I’ve known Meenoo Rami through Twitter for a few years and we have worked together on #engchat for the past couple of years. We met in person at NCTE Las Vegas (despite the fact that we live only an hour or so away from each other!) and I was blown away by her passion and dedication to the teaching profession. Needless to say, when her new book Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching was published a few weeks ago I read it cover to cover. (Ok, to be fair, Meenoo also asked me to write a few paragraphs for the book, so there were a few reasons I wanted to read it immediately…haha)
Thrive is a book I want to send to every teacher I know. I want every teacher education department to give it to their teacher babies. I want to hand it out at every PD session I attend. It’s just that amazing.
It’s a tough time to be a teacher. We all see it and sometimes it’s hard not to feel beaten down. But Meenoo’s book is a bright light in the darkness. She learned early in her career that teaching can be a lonely career if you don’t reach out to the community around you. In Thrive she shares the strategies that she uses in her professional life and the ways that teachers can apply them to their own. I’ve seen this firsthand through Twitter and Meenoo was one of the first teachers who reached out and walked me through community-building on the network. When I stumbled upon #engchat I knew I had found one of my tribes and I’ve been a fixture in the chat ever since. There are days when my Twitter PLN keeps me sane and I’m so glad Meenoo has captured the importance of that community in her book.
But it’s not all about social media. No! Meenoo shares ways that teachers can reach out to colleagues in their departments, their buildings, their local and national professional organizations, and much more. Teaching is a profession that works best when we mentor others and allows ourselves to be mentored. Thrive is perfect for first-year teachers who are just entering this crazy world of education, and it’s also the rejuvenating spark that veteran teachers need! We should be reaching out and helping our colleagues while also recognizing that teachers are life-long learners who can learn from their colleagues and students.
Thrive will help you (re)discover the joy in teaching. I can’t wait to give a copy to my student teacher. And my sister. And my best friend. I imagine Thrive sitting on the shelf next to Harry Wong’s First Days of School and other vital teaching resources. It’s that important. Be sure to pick up a copy today!
Be sure to check out some of the other stops on the Thrive blog tour!
Meenoo Rami is a National Board Certified Teacher who teaches her students English at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA. Mixing moments of joy, laughter, risk and encouragement, Meenoo pushes her students to think critically about their connection to the word and the world. Meenoo did her undergraduate work at Bradley University in Illinois in areas of Philosophy and English and completed her Master’s degree in Secondary Education at Temple University. Meenoo also contributes to the work of school-wide events and professional learning communities at SLA. Meenoo works as a teacher-consultant for the Philadelphia Writing Project. She has shared her classroom practice at various conferences such as: NCTE, ISTE, ASCD, EduCon, Urban Sites Conference for National Writing Project, and #140edu. Meenoo also runs a weekly twitter chat for English teachers called #engchat which brings together teachers from around the country to discuss ideas related to teaching of English. Her first book, THRIVE from Heinemann will be out in March 2014. In her free time, Meenoo can be found on her bike, on her yoga mat or in her kitchen tinkering with a vegetarian recipe.
To connect with Meenoo, you can find her on these social media networks:
I think it’s time for me to start thinking about going back to school. Ok, I’ve really been thinking about it for a while, but now I’m getting restless and I want to start in the next few years. But I have questions for you, readers!
There are two low-residency programs that I am interested in and I’m not sure which one I should pursue. Both are at Fairleigh Dickinson University here in NJ and both focus on writing. The first program is the Creative Writing and Literature for Educators MA. It’s specially designed for teachers and focuses on the pedagogy of writing along with literature. I love that it’s the first of its kind to focus specifically on high school teachers and I know it will be useful going forward. I also know I will learn a lot and I will enjoy it. The residency is very short, only requiring a weekend stint on campus followed by online work during the semester.
The other program that intrigues me is FDU’s new YA Concentration in their Creative Writing MFA. The MFA program is obviously more focused on the craft of writing and specifically YA writing. The faculty is awesome (Coe Booth! Eliot Schrefer! Donna Freitas!). It does require 3 10-day residencies, which can be split between the NJ campus and Wroxton, England. I could not attend the Wroxton residencies because they take place n January, so that means I would have to do all three residencies in NJ, which would result in it taking me longer to graduate. But it’s such an awesome program!
Seriously, can I combine the two programs? I want to do a semester or so of the MFA workshops and all the pedagogy for the MA!
Any ideas? Advice? I don’t plan to leave teaching and I certainly don’t plan to go into administration. I do plan to continue writing, so both the MA and MFA would be valuable. I think I know which way I am leaning, but I would love to hear from others. I do know about some of the other low-residency MFA programs but FDU is close and much more convenient at this point in my life. But if you know of a program that combines the best of the MFA and MA program, please feel free to let me know!
Today is March 31 (barely, by the time I post this. Must.type.quickly!) and that means it’s the end of the Slice of Life Challenge. I’ve been participating in the challenge since the beginning and this is at least the 3rd year in a row that I’ve blogged every day in March.
But that’s not what makes me smile.
What makes me smile is reading the reflections from my students, many of whom wrote 31 slices this month on their own blogs. Half of my 80 freshmen chose to continue blogging on our private Kidblog site, but the other half blogged publicly for the first time! (You can check out their blogs here). Later this week we will reflect on the experience but more than a handful did a bit of reflecting on their blogs tonight. It made my teacher heart swell with pride to read that the process actually turned out to be enjoyable, worthwhile, and sometimes fun. A few students even plan to continue blogging!
I love watching my students grow as writers and the most dramatic growth often occurs during our Slice of Life Challenge. They begin to write better and faster, they begin to come up with interesting topics faster, and they begin to take compositional risks. It’s awesome.
But now it’s 11:30pm and I just finished reading and commenting on about 30 blog posts. Now, I sleep. Unlike some of my students I will of course continue blogging. But it will be back to our regularly scheduled posts around here. I may not blog everyday, but Slice of Life certainly helped with my blogging block of the last few months!
Last night Chris and I went to a local food truck fiesta, the first of it’s kind in our area. The event was meant to be small, with about ten trucks in attendance, and the weather consisted of rain, rain, and more rain. We’ve been hoping to try some of the food trucks for a while but most of them work in North Jersey so we were looking forward to last night’s event.
Apparently, so was everyone else.
We severely underestimated the number of foodies in the Princeton area. And we underestimated their devotion to food trucks. It was pouring rain when we got to the event and I was a little nervous because I saw a comment on the Facebook event page that noted lines were 1.5+ hours long. No way, I thought. That’s just someone who was grouchy about the weather and exaggerated their experience.
When we pulled into the parking lot, the rain picked up. We could barely see out the front window of the car and it looked like the festival wasn’t too crowded. Then I started hoping that they wouldn’t shut down early, as we had driven about 25 minutes to get there.
After donning our rain gear, we made our way to the middle of the food trucks. It looked like the crowds weren’t too bad…….
Man oh man, were we ever wrong. The lines at some of the trucks were seriously over an hour long! And the trucks without lines were out of most of their big sellers important ingredients. Chris was excited to try the cheese curds from the curds truck and that line was short. The cheese curds were also amazing! But then I tried to get cupcakes and they were closed for the day. I tried to get donuts after that, but the line was 45 minutes long and I was soaking wet. I finally settled for tater tots from the tots trucks only to learn they had run out of the cheese and most other toppings. My tots were good, but they would have been much better with cheese.
I can’t imagine what this festival will be like when the weather is better. I hope they get 5 times the number of trucks! Otherwise, we might save time just driving around NJ to visit the individual trucks….