Saturday, July 24, 2021

Learning to Teach Writing to Littlers: Summer Goal #1

With Kindles and e-libraries, the summer box of books sent to the cabin is so much smaller than before!

First week of summer break: 

  • Went for many long walks through the rice fields around our house.
  • Talked to parents, kids, and grandkids online.
  • Took a 10-hour, self-paced online course about teaching writing workshop in elementary.
  • Travelled to the cabin where we’ll be vacationing.

Now that we’ve arrived, gone grocery shopping, unpacked, uncovered the furniture and mopped the floors, and gotten our hands on the box of books I shipped up separately and the company tried to deliver before we arrived, it’s time to reflect on the writing class I took—the Not So Wimpy Writing Masterclass. I highly recommend it for any elementary writing teachers (2nd-5th grades). It was especially helpful for me, as I had just finished my first trimester of teaching elementary—enough to know what was working and what wasn’t. Here’s how the class helped me feel and why: 

  • Excited about getting back to school to implement the ideas even better than I did spring term. It was exciting—and a little terrifying—to launch into teaching 4th and 5th grade after 30 years of experience teaching secondary. At the recommendation of a former colleague, I got Jamie Sears’ writing curriculum, which was really helpful. And after one trimester of using it, I could that it was good, and that I needed to make some adjustments. Then Jamie offered a free giveaway on her summer course on how to implement her writing workshop. I entered and won the first free giveaway of my life. 
  • Affirmed that what I know about teaching writing in secondary is on track for elementary as well. Things like the benefits of choice, the importance of mini-lessons and then immediate application of that lesson to writing, the difference between revising and editing, and the significance of teaching writing skills rather than a particular piece of writing.
  • Equipped with a fantastic introductory unit for training elementary students in the procedures and processes of writing workshop. I knew this kind of training was important in secondary; it’s even more important in elementary. I was assured that it was so important to spend 2 weeks doing this that if my class didn’t get to the second masterpiece in the unit, that was okay. I’m excited to practice transitions from one part of class to the next, building writing stamina, and problem solving. To teach problem solving, I will brainstorm all the possible problems they could run into during writing time, from a broken pencil to  being unable to think of something to write about, and then help them think of solutions ahead of time, so they don’t need to disturb small group writing conferences.
  • Confident in tackling small group writing conferences, the one part of the writing program that didn’t happen last term. Partly because COVID caused us to shorten the day, and partly because my elementary classroom management skills were sufficient to keep everyone working if I were wandering around monitoring, or even conducting individual desk-side conferences, but I didn’t want to try focusing on one small group for 10 minutes. This introductory unit will set me up to succeed with that—students knowing the procedures to execute them smoothly without wasted time and distraction, knowing the importance of the procedures (mini lesson, writing, conferencing, sharing) and having the stamina to sit and write for 20-25 minutes.
  • Encouraged by the perspective of experience. Jamie Sears paints a picture of what a writing class can look like, offers tips and materials to make that happen, and challenges participants to wonder “what if” rather than assuming it can’t work for them. She repeatedly reminds teachers that growth is the goal, not perfection. Only a few years ago, these students couldn’t write at all, and look how much they’ve grown since then! (What a cool perspective for me, coming from secondary!) Target, look for, and celebrate growth.
I can’t believe I’m only one week into my summer vacation and already getting excited about the fall term. That’s what a great learning community does for me. I know it’s easy for teachers at small schools to feel isolated professionally because you have no counterpart. You’re the only chemistry teacher, or 3rd grade teacher, or 10th grade English teacher. If you’re at an international school, like me, you may have to go a long way to find a counterpart who speaks your language! 

But the Internet has ended professional isolation. There are so many options. Social media is alive with professional groups and conversations. There are blogs or podcasts like Cult of Pedagogy. There are professional organization like ASCD or NCTE. There are online classes and seminars. I happened to win this class in a free giveaway (because I was in the Facebook group where it was offered!), but having taken it, I would say it’s totally worth paying full price for a teacher of 2nd-5th grade writing. There’s the content: that’s worth it. There’s the community—a Facebook group for the current cohort for 8 weeks, then graduating to the alumni Facebook group: worth it. And then there’s a deep discount on the writing units themselves. You’ve missed it for this year, but put it on your calendar for next year! I promise you won’t regret it. 

