Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Family Joy

This morning I am back home basking in the memories of the weekend away with my children and grand-babies.  It was a weekend planned to be spent simply being together, doing not much more than eating, playing games, taking walks, snowshoeing in the woods, and then eating some more.  
I think these photos capture the joy better than any words I could write while I recoup this morning.

Bebe (Grandma) pushes her babies in the new sled she bought for them Christmas.
They both napped in there while we pushed the sled on the snowy Maine roads.

50 degrees and sunny in Maine in February?
Soaking up the sunshine and warmth!

While snowshoeing we found a cute little snowman built by a previous hiker.
This is our face when the dog decided to jump on top of the snowman and cause it to tumble down.

This epitomizes my one little word - JOY!

Thank you to The Two Writing Teachers for hosting a community that supports writing teachers!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Morning Surprises

As an instructional coach, one of my daily duties is to greet children when they arrive in school. As I stand in the entryway I say hello to each child, stating their names if possible. I judge this personal greeting sets the tone for the day for these kindergarten and first grade students and helps to create a sense of community in our building. I love this duty so much that I consider it a privilege and not a duty to welcome the children each and every day.  It is here that I get to discover all of the wonderful happenings in the student's lives: birthdays, new shoes, funny hats, and the joy of the appearance of the first wiggly tooth.  Somedays I am also privy to the sad news of the broken arm that ends the soccer season or the loss of the beloved family pet. 
Last week I heard a first when a student proudly proclaimed that her dad became a US citizen the day before. The child was beaming from ear to ear and the pride was evident in her voice. Before I could respond with a wow, she hopped off down the hall to presumably share the happy news with her classroom teacher.
I read many articles about the importance of greeting our students at the door each morning, but when I dwell of all of these experiences I question who benefits the most - the students or me?

Thank you to The Two Writing Teachers for their Tuesday Slice of Life blogging community.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Who Am I as a Writer? a'la Jennifer Serravallo

Last Friday I received my copy of Jennifer Serravallo's The Writing Strategies Book.  I was like a kid in a candy shop as I opened the box quickly, eagerly perusing the contents. As I was flipping through the pages I was drawn to an illustration at the beginning of the chapter on engagement titled: Who Am I as a Writer?  Before I even read the caption I thought about myself as a writer.  I made a plan to get out my markers and make my own little sketch.  As I was doodling I learned a little about myself as a fledgling writer.  I reflected upon the areas I feel confident and where I believe I can grow.  I thought about my favorite places to write and pondered my favorite topics. I am not certain whether Jennifer Serravallo intended for others to draw a picture as shown in the book, but I appreciated the opportunity for reflection and the opportunity to discover what makes me tick as a writer.  

As a coach of kindergarten and first grade teachers I can see the benefit of doing an activity such as this with the youngest of writers in my building.  I can already envision the cute little drawings of our emergent writers capturing their favorite place to write, their favorite tools to write with, and even what makes it hard or easy to write.  I imagine the rich conversations that will ensue about these sketches as the students chat about themselves as true writers and authors. 
Thank you Jennifer! This book is already a hit with me!  

I am so grateful to the Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life blog as well as their community of writers that share a passion for writing.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Joy of Giving

My one little word for 2017 is joy.  This seemingly simple word was not a word I wanted to accept, but as a recent widow I knew it was a word I needed to embrace. I don't think there is a lack of joy in my life, rather I believe I need to be open to see the joy that is right in front of me everyday. It can be easy to slip into the "oh woe is me" attitude, so choosing joy for my one little word was one way to discover it more readily.   

The perfect example came this weekend when I was heading out to meet my niece's new baby boy. Right after he was born, I sent along the cutest little outfit befitting of the football fan that he was destined to be. So when I woke up Saturday morning I decided to make the new parents a plate of cookies because I didn't want to arrive empty handed.  I chose my favorite little gingerbread snap cookies that I typically make for my family on Valentine's Day. While I was making the cookies my home was filling with the wondrous aromas of ginger and spice, and I was filled with the feelings of joy from being able to do something for someone else.  It was a light feeling of joy that had me smiling ear to ear. 

