The Fire and the Journey

The kindling (experience) has always been there.
The flint (ideas) and stone (desire) were at the ready.
It just required a spark to ignite this blog and bring it to life.

Attending the NCTE Conference in Boston this weekend provided the perfect spark to bring the smoldering writer in me to a blazing blogger.

Reconnecting with Laura Robb at NCTE 2013.
Reconnecting with Laura Robb at NCTE 2013.

I had the very good fortune to connect again with Laura Robb and she encouraged me to just write.  When she’s not on the road, she disciplines herself to write everyday.  I thought about her dedication to the craft of teaching and her contributions to teachers and felt very inspired.  Laura had faith in me.  I have faith in myself.

Linda Rief
Linda Rief

In another conversation with Linda Rief, she shared, “The biggest tip I can give them (teachers) is to start to write and read for yourself.  So many teachers read, but so many of them don’t write.  It’s hard, and it’s risky, but it’s so valuable because the kids really trust you as a writer, when YOU write.”  I thought about that exchange for quite awhile. I’m one of those teachers who reads prolifically, but not so much with the writing!  Time to change that.

I’ve always been fascinated by writers. I love the backstory of novels and books that I cherish.  Whenever I get an opportunity to hear authors describe their craft, their process, their thinking behind the story I am captivated.  While at NCTE I had several of those opportunities.  I sat in sessions with Kirby Larson (Hattie Big Sky), Barbara O’Connor (Greetings From Nowhere) and Karen Cushman  (Katherine, Called Birdy) as they discussed creating story worlds and the incredible degree to which they research their topics to create accurate portrayals of their characters and setting.

Kirby Larson
Barbara O’Connor

Creating Story Worlds
Creating Story Worlds
Karen Cushman

I was then treated to a presentation by Jarret Krosoczka (Lunch Lady) who shared his process behind creating his graphic novels and artwork.  We learned here he gets his ideas, how he develops his characters, and how he physically creates his books.   He let us in on some of his personal life and how his experiences and relationships have shaped the author/illustrator he has become. His TED Talk How a Boy Became an Artist is truly inspiring.

Jarrett Krosoczka

But one of my favorite encounters didn’t happen in a convention hall, it happened in the lobby of our hotel.  Meeting up with some other Maine educators, they introducedOne For the Murphys me to Lynda Mullaly Hunt.  My response…”Wait, One For the Murphys”?  I had just finished reading this brilliant book and couldn’t wait to talk with Lynda about why she ended it the way she had and to ask her what the epilogue might have been.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Lynda, a former 3rd grade teacher, was gracious and delightful to talk with.  She introduced me to the characters of Carley and Toni like they were her own children.  She shared her non-conventional writing process, which I encourage you to  ask her about! She inspired me take up the pen and just write!

Lynda Mullaly Hunt

So now, I need to step inside the shoes of a writer.  I need to walk around and get comfortable.  I need to break them in and not fear the blisters or aches.  I need to walk that mile.  I hope you’ll come along with me.  As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu reminds us ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I am ready to begin that journey.

What’s on my Book Radar!

Professionally speaking, I just picked up two books that I am dying to dive into:

Reading in the Wild 55411_9781452268637

I have had the very good fortune to converse on a few occasions  with Donalyn Miller and I must say her passion for books is totally contagious.  Her first book The Book Whisperer has been a staple on this literacy coach’s desk for quite awhile.  I can’t wait to venture into the wild with her to support  a lifelong habit of reading for our students.

I have long been a fan of Harvey (Smokey) Daniels and was so excited to see him speak at NCTE.  The title of his book The Best Kept Teaching Secret pulled me right in!  He demonstrated the power of some of these written conversations during one of our sessions.  I realized immediately the effect of shaping my thinking and not merely reflecting my thinking as I worked with a partner to dialogue about a topic.  Looking forward to implementing these strategies into classrooms and observing the thinking and learning that springs forth.

Hope you all have a safe, restful and reflective Thanksgiving.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson