Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
Aunt Stephanie and Uncle John live in Hawaii, and they regularly visit the mainland. When they do, they stay for several weeks and roll through thousands of miles as they visit friend after friend in state after state.
I am inspired by their friendships, and on a recent visit, I asked Stephanie how she does it—how she stays in touch with so many friends and has unlimited invitations to stay in people’s homes.
Stephanie laughed and said, “Oh, I just invite myself.”
Really? How do you just invite yourself into other people’s homes and fill six weeks of visits? Before I could put together a complete sentence, Stephanie continued.
“You know I send a lot of Christmas cards, right? People like to stay connected. I’m always commenting on social media posts. It’s not a lot, but I leave comments so people know I’m thinking about them.”
“I always feel embarrassed,” I admitted. “I feel like I should do a better job staying in touch and that it’s been too long to reach out.”
“That’s silly.” Stephanie swatted my hand. “Think about it,” she said. “Don’t you love hearing from people, even if it’s been a while?”
Of course I do. I paused and considered her perspective. I never think someone should have been in touch sooner, I’m just glad to hear from them, and I feel special because they’re thinking of me.
It is easier than ever to make connections around the world, but let’s not lose sight of maintaining connections. We don’t need to make it more complicated than it needs to be. Simply reach out and let someone know they’ve crossed your mind. We can mail notes to students, shoot a text message to a past student’s parent with whom we used to be in daily contact, reach out to a retired colleague, or leave a comment on a friend’s social media post.
This week we take time to consider the use of visuals to strengthen literacy instruction—plus more, as always.
Ruth Ayres is the editor in chief of the Choice Literacy site and the director of professional learning for The Lead Learners Consortium in northern Indiana. Ruth previously worked as a middle and high school language arts and science teacher and a K-12 instructional coach. She is the author of Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers (Stenhouse, 2017) and other books for teachers of writers. When not writing professionally, Ruth collects stories of adoption, faith, and whimsy. You can follow her at Ruth Ayres Writes or @ruth_ayres on Twitter or Instagram.
This month’s featured contributor is Tammy Mulligan. Tammy co-authored It’s All About the Books and Assessment in Perspective. At work, you can find her teaching and thinking alongside elementary teachers and kids. On other days, she is in her garden, hiking in the woods, or hiding behind a pile of children’s books. Connect with Tammy on Twitter @TammyBMulligan or Instagram @TammyReadsKidLit.
Join the Choice Literacy Book Club! Tammy Mulligan selected Ouch! Moments: When Words Are Used in Hurtful Ways by Michael Genhart and Viviana Garofoli as our August read. Grab a copy, and join the conversation using the hashtag #ChoiceLiteracyBookClub.
The Choice Literacy podcast returns for a second season! Don’t miss the first episode of the 2021-2022 school year as Cathy Mere and Ruth Ayres talk about this week’s theme.
Carly Ulmer uses visual literacy to build writing skills with her seventh graders through two powerful minilessons. This article was first published in 2015.
Mandy Robek and Cathy Mere organized the 12th Annual 10 for 10 Picture Book Roundup. If you’re looking for must-have picture books, this is the place to check!
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
The value of picture books with secondary students is often questioned. This field experience allows insight into the depth and power of picture books for adolescents. The Picture Books and Older Students Field Experience course is free to members and available to purchase for others.
In this week’s encore video, Ruth Ayres explains the way image, text, and sound work together to create meaningful writing. She helps us consider where the writing carries the most meaning, as well as how these modes work together.
In a Coaching Minute, literacy coach Jen Court explains how she supports coaches who are just beginning their work.
Lauren Brown West-Rosenthal shares 12 inspiring videos perfect for school staff meetings.
In a Deep Dive course, Matt Renwick guides instructional leaders to implement and strengthen instructional literacy walks. Through literacy walks, leaders seek out promising practices, note and name them during formative visits, and lead coaching conversations with teachers. The outcome is not only school improvement, especially in literacy, but also a community of learners who engage in continuous improvement as a natural stance. Free to Literacy Leader members.
What would I eliminate if I had a magic wand? Overconfidence.
—Daniel Kahneman, psychologist, Nobel Laureate, and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow
That’s all for this week!