Sunday, September 20, 2015

First Impressions

The school year is underway and we are off to a wonderful start. Each year I wonder about the dynamic of the class.  How will the class inhale and exhale as we find new life together?  What adjectives will describe the interplay of our shared experience?

The gestalt is more than my individual interactions with each student.  Individually they bustle about with their own stories but when a group of children are asked to coexist in one space it isn't always easy to predict the outcome.  In years past we've characterized a class as "deep thinkers" "learners who need a lot of visual support and repetition" "inquisitive and high energy" and "fun and best suited to learning through exploratory play or games".

Our feeling this year - after only 6 days together - is that the makeup of our class is strongly defined by the sweet nature of our students and their desire to be good.  This means they clearly want to please us even as they push boundaries a bit.  I remember wanting to please my teachers too.  I wanted that recognition of a job well done or acknowledgement of my effort.   I saw this as what was meant by being fair. My intrinsic motivation was somehow intertwined with the extrinsic.

The goodness of our children can be seen in the way a little boy enters the room and after putting his things away, sits on the rug to wait for the morning to begin.  How another boy carefully arranges the superhero book bin so all the covers are facing out.  We see it when 2 girls decide they shouldn't sit together because they distract one another or when another child picks up a crumpled piece of paper that has been sitting under a table and throws it in the garbage.

Our first impressions will change and grow throughout the year but I do believe we are off to a good start.  I see that my smiles, words of encouragement, subtle forms of acknowledgement and fairness will impact these children perhaps more than they have other classes.

I will be careful to remember the impact of my role as their teacher. Teachers - and all adults - can make a situation fun or a horror show depending on our reaction to a given situation.  We can choose to become upset and dismissive or understanding and laugh off the inevitable mess children create.  I choose to laugh.  The trick is to follow through on these good intentions even when I am exhausted or sick or stressed out.

First impressions!  I wonder how we - the teachers - did.  How will this class characterize or define us?

Saturday, September 19, 2015


The website for my new literacy project Broadway Books First Class is now LIVE!

Building a website is a breeze these days.  I am grateful for the hours I spent creating this blog. Follow Your Bliss gave me a strong background in the finer points of editing, placement and design.

It also helped that I had a clear vision for the Broadway Books First Class site.  I knew what I wanted to include and how I wanted it to look before I started.

I am excited to build content with each visit to showcase the fact that educators can fight against the lack of funding for the arts in small ways.  We can make a difference.  All it takes is an idea and the right people will find you.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Road to Adorable

The curtain opens to reveal a very theatrical book hoofing it to promote literacy.
Artist: Heather DiDomenico
I am always interested in how an idea develops and changes over time to become something tangible and complete.  The creative process seems somehow magical when it is removed from our personal experience but becomes demystified when seen as a step-by-step journey.

As I wrote my dissertation I imaged all of the other doctoral students out there breezing along with the luxury of uninterrupted time and boundless energy.  It was only in discussion with others that I realized research and writing is not "easy" for anyone.  Creativity takes planning.  Planning takes time. Time allows for error.  Error eventually produces results.

The creative process is a process.  Although moments of inspiration and creativity appear along the way it all begins with a vision.  The vision is then shaped and worked on until a (hopefully) satisfying result is produced.

And sometimes the vision needs a little help from others before it can manifest. This was certainly true when I had the notion to create an image for my new literacy project called Broadway Books First Class.  I saw the image very clearly in my mind but lacked the artistic ability to execute it.

I sent out a few feelers to some talented individuals but did not find a match until my mom suggested asking my young niece, Heather, to create the image.  Heather was agreeable so I gave her a detailed account of what I wanted.

However, she was unfamiliar with my references - "The hat should be on an angle like Liza's in Cabaret when she is singing Mein Heir" "The book should look somewhat like a dancer in motion from A Chorus Line" "I want a cane and top hat similar to that of Fred Astaire" "Bold, dark lines like the Broadway poster for Beauty and the Beast"

Heather's First Sketch
To her credit this did not deter her.  She did her research and sent me a rough sketch almost immediately. We had some back and forth to adjust things (e.g. getting rid of the floorboards, adding detail to the curtains, changing the lettering).

The final result is a dream.  She created an adorable image that makes me want to cuddle up with a book and become lost in the entertainment it offers.  From the expressive "Spongebob" style eyes to the banana-shaped mouth the image is absolute perfection.

So, meet the face of Broadway Books First Class.

Thank you Heather!!!!


Related Posts with Thumbnails