Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Slice of Life: A Note for Caitlin - Welcome to the Profession!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Lisa, and Melanie
                   for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday and nurturing our writing lives.

Our faith community is a small one, but we're like a small family.  So this past weekend when a young man's girlfriend visited Seattle and then came to church on Sunday, we were excited to meet her.  I was especially excited when I learned that Caitlin will begin a year of intern teaching in 8th grade Language Arts this fall.  I wanted to show her all my favorite teaching books, introduce her to all my favorite bloggers, and share some of my favorite web sites.  I wanted to assure her that this profession is worthy of her finest efforts.  

Last night I attended our 8th grade graduation.  They are the last group of sixth graders I taught before retirement, now headed off to high school.  Our graduation speakers are always the students themselves.  They write a memoir piece about their middle school years and from those pieces, our faculty select a few pieces to be shared at graduation.  Prominently featured in the writing that is shared is the importance that a teacher played in a student's life.  And Caitlin, you may be that teacher for some student!  

But back to my original intent of this slice . . . sending a note to share books, blogs, and links. Caitlin, I think the most important book you could read this summer is one that I read as I reentered the classroom after staying home for fourteen years, In the Middle by Nancie Atwell.  
In the Middle by Nancie Attwell
There's a third edition available now.  I had the first edition which I replaced in 2002 when I found this used "like new" second edition at Powell's Books while my kids were attending a Dave Matthews concert.  (Yes, I'm a book nerd who writes the date and where I purchase a book inside the front cover).

And I must include three other titles from my bookcase of professional books that I've loved and used frequently.  It's totally impossible for me to stop with one recommendation!

And now, I'd like to introduce you to the world of teachers who blog.  It's an incredible way to grow your own PD (professional development).  My involvement with teachers who write began at Two Writing Teachers, and there's no better place to learn than from fellow educators.  Don't miss the detailed "Looking For Something?" categories at the bottom of the blog that allow you to search their extensive archives by topic.  

A few summers ago I joined some of my blogging friends in a summer book club group to read and discuss Linda Reif's book, Read Write Teach.  Involvement in this group kept me reading this significant book throughout the summer.  This leads me to another important opportunity that begins soon, It's a cyber book club for teachers. You can read more about it at Cathy Mere's blog, Reflect and Refine.  This summer we're reading DIY Literacy by Katie Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts.  
It's a slim book, just over 100 pages.  You still have time to purchase the book and get started before the first discussion begins in July.   

I'll wind up this discussion of teachers who blog with an invitation to visit the sites of two of my favorite teacher bloggers, Tara Smith who blogs at A Teaching Life and Ruth Ayres who blogs at Ruth Ayres Writes.   

And now, Caitlin, it's on to the final category of things I want to share, websites and/or links that I enjoy and hope you'll visit.  (If you think I'm sending you too much, be glad you weren't in the recent graduate class where I shared a dozen favorite blogs and a dozen interesting links.)  You may already know about these from your coursework that is preparing you to teach and write in our digital world.  But just in case, you don't know them, here are my top four interesting educational links/sites that I hope you'll explore.  

  • School Library Journal Newsletters  - You can customize your newsletter subscriptions according to your interests.  And they are completely free!
  • EdutopiaCreated by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, this is acomprehensive website and online community that increases knowledge, sharing, and adoption of what works in K-12 education."
  • Teaching Channel - "Teaching Channel is a thriving online community where teachers can watch, share, and learn diverse techniques to help every student grow."  I loved watching videos of real teachers showing me how to implement a specific strategy in my classroom.  
  • The Educator Collaborative - "Think tank and professional development organization working to innovate the ways educators learn together."  You can view free, archived sessions of the Spring 2016 #EdCollabGathering.  Be sure to take advantage of this free PD resource which includes many sessions targeted for middle and high school teachers.  And I must sneak in one more blog that I learned about from one of the spring gathering sessions - Moving Writers.  A recent post, A Writing Teacher's Guide to Summer, is sure to inspire your summer journey.  
Caitlin, I hope this gives you some entry points for your summer preparation.  It was a pleasure to meet you, and I wish you a wonderful intern year.


  1. This is a great list, Ramona. It's perfect for both the novice and the veteran teacher. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ramona, this post is not only for Caitlin but for all literacy teachers. Thank you for collecting a fine array of summer reads.

  3. Hi Ramona, this is great advice for a new teacher. The book for me that most influenced how I saw teaching and learning way back in the 70's was Teaching as a Subversive activity by Neil Postman. I really appreciated how much he turned the traditional models of teacher student relationship on its head.

  4. What a beautiful post for Caitlin, and for all teachers, maybe especially new ones, Ramona. I agree about In The Middle, always a 'go-to' book. It was one I started with along with Lucy Calkins' books. I know you're waiting, thinking about you & that new grandson getting ready for his family!

  5. How nice, Ramona! What a great way to mentor a new teacher! I hope we see Caitlin slicing soon!!! Exciting times!

  6. Thank you so much Ramona! It was a pleasure to meet you and be able to talk to someone with such a passion for teaching. I'm so excited and can't wait, thank you for all the helpful resources!!