When I began writing this blog in January of 2021, I outlined my goals for the blog which are as follows:
- Document my learning journey as a teacher, coach, and student
- Improve my writing craft through reflection
- Act as a producer rather than a consumer
- Push my thinking
- Connect with others
Two and a half years later, I’m proud to say that these goals have remained intact: I have not fully accomplished any of the five, but I have made growth in each. This post will make my 106th post since January 1st of 2021. In addition to the goals outlined above, I had also committed to writing each week and posting by Sunday at 1:00. I haven’t been able to uphold this commitment entirely, especially lately, but I don’t see a need to adjust the commitment. I will keep it in place because I have learned over and over again that when I write, I am chipping away at the five original goals and I feel so much better.
For me, completing a blogpost holds the exact sense of accomplishment that I feel after a run… and it comes with trepidations, much like running. Before I run (starting the night before, so we’re talking four nights a week), I feel a sense of unease and nervousness, paired with a sense of excitement. The excitement comes from knowing how good I’ll feel for the day after I’ve completed the run. The nerves come from a round of questions that roll through my mind relentlessly. What if I ignore/don’t hear the alarm and skip the run for the day? What if I don’t complete the number of miles I plan? What if I further injure my knees? It doesn’t make sense that I run through this gamut of questions (which include emotions) based on the fact that I’ve been running for years. Nonetheless, they are there every time.
Before I write, I feel a sense of unease and nervousness, paired with a sense of excitement. The excitement come from knowing how good I’ll feel for the day/week after I’ve completed a post. The nerves come from a round of questions that roll through my mind relentlessly. Can I afford the time it will take to write? (Which can also lead toward a sense of dread.) Will the writing meet any of my five original goals? On January 3rd of 2021, I outlined those things that had kept me from maintaining a blog up until that point:
- Fear of commitment to regular maintenance
- Fear of scrutiny
- Fear of being unworthy
- Fear of lacking material to write about
Those same fears remain firmly intact. I have struggled with regular maintenance for the past two months, and I think it only heightens my sense of anxiety. The last thing I want is for this blog to be anxiety-inducing, so my self-talk during the weeks that I have missed posting sounds something like this, “There are times when something has to give, and for this week, it is the blog.” OR “It’s OK, Megan. You’ll get back to it. There is a lot going on right now.”
Soooooo, what has gotten in the way of staying committed to writing?
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the Summer Learning Season and two courses I had taken to kick off the month of June. Following that post, I took a course titled The Writing Revolution from the amazing Kara Veach and Jennifer Lamm, two literacy consultants from Great Prairie Area Education Agency. I have told both of these gals that I could learn from them all day every day, and that I aspire to be like them: they are a wealth of knowledge and stellar presenters!
The Writing Revolution course is based on the book by Judith Hochman and Natalie Wexler (a must-read for teachers of writing, all ages.) I won’t give the book or the course the credit due, but I do want to point out some highlights and know that I have much more to write on the topic in a future post!
When Jennifer and Kara began the two-day course, they drew our attention to six posters that adorned the wall. Each poster named one of the six principles that The Writing Revolution is based on. Each time one of the principles was referenced during those two days, a sticky note was placed on the posters to designate how often they were referenced. This was a powerful learning tool for me, and one that I will utilize when I present in the future. The six principles (which deserve much more attention than the bulleted list they are getting here are as follows (from page 8 of The Writing Revolution):
- Students need explicit instruction in writing, beginning in the early elementary grades.
- Sentences are the building blocks of all writing.
- When embedded in the content of the curriculum, writing instruction is a powerful teaching tool.
- The content of the curriculum drives the rigor of the writing activities.
- Grammar is best taught in the context of student writing.
- The two most important phases of the writing process are planning and revising.
Ahhh… so much more to say on each of these brilliant golden nuggets, but that is for another day.
I have been invited to present at this conference in Atlanta in July, and I couldn’t be more excited… and nervous! I have the privilege of presenting with my former colleague, Julie Eckhardt, who is truly amazing. Julie’s attention to detail, organization, and commitment to high quality work are three driving forces that will make our presentations stellar. Admittedly, Julie has done the bulk of the preparation for three of the four presentations, and I can’t thank her enough for it! Our presentations are as follows:
- Climbing the Ladder to Success (linking EL Education’s 8 High-Leverage practices to John Hattie’s Effect Sizes)
- The Story of the Three Bees (digging into the importance of using complex text and how to make the most of it during instruction)
- “Upside Down”: Backward Design Planning for Effective Lessons (understanding the importance of using backward design for implementing high-quality curriculum)
- “How Can I Fit it All In?” Dancing Your Way to Successful Lesson Planning (using tips and tricks to best utilize comprehensive lessons)
The Iowa Reading League
As mentioned in an April 2 blogpost, much work is being done to establish an Iowa chapter of The Reading League! I couldn’t be more proud to be a founding member and Secretary of this chapter in formation, alongside these amazing women: President – Papae Wymore, Assistant Professor of Education at William Penn University; Vice President – Stephanie Edgren, Instructor of Education at William Penn University; and Treasurer – Lisa Williams, Instructional Coach at Southeast Polk Community School District.
- Promote an understanding of how the evidence base informs classroom practice
- Support educators to implement evidence-based practices
- Create a community of advocates with shared missions around reading success for all including universities, non-profits, businesses, policymakers, families, school districts, and other reading organizations
- Provide evidence-based reading resources to families and educators
- Improve literacy rates across the State of Iowa
The 4th Annual Kruse Family Ride
We enjoyed a successful motorcycle ride in beautiful southeast Iowa yesterday. The round trip totaled 93 miles, with our destination being the fabulous Louie’s Lakeside Bistro & BBQ on the beautiful Rathbun Lake. The service and the food were AMAZING! 19 motorcyles with 30 riders made the trip, along with a jeep and a convertible. Two riders traveled from Indiana, one from Florida, and one from Jordan! My nephew, Jack Daily, a cadet at West Point Military Academy, had just completed two+ weeks studying abroad in Jordan. He flew into New York (navigating two airports), hopped a flight to Saint Louis, arriving at 11:30 p.m., where my sister picked him up and drove him to West Point (Iowa!) so that they could join our ride. Simply amazing.
We were tickled to provide homemade tenderloins upon our return, and to enjoy the spectacular West Point fireworks from our back yard. We are tremendously thankful for all of those who made the trip, the beautiful weather, and the safe ride for all!
Our House Remodel
More than a year ago, I started planting the seed in Bill’s head about remodeling our kitchen. (It takes at least that long to convince Bill of the “need” for such a project!). Over the course of time, the kitchen remodel plans quickly spilled into the rest of the house. 🙂 It’s a small house, so it just makes sense… right?! This past week, my amazing nephew, Isaac Steffensmeier, of Clement Contracting, began the remodel. The process is all that we knew it would be: exciting, scary, invasive, messy, costly, and well-worth it (I know this will be true when we come out on the other side of the remodel!).
There are sure to be pictures to come as the project continues, but for now, I’ll include my favorite picture from the past week. At long last, Isaac proposed to his beautiful girlfriend, Courtney. She said “Yes!” Their happiness is absolutely infectious. We couldn’t be more thrilled for them!
Yep, there is a lot happening these days. It’s all very exciting and very time-consuming. And it is, at times, leaving very little in my tank. With that being said, it feels good to be back at it, staying committed to writing.