Tuesday, August 27, 2013

BE Patient - If You Write It, They Will Read It - Slice of Life 2013

A Slice of Life is a weekly blog hosted by Two Writing Teachers, Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz. Click on Two Writing Teachers to be taken to their website to learn more about this week's Slice of Life.
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This past summer was the first time that I breathed actual life into my blog. The Buzz from Becker was a blog that I created when I was the principal at Yaquina View Elementary but never launched-life got in the way. When I committed to participating in Teachers Write 2013, I used the blog as a way to share some of my Quick Write responses. Other than my own personal writing, one of my Teachers Write goals was to publish weekly on my blog. Inspired by educators that I respect and only know via Twitter, I began to participate in weekly posts such as It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Slice of Life 2013, and Poetry Friday.  
Initially, I told myself that I was blogging for myself; however, I did drum up the courage to begin posting my link on my Twitter. Sharing on Twitter was easy for me because it was safe. Despite the fact that my Twitter network is made up of people that I have never met face to face, this was the group the seemed to understand me best. The people in my Twitter learning network were the ones that spoke my language (#kidlit for starters) and they were supportive and nurturing. The very people that I look up to were the first ones to retweet or favorite my Tweets with my link. Some were even leaving replies on my blog. It was a time of extreme confidence building.

The leap of faith with my blog was when I began posting the link on my Facebook. My Facebook is where I remain connected to family, colleagues, people I grew up with or went to college with. Even though, my blog was supposed to be for me, I found myself looking to see if people were commenting and I looked to see how many people followed my blog (by the way, the number is 3). Some people would "like" the Facebook post, but it was/is a small number. I made the assumption that people were not interested what I was writing.

At the start of August, one friend and colleague made a comment to me about how much she enjoyed reading my blog. She went on to share that she had selected Wonder by RJ Palacio as her all grade level read. Over coffee, another friend shared how she had read John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. A friend of mine talked to me about her sons' summer reading and happily accepted my copy of Dan Santat's Sidekicks. Each day brought on more and more comments and conversations about the kidlit that was going on in everyone's lives. Now, I'm not taking credit for the fact that people are reading the same books that I am. Maybe I have had an influence. Maybe not. What I am recognizing is that my blog that was supposed to be "for me" has actually been a conversation starter with others. This week alone, I've been honored to recommend books to veteran and beginning teachers. And, veteran and beginning teachers alike have invited me into their classrooms so I can see their classroom libraries and reading displays. I am thrilled beyond belief that people that I see regularly or work closely with are as excited about kidlit as I am. People around me speak my kidlit language. It is rejuvenating.

I have said it before and I will continue to repeat it...my Twitter PLN saved me. These are virtual relationships that are important to me. My PLN is the group that has inspired me to read more, write more, and communicate more about what I'm reading and writing. My PLN is the reason I have a blog. 

My blog is important writing and reflection time for me. I'm honored and appreciative when people initiate a conversation with me about something I've blogged about or a book that's popped up on my Goodreads (another Twitter inspired network for me). I'll never again question whether my blog is important or whether it has an impact. It does...it's just that there isn't always a "foot print" as evidence that someone has been there.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/26/13

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is an opportunity for everyone to share their book journeys: where we've been for the week and where we plan to go next. To learn more about It's Monday! What Are You Reading? with a kidlit focus, jump over to Jen Vincent's blog, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee Moye's blog, Unleashing Readers.


Egads! It's been 20 days since my last #IMWAYR post. Doesn't mean I haven't been reading. It's just been a busier than expected August. I am figuring out the blogger app on my iPhone so that I can post from anywhere but still need to play with it some to figure out how to resize photos, etc. But, enough of that. Let's get to the real reason why we are here. 

Here's where Madeline and I have journeyed:

More recently I've become a HUGE fan of audiobooks. Here's what I listened to while on the road for vacation.
MatildaWalk Two Moons
I'm nearly finished listening to 
When You Reach Me 
Not sure what I'll be listening to next. I'm visiting the Newport Public Library with Madeline tomorrow. 
Here's what I plan on reading next:
Marty McGuire
Marty McGuire is on the 2013-2014 OBOB list for grades 3-5. I'm on my own OBOB challenge reading my way through each 2013-2014 OBOB list.

Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator
I made it about half way through TLAP and then the Kindle died. I brought it back to life and so my goal is to finish.
Kamishibai Man
Teachers Write! may be finished for the summer but I was inspired to look for Kristin Mentor Text as I plan for writing my dad inspired story for Maddie.

