Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Life's Work

Lucy Calkins has a wonderful book that I have been reading called The Art of Teaching Writing. I know it is older but I had never read that book before. My school library has wonderful professional books and so I checked this one out. Today I perused through some of my favorite pages and found this quote from Nancie Atwell's book In the Middle:

"I'm a writer and a reader.
Writing and reading and teaching them to you are my life."
As I read those words I allowed them to sink in and register to me. This is a motto, this is a mission statement, this is me. I want to start placing this quote in my opening newsletter at the beginning of the year. I want to post it in my room. I want people to know this about me. Most importantly, I want my children to know this for themselves.
Today I had the pleasure of truly collaborating with my Language Arts Facilitator and my Fourth Grade Friend. Kathy is looking for ways to show my staff the true value of the workshop. Jen said, "I wish they could know that this is our life work. This is who we are as people." (Why can't I say profound things like this?) Here are some of the challenges we feel could be bumps in the road:
1. How do you teach the importance of community?
2. How do you show someone how to get started?
3. How do you show the research behind this best practice?
4. How do you make it seem attainable?
5. How do you go from information being dumped into the brain to learning from your own students?
Collaborating with these two I walked away with my mind in a haze. I made some copies from Lucy Calkins book The Art of Teaching Writing, I hope Kathy will use them to plant the seeds of change with my other colleagues. We have much work to do.


Jen Barney said...

Wow Sarah-
I love this quote! You know that I want a copy of that one chapter I loved for myself!
The meeting got my thoughts turning as well. How can you show in one hour what a year-a summer- and TONS of reading has just started for us? I often feel as if I have just STARTED this amazing journey. How can you show someone what you feel inside & make it affect someone else?
I love these questions and think that we need to do a MAJOR coffee night (ok, well a light coffee night mixed with a protein bar) to look a little deeper into these thoughts.

PS- love our discussions!

Katie Dicesare said...

One of the ways we have started to answer many of the questions you have developed is by inviting all teachers to meet, eat, read a quick article and reflect on what is working and what is not working in terms of read/writing workshop. We are taking turns hosting a hour evening at one of our homes. Instead of assigning a full book to read, we pick a topic we want to focus on, find an article and chat. It has been a good start!

Jen Barney said...

LOVE THE IDEA KATIE! What do you think Sarah? Either for our meet and greet or just home thing...

Kathy Douglas said...

I didn't get time to talk to you today, but I wanted you to know that I read the chapter and felt the tug. I just keep thinking of how can I get the others to see the big picture and love their kids, too. I reread the book by Donald Graves: A Sea of Faces. I may have the group do this exercise: Write on one side of a paper the names of your kiddos. In the middle column write 2 or 3 nouns that come to mind for that child. In the right hand column write 2 verbs that come to mind about that child. When you do that, you begin to know, really know your students. It is not all about adjectives. What do you think?

Kathy Douglas said...

P.S. Count me in on the MAJOR coffee night! I love coming to Haley because we can talk forever about these things and you all inspire me SO, SO much!!

Jen Barney said...

I am going to try that activity now. Thanks Kathy!