Monday, May 25, 2015

Three Years of Words...

A word, after a word, after a word is power.
                                                                        -Margaret Atwood

My blogging journey, and now labor of love, began three years ago this week with a post titled Reflections with Ten Days Left.  I started this blog with the encouragement of a dear friend and my most trusted colleague, Katie Kinnaman.  I had fallen into a small rut.  There was so much to say, and so many issues in education to battle, that by staying within the four walls of my own classroom, I truly felt I was not doing enough.  Katie encouraged me to start blogging to do something bigger.  So, I did.  

Three years, 106 published posts, 51 current drafts, 70,000+ visitors, and hours upon hours of thinking and writing while gazing out the window of my cozy San Francisco apartment and sipping Starbucks Italian roast coffee, I no longer feel like I'm in a rut.  I do feel that I have made a difference- even if a small one.  As the quote above from Margaret Atwood says, words are powerful.  I truly believe the right words, spoken or written at the right time, can change the world.  While I realize I haven't exactly changed the world with my words, I do know that I've made it somewhat of a better place.

Thank you for reading and sharing three years of my words, friends.  

Three years of words... 

Most Meaningful Posts to Me (I actually teared-up while rereading a couple of these)

1.  I'm Proud to be an American Public School Teacher, written after the Sandy Hook tragedy

2.  My Year With Jeffrey, reflections on what I learned from teaching Jeffrey, a student with autism

3.  Be the Change:  It's Time We Empower Our Young Girls, a post sparked by anger from sexism 

4.  Breaking Up is Hard to Do, thoughts on leaving the classroom after 12 years of teaching

5.  Why I Love to Teach- in Less than 500 Words, the power of teaching- changing a child's life

Five Most Read Posts (the titles are self explanatory)

1.  Why I Ditched the At-Home Reading Log 

2.  Accountable Talk in the Classroom

3.  Teacher Prep:  It's a Continual Journey, Not a Year in College

4.  Using Our Own Writing to Teach Writing:  The Power of a Teacher's Writing Notebook

5.  Kiddos May be on Break, But Their Literacy Development Isn't! 

Five Writing Lessons Learned

1.  Avoid the phrase, "The research says..."  The research says anything one wants it to say.  I've learned that anyone can find research to support any claim.  So, when discussing research, it is just so critical to name who researched it, when it was researched, how it was researched, and what it exactly found.  "The research says" on its own means nothing.  

2.  Write, read, reread, revise, sit on it for a while, and reread/revise again.  Organization, elaboration, spelling, transitions, and so many other aspects of writing matter.  If any of these qualities of good writing are off, readability and possibly even the message will be lost.  Always check, then double check.  After that, check again.   

3.  Frequently read other writing.  I have become a better writer through reading and discussing the writing of others.  I frequently visit and share blogs of other respected educators.  Some of my favorites include Indent by Kate & Maggie, Two Writing Teachers, Kylene Beers, and so many more.  The best writers are the most frequent readers.

4.  Not everyone agrees with me.  One of the biggest lessons I've learned through writing is that not everyone agrees with me- and, some are pretty vocal about it!  Due to this, it is so important to have evidence and support to back up claims I make.  However, I also know it's just as important to listen to different opinions and ideas.  My mind has been changed from the powerful words of others.  So, I am now always ready to back up my words, but also I am open to hearing different words and opinions as well.  

5.  Always speak highly of others- no matter what.  In education, I do truly believe that the vast majority of us started in this field to help children.  For many of us, this has grown into a desire to be the absolutely best classroom teachers we can be or to improve the system as a whole.  However, for many others it has turned into something else.  Regardless of my opinion of any one person or organization, I have learned that it is never wise, helpful, or necessary to speak ill of anyone.  Nothing good can come from negativity- especially in a public forum.

It's been a wonderful three years writing The Teacher Triathlete. I'm looking forward to many more years, lessons, and words to come.  Words truly are powerful- perhaps the most powerful gift we can give and receive.  

Thank you again for reading my words and sharing your own words, friends.

Shortly after I started The Teacher Triathlete, I found
this piece of art:  Sketchbook by Richard Curtner.  It
hangs on my wall in view of my writing spot. 

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