Last year, I participated in Kate Messner’s Teachers Write virtual writing camp for the first time and it was an amazing experience. When Ms. Messner published 59 Reasons To Write, I eagerly ordered and devoured that book. One of my favorite activities that was a part of both Teachers Write and 59 Reasons To Write is the “letter through time” (page 196) as a tool for generating reflections. As I get ready to head back to school tomorrow to start a brand-new year, I thought that I would use this prompt as a springboard for today’s slice as a way to reflect on the past nine weeks. If you’re not familiar with 59 Reasons To Write, I highly encourage adding this book to your professional library!
You’re about to embark on your nine-week summer vacation and a lot is going to happen in the next nine weeks! You have no idea of all the wonderful things that are in store for you. You are going to have a summer filled with experiences that will be unforgettable. You will continue to learn and grow as a professional. New connections will not only enhance your professional life, but those connections will be personally meaningful, as well. You’re going to have a summer that invigorates you and you are going to be so ready for that first day of school!
You know that trip to ILA that you’ve been dreaming about for years? Well, you are in for an incredible experience both in and out of the convention center. Go ahead and rent that car and tour St. Louis! You and your friends from VSRA will have opportunities to explore the city and to develop wonderful friendships. You’re going to hang out with three other educators who are as passionate about literacy as you are and the conversations that you have about life and literacy will engage and encourage you. You are going to laugh and share stories and make some incredible new friends while at ILA. Oh, and you’re going to have some wonderful people participate in your presentation. They’re going to be interested in learning about literacy and technology and they’re going to encourage you to continue exploring this path. I think that you’ve found your niche.
Let me not forget to mention food! You are going to stuff yourself in St. Louis, so have your walking shoes ready to burn up that treadmill when you get home. You’re going to sample so much great food on this trip, from the cornbread and macaroni and cheese at Sweetie Pie’s to Ted Drewes’ frozen custard. I promise that you’ll still be thinking about that custard weeks later! And that rib-eye at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse…well, let me just say that you are in for a treat!
You are going to have so much fun buying books for your students with the summer reading grant money. You are going to choose so many wonderful books for your children, with characters that include Babymouse, Mercy Watson, and Leroy Ninker. You’ll make lists, check prices, swap books, and overall just have fun thinking children’s books. Let me warn you, though, that the shipping is going to take longer than you expect and your carefully created schedule for book deliveries will quickly fall by the wayside. Be prepared to change that schedule more than once!
You’re also going to enjoy spending the Verizon technology grant money, too! Even though you will wonder if you’ll find exactly what you want while staying within the budget, trust me: you will be able not only to buy a nice Chromebook for your classroom, but you’ll also find some nice wireless keyboards for your iPads and it will all fit in your budget! Your students are going to be set when it comes to technology this year!
On a personal note, you’re going to have another summer with your grandfather, a summer that you didn’t expect to have. Enjoy every moment of your time together, from singing silly songs to watching golf. Store those memories in your heart (and on your cell phone because the videos will be priceless!). Soak up the time with your Mom and your grandmother, too. You’ll have opportunities to give them a break from their care-giving roles and they will really appreciate your help. When you can, take them out for a day of shopping or even just out to lunch a brief break. Always remind all three of them just how much they mean to you and don’t ever forget to say “I love you.”
When August 11th comes, you won’t wonder where the time has gone. Instead, you’ll wonder how you fit so much into nine weeks. You’ll have memories that will be priceless. So, get ready for all that summer has to offer!