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.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

My Writing

My blog's name is due to me wanting to share my own learning with others. When I was on Twitter, I would share the link with educators. It got a lot of visits, some comments, some questions, and we kept the conversations going. Sometimes I would write to document what I've learned or to document my thoughts or to document a great or terrible day - mostly about education. "My Own Genius Hour" meant my own learning - about teaching and life - a place to reflect publicly.

I was once again inspired to write by the #SOL - Slice of Life - community when the new year rolled around. I am a huge reader, but I could use the nudge to write. Now that we're more than half-way through May (OMG my MIND this past week!!) March, and many #SOL writers are writing every day for the March challenge, I knew I wouldn't keep up. Many (most?) in this community are retired teachers who've been doing the #SOL on Tuesdays for years. It's not my jam right now.

So instead, I collected photos of what I wanted to write about for Tuesdays. Stories from my time with Duolingo and how it helps me learn and also frustrates me with its challenges/games/XPs... The flowers popping up way too early... State testing and how it absolutely sucks the life out of everyone...

My problem today is that those are not authentic writing for me. I don't want to write just because it's Tuesday or just because others are sharing their writing on Tuesdays. I don't want to take on someone else's challenge - I have enough challenges right now at work and at home. 

I want to write when it's important to me. Some days I want to write in my gratitude journal. Some days I want to write to my "inner thoughts" (inspired by the book Tiny Beautiful Things) in my "daily chirp" journal.  Some days I want to write lists. And some days I want to document things here (like this thinking) or share ideas here (for teachers who are still following this blog even if I can't tweet it out anymore). I may even have a student reading these posts, and I'd like that young writer to know I'm human. :)

So today... I suppose I'm writing a goodbye letter of sorts - to the #SOL crew. I won't post it in their comments section, because they've got lots of other great posts they can read through, enjoy, and comment on. This post is to document. This post is for my own reflection. My learning journey - which is what "My Own Genius Hour" means to me.

My learning changes throughout the years, thankfully, so I may come back to that community - or find another one - or maybe even an in-person one once I retire. As long as this blog truly represents me as a person, I'll continue using it as one of my writing avenues.

Friday, March 1, 2024

EduWins - the Small Things

Just some snippets from this past week that made me feel like I am where I belong...
  • I was able to fix a student's bracelet (from Bulgaria?) with just a paperclip and patience.
  • I stayed calm all week. I may have raised my voice once, but that's it.
  • I let go of some control today, and it was okay.
  • My middle class tied my last class for the monthly reward... for about 80 minutes.
  • I laughed a lot during classes.
  • I got some funny looks for my "Fancy Flannel Friday" look, and I felt proud getting out of my box anyway. (Check TikTok for the look - courtesy of @Bengela|Thrift|Style|DIY.)
  • One student made the entire class laugh - in a totally appropriate way and at a totally appropriate time - and then he announced, "I just made the whole class laugh." Twice. 😊
  • I opened two thoroughly jammed lockers.
  • I got to talk about good adult books with a former TA-now-substitute.
  • I kept work at work (even if now I've got some essays to grade)...
  • One student (whose anger flares at times) liked that I brought my daily Stoic book in to read, and now asks me to read it every day.
  • I handled a class disturbance very calmly in the moment, and then followed through right after class with that student. More follow-up to come - with help from the principal - on Monday.
  • I started writing my end-of-the-year notes to students. I'm glad I decided to do it again this year (after skipping last year). It makes me think very highly of each student.