As you know, I am a word nerd quote person. Sorry, but it is who I am :-). I really like this quote. However, it has taken me awhile to actually “live this quote”. I now totally see it and totally believe in it!
As you know, I had the opportunity to go to a conference. At first I was very nervous, and just before I went I had a squirrelly moment. However, once I just “let it go” and calmed and kicked myself in the ass and said to myself, ” LET IT GO! This is advice you give others”, it was okay. I decided that I was not in control. There had to be a reason why I was going and why I was asked. After talking to a good friend who agreed, it made me feel much calmer. And, as you know, I totally loved this conference! I got so much out of it! Everything worked out! I learned so much! This conference helped me to realize that what I am doing is right. It felt right, yet I was not sure if it was right. This conference gave me motivation and helped me with having confidence with my three favorite words – positivity, community, and communication! AHHH, I came back feeling refreshed and motivated. This coming from someone who was suffering extreme burnout at the end of the year! But, I came back and went back to my positivity, community, and communication happy mode! YEAH!!
Now, being asked to go to this conference didn’t come without any backlash. HA! OH NO! I know people were talking about it behind my back. I know people were “ticked”. Again, talking to a friend she said you are going to like it, you are going to learn so much, and there is a reason why you were asked! She reassured me that I was asked because I have a go to attitude and I am willing to try new things. She assured me that how I teach is the right way, and that I would get so much out of this because I listen! She told me to forget what the others are saying and go and learn! She also told me that they were ticked for the wrong reasons. You see, we have a HUGE problem with positivity and community. She said the people that were ticked off didn’t want to go for the right reasons. They wanted to go for the wrong reasons. They were going to bash the workshop. Then she said they were just jealous. When I was at the conference and listened to one of my favorite presenters say that you are here because you want to change, you are willing to change school culture, and to ignore the negative nellies and comments, and do what you know is right – BANG it hit me. I saw the lightbulb go on and I totally started to relax! I got all happy inside! I love that tingly feeling of happiness. It just brings joy to me 🙂 😛 🙂 !
Enter today where I had to go to a professional development workshop. Mind you, my friend who reassured me all was going to be okay at this conference, she warned me. She is great – we have each other’s backs! She said, you know you are going to be bombarded with questions as to how was it, what did you learn? How was so and so? In other words, they were going to be nosey rosie gossip queens and kings. Believe me, they were asking the wrong person! I will NOT EVER put anyone under the bus. I know what it feels like to be put under the bus. I have been there a LOT lately and I HATE IT! It is NO WAY to treat a person. I know the art of small talk – HA! I have mastered that the last few years. As a side note, I brought two of my close friends back a ” I love rigorous learning” pin. They were giving them away free at the conference. You have to understand the meaning behind why I did that. They got it! They have the same philosophy as I do when it comes to teaching. We three support what was said at this conference – the 3 Rs Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships. You have to know you students and making learning relevant to them. When you do this rigor happens! Anyhow, what did they do when I gave them to them today?? They put them on and started wearing them! I was dying, but it totally made my day. They were supporting me! Like I said, we have each other’s backs and that is what real friends do – they support each other through thick and thin!
Now, the funny thing is – NO ONE asked me! NOT ONE! You KNOW they were dying to ask. They were looking at me, and I was treated a bit different. I have gotten over that, believe me. I do believe that this year has made me a stronger person. Now, why do I think they didn’t ask? Because I had posted some pictures, and a colleague of mine posted a stupid question. I mean “the stupid question”, where a smart person will say “oh this person is fishing and wants me to bash everything” Like I said, I have learned to just ignore and to move on. I have also learned to just say what I have to say. There are those that will get it, and those that won’t. So I posted the answer using small talk. I was honest! Don’t get me wrong – I was totally honest. Did that person come back and ask another question – YUP. I was honest again and blunt. NOT GOSSIP. THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE FOLKS! Treat others the way you want to be treated – remember the golden rule! It is a biggie in life! Finally, they gave up because I was NOT going to give them what they wanted. I don’t play that game!
However, today’s professional development day was wonderful. And after today, it made me think of this quote I posted at the top of my blog today. It was on Lucy Calkins Units of Study using Writer’s Workshop. I had learned about this in college, and have used it (well some form of it) especially when I taught kindergarten. In the older grades, yes and no. I was struggling with how to do it. However, after many heated staff meetings this year, we made the decision that we were all going to use it. Also, we were going to get training. Again, I did the happy, joy dance! I was excited! The school ordered the “kits for us” and we were to receive the training. I will admit that the kits came in late and I did not have time to read the stuff before, but I did glance through and read some. The good thing, is the trainer today understood that we got the kits late and really there was no need to read them. Like she said, we are teachers and we can read things for ourselves.
