100% Lily #sol19

100% Lily  #sol19

July 30, 2019

We’ve reached the midpoint of teacher summer here in New England and that’s just when I usually feel like it’s winding down.  I generally give myself the month of July to indulge in whatever projects I want and then when August rolls around I begin ramping up to the start of the school year.  Over the years, Bob and I have developed a summer routine around the flexibility in my schedule that only summer can afford.

This summer, I have had one driving project, my dog Lily.  Our dog, an eighty or so pound rescued lab mix had a rough late spring this year.  She developed a significant limp with research was found to be a torn ACL.  Yep,  a sport’s injury for my dog.  Thus started months of work for Lily and also me.  The first month I was still in school and Lily was on the DL.  Totally rest.  One floor living, limited starts, anti-inflammatories.  A short, short leash.  Very difficult for a dog who loves to run at the park and take long walks.  Honestly, it wasn’t that easy for me either.  We started to worry what was next.

When we had an X-ray in early June, it was determined that her ACL was in fact completely torn.  While under sedation for the X-ray, they cleaned Lily’s teeth.  For non-dog owners, it’s much the same as our teeth cleaning, scrubbing and polishing and noticing inside the dog’s mouth.  What they noticed was a broken molar.  So in the midst of our rehabilitation plan, we also had a tooth pulled.  Picture a teenager having his wisdom teeth out.  All the same…

So we, along with Lily’s doctor, developed a strategy for her rehabilitation.  There were choices, surgery or other holistic methods.  We chose to start with holistic methods, so Lily had a regiment of herbal supplements, laser treatments and VOM, a form of chiropractic medicine for animals.  The initial appointments were 2 a day for a week, then 3-4 days a week,  then one, and now we are at one appointment for laser and VOM every other week.

Last week,  Lily started physical therapy.  Twice a day, Lily and I go up and down our steep driveway for 5 minutes.  Five minutes of up and down.  By the third trip, she’s panting pretty hard.  This is followed by ice.  After a week of that treatment, we, just today,  ventured beyond our drive for a five minute walk down the street and back.  She was beside herself with delight until the journey home proved to be challenging.

We have started to call Lily’s journey, 100% Lily, and compare her to New England Patriot’s wide receiver, Julian Edelman, who’s rehab is outlined in the documentary, 100% Julian.  I’ve worn a boot before for sprains and bone spurs.  I have had a cortizone shot in my arm.  Watching Lily fight back to be a four legged dog again is inspirational.  Helping her do that is making me a better person.

So today from our training camp,  I reflect on how Lily’s journey back from injury and our assistance of her rehab is like the partnership we make with students and perhaps teachers who are struggling in their own ways.  Sometimes, they don’t fully understand the struggle itself and the way to recovery so to speak, requires determination, planning, and not a small amount of patience.

Today,  she’s stepping mostly without a limp, though slowly.  She was excited to see and sniff the neighbors’ lawns for the first time in perhaps ten weeks.  Let me be reminded of that when the road at school feels frustrating and long, 100% Lily.  Eye on the prize.  Patience in all.

To Do List #sol19

To Do List (Leading Well Reflections)  #sol19

June 24, 2019

I read an article yesterday about publishing your To-Do-List on Instagram.  It was by a social media expert #notme and a self-made entrepreneur #alsonotme, but as many things I read it started me thinking about public agendas.  Her points were as I interpret them were that many people ask her how she manages her time and what she does each day, publicly stating her agenda keeps her own track and accountable.  Her writing encouraged me to consider the idea of public agendas.

Last week in our wrap-up/planning meeting with our literacy leadership, the idea of what the role of the literacy specialist/reading specialist/literacy coach was explored.  We broke up into two groups of 6 or so each.  First we wrote what came to mind when we thought of the role.  Next we silently sorted our ideas, talked them through, prioritized, and then gallery walked each group’s considering.  At first look, the organization, areas, and even word choice between the groups seems disparate. One group lead with intervention and the other group lead with data.  As we talked through each, they began to seem like just different doors to the same route.

This reflecting, prioritizing and discussion drove so many deep thoughts to the surface, the idea of student-centered work, the role of data in driving our work agenda, and ultimately how different the shape of that work can be from environment to environment, dependent on so many things.  Ultimately, the large check boxes were similar; the use of data, the student at the center, the coordination of intervention, resources management, and professional development in all its possibilities.  Today as I read in Leading Well,  I was struck again about how the shift from a good learning community to a great learning community can seem easier on the surface, but can pose so many roadblocks to success as we consider changing things that  seem inherently successful.

Here I return to the idea of a public agenda:  a public agenda for the literacy coach in whatever name feels comfortable, the learning community of the school, and the learning community of the district.  The agenda’s may seem clearer than they actually are, often there are more than one, and motive and actions may be misinterpreted depending on the stakeholders.  My seemingly loose agenda ripples through my school, my work, and my colleagues to varying degrees.  In that statement, it seems to give my public agenda a crushing amount of wait.  However,  I want to continue to view my work, my learning in the same context I wish the students to view theirs.  We are moving forward.  We are trying things. Things are going to be messy.  Plans can change.

