Yesterday I started with a new intervention group of seven third graders. It did NOT go well. I think they felt embarrassed, or something, because the giggles and elbow jabs didn’t stop for 30 minutes. Not a good way to begin.

Today I decided to push the reset button with honesty and intention. I began by acknowledging that I wasn’t happy with how things went yesterday and figured they probably weren’t very happy either. Next, I explained that we weren’t just doing another ABC group. We would actually be delving into the nitty-gritty of the English language and learning so much about how words work and how we apply word knowledge to get more knowledge.

I recognized and praised the accomplishment of each of these students as English learners and reminded them that when other students were learning phonics, they were learning the names of things in English. I expressed my strong belief that in the long run, bilingual students have so much to offer the world.

Finally, I reminded them that when I asked them if they thought a group to help them “get words off the page” would be helpful to them as readers. They all said they needed help with that and this group was something they wanted to participate in.

I learned again that being honest and up front with students goes a long way in the intervention process. They know their needs and when we confirm and name those needs, it relieves them of the pressure to keep faking it. The change was

What a difference in today’s lesson. I love teaching.

February 19, 2019

You might have noticed that I gave my blog a little face-lift. I’m looking forward to the March SOLSC as it will be my sixth year! I began writing more intentionally and started my blog late in February 2014. I have never regretted the time I have spent here writing and the time spent reading your blogs at TWO WRITING TEACHERS. There is so much to learn and so many different ways to grow in this process. It was growth to risk my first poem, my first photo upload (don’t laugh), and my first comment to another writer. Now I’m trying to continue to grow as a writer and a user of this amazing technology.

Changing my blog theme felt overwhelming. I picked my previous theme the first year I participated in the SOLSC. Do you want to know how I picked it? I chose the same theme of the person who gave me my first comment on March 1, 2014. I remember thinking: if I use his theme, will my writing seem as better? I couldn’t believe I got such a beautiful response on my first day!

So, changing themes. How do you decide what looks good? How do you handle over 400 choices? Should your theme match your blog name? Does anyone care or think about that stuff? What about headers? Do you use the ones provided, or do you use your own photo? And what about color schemes? Does this come naturally to everyone but me? To help calm my fears, I did what I always do. I bought a book: WORDPRESS FOR BEGINNERS 2019. I definitely feel like I’m still a beginner and have a lot to learn. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to work through this book and try to understand and use more features. Maybe you’ll see some!

Reflecting on my five years of blogging there are some things I wish I’d known and done from the beginning. First, I would have titled my pieces, rather than just dating them. As a growing writer, I think I need to give my posts the respect of a title. Isn’t that what I would want my students to do? Honestly, I see my practice of using the date as a title is either lazy or just a safety net – a way to avoid commitment to my work. Another area for growth.

Next, I wish I had had a little more blogging savvy and set up categories and tagged my writing from the beginning. Now I have this nagging feeling that I really need to go back and add those things. Especially now that I wonder, “Did I already tell that story?” Any advice or tips you can give me are welcome.

I appreciate you, dear Reader, more than you know.


February 5, 2019

A reflection on a month of my OLW: Lift.

Today I’ve been considering why we call so many of the things that lift us “the little things.” Is it that they are often surprising, small moments of beauty, clarity, or wonder? Does the fleeting nature of seeing a gorgeous sunset, a pair of cardinals, or a soaring red shouldered hawk qualify the experience as little? Certainly for me, the lift from such things is anything but little.

And what about words that lifted me today? Nothing earth shattering. I was walking on the bike path and am used to the “passing on the left” warnings, but then a biker passed and said, “Good evening.” There was a musical quality to his voice. I replied the same. A moment in time. A kind exchange. A lift.

On my walk, walkers and riders passed me frequently since it was unseasonably warm (74 degrees in February in Virginia!) and I heard Korean, French, German, and Spanish. Languages are so lovely to hear, even when you can’t understand.

I’m grateful for all that lifts me. I hope I lifted others as they went through their day. I told a student that his persistence was impressive. When I asked if he knew the word “impressive,” he tried really hard not to show the pride he felt inside. He is a 2nd grader who tries to be “cool.” He’s a capable, natural learner. I look forward to watching him grow.

I thanked a colleague for giving me needed reminders twice today. She saved me some embarrassment and the day was better because of her. I like the quote below, and know the inverse is also true: I am lifted when others rise.

Image from Google Images