For the last three years I have been the recipient of so much love and care.  Family has been right there to take me out to the movies or dinner, friends have invited me over to watch football games, and colleagues have dropped off surprise little gifts.  Receiving these little treats brought me great joy.  And now, it was my turn to return the favor. It felt warm to be on the giving end again and thinking about others instead of myself.  My joy was pure, found in a little plate of cookies.  But it was a joy from being able to give from the heart and not just receive. 

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for providing a space to practice the craft of writing.    

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Joy of Observing

I have been living on the lake for 18 months now. Moving here has been a life changing experience as I notice myself looking out the window and pausing at least twice a day to gaze at the wonder of the ever changing view.  I watch the clouds reflecting on the water. I gawk at the swans swimming effortlessly.  I observe multi-colored ducks paddling through the open channel. And I marvel at the muskrat foraging for food with his mysterious re-appearance when the lake opens up.  I don't think there was ever a time in my life when I've been entranced with seeing nature in such a joy-filled manner, almost like I was seeing it for the first time.
As I was reflecting about this appreciation in nature watching, I couldn't help make the parallel connection to the joy of simply observing children, my own and my school children. I love to sit back and watch how a student solves a math problem. It's fun for me to listen to a child tell a story across his fingers and light up when he gets to that part with the strong emotion. And there is nothing better than seeing the smile grow on a child's face when she has reached success after struggling with a tricky word on a page. 
Whether I am watching nature or watching students I need to remember to stop long enough to truly enjoy the joy that these experiences bring to me.  They are both soul reaching events. 

Thank you once again to the Two Writing Teachers for creating a space to help writers hone their skills and therefore become more aware of the complexities of teaching writing. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Doing Good

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" Martin Luther King Jr.

Last weekend I was the recipient of three separate neighbors helping me in the snow. One neighbor appeared on my front deck mid morning to simply shovel my walk and front door. He said he was out in his yard and thought he'd shovel the doorway. Later that day my neighboring brother in law showed up to snow-blow the driveway, knowing that we were having company the next day. The snow ended late Saturday night so I was out early in the morning to clear the driveway of the 6" of snowfall. It was then that another neighbor stopped by saying hello and let me plow the end of your driveway for you. I was humbled by three wonderfully kind deeds in less that 24 hours. 

As I was driving home from work the next day, I noticed the Martin Luther King Jr. quote on a church sign: "What are you doing for others?"  I immediately thought of being the recipient of three people going out of their way to do good for me and the joy I felt being the recipient of these good deeds.   
I reflected back to my one little word for this year, joy.  If being the recipient of good deeds brings joy wouldn't there be even more joy to do the good?  This all leaves me challenged with how to do for others.  Maybe it's as simple as a smile, a hello, or asking how's it going and waiting and listening to the response.  
It seems I have another plan to keep joy at the forefront, simply do good for others.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life blog that supports fledgling writers as myself.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Blog Stats - A Year in Review

2016 - My Blog in Review 

Here's what I discovered:

The five highest pageviews for the year were:

Posts with the Most Comments:
5 posts had 10 comments each: 

Interesting side notes:

  • Each of the top five posts were posted in March, during the Slice of LIfe Challenge.
  • All of the highest commented posts took place during the month of the Slice of LIfe Challenge  
  • I wrote a total of 64 posts last year 
  • Prior to writing for the Slice of Life Challenge, my highest pageview total was 69.

So what do all these numbers tell me?

  • Saying yes to the March Slice of LIfe Challenge brought more readers to my site.
  • I need to continue writing and blogging!  
  • I love looking at stats, but what I have learned about data is that it only tells part of the story.  We can never forget to look beyond the numbers and explore the passion behind those figures, whether for blog stats or for reading and writing scores in our children.  Passion tells another deeper story!  A story that will drive our next steps.  For me behind my numbers lies the fact that I have the passion to be a better writer, writing teacher, and writing coach.  And I have found a supportive community of slicers that lovingly supports this fledgling writer grow.  And for that I am grateful!