Just a Minute….

Today’s the day.  The last day of 2019.  Today’s the day to reflect on last year and make plans for next year.  I realize it’s just another Tuesday, but I like these markers in the year where we are encouraged (strongly) to try to make ourselves a bit better than we were last year. I’ve set some goals: less time on the computer, more time with books, less coffee, more exercise, less wine, more water.

But today is also the day to decide on my OLW for 2020.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past week as I’ve spent time with family and friends celebrating the holiday, and time alone walking, thinking, reading, and writing.  I’ve had a variety of ideas including words like gratitude, persistence, and focus.  I also thought about extending last year’s OLW, becoming (I received Michele Obama’s book last year for Christmas.) for another year.  I really don’t feel like I “became” as much as I wanted to.

Then I looked back at some TWT colleagues’ OLWs from 2019 for inspiration.  When I read my colleague and friend Jessica’s post from last year at https://wheresthejoy.wordpress.com/ I thought maybe I could take on her word for next year (We can share, right?).  I’ve really need to try to slow down, to be more mindful, to be more present in the moment.  I need to work on worrying less about the future, and instead, celebrating all that exists in the present. I need to be quieter.  I need to be a better listener.

So…..(drumroll)….my OLW for 2020 will be pause. 


Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin’ me late
Is keepin’ me waitin’

The shopping is finished.

The gifts are wrapped.

The food that can be cooked ahead of time is prepared.

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin’ me late
Is keepin’ me waitin’

The house is clean.

The decorations are up.

The Christmas cards are in the mail.

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin’ me late
Is keepin’ me waitin’

My sister is almost here.

The girls have just sent me their train schedules.

The Christmas tree lights and window candles are lit.

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin’ me late
Is keepin’ me waitin’

I sit here….alone…waiting for the holiday to begin.

The house will be full in about an hour.

The anticipation will have been well worth it.

Happy Holidays to All!




Just Listen

My dad used to advise me to, “Just say thank you!”  This was always in response to the fact that I would go into all sorts of strange gyrations after being given a compliment.

“I like your dress.”

Me: “Oh…it’s old,” or, “I got it on sale.  It was cheap!”

“Your hair looks great.”

Me: “I don’t know.  I think it’s too long, and I’m not really sure about the bangs.”

Dad said that every time I give this kind of response, it’s a rejection of the compliment.  It’s like if someone throws you a nice gift, and, instead of catching it, you just hit it straight back at them. Instead, he said, I should catch the gift and say thanks!

I’ve worked on my response to compliments, thanks to my dad’s direct and honest feedback, and I’m getting better.  Now, when someone gives me a compliment, I try to take a deep breath, give myself a minute, and just say, “Thank you.”  It’s hard, but I do it.  It’s hard, but it’s definitely right.

Last week, I attended a conference on instructional coaching.  One of the activities had to do with listening.  The activity was simple enough.  We were in partnerships.  One partner was to talk for a few minutes, and the other partner was to listen.  By listen, the presenter meant that we were to say nothing.  NOTHING! This sounds easy, but it was really hard for me.  I do know this about myself, and I have received some feedback about it recently.  At about two thirds of the way into a conversation, I often jump in, anticipating where the speaker is headed. I don’t know if I’m being impatient, trying to lean in, trying to encourage, or trying to understand, but I know it’s wrong.  I know that I don’t know where the speaker is headed or where they might go if I just listened. I imagine, like with the compliment, the speaker probably feels somewhat rejected when I jump in.

So now I’m working on my listening.  At meetings, I’m saying to myself, “Just listen!” I’ve had to coach myself to stay quiet, jot in my notebook if I’m about to jump in, even place my hand over my mouth to remind myself to be quiet.  It’s hard, but I’m doing it.  It’s hard, but it’s definitely right.

I’m thinking that maybe my One Little Word for 2020 should be LISTEN.

Convention or Rule?

Did you know that a convention is not the same as a rule?

Did you know that there is a stage of development in the acquisition of grammar and conventions learning called slippage that results from all of the time children spend on phones and other devices?

Did you know that teaching and learning conventions and grammar can be fun and engaging for kids and teachers?

My colleagues and I spent a day with Katie Clement and Mike Ochs (two talented Staff Developers from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project)  this week learning all about how to teach for conventions and grammar in ways that are meaningful, fun (yes, fun!) and promote transfer.  We learned about teaching methods, stages of development, transfer research, tool making, and a variety of ways we might think about when and how to teach upper elementary students about grammar and conventions.

There was so much to take away from this day of learning, but, for me, one of the most powerful comments was this one:

“Every student enters the classroom with their own brilliance.”

I just think we need to constantly remind ourselves that EVERY student comes to us with so much, and we must honor and celebrate all that they bring. I’m a die hard constructivist, so when Mike Ochs suggested that when we look at student work, we ask ourselves these three questions (What do they know?  What are they approximating?  What are they not doing yet, but are ready for?), I was thrilled!



Feeling Full

And then it’s over.

I’ve just returned from putting one of our daughters on the train back to New York.  My sister-in-law is staying the night (and maybe tomorrow too due to an early winter storm), but for the most part, everyone has gone home and Thanksgiving is behind us.

At the high point, we were twenty-seven.  We averaged about fifteen at any given meal between Wednesday and Saturday. By Sunday morning we were down to six, now just three of us, and soon it will be back to Tim and me (and the dog, of course). We’ve eaten most of the leftovers, consumed too much coffee and most of the wine, and the pies and cakes are down to a slice here and there.

The holiday is over.  The house is quiet.  Everyone has returned to their lives.

We’ve voted this Thanksgiving one of the best yet.  All four of our children (and their extended families) were with us, an event that is, unfortunately, quite rare.  Family came from far and wide (California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut) to gather together around our table. We, sadly,  lost a member of the family this year, but the tributes were beautiful, touching, and heartfelt.  At the same time, we welcomed a new baby to the family and to the Thanksgiving table, and there is so much joy in that.  We ate, we talked, we laughed, we remembered, we predicted, and we just spent time enjoying each other.

The holiday is over.  The house is quiet.  The food is almost gone.  But my heart and soul are overflowing with love and gratitude.  That, after all, is what Thanksgiving is all about.