Leading · Literacy

2019 Dublin Literacy Conference: “30 Years of Celebrating Our Stories”

We count ourselves lucky to teach in a school district that values literacy as highly as Dublin City Schools does. The last Saturday in February every year is a chance for us to recharge and reconnect as literacy teachers and leaders.

The Passionately Educating bloggers have a variety of roles in this year’s conference and we thought we would share!

2019 Dublin Literacy Conference Chairman: Jennifer Wolf

2019 Dublin Literacy Conference Committee Members:  Rita Shaffer and Rachel Polacek

2019 Presenters:

  • Lindsey Brauzer: Creating Connections during Reading Conferences
  • Rachel Polacek: Exploring Identity: Informing Instruction with Sara K Ahmed’s Being the Change
  • Melissa Voss: Reading and Writing Workshop (Revised)
  • Kara Belden: IGNITE Student Voice in You Secondary Classroom
  • Rita Shaffer: IGNITE Student Voice in You Secondary Classroom
  • Beth Honeycutt: IGNITE Student Voice in You Secondary Classroom

We are excited about this day learning and especially looking forward to the keynotes from Pam Allyn and Jason Reynolds.

If you are visiting the Lit Conference this year, we’d love to meet you and say “hello”! And each of us will be sharing our learning on February 23rd using the hashtag #dublit19.

More information about the conference can be found here and registration is still open.

Goal Setting · Reflection

#2019onelittleword…continued

Kara’s word: Write

On January 1st, when I started to see others’ words of intent, I acted like I hadn’t yet decided on mine. I scoured the internet for ideas and made a list 24 words long – words like “brave,” “ritual,” “simplify,” “less,” “love,” “vulnerable,” “confidence,” and “imagine.” I pretended like they were all under serious consideration.

I could sit here and explain how tough it was to decide on this year’s #onelittleword, but I would be lying to you because I’ve been lying to myself. I scrolled through instagram viewing other people’s words of intent, convinced that I should find something different. I don’t mean unique. I was looking for a word other than the one that has been slowly but surely, year after year, growing in my soul but consistently silenced by my mind.

I am a mother, a wife, a teacher, and a reader, and I want to be a writer. Only a few people know this last bit about me. Heck, it’s taken me awhile to know this about myself.

This presents many problems: I don’t know exactly what that looks like in my life. I don’t know what kind of writing to do or what to write about. I don’t know where or how writing will fit into my already busy life, and I definitely don’t know what it’ll take for me to confidently add “writer” to my identity.

What I do know is this – writers write.

Therefore, I have to start somewhere. This is it. This is the year. I am going to stop talking myself out of writing.

I don’t have time.

I have more important things on my plate.

And the worst of all:  

I don’t have anything to say.

So, this is my word. It’s scary, and I have doubts, and I’m going to face setbacks, and some people just won’t get it, but I’m going to push on. Sometimes my writing will be made public, and sometimes it’ll remain personal. I want to explore, to feel, to reflect, to connect. It’s going to be a huge challenge to build a habit of writing, but I’m serious about finding its purpose in my life and nurturing this little passion of mine. This year, I write.  

Emily’s word: Single-task

At the top of the list of strengths on my old resume, you’ll find it. I bragged about it for years. Wore it as a badge of honor. And, felt the sting of guilt when I didn’t engage with it enough. What is it, you ask? It’s my ability to multitask. “Oh, you won’t BELIEVE how many things I can do at the same time, while also entertaining 25 little humans! I am the QUEEN of multitasking.” (insert crown emoji)

I’m here to tell you that in 2019, I am breaking up with multitasking. We had an interesting run. Like most relationships, there were butterflies in the beginning. Multitasking was charming. It made promises of a future I could have only dreamed of: wild productivity! I was able to keep up with the Jones’s and put PInteresters to shame. But, after a couple decades, I just wasn’t happy anymore. Multitasking and I were growing apart. We wanted different things.

I am thrilled to introduce my new flame, single-task living. As easy as it sounds (after all, balancing on one leg is significantly easier than balancing on one leg while hula hooping and reciting the alphabet backwards, right?!), focusing solely on one task is nearly impossible for me. I’ve been refining the skill of doing more than one thing for the majority of my adult life.  Whether it be household chores, doing work for school, eating, or managing my social life – I was addicted to finding ways to be more “productive” in a shorter amount of time. The multitasker’s high is no joke!

