Notebooks make all the difference. Used by the teacher, that is. Of this, I am an official believer.
Let me tell you..
I had been a day-to-day notebook keeper since early 2015. Prior to that, I’d written weekly in several notebooks and journals — as many as raising children would allow.
Notebooks in 2015 increased my teacher performance, improved my relationships with my students, boosted my self-esteem — I have stories on these, but I’m under the gun to get this SOL out before midnight. 🙂 This all happened because I began my work with the National Writing Project. I was drawn to it because I’m a believer in marrying your beliefs to your work. Writing has been my belief all my life..
Sometime last year, a cork got shoved somewhere in my brain. It started by not keeping the writing habit going. It got so bad, I didn’t even keep my little journal and notebook writing around the house. Maybe it was the political climate — or the nation’s climate — that got to me. Maybe it was my mother being place in a nursing home (separate from my Dad) and losing access to my childhood home, possibly forever. Major upset, I haven’t gone back to guess why my writing stopped. All I know is the effects.
Here is how I was affected:
- the worst personality crisis I have ever experienced in my adult life. We spend all this time, day by day, week by week, year by year, beginning with teenage-hood, perhaps, trying to figure ourselves out. We improve, we backtrack, we jump with ecstasy when we’re in a place we’re recognizable to ourselves and have figured ourselves out a little. All that stopped for me, for a period for, gosh.. I can tell you if I went back to my notebooks.. I want to seriously, seriously guess 1 year. The. Worst. Totally not myself. Silent. Lost. Inside Out. Where was I?
- teaching impacted. Totally stilted. I could still perform, still love my children, but there was a wall there .. you know? I felt.. inauthentic. Something definitely missing. How can I be totally me if I’m not totally there.. or there’s a part of me that is lost as I stand in front of my kids? I functioned.. I worked hard.. I stressed SOOOO much because not “being” all there just didn’t seem right to me. That’s not how I’ve ever lived. It’s all or all..
- thinking impacted. There were times when I would begin to write something down.. and my mind could not hold a sentence. My mind would flip and I’d draw a complete blank. Or I would hit a skip and begin thinking of the next topic without finishing the first sentence. Twice in a paragraph. Very odd. This is recorded in my “Classroom Notebook” that I used while I still tried to write during Writing Time with my kids during Workshop. I learned to record these [boats on a river] lapses with brackets — just you just saw now. Over time, I grew afraid of the blank page..
- creativity null and void. Gone, just gone. All my life, I’ve had an edge on idea. I enjoyed my brain and thinking stuff up, a new version, a different angle, a unique perspective. This was absent during that time…
But let me tell you what’s happened.
I had a mahvelous Workshop with a mentor from the Heart of Texas Writing Project (our NWP affiliate here in Austin).. and it was just what I needed to get the Notebook started again. This happened February 20th. I have been writing non-stop.
Today, the cork popped and my creativity sparked.. and roared!!!!
I came up with a quick-draft for curriculum for next unit.
I came up with 1 Topic-Talk chart for my kids to work with during Workshop tomorrow.
I came up with a Risk Rubric as they develop their ideas for Opinion.
I came up with a Community Chart for listing their Topic Commitments.
I DREW UP PLANS FOR A TEACHER APP!!!!!!
That… I was not expecting that…
… and I wrote it all in my Notebook, which is going fabulous.
Please, please.. if you want to streamline your practice and don’t feel you have time to work in your Notebook, do whatever you can to carve out time to get back into Writing for Self, for you, for your mind, for your thinking, for your soul, spirit and sanity in this world.
Give it a solid month, like I did — 15 minutes everyday, like I did with my students (I was bound to them through a promise).
You will notice the stress disappear, your thinking become clearer, you’ll become more efficient, your confidence will rise, you will be yourself and more pleasant and friendly and fun to be around, you’ll be more at peace with yourself and the world.
It is so worth it..
..Veronica, don’t forget.