Sunday, August 17, 2014

Teachers Write - Weekly Reflection #7

Wah! Teachers Write is over. It made me sad to see Kate's Friday Farewell and Gae's final Friday Feedback (for the summer). This summer was full of fun and lots of traveling for me and loads of writing. Being able to connect with our Teachers Write community again was definitely a highlight of this summer. Over the last three summers I've learned so much and know that I've developed, grown, evolved as a writer like crazy. NaNoWriMo got me semi-started on my novel but Teachers Write really helped me to get to where I am now. I agree with Gae that the summer went way too fast but I can say that I made the most of it and that it was great. If you read Kate's post, you saw that Teachers Write will be back next summer and that's hooray-worthy...and even more exciting, Kate has a new teacher book coming out, too. Did you see!?! 59 Reasons to Write is going to be amazing, I'm sure. I cannot wait for this book and will be sharing it with colleagues for sure. 
Teachers Write is officially over for this summer but we have Kate's 59 Reasons to Write to look forward to and next summer will be here before we know it. So what do we do until next summer and Teachers Write comes around? Well, we get to share our love (and sometimes frustrations or vulnerability or doubts) with students. This is where Teachers Write gets to make it's most important impact: on students in our classrooms. 

Let's reflect this week on which strategies, supports or ideas worked for you this summer. Participating in the It's Monday! What Are You Reading? meme helps me look at how my reading life ebbs and flows. Reflecting every week during Teachers Write helps me see how my writing life has its own ups and downs. There are a few things that stand out as far as which strategies keep me going.
  1. Knowing My Why - I've thought a lot about why I write...especially when it's hard and I find myself revising again. I stick with it because I believe in the process. I believe that I can continually make my writing better and learn more about myself along the way. Whether I'm writing fiction or non-fiction, writing fuels me. I'm passionate about spreading my love of writing with teachers I work with and ultimately, to students. If I ever feel discouraged, I remind myself why I write.
  2. Setting Goals and Checking In - I hope you enjoyed our Sunday Check-Ins and that you learned something about yourself in terms of setting goals and reflecting on them. I'm a very goal-oriented person. Just this week, I received a compliment from a colleague who said that I get things done. That felt amazing and I'm very proud of being able to get things done. My strategy for getting things done is being specific about what my goal is - whether it's word count or minutes per day - and then deciding how I'll check in and adjust what I'm doing. Going forward, I'll continue to use my Google spreadsheet to keep track of how I'm doing.
  3. Making Time and Space - Yes, making time again. It's about making time. I know that I have to make the time and that sometimes finding a super-productive space makes a difference, too. Each week and each day, thinking about when I can fit writing in and where has been a great strategy for making sure I get writing in. This past week I wrote twice during lunch at work and there was one night when I didn't, promising myself I could make up for it the next night. Being conscious of the fact that I need a plan for when and where makes it more likely that my writing will happen.
  4. Rallying My Team - Last week, we talked about having a support team. For me, when I set my mind to something, I tell my family and friends and I seek out people who might share their experiences and/or be my cheerleaders. I believe in the growth mindset and know that I always have something to learn so it helps me keep going if I surround myself with people who encourage me. 
If you've read Visible Learning for Teachers by John Hattie, you know that the number one influence on student achievement is self-reported grades - of students self-assessing and setting expectations for themselves. This is similar to setting goals and checking in and by analyzing my writing life - what works and what doesn't, when I feel energized and motivated and when I feel ready to throw in the towel - I know what strategies work well for me. I'll continually be reassessing my writing life, trying new ideas and comparing them to what I've found to work already. I'm excited to see how I'll develop as a writer between now and next summer when Teachers Write rolls around again. I have no idea what this school year has in store and where my writing will take me but I'm ready to find out.

When working with and encouraging student writers, 
I urge you to remember your Teachers Write experience.
Stay true to your writer self and nourish the writers you teach.
What strategies did you try? 
Which exercises and prompts got your writing on a roll?
What conversations and feedback helped you stay the course? 
Who were the people who believed in you and recognized you as the writer you are? 
Why not invite students to try their hand at writing? 
How might you help students truly know that writing is a process and that it's okay to start with crap?
How might you help them find the strategies that work for them?

I didn't think I was going to cry, but Oh! the tears. Teachers Write changed my life. YOU have entered my heart. I agree with Imagine Dragons and this lyric from their song On Top of the World: "If you love somebody, you better tell them while they're here." Thank you for being here, thank you for committing to Teachers Write whether this is your first, second, or third year. I appreciate you and your support of me and for letting me into your life by sharing your writing life with me. I know I feel pretty gosh-darn great and proud of everything I accomplished this summer and you should, too! Here's a song for you...I hope you take the time to celebrate - dance around your house, throw your hands in the air in victory, pat yourself on the back, buy yourself a Starbucks to celebrate. However you decide to celebrate, please do. Whether you did as much as you hoped to do or not, you win. Bravo, you!
My Teachers Write Weekly Recap:
This week was a much better week for me. I wasn't able to make time to write everyday but I did find a few spots when I could focus in. I stayed up super late Friday night working away on this revision. I'm almost to the end and feeling like I'll definitely be ready to query soon. I'm amazed by how much I have evolved as a writer in the last three years. I know we won't be officially checking in next week but I'm going to keep writing away. My goal is to finish revisions and send out queries soon. I plan to continue writing here, for Choice Literacy, and drafting my next novel. I'm going to make it official: by the beginning of Teachers Write next summer, my goal is to have a complete first draft of my next novel. Feel free to tweet me and check in on my writing!

A reminder of my rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.

Today, in the comments section:
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the non-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the YEAR ahead?
Which strategies work for you?
What will you continue going into the school year?
How has Teachers Write impacted you?

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