Sunday, November 7, 2010


I'm in a funk tonight. I'm sooo not ready to begin another week of school, and on top of that, I'm feeling sorta depressed that my Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks (which I normally look forward to) are both going to be really different this year and although I'm still looking forward to the break, I'm not sure I'm looking forward to the actual holidays.

I think part of the problem is a struggle over where I want to be in my life. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the prospect of moving is something I don't look forward to, yet continuing my current commute for the rest of the school year is not a happy prospect either. So I'm beginning to ask myself what should I do over the holidays? Do I think of moving over Christmas break? Do I travel somewhere independently? Do I spent the time quietly at home? Do I fly and go visit family? --- for the first time in my life, due to family changes, my Christmas is completely up the air and even though it's over a month off, I can't help thinking about it....and fretting over it.

Oh, do I wish for easy answers sometimes...

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Okay, it's a boring title for a blog entry, but I honestly can't think of anything else to name this. Today ended up as a day where I totally blew off schoolwork. Probably should have gotten some stuff done, but I decided to be lazy this morning, and then headed out geocaching this afternoon.

Geocaching (for those who haven't heard of it) is a scavenger-hunt of sorts using a gps, or otherwise known as: what I enjoy doing when I'm not teaching. I joined up with a friend and went hiking/caching in a local state park today. It was a chilly day (I'm sad the warm weather of summer has left), but still a nice day overall. Anytime I can escape lesson planning, paper grading, etc. is nice, and today was no exception. I'm tired tonight from lots of uphill, rough hiking, but it's a good tired. Not to mention, I can get an extra hour of sleep tonight as it's (unfortunately) time to fall back.

I'm really not looking forward to the time change though. It means that often I'm going to be coming home to darkness. :( Having a 35 minute commute with this current job is something I'm still trying to get used to. I used to teach only 5 minutes (at most) from home, so it's been a big transition. Moving is an option, but honestly I can't imagine trying to complete a move while teaching, so I don't think that's going to happen. I struggle to find free time to keep up on everything as it is!

But oh well, enough for tonight. Off to bed. :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Poetry Friday

Day 5 of NaBlPoMo and today my topic is picked for me. Why? It's Poetry Friday!!

I was sitting down and taking a break this evening when I stumbled upon a link to the New Zealand Electronic Text Center's collection of Best New Zealand Poems. I started reading through a few when I ran into the poem that follows. The opening line caught my attention as earlier today I had to climb up on a desk to pull down my overhead screen as it had yesterday escaped my grasp and sprung up to where it was completely unreachable from the floor. I can't yet pinpoint exactly what appeals to me about this one, but it stayed in my mind as I continued to read the others that followed, and as a result, I decided to capture it here for my Poetry Friday contribution too.

Even though it's technically been a short week, this week has felt long. In fact, I had to laugh at myself at the end of writing workshop today — just after proclaiming last night that we seemed to be back on the right track again, it all fell back apart today. Too many interruptions pulled me out the classroom and I definitely discovered this class can't handle even a minute without me present in the room! I'm glad it's the weekend and I can have a bit of time to recharge. Monday will be here again before I know it, and then it will be back to trying to get everything moving in the right direction yet again. I'm determined to get there!

But anyways: without further ado, here's the poem. Enjoy!

Busy With the Short Teacher
by Janet Charman

the short
stands on a box
to reach the top
and as she stretches up
to print
spills from her wrist
a thread of gold

the class quiet inside

while she
to a boy
in the corridor if you
you can pass

he comes back
in and sits

but throws his screw-up
at the rubbish tin on
his way

doesn’t notice
busy with
and shushing
for speeches

applause for every fourth former finishing
and beginning
to video them
the ones who want to


and a standing student weeps
straight round her desk


the class

don’t notice

The full round-up can be found at Teaching Authors this week, where JoAnn has gathered it all together.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Workshops are COMMUNITIES

So after writing my post last night, I decided to do something today that I'm really hoping maybe will bring about a change in our workshops. I gathered my students together this morning and opened my concerns to them.

