when we shift to full day after three half days that begin tomorrow. 

I hope she continues to love everything about school. Chances are she won’t love everything. Who does? But I don’t know. Something tells me she will. There was something different about the look on her face

when she entered my classroom

when I shook her hand

when she found her cubby

when she peered out our observation window at the bird feeders and the woods beyond

when she met some new friends at the coloring table

when we gathered on the rug to sing and read a story

when we boarded the bus for the kids- and teachers-only ride around the block

I can hardly wait to give her the writing notebook wrapped up in tissue paper and a sparkly bow. Her first writing notebook, perhaps.

I hope she loves everything about school, and that comes right from the heart.

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?

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Who me? #SOL19

Ten minute PD workshop break? Just enough time to check emails. Such a busy time of year. Gotta stay on top of things.  

Hmmm. That’s interesting.

I don’t recall receiving an email from her before. Perhaps it’s one of those mass mailings to a list of people. 

Hmmm. It really is just to me.

She wants my permission to include one of my poems in an anthology? ARE YOU KIDDING? I better re-read that. NO WAY! Yes…I did read that correctly. This is a first for me.  

Breathe. Focus. 

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?

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My Day in Court #SOL19

So many excuses not to report for jury duty.

We just returned from two weeks away on vacation. I have jet lag, piles of laundry, mail to sort through and deal with, and weeds galore.

And there’s the sitting. Lots of sitting is involved during jury duty, right? Sitting while you wait to be picked or not. Sitting while you are listening to opening arguments, witness testimonies, closing arguments, judge’s comments, and finally deliberation. So much sitting! Sitting is painful for me at the moment. I have a bulging disc pinching a nerve in my right leg from my hip to my foot and I’ve spent the summer in pain, in the doctor’s office, taking various medications to stop inflammation and others to stop pain, having x-rays, and an MRI. My insurance company, as all do, has a plan for me. It’s not my doctor’s plan. He’d skip right to the injection I’ll finally have one week from today. But in the meantime it’s meds.

So off I go to an unfamiliar city, not too far from home, to a courthouse. A courthouse where the future of a young man will be determined. Of course I’m chosen. You knew I would be. But an understanding judge, who is familiar with my situation because of my paperwork, asks me to approach the bench and speak with him and the lawyers for the defense and prosecution. Is my head clear enough to serve? Will I be able to sit and focus without much discomfort? He asks? “Yes,” I respond. Because you know what? I’m here. It’s my duty, and it’s a privilege to serve. How many places around this world would deny this young man his day in court? How many places around this world would deny him the right to an unbiased hearing by a jury of his peers. “Yes,” I respond. “I’ll be fine. This is important.”

And who was randomly chosen jury foreperson to guide the deliberations and announce the verdict? I bet you can guess.

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?

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Differentiation at the Gym #SOL19

Two weeks ago, I started attending a great exercise class at my local gym called Active. It’s a terrific combination of cardio, weights, abs, and balance.  The instructor gives just the right amount of guidance in advance of every move. Her constant stream of directions makes it fun and accessible. And it suddenly occurred to me – the instructor is a whiz at differentiation! “If you are finding this too much of a challenge, feel free to… If you want a bit more of a challenge, you can…” She was speaking my language! I could learn a thing or two from her.

And then I noticed that the young woman next to me was in great shape, but struggling. Not struggling in the out-of-shape sense, but struggling to follow along. She went left when we went right, backwards when we went forwards, too many repetitions, not enough repetitions. It wasn’t the usual uncoordination or lack of rhythm I’ve seen in classes before, though. And her slightly older companion in the row in front of her seemed to be doing OK, but kept turning around to speak to her struggling friend. And then it occurred to me – she doesn’t speak English, or at least not fluently. When they speak to each other, it’s in Spanish. She’s not benefitting from either the clear verbal directions or the differentiation the instructor was providing, because she cannot understand it. She was purely following along visually, perhaps catching bits of language here or there that makes sense. This broke my heart.

As an elementary school teacher, this experience has me thinking two things. First, how incredibly important differentiation is to support all learners. Differentiation requires that we attend to the learning needs of all students. This is critical if we are to maximize student growth and ensure individual student success. This is exactly what my Active instructor was doing and what I strive to do each day in my classroom. It certainly isn’t easy. Second, how frustrating and discouraging it is to be the struggling learner. I’d like to think that the young woman in my exercise class will keep coming back, but who knows. Will she become so frustrated that she gives up?  Do our ELs feel this same frustration? I’m sure they do. We are seeing an increase in the EL population in our district and I wonder if we are really doing enough for them. Mapping out instruction that supports them is an important part of my differentiation planning.

Much food for thought, and all from one exercise class at the gym.

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?

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Dangerous Day #SOL19

Today is a dangerous day. Not dangerous in the physical sense. Dangerous in that I can tell not a whole lot is going to be accomplished today. How do I know that at 9:30 in the morning? I’ve been down this road before.

It’s day 12 of summer break and I’m home alone. One of my first days to be a.) home, b.) alone, and c.) no major plans. I have a “To Do List” about a mile long, and I’m ticking off those boxes for sure. But the distractions. OH THE DISTRACTIONS!

  • The mail just arrived.
  • The neighbor’s cat is on the prowl again. What for this time?
  • Is that a female Baltimore Oriole? Why is my camera never close at hand when I spot something.
  • What ate my kale yesterday when I wasn’t home?
  • My leg is hurting again. Damn that sciatic nerve!
  • I’m thirsty.
  • Did I cancel the mail yet for our trip?
  • Oh crap! I forgot to send in my teaching license renewal. There goes another $100!
  • That book is due back at the library today. Just a few chapters left. Should I sit and finish it?
  • Should I make strawberry shortcake for the cookout on the 4th or something else?
  • Better not forget to pick up the books my husband ordered at the book shop. They just called a second time.
  • I really should get those iris plants to my sister’s that I divided last week. Didn’t make it over the weekend.
  • How big is our new great nephew now? Must grab a cute outfit for him for Saturday night’s dinner. Can’t believe he’s 6 months and we haven’t met him yet!
  • Wonder what brought the chickadees back all of a sudden? Haven’t seen them for weeks.

And so it will go all day long until my husband returns this evening wondering, “How was your day, sweetie? What happened around here?”

“Oh, not much,” I’ll reply.

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?

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At last we’re there #SOL19

School ended last Thursday — my 20th year in education — and I finished cleaning and packing up my room today. Time to celebrate the return of summer!

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-2-05-35-pm