What I have learned though, through our tumultuous relationship, is that multitasking is not only impossible, but damaging to my productivity and my attention. In the past, I’ve dedicated my yearly intentions to being more present. The struggle was real. I could not for the life of me master being present in the moment. Ever the problem solver, I decided to dig closer to the root of the issue – turns out my propensity to do as many things as possible at one time was keeping me from grounding myself in the present moment. Major facepalm!

I will not lie to you. I do not have a purposeful plan of how I am going to approach this one little word in 2019. I’ve picked up a few strategies and skills from the books and podcasts that have inspired me to let multitasking go – none of which have worked yet. However, like many of my co-collaborators, I feel empowered just saying this word! It feels, oddly, like starting a new relationship – with that awkward, yet hopeful, beginning. I know that I will undoubtedly slip and go back to multitasking here and there; my breakups have never been clean. But, the proof is in the pudding and all my research supports that it’s time to move on. In 2019, I will seek to be a happy and productive single-tasker!

Lindsey’s word(s): Be present

I’ve always been a rule follower, but if the rules don’t match what I need them to, I like to bend them a bit to make them fit. Hence my One Little Word(s) for 2019: be present. I was going to go with the word “aware,” but it just didn’t fit for me. Being aware is different from being present. Being aware doesn’t mean I’m engaged in what’s happening. The word “present” seems more active to me, if you will.

My goal for 2019 is to be present in my classroom, in my relationships with people, and with my family. At school, my brain feels like it has 50 billion browsers open at all times, so it’s hard to focus and be present for my learners at all times. I plan to be better at shutting the browsers and focusing on the here and now. I want to be able to fully focus on the small group I’m working with, rather than barely listening because I am thinking about the next small group I need to meet with.

My relationships with my friends and my colleagues are extremely important to me, and fostering those relationships feeds my soul. I want to be present and listen more, and not be quick to have a response. I want to be able to ask more questions. I want my favorite people to know I care about them and that my mind is on them when we are together.

Lastly, I want to be present for my family. Often times I find myself getting home from school and having a lot to do around the house–vacuuming, folding laundry, prepping dinner, or even thinking about things I need to do the next day at school. When that happens, my husband and I will divide and conquer, handing our son the iPad and working to get it all done. This is definitely not being present. My focus needs to be on my husband and son, not everything else. While I absolutely can’t just stop doing laundry, I can absolutely better balance my time and find a different time to do the laundry so I can be spending week nights with David and Holden.

There will be times of failure, but I’m hoping to at least focus more on the people and things that mean the most to me. So, here’s to being present in 2019!

Corinne’s word: Balance

New Year’s resolutions are an enigma for me. I understand their purpose and since I am a goal setter, I never have had any difficulty coming up with a meaningful list of resolutions.  The mysterious part of the process is committing to my new habits over the long haul. In fact, I can’t remember a year when I have had the resolve to stick to my goals through January.

2019 is going to be different. Not because I will be more motivated or I am stronger, but because I have changed by perspective. Don’t get me wrong. Personal and professional goal setting is in my DNA, but what I’ve found I really need is balance. Giving myself the grace to make mistakes, take a night off from work as a principal, or eat a piece of pie may refresh me enough to follow through on what really matters, a healthy mind and body…Balance.

Over the coming days and weeks, I will strive to be my best, but I will also not be so hard on myself when I don’t meet my goals. I may not be as fit or well-read as I had hoped, but I will be happier. And- that is all I really need…Balance.

Melissa’s word: Perspective

It’s funny how the simple declaration of one little word can be so powerful. Over the past three years, I have had surprising success making positive changes in my life by declaring one little word as my focus for the year. While many struggle to keep a New Year’s resolution longer than a couple of months, I find the commitment to one little word to be a good fit for me.

This year, however, I found myself more aware of the weight this word would carry throughout the year; I knew from experience, I would undoubtedly be challenged by this one word as its layers of meaning were gradually peeled back, affecting more of my life than I originally thought. So, this year it took me several days to make up my mind.

Like many, I wear a variety of hats in the course of a day: wife, mother, daughter, friend, teacher, colleague. I fashion each of these hats I wear a little differently, and I try my best to wear them all with style. But some days I fall short. Some days, I have so much to do and rush from one thing to the next, that I find myself literally out of breath. Most nights, I’m snoring on the couch by 8pm. It’s exhausting.

