Conversations on Education // 9


               "Forgiveness does not change the past but it does enlarge the future"

Paul Boese

Today is a unique opportunity to Forgive. It is an opportunity for everyone who suffered at the hands of those who did not care and do not necessarily deserve our forgiveness. We get to give it anyway. 

Forgiveness, is for ourselves and not necessarily for the person(s) we forgive.  Undoubtedly, as it liberates the perpetrator from the constant guilt that may plague them, it may also change them.  This is the hope but not the reason we forgive.

We forgive to be bigger than any circumstance or hurt that tried to take us off our best path. We forgive to defy the bad in this world and while we forgive we purge the darkness that tried to take over our hearts. We wipe it clean of the constant repetition of hurtful events and we create an open, inviting place.  This place is ready for a day by day life unmotivated by revenge and fully engaged in living in an enlarged pleasant life and hopeful future.

This blog is my heart and not necessarily part of teaching protocol taught in universities.   It is, however, entirely human and a constant battle within tough times.   Our responsibility as teachers and parents and overseers is to forgive.  As a result we walk with open futures. We should teach this skill, largely through demonstration. I recognize forgiveness does not diminish our need to protect those who are in our charge. Forgiveness is not admonishment. As a student who received protection from my teachers and eventually learned to forgive I am aware that each situation requires unique wisdom  and sometimes even intervention. This wisdom truly flows more freely from the enlarged future that forgiveness provides.


Think About This! // 8


As a teacher, I believe whole-heartedly that vital, practical, established systems are necessary for expedited learning.   Creating a framework for both how to learn and how to retain learning is highly significant.  Of course this seems contra-indicated to many educational systems that focus entirely on curriculum content with less thought given to equipping life-long learners with systems within which to frame their learning.

As a parent, it was always my intent to encourage tenaciousness and to provide structures that could eventually become the vehicle of each child's brand of genius. My own four children although dramatically different seem to all possess great aptitude for study, reading, writing and living life. The systems although absolutely necessary eventually become quite invisible as they simply provide the vehicle for growth and learning. The benefits from this is that each individual now has the tools to express their gifts and find their passions.  They are intentionally working with high-end systemic "power-tools" in the construction of their lives, insights and enjoyment.

Benefits of strong systems:

1.      Methodological guesswork is eliminated
2.  Study tools, note-taking tools, writing tools provide framework to build learning, academic expression and growth.
3.      Time is saved.  Time is a rich commodity that we must employ expeditiously.
4.       Stress is eliminated as a cache of purposeful, efficient tools is readily available.

Starter Kit of Tools:

1.      Note-taking Methods that loan themselves to efficient study and writing tasks
2.      Note-taking Methods and Optimal Review cycles for Vocabulary development
3.   Writing systems for critical writing tasks- the argumentative/ position essay, the literary essay, the expository essay, research writing, etc.
4.      Study systems incorporating daily review that leads into optimal review
5.      Pinpointed grammar usage- for poignant variation in writing
6.      Test-taking methods
7.      Reading voraciousness of varied genre encouraged from an early age
8.      Comprehension testing from an early age
9.      Math algorithms that become innate
10.  Financial savvy through early intention in how to make, save, invest and spend wisely
11.  Eating systems that fuel the body and assist the mind for optimal health and function

The Starter Kit of Tools is representative and undoubtedly each person could add to it depending on the nature of what life has for them. The main theme of this list is to use and fine-tune systems to provide the structural framework for your growth.  Just like in any beautiful architectural structure the framing may not be highly visible but it absolutely supports and dramatically enhances the purpose and beauty of the architecture.    


Thanksgiving Writing Freebie!

Exciting news! We've just released a Thanksgiving themed freebie writing resource. This activity focuses on sentence-start practice with nouns and adverbs. Click the image above to access your FREE download :)


Conversations on Education // 9


In a recent staff meeting, with a group of wonderful teachers, I was privileged to watch a remarkable YouTube instruction by Rita F. Pierson. It was called Every Kid Needs a Champion. 