Meanwhile, where do you find professional community that stimulates, supports, challenges, and encourages you?

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Giving Students a Why and a How for Learning English

What would it look like for EFL students to have a vision of themselves as successful language learners, to be able to articulate the benefits of being bilingual and the ways they need to act to reach their goals? This term I came across 2 resources that got me started on this journey: Some lesson plans in Larry Ferlazzo’s book The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide: Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools, and Activities for Teaching English Language Learners of All Levels and a poster “Being Bilingual Is My Superpower” from Centre for  Educators of BMLs (see below). 

Benefits of being bilingual in Ferlazzo’s unit:
  • Increase job opportunities and income
  • Increase brain power: flexibility, learning, memory, multitasking, problem solving
  • Delay onset of Alzheimer’s disease

Characteristics of a successful language learner in Ferlazzo’s unit:
  • Takes risks
  • Learns from mistakes
  • Perseveres/has an appetite for learning
  • Teaches others

It’s a good unit with activities that engage students in thinking, talking, reading, notetaking, writing, presenting, listening, goal-setting, interviewing, and reflecting. I recommend the book just for these lessons (though there’s lots more). My students wrote their personal goals for why they wanted to learn English, made them into posters, and we hung them in the classroom (see photo above).  

And this summer I’m planning to do some more research--because there’s lots more out there, and I need to know more than my students about benefits and characteristics so I can keep emphasizing this motivational aspect of language learning. I just did a Google search on “benefits of being bilingual” and “characteristics of a successful language learner,” and here’s what happened:

Searching “benefits of being bilingual” got 32,700,000 results in 0.54 seconds, including the following:

Searching “characteristics of a successful language learner” got 21,900,000 results in 0.53 seconds, including the following: 

So this summer, I’m going to read some of those articles I just found, and I’m going to read the book Bilingual and Multilingual Learners from the Inside-Out: Elevating Expertise in Classrooms and Beyond. I'm going to see how I can continue to help my EFL students have a vision of themselves as successful language learners, articulate the benefits of being bilingual, and understand and implement the characteristics that will help them achieve their goal. Note: I bought the poster and modified it to read 127 million Japanese speakers. The originals are for Spanish and French.

Friday, July 9, 2021

9 Components of a Book Discussion: Supporting Community for Teachers

Support can be beautiful (Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash)

Two teacher blogs in my email inbox yesterday were on establishing classroom community for students. We know students flourish in community. People are created for community, in the image of God who used first person plural pronouns to talk about making people in that image. But while teachers are creating community for students, how do the teachers themselves experience community? One answer is with professional book discussions. Last week I wrote about the book discussion I’d just finished—mostly about what and how I learned from it. Someone asked if I had a blog post about how to lead a book discussion. I didn’t. I’m remedying that today.

The short answer is choose a bookinvite participants to a venue, and facilitate a discussion with clear expectations, scaffolding, and context. I’m sure there are a variety of successful ways to have a professional book discussion, and this is the one I have developed over the last 15+ years. I’ll explain a little more about each of the 9 components.

Choose a book: One that is practical, applicable to a wide variety of subject areas and/or grade levels, and connects to a school wide goal. I’ve enjoyed discussing project-based learning or essential questions with teachers spanning kindergarten, middle school social studies, and high school math. (See the end of last week’s post for a list of some of the books I’ve facilitated discussions on.) 

Invite: Everyone in the school or department. Advertise widely and repeatedly, in staff meetings and emails, selling why this is a great opportunity and what participants will gain from it. I will also talk to individuals who I think might be especially interested, but I’ve generally had more success with open invitations than limiting it to a hand-picked membership, and with making it optional rather than mandatory. 

Participants (a): How many? In addition to myself as facilitator, I’ve done it with as few as 2 (actually, once I did a weekly coffee date with a colleague who was never available at the group meeting time). And I’ve done it with as many as 14 (in my apartment) or 25 (in a staff meeting, though that may be a slightly different story). Larger groups can be broken into smaller groups, like a class, for different discussions. 

Participants (b): Can administrators participate? Or will that make teachers reticent to participate? Maybe it depends on the administrator, but I’ve always found it really helpful when administrators participate. Teachers see them learning, and they see teachers learning. We are part of a learning community together, knowing, supporting, and applauding each other’s efforts toward a common goal. If admin are teaching, they can apply it to that class. If they aren’t, they can often apply the teaching strategy to their work with teachers as their “students.” 