It’s ridiculous to live life this way, so I am promising myself to put things in better perspective this year.

Somehow I have allowed all the little, unimportant things multiply and take over my time. If I am honest, I think I have justified this takeover by believing that all these things I do are for the people I care about. The reality is, my family would much rather have me spend more uninterrupted time with them instead of doing things for them.

Professionally, I have fallen into the trap of concentrating on the one thing that went wrong instead of the many things that went right on any given day. I have justified this by calling it “reflection” when the reality is, it is flawed thinking. Why am I robbing myself of joy of teaching? In 2019, I will celebrate the small things and keep the challenges in perspective. I will quiet my brain at the end of the day, enjoy the stillness of my empty classroom, and appreciate the growth that has taken place.

Changing my perspective isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to be a mind shift, and I’m going to have to accept some checkboxes are going to be left unchecked. Still, I think a change in perspective is a positive adjustment I can make in 2019.

Kris’ word: Plot twist

Okay, so I cheated. If we really want to get technical, this is two words. However, hear me out. Life is so full of twists and turns, and sometimes those twists and turns are so twisty and so turn-y that it can be overwhelming.  So as not to get caught up in being overwhelmed or within the chaos that can, really, let’s be honest, make us crazy, I choose to call out in my head “plot twist.”

Yes, life is full of chaos. Early morning wake-ups, early morning meetings, early morning jousting with the copier that always seems to break when it’s my turn. Plot Twist. Time to go use the projector, a computer screen and half sheets of paper.

Afternoon lunches that are 10 minutes long because it takes me ten minutes to get down to the teacher’s lounge, three minutes to heat my leftovers, 10 minutes of catching up with friends, eating and then sprinting back to your classroom only to find that your projector is flashing on and off on and off for no apparent reason. Plot twist. Time to use half sheets of paper and a white board.

After school  meetings for clubs, getting home to get my children to their respective activities, and my dinner that I had planned and sounded so delicious and made me salivate all the way home was actually a Pinterest classic that took eight hours in the crock pot and not 10 minutes in the InstaPot like I thought. Plot twist. Time for Cane’s Chicken.

In the middle of the chaos, the horrible no good bad day, actually stopping and saying “plot twist” can redirect my day. No kidding, it really can. Because it is my belief that after plot twists, an awesome and memorable day can occur. Because as we know from the books and movies plot twists can be the. best. part. They can produce the greatest teachable moments. They can produce the most creative outcomes. They can produce memorable pieces of life that you may not have otherwise had. They can be the good stuff that takes you from good to great. 

It is easy to get caught up in the chaos. To get caught up in the “seriously?”. To get caught up in that day or week or month or year or years (for that matter) that just seem to keep coming at me. It’s easy to feel scooped up into that tornado of a million things life throws at me. But I won’t, no, I refuse to let it get me down. I’m going to plot twist the heck out of this year. 

Friends, I hope you will join me in the joy of the plot twist, the magic that turns that Terrible Tuesday into something you didn’t see coming when you first hit that alarm.

Rachel’s word: Focus

I struggled to come up with a word because I wanted to sound sophisticated and reflective, but I ended up setting on something a little more basic. My one word for 2019 is focus. I chose this word because I tend to have a hard time focusing on the task at hand, and I often have a million other things that I’m thinking about as I’m doing something. I believe that if I can just give myself the grace to focus on whatever I’m doing, I can get much more accomplished, and do so with better results.

I need to let things go if they are not important, and use my time to focus on meaningful activities and interactions. This doesn’t mean that everything I’m doing may count as “productive,” but should feel right for me. Maybe my focus is relaxation when I’m at home on the weekend and want to watch Netflix. But when I do that, I want to focus on what I’m doing — watching a show — and not checking Facebook or my email.

Focus” for me also means putting down my phone more. I am too quick to jump on social media, and I have moved those icons to a separate screen on my phone to make it less of a habit. Because I often feel scatterbrained, it also takes me a long time to get started on a given task, so I believe trying to focus on one thing at a time will help me work on that as well.


