Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lunar New Year

The temperature stretched all the way up to 50 degrees today. It's not supposed to be so warm again for a while, but with such promising signs of spring I'm in a much more "renewal" and "forward-looking" mood than I was back in January. For teachers, coming back off winter break means mid-year-testing, parent conferences, and digging back in with a firm resolve to keep working hard for five more months. Today, though, feels like a really great time for new year celebrations and visions. I can actually imagine what spring might feel like and so new starts and fresh seeds feel very well timed. Here's to the lunar calendar, which sets New Year in a good place for both teachers and for North Americans who look forward to spring.

At a district literacy workshop this evening I presented the assessment rubric/tool that Lucy Calkins and some other Teachers College folks presented at NCTE. I really do not like presenting to teachers. It was okay, though. As we were leaving I realized that the more I learn about growing young writers, the more I realize that I have so much more to learn. It's humbling to realize how much you need to know and how much experience you need under your belt, before you even begin to approach the level of "expert writing teacher." And, of course, the learning and conversations are always evolving and it's the process and thinking that keeps my teaching nimble and rich.

Also, one thing I've learned about myself recently is that when it comes to trying new things with my students, particularly new things that I really believe in, I am quite fearless. Looking back, with some of the knowledge and experience I've acquired this year, I can see how clumsy many of my initial attempts were at implementing Writer's Workshop. I would be horribly embarrassed if anyone could see my stumbling attempts to teach writing a few years ago. BUT---you can't ride a bike the first time you get on. Every journey starts with one step. The only way to become good at something, is to let yourself be bad at first. I'm sure you can think of your own cliches. Fortunately, kids are very generous and forgiving people and I am able to have lots of courage when I am working along side them. This is one of the reasons I love my job.

Here are five things I want to do before next Lunar New Year: take a community ed. class, start the National Board certification process, write three narrative pieces to add to my Writing Teacher Toolkit, write a few essays on my mormon/spirituality/philosophy interests, and push, prod, coach, pull, and MOVE my daughter Easter to a "grade-level" reading landmark.


Jenny said...

Amazing goals. Good luck with them all. You'll love the national board process. It's an amazing learning experience about yourself as a teacher. I hope the reading goes well with your daughter.

Blink said...

I agree about the goals, too. Love that you are using the lunar calendar! Your attempts at what you expect your students to do is to be commended. We can't have empathy, prepare authentically, or know what to expect from workshop unless we DO workshop. Your instructions must be so much better after going through those first challenging lessons!

Susan said...

the National Board Process is a rich one. I love it that you know that you are, above all, a learner. It's so important. I see too many people who think they've arrived...and well, they haven't. Great post.


AMY S. said...

jenny and blink--thank you!

susan--indeed. indeed. you've lessened my worries about the National Board process. I'm attending my first informational meeting next week.