Friday, July 10, 2015


The first week of Teacher's Write has been a week of avoidance for me. After reading each of the prompts this week, I promptly went outside to garden, built some furniture, or watched some Netflix. Today I promised I would make time for writing, and so I am picking things up with Monday's Mini-Lesson and Jo's Warm-up.

Sidenote: If you don't know what Teacher's Write is, you should check it out on Kate Messner's blog

Wonderings - ideas worth exploring in writing

(I really enjoyed this activity and I'd like to do with my kids this year in the Writing Workshop I'll be running in my ELA classes each week. Doing this activity early in September would give kids an opportunity to get to know each other and share a wealth of 'writeable' topics worth exploring during the year through our Quickwrites or during Writing Workshop time.)

I wonder what my cats really think of me.

I wonder how punctuation was invented and how standard usage rules came to be.

I wonder what life was like near Cow Creek when the trailer park was a new 'upscale' community.

I wonder what it would have been like to be a rookie detective in the 1960s.

I wonder what music sounds like to someone taking Benzodiazapine.

I wonder what it was like to attend Westmount school when it first opened in 1913.

I wonder if cellular memory is possible, and what the consequences could be for organ recipients if it were possible to reconnect with those memories.

I wonder if the woman from the used postcard I bought ever found Mr. Right by searching through income tax reports at her job.

I wonder what happens to things we no longer remember - are they still stored in the brain somewhere, or do they cease to exist?

I wonder if twins see the world differently than each other, or if there would be some distinct similarities in their perceptions due to genetics.

I wonder how my relationships with people would change if we interacted with each other in our dreams.

I wonder what Rat Creek Nuisance Grounds looked like and who frequented it.

I wonder what it was like to live in the tent city that grew on the riverbank south of Downtown Edmonton in the early '20s as people moved to the city from the surrounding farmland.

I wonder what life was like as a homeless youth in Edmonton in the 1920s.


For me, this year has revolved around goal-setting. I set personal goals for myself: attend a self-defense class, rebuild a relationship with my parents, start spending time with my sister. I also set, and re-set, professional goals for myself: manage a reading workshop in my classroom, hold midterm and final interviews with my ELA students, run a workshop on interview-style assessments for teachers in my catchment area. I modeled setting these goals with my homeroom, showing them that I was a learner, a goal-setter, a person interested in bettering myself. They set goals, too, ones that stayed on display in my classroom from September until January. I also set goals with my ELA classes - reading goals, writing goals, goals based on criteria for particular assignments. So many goals.

The missing piece of my year has been reflection. Though over the year my students and I achieved many of our goals, personal, academic, and otherwise, we didn't pause to reflect on our progress. We didn't slow down to evaluate whether we had fully met our goals, or what our next steps should be. So, we set goals, but still remained stagnant, in a way. Or, at the very least, didn't take pause to leverage the success we had and capitalize on where it could take us next.

Now, my colleagues and my principal would tell you that I am, in fact, a very reflective teacher. I constantly evaluate how my lessons have gone, how my interactions with students and my peers have gone, and how I can improve my practice. This year I was nominated for and won a provincial award for my excellence in teaching. But for me, there was something missing in my practice this year and it has been the other half of my gung-ho goal-setting. Reflection is important, and I do reflect, but my mirror needs to focus on specific things in order to be most effective.

I think, in part, I have not turned the mirror back on my goals (and thus not encouraged my students to do the same) because I have been unsatisfied with the outcomes of some of my more challenging goals. I need to remind myself that part of the purpose of setting goals is evaluating them and re-setting them when they aren't working. Re-setting doesn't mean giving up - it's about focusing our efforts so that we can be effective and successful. It does not mean turning away, it's about working smarter.

This is something I aim to accomplish through blogging and journaling in the year to come. This summer, in particular, my goal (one of many) is to blog and reflect on writing with the Teacher's Write community. Hopefully, venturing into a safe, but public, space to reflect and write will keep me motivated to stay the course! Here's to a summer of growth!