Friday, June 25, 2010

Disturbing the Status Quo: Reflections from Recruiting for Diversity

I'm starting to think, (which isn't surprising seeing as I'm attending a National Writing Project event.)Somewhere in the middle of Margaret Wheatley's book turning to one another, she reminded me that the moment we start to think, we start disturbing the status quo. In fact, I think she says it's dangerous even. A good dangerous I would add. I want to write a little bit later about an earlier chapter in Wheatley's book, but for now, my journey2learn this weekend is focused on diversity. Accessing the diverse contributions in my community, making recruiting for the OWP relevant to the work needed to be done in our service area, and learning to connect with the rich and diverse world that the Ozarks is.

My real thought to my eyes. Look around and start noticing. Begin. Don't say it, but live it and commit to seeing all as blessings and not problems. Commit to seeing the diversity around me as the contribution. Commit to serving the underserved.

Already I'm beginning to open my eyes to how I DON'T live this in my life. And it's embarrassing.

At this point it's my first personal reaction to the literature I've been reading at the NWP's Recruiting for Diversity Institute. "How to Tame a Wild Tongue" from Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldua gave me insight into the culture of language and how that culture reflects the identity of self. How you view yourself based on the dominant culture's behavior, words, actions, etc. This must be true in any situation. Actually I know it's true in any situation. I'm thinking of how my sense of self is connected to the dominant culture in the house I was raised. I felt worthy and whole if I was doing, saying, and thinking what my parents thought. It's got to be this way for our kids in school as well...tying identity to what the "popular" kids want and think. We all attach our identity to someone else, and that reminds me of a powerful phrase I pulled out from Margaret (Meg) Wheatley's chapter "Willing to be Disturbed" (pages 38-41 in the book turning to one another: simple conversations to restore hope to the future.

"We don't have to let go of what we believe, but we do need to be curious about what someone else believes. We do need to acknowledge that their way of interpreting the world might be essential to our survival."

What you say, do, and believe is essential to my survival as a growing, learning, thinking human being. My challenge to myself is to remember this luxury of learning from and listening to others.

Another challenge to myself: I want to try not being part of that dominant culture, although that is who I am, but instead, step outside of myself and understand and learn to value, no, I want to say "honor", those who feel domininated.

I feel like there are a lot of mixed ideas in this reflection, but I can't work through my own thinking without being confused and convoluted at first.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Personal Response: Writing Process: A Shining Moment by Sondra Perl

I read the last two pages and it's reminded me of learning to become a teacher researcher in my own classroom. Last week I attended the OWP Teacher Inquiry Institute and I'm thinking in researcher terms, but these pages led me there as well.

Sondra Perl reminds us of some key points as the researcher: that you are not "testing" and coming to a conclusion, but your research is ever growing, ever changing, ever moving along with the study. It's important to know that you stand outside to conduct the research, but that within the context of your own work what you consider relevant will appear in your classroom. In fact, it's vital that you are engaged in what is being study, but it's equally vital, as much as possible, but us to understand our own impact on the results.

Important reminder: It's not a test, but pay attention to the details.

Important reminder: Attend to the work in slow and careful ways. Do not rush the process.

Important reminder: I am not alone. We do not work in solitude--we work with writers, use the students.

Important reminder: Studying about writing is never done. There is always more to see, more to do, more ways to look at how students create and how new texts are always evolving.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Write. Therefore I Tweet

Melissa led us in freewriting after reading Terry Tempest Williams excerpt "Why I Write" from Creative Non-fiction. I write because I am meant for expression. I am meant to share, to talk, to write. Therefore...I tweet.

Today is the second day of the Summer Institute. Last night I went home at 5:00 p.m. This is the first year, in four years of facilitating, that I didn't feel like there was "something pressing to do for the next day." It felt good to go home to my porch, enjoy the outdoors of the Ozarks for a little bit. Take a walk with my dog, grab dinner with a friend, and then, once I got home, I felt inspired to read, to write, to look at our schedule and see what's ahead. Instead though, I tweeted.

This is the first summer institute with live tweeting for the OWP, and it's been fun to experience. Actually, it's my first SI with live tweeting anywhere. I've been tweeting since December of '08, but didn't actively follow my Twitter account until October of '09. This opened up a whole new world of professional learning for me. Twitter is my space, and I'm away from my students. I was a Facebook teacher for many years, and still am, but Twitter has become my place for learning, and reading, and getting a grasp on what's happening in the world around me. Twitter is a place where I can follow people with the same like-mind. I read what they are writing, I read what articles online they are sharing. They read about the weather in Colorado and what's for dinner in Kansas City. But, it's more than just that. The social network aspect isn't what keeps me tweeting. In fact, I find myself deleting tweeters who only update about their social lives. Mostly, it's because I can find those updates on Facebook. However, tweeting an online article about paperless classrooms, or writing instruction, or technology in the classroom, or grading without letter grades, those are the articles that keep me going back to twitter. I can search anything with the hashtags, but I admit my tags for the last few months have only been writing project related as this is my professional learning community and I have a deep trust and commitment to those who have participated in writing project events around the nation.

And...time's up...more to come tomorrow I'm sure.

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Table's Response to Processing Freewriting

I had a hard time getting started today. I'm not sure if it was everything I'm thinking I need to be doing, or thinking about the day ahead, but I had a hard time getting that process going. Plus, because I was posting to my personal blog, I almost think that hindered me. Maybe I will go back to private writing in a journal.

Actually, once I started freewriting, it helped me to organize my thoughts and kind of gather what it was I needed to do.

Shelli: I don't yet know what or how feel about freewriting.

Vanessa: I mostly enjoyed writing, but I really enjoyed listening to others. I felt nervous about sharing. I want to steal lines from others.

Kelly: I think it's so nice that everyone's mind is going everywhere.

Allison: I like freewriting--I feel more focused and my head feels clear. I also think it builds community and sharing.

Marla: 20 minutes is a long time to write. Do I even have enough to say?

Just a total mess of a freewrite...for the first day of SI.

I've been thinking a lot about my classroom recently. I feel like there's a shift happening. Back to freewriting. I feel a little scattered, and a little unorganized. I feel unprepared, or is that just nervous. I have all of this knowledge, but am I ready to share it, to help others guide themselves to deeper research and meaning in their own work.

It makes me think of Senior Projects. (I think everything makes me think of Sr. Projects.) But on the night of the Senior Showcase, I think the kids must be feeling this nervousness that I feel. This knowledge of what's about to come, yet knowing there's the unexpected about to come as well. The unpredictability is what is scary and exciting all at the same time.

I'm not freewriting very well at all today. I feel preoccupied. It's the first day of SI in many locations and my twitter feed is going crazy. I'm going to have to turn off the tweetdeck so it doesn't pop up on my screen every 10 seconds. Thomas showed me how to do that the other day, but, of course, I totally forgot how. And I don't want to take the time right now to figure it out.

I'm sharing with my small writing group a piece on the traveling journal. I'm about to conduct research on it for the TEacher Inquiry Institute. I think EVERY teacher should go through the TII. It would be kind of neat if it were a class that all graduate students had to take, but, sometimes graduate students don't have to have teaching experience. I wonder if programs would be more authentic, more relevant, if they stuck to the prerequ that teaching experience is required, because that changes the whole context of research.

I've got butterflies in my stomach. Butterflies I say, but they are beautiful Monarchs. We are writing for a long time this morning. I'm glad for this. What if I don't have a "timed" writing in my classroom next year? Not starting out with the 7 minutes. Not having the clock running. Will that change the outcome of the freewriting?