The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, August 13, 2015

First Impressions

         Today is the first day of school (with kids). I met five of my students and their families at "Meet the Teacher" night on Tuesday. For the other nine (yes, I only have 14 students so far, which scares me) , today will be the first time they get a chance to start to get to know me.

       One of my students is the sister of a funny student of mine from last year. I don't think she's as quirky as her brother (I like quirky... imagine that!) but her family and I already get along well, which ensures we're going to start the school year off on the right foot. 

       One of my students who I met for the first time on Tuesday is going to be a hoot--I can tell already. Her facial expressions let me know that she is a storyteller. She's got some spunk. She's got a spark. (I appreciate people who have animated faces too--I KNOW, another surprise!)

        I have pencils sharpened. I have the room arranged. And I have a plan.

        I just hope I make the right first impression... I hope I come off as funny, but serious (when it comes to the work at hand)... flexible, but unmoving when it comes to my belief in them... knowledgeable, but oh-so-willing to make mistakes and grow right alongside them.

        I've got a 68,000 word WIP that's sat stagnant for a few weeks. In its first draft form, my first impression of this novel-to-be was,  'It's engaging. The reader will surely connect to the characters. The storyline is clear,' but the first impression was completely off. The shine I saw--at first glance--quickly faded...

        ... And I'm left with reality.

        How much do you rely on first impressions? Is it hard for you to change your opinion after you form a first impression? Do you sometimes have to eat your words after relying too heavily on a first impression? Jump-the-gun minds want to know...  

Monday, August 10, 2015

Two (or More) Heads

        When I was hiking surrounded by the Pyrenees in France a couple of weeks ago, I saw these horses. (I have to keep going back to France mentally, as I officially returned to work last week. Alas, the summer--as I know it--is over.)

Look closely. Two of them (the two on the right) are facing in opposite directions.

        When the horses are standing like this, one horse can use its tail to keep the flies off the other horse's face.

         Every other Wednesday, I have a writing critique meeting. Each of us has the expertise of four other writers to improve our pieces. Words are scratched out. Parts are rearranged. Alternative endings are suggested. Five heads are way better than one.

        In my classroom we use the PQP method when working on our writing. When small response groups get together, they first give Praise (specific compliments about the writing), they then Question the author (asking questions that will help improve the piece) and then they offer the chance for the writer to Polish their story by giving suggestions on different techniques the writer could use or different directions the writer could take.

       When was a time recently when you collaborated with someone to complete a task? Was it easier, or would you preferred to have worked alone? Minds who have to go back to work want to know...