To a venue: A hospitable space where people come to know and be known. My best memories are of discussions held in my house or apartment because, I think, it strengthened the community feeling. I could welcome people into a space I had prepared for them, with food and drink I had prepared for them, and invite them to spend a few minutes unwinding from the school day and connecting with each other while we gathered. When it hasn’t been possible to do that for a variety of reasons, including this past pandemic year, I’ve done my best to still play the host, being in the meeting room early, having it set up ahead of time so I could welcome people into it, and starting with a check-in question like “What was a high/low of your day/week?”

Facilitate: This verb is central to how I want to experience learning as an adult. I suppose it’s no accident that the first professional books I had discussions for were on reading strategies and collaboration, and I applied what I learned not only to my classes, but also to the book discussions themselves. The goal of the discussion is for participants to deeply process the reading. This happens when they are actively engaged in discussion—noticing, questioning, responding, elaborating, comparing, evaluating, applying—not when they are listening to a lecture. The facilitator should be the chief model of learning, demonstrating the kind of engagement desired, but also being very aware of the goal of facilitating the group’s learning rather than showcasing his or her own. (Preaching to myself here—I know I can easily talk too much.) Just like in class, it’s important to establish a protocol of universal participation, to have a few thought-provoking, open-ended questions up one’s sleeve, to be comfortable with extended wait time, and to feel free to demonstrate genuine curiosity by inviting input from quieter individuals by name. 

A discussion: Frameworks that work well include Connect-Extend-Challenge from Harvard’s Project Zero, or reading strategies like ask questions, make connections, evaluate, synthesize, apply.

With clear expectations: Participants will read ahead of time and come prepared to discuss their reading. They will also have implemented one idea from the previous discussion and come prepared to report on how it went.

With clear...scaffolding: You might think that participants are all professional adults, so they don’t need scaffolding—and you’d be wrong. All learners need scaffolding to get to the next level. Especially as adults, we are so busy with so many priorities that every aid to focus helps. Think of it as making it as easy as possible for participants to meet the expectations. Time and reminders help, such as...

  • Time at the end of each discussion for participants to choose an implementation goal and write it on a post-it note, which I collect. 
  • Time at the beginning of each discussion for participants to report on their implementation goal. This is low-stakes, but there. Sometimes the report is “I didn’t get to it, but I want to try again next week” or “I didn’t get to it, but I did do this other thing from the discussion.” The group response is supportive—we’ve all been there. 
  • Email the day before to remind participants of the implementation step they are going to report on and the pages they will be prepared to discuss. 
  • Email afterwards to document for participants the implementation step they chose, debrief highlights of the discussion, and remind them of the pages to read and prepare to discuss for next week. 
With clear...context: Purpose is the biggest human motivator, and I keep reminding myself and my colleagues of the purpose of all this activity: students achieving our dreams for them. Key places I can do this are at the beginning and ending of meetings and of emails. How does the book topic fit into my school’s vision and goals for students? I’m thankful that a writer has invested the time in compiling their experience, research, and wisdom in a book. I’m thankful for colleagues who choose to invest their time in exploring a book together in order to help students grow. I’m thankful that God has given that wisdom, time, and opportunity—and I pray that God will establish the work of our minds and hands to help us even more effectively unfold all our students’ potential.

I’m thankful for the time I’ve had to think all this through and put it down here. I’m thankful for all the wise educators in the world who have written books. I’m thankful to all the colleagues through the years who have participated in professional book discussions with me. I’m thankful for all the students with whom God has allowed me to explore the wonderful world of thought, language, and literature. I pray that God will establish the work of your mind and hands, too, and make you a blessing to your students, and give you community in which to flourish. And if this blog has been a part of that, well, then, I'm thankful for that, too.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Still My Best Professional Development: Discuss a Book

Growth plus connection equals joy. At least for me. That’s why I smile when I look around the office I share with 6 other teachers at my school, and I see 4 copies of the same professional book. It’s one we’ve been discussing—together with 2 other teachers from another office—once a week for the past 9 weeks. This Tuesday was our 9th and last meeting.