I'll continue with a couple of my writing circles that I grew to love over the summer. 
Tomorrow all teachers in my district return back to work. I look forward to hearing everyone's summer stories. And of course I'll want to know:
What are YOU reading?
Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

BE about the transition - Slice of Life 2013

A Slice of Life is a weekly blog hosted byTwo Writing Teachers, Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz. Click on Two Writing Teachers to be taken to their website to learn more about this week's Slice of Life.

My daughter, Madeline, is 3.5 years old. The greatest blessing in my life, but also my greatest challenge. At 3.5 years old, she seems to be the textbook preschooler with fears that come out of nowhere. One fear that seems to be hanging on for dear life is a fear of the bath tub-more specifically, the drain. 
During the summer months, our schedule is pretty lax. I'm not in a rush to get anywhere so it wasn't uncommon for me to just throw her in the shower with me in the morning. Or, we were known to take a bubble bath together at night. 
I returned to work this week so the joint shower or bath came to a screeching halt. Trying to get us back on a schedule meant I needed get our house organized for the back to school routine. There wasn't time any more for the joint bathing sessions. In my silly brain, I thought reassuring her I would remain BY the tub while she took a quick bath would suffice. Ummm...no.
Tonight, Maddie cried before her bath, during her "ledge" bath (I accepted her approximation of sitting on the ledge with her feet in as taking a bath), & after. She did stop crying for a short time while I read Bounce by Doreen Cronin & sang her the little Disney Jr, songs from her Mickey book. But, as you can see from our nightly #bookpic , she picked up with crying where she left off. (Btw, I offered to take the #bookpic alone but she wanted to remain in the picture.)

As I cuddled my crying kiddo, all the while validating her fear but letting her know I needed her help with taking a bath time, she informed me that I "really hurt (her) feelings". 
I. Sigh.
Next came the "I scared of the dark."
I. Sigh. More. 
In the end, I left the room reassuring her that I was leaving the door open, that I was just across the hall working (I have new teacher induction tomorrow.), & I would be in to check on her. She continued to cry some but got herself to sleep.
In the classroom, I seem to know the right balance of support, rescue, nurturing, & "hands off". When it comes to my own daughter, I find myself constantly questioning whether or not I am doing too much. Am I giving her enough room to grow & be independent but be there enough to help her gain confidence? 
Why is it that teaching comes so easily but parenting is so doggone hard?
There was a time I would completely stress myself out reading parenting articles online (the Internet...a blessing & a curse) about sleep training, baby gas, bowel movements, etc. It was insane. 

I realized tonight that part of the problem for Maddie is that I didn't ease into her new schedule. I just kind of dumped the schedule change on her without warning. I didn't provide her a transition. 
In the past, before I was a parent, I participated in parenting classes because I saw the impact that good parenting skills could have on the classroom environment (think Love & Logic). I guess I need to put some of my educational background to use at home & do a better job of supporting my daughter through a transition. Lesson learned. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Poetry Friday - Dogku

This week's Poetry Friday is hosted by Steps and Staircases and can be found by linking here:http://stepsandstaircases.tumblr.com/ 

Note: My apologies with any blog post irregularities. I'm posting with a Blogger app while away from home & I am still trying to get used to it.

Andrew Clements has long been one of my favorite middle grade chapter book authors. Imagine my happy surprise when looking for picture books at my local public library for my daughter and I find Dogku. Ahhhhhhh...
Title: Dogku 
Author: Andrew Clements
Illustrator: Tim Bowers
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2007
Genre: Picture Book, Poetry
Goodreads Summary: A homeless dog picks the right door and finds a loving family who takes him in.

I loved this book because it helped me see using haiku differently than I was accustomed to (use in writing poetry about nature). Each page is written in haiku and tells the story of a stray puppy who finds a home & a name. Haiku is used to describe the dog's day while he waits for "his kids" to come home from school.
In the author's note, Andrew Clements briefly explains haiku as a simple poem of 17 syllables-3 lines in the format of 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables. His describes a haiku "like a small vase, a small container. Choosing a container can help you pick the perfect words and arrange them just right." (Love this!)
I leave you with my vacation haiku.

traveling together
through windy slow moving paths
rare family time

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

BE in the run/walk - Slice of Life 2013

A Slice of Life is a weekly blog hosted byTwo Writing Teachers, Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz. Click on Two Writing Teachers to be taken to their website to learn more about this week's Slice of Life.

