Saturday, October 17, 2015

Chapter One Reflection of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Deb Dressler, the Memorial Elementary School principal, started a staff book discussion on Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. I'm loving the book and the discussions. 

The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, 
even (or especially) when it's not going well, 
is the hallmark of the growth mindset. 
This is the mindset that allows people to thrive 
during some of the most challenging times in their lives. (p. 7)

My biggest mantra, thanks to Don Murray, is "Trust the process!" To trust the process ourselves and instill this skill into our students is so important yet incredibly difficult to embrace in our society, especially in the school culture. Even though it's difficult, I believe it's totally possible.

I love, love, love to model the reflection process to students and give them time to set academic, social, and emotional goals as well as to reflect often. Thanks to the gradual release of responsibility, if we guide students to set goals and reflect, they may learn to embrace and automatically practice these important skills beyond school into the real world.

When I started teaching, my students created their portfolios in binders. (While teaching at North Hampton School and Kensington Elementary School, my students conducted Student Led Conferences at the end of the year to share their learning process and current goals.) Now Google Forms, Classroom, and Blogger makes the portfolio/reflection process SO MUCH BETTER AND EASIER! (I don't miss binders at all.) I love that students at Memorial have their own portfolios using Blogger. I hope to assist teachers and students at Memorial to trust the process even more.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dinner with Pam: A Discussion about Learning Commons

Last night I had dinner with my good friend, Pam Harland aka @PamLibrarian. Even though we got together for personal reasons, we couldn’t help but delve into many professional discussions. (Pam wrote The Learning Commons: Seven Simple Steps to Transform Your Library and is a national speaker.)

We discussed many aspects of libraries. As always, Pam continued to blow my mind. Her statement that has resonated with me the most was, “Libraries used to be designed for consumers and now they need to be designed for creators.” YES! That’s why all libraries should be transformed into learning commons. I want to work in a space designed for students (by students, teachers, parents, administration, and librarian) so that they have everything they want and need to learn by creating.

As a classroom teacher, I would have loved my students to have such a space to use.  Now, as a teacher librarian, I want to create a learning commons for students to question, explore, read, write, collaborate, get messy, learn by mistakes, reflect, thus grow.

We intended to take a selfie once we left Martingale Wharf...oops, we forgot!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Day 2 of the #100Words100Days #engchat Challenge: Transparent Writing?

Day two. I’m still excited about the 100 Words for 100 Days #engchat Challenge; however, I feel too much pressure to transparently share my (at least) 100 words for all of the 100 days. So, I decided I will publish the pieces I am comfortable with onto my blog and I will keep the other drafts to myself.

I’m okay with my translation of the challenge because my goal is to regularly write more for myself, beyond what I write for work. I can achieve my goal regardless if I make my writing public or not.

Never a Day Without a line
Horace 65-8 BC
I am extremely grateful for Don Murray, who gave me this sign that hangs above my desk. Don didn’t share all of his writing, nor will I. The point is that I write everyday, so everyday I will write.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Day 1 of the #100Words100Days #engchat Challenge: Maureen Barbieri

After participating in last night’s #engchat, "How We Write: Learning from the Process of Writing," hosted by Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher, I am motivated to write a series of reflections about my gratitude as I embark upon the 100 Words for 100 Days #engchat Challenge.  

While I was in graduate school (in the Education Department) at UNH, my cooperating teacher, Nicole Outsen, persuaded me to take a course at the NH Literacy Institutes (in the English Department). Thankfully I listened to her because this suggestion drastically improved my life.

So, in July of 2003, I took my first writing course at the NH Literacy Institutes and was fortunate to have Maureen Barbieri as my teacher. Maureen taught me so much; and, if I had to summarize my epiphany of that summer, it would be that Maureen instilled into me that writing is therapeutic

Above are two of Maureen's books (published by Heinemann)
I ran out to purchase as I was taking her class (which was not required). 

Eleven years later, I’m still not ready to share the work I wrote that summer with the world, but I shared the poetry I wrote in Maureen's class with my students every year I taught in a brick & mortar classroom. And I’ve kept Maureen’s meaningful feedback close to me too.

On July 18, 2013, Maureen responded to a poem with a lengthy letter that began with, "Dear Rachel,
Knowing that you love to read poetry reminds me why you and I have this bond; we are kindred spirits."

Last November, I attended NCTE and ran into Maureen. (A future post will explain my purpose, and gratefulness, for being at NCTE.)  I’m so thankful to have reconnected with Maureen and to have her in my life on a more regular basis. For fun, I'm helping her use Twitter and it feels incredibly wonderful to share a tool with someone who brought so much healing and joy and enrichment into my life.

Pictured left to right: me, Maureen and Beth Stacy (a colleague who was in the same class),
reconnecting at NCTE, 2013.

(A special thank you to Meenoo Rami for founding #engchat!)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

When are Schools Going to Change?

Today I read, Looking for Alaska by John Green.  (I was lucky enough to catch a cold so I had a great excuse to stay in bed all day and read!)

It was a fabulous, captivating book!

John Green provided some questions he was asked via Twitter and Tumblr.  (So cool.)  A student asked, "What were two major symbols in the book and who was the enemy?"  I SHUTTERED as I read this.  If my high school teacher had asked me to answer these questions in an essay, I probably would have hated the book.

There are so many deeper, and more interesting, aspects of the book to discuss (and I will, with my bookclub). When are schools going to change?!?