Today, I presented a group of students with a stack of books. We’d been exploring character development and they were to choose a book to read before writing about how the main character evolved during the course of the story. I tried to provide a wide variety of books that I thought would appeal to the kids in the group.
J picked up two books and I could tell that he was really weighing his options. Either book would have been great choices, but he seemed torn. He flipped through each book and looked at the front and back covers. He glanced at the stack of books, but none of them seemed to attract his attention like the two that he already held. Finally, he looked up at me and said, “I just don’t know what to choose. If I pick one, then the other is not going to feel wanted.”
Honestly, it took me a minute to comprehend his words. Thankfully, he continued to talk about how it was hard to choose between the two books. I agreed with him, but assured him that he’d also have the opportunity to read both books. He seemed reassured, chose a book, and was soon leaned back in his chair with his knees up against the table, reading happily.
I have a fifth grader who I am going to miss when he “graduates” to the sixth grade at the end of the year. One of the things that I really appreciate about him is that he pays attention to things. He really doesn’t miss much, if anything, and Thursday was no different.
Thursday was one of those incredibly frigid days when the wind chills were hovering around zero. My principal told us on Wednesday that we could wear jeans on Thursday. Normally, with a donation, we can wear jeans on Fridays and I gladly pay the price for the comfort of a pair of jeans. So, I wore my brand-new and incredibly warm Virginia Cavaliers sweatshirt and jeans on Thursday. However, when this student, D, walked into my classroom and looked at me closely, he immediately announced, “It’s not jeans day!”
Now, my students are used to my unfamiliarity with the date. They typically have to remind me to change the date on my whiteboard, so I’m sure that D figured that I’d gotten mixed up. I almost hated to tell him that teachers had a free jeans day, but I explained why I wore jeans on a day other than Friday. He then piped up and said, “but they’re not that warm!” even though he was wearing jeans. I had to work hard to smother a grin as I started our regular lesson.
Lice. That one word can make just about anyone start itching. As I wrote this post, my scalp began to crawl and I had to stop myself from scratching my head.
The school nurse came to check one of my kids and as soon as I realized what she was going to do, I started to feel itchy. This student’s little sister had lice, so this student needed to be checked. Luckily, this student was the only one in my room at the time, so there was a good degree of privacy for her. Unfortunately, though, the nurse quickly discovered lice and the student immediately started to tear up. My heart went out to her. I don’t think that she’d ever experienced lice before and I could see the embarrassment on her face.
We have a kind, sympathetic nurse and I really got to see her in action with this student. She did a wonderful job of consoling the student while explaining what would be done to eradicate the lice. She also reassured the student that no one else needed to know that she had lice and that she could either finish her lesson with me while she waited for her mom to pick her up or she could wait in the office. She decided to stay with me and did an admirable job of pulling herself together. I was proud of how she got to work and we had a productive lesson that resulted in one of the best pieces of writing that I’ve ever seen from her.
When our session was over, she quickly and quietly retrieved her backpack from her locker and headed to the office. She seemed resigned to the situation and I hope that the treatment works in a timely fashion. We’ve got a lot of reading and writing to do!
I wrote today’s slice while waiting for a doctor’s appointment this morning. I love haiku poetry and found myself gravitating to that format, although I’d like to expand my horizons with poetry. The poems below reflect my thoughts, feelings, and experiences over the past two days.
Noisy waiting room
Too many conversations
I cannot focus
Morning code red drill
Reassuring the students
We will protect them
Hats, mittens, and scarves
With wind chills nearing zero
How much longer until spring?
Resistance no more
Negative voices ring false
My words do matter!
Worth more than any treasure
Stored deep in my heart.
I discovered a new writing tool just before Christmas when shopping on Amazon and I’ve found that it is working well for me. The new tool is called a Rocketbook Everlast and it’s an erasable notebook. I can write in the notebook and enjoy a traditional paper/pen experience before scanning the pages. I can email the pages or send them to Google Drive for later reference (you can also send pages to Evernote, Dropbox, and other cloud-based destinations). Then, with a damp cloth, I can erase the pages and begin again.
I think that this tool has helped me as a writer. I’ve written quite a bit in the past couple of weeks and I’ve noticed a lack of inhibition when writing in the Rocketbook. While I love brand new blank notebooks that are more traditional, I sometimes feel intimidated. What if my words aren’t worthy of the notebook? Sometimes I hesitate to sully the pristine pages of a new notebook. I didn’t feel this way the first time I used the Rocketbook. I think there’s freedom in knowing that I can scan those pages, erase the pages, and start writing again. I also like having a digital copy of my handwritten pages because I can’t second-guess what I’ve written. The words have been saved, even when I’m not sure if they’re the right words or the best words. I’m looking forward to many more writing days with the Rocketbook!
Rocketbook notebooks are designed to be used with Frixion erasable pens.
Impostor syndrome. Two little words. Five syllables. Sixteen letters. That’s all. So why do I sometimes allow these two little words to become dominant?
I signed up for Teach Write’s Time to Write virtual writing workshop and we met for the first time last week. It was during that workshop that I acknowledged the power of impostor syndrome. I had danced around the idea that impostor syndrome was negatively affecting my writing life, but actually saying the words aloud was powerful. I had a couple of professional pieces of writing that were stagnating in Google Drive. Every time I opened one of the documents and tried to work on them, I questioned everything from my ideas to my word choices to the sources I’d cited. I asked myself if anyone would really be interested in my thoughts on the subjects before closing the documents with frustration.
Sharing my experience with impostor syndrome with Jennifer and the others in the workshop group was incredibly freeing. I recognized that I had folks who understood exactly what I meant and who were ready to encourage me to cast out those thoughts of being an impostor and to put my words out there for others to read. I’m not saying that I’ve completely eradicated all thoughts of impostor syndrome. I’m sure that it will try to creep back in as I write. But I know that I’m not alone as a writer and that feeling is priceless.
It’s the first day of the new year and I’ve been staring at a blank page for nearly an hour. I wrote a little, scratched out a little, and wrote again. I tried out a few ideas, but nothing felt right, at least not for today. So, I did some digging and rediscovered an idea from a fellow slicer, Leigh Ann Eck. Leigh Ann wrote a post about her happy list and I realized that this was a perfect prompt for the first day of this new year. You can click here to read Leigh Ann’s post.
My Happy List
- Spending time with my family
- New books to read
- A slice of my Mom’s coconut cake
- Family photos, especially of those family members no longer with us
- InkJoy gel pens
- A fully charged Kindle loaded with books
- Not having to set an alarm during break
- A cup of hot tea
- Watching UVa’s sports teams
- Listening to my students’ stories
- Hallmark Christmas movies and a bowl of popcorn
- Cortisone shots that are helping conquer the pain in my knees
- Getting that email from the library that a book on hold is now available
What’s on your happy list as we begin this new year?