Note: I'm posting this using a Blogger app on my iPhone. My apologies if there are bizarre formatting issues - it's my first time using the app. 😉

Yep! That's me during the Rim Run. 😃

This past weekend, I joined my friend, Dana, for the annual Rim Run in beautiful Crater Lake, OR. Crater Lake is a six hour drive from our homes in Newport but the Rim Run holds special memories for Dana. This was a nostalgic run for her in memory of a beloved cross country coach & teacher who had past away this past year. I was honored that she would want to include her friends in a run that holds such deep, happy memories from her youth.
Before we go any further, I should point out that I do not run. Not even close. Add to that that the terrain is hilly (is that a word?) and is at 2500+ feet. For someone who lives at sea level, the altitude was a tad bit of a concern. And, to be honest, I'm horrible about working out. I had good intentions to train but with multiple road trips prior to the run my plans to work out never materialized. While we picked the shortest of the three distances (6.7 miles), I went into this "run" as a walker and was still somewhat concerned about the pain I would experience. 
The start time the morning of the race was 7:30 a.m. It was COLD but there's nothing like the rush of adrenaline prior to a "race". I found myself excited...albeit, strategically located at the back of the pack. 
POP! People cheered as the starting gun sounded and everyone took off. Up hill. I sighed. This was not a good way to start my walk. Up hill. Another sigh. 6.7 miles. 
And another sigh. I can do this. 
At one mile, I thought to myself, "Wow! That didn't take as long as I'd thought it would." Even better...everything was down hill at this point. I was actually inspired to jog. In no time, I was at mile 2 and had that feeling of "I can do this!" After all, there was only 4.7 miles remaining. From mile 2 to mile 3 it was again up hill, but this hill was far more steep & I found myself wishing for that inhaler that I told the doctor I didn't really need any more. It was here that I thought to myself, "What were you thinking?" The only welcome sight at mile 3 was the liquid refreshment. More discouraging thoughts crept into my brain, "You're not even half way done." As I made my way to mile marker 4, which happened to be heading down hill, it occurred to me that I wasn't even enjoying myself. I was in a beautiful part of my state and I was missing out on it. Furthermore, I was alone with plenty of time to think, reflect, goal set & I was missing out. This rare opportunity for quiet was passing me by because I was so caught up in negativity. Negativity that I was imposing on myself. I shook my head, like one getting rid of cobwebs on the brain, and changed my attitude. 
From mile 4 to mile 5, I noticed the trees and the rock walls, I caught glimpses of the lake, I felt the warmer temperature, and I recognized that my breathing was not labored. By the time I hit mile 5, I experienced what my friend calls a "runner's high" (only for me it was a walker's high) where you just have that burst of energy & it's almost euphoric. Mentally, I started planning for next year's run. By mile 6, I realized that I was well ahead of my pace & that I'd finish sooner than expected. And, I only had 0.7 of a mile to be finished. The downer? Up hill. I asked myself, "Who plans a race to end up hill?" I quickly switched the thought to, "You have made it this far. You go girl!!!" I dug my heels in (literally...I had blisters on my feet) & finished at 1 hour 40 minutes...20 minutes faster than expected. Everyone gets one, but that medal they put around your neck when you finish is a pretty big deal, in my opinion. 
During that last 0.7 of a mile, I thought about how my emotions of the day were a lot like what most of the beginning teachers I mentored talked about with the stages they went through in their first year of teaching. They were excited and full of anticipation to begin the school year. Shortly thereafter they experienced a period of time asking themselves "oh my word! What have I gotten myself into?" when the reality of the job hit. Soon they found their rhythm with things running smoothly (so to speak) only to dip down further wondering if they were cut out for this work. But, there was a time when momentum pulled them upward again and they realize they really could lead a classroom. They felt successful & began to look ahead at what they will keep the same & what they will do differently for the following year. 
My take away from the Rim Run experience is to enjoy the run or the walk. Feel it but don't get bogged down. Embrace the pain of the hill but do not let it own you. My goal for my next Rim Run is to celebrate each mile. My hope for the teachers I support & mentor is that they'll celebrate each student, celebrate each success but more importantly, celebrate each struggle (that's what makes us better) each day. At the end of the run, we all win. 
Left to right: Me, Dana, Erinne after the Rim Run. Crater Lake is in the background. (photo courtesy of Debbie)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

I've seen Wordless Wednesday appear on Twitter so I thought I'd give it a try. Click here on Wordless Wednesday to see what others are posting. 

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Our cat Midgie-bean - the humorous Becker cat
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And now for the wordless books...
Zoom by Istvan Banyai
This book is fun because it starts out with a picture of a rooster head. As you turn each page, each picture is a zoomed out version of the page before it. The final "zoom" out is a the Earth as a small, white dot in a big, black expanse of space.

RE-Zoom by Istvan Banyai
Following the same format of zooming out with each turn of the page this book takes you on an amazing journey through multiple countries and ends with the rear lights of a subway train. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

BE content - Slice of Life 2013

A Slice of Life is a weekly blog hosted by Two Writing Teachers, Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz. Click on Two Writing Teachers to be taken to their website to learn more about this week's Slice of Life.
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Three and a half years ago, the direction in my life seemed clear. I was half way through my third year as an elementary principal (work that I LOVED) and I had given birth do my daughter, Madeline. When I left for my maternity leave (I worked up to the day before Madeline was born), I was confident that I would be back at the helm of my school. Boy, was I wrong.

