‘Twas the Night Before Back to School

Literally. As some of you know, tomorrow is my first day of class as a doctoral student at UGA.

And if there is one thought that is lingering in my head tonight, it’s a point from the “Course Expectations” for Dr. Fecho’s class: “What one believes is fairly useless unless we understand why and how also.” This statement is pretty much the reason I started this blog in the first place. The whys and hows are what we work through by reading and writing and learning and believing and communicating and evolving, right?

The whys and hows are what have led me down this journey I am continuing tomorrow. Excited. Nervous. But very ready.

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Yep…

I can’t even believe that it has been this long since I last posted about the need to start writing again.

It’s been way too long. So long, in fact, that even WordPress has changed everything around and I feel like a newbie navigating all of these new places to simply add a new post.

While writing has been taking place, as I stated previously, it just hasn’t been here. However, after seeing this post pop up on my Twitter feed today about why educators should blog, I feel a renewed desire to write. And write a lot. In fact, I’ll be writing even more in the coming months which I’ll have to explain in a post or two to come.

So, here I am with my renewed desire to write. And really keep doing what I have always felt is most important.

Reading. Writing. Reflecting. Encouraging. Sharing. Learning. 

Wow

It has been WAY too long since I have been here. As I look at all of my colorful sticky notes, my yellow notebook, and teal notebook (yes, I had to grab another one!), I realized that I have been way too _________ (isolated? quiet? suffering from blogger’s block? not sure what word should fill this blank).

Anyway, I’m back. Way too much to get up here, but instead of feeling overwhelmed by the task, I’ll just focus on getting this stack of notes posted one by one the best I can:)

BTW — cannot express how truly amazing my school / colleagues / students are. More on that to come…

 

School Spirit Banter

I am SO impressed by the creativity of two local area high schools and their students’ videos. As quoted in this Get Schooled post, these ARE examples of what the best “spirit cheers” look like today. You can check out the original video in this “battle” here and the response here.

For me, these videos show just how multiliterate our students are and all of the neat ways in which they are reading, writing, and engaging with the world around them. These videos use rhetorical strategies, rhymes, video angles, music — and this list only continues — all to help show their school spirit. And, I love the fact that they pull in lots of different members from their respective student bodies to be a part of the banter.

No matter which school wins the game, the main point is that these two videos have just under 400,000 hits (combined) in two weeks. Where these students’ voices heard? [I think so!]

Censorship Stinks

It’s funny that I was just talking about Banned Books Week today, and then I happened to see a post from one of my former students regarding censorship. The energy I felt from this student’s writing reminded me just how important it is to value every thing (and every one for that matter).

This post reminded me that the lack of open-mindedness plays a huge role with things that get censored. When people don’t “get” things, things get censored. I also thought about how fear plays a huge role, too. When people fear things, they push them away. Out of sight…out of mind. However, some of those things that we fear might just be the light that another needs.

Though I am sad to know the confusion/anger/pain associated with this post, I am also breathing a breath of fresh air. The fact that there are kids out there who want to make a difference, who want to stand up for what is right, and who have open-minds to appreciate the diversity that surrounds us today is a beautiful thing.

Thus, in honor of the upcoming BBW (and the post I read tonight), I wanted to share with you all (again) beautiful words from the talented Ellen Hopkins. Her “Manifesto” is hanging in my office, and I hope it moves others as much as it moves me. Enjoy!

Little things that make you smile

After a long day at school (it’s our benchmark testing week) and an even longer few hours at the gym (I’m just now realizing how incredibly out of shape I am…and I have a half marathon the first weekend of October, ha!), I came home to this note from a former student:

I just wanted to say thanks to you for helping me with my writing. I wasn’t aware of how much your class has helped me until I had to peer-edit essays for other students in my English class. The essays for these other students are horrible. They have problems ranging from multiple sentence fragments to not even having a thesis. I am super thankful for the education that you have given me to make me a better writer.

[Made my day.]

Teacher Brain

…is in full effect. I think most of us have this at some time or another, right? [Or I could really be suffering from insomnia!] Anyway, I’m the good kind of exhausted [you all know what I’m talking about because you know how it feels when you give your all and see the results as discussions blossom, minds think outside of the box, kids ask to borrow books (randomly)…the list continues…it’s the little things], but I cannot sleep. So, instead of lying restlessly awake trying to fall asleep without success, I decide to write about some of the random things running through my teacher brain.

  1. I’m about 5 weeks into the school year. New room. Room that needs some “life.” I always worry about decorating and fixing it up the “right” way. Maybe I’m just not a very good decorator. Nevertheless, I think a trip to Jo-Ann’s might be in the works because I have some ideas (and did I mention that they give teacher discounts?).
  2. iPads. are. AMAZING. Seriously, I’m loving having them in class. Now to actually start applying all of those great ideas I have suggested to others on how-to use them in their own rooms!
  3. Speaking of #2, since I have access, I need to get kids blogging. More writing = more practice = stronger skills = sharing ideas = growing together.
  4. I’ve challenged my students to read at least 5 minutes at home. Several laughed. “I don’t read” and “I don’t like to read” filled the room. I told them they just hadn’t found the right book yet and still challenged them to find a book [or talk to me and I’d find one for them]. And guess what? Several came up to me the next day either a) asking for book suggestions, b) with their own books, c) with several books. [Again, it’s the little things.]
  5. Hearing about my past students and their success makes me so happy. Not to mention how honored/humbled I am when they tell me I helped them…that I made a difference. That’s pretty cool.
  6. Ancient Greece, Ancient Greece! We are wrapping up Oedipus Rex. I’m not going to lie, Antigone is my favorite, but overall I think the kids liked it because it was SO different from anything they had ever really read before or even thought about for that matter. [“You mean he marries his mom? He stabs his eyes out? Yo, that is sick!”] I’m really proud of them for a) stepping outside of their comfort zones and reading in “dramatic” fashion, b) working SO hard, c) keeping open minds…the list continues. I’ve got a great group of kids in both 10th World [and 12th AP Lit]…it’s going to be awesome to watch them grow as readers, writers, and thinkers this year!
  7. I need to read and write more. A lot more.

4:30 comes very early, so I guess I better MAKE myself sleep or attempt to sleep. Tomorrow is a half day, and we are having a PD meeting [higher order thinking and high impact practices] and team collaborative meetings. I love that a) we are valued and b) we believe in collaboration. Anyway, off to sleep [well, hopefully, ha!]. Happy end of the week, everyone!