And tweet at #slice2013
I flew to Indiana last week to attend the All-Write conference. People who asked where I was from were surprised that I had come all the way from Colorado. How could I not do this? And I was excited to go. It was, it was (I have to find the right word!) comfortable. Have you bought a chair or sofa lately? How many pairs of shoes do you try on before selecting the one pair that feels like it’s already been a favorite for a while? Have you gone to dinner with friends, and begun the talking before you’ve even been seated? Have you created an old and favorite recipe? Do you ever re-read favorite books, or keep poems that feel so right? A few weeks ago, I spent a day with a long-time friend who lives far away. We are fortunate if we get to see one another once a year, and sometimes it’s more like five years. Yet when we are together, we fall into our own old friend language, that one that takes years to understand, the perfect ‘ear’ for each other.
I hope now you realize what I feel about the All-Write Conference where everyone was simply—and wonderfully—comfortable. I was welcomed with hugs from the minute I pulled my luggage up to the check-in counter at the Wyndham Hotel. Here they all were: Ruth, Mary Helen, Betsy, Christy, Ramona, Elsie, Deb Gaby, Robin, Nancy, Bonnie. How can those I’ve known for such a short while feel comfortable? Because of our words over these past years, the words we’ve shared through our blog posts and through twitter (although I don’t do as much tweeting as I’d like). And later, at dinner, there were more I knew (see Ruth Ayres’ post about the dinner here.) Also, in the sessions, it seemed like old friends, again from posts and books and articles-words I valued, words I believed in. Will you imagine what sharing words within a classroom can mean to that community?
Some of the people I knew through their words, in blog posts and in books, and some I met for the first time in their presentations. I was comfortable, I had found the right chair, the fits-like-a-glove shoes, the conversation-that-never-stops group, the favorite poem. It’s like this: we all believe that helping students become inspired as well as competent in their writing lives is important. And we cannot do this kind of teaching without writing with our students, as Penny Kittle says, we Write Beside Them.
As Carl Anderson said: “How we teach can matter as much as what we teach.” Further, to use our imagination, to teach our students “to see things as they aren’t!” From Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, I heard that we “must help children find the surprise in writing.” Mary Helen Gensch and Tammy Shultz gave me How Martha Saved Her Parents From Green Beans, by David LaRochelle and Mark Fearing to savor, along with book after book, a large stack of comfortable. Ruth Ayres and Deb Gaby pushed me into a journey right there, in the auditorium. I took the metaphor of running for this writing exercise, and wondered how we could persuade students to step off the starting block if we only stand behind them instead of running with them? We need to know how the muscles warm and when to push on faster, when to take a break in order to rest and revive.
It’s time to stop, and rest. I know that there is a moment when enough is enough, and that is what I can tell my students too, because I write.
More next week! I’ve only written about the first day! And even after all the day so filled, I remained comfortable!
|A little sketch from my notebook-in Amy L-V's session. Imagine a basket of poetry...|
Did I get it right? from Dictionary.com:
(of clothing, furniture, etc.) producing or affording physical comfort, support, or ease: a comfortable chair; comfortable shoes.
being in a state of physical or mental comfort; contented and undisturbed; at ease: to be comfortable in new shoes; I don't feel comfortable in the same room with her.
(of a person, situation, etc.) producing mental comfort or ease;easy to accommodate oneself to or associate with: She's acomfortable person to be with.
more than adequate or sufficient: a comfortable salary.