When I attend a workshop, seminar, or conference, I get piles of great resources and all the energy of connecting with like-minded educators. Then I go back to school, and the energy fades, and I can’t really remember any of the 367 great ideas that hit me like water out of a fire hose. The stack of great resources is daunting—I don’t have time to dig back through it to find one of those ideas. And I can’t read my notes.

When I read a professional book by myself, I get a great idea, and it’s so good, I want to keep reading, and 192 excellent ideas later, I again can’t really remember any individual idea well enough to implement it. I know I should go back through the book more slowly, but first period is coming and I just don’t have time. Or energy. 

But, when I discuss a professional book with my colleagues, a chunk at a time, over the course of 7-9 weeks, that’s when I really grow—both in my classroom practice and in professional joy. It’s the accountability and energy of collegial community.

Here’s what it looks like. Over the last 9 weeks, we’ve been meeting once a week for 45 minutes. In preparation, we try to implement at least one idea from the previous week’s discussion, and we prepare to discuss the next section with our colleagues. At the beginning of each meeting, we each report on our classroom experiments. Then we discuss what we found intriguing, confirming, or confusing from the next reading. Finally, we each choose something from the reading that we want to experiment with in our classes in the coming week.

Here’s why I love it. First, I actually have to dig in, choose just one thing to try in a week, and try it. Traction! Second, the conversations that trickle into the cracks of the intervening days, not just during weekly meetings. 
  • “Hey, I introduced reading strategies today.” “How’d it go?” 
  • “I’m going to try running dictation today. How big a chunk of text did you use?” 
  • “I heard you doing a choose-your-adventure for a listening exercise with your 2nd period class. How’d it go?”

The book was The ELL Teacher’s Toolbox: Hundreds of Practical Ideas to Support Your Students by Larry Ferlazzo. I’d actually bought it a while ago, and instituted my own personal challenge of experimenting with at least one idea each week. (See some of my blog posts about that here, here, and here.) But it’s much more fun with a community! There are 45 strategies, and we didn’t want the discussion to drag out over a year, so we tackled 5 strategies per week. 

My best take-away? I really dug in on reading strategies and independent reading. There’s a lot more I want to revisit in the fall—and I now have a community who shares a common language and I can talk with about it.

Not an EFL teacher? It doesn’t have to be this book. In the past, I’ve found it equally energizing to discuss the following books in a professional community in three different schools: 

What is your best professional development? Have you ever tried a book discussion? What book could you try it with? 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Preparing the Ground for Summer Reading

  • “Mrs. Essenburg, I want to read that book I saw you reading a while ago—the first word of the title is ‘Maybe.’” 
  • “I liked The War That Saved My Life. Do you have any other historical fiction?”
  • “Are there more books by Alan Gratz?”
  • “If I want to read this series with five books in it, is that enough?”

All I’d planned to do was introduce the idea of a want-to-read list, pass one out, and have students paste it into the back of their journals. Then over the next 3 weeks they could begin collecting titles they might want to read over the 6-week summer vacation. But as students turned to each other for recommendations, 
descended on the classroom library to check titles, and peppered me with questions, I decided to scrap the vocabulary lesson and just ride the wave of reading interest. I’ve found that summer reading goes so much better when the ground has been well prepared, and that was happening.

What does preparing the ground for summer reading look like?
  • Students making goals. In this case, a want-to-read list with at least 5 books on it by the time term ends.
  • Teacher book talks. I’m giving a book talk a day, sharing a title from our school’s new e-library that students might be interested in. 
  • Student book talks. Next week every student will give a book talk to the class, sharing a title they’ve enjoyed this term that their classmates might want to add to their want-to-read list.
  • A Google Doc to curate my favorite titles from our e-library (see photo above). I might love exploring, but many students might initially be overwhelmed. So my document has a screenshot of the book cover, the title linked to the library, and a brief by me.

I spent so many years just handing out a summer reading assignment on the last day of school. It’s so much more fun to begin generating interest and expectation, setting students up for success ahead of time. 

What do you do to prepare the ground for summer reading? 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Don't Just Hand That Paper In--Reflect on It!