It dawned on me last night that I really can't take everything onto my shoulders. If I say my goal is to have a community of writers (which IS what I want), then I have to keep the community involved. Through my years of teaching through workshops, I've learned part of the success of reading and writing workshop is from letting go of control — i.e. allowing students make their own decisions about what they're writing, what books they're choosing to read, etc. With so many different genres and ideas going at once, I have surrender some control and let my students be responsible, otherwise it's not a true workshop atmosphere.

Therefore, when I considered the problems that have kept me away from conferencing recently, it dawned on me that I have to surrender some control there too, and in this case, let my students become problem solvers along with me. So, that's exactly what I did today.

I opened the floor and asked them to name some of the things that weren't working for them as writers in writing workshop, and I got some good responses! I had one who talked about how it was hard to write when other students would come up and want to talk/conference. Another who talked about how it was hard for him and a peer to conference when other students in nearby conference corners were goofing around. In fact, any of the issues they brought up were the exact kind of problems that I've been spending so much time policing!

So then after naming the problems, we took some more time to talk about solutions. They developed an idea on their own of creating "do not disturb signs" for themselves, when they don't want disturbed by peers for peer conferences. We talked about aiming to limit conference times to 5 minutes or less to leave peer conference areas more accessible for all. And overall, I just left today's mini-lesson feeling much more optimistic about 2nd quarter. I saw through our discussion evidence that many of my students are taking things seriously as writers — they GET it! And although it's not all of them yet, it does refresh my hope that good things are going to come.

Today our independent writing time wasn't perfect (in fact, I doubt "perfect" is even possible), but for the first time in a long while, the majority of my time was spent conferencing vs. policing — and that was a *very* good feeling!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Back to reality

The last two days have been nice — an inservice day followed by a work day, otherwise known as two days off from having students — but today it was back to reality, and I must admit I'm currently still a little muddled about where exactly I'm going.

The priority first quarter (which we just completed) seemed to be survival. Now (starting second quarter) I feel like I should know where I'm going, but sadly I don't think that's reality yet. To get there, I feel like I need another work day or two, but unfortunately our next one isn't until January——a long way still off!

I hate walking into my language arts classroom and only being able to see one or two days ahead. Teaching with workshops, I feel like I need a sense of the big picture, a way to figure out how to make sure everything we need to talk about gets fit in. The number of days, hours and minutes we have together as a reading/writing community are so few and precious that I want to be sure each and every one is used well. However, in truth, I'm afraid (particularly this year) that that is not always happening.

I finished reading through a number of students' self-evaluations from first quarter this weekend and minus one student (who obviously got it) and a couple who had some promising answers, the majority had very little to tell me when asked questions that guided them to describe some of what they had learned. It worries me because at times I feel like I'm failing them as a teacher. With the time constraints and larger numbers, our workshops are running, but I don't think they are running well. I'm really struggling to find time to conference regularly with everyone. I'm trying to cover whole-class issues in mini-lessons, but right now am finding the areas of critical need greatly outnumber lesson time. Even the classroom doesn't work to our advantage — I never imagined myself complaining about having too big of a room, but I think this one is. When I'm in one corner, it seems like there's always an issue popping up across the room (talking, kid off task, etc.) and the continual need for check-in with so many students is really limiting the amount of conferencing on actual writing or reading thoughts that can get accomplished.

I'm really hoping that my feelings of current failure are imaginary, but I don't know. I know I'm tough on myself — I'm probably my worse critic, but I know it IS a fact that we're so much further behind this year than I've been at this point other years, and that does worry me.

BUT, as I did tell my students today as I gave them time to reorganize their folders, it is a new quarter...a new beginning...a fresh start, and maybe things will turn around. I least I'll hope!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Can I have more work days?

Today was a work day. :) And what makes that so special? Well, it was a teacher work day -- i.e. a day alone in my classroom to work. There was no students to worry about. I got to wear comfy clothes and got to actually enjoy lunch outside of the building. Minus two short meetings in the afternoon, the entire day was just mine to finish grades and work on getting caught up. And, wow, was it wonderful!!

I have to admit this is the first work day (minus those before the start of school or the ones after the kids have left for summer) that I remember having just for me. Where I use to teach, we had a few early dismissals that were such work afternoons, but normally any teacher work day was full of workshops and/or meetings, so this was sort of a new experience.

