I Remember

Several of my colleagues and I are running a 30 Day Notebook Challenge for our students, teachers, and families.  It’s been so nice to return to my notebook to gather ideas, try out strategies, and just play with my writing.  This week, two of my colleagues suggested list writing, so I thought I’d try it here.

I Remember

I Remember my drive to school.

Time to think, catch up on the news, or listen to a good book.

I Remember stopping by to visit my dad and stepmother.

Sometimes before school for my dad’s famous breakfast of eggs, toast, sausage or bacon, and the best coffee you’ve ever tasted.

I Remember arriving at school.

Stopping along the way to my room to visit my colleagues and friends.

I Remember the kids arriving at school.

Their voices loud, happy, filled with promise.

I Remember being in and out of classrooms all day long.

Running up and down all those flights of stairs with my bins filled with teaching tools.

I Remember the end of the school day.

Often tired, but in that good way you feel when you’ve taught your heart out.

I Remember the drive home.

Again catching up on the news, reflecting on the day, finishing a good book.

I Remember the long after-work walk with my husband and dog.

A time to decompress, gather with others in the local park, get exercise and fresh air.

I Remember the rhythm of a different time.


What You See, and What You Don’t

I’ve returned to my writer’s notebook during this time of distance learning and COVID-19.  It provides me with a calm space to think and write and be. It’s also a nice way to get away from all the screen time.

One notebook strategy I remembered from years ago, was to paste a photograph into your notebook, and write off of it.  First write about what you see, and then write about what you don’t see.  Maybe it was something that happened just before the photo was taken, or immediately after, or something that you know that just isn’t captured in the picture.  I decided I would try this strategy over the weekend.

I started scrolling through my photos  from the last five weeks, trying to select one to put into my notebook.  There are lots and lots of photos.  Most of them are of our family of four (as these are pretty much the only people I’ve seen for the past 5 weeks unless I was on Meet or Zoom). There are pictures of wonderful dinners created by our daughters, walks with the dog along the shore or on beautiful trails.  There are pictures of us playing pool on Morgan’s miniature pool table and taking dance lessons or yoga classes.  There are pictures of the four of us playing games or putting together puzzles or completing the New York Times crossword puzzle.  There are a few shots of the fire glowing in the fireplace.

What would someone think if they looked at these photos of March and April, 2020?  Would there be any sense that the world around us is falling prey to an aggressive virus?  Would anyone imagine the many thousands who have died and continue to die as this virus rages on?  Would anyone envision hospitals filled with patients on ventilators?    Would anyone see a world that has changed fundamentally and may never return to what it once was?

My photos reflect the cocoon I have spun.  I’m afraid to emerge.  I’m not sure there is a butterfly on the other side.

Side by Side

“You’re the expert!”

I’ve never been comfortable with this statement when people use it to refer to my work as a Literacy Coach. Yes, I have spent years and years studying literacy.  I read the research, attend conferences, try out techniques in classrooms, and talk with anyone who will listen (and even a few people who would prefer not to) about literacy practices. But the label “expert” does not sit well with me.  To me, the word “expert” suggests a final state, an end, an absolute.  I am, and will always be, in the never ending process of learning.

I’m much more interested in the idea of learning with and from teachers and colleagues.  For that reason, this teaching and learning from home situation has been really exciting for me.  I’m certainly not suggesting that it hasn’t been REALLY hard, but I love the position it puts me in.  I am definitely NOT the expert when it comes to distance learning.  None of us are.  That means we are all in this, side by side, learning as we go, learning from one another, trying, failing, trying again, and getting a little bit better each and every day.

For me, this is the kind of coaching I like best.

Writing Small

“Maybe the single most important lesson you can learn as a writer is to write small.”  

           -Ralph Fletcher in A Writer’s Notebook:  Unlocking the Writer Within You

I’m planning to go back to my notebook and do some of the gathering work I used to do.  I want to live the writerly life, really pushing myself to pay closer attention to this world around me. I think it might help me through this period of quarantine and social distancing. I think it might help kids and families too.

Today I’m going to try to write small.  I’ve decided to take an ordinary object and really zoom in to write about it. I’ll see where this takes me.

A Post-it

The Post-it is a perfect square.  It is 3 inches by 3 inches, and there is nothing on it – no words, no lines, no quotes. The color is bright pink.  I mean REALLY bright pink.  It’s brighter than a neon flamingo sign I saw in Florida this winter. I’m actually having trouble looking at it for a long time.  It’s making my eyes sort of jump around.  That’s how bright the pink is. And of course it’s sticky, but not so sticky that it ever rips the paper.  It’s the kind of magical sticky that can be re-stuck over and over and over again on many different surfaces.  It boggles my mind the way this works.

I have Post-its everywhere.  I use them for lessons, I write myself reminders and to do lists, I leave notes on them for family members, and I love nothing better than completing everything on the Post-it and throwing it away.

I’m amazed at how many different types of these sticky notes there are. There are sticky notes that have lines, and some that don’t, some are tiny, some are huge.  They come in every color imaginable, and in all sorts of shapes.  I personally like the 3×3 plain square.

I wonder how the Post-it notes feel.  I hope they know how much I need them.  I can’t imagine my life without this amazing tool.  I hope they know how they help me stay organized, how they help me remember all of the things I need to remember and accomplish in this busy life.  I hope they know how much I rely on them to make my lessons clear and engaging for students.  I hope they know how lost and out of control I would be without them.

Here’s to you, square, pink, plain Post-it!