December 23, 2014
November 25, 2014
Everyone has to hike their own hike.
I first heard this phrase when reading Jennifer Pharr Davis' Becoming Odyssa, a memoir of her first through-hike on the Appalachian Trail. If you've not heard it before, the context is simple: go at your own pace, don't compare yourself to others, and do what works for you so that you can make it to the end.
It's become a bit of a private mantra of mine in the nearly five years since first reading her book.
Hike your own hike.
It's permission to live my life according to my own beliefs and guidelines, without feeling less than or guilty because I am not in the same place as those around me.
|Gae and some poor mismatched homeless chick...|
|My Teacher Twin and Co-Ninja!|
It's empowering, knowing you're right where you're supposed to be -- that your place on the mountain is equally as important and meaningful as those both above and beneath you, and every traveler that has walked a thousand footsteps more than you or is only just now stepping foot onto their path has no more and no less worth. We're all just hiking along, doing our best as we go.
|Best roommates ever! Had so much fun with these two!|
|Alan Sitomer literally changed the way I think about my writing.|
|One of my favorite nights at #NCTE14!|
|Light is my One Little Word for 2014. I love how it weaves through all I do...|
See you on the trail, friends.
November 18, 2014
Call me crazy, but I sort of love arriving at school an hour before class begins. Not because I can get so much extra work done in those quiet hours before students are trouncing through every nook and cranny in the building. Nope. I love this extra time because I get to spend it with young writers every day.
NaNoWriMo is in full swing, and for me that means a month-long writing club that meets every morning to write, share, and grow our writing community. This is one of the biggest years for our little community so far -- right at 25 fourth and fifth grade students come to school early every day to work on novels they chose to write.
Honestly, it's pretty amazing. There isn't much that can touch this experience in the awesomeness factor for me for the rest of the school year. Even so, I always get many questions about why I do this. And how.
"Did you volunteer for this??"
"You show up how early??"
"How do you get them to keep coming back?"
"They just ... write?"
"Wait. So they actually sit down and write?!"
"Wow, I bet you can't wait for November to end!"
The truth is actually simple, and maybe a little bit boring. (Though here is an easy-to-use wikispace we've been testing out this year, heaped with writing tips for the beginning novel writer!)
I don't make this happen. They do.
I invite them, give them a place to hang out, and talk to them about their story ideas. I give them space to do something they love. They show up. They do the work.
We all respect each other's writing. We celebrate every word that goes down on paper; whether it's word one or five thousand. They set their own word goal and write until their little hands cramp up to meet those goals. They write in their spare time. They write at lunch. They write over the weekend.
They do the thing that all writers must do: they write.
Beginning every morning surrounded by these energetic young writers that are having fun and cheering each other on? That's easy.
The hard part is getting used to not having their smiling faces and wondrous words filling up my space each morning when November ends. Thank goodness for December's Revision Club!
August 22, 2014
Ok - all these "ice bucket challenges" have gotten me thinking. They seem pretty successful in meeting their goals, right? So I offer a challenge to our governments, state and national, to any official who feels they should vote AGAINST school funding, whether it be a nay to increasing the education budget or a yay to further cutting. I challenge you to come work as a teacher in a classroom for a week. See if you're not wiped out physically &/or emotionally. Or don't find yourself thinking about at least one of your students, if you're not frustrated with all the expectations of others, if you don't stress about at least one parent issue (either because they're "too involved" or couldn't care less). Not to mention thinking or worrying about planning like you need to in order to be successful and as well as the higher ups think you should. If none of those FEW things listed affect you, then I will listen to your reasoning for voting against our kids. But I'll still want to pour a bucket of icy water on you.
June 27, 2014
Dragging my hypothetical feet like an insolent brat.
I complained most of the first week, or maybe it was two weeks.
So don't tell her that I am actually enjoying it. I knew I would learn a lot, but I never in my wildest ideas thought I would end up thinking like a writer. I am the READING NINJA for Pete's sake!
But alas, I have been cursed with now having the brain of a writer. I can't see something odd or unusual and not think "Oh! I should write this down!" or "That comment would make a great blog post." (I am looking forward to writing about my experience this morning while at the hair salon!) Most of those will end up on my personal blog, due to my "adult" sense of humor. No matter; the fact is, it now seems that I must keep track of everything because I might want to write about it someday. I am constantly writing intros and hooks in my head, seeing how it sounds, for days or weeks before I get it on paper.
I've been listening to David Sedaris's newest book on my iPhone as I drive the hour and a half north to get to these classes. He writes little personal vignettes about things he's seen or noticed. Most of them are small, but then he connects them to another event in his childhood or to when he was a young adult. I think he's hilarious, and as I was writing the other day I noticed I was modeling my writing after his. My own mentor text. Hmmm - who knew I'd someday think like a writer? Ok - who besides Kelly.