Yea, I know I've worked in my room many times alone. There's been countless hours spent after school and already several Saturdays or Sundays spent in there, but this was different. It was a weekday when I had to be there vs. time "volunteered" and I'm honest when I say I wish such days would come around more often. I think I'd be willing to extend the school year for the chance of a true teacher work day every couple weeks. No, I didn't get half of what was on my "to-do" list done -- but I at least erased a few things that have been on there for quite awhile. :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaBloPoMo Begins

So it's November 1st, and for the third year in a row, I'm in for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). Why? Well, I have to be honest and say I'm not one hundred percent sure. I guess, it's primarily because of the challenge and secondly it's sort like NaNoWriMo, which I love, but which I highly doubt I have time for this year. :(

Of course, that fact does makes me sad. The last two years of attempting NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) have been fun, especially as I've pulled my students into the craziness too. The amount of writing that they've produced has been amazing. The excitement so many develop for the challenge has been inspiring. The lessons it teaches I think are very good. HOWEVER: as I've bemoaned in previous blog entries, this year has brought many changes. The schedule I have to deal with for language arts has forced me to make some tough choices and there's many aspects of writing workshop that have had to be modified and/or cut out completely just simply because of time constraints. It's not something I like, but something I've convinced myself I have to live with because unfortunately the time constraint is unchangable.

And outside the classroom, for just me: free time is still at a premium. I just completed first quarter (hip, hip, hooray!) feeling like my head was only just barely above water. My life (sadly) is primarily teaching, planning & paper grading, and sleeping. Grabbing meals gets squeezed in (often while working), and I'm trying to take one weekend day off for myself (for my sanity), but beyond that time to invest in something like NaNoWriMo just doesn't exist. In fact, I'm even going into NaBloPoMo feeling like my chances for successful completion (i.e. a blog posting each and every day) are doubtful.

But like every single day already this year, I'm just going to take it one day at at time. Here with this entry Day 1 is complete. Now just 29 days to go. :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

TGIF! (and Poetry Friday too!)

Whew! Another week survived...and yes, "survived" is probably still the best word to use. Every time I get the feeling like I might just be getting my head above water, it always seems like something else comes along to push me under again. But deep down, even though I'm very tired and begin most days feeling overwhelmed, I am still striving onwards. After all, I know the surface is up there somewhere...(or at least I hope!)

But changing the subject completely — today is Poetry Friday!! And for the second week in a row, I'm actually finding time to participate. :)

Now one of my favorite movies to do schoolwork to is Freedom Writers. It's one of those movies, that I can just let run — i.e. it gives me background noise. I don't really sit and watch it, but it does always seem to help my productivity when I'm attempting to grade papers or do lesson plans. I think it works, because there's certainly parts of Erin Gruwell (the teacher) who I can relate to. She puts her students first, works very long hours and wants the best for them, even when it means putting everything else in her life on a back-burner -- and, for better or for worse, that can describe me pretty often too. Her belief in her students' voices being important and that they have stories to share, definitely matches my philosophy also.

So when I started thinking of what poem to share this week, my mind somehow began to think of Erin Gruwell's students — the Freedom Writers (yes, this probably is a big sign that I've been doing way too schoolwork recently). So, last night before I went to bed, I picked back up my copy of the The Freedom Writers Diary (the book that inspired the movie) and started flipping through it. What I ultimately opened to was the following poem — a poem Erin shared with her students, and one which I've now decided to make my poetry Friday contribution for this week...

Moment by Vincent Guilliano

Let him wish his life
For the sorrows of a stone
Never knowing the first thread
Of these
Never knowing the pain of ice
As its crystals slowly grow
Needless pressing in on the heart

To live forever
And never feel a thing
To wait a million lifetimes
Only to erode and become sand
Wish not for the stone
But for the fire
Last only moments
But change everything

Oh to be lightning
To exsist for less than a moment
Yet in that moment
To expose the world to every open eye
Oh to be thunder
To clap and ring
To rumble into memories
Minds and spines

To chill the soul and shake the very ground
Pounding even the sand
Into smaller pieces
Or the mountain
Brooding, extinct
Yet gathering for one fatal moment
The power to blow the top clean off the world
Oh to last the blink of an eye and leave nothing
But nothing unmoved behind you

You can check out more poetry over at this week's round-up. It's hosted by The Blog with the Shockingly Clever Title this week.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Poetry Friday!