I’m an incessant list maker, note taker, crosser offer.  Sometimes my lists are just thought dumping- all those things that I hope to finish and empty from my consciousness.  Occasionally this is success, often it just leads to more lists, thinking, and to-dos.  In my summer half-life,  I am much more inefficient with these lists seeing at least more time stretching out before me.  Leading Well causes me to desire to increase my intentionality,  my collaboration, my movement toward a shared vision.  All the things I strove for before, but now perhaps with a tighter plan.

So today my list shifted into sharper focus.  My notes from last week, reflected upon today will develop into a potential plan.  This week I’ll consider how to create an agenda for my work that seems more like shared work.  In the next month, I read more, write more and think more about that public agenda and what goals it reveals.

From My Notebook: Planning #sol19

For the month of March , I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.

Notebook Saturdays

Through my work as a literacy coach,  I have teachers that I meet and collaborate with throughout the week.  Usually these meetings are at 7:30 a.m. on a scheduled day of the week. I  meet with each teacher or team for 1/2 hour keeping notes of what we are working on.  Our school is an UOS of Study school following the work of Lucy Calkins and colleagues in this our first year of full implementation.  Most of our meetings are in their classrooms. Some teachers will come with questions, sometimes we plan out what we will work on the next week, sometimes I have a teaching technique or skill  I’ve noticed or a suggestion. I keep a journal entry of each meeting to keep me thinking. I am thankful to Tammy Mulligan, Teachers for Teachers, for assisting me in working on offering a menu of ideas during this coaching time.  This is still after years a work in progress.

From My Notebook:  Planning #sol19

IMG_3832I’m torn this week from my notebook to the work we’ve noticed in the classroom.  In the second bend of baby literary essay, we noticed that the students are adopting the language and structure of the essay.  Their evidence is grounded in text and they are growing a small theory.  The place we see them struggle a little is matching their evidence to their theory.  Letting them sail off on Thursday, choosing their own picture book, their own theory, making their own plans,  let us notice what’s up with their independent writing.

We meet to hash it out.  She has the writing notebooks piled on her table, but when she speaks first it’s about the state test.

I went through the last five years of questions for the test, she says.  We haven’t done character comparisons,  journal entries, and… there’s poetry.  They also have perspective, cross text synthesis, and predictions.  

I pause letting her words settle around us.  I’m working on that… the pause.  It is a lot and time is short.

Their work is better than we thought, she says.  As we sift through, we notice bright spots.  This one has strong evidence.  This one is getting the idea of connection story.  This one had a plan.  This one has the language down.  On we go.  I reflect that as a team, we’ve gotten so much better at the quick glance, read, determine teaching points.  Only a few were struggling that day.

She brings out a scrap of paper from her teacher notebook.  We have a box for students to put concerns she says.  This one was in it yesterday.  I don’t like how the teachers never call on me when I have a good idea,  it begins.  We pause and discuss.  Using the turn and talk gives students all a chance to say their ideas in the air, but clearly this friends still is craving the teacher’s attention or the spotlight.  We reflect on our own balance.  Who are we asking to share?  We think we are equitable.  We vow to keep an eye on it next week.

Back to the work we met to do.  We work through the next week, weaving in books and techniques.  His name remains on the top of the page.

 

Trees #sol19

 

For the month of March , I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.

Trees #sol19

March 29, 2019

I have loved many trees in my life.

One tree stood, a towering pine next to my growing-up house.  My father strung lights around and around each Christmas.

One tree stood in my husband’s aunt’s yard, a century oak.  Tall and majestic,  it dropped so many acorns, the squirrels came from miles and stayed for days.  We raked so many acorns.

IMG_1316One tiny dogwood  was nurtured under the towering canopy of our yard, blooming delicately in the spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those amazing redwoods stand like sentinels in Muir Woods.  They are my favorite things on earth in my favorite place on earth.  If there is a heaven to me it looks just like there. IMG_3815

 

 

 

 

Two beautiful crabapple trees my husband bought me bloomed their hearts out by my patio at our first house.  We called them the waiting rooms for they held all the little birds waiting to get onto my bird feeder.

One flaming red maple tree grew from a small tree over those thirteen years to a view outside my bedroom window.

One adopted old crabapple, gnarly and full of holes became a home to many outside our front window.  We lost it three years ago.  IMG_3814 (1)

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The crazy little tree  is covered with dog photos and dog tags, memories of dogs passed in our favorite local park.

 

 

Beautiful blooming late spring trees outside Teacher’s College in New York spill fragrant petals like rice at a wedding. IMG_5908

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maple trees were filled with a riot of orange greeting me on my way into school on fall mornings.IMG_5067

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tree in the courtyard outside the literacy center spread its branches like arms protecting all underneath.IMG_0227

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smooth sleek palms  create a beautiful pattern on the sidewalks under the tropical Florida sun always bring a smile to my face. IMG_1042 (1)

Yes,  I have loved many trees.

