Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Slice of Life: Noticing and Celebrating the Good

Every Tuesday, the writing community of Two Writing Teachers hosts Slice of Life. All are welcome to participate by linking up posts or commenting on other participants. 

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been percolating a post about children's perceptions of writing workshop practices. That post is in draft form; hopefully this one will be complete soon! I get to go into lots of classrooms in my role as the district's writing coordinator, and yesterday, I visited a 4th grade classroom to talk to them about how and why their entire class's writing data was so good. 

I knew the teacher would get some praise from the students. I even warned her that she might be embarrassed. As it turned out, yes, she might have been a little self-conscious about the compliments that came her way--her students talked about her high expectations, her push for their best, her humor, and her ability to motivate them--but she was also touched and honored. As is the case with many star teachers, she thanked me for honoring her students, but she did not acknowledge the honor I'd given to her. I may just point it out to her again the next time I see her!

Sometimes I don't take enough time to notice the good, and even when I do, I don't take enough time to celebrate that good. Her appreciation for the acknowledgement inspired me to write this post, and maybe it will inspire someone else to walk into a thriving classroom, notice it, and celebrate it. 

Happy Slicing,

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Slice of Life: Paying attention to the garden

Every Tuesday, the writing community of Two Writing Teachers hosts Slice of Life. All are welcome to participate by linking up posts or commenting on other participants. 

At a recent writing workshop, one of the presenters took us outside. She had us find a place to sit and just pay attention. Pay attention to the sounds, the smells, the tiny changes and the tiny creatures. Just pay attention.

For several years, I have worked on a middle grade fiction novel, and the primary setting is in a backyard garden between April 1st and June 21st. Therefore, I have worked hard to pay close attention to the garden over the last few weeks. I had tried to sit on one of the slate steps every day and pay attention.

Some of my noticings over the last few days:
  • There are a lot of birds making different noises. My grandfather used to know all of the different birdcalls, and he even used to be able to imitate them. I wish I had spent more time learning those from him. The only one I really know is the cardinal’s call.
  • The azaleas are losing their luster. The cool weather kept them vibrant for longer than usual, but the flowers are beginning to crinkle and drop.
  • The allium look like giant purple lollipops, rising up behind the irises. How do those stalks holdup those oversized spheres?
  • The clematis are out--large purple stars with golden centers. Each day they come out a little more.
  • Canopies of leaves in all shapes and colors
  • Grass that won’t stop growing
  • Peonies that keep almost getting up their courage to open up, but clamp up tight when the temperature stays cold and the rains come. I’m glad about this since I don’t want their heavy blooms to be knocked down by the rains we’re expecting. Peonies always make me think of my husband’s mother who had spectacular hedges of these pom-pom like flowers.

I could keep going--sharing the noticings of the garden that I’ve committed to for the eight weeks. I could also recommend making this a practice for yourself or with your students. My husband says it reminds him of Monet and his haystack. There’s something really beautiful about noticing and paying attention to the subtle changes that happen to the same place over a period of time.

Happy Slicing,