Goal Setting · Reflection

#2019OneLittleWord

Beth’s word: connect

This is the fifth year that I’ve chosen a word to be my focus for the year. I struggled and went back and forth between several words this year (even as I write this I feel myself wavering). But, “connect” is a word that exemplifies several of my goals for 2019.

In my professional life, connecting is one of my main priorities as I work with teachers across the school district – some of whom I’ve not known well. My hope is that by building connections that trust and rapport follow so that we can have conversations about student learning. I am enjoying this new role that allows me to get to know colleagues who value reading and writing and who love working with middle school students.

I feel as if I’ve lost some of my connection to my fitness self. I’d like to get back to my yoga practice and to meditation. In 2018, I let other things get in my way and keep me from being fit and flexible. I miss the calm, powerful feeling of walking out of a studio or off my yoga mat.

Finally, with a daughter in college and one who is starting to think about that step, I want to continue to connect with them so that our relationships stay strong. I can always work on keeping strong connections to friends and family – both far and near as well.

Lori’s word: intentional

This past year was sprinkled with personal chaos and professional priorities that at times pulled me away from what is important in life.  For 2019, I am committing to be more intentional with my time, energy and love as I refocus on the work and life balance ahead.

In my office, this will mean using each moment of my day to be intentional about serving the people that matter most in my work, our students.  I want to be increasingly intentional about choices and decisions so that we can continually be better at educating and supporting students.  I will also be intentional with my time, making sure that I am keeping focused on forward motion and change that will be positive for my work and the work of my close colleagues.  Through this work, I will intentionally be joyful.

In my home, I will be intentional to be present, focused, and flexible at home with my children.  I will model a more healthy approach (I may have eaten away my stress in 2018.) to dealing with our lovely, chaotic, and busy life.  I will be intentional in fostering the relationships with my husband, my children and my parents.  I will live with intentional focus on family.

In my free time, I will be intentional in spending quality time with my closest, dearest friends.  2018 reminded me of how important friendships are and that they need a little nourishment from time to time.  I will serve my friends in the way that they serve and support me.

Here’s to a more intentional 2019!

Rita’s word: forward

Determining a word for this year was a bit of a challenge. A few words bounced around in my head, but none felt completely right. Eventually, I noticed that the words were connected; each would lead me forward.

This year I want to make choices that move me forward to my most fit self. I have drifted from the commitment to my health. As I look forward I know that I can find my way back to healthy eating, mindfulness and consistent yoga practice. I am excited to rediscover the confidence, calm, peace and strength that I believe truly define fitness.  

This year I want to make choices that move me forward to my happiest self. I am committing to prioritize things that bring joy. I often allow myself to get bogged down in the “business” of life and overlook the joy. I will be fully present and enjoy time with family and friends. I will reflect, pray and slow down to ensure that everything forward is filled with happiness.

This year I want to make choices that move me forward to my bravest self. I will take advantage of all opportunities for learning and growth. I will embrace situations that push me outside of my comfort zone. I will listen to learn and not avoid difficult conversations. I will allow my true north to guide me forward and lean into the courage this provides me.

2019 will be a year of happily moving forward!

blogging

Recommit

As often happens with things that challenge us, we have allowed ourselves to slip a little in our commitments to writing and sharing our thinking. A new calendar year is a perfect time to recommit.

In an effort to add more voices and encourage colleagues in their writing journey, we have grown our writing group. We are excited to share more perspectives on education.

We look forward to your feedback as you think beside us.

Goal Setting · Reflection

One Little Word

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Several years ago, Rita and I (Beth) discovered the “one word” movement. We decided to use it with our students as a way to focus and set a goal for the new year. It’s different than setting a resolution that can easily be broken, and we found that it had more relevance and meaning for students. It also gives one a chance to reflect on the past year and to see if/where changes can be made. At the start of the new year, we thought we would share each of our #onelittleword2018 as a way to recharge the blog.

 

Beth’s word: Gratitude

2017 brought many changes and opportunities for me. I was blessed with a new teaching partner, my older daughter was accepted to several colleges (a decision hasn’t been made), we said goodbye to my mother-in-law, and I expanded my personal yoga practice to include becoming a certified yoga teacher. The year was also fraught with struggles and uncertainty.

