Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.
A couple of months ago I was hosting a large family party. My sister Mary and I were in the kitchen cleaning up, and I discovered to my horror I’d run out of dishwasher detergent (I know, a first world problem if ever there was one). Mary was delighted at the discovery and told me, “I can make you some dishwasher detergent. Where are your cleaning supplies?” She started rummaging through my meager inventory under the sink and in the laundry room, morphing into a cross between MacGyver and Hints from Heloise. Within minutes she was pouring her concoction into the dishwasher, and two hours later I had a fresh load of clean plates and sparkling silverware. Truth be told, everything was cleaner and sparkling far more than what I normally ended up with after using my expensive store-bought detergent. “How did you learn to do that?” I asked Mary in wonder. “Oh, I learned it from Pinterest. I can make a great high energy washing machine detergent too if you’re interested,” she replied.
Mary is a science teacher. She sends me pins of funny quotes about teaching and grammar, and I know she loves pinning great baking recipes as much as I do. But her passion is science. I can’t help wandering over to the pins and quotes about writing time and again when I’m on the web. My passion is writing, and I always head back to it as my true north whether I’m officially “working” or not.
I spend a lot of my time thinking about balance and boundaries, and I’ve always had a struggle to keep work in its proper place in my life. Raise your hand if you’ve faced the same struggles (and if you’re reading a professional newsletter on a weekend morning when you could be doing most anything else, that hand should definitely be in the air). Yet there is something to be said for the joy of work that spills over into life beyond the work day. Science is all about problem solving, and there are always problems that need attention during work or play. Literacy is about connecting, and how cool is it when you have just the right words or text to help a friend who struggles?
I sometimes chastise myself for working too hard, but I am also profoundly grateful to do work I love. If you’ve spent any time around someone who hates their job, you know how corrosive a lack of professional passion can be.
So here’s to clean dishes and the mind that can’t help but wander back to the work it loves, over and over again. Sometimes boundaries are overrated.
This week we’re exploring the topic of just-right books. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
p.s. If you can’t resist a peek at some of those do-it-yourself dishwasher detergent recipes, here is a good link:
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Here are two features from the Choice Literacy archives to help you match students with books.
Mary Lee Hahn finds the criteria for just-right books shifts a bit when considering nonfiction texts. She provides tips for Matching Students to Nonfiction Texts in Grades 3-6:
What about those students who are always trying to hoard popular books in the classroom? Franki Sibberson has advice for dealing with book hogs in this brief video:
We’ve just finished our “One New Thing” series on Facebook, where Choice Literacy contributors shared changes in their classrooms and teaching for the fall. You can scroll down through our Facebook page to view the entire series:
Ruth Ayres considers the dangers of making assumptions about kids and families in The One Who Haunts You (Learning to Work with Parents):
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If you want to match students to books, you’ll need to master the art of the book talk. Katherine Sokolowski has practical tips for honing your skills:
In this week’s video, Building Stamina and Book Choice, Franki Sibberson continues a discussion with a small group of students who often abandon books. This is the second installment in a two-part video series:
The words “prompting” and “support” appear often in the kindergarten Common Core State Standards. Mandy Robek analyzes what prompting and support looks and sounds like in her kindergarten classroom by using a video example:
If you’re looking for a just-right collection of books about a specific topic, we’ve published dozens of booklists over the years, on everything from bullying to holidays. You can view them all at this link:
That’s all for this week!