Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Did Say I Was Blogging, Right?

Hello, hello! It's been a long time since I've blogged. But, as you can see, summer is here and with it has arrived "more time." I know, fellow teachers, laugh as much as you can. I have that false sense of all that I will be able to accomplish and do throughout my leisurely summer ... as I lounge in my hammock or on the beach ... sipping a refreshing, ice-cold drink ... soaking up the sun ... Right.  As June is quickly vaporizing and July remains the only month with no "scheduled" working days, I am beginning to panic about how I will prepare for getting back to work in August. And so, I am also trying to focus, or perhaps refocus, on my goals. Specifically, one goal still remains: to write each day. Why? To become a better writer, one must write. To be a teacher of writing, one must be a writer herself. Here's to refocusing and relaxing!

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Don't Quote Me on That" Monday

"The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives. "

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Don't Quote Me on That" Monday

"The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment."

--Lady Dorothy Nevill,
British writer and socialite

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Don't Quote Me on That" Monday

"A commitment to professional learning is important, not because teaching is of poor quality and must be 'fixed,' but rather because teaching is so hard that we can always improve it."

-Charlotte Danielson in "Evaluations That Help Teachers Learn"  Educational Leadership December 2010/January 2011

"Don't Quote Me on That" Monday is a new feature on the RWTS blog.  Each Monday I will feature a different quote related to educating teachers and students.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Let's Play Ball!

I love my job. My responsibilities are exactly what I envisioned they would be when I was working toward my Master's degree in Reading and my Reading Specialist certification.  My primary role is to collaborate with teachers to advance practices in literacy instruction with the ultimate goal being to increase student achievement.  Ideally, this means providing professional support through co-planning, co-teaching, modeling, facilitating book studies, analyzing data, etc.

However, sometimes my job isn't so ideal. Budget cuts have led to decreased staffing and increased class sizes. An unsettled contract means morale is low and teachers aren't willing to put in any extra time beyond the contractual hours. At the same time, a change in administration has brought in a whirlwind of curriculum and program changes. 

That's right ... new programs and curriculum means it is time to step up to the plate Ms. Reading Specialist - you are at bat.  Now is the time to take a swing at the fast balls, spit balls, and curve balls that are being thrown at you and your TNT Teammates so you can show them how it's done, or at the very least, help coach them through it.  It has been challenging to help my colleagues acclimate to all of the changes that have been presented. Teachers are stressed and pushed to the limit and (as always) just out of time.  Somehow collaboration doesn't seem to be at the top of their priority list right now. So, how can I do my job (let alone do it well) when my colleagues aren't willing to "play a little ball"?

I started thinking about why they don't want to "play," and it always comes back to not having enough time.  So, I have gotten creative by finding ways to give back time to my TNT Teammates (or at least not consume what little they feel like they possess).  I have taken on more of the "planning" part of co-planning. I have taken stacks of writing and graphic organizers to be reviewed and commented upon. I have put conducted a share of writing conferences to help my TNT Teammates move more quickly through all of the students. This is co-teaching, collaborating, working together in the name of helping kids grow as readers, writers, and thinkers. 

All the while, professional development is taking place. It just happens to be in disguise.  I am modeling conferencing strategies and techniques when I confer with students. I am modeling reflective thinking when I debrief with my TNT teammates about what I might do differently or how I might plan for tomorrow based upon what took place today.  I am modeling thoughtful lesson planning when I take on a little more of the co-planning and explain how and why I made the decisions that I did when creating a mini-lesson.  The key to all of this disguised professional development is the reflective conversations that occur between my colleagues and me.  Learning is social, after all.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Motivating Teachers

What motivates you to be a learner, to be reflective, and to do your best even when it means hard work? 

When you aren't feeling motivated, what can a colleague or an administrator do to give you the support and the nudge you need to get going again?

What is discouraging?  When do you find yourself saying you don't care to learn anymore?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Woo-hoo! I Won!

Last week, I was catching up on one of my favorite blogs: Two Writing Teachers by Ruth and Stacey.  One particular post kicked off a series of four posts related to children's literature that address bullying.  I was smiling from ear-to-ear when I read the excerpts of The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee.  As luck would have it, the Two Writing Teachers blog was going to give away a copy of the book to one lucky winner who posted a comment to that day's post.  Of course, I entered a comment about this adorable book that very minute.

The Boss Baby made me smile so much that the next day I was in my favorite big box book store searching for it.  It took all of my will power to keep from purchasing that book right then and there.  I told myself I only had to wait for a week to see if I would win the contest, and if I didn't win I could make another trip to the big box book store (Oh, darn! I guess if I have to ...) to look for it again.

Lo and behold, it was my lucky day! I checked out the Two Writing Teachers blog this evening, and guess what? I won a copy of The Boss Baby!  Woo-hoo! If it wasn't so late on a Sunday night, I'd be up dancing around the family room in celebration.
Mr. RWTS was just as lucky as me today.  He is traveling for work this evening, and when he checked into his hotel he was told he was the "guest of the day" which entitled him to a free goodie bag full of treats, snacks, and bottled water.  As Mr. RWTS said, with all of this good luck between the two of us today, we should have bought a lottery ticket! Oh well, we can't win 'em all. :o)