One Sunflower

new desk

I’ve decided to leave One Sunflower – it will still exist here, a desk in the blogosphere – but I’ve started a new blog for writing about my teaching titled Crumpled Notes.  I hope you will look it up and follow me there as well as on my writing blog, Wake Up and Write.

My goal is to continue posting once a week.  Writing for the Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers on Tuesdays is still a way for me to have a deadline for posting.

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in what other profession….

sols_blueToday was a teacher work day for our staff.  A day to continue our work grappling with cycles of inquiry, the 5D out of the University of Washington and at the core of it all, sharing and documenting our work as teachers of children.

Other professionals have such clear evidence of success – surgeons, investment bankers, real estate agents, lawyers, vacuum cleaner salesmen.  The only other profession I can think of that sometimes has to wait for evidence of “success” are religious houses.  Would a pastor be asked to document evidence of transformation?

Is there a test for that?

I am glad our staff is taking part in a process to determine our own hoops.  I know some of my colleagues are frustrated but I love it.  I love the questioning and the self examination and the desire for evidence.  Yes!  I actually celebrate that I am sifting through and lifting up my student work and making sure it answers the questions I have as a professional about my skill as a teacher.


when you’re on a journey, it’s a good idea to check the map occasionally….

So, Wednesday, December 5th was “trip-check” day – if I’m going to stick with that metaphor!   I headed off to the staff work session with a notebook full of data I’ve collected over the semester and notes written to prepare for this meeting.  I felt like I knew where I was going – just like I stated in my last entrythe taxi arrived, I was on my way…. when… 

flat tire
empty gas tank
no $$
lost my wallet

pick your nightmare
it happened

journey derailed…..

The meeting opened with one of our fearless teacher-leaders stepping up to the projector, walking us through her own cycle of inquiry work demonstrating the process we were to use that day.  Her model was clear, her work deliberate and comprehensible.  But when it came time for me to do the same work I stumbled, fumbled, fell…as I wrote about on Wake Up and Write.

In fact, when the break came, I cried.  I stood in my classroom with a fist full of tissues and cried.  I knew I’d been doing good work and I knew my efforts were tied to my goal but I couldn’t figure out how to organize the evidence to substantiate what my gut was telling me.  I went back to the meeting, decided to just start writing everything I knew and trust that the process would right itself if I just persevered.

The pressure is on.  As a staff, we are all to present our cycles of inquiry with supporting data, and to name our next-step goals to each other on January 2nd.  Luckily this meeting was just a warm up, a day to check equipment, make sure there weren’t any holes in the tent, worn straps on the back pack, inadequate supplies of bug repellent.

Oh – and to check maps.

My map!  Of course.  I pulled out my map, (the work on my cycle I had been working on since the beginning of the year,) and checked to make sure I remembered where I was headed in the first place.

This is the process I should have begun with last Wednesday.  I should have gone back and reviewed more carefully the question I named for myself to explore in my cycle of inquiry this year:  I want to explore and learn more about developing effective verbal and visual tools to support my youngest students and those with the least amount of English as they learn the use of drawings to tell stories. And I wanted to increase opportunities for them to demonstrate their understanding.

Once I reflected on my question again and used it to guide my review of the data I have collected, the process was easier, and as illuminating as I had hoped it would be.  My gut was right but I needed the evidence to be right too.  I looked over photos, anecdotal records, videos, assessment scores – yup, check.  Back on track….

Sunday night
full gas tank
$$ in my wallet
patched equipment

I’m on a new flight headed to the tarmac once again.  And this time my map is in my front pocket!