I still can't say I'm flying...but I haven't completely crashed yet either (which, I guess is a positive). It's definitely been a long week, but at least I can celebrate that I survived to another Friday! (Hip, hip, hooray!) And, even better, I'm actually having time to participate in Poetry Friday once again too. :)

As I've written about before, I love sharing poetry with my class. Thanks to Nancie Atwell (who first gave me the idea), for the past three years I've started almost every writer's workshop with a daily poem. I'm striving to do the same thing again this year, but as I've also recently written about, getting workshops started has been a lot tougher than normal this year. So far, fitting in a daily poem has been a challenge, and sadly it's been a part bumped from the schedule on more than one day. With the shorter time I have to work with, I'm getting forced to make tough decisions: all parts of my old routine will no longer fit in. I know certain things will have to be sacrificed, and I'm trying hard to keep poetry in, but at the same time, I'm beginning to think it might be the part that I'll be forced to soon say good-bye to... :(

Nonetheless, for this week's Poetry Friday entry, I decided to go to my binder of daily poems. The following is one I scheduled to do in class this week with my students (but sadly didn't get to). It's a poem I really love because of the message inside of it. I think it relates powerfully to what I see too many students experiencing in many language arts classes. Every year I get tons of kids who have no concept of their voices as writers. When left to their own devices, they have no clue what to write on paper. In fact, often, just mentioning the word writing only brings an immediate groan.

Now, personally, I admit these feelings do make the beginning of every year's workshop just a bit frustrating for me. I continually forget from year to year the amount of time it takes to nurture those voices out. But, at the same time, being able to witness that growth is one of the things that has convinced me that I love Writer's Workshop. It's inspiring to see students who entered with no concept of their own voice, often leave at the end of the year, seeing themselves as real writers!

So, anyways, without further ado, here's the poem (or at least the first couple stanzas). It's The Little Boy by Helen Buckley. As the poem is a bit lengthy, I've provided a link to where you can find the poem in it's entirety...

Once a little boy went to school.
He was quite a little boy
And it was quite a big school.
But when the little boy
Found that he could go to his room
By walking right in from the door outside
He was happy;
And the school did not seem
Quite so big anymore.

One morning
When the little boy had been in school awhile,
The teacher said:
"Today we are going to make a picture."
"Good!" thought the little boy.
He liked to make all kinds;
Lions and tigers,
Chickens and cows,
Trains and boats;
And he took out his box of crayons
And began to draw.

But the teacher said, "Wait!"
"It is not time to begin!"
And she waited until everyone looked ready.
"Now," said the teacher,
"We are going to make flowers."
"Good!" thought the little boy,
He liked to make beautiful ones
With his pink and orange and blue crayons.
But the teacher said "Wait!"
"And I will show you how."
And it was red, with a green stem.
"There," said the teacher,
"Now you may begin."

The little boy looked at his teacher's flower
Then he looked at his own flower.
He liked his flower better than the teacher's
But he did not say this.
He just turned his paper over,
And made a flower like the teacher's.
It was red, with a green stem.

The entire poem, which you've got to read to get the full message, can be found via this link. Yet again, I only posted the first four stanzas. And, yes, this poem is going back into my lesson plans for next week. Scheduling might still be a nightmare, but I'm not ready to completely give away our daily poems quite yet!

Otherwise, Poetry Friday is being hosted this week by Wild Rose Reader, so you can find the full round-up there. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Flying or crashing? Well, I don't know...

So have I flown or crashed?? Well honestly, I think the verdict is still out. Almost 3 weeks into the school year, I still don't feel like my feet are underneath me at all. Every day I deal with the feeling that everything is going to come crashing down, but somehow the day ends and I'm still aloft (if just barely).

Overall, I like my new school so far. It's much bigger and there's still days when the number of kids in the hallways just overwhelms me, but overall it's not that much different than the school I left. So far, probably the biggest two changes/challenges I'm trying to get used to are the class sizes & class lengths. My smallest group is 27, and the other three classes are 28 respectively. I'm teaching 3 science classes and 1 language arts each day and each period is an hour long. For science that seems to work well, but for language arts I'm struggling. I dream of having my 90 minute block back (which I've been used to for the past 4 years)!