In 2018, I want to focus on gratitude. There are so many things in my life to be thankful for and to develop. I am lucky to have a tribe of teachers who are beginning and developing their yoga practice on Friday afternoons with me, and I am so grateful for their trust and commitment. As an educator, I am blessed with a strong learning community and with mentors who can help me continue to grow and learn. While trying to develop as a writer, I feel appreciative of the suggestions and feedback provided by this group of women. Finally, I am surrounded by a family who loves and supports me in every endeavor I try. I especially feel grateful for my older daughter and the adventure she will embark on this year.

There are times when gratitude isn’t easy to “find”, but my plan for the new year is to always look for the positive in situations and to remember to be grateful for what I have. I am truly blessed and hope to be a person who others see as one filled with peace and thankfulness.

 

Rita’s word: Faith

I have been thinking about my #onelittleword2018 since the middle of December. 2017 was a year of change and challenge and I was searching for the perfect word to guide me through 2018. As I opened my present during the Bannan family Christmas exchange, there it was at the top of the beautiful bracelet my sister-in-law chose for me.

2018 will be a year of faith. I will have faith in the OSU James Cancer Hospital doctors (and their positive prognosis) as they treat my mom’s Multiple Myeloma with chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant and am so excited for her to be feeling better soon! I will have faith in the constant support of my people and heed their reminders to take care of myself in the midst of caring for others. I will have faith in my family and remember that the hard times are often the times that bind us together. And finally, I will have faith in myself and I will continue to be successful in my journey to a more healthy me – both physically and mentally.

Faith makes all things possible…” (Dwight L. Moody) I am so excited for all of the possibilities that 2018 holds!

 

Rachel’s word: Unwind

I have noticed recently that even when I have a little down time, I am not able to fully let myself unwind and relax. Teaching can be stressful and I tend to let little (and sometimes big) problems consume me at all times, even when I’m home. I dwell on moments, or things I should have said, or what I could do to be better. Growth and reflection are important, but I let anxiety take hold instead of finding a positive way of moving forward. I am attempting to leave work at work, and unwind when I am at home to focus on self-care and personal growth goals. I need to take care of myself so I am in better shape to take care of those around me, including my family and my students.

To help me achieve the goal to unwind, I have started a bullet journal as a place where I can track parts of my day as well as other things that are important to me: books read, time spent crafting, meditation, and my marathon training. Since I am running my first marathon this year, I am going to need to find time to relax and unwind  from the stress that training will take on my body. I plan on leaning into hobbies I enjoy, like knitting and reading, and using my time most effectively at school so that I can come home and (hopefully) feel guilt-free.

 

Lori’s word: Joy

Today, as I think about a new year and new opportunities in family, faith and education, I am thinking about joy.  There is no doubt that this fall was a crazy one in my household.  We have a 1st grader and 3rd grader who are active and getting more involved in their own things.  My husband and I  are both educators and I started a new job in administration this year.  This means new responsibilities, new challenges, new work hours and routines.  At times, as my family adjusted to our new “pace”, it seemed hectic, fun and unsettling all at once.  As December approached, the Christmas season reminded me to be grounded in Him and find joy in all aspects of life.

As we enter 2018, I pledge to find joy in all that I do.  I will find joy at work and at home. I will find joy in comfortable and uncomfortable situations.  I will find joy in calm and in busy.  I will find joy in my children, my family and my friends.    I will find joy even when the world seems unjoyful.  I will recognize that joy comes from within me and I will model that for my children.  I know that joy will not always come easy, but that it will provide peace and appreciation for this wonderful phase of life.

 

Corinne’s word: Discipline

As I enter the twilight of my first career, I am getting closer to the dawn of my new one.  2018 brings the challenge of figuring out just where and how I will experience that dawn! I have made brainstorm lists, and had many conversations with my family and friends.  Unfortunately, up to this very moment, I have no idea what my next steps will be.  

Since I wasn’t blessed with patience, I recently enrolled in a ministry leadership class, hoping that the experience would give me the inspiration, the discipline and the structure I need to hear what God has in store for me. One of my assignments for the month is reading a book entitled, The Real Deal, and my most recent reading happened to be about having the discipline to listen for God to lead me in the direction He has chosen for me. What an important and affirming assignment. Anyone who knows me well knows that listening and waiting are difficult and that I will need to tap into my most disciplined self, but I am trying.  Tomorrow is the first day of my new routine, one that will require me to have the discipline to rise early enough to exercise, clear my mind, and open my ears before I begin the busy day at school.

