I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I want to do it all...

Looking at all that is ahead...
Have you heard the song? Terri Clark sings, "I wanna do it all - Visit Paris in the Fall, watch the Yankees play ball, I wanna take it all in..." Maybe watching the Olympics has brought on this post, but it's been simmering in my brain the last few weeks!

I went to my first EdCamp yesterday. I didn't know what an EdCamp was until June, and I was signed up to go a month later. I met a #sschat Twitter pal, Shawn McCusker (@ShawnMcCusker), and he says he's addicted to them. I think he's addicted to them because he loves to share, and share he did! He shared at four of the four sessions, I believe! I "voted with my feet" and went to what happened to be more lecture than I anticipated about YA lit in a H.S. reading classroom. Then I went to a session (led by Shawn) about Evernote, one of my favorite iPad apps. (I love it even more now!) Lunch was free pizza and socialization, then I went to a session on iPads in the classroom - started by Jeff See (@JeffreyASee), and then aided by Shawn. The last session I went to was regarding Live Binder, another free resource I need to check out. Another FULL DAY of learning. I crave it. I want to learn more. I want to DO more. I want this next school year to be the best. I always want each year to be the best.

I realized, once again, that I want to do it all.  I've always wanted the following...

I want...
...students to be happy, engaged, friendly, and welcoming.
...students to show perseverance, responsibility, respect, and confidence.
...students to work with peers, using technology, on real-world problems.
...students to remember what they read because they are engaging with the text.
...students to think deeper and get more out of text they read.
...to stimulate student thinking.
...to help students be life-long learners.
...to give students my individual, undivided attention when they speak to me.
...students to question, not just answer.
...students to be reading, and sharing good books they've read.
...students to become life-long readers because they love reading.
...students to see real value in what they write.

The following list includes what I've been inspired about this summer alone...

I want...
...my students to know how to leave a positive digital footprint.
...my students to have time to read (what they choose) independently each day.
...my students to act on what they've read - through many means. (Thanks, Erin Olson - @eolsonteach!)
...my classes to Skype with authors, like Shannon Miller (@ShannonMMiller) has done at her school!
...to have as many books in my room that Donalyn Miller (@DonalynBooks - The Book Whisperer) has, and have my kids read as much as hers!
...my students to use Evernote to collect, curate, and create notes, websites, ideas...
...to Skype with Greg Kulowiec (@GregKulowiec) during class so my students with iPads know HOW to use the tools on them.
...students to know about all the tools I've been exposed to this summer so they can explore in order to best present (or create) their ideas (but I don't want to teach them the tools!).
...to incorporate all I've learned from Ellin Oliver Keene (Talk About Understanding) about reading comprehension, and talking with, and listening to students.
...to slow down, choose my words carefully, and listen to students, asking for even more from them.
...to help my students realize their passions... their genius... thanks to Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers - Classroom Habitudes).
...my students to be connected to students around the globe, or at least across North America!
...to meet my favorite LA/LIT Twitter pals in person!! I've had actual (typed) conversations with so many people now, that I feel I know them. When I meet them, I will be able to call them friends. (I already feel like I work with them!)
...to be able to use (in blog posts or presentations) the beautiful pictures my husband took yesterday (exploring OshKosh!), and ones I have taken or will take. (Thanks for the ideas, Sylvia - @langwitches!)
...to give my all at school, but enjoy time with my husband after school each night and weekend.
...to spend time with my niece and nephew, while they're at such a fun age - 6!
...to be able to take breaks from all this learning, and not feel like I'm missing something I could be doing tomorrow with my students.

So... I need to remember...
    When students walk into room 239 on that first day, I may forget everything I've learned.
    I cannot do everything.
    I will be challenged in ways I can't even imagine today.
    My family comes first.
    I need to take things one step at a time.
    Something I was reminded of by Laura Coughlin (@CoughlinLaura) 2 minutes ago - the kids are scared on the first day, too.

You want to do it all, too, don't you...? Any more advice to give this greenhorn teacher in her 18th year of teaching? Please - what do you need to remind yourself of every day during the school year?


  1. Joy,
    Wow, thank you for this wonderful post. So much of what you have stated is what goes through my head on a daily basis. There is so much I wish to do, so much I wish to instill in my students every year, and hopefully inspire them in their journeys.

    I shake my head my when I realize that I have been teaching 22 years. Through all of this I still feel there is so much more to learn; I still feel as if what I do is not quite good enough.

