Sloths and Learning 15/31 – #SOL20

I have often felt affection for the two-toed sloth and gravitate to their modest unharried expressions of serenity. The wonderful patience and steady determination it must take these gentle creatures to reach a goal makes me wonder if their minds wander while limbs move in puposeful motion. While I don’t share their demeanor, I do sometimes feel like a slow learner. It takes me time to bring my swirling thoughts to ground and sort them into comprehensible congnition.

I’ve always loved writing, but never dedicated serious time to the craft until a few years ago, my dear friend, Amanda Potts , raised this important question with English Department Heads.

“We are teachers of writing, yet how many of us actually engage regularly in the practice of writing? How many of us would call ourselves writers?”

Amanda and I have talked extensively on this issue and her insight on this cannot be understated. This truth became even more evident when we attended a three day conference with Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher in the summer of 2018 as they launched their book 180 Days: the Quest to Engage and Empower Students. We returned fromm the conference significantly changed as readers, as writers, as teachers.

Amanda and Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher showed me that becoming a teacher of writing means writing and publishing and giving and taking feedback. I started to write with them and took feedback from them revising my work with their suggestions and they more readily accepted it from me. We became better together.

So when Amanda introduced me to the Two Writing Teachers Blog, I knew I should join and begin a writing practice. I started the school year and wrote a “slice of life” each Tuesday, and then eventually committed to this month of March – 31 days of writing.

Despite my adherence to this writing promise, I admit to feeling like I’m a slow learner. My moments of inspiration have waxed and wained, yet changes have emerged, sprouting out from cracks, but not quite ready for full expression. I am learning more about ways to comment and give feedback and I am learning to broaden the range of my writing from reading the posts of others.

This morning, I quickly made a list of writing moves to make:

  • write in the third person
  • make lists
  • questions and answers
  • write from the voice of an object

Writing for #SOL has required patience and steady determination always reaching for a goal just beyond me, mind and limbs in puposeful motion. So much can be learned from the sloth, but even more from a writing community.

10 thoughts on “Sloths and Learning 15/31 – #SOL20

  1. I’m thrilled Amanda was able to coax you to join our writing community this month. Don’t worry about starting slow. It’s an ultra marathon, not a sprint. By the end of the month, you’ll look back and see that you’re doing it all just right!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Bogging and joining this community change my teacher-writer life in so many ways. There are so many teachers out there who do not see the connection between writing themselves and teaching writing. I am so glad you have found this connection! TeachWrite is another community of which I am a part. We have a monthly chat and a Facebook page. You might want to check that out too. The two communities work hand-in-hand on the same mission – to get teachers writing.

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  3. The first couple of years I experimented with styles. The first year there was lots of advice about how to start and keep going and I do,Lowe’s the pattern. The next year I made a pattern for myself, each day was a specific type of writing. After, I mostly just compose that day, considering what I might write and a style (ish) idea. What I love the most here is that there is just encouragement, no judgement. I’ve learned a lot. Glad you’re here to learn from now.

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  4. I’m a slow learner too! I really appreciate the reflections here about the writing moves you’ve noticed as well as how to leave comments and feedback. I have learned so much about what kind of feedback is most helpful to writers through this annual challenge.

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  5. I, too, have learned so much about teaching writing by becoming a writer! This challenge (I’m in my 13th year!) has been the most important professional and personal development I’ve engaged in. Not only do I get to meet incredible teachers who are constantly open to learning for themselves, but I also get to develop my craft. It’s an amazing opportunity! I’m enjoying your writing and am glad you are here.

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  6. I didn’t realize this is your first year in the challenge. I find your writing thoughtful and insightful, and you’ve joined my short list of bloggers to visit each day. This post, for example, hints at what I’m working on for tomorrow, which right now is only an idea I’m allowing to marinate in my mind. I’ll write tonight.

    In terms of being a slow learner: I’m right there w/ you and often wish what I know now we’re part of my knowledge twenty years ago. I’m pretty good at fooling people. Tom Newkirk has a wonderful book called The Art of Slow Reading, that helps me embrace my slow learning and reading.

    And I have to say I’m a tad jealous you and Amanda get to hang out together.

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  7. Yes! You do a wonderful job of articulating the various reasons that this writing community – and this challenge – are so useful/important/life changing. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it over and over: I am a MUCH better teacher because of the writing and learning I do here. Pushing through my waxing and waning ideas; dealing with my lack of motivation (or the occasional overflow); commenting, reading comments, trying my hand at new things… this is everything to me. I am so glad you have joined here – more ways to hang out with you are always good! (AND – you put me in a sentence with Penny Kittle & Kelly Gallagher?!?! Now THAT is crazy.)

    Liked by 1 person

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