Archive for January, 2022

Slice of Life Tuesday: Writing “Process”

January 17, 2022

I spent a LOT of my time writing this weekend.

Between one purpose and another, I probably spent 8-10 hours with my fingers on these keys. All of it was good, and writing in that great a volume has me wondering if I should be expecting more of myself or not. That line between grace and tough love is a fine one, my friends.

It’s funny. In my early years of teaching, I spent a lot of time teaching (yes, Capital Letter) The Writing Process. I even remember the cute bulletin board I made illustrating each of the phases of the writing process as part of the life cycle of the butterfly:
from the prewriting egg…
to the drafting caterpillar…
to the editing BIGGER caterpillar…
to the revising chrysalis…
to the WOW! published butterfly.
We’d move from phase to phase, mostly in order. Every so often I’d congratulate myself for letting students march through the phases at their own pace.

Now, here’s the thing. I don’t regret being that teacher. I don’t regret sticking to the curriculum that was given to me. I won’t judge the teacher I was back then. I taught writing with joy, and that still goes a long way towards instilling love for writing. Even though I’ve learned better models in the years since, I’m grateful for what I learned about writing as an early teacher.

I’m also grateful that I’ve become a writer myself. I’m just now at the point now where I’m truly beginning to consider how much being a writer has done for me as a teacher of writing. What it’s done for my students as young writers. I’m just now at the point where I’m discovering the magic, the limitless potential of leaning into that idea.

I’ve also thought back to those days of the 5-step plan for writing, and I remember them with a smile. The process of writing, in real life, for real people, has turned out to be a lot…MESSIER than I ever gave it credit for. When my kids ask me about the best writing process, I think my response should be to tell them to develop their own, with instruction and support. (Maybe it’ll be their weekly writing challenge – hint, hint, kids!) And then, I’ll share my own approach with them. I’d like to say it’s tongue-in-cheek, but there’s much more reality to this than I might want to admit.

MY WRITING PROCESS

Prethinking
Thinking
Mentally crafting
Writing
Taking out words
Trying not to open other tabs on my desktop
Overthinking
Reworking
Taking out more words
Tweaking
Re-reading
Taking out more words
Re-tweaking
Re-over-Thinking

Letting things sit

Rereading
Re-re-tweaking
Taking out more words

LETTING THE THING GO ALREADY

Thinking about my life choices


people of the jury, I give you…exhibit A

This post is part of the weekly Slice of Life challenge from Two Writing Teachers. Check them out!

Slice of Life Tuesday: Expanding (Blowing!) Our Minds

January 11, 2022

Last week, I talked about creating space for myself as part of my One Little Word challenge for the year.

Funny how that works.

Let me explain.

Yesterday, in my third-grade class, our lesson went completely, totally, 100% around the corner and off the tracks. We were supposed to spend our time reading Greek mythology, learning about the Olympian gods and goddesses. We were supposed to be going through the stories and taking notes on what we’re learning, questions we have and what we want to share.

And then someone started a conversation about Hades.
And then I mentioned Hades’s Roman name was given to the planet Pluto, that cold, dark unknown place.
And then we started talking about the other planet names.
And then we started talking about one culture taking over another.
And then we started talking about astronomy, and planets, and discovery.
And then we started in on how knowledge has built up over thousands and thousands of years, from the ancients right on up.
And then we talked about how our knowledge – ALL of our knowledge – stands on the shoulders of those who came before us.
And then we started in on the idea, often attributed to Aristotle: “the more you know, the more you know you DON’T know.”
And we used the example of sitting, then standing, or standing on the roof, or on a mountain top, as a way to gather more sight, more perspective.
And that led us to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s “The Most Astounding Fact.
And that led us to Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot.
And that led us to the revised video of the Eames’s “Powers of Ten.

And friends, their third-grade minds have been stretched, and pulled, and blown.

Space. We discussed LITERAL space, spacetime. And together, we held the space and took the time to allow this conversation to occur.

And I regret none of it.

Some questions left over from today

This post is part of the weekly Slice of Life challenge from Two Writing Teachers. Check them out!

Slice of Life: One Little Word 2022

January 1, 2022

Well, friends, it’s that time of year in the Slice of Life community where I reflect on where I am now, gaze ahead to the the coming year, and choose One Little Word to guide me. Last year, I started with the word gather, then slid into dissonance and landed, later on, on unfurl.

I’m glad that I gave myself the intention and grace to be flexible with my word-choosing last year, and judging how I’m feeling right now, I’m wondering if that’s how it’s going to be again this year. As a teacher, I feel my outlook and perspective depend heavily on the seasons: so much of my work and efforts are tied to what a calendar demands.

Which makes me further wonder: what is my core focus right now, and why can’t, or why shouldn’t it hold true and strong for the duration of the year? Shouldn’t my life run on certain foundational principles that never waver? I see the importance of themes that run deep, core tenets that apply no matter my situation or lot in life.

On the other hand, I know better. I know myself better, and I know life better. Yes, it’s possible to develop an amazing plan, and use that plan to guide me over time. And it’s ALSO possible that Life will lower its gaze, adjust its cap, wind up for the pitch and hurl me a big juicy curve ball. That, more than anything, is the constant I’ve come to expect.

Which still leaves me with my One Little Word. Funny, with all this talk about uncertainty, I still find myself at this time of year with a desire to look inward and downward to my roots, to rediscover and return to whatever essence of who I am and how I see myself. I’m craving certainty and grounding. It’s not the same as wanting to develop resolutions for the new year (a habit I gave up several years ago). It’s just that this time of year always threatens to detach me from my moorings. Maybe it’s the way the season pulls me from so many of my habits and routines that I start to wonder where I am in all of my choices.

At first, I thought reclaim might do. Right now, the work that I’m thinking of involves a reclamation of self. Somehow, though, it didn’t fit with my visualization of what I needed.

Restore?
Return?

And then it hit me. Maybe I’m not yet sure what I want or need. Maybe this search is going to take me some time. Maybe I require more time to figure out whichever me I’m supposed to reclaim or restore.

I need to hold space.
Space to let myself be.
Space for conflicting thoughts and emotions to duke it out as needed.
Space to ask myself what I truly want, both in smaller moments and in the long term.

So my One Little Word, at least to start this year off, will be space. Which, for me, is a lot of little words tied together like dandelions gathered at recess: space, time, quiet…all gifts that I hope to grant myself more of in the coming year.

And when my next One Little Word peeps up from the soil, I’ll pluck that one, carry it home and place it in a jar on the windowsill…