In front of the John Lennon Wall in Prague.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Power of the Internet Part III

Only one week to go before the monthly challenge begins!

Back on March 27, 2012 I wrote a post about writing odes with my eighth grade students:

Writing Odes with Eighth Graders

Just when I start dreaming of early retirement, the sun shines through the dirty, cracked windows of my classroom, and I forget all the bureaucratic and political hoo-ha to fall in love with teaching all over again. That’s what happened when I spent the day writing odes à la Pablo Neruda with my 8th graders.  (read more here)

In the last two years, my classroom website,   has just languished in the cloud without me. I'd even forgotten I had that website at all. Then today I got an email from Karin Warzybok, an 8th grade teacher at Sussman Middle School in Downey California telling me how much her students had enjoyed one of the odes written by one of my students. She even posted the poem on her blog: Warzyblog. And she wants the assignment I used to teach those wonderful poem. What an honor for my former student (I wish I could remember his name! Since I had to remove it before posting his poem, all I have are his initials: S.S.), and what an honor for good teaching. 

Once again I have been pleasantly surprised at the power of blogging. I've written before about hearing from people who had found my blog, and reached out to me. I even had one of my photographs I wind up in an art exhibit in Germany. (The Power of the Internet or How I Wound Up in an Art Exhibit in Germany)

When we blog, we can reach so many lives in ways we don't even realize. How encouraging it was to get that email the week before the Slice of Life Challenge begins. Just when I was starting to get cold feet. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Can I do this? -- Taking up the Slice of Life Story Challenge

It's been over three months since I last posted to this blog, and even that post was just a "hey, look at me" short notice of publications. No real writing, no real effort. That's been the issue with this blog ever since I took my new job.

When I started blogging, I knew who I was, I knew what this blog would be about.  I was a poet and middle school language arts teacher who loved to travel.

Four years later, I'm still a poet and still love to travel. What has changed? My job. After 23 years teaching 7th and 8th graders, I left the classroom to become an instructional coach for language arts teachers. I'm still an educator and I'm in classrooms all the time. But teacher? I no longer grade papers or create lesson plans. I don't go to parent-teacher conferences or bus duty. I'm no longer responsible for 90 or more 12 and 13-year-olds on a daily basis. It's hard for me to say "teacher" when I realize that all the things that make teaching so complicated are no longer part of my working life. It almost seems like it would be an insult to all the teachers I know who are still in the trenches.

I never expected these feelings to stop my blog dead in its tracks, but they have.

Then in the course of doing some research on how to help teachers implement writing workshop in their classrooms, I stumbled across the Two Writing Teachers website. What a wealth of information!   For weeks I've been reading posts on tips about writing workshop and sharing it with teachers I work with.

Inevitably, all this led me to the Slice of Life Story Challenge. According to their website, "the individual challenge began on Two Writing Teachers in 2008 and has grown each year. Adults, classroom teachers and their students across six continents participate in this weekly challenge as well as in the month-long challenge in March."

Basically, this challenge is designed to get teachers and students to write their own "slice of life" stories and share them with the world, to get them to embrace their own identities as writers. This is exactly what I'd like to inspire in the teachers I coach, hoping they will then bring this passion for writing to their students.

Since finding out about the challenge, I've been toying with the idea of contributing for months, but the idea of a daily challenge for an entire month sounded too daunting. Finally today I decided that I'd just go for it. After all, what better way to inspire others than by modeling it myself. Isn't that what teachers do? Maybe there is some teacher left in me after all.

So here is my first post. I have one more Slice of Life Tuesday to go before the March challenge begins, so I can see how it feels. All I know is, it's the first excitement I've felt about my blog in a long time.