It is true that there was a lot going on around the time that Madeline was born-I was recovering from a c-section (Maddie was breach), I suffered from postpartum depression, and my dad was dying from a terminal lung cancer. All of that aside, I looked at the little gift from heaven that I had been given and knew in my heart that I could not go back to the educator life I had had before she was born. So, the short version of the longer story is that I resigned from my administrator position and went back to the classroom. I have shared in a previous blog post about my struggle with my return to the classroom; however, it was and still is the best decision that I made for myself personally and professionally. 

Even though I know my return to the classroom was as it was intended to be, there are administrator positions that open up in my school district and I still have that pang of "should I apply?" And, it always happens at a time when I think I have that administrator feeling out of my system. Recently, an assistant principal position opened up at one of the high schools in my district. I had toyed with the idea of applying just to work for the principal that had just been assigned to that school. She is amazing and someone I admire and respect. After discussion with my husband and some serious prayer, NO was the clear answer.

I started thinking deeper about why this keeps happening to me. Why do I continue to question if I made the right move professionally? I am beginning my second year as a beginning teacher mentor. Being a mentor is an wonderful job: it's the happy side of school leadership. I coach. I support. I model. I interact with kids. I focus on professional development specifically designed for beginning teachers. Everything about my work is focused. So, what's the problem?

I need to be content. Not look at what else is out there...that someone else has, but instead looking at myself and appreciating ALL that I have. Precious time with my daughter. An opportunity to impact kids and learning beyond my classroom but all the while growing professionally so that when I return to the classroom I am reinvigorated. And, I need to be content with the fact that I am a much better leader as a teacher than I ever was as an administrator. I have a new lease on educator life thanks in large part to my PLN (Professional Learning Network). I am excited about my ever growing book stack that no matter how hard I try the stack grows bigger not smaller-the "price" of being on Twitter & Goodreads. I am excited about my life as a writer (Thank you, Teachers Write!) even though I keep going in different directions with that, too. No matter. I have so much more to offer as a professional right now. More to offer than any other year in the recent past. I am truly blessed.

I am content.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

#TreatTuesday : Choice Words & Blueberry Cobbler with Ice Cream

Thank you to my Twitter pal, Niki Ohs Barnes, for the #TreatTuesday meme inspiration. Yum!
For more #TreatTuesday inspiration check out Shannon Houghton.
Yes, more blueberries...we've had quite a harvest this year.
I actually started Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston several weeks ago but set it aside for a little bit of a brain break while I read some amazing kidlit. With August here, I need to finish the book so I can share it with beginning teachers and colleagues. 
This truly is a book that makes me think about the ways I talk to students, my own child, and those I mentor...not just in terms of kind, supportive language but also ways I elicit deeper thinking with the types of questions I ask. My take-away right now is that our words with students are about the ways we coach them, not the way we spoon feed them information. It's pretty powerful.  

What are you reading and eating?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/5/13

Inspired by my Twitter Pal, Jen, this post is about what I read this past week and what I plan on reading in the week ahead. Like Jen and others, on Mondays my post will be in the form of meme. Jump over to Jen's blog, Teach Mentor Texts, to learn more about It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 

It's been a couple weeks since I've posted about It's Monday! What Are You Reading? due to vacation travel, family time, & intermittent internet access. This doesn't mean I haven't been reading. I have been...maybe not as much as I had wanted to, but I still packed my suitcases & carry-ons with books for Maddie and me. I'm only going to post what was read this past week and not for the three weeks that I haven't posted (that might be a bit overwhelming). Without further ado...

Here's what Maddie and I read last week:

Here's what I finished this past week.

Babymouse: The Musical (Babymouse, #10)Queen of the World! (Babymouse, #1)Rock Star (Babymouse, #4)
(Yes, I found & checked out three Babymouse books at the public library.)
Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally)Sidekicks
 These books were in preparation for #sharpschu book club with authors Lisa Yee and Dan Santat. Fun discussion!

A Season of Gifts (A Long Way from Chicago, #3)
If you've love A Year Down Yonder & A Long Way from Chicago then you will love this book. Two words: Grandma Dowdel.
The Secret Garden: Centennial Edition 
This was audiobook for me that I loved!!!
Two books I'm nearly finished with:
A Single Shard
 Amazing audio book!
Doll Bones 
Doll Bones was the featured book for #virtualbookclub.
Books that I am committed to finishing this week:
Choice WordsTeach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator
The One and Only Ivan
Plus, I continue with: 
So, what are you reading and writing this week?