What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I love Christmas cards. They are one of my favorite things about the holiday season. We make a big deal about opening them after dinner. We pass them around the table, leaving a trail of glitter and warm hearts. We hang them on the doors that pass from our dinner table to the back deck. I leave them up for a totally inappropriate amount of time.
The thing about Christmas cards is if you don’t send them, then you don’t receive them. It’s silly, but true. I didn’t realize this was a thing until one year I noticed my brother’s Christmas card on my parents’ fridge. “Hey! Why didn’t I get one?”
“Did you send me one?” Jeff asked. I stared at him, confused. I tried to figure out what that had to do with receiving a card from him. “If you don’t send one, you don’t get one. That’s just the way it works,” Jeff explained.
As a mom to three kids adopted as older children from foster care, I know the holidays are rocky times, but I decided to prioritize Christmas cards. We began taking pictures in October, and I ordered the cards before NCTE in November. Then I used Thanksgiving break to address and stamp them. It seems like a simple system to prioritize something important to me.
Before Thanksgiving, 50 of our 275 Christmas cards were ready to mail. But, the winds of December began blowing hard. You know these winds, because they blow hard in schools.
I didn’t mail a single Christmas card, not even the 50 that were already stamped.
It is now summer and our 2019 Christmas cards are piled on a cupboard shelf. Sometimes I wonder if I should still send them. Perhaps they could be a “Christmas in July” sort of thing?
What if we all use the rest of July as a time to reflect on the things we hoped could be priorities but somehow became too much in the winds of a busy school year? We all have pushed hopes to the back of dusty shelves or hung big dreams up with the cobwebs. What are the hopes and dreams you’ve always wanted to make happen during the school year? Now is the time to create a plan to make them happen. Trust me, it can’t be any sillier than sending Christmas cards in July.
This week we look at the power of naming and identity early in the school year. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Lead Contributor, Choice Literacy
Ellie Gilbert is deeply moved when her high school student connects to a text in a startling way through her name. It’s one of those magic moments that keeps teachers coming back to classrooms, but is nearly impossible to share with others.
The start of the school year is often all about building reader identities in classrooms. And then a few weeks pass, and many of the activities that help students celebrate their reading histories and preferences are forgotten. Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share ways teachers can continue to help students define, refine, and expand their reading identities all year long.
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Suzy Kaback reminds us that the language we use to talk about challenging students shapes our perceptions of them. That’s why she has moved to calling students small teachers.
Gretchen Schroeder uses picture books to help her high school students understand and write persona poems.
In this week’s video, Melissa Atwood leads her first-grade class with a minilesson early in the school year on making connections to texts.
In an encore video, Max Brand uses a name chart with his kindergarten English language learners to teach letters and sounds, and build community.
Our names are such a big part of our history and who we are now. Jen Schwanke reassures a teacher who struggles with student names, and at the same time gives her practical tips for making sure her pronunciations are correct.
Benjamin Laker shares three wise tips for leading others when isolated.
Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
That’s all for this week!