Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Out of the Classroom...and Into a New Job!

Things have changed a bit since the last time I posted (which was far too long ago), and I thought I would be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge again this year, but things happened quickly in the last few months, and it got away from me!

I am no longer teaching middle school language arts, as I left the classroom at the end of the semester, and this week started my new role as the National Literacy Consultant for Custom Education Solutions

It was a difficult decision to leave my students behind, yet I am thrilled to be able to share my experience and passion for getting good books into kids' hands with other teachers.

So what does this mean for this book blog? 
I'm not totally sure yet. 
I don't think I'll be posting here as often, but am working on ideas to share through Custom Ed.
And you can still find me talking books on twitter @heisereads & my 
new literacy consultant account @HeiseCustomedu, and on goodreads.

If you are in the Midwest, I hope to see you in one of the Custom Ed showrooms to help you customize your curriculum and choose books for your students sometime soon!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Reading IS Part of My Job!

I started thinking about something today while I was sitting in my room during my prep hour. My prep is the hour before my lunch, so sometimes I grab my lunch early and sit in my room and enjoy reading a book while I eat. (I know, I know,  I'm lucky to not have the typical 20 minutes to shovel something down that is built into some teachers' schedules!) But sometimes I feel like I'm not using my prep hour as efficiently as I could be.

You see, for my prep today, I sat and read a book in my classroom. It was not because I didn't have any other work that needed to be done. I had ended at a really good/suspenseful part when our independent daily reading time ended in the previous class period, and I was anxious to know what would happen next. 

But all of a sudden a thought occurred to me: What if someone were to walk by? How would they interpret what they see? And I started to feel guilty for not doing paperwork and grading stuff during my prep time.

But then I called myself out on it. Why?? Reading IS a huge part of my job! I am a middle school language arts teacher, and if I have any chance of getting my 7th and 8th graders to read, I better be doing A LOT of reading myself. 

If I am doing my job well, I am using every occasion I can to model readerly habits, to show my excitement about books, to share book recommendations, to encourage reading during and outside of class, to build a culture of literacy beyond my classroom walls, and to know books that will hook my students. I can't teach reading well if I am not reading myself.

So that means reading. Often. A lot. As much as I can. And quite frankly, sometimes that break in the day is what I need to go into the afternoon with a good mindset. I had no reason to feel guilty. The paperwork can wait until after school when the kids aren't around - I'd rather they walk by my classroom and see me reading a book that they might want to read next. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What Slicing Daily Has Done for Me (SoLSC 31/31) #sol15

What Slicing Daily Has Done For Me
  • ·        It's gotten me back in a writing habit (I hope to keep it going!)
  • ·        I’m trusting my voice more, and remembering again the value in it
  • ·        Emotions came out in ways I didn’t know they would & I was able to process them much more effectively through writing about them
  • ·        I’ve gained new insights into my students’ lives and personalities
  • ·        I was reminded why I enjoy writing poetry so much
  • ·        It’s given me ways to practice different ways/forms of writing
  • ·        I’m realizing once again how anti-real life the five paragraph writing style is
  • ·        It’s rebuilt our classroom community (through students’ participation and my sharing)
  • ·        I’ve been vulnerable in my writing, which were some of the more impactful posts (based on comments) that I wrote
  • ·        My passion is reenergized
  • ·        It’s reminded me that I need to be a writer myself to be a more effective teacher of writing
  • ·        I’m remembering how hard it can be to write sometimes, but that if I just go with it, it usually works – kinda like Field of Dreams: if you type it, it will come
  • ·        It’s reminded me that I am a writer, no matter what form that might take
  • ·        I remember that I like a challenge, and being held accountable by a larger audience, because it’s good motivation to get going!

Monday, March 30, 2015

When I Don’t Know What to Write About (SoLSC 30/31) #sol15

Sometimes I just don’t know
What to write about
So I sit and look around
And try to get inspired

Finding inspiration
In the things around me
Can be as easy as
Seeing my students
Looking out the window at the weather
Remembering a favorite quote
Reminiscing about books
Smelling my favorite Mr. Sketch markers
The remnants of
My teacher life
Scattered around a classroom

Grasping for inspiration
In the air
Can be as difficult as
Trying to pull a word out of my head
Dragging a line out of the paper
Struggling to hear a sound
Knowing that it is
Just outside of my reach
My fingers grasp for it
My eyes search for it
My brain scrambles to
Compare, contrast and
create an idea

I try
To find that inspiration
Only to realize
That I have already found

What I was seeking

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Blown Away By My Students' Writing (SoLSC 29/31) #sol15

I've spent several hours today grading. Grades are due tomorrow morning, and due to issues with not feeling well this past week, I was left with more of it to do today than I planned on. 

But...sometimes I'm blown away by my students' writing. I'm so glad I've had them participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge alongside me because I've been seeing such growth in their writing, and am finding ways to get to know them even better than I have prior to this. I know for sure this will be something I will have my classes participate in again in future years.

Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry, sometimes I cringe, sometimes I smile, sometimes I gasp, many times I'm blown away by what my students are willing to write and share with me. I am thankful that some of them trust me enough to share some fairly deep and important things through their writing. Much of that is coming through most clearly when they experiment with writing poems.

But at the same time, when I read things like this, my heart breaks a little bit for what some of them have to deal beyond the typical adolescent angst. And don't even get me started on how this student might have performed on a standardized test the next day if there had been one. 

I want to thank A for giving me permission to share this one on the blog. Her words got me thinking today and left me sitting for a few minutes just processing the power of such few lines.

It’s 1 a.m.
we’re just sitting there…
watching t.v.
It was 4 gunshots...
Everyone stop and everything is still... Sirens that's all you hear in your ears...
Written by an 8th grade girl