Monday, February 24, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.24.14
 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.
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I missed posting and catching up on what everyone was reading last week.  I was sick most of last week - sick enough that I didn't blog much less meet my reading or writing goals for the week. The good news is that I am on the mend - I am so ready for winter and its friend, cold and flu season, to be gone.

Maddie and I did read but since I was not feeling well, I took few book pics. 
Here's where Maddie's book adventures took us:

StuckPlanes Fly!
Warning: Do Not Open This Book!Penguin Cha-Cha

Llama Llama Red PajamaPinkalicious
I've been trying to find the balance of introducing new books to Maddie while honoring her choice - so, you'll see that there's some returning friends in Pinkalicious & Llama Llama. 

Here's where I ventured:

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
I read this book, thanks to #virtualbookclub. LOVED it!!!!

The Birchbark House
This is part of the OBOB Grades 3-5 list. Ok, it made me cry in the end.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Here's where I'm headed this week:

Inside Out & Back Again
Another OBOB Grades 3-5 book. I'm super excited that it's a story told through poem. I think that this may be a mentor text for my own writing.

The Tiger Rising
#audiobook I cannot seem to get enough of Kate DiCamillo

Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits
Still reading as part of the LCSD Reads group on Facebook.

Battle Bunny
#SharpSchu bookclub on 2/26
I'm looking forward to a great week of reading.
What are you reading?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Celebrate! 2.15.14

Discover. Play. Build. 

Life is busy. Too often it flies by at a pace that unless I have intentional time to sit and think about the good in my life, goodness is not always apparent. I appreciate Ruth Ayres hosting a weekly challenge that encourages a mindset of celebration.

This week, I am celebrating:

An Collaboration Grant All Teams Meeting on Monday that yielded strong conversations around next steps to take as my district develops and works to sustain a collaborative culture around professional development, evaluation, career pathways, and compensation. There's ongoing conversations that are uncomfortable but we need this disequilibrium in order to move forward.

I observed and/or had a 1 to 1 conversation with all 13 of the teachers that I mentor. :o)

I co-facilitated a kick-off event for a group of teacher leaders who are leading their schools through some calibration activities related to our Charlotte Danielson evaluation system. The structure is flexible and some teachers have already provided feedback about ways to improve the calibration activities for next school year. 

I spent most of Thursday observing data team meetings at one of the schools where I have a large number of mentees. I appreciated observing the dynamics amongst the team members (which included classroom teachers, Title I, Special Education, and the Principal). I saw some real strengths in the teachers I support and made note of some things that I want to follow up on in terms of the types of data used to make instructional decisions. I was most excited to observe the principal, who is a first year principal, ask questions around classroom based formative assessment versus placing so much emphasis on data from state assessments which are summative results. 

My sister arrived on Friday. We haven't had a visit from her in many months so it's been fun having her here. 

My sister offered to hang with Maddie so Mark and I could go out for Valentines Day. We opted to stay home - we could not imagine spending Valentines Day without her. It's amazing how different and wonderful our life is now with her in it. 

The fact that I am "back in business" with blogging is reason to celebrate.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

LCSD Reads - First Thursdays Book Club Book Review

On the first Thursday of every month, interested folks join together in one of the high school libraries in the Lincoln County School District. What brings us together? 


I have yet to determine where the books come from, but there are tables and tables of books from picture books to young adult that we are able to take with us as long as we write a review. Thus begins another piece of my #nerdlution ... the intent is that each Thursday I will review one of the books that I picked up from the First Thursdays Book Club. 

Title: Big Bear's Big Boat
Author: Eve Bunting
Illustrated by: Nancy Carpenter
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: September 2013
Genre: Picture Book
Big Bear's Big BoatGoodreads Summary: Big Bear outgrew his little boat, so he is building himself a big boat and can't wait till he's rowing, fishing, and relaxing in it. When his friends start suggesting improvements, Big Bear obligingly follows their advice. To his dismay, his big boat is turning out all wrong. It's because he hasn't followed his own dream, and he knows exactly how to fix it. With all the simplicity, warmth, and wisdom of Little Bear's Little Boat, this book honors an important step in growing up.

Grade Level: Preschool/Kindergarten+
Kristin's Thoughts: I found this book appealing due to the fact that it illustrates for younger children that it is ok to try the ideas of others but that when one can determine that the ideas don't work for them that they can say "no thank you" and take action that works for them. As the parent of a preschooler, I see that even at a young age, my daughter is trying to fit in. I appreciate that the character in this book, Big Bear, was open to the ideas of others (my 4 year old tends to be very egocentric) but that later he could assert himself and make choices that better suit his wants and needs. It's important to be open to suggestion but it's also important to stay true to yourself. This book illustrates this idea in a simple, comprehensible way.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Being a Reflective Mentor - Slice of Life 2014


 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.

