Saturday, October 5, 2013

Personal paragraphs: Stopping to think about what others want to know

I am pretty certain that up until this week, no one had ever asked me to write a personal paragraph (not even in a job interview situation).  Perhaps if I was a famous author, I would have written one or two as my publisher worked to market my books; however, that dream has not yet come to fruition!  Sadly, I have written a few obituaries and tried to summarize the depth and magnitude of someone's life into a short space (where you pay for the words.)  It's a sad and very hard task even though you have a clear focus and purpose.

The other day, we were asked to write something about ourselves for our "district" webpage.  I must admit, this was hard writing for lots of reasons!  I had no model of what was expected!  How much do you share without sounding like you are bragging?  What are the other teachers going to write?  What do people really want to know about their children's teachers? 

Our degrees tell where we learned the foundations of our profession. So, I wrote: I earned a BS in Special and Elementary Education from the University of Maryland, a MS in Literacy from Western Connecticut University, and PhD in Literacy, Language, and Learning from Fordham University.  (I tell kids I am a book doctor!)  I have advanced learning certificates from SUNY as well as advanced multisensory training in Wilson, Preventing Academic Failure, and Orton Gillingham approaches. 

However, this did not sum up the depth and breadth of my learning.  I am not my degrees.  If you really want to know what I am reading, reflecting on and thinking, you would have to read my blog, share my PLN Twitter feed and have dinner with me once a month at least! So I added: After school and during the summers, I work as an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Education at Fordham University.  I am part of an active on-line Professional Learning Community, an active blogger,, and a life-long learner.  My publications include an article on assessment guided differentiated instruction  

I am pretty sure people want to know something about what I do outside of school. I could have written about my worries and concerns for family members.  I could have written about mowing the lawn, cleaning the bathrooms, or attending my son's games!  I could have written about the eldercare lawyer who is my new BFF!  I might even have written about my commute on construction compromised highways!  Instead, I penned: My husband and I live in Stormville, high on a mountain. (Yes, we go to the Flea Market). We have two grown children. I thought about, but didn't add "wonderful" to the grown children.  I though about but didn't add that we are very proud of how they are orchestrating the challenges of life and that we are proud as punch about the adults they have become.  Instead, I said succinctly: Our daughter lives in Northern, NJ where she works as a biomedical engineer and our son lives across the river where he works as a Health and Physical Education teacher. 

I do have hobbies, interests and passions that were not even mentioned. I thought about adding a picture of a bag I am hoping will be done for Christmas, the garlic festival I attended last weekend, or of my messy "office," where I spend an inordinate amount of time!  I though about adding a picture of the bakery we "hit" after church on Sunday. (Hey, it is a slice of my life!) But. in the end I figured no one  would not care about any of that, so I penned a homogenized perspective of my time away from work: In my spare time, I enjoy walking, hiking, and biking with my husband.  (We did a 25 mile bike trip this summer!) I love to knit, quilt, and sew when I have some “free” time.  I can be found reading and writing at my computer early in the morning, and, when I am lucky enough to get there, on the beach!  Someday, just maybe, I will publish one of the many children’s books I have written. As you might notice, I tried to add a bit of a writing voice here!  Even I was getting bored!  I  really did mean that part about getting a book published, however!  Who knows, maybe some day a parent will read my bio and will be a publisher who wants to make my day! 

Finally, even though all this was WAY too long, I needed to add something about my passion for education.  It is who I am as a teacher, even now, after many years! 
It’s an exciting time to be a teacher as we prepare students to be effective readers and writers in the 21st Century.  I set high expectations for my students and provide them the support they need to become strategic and confident, readers and writers.  My role is to determine students’ relative strengths and needs while empowering them with strategies, techniques and self-confidence that transfers into their classrooms, homes, and lives outside of school.  The wealth of children’s books (classic, reliable and new literature, books, articles) that capture imaginations, engages readers, and builds reading habits is a critical resource for my teaching and I work hard to stay “on top of” new books, apps, and programs that support life-long reading for learning as well as enjoyment.  

Now the good thing about all this hard writing is this: Just in case a publisher finds me and wants to publish my "books," I will be all set!  


No comments: