Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Slice of Life - Celebrating Firsts

A common strategy used in teaching students to generate ideas in their writing notebooks is to make a list...things you love, favorite places, special people, just to name a few.  I have always had my students create a list of "firsts" - things they remember doing for the first time.  As an adult, trying to seriously use a writer's notebook for the first time, I have found that I could write my personal lists as a child, a mother, a wife, or as a teacher.

After last week, I can now write about things I want to remember as a writer.

  • my first blog
  • my first post
  • my first slice of life
  • my first comment from Katherine Sokolowski
After my first slice last week, I became courageous enough to leave a comment on Katherine's blog telling her what an influence she has been on my teaching, reading and writing life.  She thanked me and told me she was off to find my blog.

Later that day, I opened my laptop and sure enough, she not only found it, but she left a comment.  I felt like a child at Christmas time....Santa not only stopped at my house, but he left me a present!

Last summer was the first time I started reading blogs.  I spent hours reading the endless trails from one blog to another, many times getting lost along the way.  I honestly do not remember how it all happened, but I do know that Read, Write, Reflect was the one I connected with.  It was first on my bookmarks and the first one that I read every day.  

I don't know if the connection was because Katherine lives somewhat close to my hometown, compared to the locations of some of the other teachers on the blogs I was reading.  It may have been that I actually lived down the cornfield...I mean interstate...from where she lives.  That was many years ago during my first career as a retail district manager. 

What I DO know is that I admired her way of teaching and her "reading relationship" she had with her students.  I was like a sponge and absorbed every word she wrote.  After reading her thoughts on teaching and education and learning about some of the things she did in her classroom, I knew that was how I wanted my classroom to be.  This gave me the courage to teach in ways I knew in my heart were  right, but was afraid to do them for fear of being the only one.  I know I became a better teacher last year because of her and what she taught me through reading Read, Write, Reflect.  As I told her in my comment, she was my silent mentor, and I wanted to be just like her "when I grew up."

Now that I am focusing on becoming a better teacher of writing, I know I will continue to read her blog along with many others, to gain inspiration and knowledge.  I still have so much to learn about this blogging, writing world, but I am grateful for this new chapter in my life, for Katherine's inspiration, and for celebrating my firsts.

Slice of Life hosted by


  1. So glad to see you here celebrating! This is a wonderful community. I have my own list of Dumbledores from my blogging friends discovered right here at Two Writing Teachers. Their comments enliven and refresh my teaching journey each week. I think I connected first to Elsie when I learned she was from Missouri. I now live in Washington, but grew up in Oklahoma.

  2. This would be a great mentor text to use with your students, demonstrating how one small thought of firsts, led to so many ideas.
    Sorry I didn't get your email, try again if you still are having trouble.
    Leannecarpenter at sbcglobal dot net (did you notice my name is same as yours but spelled differently, email spelled it wrong too. Blog name comes from initials.)

  3. What a wonderful celebration of a mentor! I have felt the same way about colleagues and writers and writing teachers. I feel a bit like a "groupie" at a concert. It is thrilling!

  4. I've been struggling with using a writer's notebook and implementing them with my students as well... love the "firsts" list idea! It sounds like you've ha a wonderful batch of "firsts" with your blog! I've been blogging for a while now, but a list of firsts sounds like a fun way to reflect on my experience... I think I'll put this in my list of slice ideas! Can't wait to try it! (And so glad you got to connect with someone who's been so inspirational to you! I know I still get really excited when Ruth or Stacey comments on my blog!)

  5. Your happy celebrations of firsts was a joy to read!

  6. What an awesome and inspiring post! Katherine is one teacher I would love to work next door to also! She reminds me through her words to be reflective about everything! (I don't take the time to reflect in writing and share it with the world . . . but that's why she needs to be writing the next PD book we can read together!)

    I'm so glad you jumped in and are excited about writing. It quite honestly will make you a better teacher. (By the way, what do you teach?) You live it. You breathe it. You understand the triumphs and the struggles. Enjoy your moment -- I know Katherine will too!

  7. Aww, thank you so much for this post! I'm shedding silent tears as I put Liam to bed after a long day that ended in a loooooonngg final little league game. I'm so glad you posted last week, and so glad that Michelle pointed me to your blog tonight. I haven't had time to read blog posts today, so glad I got to yours.

  8. Leigh Ann, I've followed Katherine for a long time, and I too wish I could teach beside her. What a great time we would have. I imagine you're going to have such a good time this fall with your students. You'll have so much to share from your blog.

  9. This is a great tribute to the community and inspiration made possible by technology. Connection leading to courage -- may we all experience this together, and bring more and more friends into the circle! Great slice!