I haven't quite been able to diagnose the exact problem, but getting readers & writers workshop going this year has been tough. In fact, I have to admit we haven't gotten a full official workshop in yet. :( My first week, I didn't even really try, but since then I have been trying, but it's not been going well. We keep running out of class time before anything in the independent part really gets started, and I'm beginning to feel frustrated.

I worry that we're this far into September, and so little progress has been made. I mean, my classroom is still only partly put together (half of my library & many of the writing resources are still in storage boxes). I'm still struggling with the schedule (in how to have workshops not only in less than 60 minute periods but also when some other things (ex. a specific vocab program) have to be fit into class to keep us semi with the rest of the language arts team). And to make matters worse, I still feel like I'm only working day-to-day. I haven't really had the time to sit down and think big picture yet, so I don't have a good sense of where I want to ultimately go. In the past, it's been something I've always planned out before school started, but of course, this year I didn't have that privilege...

So, again I don't know: I guess barely staying afloat is better than nothing, but I still worry about how language arts is ultimately going to go. In only a couple weeks, I get observed and I desperately want to have both WW & RW at least roughly going, but I'm starting to wonder when we're going to get there. The shorter time and also student numbers (28 readers & writers!) are certainly going to make this year tricky!

But oh well, right now much planning & paper grading still await, so this blog entry must end for tonight. Who knows when I'll have time to blog again (free time is still *extremely* limited), but hopefully it will be soon. :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

On the verge of an adventure

Well, tonight I sit on the edge of a cliff. Hopefully tomorrow I'll fly, and not crash somewhere miserably.

Tomorrow morning I head to my new school for the first time (well, since the interview), see my classroom for the very first time, and about a half hour or so afterwards, get to meet my students too! 6th grade orientation is happening, and the principal has assured me everything is taken care of and all I basically have to do is be a body in the room, but it's certainly going to be interesting. I mean, I've never greeted my students in a strange room, feeling completely unprepared before.

From talking with the principal, it sounds like everyone is going to be very supportive and helpful, and I'm convinced I'll get through this week (one way or the other). Tomorrow, after orientation, I'll go and officially sign my contract, have the rest of the day and Tuesday to set up things in my room & look at the curriculum for the first time, and then bright and early Wednesday morning (ready or not) is the first day of school.

So, yes, this year is certainly going to start with a bang! I'm saying prayers that I'm ready and that this position turns out to be the right choice. Right now I'm actually pleasantly surprised that I'm not completely panicking (although that still might come). Instead I sit here on the verge of this adventure, feeling surprisingly optimistic and excited. It's going to be a different way to start a year—probably a little more stressful than most—but as I said at the beginning: hopefully (fingers crossed) tomorrow I'll fly.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Excitement and a Bit of Panic too!

Wow, three entries in one day! That's probably a record, but after several days of being in mental anguish over what in the world to do, I made my decision tonight. I got a call from the public school offering me the 6th grade language arts and science position that I interviewed for earlier this week, and I accepted it! :)

It's almost funny how things work. Two days ago, my heart had decided to say no, if the job was offered, but after thinking things thru today, my heart began to settle on the idea that "yes" was the best option. I still someday want the adventure a position like Colorado would have offered, but my heart finally told me, I'm not ready for it yet. Instead, I'm going to teach where relocation isn't immediately necessary. My thoughts tell me: teach nearby, save up money (this position should be a significant raise), plan things out, and work on making the leap next year when it's completely on my terms—i.e. not an unexpected layoff and a scurry for last-minute positions. Where I really want be is abroad, and I think I'm going to work on trying to make that happen for the school year after this one.

