Wednesday, July 27, 2011

[Techie Tech] Wee Hours

It is the wee hours of the night (only 2 hours before I'm supposed to be awake), and I've settled on some formatting changes.  I typically go for the black backgrounds, so other than asking me to change that, if you have feedback, please leave a comment!  I have lost all sense of reality and sense at this point.

Friday, July 22, 2011

[CCW] Times Twenty-One

I haven't posted a Caped Crusader of the Week in...  oh...  a gabillion weeks .  But that's okay because I just spent a month with twenty-one of the most amazing teachers ever to sit in one room at the San Diego Writing Project Summer Institute.  I've met amazing teachers before (Lincoln Middle School--you rock for having so many in one place!), but I have not had the opportunity to sit in a room and talk, learn, read, write, and truly see a group of educators that are this amazing.  The passion, hope, dedication, intelligence, heart and humor of this group struck me silent today.  Today was the last day of our four weeks together. We will continue working together throughout the year, to be sure, but this event--this four weeks--had to end today.

I had no words today to tell them how much it meant.  I cracked a couple of jokes, and even called them cheesy at one point.  What I was trying to say to them though, is this:

You all wear capes.  Every single one of you is a Super Teacher.  You are on a journey for kids and learning and writing, and you put it all out there this Summer.  You truly humble me with your hearts and your minds.  There is no way to thank you for what you have given me.  I am renewed, maybe not refreshed yet since I'm still reeling from the last month, but I can feel it.  I'm ready to square my shoulders and try this thing called teaching for another year.  Not only am I ready to try it, but I am ready to kick it right square in the behind. Thank you for that.  Truly Truly Truly.

My new Caped Friends, you are all Super Heroes...

N.B.--You impressed me the moment you walked up to give the first demo.  You nailed it!  It was so clear that your understanding of your work, and your willingness to go beyond the curriculum we are given makes a powerful impact on your students each year.

C.B.--Thank you for helping me find the words to talk about our kids. You inspire me to be more and do more for my little Turkey Butts. Your heart and soul are jaw-droppingly golden.

H.C.--Thank you for your perseverance in sending a message of peace and unity.  We all need to be reminded of that.

J.C.--Bless your friendly, open smile.  You are straight-up, but positive.  You are sharp as a whip, and funny to boot.  So glad you were in my WRG.

C.C.--You are beautiful inside and out.  Your heart and soul are wondrous and you have, without a doubt, changed the hearts and souls of those around you.

R.C.--Your gentle demeanor and underlying red-shoe-wearing-sassy-pants were a joy to get to know. You have so much depth and so much to share.  Please keep writing.  You touched my funny bone and my soul when you read.

K.D.--Thank you for leading us, listening to us, and sharing with us.  I so appreciate your ability to lead while also taking part in such a powerful experience.

C.F.--I love the way your brain works!  Your flexibility with your demo made me smile--our students need that flexibility and differentiation.  I loved seeing it.

H.F.--Your decision to enter education was courageous and SO the right thing to do.  You belong in the classroom, and students are lucky to learn from you. I can't wait to learn from you in our middle school study group!

K.F.--You were energetic and positive EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I'm in awe of that.  Your energy added to the energy of the room each day, and I am quite certain that energy has changed lives in your classroom.

J.J.--Today, when you talked about your family, I felt hope for my students.  Thank you for the full-on dedication you show in your teaching and for your family.  That is such a gift.

M.J.--You made a joke the other day that your "voice" is the same no matter what you write.  That voice is a voice of depth and intelligence.  Keep it, nurture it, and share it with your students.  I learned from it every single day.

C.K.--Where do you get your energy?  I think I should very much like to bottle it up and sell it.  You are changing the world.  I am so glad to be learning from you.

C.L.--Aw...  I loves ya.  I do.  You are a force of nature, my dear.  Keep fighting the good fight.  You'll win! And... let those reins loose a bit this year.  You'll love it!

S.M.--I thoroughly enjoyed your writer's brain and your flair.  I appreciate your honesty and your incredible intelligence.  What a gift you have been.

A.M.--I always wanted to hear from you in discussions.  Your thoughtful responses struck me each time.  I so enjoyed learning from you.

Z.M.--Z! My walking-to-the-car partner.  From the first day I knew you were a kindred spirit.  I looked forward to checking in with you each day.  Sixth grade is lucky to have you. Welcome to the middle school club. :)

A.R.--I think you are simply amazing.  I am quite certain your classroom rocks like crazy, and I hope to keep playing Scrabble with you for a good long time.  Your love of words makes me happy.

