Slice of Life March Challenge: March 11th., 2014 – Lurking @ #engchat w/ @iChrisLehman @teachkate @pennykittle.

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The March Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers .  

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So, confession #1: I am a Twitter chat lurker.

And, confession #2: I lurked last evening at an amazing Twitter chat –  one that I really, really meant to be present and accounted for:

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Everyone, it seemed, was on and tweeting amazing things, inspirational things, I- need- to -do -this- right- now kind of things.  People like Penny Kittle, Christopher Lehman, Kate Roberts, and, of course, Meenoo Rami.  But I lurked…on account of the fact that these things move much too fast for my aging brain.  But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t learn anything.  Or that I finished lurking and finished thinking.

Here were some of the gems that I “favorited”:

Christopher Lehman ‏@iChrisLehman:   We support our profession when we’re brave. Brave to speak up, to support kids, to tell our stories. #engchat
Christopher Lehman ‏@iChrisLehman : MT @AndersonGL Support others by praising effective innovation. Sometimes people are taking risks w/o much guidance. #engchat
Kate Roberts ‏@teachkate  : Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but 1st I must make the decision to Thrive. Only I can decide to open my heart. #engchat
penny kittle ‏@pennykittle RT @skmcdermott: Thriving teachers can be the difference between students who love reading and writing and who don’t. #engchat
Lori Carter ‏@Lori_A_Carter RT @meenoorami Also imp 2 help other teachers out, not just take but give as well. How r u supporting the community ur part of, #engchat?
I was thinking about this Twitter chat, reading over the conversational thread (I think this is what it’s called?), and remembered my very first mentor, Marianne Marino. Marianne had been a veteran teacher in our district, and then our first (and only, as far as I can tell) lit coach when I began teaching sixth grade.  Every Thursday, she’d drop in to see what we were up to in sixth grade.  Since I was free the period before she was to be in my class, we hung out together and talked…about books, about teaching practices, about mentor texts, and anything else that could be discussed about teaching and the educator’s life.    I began to think of Marianne in the context of those Tweets:
  • Marianne  was brave – she shared her stories about where she had succeeded and where she had failed , and what she’d learned from these experiences.  She taught me to think about my “mistakes” as learning opportunities; to step back, remove my emotions, and analyze why things had gone awry so that I could learn from the experiences – not repeat them.  And she opened up her own teaching life to share her mistakes.  She modeled the process to this kind of honesty for me.
  • Marianne praised effective innovation – she encouraged me to take risks, but guided me.  She made me think of  being intentional in innovation – try new things, but don’t forget the learning you are really hoping to nurture in your kids.
  • Marianne provided guidance and support but she insisted that I must make the decision to thrive.  I must read, attend workshops, seek out best practices, create a professional life that was fulfilling and enriching. I must be pro active.
  • Marianne insisted that the work we did mattered. Every time we met, she validated all the hard work I was putting into my teaching life because I could be the  difference between students who love reading and writing and who don’t.
  • And Marianne also stressed that it was  important to  help other teachers out, not just take but give as well.  Her message was always – if you find a great mentor text, PD event, poem, or lesson… share it with your colleagues.  Teach with an open door.
I’m looking forward to reading Meenoo’s  new book (on it’s way to my house even as I write!), and learning about how I can live a richer teaching life.
And I am thankful for my first mentor – Marianne.
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14 thoughts on “Slice of Life March Challenge: March 11th., 2014 – Lurking @ #engchat w/ @iChrisLehman @teachkate @pennykittle.

  1. You were lucky to have someone to guide you as a new teacher. When I started teaching, no one shared, doors were closed. It was difficult to find a way, but I did. I love your confession of being a lurker.

  2. It’s a wonderful tribute to your first mentor, Marianne, Tara. Remember how open you were to her as well. I suspect she loved those Thursdays with you, too. Thanks for sharing the early tweets, and some important things about collaboration.

  3. Fantastic post Tara. I love your confession and the thinking you got out of this. Your words about what matters in coaching and teaching are so important. I’m ordering Meenoo’s book now. Thanks!

  4. Being a Twitter-novice I don’t even know how to lurk. But it’s interesting to read the ideas from someone-you- who has lurked and written about it. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I am not on Twitter and have no idea how it works. I do admit to being a stalker, though. I stalked TWT for two month before I got up the nerve to publish my first post.

  6. There were several chats last night but I missed this one. Lots of little nuggets here today! It sounds like Marianne was a terrific mentor. Those early years of teaching are so hard, heck I still have lots of those moments even now. I think I will check out the book.

  7. I know you have passed on what Marianne taught and modeled for you. That early support was such a blessing. I hardly ever tweet on twitter but I do lurk and learn. It can be so fast paced that I, too can find it hard to jump in. I do think it is a wonderful PD tool and inspiring, though.

  8. I also enjoy lurking on Twitter during Twitter chats but try to participate as much as possible. Many times, my family needs me and I need to be with them during Twitter chats that I like so it is hard to do both. I like how you connected your mentor with the comments on Twitter.

  9. I am always bummed that many of the weeknight chats happen too early for us on the West Coast. Either I am not home or cooking dinner or something. Glad it was so wonderful and thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to read THRIVE.

  10. This is a terrific post, Tara! I read bits of the chat, but, like others, was busy with dinner, etc. I love the way you distilled your key takeaways and related them to your own mentor. Your points are an important reminder about how critical it is that we support one another through this time of change!

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