What I absolutely LOVE, LOVE , LOVE about the Units of Study is that it is developmentally appropriate. It is NOT a script! (OH YEAH, YEAH HAPPY HAPPY DANCE AGAIN!!!). What it involves is you teach quick mini lessons on writing each day. Now, the mini lessons are non-negotiable as they follow a certain order that makes sense. All of the kids are working on the same type of writing – persuasive, narrative, or informative. However, they have some choice in their writing topics. It allows the writing to become relevant to the student. Then you build up your students stamina to write. In the beginning of the year, it will be much shorter. However, given time and practice the goal is that they write for up to 45 minutes. That is definitely rigorous for some, but it is attainable. NEVER GIVE UP! While they are writing you do quick conferences with students. Then at the end you do closure for all. This is where you FOCUS ON THE POSITIVES and have some people share part of their writing. You know I love positivity, and that is what this approach does! It is individualized and the students move at their own pace. Yes, you have the standards where you want the kids to be, but each child is different in their writing. When conferencing first you give a compliment and then you pick ONE area that you would like them to work on. You guide and scaffold their learning. After that, you send them off to continue their writing. The goal is they go back and work on that focus skill you gave them. Then, you conference with another student. You keep track of your conferences so that you have a record of their progress. Did they go back and work on that? If so, what is the next area you would like them to work on, if not you do a reteach of that same strategy and they go back and try again, etc. OH MY, isn’t that was learning should look like! Talk about the 3 Rs! Right there baby!
Now, I turn into a negative Nellie – not something I like. I was starting to feel miserable. Why? The person doing the training did a lot of stop and talk techniques. She would train us in an area or discuss it with us. For example, we would go through one “manual” for lack of a better term, or through one of the books in the kit. Then she would say let’s take a break. Turn to someone and share your thoughts, feelings, etc. Oh yes, we had to move around. In other words, my close friends and I had to break apart and mingle with all over staff. I heard so much negativity “this is too hard”, ” I can’t do this”, “this won’t improve test scores”, “this is so unrealistic”, “our kids can’t do this”, “I don’t have time”, etc. I was getting frustrated people! MEGA FRUSTRATED! However, I have learned to have courage and confidence. My responses turned into comments I learned while at the conference. I said, “I went to a conference and at one workshop I learned that relevance makes rigor happen!” I shared what I learned and tried to tell them that this is great! This is developmentally appropriate and this IS preparing them for state tests! They are learning to become better writers! What skills you are incorporating in your mini lessons will help them succeed on the state tests! We need to build confidence in our kids and believe in them. They will have choice in their writing. THEY CAN DO IT! It is going to take time. We are going to have to develop and practice the routine and the structure of the workshop model, but they WILL GET IT! Have faith people! By the way, that is something else I like about this writers workshop. It will look different in EVERY TEACHER’S CLASSROOM. It is based on your students! Yes, all classrooms will be working on the same type of writing and same mini-lessons, but it will look different. You are building on their interests, and each writing conference is going to be different You will have to go at it alone. There is no script folks!
What did I learn from this? It is true – people find me weird haha. People after awhile didn’t want to talk to me. I am sure they talked about time – haha. Did I get upset. NOPE! My German did not even come out people! Why?? Because of this quote that I posted – “Be willing to go alone. Not everyone that started with you will finish with you”. Oh, how true that is! But, we have to be willing to go alone. This year, I have done lots of reflecting on who I am as a person. Guess what? I have changed! OH YEAH I HAVE! The people who I used to be friends with, I am not friends with them anymore. We have grown apart. Not just friends at school, but friends in my community, friends I grew up with, hang out with over time etc. I think this quote has something to do with it. We have grown apart because we have different interests. We have different beliefs and philosophies. We have to be willing to go alone! It is OKAY TO GO ALONE! Guess what people – you will find new friends! That is DEFINITELY true! I have found new friend’s this year. Friends that understand me and have the same beliefs and philosophies as mine. And the people who I have stayed friends with, these are stronger friendships. We are helping each other grow! But, we have had to break away from the “crowd” and go at it ourselves. Before, I would have felt uncomfortable doing this. Now, I don’t. I think it has to do with having courage and confidence.
One thing I have learned the past few years – WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL PEOPLE! We may think we are, but NO WAY! God is in control. He has a plan for us. We don’t know what it is. When I was on cursillo team last fall our theme was “Be still and know that I am God”. That hit me hard! However, I am starting to get it. (yes, we Germans are stubborn folks! 🙂 ). However, I am starting to get this journey we call life. We are not in control. We can try, but ultimately God is in control. We have to be still and listen. He will guide us.
Now, that have this figured out (not totally I am sure, but I am starting to get it) I now have the courage and confidence to go alone and still do things that I strongly believe in. So, again, I will do what I feel is right. Believe me this is not easy, but it is the right thing to do. I will trust my gut instinct. Usually my gut instinct is right. I will be still and listen! and if I have to go alone – it is okay. The people who I started with won’t finish with me. (When you really think about it though – we aren’t going at it alone. God is with us all the way- just saying 🙂 )
So, that said, I want you all to have the courage and confidence to do what you do. Understand that it is okay to be different and break away from people. You will find new people who have the same beliefs and philosophies as you. Life is a big adventure. But, if you are open to new ideas and have faith and positivity – it will work out wonderfully!