Connection doesn’t exist without giving and receiving. We need to give and we need to need.
In Rising Strong, Brene Brown tells the story of how her grandmother always kept tin plates under the sink, cleaned and ready to serve the hobos who would knock on her door looking for a warm meal and cup of coffee. After serving the hobo, the plate would be boiled and whisked under the sink again, ready to use for the next stranger who knocked on the door.
The phrase “easy mark” sprang up during the Great Depression. Transients created a series of codes (or “marks”) they would leave near the doors of homes, letting their kin know which ones housed people who would provide sustenance, and which ones should be avoided. An “easy mark” was someone who would always open their doors and do their best to meet the basic needs of anyone on their stoop.
Brown marveled at her grandmother’s generosity and lack of fear. She eventually realized the kindness came from empathy — there had been times in her grandmother’s youth when she had been destitute and hungry, and relied on the generosity of strangers. Because she knew true need, she could share unselfishly, with an open heart.
If you’re reading this newsletter, you’re probably an easy mark in the best sense of the phrase. You’ve got a stash of chocolates to share with a colleague having a bad day; you’re the first to volunteer for extra duties or committees. There is pride that comes from generosity. But if you’re always the one doing the giving, your generosity may also be a form of control. Always being the go-to gal or guy builds up your armor, and makes it that much harder to see your own needs.
It’s humbling to realize we can only truly understand the needs of others when we acknowledge our own. When is the last time you asked for help with a difficult task? For many of us, it’s difficult enough to say no when asked to help anyone. We make ourselves far more vulnerable when we knock on anyone’s door and say we can’t do this alone. But if we want to help others, we need to walk in their shoes. And that means moving from being an easy mark to accepting a hard truth — we can’t know what it means to give unless we allow ourselves to humbly receive.
This week we look at home and school connections. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Free for All
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links, follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChoiceLiteracy or Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/choiceliteracy/]
Meghan Rose and Ruth Shagoury share the value of A Literary Taste of Home for young readers in this booklist:
Jennifer Schwanke describes a common experience for principals — meeting with parents who are worried about the progress of their child:
John McCarthy at Edutopia makes the case for turning parent/teacher conferences into collaborative conversations:
For Members Only
Bitsy Parks has her first-grade students record their writing as part of a regular workshop and assessment routine, and then uses QR codes to share the recordings with families and the larger community:
There may be few literacy homework assignments more despised by families than the dreaded reading log. Gigi McAllister proposes some alternatives, and explains how she keeps families in the loop on reading progress:
Katherine Sokolowski describes some Ways into Personal Narratives that use visual tools to build the home/school connection and stronger prewriting skills:
In this week’s video, Ruth Ayres meets with Zoey, a quiet writer who is drawn into the conversation through family stories and a mentor text with vivid illustrations:
In an encore video, Zerina chats with Ruth Shagoury about the poetry she writes focused on her war-torn homeland (Bosnia):
That’s all for this week!