 

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Alice Nine’s post,  The Old Pear Tree,  reminded me of all the trees I’ve loved and some I’ve lost. 

Friday Follow (up) #sol19

For the month of March , I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.

Friday Follow(up)  #sol19

March 22, 2019

IMG_3793He comes more willingly down.  Eyes bright when they meet mine.  A little more eager to find his book and his writing.  A little less shy to ask if he can finish his chips or his cookies on the way down the hall.  A little less defensive.

It’s been months since our get-togethers started.  At first he would start each little time with I’m a really good reader.  

Yes, I would say,  I know you are.  Doesn’t it help a little bit to have some quiet time to work on your reading and writing?  I know it helps me. 

He wasn’t buying it.

Then he rewrote his opinion piece… and he loved it.  We typed it up.  Can I take a copy of this home? he asked shyly. And one for my teacher? 

We found a funny book we both loved, reading and talking about a chapter most days.  That Sugar, she’s the kind of chicken that likes to be tricky.  

But then just when everything was going smoothly,  yesterday on his way out the door, we had this conversation.

This is the kind of work you can do when you’re reading.  You’re the kind of reader who knows how have an idea about a character and then find evidence. 

My teacher and I always work together. 

This is the kind of work you’re ready to do on your own. 

He stops in his tracks and turns to look me full in the face.  I lean over so that our eyes meet.

My mom and dad think I’m really, really smart. 

I also think you’re really, really smart kiddo(name withheld) 

He smiled a little smile and was on his way.

But I wasn’t on my way.  My heart ached and I felt sharp tears forming.  Did he think he was coming to work with me because we (I) thought he wasn’t smart?  This was terrible.

So today.  I took a deep breath and went back to pick him up.  I opened his classroom door and said, Why don’t you bring your writer’s notebook and your novel today?  

He came willingly. He smiled up at me.  We walked down to the literacy center talking about our day so far.  When we sat down I asked him.  Hey, kiddo (name withheld),  I have been thinking about you telling me that your mom and dad think you’re smart yesterday.  Why did you say that?  

He turns.  Those gorgeous brown eyes look at me with complete trust and honesty.

I just wanted you to know they think the same thing you do.  

We smile at each other and get to work.

We are going to be just fine.

(Saint) Patrick #sol19

For the month of March , I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.

(Saint) Patrick #sol19

March 17, 2019

Your Irish name was chosen for you before birth.  Patrick from your own father. A strong Irish name.  Francis from both generations in your grandfather’s family and your grandmother.

Your Irish name was chosen for you before birth.  What a surprise how well it fit you.  Those big blue eyes filling that face right from the start paired with that dark hair.  So Irish, though I suspect that dark hair was your mother’s DNA.  Pale skin with a sprinkle of freckles round out that Irish face.

Your Irish name was chosen for you before birth bringing with it a saint’s day celebrated by the world.  This was good for you, for you love a good party and being right in the center.  Many St. Patrick’s Day celebration when you were too young for green beer involved Green River,  green clothes,  green cookies or green frosted cupcakes.  There were Lucky Charms and soda bread and always, always, treats for your class.

Your Irish name was chosen for you before birth-full on Irish.  An identity to hold on to.  The identity of generations of your family.  A people.

Your Irish name was chosen for you before birth, but it has always been your name.  It fits you just like it should…perfectly.

Routine Redux #sol19

Screen Shot 2019-03-15 at 5.47.55 AMRoutine Redux:  Reunion Day #sol19

March 15, 2019

We wake predawn… 3 a.m.  Coffee is dripping through the pot in the kitchen.  The sound is comforting.  I know that if I can get through the next ten minutes,  a cup will be the reward.  Clothes laid out in the bathroom to minimize the wake up of others.  Lunch in the refrigerator.  Teacher bag packed.  Quick shower.  Have to have a quick shower.  As I dry my hair,  I look through the agenda I downloaded yesterday thinking about what I might go to.  What if I finally connect with my Connecticut friends too?

Check the time and put it into high gear.  Have to be at the meeting point by 3:30.  Quietly out the door.  Bob will take you out later Lily when it’s really time to get up.  She looks at me accusingly.  Dark on the steps.  Dark on the walk.  Dark in the garage.  Dark on the driveway.  Dark on the street.  All the roads are empty and dark as I drive to the meeting place.

Usually first, I wait in the quiet car.  Whose turn is it to drive?  Oh, mine. I check the seats, the floor.  All fine.  Gas and car wash the day before.  The car fills with Pandora, a yoga music station.  The lull.  Lights illuminate the car and she is there.   She opens her door, grabs her bags, her water bottle.  She leans over as she opens the car door and smiles a tired  smile at me.   She stretches her long legs into the small car.  She never adjusts the seat.  Sometimes I remember to stretch it back for her before she arrives.

We laugh for a moment about how sometimes we go some other random way that the GPS takes us, missing the Merritt all together.  Where is the first Starbucks?  Hartford?!?

And then… the words start pouring out.  In the darken car, in the long hours, we talk. Talk.  This is almost the best part.