Welcome Back!


Well, it’s that time again. I have to say this year I have probably been the most excited to start a new year than any other. I was most excited to start a new reading journey with kiddos this year, given the arsenal we developed last year. Most exciting (and scary) was starting the classroom library over again. It was very difficult not to influence them how to categorize the books, and very intriguing to watch the ones that did develop.

But most of all, I am excited for the room of readers that I have! I can’t tell you how many kids wanted independent reading in the first day when we had books literally all over the room. They are going to keep me on my toes. So to that I say, “let the reading begin!”


Beat Me Up

I am not going to beat myself up. And I know none of you will either. But I haven’t been writing here. I haven’t been writing NaNoWriMo either. I finally got some time to write and I was too tired. The only reason I’m writing now is because we have an hour wait to be seated for dinner. I thought I should be productive. (I knew I should have brought my ipad!). But as you know, I haven’t been writing in public. It’s been too long. Somehow I’ve got to figure this out. A colleague or two have been toying with the idea of doing National Boards. I really would like to try again, but don’t know how in the world I can make it happen. So for now. I will try to write in public more often. (Baby steps to everyday) And for now it will be badly. (Baby steps with that too).


I ran into some hiccups and have been silent for a week. I have the post in my head, but it’s still not here. Here’s what happened.

I didn’t have anything to say.

I was behind in reading my RSS feed and so I had no material. I’m not to the point where I have a multitude of original sources to talk about. So once I realized I didn’t have anything to say, then I had something to talk about. But then a day became two days and I let life take over again.
So here I am again, writing poorly in public. Everyday part 2.

I am a Hypocrite

Yes, I am outing myself.  I am a hypocrite.  I am not a reader in the way that I expect my students to be.  I require that my students read everyday. Without fail.  End of discussion.  So of course I read everyday, right?  Nope.

I haven’t read a book cover to cover in years.  Yes, I am embarrassed by that.  The last book I read was Pleasure by Eric Jerome Dickey in 2009.  Ok, so that’s not exactly professional level or deep reading.   It was not difficult and really kind of mindless.  And before that, I couldn’t tell you.

So now to defend myself.  I do read, everyday.  Just not the way I would like to be reading.  I read articles from my RSS feed.  I read some news.  I read things in social media.  The kicker to all this is I LOVE to read.  I have a stack of books I am waiting to read, and I want to read them.  I just don’t schedule it in and time gets away from me.  I would love to spend time with those books.  I had to stop buying books, because I just couldn’t get to them.  I used to LOVE magazines.  Well, I guess I still love magazines.  At one time I had subscriptions to  at least 8 magazines.  But then they started to pile up.  Last month’s would sit on the month’s before and finally I had to stop them.  Now I just subscribe to two and I really have to work not to get behind on those.

But now I want to change the type of reader I am.  I have started to get one of my magazines on my ipad.  That is really helpful.  I am able to read whenever,  wherever and I don’t have to lug around a magazine.  But I have a long way to go.  I have started to download samples of books that I would like to read because I will not buy more books until I have read what I already have.  So I am going to be a more dedicated reader as I also become a more dedicated writer.  If I’m asking it of my students, surely I can ask it of myself.

What kind of reader are you?

Good Intentions

Well, I started the school year with good intentions.  I looked back often at the renewed page and the first post of the school year and I thought, “Wow, I really should work on this.”  Guess what?  I was right.  I should do it.  But is wasn’t until I was cleaning out my Google Reader that I came across this blog post by Karl Fisch.  In this post Karl references Seth Godin’s post.  (I had never heard of Seth Godin before.)  But it was exactly what I needed.  So here I am, in this post.  Writing poorly in public (everyday).

In Seth’s post he talks about writers block.

Do it every day. Every single day. Not a diary, not fiction, but analysis. Clear, crisp, honest writing about what you see in the world. Or want to see. Or teach (in writing). Tell us how to do something.

Writers block has never been my problem.  I have plenty of ideas to write about.  That (his quote) has been my problem.  Doing it everyday.  I know, make it a priority.  But I have a very full life now: a 1 year old, a significant other and his children, a house, a new job, and a long commute.  But Karl’s post is what I have been wrestling with the day since I wrote the New Beginnings post.  Who am I as a teacher of reading and writing if I don’t read and write?

It also matters for my students.  Karl said:

I think we’re often overly concerned about the quality of our students’ writing, and whether it’s “good enough” to share. Now, to be clear, I think our students should be concerned with the quality of their writing, and should strive to get better at communicating their thoughts. But if we let the worry about what others will think get in the way of having our students write more, and for a larger audience, then we’re doing them a disservice out of fear.

That is something I struggle with; just having them publish their work in our room, let alone for the world.  But I think there is great value in publishing to the world.  What better validation and inspiration than to have someone who doesn’t know you relate to what you are writing and sharing. Not your teacher, not your mom, not your classmate.  I have had my students maintain a blog before, but have kind of shied away from it for exactly that reason. Their writing is not perfect. Plus working with students whose second language is English just puts the spotlight more on what is wrong.  But they have such great ideas and so much to say.  So yes, they need to  publish to the world.

So tomorrow’s post will be about my life as a reader because I am committing to writing poorly(and then not so much).  In public.  Everyday.

New Beginnings

Well, it seems this year will bring me a new opportunity and beginning.  I thought it was only fitting that I  refresh this site with a new look and a renewed effort for this to truly be a learning community for me and anyone who joins me in my journey.  I was refreshing a couple of the pages and went back and read one of the first entries from my first Camp Plug and Play.  And I can’t even imagine not liking a Mac.  But my reflections on ELL students was spot on.  I will always stay focused on being the best teacher I can, especially for our ELL students.

The Woes of Teaching

I have not posted here in a very long time.  There has been a lot of frustration professionally that caused me to stay off the grid.  I just didn’t think I could contribute in a way that would cause me or anyone else growth.  But now, some things have happened that I think are worthy of conversation.

What are we trying to do to teachers and the education system?  On Thursday, my school district laid off 187 teachers. It is not the schools district’s fault, although I think we really should revisit closing some schools. Thankfully for me I have a job next year.  But some people who have been with the district for as long as four years do not.  I am thankful for having a job, but at some point at what cost?  If the state does not pass a tax increase in May, my classroom may have  at least 38 students in it.  At least.  Really it could have as many as 45- 50 before we start talking about thresholds being too high given that we would be a at a 38:1 student teacher ratio.  When does class size stop becoming about teaching as much as it is about management.  And as one of our administrators talked about the budget and the future we face next year, he spoke of how our pr campaign to get more students is going to go after students in neighboring districts.  He commented we are going after them and we are, “fighting for scraps”.

If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.~Donald D. Quinn

And I must add on a $40,000 salary (I’m being generous) and supplementing his supplies out of his own pocket in a 35 hour work week.