An exercise in choosing powerful words: students categorizing verbs

This week, I resisted temptation. Theres so much learning that can happen between student completion of a paper and teacher assessment of it, if student writers are given an opportunity to reflect on the effort theyve just made. But I’m always tempted to just collect a final draft and move on without giving writers that chance to reflect. I’m always glad when I resist that temptation, like I did yesterday when 6th and 7th graders handed in the final draft of the stories they’d been working on. I learned things, they learned things, and we are all poised to move to the next stage of growth with more awareness. 

In order to help writers reflect yesterday, I gave them the following sentence stems…
  • The reason I wanted to tell this story is…
  • Something I learned or observed about the writing process: planning, drafting, revising, or editing is…
  • Something I worked hard on and improved is… 
  • Something we did in class that helped me grow as a writer was…
  • Something I want to improve on next time is…
  • A specific question I have for Mrs. Essenburg about my story is…

Reading their responses this afternoon was a worthwhile experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the thoughtfulness and passion with which some expressed their reason for telling their story. I want students to be able to identify what they’ve worked hard on, to be proud of their work, and I want to be able to comment on what they see as their biggest focus of effort. I want to know how I’m helping them, and how I can help more. I want them to be able to set goals for themselves. And I love to be able to answer the questions writers actually want to know the answers to, rather than commenting ad nauseam on things they don’t care about! Here are some of their responses: 

The reason I wanted to tell this story is…
  • Don’t think only about you. Think about the other person more than you.
  • I think that friendship is important, and we have to respect the friendship because I think that my friends  help me to fix my problem and also challenge me, which leads me to more interesting things.
  • I want people to imagine and expand their creativity so they can be good writers as well.
  • I wanted the people that have a dream to know that if you work hard, someone will know that you are working hard. So never give up.
  • To do stuff in peace or stay calm to solve a problem.

Something I learned or observed about the writing process: planning, drafting, revising, or editing is… 
  • Planning the story before actually writing it helped me to take more time to think about my story and to come up with more specific details.
  • I found some new errors that I couldn’t change. I need more time to edit!
  • The more you plan the better because you can imagine more of what you are writing.
  • Planning helps make my brain warm up, and helps me to think of how the story should go.

Something I worked hard on and improved is…
  • How to start the story.
  • How to make the reader more interested by ending the story mysteriously.
  • My spelling because I think when my spelling is wrong the reader will have a hard time reading it.
  • To try and give a good visualization.
  • Adding details.
  • Dialogues and dialogue tags.
  • To give enough information to make the readers understand.
  • Choosing strong verbs and adjectives.

Something we did in class that helped me grow as a writer was…
  • Reading different kinds of stories.
  • I learned how to choose the words.
  • Planning the characters first helped me to fully think about how I could describe the characters in the story.
  • The mini-workshops helped me a lot, but the best mini-workshop was the lead and paragraphs because I didn’t know about it before.
  • Dialogue worksheet. This helped me a lot because you can put dialogue into your story which enhances the picture you’re looking at.
  • Learning how to make leads.
  • The whiteboard activity helped me learn where you put commas.

Something we did in class that didn’t really help me grow as a writer was…
  • Planning quotes before actually writing the story was a bit difficult because deciding what the characters are going to say could possibly change later. (However, someone above said this was the thing that helped them the most. That’s how it goes.)
  • I think the plans were difficult because I don’t think it was the perfect way for me to plan. (Planning was named by many writers as helpful. This writer seems to understand that planning is important—it’s just that this way didn’t work for this individual.)
  • Correctly punctuate the dialogue from “Stray” didn’t help me a lot because of the labelling of the numbers. (Yes, I realize I made that exercise unnecessarily complicated, and I’m thankful this writer reminded me.)
  • It all helped me, but I think the least helpful was the lack of practice writing paragraphs. (Yup. We started that exercise and ran out of time to complete it. However, when I edited their revised drafts, I realized it was more important to revisit dialogue punctuation than finish the paragraph exercise. See next comment.)
  • About paragraphs because knew about it. 3% of chance to forget to use it.

Something I want to improve on next time is…
  • Checking my work over and over. I just noticed a mistake (quite a big one) after  Mrs. Essenburg gave us back the print of the final draft.
  • I want to use many kinds of words to describe things.
  • To explain what’s happening/explain the setting by giving background information and not actually straight up say what’s happening.
  • I want to improve on the plans.
  • The action part because I think it’s lacking detail.
  • I want to improve on the lead.