    This year I went back to school to further my own education and the biggest lesson I have learned through this is that it is okay not to be perfect, learning is a very steep uphill battle. So the one piece I would like to add to your list of things for myself is to remember to be accepting of the times when things don't go as well as I would hope and that there will be a strong lesson buried in the struggles waiting to be discovered.

  2. Hi Joy,
    I love your title. It caught my attention right away, which I'm sure was your purpose. I feel so overwhelmed right now with school approaching quickly. I want to do everything on your list (glad you articulated it) plus lots of personal things. I think the most important element to remember is So...I cannot do everything (especially in a day) and I need to take things one step at a time.

    I'm a veteran teacher of 33 years and there is still a lot I want to learn to be the best teacher I can be.

    I need to remember that I MUST make time for myself. I always feel so much better when I exercise, play tennis, take photos, and spend time with family and friends.

    When I read about an activity or a lesson or whatever, I get so excited that it spins around in my head and I think I need to do it immediately.I need to remember to take a deep breath, figure out IF it aligns with the a standard or two or three, is it really going to be worth our time...the internet, for me, sometimes is a blessing and a curse. Mostly a blessing but there is soooooo much available and I haven't learned to de-connect very well yet.

    I have made good connections this summer, learned a lot, thought a lot, questioned a lot and now it's time to start fine tuning how I want the first week of school to be.

    Thanks for compiling these great lists and reminders because a lot of what you have always wanted and want are what I do too.

    If you ever see that an EdCamp is happening in your area (which isn't far from where I am), please let me know. I've never been but would love to from your description.

    Your Twitter and Flickr friend
    Kris McGuire

    Would love for you to follow my teacher blog - 8lateacher.blogspot.com

    1. Kris!
      I read your comment to my husband, and he said, "That sounds like you!" The part about having trouble deconnecting really hit home. Yes, I'll let you know when an EdCamp is around here (Chicago - Oct 20 - Shawn is spear-heading it, I believe!), and, yes, I follow your blog, but it doesn't get sent to my email - I have it on an app called Favomatic so I check it periodically with all the other blogs I follow. :-) And, YES, I feel the same way you do! My husband also said, "She sounds like a normal!" which is his way of saying you sound like someone people can talk to or work with easily! Yes. And that's why I love following people like you & Ann, and Gallit, and Denise, and Laura... Ahh! The Internet is a blessing, in that sense!
      Take care,
      Take one day at a time, too!

    2. I have noticed that you and I share some of the same qualities. I love your husband's comment "She sounds like a normal." I am so looking forward to attending EdCamp and meeting you!! I love reading your blog posts because you articulate so well a lot of the same things that I think.

      When you responded to my blog post today, you mentioned about the different ways to seat the students. I read about those five different ways and I thought I pinned it but can't find it. Will you please send me the link? I have searched high and low...Thanks

      Your Connected Friend

  3. Joy, thank you for saying what goes through the minds of "connected educators." So much to do; so little time! I tweeted it as soon as I saw it, and then blogged my own -- we all need to do this to remind ourselves --- do it all one step at a time, and with family.

    I find it amazing that it doesn't matter what age a person is, once you realize the power of connections, we want it all! We grow and learn and share for our families and students. And we want others to join the shared power.

    Thank you so much! Here's my post:

    I want to do it all…and remind me...

    1. I echo your sentiments Sheri! Wonderful post Joy!

  4. I remind myself the two major goals of the first two weeks: build relationships with students and establish routine.

    If those two things are in place, I'm more likely to get to the other stuff.

    Janet \ expateducator.com

  5. What I learned last year (my first year of connected teaching) is that the million great ideas I got over the summer all fell away when the kids arrived and I ended of focusing in on just a few things to follow through with. For me, last year, it was the transition from paper to digital reading notebooks for my students, and blogging for me.

    Tomorrow is my last full day of summer, and I get kids on the 16th. They're almost here!!


  6. Joy,
    Thank you again for a wonderful stream-of-conscious post! Your thoughts are beautiful. I love this post!

    I find it interesting that of the people who have written here--you, Anne Marie, Kris, Sheri and I--there are well over a hundred years of classroom teaching experience, yet each one of us is hungry to learn more, to do more, to change up something and make learning better for ourselves and our students.

    I'm so glad to be a part of a group of educators such as this. If we weren't, how could our students become passionate lifelong learners? They have to see it in us, and I'm glad they do!

    Thank you again for sharing. I'm off to read Sheri's post, and then probably write my own "I Want to Do it All" post!

    Your friend,

    1. Oops! I should have refreshed. I've had this post open on my desktop for a couple of days. I see Janet and Laura had added a comment too. So that's even more YEARS of experience teaching and learning!