Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Who Inspired(s) Me to Write...

My 2nd grade teacher let me write a short story, "The Dragon in My Garden", and sent a letter home to my parents about me being a writer. I was hooked. I'm 30 years now into diaries, journals, and blog posts.

Writing gave me a new insight to its value when I started reading my mother's daily journal entries a few years ago, (she passed away 25 years earlier) and I noticed my own writing began to change with it. So did my motivation to write.

Although I never felt stifled as a writer during high school and college, I'm not sure I was ever able to explore my writing thoroughly, and I know I wasn't able to develop myself as a writing teacher until I learned to understand my own processing at the Greater Kansas City Writing Project in 2002.

There's an article floating around on Twitter right now from the New York Times about re-connecting with teachers on Facebook. I can't visit with my 2nd grade teacher anymore, but I'm blessed with teaching during the age of Facebook and just last week a former student posted a compliment on my wall to how I inspired her writing. Fortunately, I get to say back, "it was you, and all your classmates, who continue to inspire my own writing and being a writing teacher." This constant connection and re-connection continues to pull me toward writing and its value in my life.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

How to Really Love Your Kids by Sara Allen

I was talking to Sara after SI today and I asked her why she thought her kids loved her class. She said "because I really love them." And then these gems started rolling off her tongue. I typed them as she said them. She teachers 4th-5th grade in Springfield, Missouri.

"Pick up their pencil when it rolls off their desk.

Make sure they're wearing their coat when they go outside...and zip it up.

Go outside and try to catch a football even though you never can.

Let them try on your high heels...who cares how much they cost.

Be yourself.

They know who you are...and they know when you are wearing a mask.

Be authentic.

Be true.

It's not all great--they will get mad at you and they will say things that you did even though you really didn't do it. They will say bad things, you can't let that change how you treat them the next day.

Hold the door open for them. Say hello every morning.

Hold the door when they leave. Say goodbye.

If they are having a bad day, a piece of gum can turn things around.

Let them write a note or journal if they can't get into their math that day.

They can totally tell if you're just there and you are not honing in on what they are saying...this is one of the most important things.

They will feel love if you know they really care. It's not a perfect formula for getting them to do what you want, but you are acknowledging that the are humans and you are in a human relationship with them.

Be determined to get through the bad times. When you are pushed, and pushed, and the end of the day you must reconnect and wish them a good evening.

Your tone needs to be respectful.

When you do something silly--tell them how you are breaking yourself out of the box.

Know their ages--they are cute and they are dolls--but they are little people.

Let passion ooze out of everything you do and everything you say.

Let students feel your energy.

Let your room take on that energy...and feed off of that energy.

Maybe that's love. I don't know. But that's what it boils down, honesty, and willingness to learn, grow, and change.

Say no occasionally when they ask for a piece of candy.

Don't give compliments that aren't true. It loses it's meaning.

Be explicit with your feedback--things are just "great."

Recognition is important.

When they give you a picture with your name spelled wrong, hang it up anyway.

When they make you a happy anniversary poster and it's spelled totally wrong and it's 4 feet long--take up the wall space anyway.

When they give you a cookie with their dirty little fingerprints on it, eat it anyway. You won't die.

Be geniune.

Be truly thankful.

When they bring you a wilted flower they forgot to give you last Friday, you put water in a vase and you put it on your desk and you leave it there until it's totally dead.

When vomit splatters on your heels and your skirt...remember that it washes away."