Notebook Noticings

How do you collect your ideas? Your observations? Your wonderings? Where do you do your thinking that pushes you forward? For me, it is in my notebook. My favorite is simple ~ a composition notebook with graph paper. I love it, but I especially love my notebook cover. My Ohio friend and colleague, Erin, made me this wonderful notebook cover about 18 months ago. I adore owls and this notebook cover, and the ideas inside, gives me an anchor each day. It helps me get smarter…smarter about my ways of seeing, doing and being as an instructional coach. It would be interesting to take note of the number of times I grab my notebook. I use it all the time ~ to collect ideas during coaching conversations, observations and leadership team meetings. It holds my thinking about student work, coaching moves with teachers, and topics/plans for professional development opportunities. I also use my notebook to collect ideas that fuel my work.

owl 3To most, my notebook probably looks like a train wreck. It may seem unorganized and discombobbled (I LOVE that word!) But, if you know me you begin to understand it is highly organized. I have a system of colored pens I use that helps me stay focused. I have a post it note marking system that creates a hierarchy of importance and a labeling system (you know…stars, circles, and sometimes hearts as well as numbers) that helps me find my flow and keep my rhythm. I love my notebook and in so many ways, it is a lifeline to my daily work.

My favorite routine, however, is when I sit down and sift through the pages of my notebook. Sometimes with highlighter or felt tip pen in hand, I thumb the pages to look back and reflect…to think about the now…and to look forward as I plan my next moves.

 Let’s take a closer look…

Here are some ideas I pulled out of my notebook in the last week:

  • Going after quality vs. quantity ~ living in a culture of revision
  • What does it really mean…in action…to co-construct?
  • What routines, practices, structures will give us the biggest bang for our buck?
  • How to imbed more small group instruction across the day for our struggling lovebugs?
  • Map out meaningful, work time opportunities that will help increase student independence
  • What are the payoffs of assessment in action?  What is worthy of being collected? Graded? Co-graded? Considered a knowledge check vs. practice?
  • Community ~ bringing the community in and taking the kiddos out
  • Unpacking my thinking (teacher) so that students know how to unpack their own thinking as they read, write, talk, create
  • When we teach reading we need to name what we are doing and why ~ pushes transfer
  • Read like you are burning calories
  • When you read, what questions do you have? What are you sure of? What are you unsure of?

So, how do you collect your thinking?  Your ponderings?  And…what do you do with your ideas once you’ve collected them?  Send me your ideas, wonderings, and/or action steps in making your notebook come to life! 


Love Letters

I’m proud and excited to share a new series I am working on called “Love Letters.”  I hope you’ll join me on this journey!

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New Beginnings…

Happy 2015!

I love the idea of beginning a new year because it reminds me that we can take advantage of a fresh start. Whether personally or professionally, starting anew gives us a chance to reflect, revise, and gives us another go at getting it “right”.  It gives us a chance to celebrate what worked and outline what we want to do differently in the future. The ideas behind my thinking aren’t about getting it wrong the first time. Rather, it honors the idea that as time passes we grow…we are smarter and know more…and it gives us a chance to add to our knowledge and make something new. These ideas hold a place in the work we do in education. Each school year, each marking period, each unit of study, each month, week and day marks an opportunity to start again. We can reflect and take what we have learned, apply it to our belief system and outline why what we do matters so that we can figure out our next steps and take action. What a blessing it is that learning allows us to do all of that! This is exactly how we need to think each day as we work with the learners in our care.

What will 2015 hold for you and your students?

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 6.33.48 PMThanks to you ~ for thinking about what you have learned in order to harness what you will do in the future. Here’s to new beginnings and a great year ahead!