A specific question I have for Mrs. Essenburg about my story is…
  • Did the first paragraph make you want to read the rest of the story?
  • What should I do to learn more vocabulary?
  • How can you exactly know where to start a new paragraph?
  • Are there other ways that are easy to plan in the beginning?
  • Was the story entertaining? Should I make it longer or shorter? Should I get rid of something? Was the setting clear? Is the lead good? (I get the feeling that this writer really wants to know!)

Overall observations: Student writers found planning really important. Most of what we did in class was helpful, and writers grew in a wide variety of ways. When they identified exercises that were less helpful, there were no surprises. I was pleased that a number of comments showed writers thinking about their readers. And I have a number of specific questions I can get back to writers about. Above all, I re-learned that post-writing reflection is a worthwhile exercise.

How do you help writers reflect on their learning?

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Professional Reading for Summer 2021

One of the things I love about summer is the chance to do some serious professional reading—the kind that it’s just hard to find time for during the press of the school year. The books that I hear about during the year and think, “I really need to read that.” It’s not summer for me, on the Japanese academic calendar, until July 19, but it’s also true that anything I need to get shipped internationally in a pandemic really needs to be ordered. So this afternoon I luxuriated in the opportunity to comb through my Kindle, my physical bookshelf, and my wishlist to gather the list of professional books I want to read this summer. (I also just ordered the last one, and it’s promised to arrive by July 4, so—phew!—good thing I got the ball rolling on that one!)

What do I want to learn about this summer? It's a long list: bilingual education, new strategies for teaching nonfiction reading, book clubs, social justice and community involvement, and how to fail forward and live with courageous faith. In the fall, I want to know more about who my students are, how I can teach them even better, and how I can be the living curriculum of a healthy, compassionate, just, faithful life. Here’s the list for summer 2021!

Bilingual and Multilingual Learners from the Inside Out: Elevating Expertise in Classrooms and Beyond by Alison Schofield and Francesca McGeary. I’ll be a third of the way through my second year at a bilingual school, and I’ve been looking for professional reading on just this topic. I’m really excited to learn more!

Reading Nonfiction: Notice and Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst. Reading Cris Tovani 15 years ago began the transformation of my literature teaching. From what I read on my English teacher social media groups, Notice and Note for both fiction and nonfiction are the new Tovani reading strategies. And I’m much more experienced teaching fiction than nonfiction, so I picked that one to start.

Talking Texts: A Teachers’ Guide to Book Clubs across the Curriculum by Lesley Roessing. Also big in online English teacher discussions: book clubs. I’m up for the experiment.

How to Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice by Jemar Tisby. A good friend is also reading this book this summer, and I look forward to discussing it with her. As any form of racism is abhorrent to Jesus, as long as there are beloved image bearers of God suffering from it, I want to be aware of their experiences and of how I can be part of restoration.

Teaching to Justice, Citizenship, and Civic Virtue: The Character of High School Through the Eyes of Faith by Julia K. Stronks and Gloria Goris Stronks. Saw this on a blog recently, and it correlates with my school’s new student objectives, and my belief that what kids learn in the classroom is about so much more than collecting credits and a diploma at the end. It goes along with the next book on the list, and I don’t know that I’ll get to both of them, but they’re both on my Kindle, so I have the option.


Difference Making at the Heart of Learning: Students, Schools, and Communities Alive with Possibility by Tom Vander Ark. 

The Mindful Christian: Cultivating a Life of Intentionality, Openness, and Faith by Irene Kraegel. In social-emotional learning (SEL) “mindfulness” is a prominent thread. While it can be implemented in ways that can leave Christians uncomfortable, it also seems to me that being mindful of who we are and Whose we are, of what we have been given that is sufficient grace in this present moment, are all deeply Christian practices. So when a friend recommended this, I got it. I enjoyed the first several chapters, and then life happened. Now I’m promising myself “this summer.”

Risk. Fail. Rise. A Teacher’s Guide to Learning from Mistakes by M. Colleen Cruz. Another one I started earlier this year—this one as part of an online book discussion, and I didn’t keep up with it. I’m really looking forward to getting back into it. I want my students to learn from failure—to say that with any possibility of acceptance, I have to be able to model it myself. 

What are you hoping to learn this summer?