Sunday, August 23, 2015

Confession

I have confession to make....

While many teachers are mourning the passing of summer and starting work tomorrow....

I. AM. EXCITED! 

And for so many great reasons!

1.) Drew is starting Kindergarten! YAY! 

2.) I am starting off the school year tomorrow by leading a Professional Learning Session about using mentor texts in writing. And as a suggested from my friend Susan Dee, I am starting off the session by reading the book My Pen by Christopher Myers. As Susan wrote on her blog, The Book Maven's Haven, "is perfect for launching writing work with teachers but it can also be used to remind teachers to look beyond the page to truly see their students as individuals, getting to know their interests, fears, and dreams."
A major focus of my work this year, is to support teachers in seeing past what the students DID NOT do in their writing, and reading..but rather what they did do. We need to build our understanding of what is expected at each grade level in reading and writing, and focus on what the students can do and WILL DO.  "YET" is a word that needs to become central to all teachers vocabulary. Its the word that Kylene Beers talks about in her blog and her presentations. "My student is not yet using exciting verbs, but she will by the end of the year." ( This is also reference in the book The Unstoppable Writing Teacher by Colleen Cruz- highly recommend this book and was the driving force behind my Professional Learning Session).

Susan's quote above brings me back to my reason #1 on why I am excited for the school year... Drew is starting Kindergarten! 

As Drew begins his academic career, my hope for him is to experience the same excitement and love of learning that I had in school. I want his teachers to continuously encourage Drew to be creative and ask questions. For example, just yesterday, Drew and I had a whole conversation about space, the seasons and day and night. He even asked me to text my friend Matt, who is a science teacher, to ask him why there is night and day and what space looks like. I LOVE the fact Drew already knows to be inquisitive and look for resources to answer his questions. Throughout the summer, Drew avidly wrote and drew pictures. His stories were rich with action, crazy characters, and hilarious story lines. The more we read books such as: The Day the Crayons Quit, The Day the Crayons Came Home, The Book with No Pictures, Picky Nicky, and The Adventures of Beekle, the more Drew wrote creative stories and used some of the words and ideas from our books ( I think I created a Writing Thief! WOOHOO!) Drew carefully planned out what would happen and sometimes, would even make a movie of his story using his Legos!

My wish for Drew is to continue this in school. I said to my friends and husband, one of my fears about Drew starting school is being stifled. If he wants to read Lego Star Wars books, Phineas and Ferb books, and Picky Nicky books- let him. If he wants to write about Darth Vadar and fighting Luke Skywalker in the middle of a school yard- let him! If he asks a question about what grass looks like when it is first born (his exact question to me yesterday)- encourage him to find ways to investigate this. 

I am holding Drew's teachers to high expectations, and I don't see anything wrong with that. I want to create a partnership with his teachers that together we support Drew in his learning. I don't want the teachers to secretly say, "Oh boy. I have a parent conference with the DiBartolos. Kara is the Literacy Instructional Coach for the district and she knows her stuff. I better be prepared." Instead, I would love to hear, "Great! I get to meet with the DiBartolos and show off Drew's work. Cannot wait to show how much he has grown since the beginning of the year!" 

Which leads me to reason #3 on why I am excited to start the school year...

3.) I get to work with new teachers and new students! This year, many teachers switched grade levels, which means learning new curriculum. We also hired several new teachers in the three schools I work in. I actually got giddy thinking about how I could support the new teachers. Being at New Teacher Orientation and listening to the "newbies" talk about setting up their classrooms, going to the teacher supply store, creating name tags, book nooks, math notebooks..the list goes on and on..it brought me back to my first year of teaching. I clearly remember being so excited to set up my math centers, reading corner, and my golden ticket prize tree. There is nothing like greeting those new students on the first day of school. The critical thing is maintaining that electric excitement through out the year. I feel like my one of my most important roles as an Instructional Coach is to help the "newbies" and the teachers teaching new curriculum and grade levels, to not lose sight of why we are in the teaching profession. We are in it for the students. Let's not get lost in the "other stuff" that comes along with teaching. Keep centered on the students. Stay positive! 

4.) I made glitter boards for my rooms! I plan on updating them regularly and spreading "glitter" throughout the schools! Here is a great resource for inspiring quotes from scholastic and JoEllen McCarthy: Glitter Boards

So to all my teachers friends out there- CELEBRATE the start of the school year! And I guess it doesn't need to be a secret: I AM EXCITED!