I hope that my teaching career is based entirely on the premise of this video.  It is one thing to teach; it is an entirely different thing to believe in the whole child. This requires the teacher to recognize that the faces in front of them each day are not just what they see.  These students have happiness and sadness, strengths and weaknesses, belief and doubts and all the emotions and challenges that we each face as we walk through life. We cannot see into their homes, their history or their hearts but we can remain ready to listen for "that instant" or commit to the process that will provide these students with their champion. We get to champion the causes of these human beings. We get to listen and truly hear. What a privilege. 

Here is the link. I encourage you to visit!

Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs a Champion


SCW Store Update

Hey everyone! We've got some exciiiiiiiting news to share...Our newest writing mega unit is finished and available through our store! We are so pumped about this one!! Argument writing and the argumentative essay are essential common core elements required throughout middle school and high school but like most in depth essay styles, it can be a bit daunting to know where to start on this one. Our goal in creating this comprehensive resource was to take the sequencing and handout/practice activity prep work largely off your plate. The resource is broken down into 12 information packed lessons, most of which could be expanded into two lessons if preferred. Each lesson includes teachers notes, instructional handouts and printable practice activities. Click the image below to for more details and a preview! 

Just in time for the Halloween and Thanksgiving season, we've also released our Pumpkin Fun: Varied Sentence Starts activity packet. This resource features 5 printable activities to help your students practice 5 different ways to vary their sentence starts. This skill set is fantastic for all writing forms and styles, not just essays. Click the image below for more details and a preview!

Finally, we've got two new literary essay practice resources available! One offers students the opportunity to practice their literary essay writing skills after reading the classic novel, 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. The other offers a similar practice opportunity but for a more spooky literature classic: The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. Perfect for Halloween themed writing practice! Click images below for more information and previews. 


Conversations on Education // 8


I have lived my life rather focused on output and work and doing well at all that I endeavor.  This in and of itself is OK and even respectable. I get things done. However, as a result, I have often been unaware of my surroundings, and the beauty of singular moments. This was well represented to me at a recent teacher's in-service day where we as a group of ten teachers were required to move around from classroom to classroom to perform specific learning activities relative to new educational protocols.  At the end of this exercise we were to return to classroom five which some of the teachers in my group had affectionately called the monkey room. This did not register with me.

When I inquired why they had dubbed this room the "monkey room", they thought I was kidding.  Upon returning to the room, there were monkeys everywhere: in pictures, hanging from the ceiling as stuffed animals, on the bulletin boards etc. Need I say more? I missed an incredibly strong visual as a result of being so riveted on the task. In this situation, no harm, no foul.

My oldest son Chad came to me at the age of four and said, "I can read this book Mom".  We were at a skin specialist for dry skin on his elbows and knees. It was his first encounter with the book. He read it orally; with wonderful enunciation and flow. How had this happened without me knowing it? On another occasion he came to me at age five and presented me with a perfect cube made out of a piece of paper. I'm not a mathematician but this seemed unusual. In both cases I cheered and praised him for these accomplishments. I was, however, unaware of the process he had taken to get there. I recognized his mental acuity at a very, very young age, however I cannot say for sure if I was aware of his processing.  

Since that day, I have had a couple of illnesses: a brain tumor in 2001 and a large cancerous tumor in my right leg in 2009.  Chad, the same boy and 23 at the time of this incident, came with me to many of my appointments for the 2009 situation. We had met with the doctor to hear the verdict and the procedures of chemo, radiation and surgery.  We listened carefully, then he and I walked back to his truck and he opened my door for me. He stopped me before getting into the truck to take me by the hands and said, "I wasn't there for you for the brain tumor Mom, but I am here for you now.  Tears were coming from his eyes and an indelible mark registered on my heart. That was "My Moment" and it transformed my cancer journey. I knew I would make it. There were other moments with my other children that had the same impact but this is an example of when I finally caught the sincerity and revolutionary nature of one moment. 

As teachers, I truly believe every day has a moment that transforms. Some days may have many. We may be aware of their power, or blissfully unaware.  However, life is simply moments followed by moments that we partner in.  They may be indelible like my moment with my son or they may simply point a child in a right direction for that day. Whatever they are, one thing is for sure, they have incredible power.  Today's a great day to look at  each moment as an opportunity and to listen carefully to your intuitive nature. Thank goodness, "Every Day Has a Moment"!