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Posts Tagged ‘The Journey is Everything’

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do the thing that scares you.”  Armed with years of experience and a strong conviction that writing teachers should write, I did the thing that most scares me…teaching teachers.

I led a weeklong teachers writing institute.  In March I set up a meeting with the curriculum coordinator for elementary schools in our district.  I pitched my idea.  While she was enthusiastic, I never heard back from her.  So I got the guts to send an email inquiry.  Yes, she was still interested, but I needed to meet with the middle school coordinator.  Nearing the end of the school year, I had approval and sent out the flyer.  Surprising to me, the workshop filled quickly.

Since today is about celebrating, I will not go into my disappointments.  I just want to capture the shining stars and bask a bit in their glow.

  • A new teacher, second career, only man in the class said his 17 year old daughter waited each day to read what he wrote.  His father told him to submit his essay to Reader’s Digest.  He is entering his first year of teaching confident that he is a writer.
  • A colleague from the gifted program told me I was a natural.  She said, “You seem so relaxed.  You make us feel comfortable.”  She could not see or feel the nerves churning inside.
  • Following Katherine Bomer’s book, The Journey is Everything, became a guidebook to writing a final essay.  Most teachers wrote an essay they were proud of.  We read and celebrated the writers we had found together.
  • Catherine Flynn joined us by Skype to teach us about visual literacy. (The idea to connect with her came from this post.)  Teachers took notes and talked about ways they could use art with their students.  Thanks, Catherine.
  • On the last day, tears were shed as we got into the deep trenches that writing can take us.  Sharing your own words is an act of faith.  We had become a community of writers.

Writing and sharing on our writing marathon in downtown New Iberia.

I gathered words and phrases from our writing marathon into a collaborative poem.

 

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Write free

Thanks to Carol Varsalona for this image to add my words to.

Every time I walk by the kitchen window, I look toward the hummingbird feeder. I put it out after the flood two weeks ago. The rain had stopped.  A hummingbird flew to the window and hovered looking right at me, as if he was saying, “Where’s the sweet stuff?” It didn’t take me long to find the feeder and a storage of food in the cabinet, but he did’t return…for days. I wondered if he ever would.

He’s there now, and almost every time I look. I’ve come to depend on his appearance. Like he’s the rainbow after the storm. He’s the sign we all need that life goes on.

 

Photo by Margaret Simon

Last week I read aloud the essay “Joyas Voladoras” by Brian Doyle to a group of 6th graders. This is the first essay in Katherine Bomer’s book, The Journey is Everything: Teaching Essays that Students Want to Write for People who Want to Read Them.

In his essay, Brian Doyle crushes our own hearts by writing about the hearts of hummingbirds.

(Hummingbird) hearts are stripped to the skin for the war against gravity and inertia, the mad search for food, the insane idea of flight. The price of their ambition is a life closer to death; they suffer more heart attacks and aneurysms and ruptures than any other living creature. It’s expensive to fly. You burn out. You fry the machine. You melt the engine.

My students audibly gasped. Their reaction was pure emotion.

Katherine’s book leads us all on a quest for that reaction from our readers.

Watching my hummingbird, (Yes, he’s mine. I’ve named him Chuey), I realize that the smallest of beings, those minuscule moments, can bring about an emotional reaction.

However, to be open to these moments, I must be willing to write…every day.

Monday, I asked my students to start the class time sitting with their notebooks for 10 minutes and just writing. This freedom to express whatever was happening in their heads excited my young writers. There wasn’t a sound except the clicking of pencils for 10 minutes. Then they couldn’t wait to share!

  • Jacob wrote about a song he couldn’t get out of his head.
  • Noah wrote about imagining that everything was made of candy.
  • Madison wrote about the fire drill earlier in the school day.

To grow my young students into writers, I need to help them view their world as something worth writing about.  To show them, I join them.  I write freely and share the dribble that comes out on the page.  I talk to them about how we must weed through the dribble to find some good stuff.  To find those small moments worth savoring and sharing.

If you missed it, here’s the link to the storify for the #DigiLitSunday Twitter chat with Katherine Bomer.

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