Of course, I better enjoy this weekend. Monday will start an absolutely crazy week! Classes will start on Wednesday, and Monday will be my very first chance to get in the building, see my room and get a run-down on the curriculum. But honestly, in the midst of my panic, I think there's excitement mixed in too...after all, I do finally have a job! :)

Poetry Friday

I've always loved Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken. In fact it's come to mind several times this summer, including during the past couple days when I've been struggling with the decision that is upon me (or at least will very soon be upon me). So, for this Poetry Friday, I went searching for other poet's thoughts on decision making--honestly hoping to find a poem that would help me figure out what my path should be. I don't have an answer yet (as clearly evidenced in my other blog entry from today), but I will share two poems that I discovered on the way:

Decision Making by Tyrandra F. Impaler

Deep sadness fills the girl
It still beats, so she must be alive
The pain in her chest commands slow breaths
She can't make the decision
Why does she feel depressed so?
This emotion is proof by the tears on her cheeks
Just say the world
It will be all over, one word
Stop listening and follow
Just follow!
But, her fears stop her
Too many "what ifs"
(The poem continues here)

Making a Decision by Rita (?)

What causes us to act?
Do we wake up one day
and say
this is the day,
or is there a slow
with thoughts rolling around
in our mind
do this, do that,
make this decision,
make that decision,
no it’s too risky,
better not take a chance,
(The poem continues here)

This week's round-up is hosted by TeachPoetryK12. And I wonder (for those of you willing to pause to comment), how do you go about making a decision when there doesn't seem to be a clear answer?

So torn...

I'm waiting on a phone call. I interviewed with two schools earlier this week and they both said they'd try to let me know something by the end of the week. And with my old principal just emailing me this morning to say one of them (the one most ideal) just called her (she's one of my references), there's now this growing feeling inside of me that perhaps something might work out.

Of course, I'm not sure whether that would be a blessing or not. I'm soooo torn about what to do this coming school year.

There's part of me that says I should be grateful for a job and take the position (if offered). PROS: 1. it would teaching 6th grade science and language arts. 2. it wouldn't require an immediate move. 3. being a public school, it would be a higher salary. 4. for a public school, it sounds like a really good group of kids (i.e. principal said major discipline problems aren't very common) 5. the school seems really well-equipped (i.e. principal told me when I asked about tech resources, that basically anything I'd ever want, they have...including projectors mounted in every room). 6. Only basically 2 preps: three science classes and one language arts. CONS: 1. it would be a 30 minute commute to school each morning. 2. it would eliminate me being able to check out Colorado (see below). 3. it would require me to start teaching on Wednesday (only basically 4 days away).

It seems like a job I could live with (even though I'd hate doing the commuting), but I suppose what I'm really afraid of is that totally eliminates the possibility of anything else. For instance: Colorado.

I've talked with a private school in Colorado who seems really interested in me (i.e. they are willing to fly me out so that I can see the school and town first-hand!). It would be a 5th-8th language arts position, at a school that sounds awesome (has a great arts program, and even an outdoor education program that has field trips including hiking, camping, kayaking, etc.) BUT it, of course, has one major con: it would definitely require relocation. I'm not completely against living in Colorado—I think most of it is a beautiful place and there's a big part of me that's been seeking a major change like this. However, that said, I'm not sure I'm ready for a move right now, within the next few weeks. I'm increasingly thinking that could create more stress than what it's worth, but I don't know. I also sometimes wonder if that's just not the voice in my head that is scared to change talking: after all I distinctly remember telling myself that when I took the position at my old school, that it would only be for a couple years, then I'd move on, likely abroad. I ended up staying for 9 years.

Of course, there's a third option to consider, and that's not accepting any of them. It would be tight, but I believe I could manage taking a year off and substituting when possible, tutoring, etc. The big positive there is that it gives me a break...something I've been increasingly dreaming about the past couple years. Having time to get things in order, perhaps take a few grad classes, travel and relax a bit might ultimately be a really good thing for my future. The big con: it's probably the choice most scary.

So, again, I just don't know. I'm waiting on the phone to ring, while at the same time hoping it doesn't. I simply don't know what choice to choose. One moment, one feels the most right, and then a few hours later another does. As I said before, I'm just so torn...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


So, yes, I fell off my blogging yet again. I think February was my last entry, and that was actually still in the old blog system. There have definitely been changes since I last put my fingers to the keyboard and typed here: some which I know have been good, others which I'm still trying to come to terms with.

