Love Note #SOL

Today was one of those days. Come to think of it, yesterday was one of those days, too. When I arrived home this afternoon and reached into my pockets, as I do at the end of the every day, I pulled out a magical slip of paper. I admit in all of the chaos of the day, I had forgotten all about it.

Love Note

Earlier this morning, a very special First Grader, who was in my class last year, had paid her daily visit for a hello and a hug on her way down the hall to class. She dropped her backpack on the floor and said, “I have something for you, Mrs. Wyman. Let me find it.” And find it she did. Reading her special message and thinking about this “tiny” act of kindness made all the troubles of the day slip away.

 

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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. Won’t you join us?

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It Took a Village #SOL

It finally arrived! A few weeks ago my Principal ordered a standing workstation for me. I couldn’t wait for it to come. The old rolling computer cart I’ve had for years just isn’t working for my iMac, monitor, keyboard, external disk drive, and Ladybug document camera. Too much equipment and not enough space!

parts

When I opened the box there were so many parts. An IKEA-like nightmare! How could I possibly get this put together? And I have meetings every afternoon, so not a minute to spare. I needed help. Kindergarteners to the rescue! What better use of a Genius Hour than to work on this project together. We laid all the parts out and explored them together.

helpers

Quite a few students wanted to help and I had stiff competition, including the LEGO table and painting. I was truly honored they were curious and genuinely wanted to help. And they really were helpful! They held up bits and pieces as I began to insert part A into part B and on and on it went. One young man took it upon himself to say from time to time, “Quiet everyone. Mrs. Wyman is trying to concentrate!” I admit that was helpful at times.

table

After school, when it was nice and quiet, I put the finishing touches on. The floor was a mess, but I’d done it – with a little help, of course. It was dark out now, and my helpers had gone, but I really wanted to push through get it all set up.

computers on

Tah day! Mission Accomplished! I can’t wait for my helpers to see the finished product tomorrow morning. When they left, they didn’t know what it was for. Making memories, we were.

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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. Won’t you join us?

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Thanksgiving Table Traditions #SOL

It’s been a few years since we actually hosted Thanksgiving at our house, but every year my husband insists on cooking the turkey for my family — and the roast at Christmas, and the lamb at Easter. He’s fussy like that. Wants it cooked just so! I can’t complain. He gets up at the crack of dawn and does his thing while I sleep in. It works and boy does the house smell amazing!

When it comes to side dishes, there are two that are always on our family’s Thanksgiving table — my brussels sprouts and my Aunt Cindy’s fruit compote. I’ve been making the same Stout and Orange-Glazed Brussels Sprouts recipe since I first discovered it in Bon Appetit back in 1994. It sounds a little unusual, but is delicious. The combination of broth, Guinness, orange juice, butter, brown sugar, and pepper boils down to a delicious glaze that you saute the sprouts in. So good, you’ve got to try it! If you are not a fan of sprouts, try this and it’ll win you over. Promise!

Now onto the fruit compote. My Aunt Cindy has been gone for while now. We lost her –my dad’s kid sister — far too early from a brain aneurism when she was in the prime of life with two young boys. They are grown now, with children of their own, but every year we honor her legacy by enjoying her “famous” fruit compote, a concoction of canned pineapple, peaches, and pears swirled around in a bowl with cranberry sauce. It’s divine served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, the perfect complement to the Thanksgiving bird.

What’s on your table, that you couldn’t live without?

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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. Won’t you join us?

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First Ever Data Meeting #SOL

“Data meetings? We’re doing data meetings?” “What’s a data meeting?” Yes, that was pretty much the range of responses from colleagues when our district announced late this past summer that we’d be embarking on a new journey — data meetings. One more thing. Ugh!