Today I actually struggled to find something to write about. I often want to blog about my work as a mentor but I constantly worry about inadvertently breaking confidentiality so I choose not to. The topics that I want to blog about focus on the ways that the teachers I mentor inspire me. I think that I just need to take the leap and do it and blog as if my mentees were my students.

I mentor 13 beginning teachers as half of my work (the other half of my educator world is spent managing my district's Collaboration Grant). It is work that I find rewarding. I spend my days observing beginning teachers - collecting data related to classroom environment and/or instruction; as well as meeting with my teachers one-on-one to reflect on instructional practice. My role during these meetings is to listen and ask questions. My work is about helping beginning teachers to find their teacher-selves; not try to coach them into being mini-Kristin Becker's (Lord knows that one Kristin Becker is enough). I am only in my second year of mentoring and already feel inspired and energized about a future return to the classroom - I have learned as much or more from the teachers that I mentor than they have learned from me. Talk about educator blessing - WOW!

Part of my district's mentoring program includes a series of seminars that our beginning teachers attend that focus on topics unique to supporting beginning teacher development. Each January, a portion of the seminar is spent on reflecting on individual beginning teacher growth thus far. The teachers refer back to their self assessments they completed back in September as well as any data mentors have collected from observations (we have a series of tools that we use). A part of this January's mid-point reflection was to focus on a significant area of growth and then the mentee needed to indentify what he/she did to make that growth happen. The idea was for each mentee to see that he/she did something - that the growth didn't just happen by accident or chance. 

It was powerful to see that the teachers I mentor could see their growth and what they did to make it happen. I feel such pride in their openness to feedback and coaching and that each one could state for certain at least one thing worth celebrating. 

I decided to do the same process for myself. 

I found it difficult. 

One of my professional growth goals as a mentor focuses on questioning. My overarching goal is to be a facilitative mentor - as I stated earlier, mentoring is about helping my teachers to determine their own path. Not get them to follow mine. It's not that I don't have great ideas, but I really want to make my actions be more about coaching and less about "here's how I did it". 

I have found that when teachers share their challenge with me and my response is more of "tell me more about..." that the teacher and I are actually able to get to the heart of the challenge quicker and that the teacher is actually able to determine some next steps independent of me. I've noticed that I have stronger more trusting relationships with the teachers I mentor (half of which are not teachers that I mentored last year) based on the fact that I am more willing to listen and ask questions that get teachers to go deeper. Now, I'm not saying I'm perfect with this. I've actually caught myself saying, "when I taught 4th grade, I...". The teachers I support are gracious and accept that type of instructive feedback; however, in that instance I missed my target of being facilitative.

As I move forward for the remainder of the year, I will say that I have grown on as a mentor; I am cognizant of which role I take on (instructive, collaborative, facilitative) yet I want to continue to refine those effective listening and questioning skills.

I am always learning and growing.

Monday, February 10, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/10/14

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.

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It's been a struggle for me to find balance between work life, mom & wife life, and reader/writer/blogger life. I formalized my #nerdlution, which I will be blogging about later this week. 

Part of the imbalance involves the nightly #bookpic that Madeline and I had grown accustomed to doing. Things got busy and I quit taking the nightly picture. But then I heard these words,

"Mom, what about a book pic?"

Wow! Talk about accountability! I can promise that we have been reading nightly but I have not been very consistent about even tracking what we read. I'm on night #2 of book pics with Madeline so I promise that the meme for Maddie's book journey will return next week. 

My book travels have been short as well. This week I'm doing something that Donalyn Miller suggests in her book, Reading in the Wild, by keeping a reading itinerary for myself. I'll share my findings next week. 
In the meantime, here's where I did travel this past week:
Umbrella Summer
One of the books off of Oregon's Battle of the Books list for grades 3-5.

Chasing Vermeer (Chasing Vermeer, #1)
This was my #audiobook.
 Where am I headed next?

The Birchbark House
This is another book off the the Oregon Battle of the Books list for grades 3-5.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
My audiobook for the week.
Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits
as part of the LCSD Reads Facebook Book Club

Differentiated Coaching: A Framework for Helping Teachers Change
My district mentoring team is rereading this for our own professional development
I feel new life breathed into me as I re-commit to reading, writing, and reflecting more this week. 

What are you reading? :o)