J.R.--There is no way you won't be with students next year.  The cosmos won't allow that to happen.  I am in awe of your teaching and your heart.  Truly in awe.  I'm so looking forward to our middle school study group.

D.S.--Keep rockin', baby.  Your willingness to share your own journey with us was inspiring. You have impacted my learning and my teaching.  So glad to have met you! 

This year holds so much promise.  I haven't had this feeling in a good long time.  Bless each one of you for your cape-wearing.  You have changed my life, my teaching, and my heart.

And, in case you were wondering, I did get that nap.  Love to you all.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

[Writing] Where I've been

I made many promises (here and here) that I would be posting in full force this Spring and Summer.  I was wrong.  Flat out wrong.  This doesn’t happen very often in my super-hero imagination, so take note.  While I have been conspicuously absent from Wear the Cape, and similarly absent from social outings and planned events, I do have something to show for it. 

I, my caped friends, have been writing up a storm.

You see, I finally had a chance to take part in a National Writing Project Summer Institute.  I’ve been stalking the NWP sites in each state and city I’ve lived in for the past 10 years.  The Northwest Inland Writing Project, the Oregon Writing Project at EOU, and now, the San Diego Area Writing Project.  This Summer,  at last, I put aside my Summer-School-Principal hat, ignored pleas to take that Summer vacation I always promise, and grabbed the opportunity to take part in the SDAWP Summer Institute. 

As you may have read in previous posts (you HAVE read them, haven’t you?), I had a long Spring.  I was “in the weeds” and kept telling myself that if I made it to the end of the school year, I could relax and enjoy the Summer Institute.  Those of you that have taken part in an NWP Summer Institute may already be laughing at me.  Enjoy?  Yes.  Relax?  Um…. No.  Not even the tiniest little bit. 

It took me a good week to get going, and by the then the SI was a quarter of the way finished, I had been spoken to twice about my participation (lateness and risk-taking were the topics), and was feeling a day late and a dollar short. 

I spent the second week moving double-time to catch up.  I was on-point in every discussion, I shared my writing and my thoughts at every opportunity.  And then… more feedback.  I had gone too far the other way.  I had burst on to the SI scene a week late with too much energy. My processing time was too quick. Other participants weren’t able to form their thoughts because mine kept popping out too quickly.  I was chagrined.  Coming from a family of socially quiet people, being told I talk too much felt like a body slam. I understood, I agreed, but I was... embarrassed. In my eagerness and wonder at learning so many new things, I had made a social faux paux.  I hate making mistakes in front of people.  BUT, I am grateful for the learning.

I entered the third week having banked the fire of participation to a dull roar.  I paid attention to the group, measured my own responses to make sure the more quiet members had a chance to speak up, and shared less.  That week I wrote more, and talked less. I presented my demo and took part in the Author's Chair.  I suppose I actually spoke as much, but more thoughtfully.   It was a better week as far as social faux pauxs (faux pauxes?) go, and  the incredible amount of learning and writing continued. 

Now I am finishing the fourth and final week.  Today I turned in a bumper-load of writing.  Fifteen pages or so of writing I actually care about.  I wrote more than that for my NBPTS renewal this Spring, but these fifteen pages are more a part of me than what I had to turn in to the National Board this Spring. Don't get me wrong, the reflection NBPTS renewal is healthy and good.  I recommend it.  But this writing, this is from ME.  From my heart and my mind sitting right out on a limb.

So, while my blog has been dismal and lonely, my brain is chock full of things--learning, thoughts, things to share. Get ready my caped friends, I think this may be a big year.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

[Random] Pro-Avata-tion

Yup.  I just spent an hour making an avatar.  I am in full procrastination mode and it stops now!  Right after I...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

[Techie Tech] Tweetability

I took the plunge.  I started a Twitter account and linked it to Wear the Cape.  I thank SDAWP* and the National Writing Project for lighting a fire under my hiney and making me rethink my stance on Twittering (that it was evil and nasty and good-for-nuthin').  You can follow me by clicking to the right (somewhere--please try to figure it out.) I'm using Wear the Cape as my testing ground and researching uses for my classroom.  In fact, I'm doing that right this minute.  Right this very minute. So, peace out for now. More to come soon.  Honest to goodness.

*Note--I can also thank SDAWP for utilizing every single second of my time so far this Summer.  While I truly am thankful for everything I am learning and doing, I would like to divert all complaints regarding the lack of posting on this blog to SDAWP and their too-amazing-to-ignore Summer Institute.  Seriously.  ALL complaints go straight to them!