The past two weeks have marked a first I never had on my radar: The death of a former student.
Although many pages in my notebook detail my thoughts and reflections on this event, I am realizing that sometimes deep emotions and difficult pondering have to live inside my notebook for a little bit longer--possibly indefinitely.
So, in the interest of keeping my promise to myself of posting once a week, I decided now would be a great time to give my maybe-monthly update on my goals for the year.
I think I eventually will write something addressing the tear-stains that lie only a page-flip away from today's journal entry. I will write something, not because I want to or because it doesn't wrench my soul, but because it is my duty as a writer.
It sounds hefty and philosophical, but I truly believe it is the gut-turning task of a writer to parse through difficulties that others may avoid or bury in the hopes that a little more light might be shed on a difficult path for those who trod and crawl on the rocky roads after us.
But, again, that will be for another day; a day when the emotions have taken root in my notebook and have flourished into words and not just grunts and rants.
This goal update is for my progress in February and in March, since March is almost OVER. (HOLLA!)
Goal #1: Read 52 books this year. (ONE BOOK BEHIND SCHEDULE) Unlike January, I only managed to read two books in February. Part of the reason was that I got about halfway through two different books which I decided to abandon. Abandoning books is very hard for me, but I just wasn't feelin' it. I always tell my students, "Your time is too important to read books you don't like." I always forget to take my own advice. Then, in March, I recovered and have already finished four books, and am halfway through two more as we speak. Since February, I've read Go Ask Alice, Thirteen Reasons Why, Wild, Me Before You, Writing with Mentors, and Between the World and Me. I'm very proud of this list, because I think it definitely exhibits what Penny Kittle calls the reading roller coaster. She claims that real readers read difficult and challenging texts, as well as texts that are great stories or comforting/entertainment reads. Overall, I feel great about my reading goals this year.
Goal #2: Establish a sustainable exercise practice. (ON TRACK, STILL IMPROVING) Alright, real talk here. I'm struggling between the fitness that I want and know I can have, and the work I am willing to put in to get there. Anybody with me?
Here's a question: Who wants to sign up for a race or something with me? I think I need some sort of fire lit beneath me so that I HAVE to do things. Does anyone else operate that way? Knowing that I have a race or a goal or something of that sort, and I actually might die if I don't train, makes things work a little better.
Goal #3: Submit writing for publication; aim for at least 5 NO's. (NEEDS MORE WORK) I have never enjoyed writing as much as I have in the past few months. It has been an amazing joy to get to know the ladies of Three Teachers Talk, and--by extension--other educators with whom we have the privilege of conversing. I also had an article featured on Circle Seven Five's new online magazine, CityGuide. I will also have the privilege of writing for my friend Lindsay, again, in the next few months. I have not, however, taken as many risks as I should have by this point. I have not been turned down. Does anyone have a place that you think I should submit my writing that might be a risk to go after? I've considered looking up submission information for The Everygirl (I've talked with them before, and they are great!), Real Simple, Magnolia Journal, and possibly a few other educational websites. I honestly think I just need MORE TIME!
Goal #4: Experiment with different ways of assessing independent reading. Shana wrote about reading logs and grading independent reading last week after reading Pernille Ripp's manifesto to STOP THE GRADING. The way I've worked more toward this goal is simple--MORE CONFERENCING + MORE BOOK TALKS. I got away from talking about books I'm reading as consistently simply because of fear. I was afraid I couldn't be passionate enough about a book to convince anyone to read it. I was afraid I hadn't read enough books to be able to recommend. I've found that if you are talking to kids about what they are reading, that is sometimes the most efficient way of assessing a student's growth in creating a reading life. I also hope to have a cumulative project by the end of the year in which students communicate how reading has changed their thinking. (Stealing your idea, Lisa!)
Goal #5: Apply to Graduate School. (CHECK!) I've applied, and I've been accepted! I start in May on a ONE-YEAR Grad Program. Gulp. The program is Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Gifted and Talented. My new goal is to pass my first three classes (May through August) with flying colors. The colors represent the new neural pathways that will be carved at lightning speed. (Nerd alert?)
Goal #6: Apply for the Book Love Foundation Grant. (CHECK!) I'm still praying like a broken record about this one, and I'm considering applying for another grant. I need to get on it, PRONTO. IF YOU BUILD THE CLASSROOM LIBRARY, THE BOOKS WILL COME--English Teacher Field of Dreams?? Anyone?
That's it for today! Happy almost APRIL, everyone.
Tell me in the comments one goal that you've kept up with and one you've failed this year--I want to hear about it!