Last week I attended my first data meeting…ever. I know for some of you this is a regular routine, but in our district it’s something new. Sure, we’ve always assessed kids (have we ever!), discussed results in grade level meetings, and the odd Child Study Team meeting. We’ve implemented interventions here and there, but what’s different this time is that everyone is coming to the table. And I mean everyone. It’s no longer just the grade level teachers, an administrator or two, and a service provider that happens to be available after school. In these meetings we are looking at the whole child, not just one area of need. Our team consists of:

  • Principal (meeting convener)
  • School Adjustment Counselor
  • Team Chair/SPED Coordinator
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Speech/Language Pathologist
  • Math Curriculum Specialist
  • ELA Curriculum Specialist
  • Science/Social Studies Curriculum Specialist
  • Instructional Coach
  • Math Interventionists
  • ELA Interventionists
  • Grade Level Team Members

The team is enormous I know! Everyone on the team, apart from the grade level teachers, attended for the entire day — from 8:00 AM-4:00 PM. Grade level teams attended for 90-minute blocks, a team of substitutes moving from grade to grade providing classroom coverage. It really was quite something.

Prior to the meeting, each classroom teacher filled out a Google Sheet with required assessment data and additional information for each child we had concerns about. By the end of our team’s 90-minute block, we left with a plan for each child we had concerns about. In January, we’ll return to share updates and make new plans. The cycle will continue two more times as the school year progresses. Fingers crossed, we can make a difference and support students better than we have in the past.

Does your school conduct regular data meetings? I’d love to learn about your process!

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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. Won’t you join us?

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It Matters #SOL

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Please vote. Need I say more? What a privilege it is to have an opportunity to make a difference. So many are robbed of or denied this very same privilege the world over. I’ll never take this for granted.

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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. Won’t you join us?

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Teachers as Writers: An EdCamp Story #SOL #EdCampSeacoast

 

EdCamp

I stood up and made my way to the session board. The hot pink stickies were calling to me. What shall I call it? Teacher Writers? Being a Teacher Writer? How about Teacher Writers: From Blogs to Books. That’s pretty catchy, right? But will anyone come.

For those of you who have attended an EdCamp somewhere, you’ll recognize the familiar set-up of the session board. Attendees post topics of interest and hope someone turns up to join in the conversation. I couldn’t possibly be the only teacher there at EdCamp Seacoast in Portsmouth, NH that was interested in talking about being a teacher writer. After another big deep mindfulness-trained breath, I headed for the assigned room, settled in and waited.

One person came. And then another. And then another two. And, well after five minutes or so, there were eleven of us ready to talk writing. You never know where an EdCamp conversation will go. It all depends on who turns up and what everyone brings to the table. How do we fit writing into our busy lives? Who do we share our writing with, if at all? What should we write about? What are our writing goals? Why do we write at all?

Sixty minutes flew by, and we were still talking, laughing, following each other on Twitter, and sharing our blog urls when it was time to move on. I didn’t see that coming. Eleven educators — classroom teachers, a librarian or two, and even a principal — working in public and private schools, elementary through high school, from three New England states. All interested in one thing — moving forward with a life that includes writing.  Now that’s something to be excited about.

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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. Won’t you join us?

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The Blueberry Door #SOL

Blueberry Door

Once a year we step through this magical doorway, my mother, my sister, and me. What lies beyond its threshold? Blueberries. Rows and rows of succulent high bush blueberries ripe for the picking. And pick we do, the first week of August. I’ve lost track of how many years we’ve stepped into this black net-surrounded box to do this together. We arrive early in the morning, as soon as the orchard opens, to beat the heat and the crowds. The berries are large enough that it doesn’t take long to fill the green cardboard quart container and secure its precious antioxident-filled contents with a red hair net, as we refer to them.  It fills up even faster if you don’t stop to put them in your mouth so often! But who can resist?

While we pick, we chat, catch up on how our summers are progressing, gossip, and giggle. Oh yes, we giggle while the birds cheerily chirp in the woods nearby and while the orchard’s seasonal help, far from home, works steadily in the heat alongside us, conversing occasionally in a language we don’t understand. And when we are finished picking, we make our way back to the farm store in search of other delicious offerings — early apples, ripe peaches, sweet corn, and donuts. Hot out of the fryer apple cider donuts to be devoured back on my shady porch with cold lemonade. A sweet ending to our annual outing.

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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. Won’t you join us?

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