Skip to main content

My Writing Tribe

For the third time of my life, I spent a weekend with teacher-writers in Lake Ann, Michigan. It was the much needed reprieve during the longest stretch of the year, the time when it starts to seem like no end is in sight. I'm feeling refreshed, full of ideas, and like I've accomplished so many things on my to-do list. 


 

Like the Nerdy Book Club, these teachers are my tribe. Though we are all from different summer institutes, we are all brought together as teacher consultants for the Eastern Michigan Writing Project. 

 

And trip after trip, I'm reminded that these people get me. 

 

I could wake up at 5:00 AM to read and write and not face judgment. I could share something I've written and only receive positive feedback if it was that early in the writing process. I could suddenly wander off alone and know that they would give me that writerly space. I could sit down in a bookstore and participate in a read aloud of William Shakespeare's Star Wars and laugh and celebrate something so nerdy.  I could share a frustration with my school or classroom, and they would listen and offer advice. I could ask for book recommendations and I know I'd leave with a laundry list. 

 

Though the demands never seem to lessen and the stakes always seem higher, I know that I can turn to these teachers, writers, and friends. And now, I'm counting down the days until the next retreat.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How Changing My Car’s Battery Made Me Think About Education

A lot of people write about how educators use the summer to “recharge their batteries,” which is true. It’s nice to have some down time to reflect and plan for the next year. It’s the one time of year when there aren’t constant demands for teachers’ and administrators’ time. No concerts, no after school events, no evaluations to prepare for.
Part of this time allows me to catch up on things that I didn’t have time for during the school year, like changing the battery in our Jeep, which is our only vehicle that has roof racks for us to transport our kayaks. We were able to get by this winter by jumping it a few times when it was really cold out, but my wife and I both knew it would eventually need to be replaced. My wife and I also knew nothing about replacing a battery.
So I turned to YouTube. And I watched video after video of someone changing car batteries in order to figure out what to do. I learned about “core charges” that auto part supply stores charge. I learned that batterie…

I should’ve taken the time

Yesterday during a teacher observation, a student asked me to step into the hall and talk with them. At the time, it didn’t seem urgent. With this student in particular, we have talked often. Sometimes it was important, other times—from my perspective—it didn’t seem that urgent. 
When I asked her if it could wait 10 minutes, she shut down. I could see the change in how she sat and participated, withdrawing into her desk and no longer asking for help from those around her. There was a noticeable difference in how she interacted with her peers the minute those words came out. 
When I noticed the change, I tried to drop everything right there and talk with her. Let’s go talk, right now, I said. No, it’s fine, she replied. And despite my multiple check-ins while she was working independently, she declined the opportunity to talk again that hour. 
Without even realizing it, I had damaged our relationship. 
We ended up talking later that the day. I saw her as she walked to her next class period…

'Embarrassment' Review

I just finished Thomas Newkirk's Embarrassment: And the Emotional Underlife of Learning. Like anything by Newkirk, I devoured it and found that so much of it rang true with my philosophy and feelings when it comes to teaching.

Here are ten lines that stood out to me in the book (in no particular order):


"Unless we can get beyond this reluctance, we never put ourselves out there to learn--we never become the novice we need to be to learn." (15)"Schools face what might be called the paradox of offering help... you need a designation for that group, and that very designation may be so stigmatizing that students would rather forgo the help than to accept the label." (33)"We need to look beyond the posture of indifference, or just see it as a posture." (61)"We are happy, gratified to offer help--that is a big part of our professional identity. But we (or at least I) are far more reluctant to receive help." (63)"Failure or disappointment is le…