I am waiting and grateful for the opportunity of #onelittleword2018.  It provided me the chance to make my routine public and to challenge myself.  One thing I know for sure is that I love a challenge!

 

Kara’s word: Play

“You play, you win, you play, you lose. You play. It’s the playing that’s irresistible. Dicing from one year to the next with the things you love, what you risk reveals what you value.” – Jeanette Winterson, The Passion

This passage of my all-time favorite book struck a chord with me years ago, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since. I can apply it to many aspects of my life, but I can especially apply it to teaching. To me, it means that all of life is made up of one decision after another. You can stay the same by folding and playing it safe, or you can take a risk. Simply playing is unavoidable, but weighing risks and imagining rewards is invigorating!

Teaching is like this — one decision after another. Is everything ready for tomorrow’s lesson? Do I need to make any changes based on how it went today? What about next week? Next month? Next Semester? Will I teach that content and those skills the same way that I did last year? What needs to stay? What needs to go? Is there a way that I can teach this better? Weighing the risks and rewards of making changes inspires me. Play keeps me energized.

Is trying new things a lot of work? Absolutely. Do I get worn down? Sometimes. Am I flirting with burnout? Hopefully not, but honestly, maybe. My point is this: students are worth risks. And as overwhelming research proves, children learn through play. I’m sure adults do, too, so students deserve teachers who keep playing. I’d rather risk burnout, knowing that I’m trying my absolute hardest to be the best teacher that I can possibly be, than fold.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the temptation is strong to turn on autopilot and coast, but who reaps the rewards of that? So I keep asking myself these questions: What if? What if I could make this better? Teach this better? Do this better? In 2018, I intend to play.

Writing Workshop

#WhyWeWrite

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As we sat at Panera at 6am on a Monday morning having breakfast and feeding our writing souls, Kara reminded us that the National Day on Writing was fast approaching. Our conversation quickly turned to why each of us writes. We noticed many similarities but also recognized that each of our reasons why is a little different and that these differences stemmed from the what and how attached to our why.

Why We Write

Beth →  Honestly, I find writing to be a way to process and reflect on everything. I find more power in writing my thoughts down than just reflecting in my mind (which is what I often do due to time). I write to find myself and to figure out where I want to go.

Corinne →  Writing isn’t easy for me. But the more I do it, the more I realize it can be a relaxing and creative outlet for me. When the words come easy, it is one of the most rewarding things I do in my week.

Kara → I write for a couple of different reasons. I write because I’ve recognized the importance of doing what I ask my students to do. I also write because I believe that I have something worthy of sharing. Rarely does anything go perfectly in my classroom, but when something is especially successful or impactful, I don’t want it to end with my students. I feel an obligation to share successes with educators in hopes that other students are impacted, too.

Lori →  I write to challenge myself and my thinking.  I have never truly identified as a writer, but I have always valued the importance of it.  Blogging has allowed me to experience writing differently.  Writing helps me to think deeply about what I do and why I do it. For me, it is an outlet to reflect and adjust my thinking and practice.  This is powerful and productive.

Rachel → Writing is a way for me to decompress and reflect. I keep a daily journal that I write in before bed every night, and it helps to take a weight off every time I put words down on the page. I also think of this writing as a way to remember what I was going through at the time – I have looked through past journals and reflected on the growth I’ve made since I was the person who wrote those past words. I also write to model for students – in my professional writing and the work that I do specifically to show to students. I want to be an authentic teacher of writing, and I can’t achieve that if I’m not writing myself.

Rita → I am finding that the more time I make for writing the more rewarding writing is. I am writing most often to help me reflect – on my day, my work, my learning, my life in general – and this writing is inspiring me to broaden my why. These daily reflections are spurring writing that (hopefully) moves beyond me and that I hope will help others to think and reflect.

How We Write

Beth – I write with little planning unlike what I ask my students to do. I often sit down in a quiet place and just start with a dribble or torrent of words. It depends on the topic and how comfortable I feel with the subject. When I write narratives, it is a slow, sometimes painful, process. Writing about my work or my family is much easier. I typically write more for this blog, but I do keep a journal that I try to write in often.