For one thing, I'm no longer at the school that I used to be at. Less than a month before school ended, I learned my contract wasn't going to be renewed...lack of enrollment meant that there only needed to be one sixth grade versus two, and I was the one chosen to go.

After many tears, my heart began to tell me it was ultimately a good thing. There had been growing issues there for awhile, and I began to view it as perhaps a shove in a direction that I wasn't willing to go on my own. After all, for the last 4 or 5 years I've considered moving on, but just have never had the courage to do it (I loved my students and who I worked with).

So, of course, a job search started...and as of this moment...a job search still continues. Lots of applications filled out, emails and resumes sent, and a couple interviews, but no position as of yet.

With a couple interviews just in the past couple days, there still is a chance for a full-time position, but I don't know what will happen. I'm not even sure if I know what I want to happen.

My love of teaching calls me back into the classroom; it feels odd to be at home vs. in the midst of setting things up. BUT at the same time, the last couple years have been increasingly tough; there's been a growing number of days when the energy to do lesson planning or other tasks tied to school (including this blog) has been almost nonexistent. I've come to realize that there is a part of me that truly hates how much of my life for the past nine years, has been tied up in my classroom. I have loved my students and what I have done, but it's come with it's price.

So that part of me, has begun to wonder if I should use this change as a break: i.e. take time to get things back in order, reconnect with friends, travel, etc. and hopefully return to the classroom the following year with a refreshed spirit. But, the main drawback to that plan is, of course, the idea of not having a full-time job this year is pretty scary.

I sorta hope nothing comes of my interviews (then the decision is automatically made for me), but my gut is telling me that's probably not the way it will work out. I'll be honest and say I've got a real mental struggle going on right now: if I have to make a decision, which way do I go? Do I go back to teaching this year (rushing to get a classroom ready to go in 2 or 3 days), or do I use this as a sabbatical of sorts? I really don't know....but at least my interest has returned to blogging... ;)

Friday, February 26, 2010

It's Poetry Friday!

When I first heard about Poetry Friday several years ago, I literally bounced with excitement.  The idea of devoting one day a week to a little bit of poetry was such an intriguing possibility that I found myself immediately wanting to find a way to incorporate it into my classroom.  Three years ago, my initial attempt—a poetry-related mini-lesson every Friday—took me through a wonderful year, a wonderful year that actually inspired me to go further.

Nowadays, the idea of devoting just one day per week to poetry actually seems so little, as we now do it 
practically every day.  Inspired greatly by Nancie Atwell, two years ago, I started beginning every language arts class with a poem.  Gathering in a circle near the front of the room, we sit together as a class, and begin our workshop time by reading and then talking about a piece of poetry.  I love that time, and as months go on, I love the kinds of poets my students become.  For two years running, poetry has actually become the most common genre they select to write when they work on free-choice pieces!

With the move of this blog, I'm hoping I can more regularly participate in what inspired my venture into poetry in the first place — Poetry Friday here online.  The roundup this week is hosted over at Check It Out and this week I'm jumping back in with one of my favorites to share at the beginning of each year, when we start up readers workshop.

It's The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm by Wallace Stevens:

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Moving Forwards...

I've tried this whole blog thing before.  About three years ago, I began the blogging adventure over at ProTeacher.  My first attempt was: "Thoughts of a sixth year teacher in sixth grade," (Maybe a great title for one year, but not really appropriate for multiple years of blogging!)  So, after one year passed, the name had to quickly morph into something else:  "Writer's Workshop Woes and Woes" was born.  Much was written about writer's workshop, but as reader's workshop is an important part of our language arts day too, that blog title never seemed completely appropriate either.  Time passed, interest decreased, and soon I realized the blog was covered in a thick layer of neglectful dust.

Now I'm not guaranteeing this blog won't suffer the same fate, but I'm giving the whole blog thing one more try. (After all, don't they say, the third time is the charm?)  As the title suggests, I'm not limiting the content this time around either.  This blog will be a place to reflect, cry, celebrate, shout, rant, jump for joy, brainstorm, share ideas and maybe (if I'm lucky) get some feedback, and generally, simply write about the things that occur as my sixth graders and I explore the wonders (and occasionally the woes) of readers and writers workshop each and every day.