Love in the rain is better than hate in the sunshine.
There are the inevitable hard days, and we all have them. There are hard days at school and hard days at home. Yet we do not have the luxury of allowing the hard days to get the best of us. We must continue to connect with others, no matter how tattered we are.
Email is my archnemesis. Being a district-wide instructional coach landed me on everyone’s “Everyone” email list. It feels like an impossible task to slog through the hundreds of messages each day. My attitude has a tendency to take a nosedive when I face my inbox.
I’m annoyed with the task, and my thoughts have room to roam as I wade through the messages, automatically sending brusque responses. Email can remind me of unresolved issues or frustrate me with an overloaded schedule. If I’m not careful, I can focus on the task of emptying my inbox, while missing opportunities to connect with people on the other end of my responses.
This doesn’t happen just with inboxes. I can often miss opportunities to connect with others because the residue of hard days weighs me down. Yet I want to be someone who is characterized by a joy and a willingness to work alongside others.
One way authors establish a character’s personality is through catchphrases. A catchphrase is an expression recognized by its repetition. This me think about how catchphrases might be just what I need to turn potential negativity into positive energy on hard days. If I want to be characterized as someone who is approachable and encouraging, then what catchphrases would help me connect rather than alienate? Here are my three favorites.
No worries. This Australian-inspired phrase is sure to ease tension. It instantly wipes away stress and allows the conversation to move forward. I like the way this phrase keeps the focus on important ideas rather than mistakes or disappointments.
Sounds good. This phrase is an instant affirmation. It allows me to get behind the other person’s ideas. It also provides a solid closure to a planning conversation because it allows for anticipation of what’s to come.
Sure thing. This phrase instills a sense of dependability. It instantly communicates that I have time to help, which is an essential message.
When a person uses the same catchphrase over and over, it becomes a signature phrase. It’s a good idea for leaders to have signature phrases that create positive energy. The benefit of a signature phrase is that it becomes automatic and predictable.
On the days when I’m not my finest, my signature phrases are still on the tip of my tongue. If someone confesses a forgotten task that will make my day inconvenient, “No worries” rolls off my lips. If someone asks me to help with a lesson plan, and I’m feeling ready to collapse under my own workload, “Sure thing” reaches their ears before I have a chance to send any other message. Soon people come to expect these signature phrases when they confess a mistake, ask for help, or seek input about an idea.
Pay attention to your signature phrases. They are defining your character. Perhaps, like me, you will want to reconsider your auto-responses and develop a handful of catchphrases that will turn toxic responses to positive energy. No worries, it won’t take long to wipe off the residue of hard days.
This week we look at ways to make quick learning detours in literacy workshops with mentor texts. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Ruth Ayres is the director of the Lead Learners Consortium in northern Indiana. She blogs at Ruth Ayres Writes and is the coauthor of Day by Day and many other books, all available through Stenhouse Publishers.
If you’re new to Choice Literacy, we hope you’ll take a tour of new and familiar features.
Do you have a student who scribbles notes on her hands to use later in writing? The writer Maggie Stiefvater does that, too! Ruth Ayres shares resources on the web for helping students and teachers discover mentor texts as well as the writing habits of some of their favorite authors.
Melanie Meehan reminds teachers of four important principles for using mentor texts effectively with students of any age.
Shari Frost presents children’s picture books that are about characters who write. If you are taking lots of detours in writing workshop to talk about behaviors and writing habits, these are wonderful mentor texts to incorporate into your minilessons.
If you’re looking for mentor texts for teens and tweens, you’ll find the mother lode at the Moving Writers blog. Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell have curated a dropbox with hundreds of mentor texts organized by genre and technique.
We hope you’ll make our online course program part of your personal improvement plan this winter. Instructors include Ruth Ayres, Katherine Sokolowski, Dana Murphy and many others. Topics in the self-paced classes include student research projects, smarter reading conferences, and better coaching cycles. Members receive discounts of 20-40% on course fees, and nonmembers receive three-month trial memberships to the website.
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.
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan explain the concept of “detour texts”—picture books to use as mentor texts in the intermediate grades to illustrate complex literary elements. They also share three of their favorite new children’s books to use as detours.
Katherine Sokolowski finds her students are struggling to understand point of view. She takes a detour over a week with mentor texts, quick assists from favorite writers on Twitter, and practice sessions retelling Little Red Riding Hood to teach the concept.
In this week’s video, Katherine confers with Ian about The Giver, broadening his understanding of the text to consider other dystopian literature.
In an encore video, Melanie Meehan talks with a third-grade teacher about how she introduces craft elements in nonfiction mentor texts.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
Morning announcements are the perfect opportunities for quick whole-school detours with mentor texts. Stephanie Affinito has suggestions for how short poems and snippets of children’s literature might be integrated into announcements.
New PD2Go: This session is designed to help coaches evaluate and choose mentor texts for demonstration lessons. Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan share some of their favorite short texts for demonstration lessons. The video is of Clare using one of the recommended texts in a small group, and includes a planning session and debrief with the teacher.
More of Tammy and Clare’s favorite short texts for demonstration lessons can be found on their Pinterest boards.
Heather Fisher and Kathy Provost use an analogy exercise for exploring the value of mentor texts. This is a quick and creative brain break to use during professional development sessions.
Teachers won’t be able to design their own lessons with mentor texts if they have no control over the curriculum. Nancy Flanagan writes about the insidious push to move from standards to required curriculum.
It is in the thousands of days of trying, failing, sitting, thinking, resisting, dreaming, raveling, unraveling that we are at our most engaged, alert, and alive.
That’s all for this week!