Corinne- I need a purpose and a passion before I can produce a piece. The brainstorming is the most important step for me. Once I have an idea, I write a first draft quickly.  My confidence level isn’t very high so I need feedback from my writing partners. I tend to revisit a draft many times before I am satisfied and towards the end of the process, I try to spend several days away from the draft so I can get some clarity about what I was trying to say.

Kara → I have to write ideas down as quickly as they pop into my head. Sometimes they go on sticky notes, sometimes they go in my planner, sometimes they go in Google Docs, sometimes in emails to myself, sometimes in the notepad app on my phone. I have ideas spread everywhere, and they’re often difficult to relocate! Once I have an idea, I have to have a quiet space to bring the little seed of an idea to life. Late nights no longer work for me and my family, so I find quiet time in the early morning hours when most of the world is still snoozing.

Lori – I start with an idea that I am excited about.  I choose topics that I want to dig deeper with or that I want to share with others.  I write a draft, revisit my writing, and then I share it with my think partners.  I don’t rush, I take my time in the process.  I appreciate the feedback from others as I write.  I always need an extra nudge from others to publish as I gain confidence in writing for an audience.

Rachel → Usually, I just start. I’m a writer who needs to just dive in, with my plan in my head. Then, as I’m writing, I will jot down little planning notes, or make boxes that say, “Look here! This is where you can go.” I am someone who loves to hold a pen, so writing in a journal or a notebook is the most satisfying to me. Digital writing is wonderful for easy revisions and the ability to share, but I’m a pen-and-paper rough draft person. I also love playing with hand-lettering, which I think lends itself to my love of journal writing.

I need a quiet space to write or some instrumental music in my headphones. I love being places where I can observe, especially when I can either be outside or look outside when I’m writing. Even when it’s not the subject of my writing, nature inspires me.

Rita → The 10-15 minutes I spend each in my bedroom sitting in my Gram’s chair surrounded by the smell of eucalyptus with my reflection journal in my lap has become one of the favorite parts of my day. I find myself writing sentence after sentence about the day. These sentences might tell of something that made me happy, or something I am still thinking about, or help me develop a plan for moving forward; they are messy, sometimes incomplete thoughts.  As I finish writing about that day I reread noticing ideas that I need to write more purposefully and coherently about so that I might be able to share them with others. The possibility of sharing this writing with others forces me to be much more careful. I find myself writing and revising, working hard to choose just the right word to convey an authentic message.

What We Write

Corinne– Nearly all the writing I do is professional.  I am not pleased with this because I am learning that writing is a personal and cathartic exercise that fulfills my verbal needs. Day to day, most of my writing is in the form of email to teachers and parents in our building, but I also enjoy blogging with my friends and texting with my daughters. I am also exploring how I can use social media like Twitter to express myself outside of my professional work.

Kara → I write a lot in my profession; I write emails, lesson plans, models of for my students, and now I blog! In my personal life, I write text messages, captions on my Instagram posts, and write an occasional Facebook post. A little over a year ago, I spoke at my grandfather’s funeral, and that was obviously an especially meaningful piece of writing for me to craft and share. This weekend, my cousin and best friend are getting married, and they’ve asked me to officiate their wedding, so I’m currently writing their wedding ceremony, which is exceptionally exciting and an unbelievable honor!

Lori – Much of my writing is professional writing that I do for my work. I am an idea writer.  When I have a thought or idea, I always need to jot it down (often on a post-it!), but then I take these ideas and elaborate further.  Sometimes these ideas turn into an email conversation with a colleague or a tweet or a conversation or a blog post or a professional development item. I write when there is a purpose – the format often changes.

Rachel → My favorite form of writing right now is my reflection journal, in which I write thoughts from the day, but it also serves as a gratitude journal. Being reflective is what helps me grow, and for me is a method of self-care. I also write models for students, but most of the time I show them a “final product.” I am going to work on showing them more of the messiness of the writing process. Blog posts are another form of writing I do, and a fun way to challenge myself to put my writing out there for others to see. One of my dreams in life is to write fiction, so I usually have at least one story cooking on the back burner. I don’t always give much attention to these, but I like knowing they are there.

Rita → Journaling is the most consistent writing I do and often leads to the two professional writing adventures I am currently enjoying – blogging with my writing friends and working on my dissertation. Also, I Tweet pretty often, write emails for work and text with family and friends.

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Why do you write? How does your why connect to what and how you write? How can we help students identify their why and encourage their what and how?