A million dreams…

The Greatest Showman soundtrack has become the soundtrack of my life this summer. If it isn’t blasting in the car, accompanied by my two oldest children and my one year old babbling along, the girls are singing the songs as they do puzzles, color, dance around the yard, or as they lay in bed at night.

One of their favorite verses:

‘Cause every night I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

Today was no different. As we drove home from our first summer trip to the public library, the girls were lost in song and I was lost in thought.

I have a lot of summer projects going and not in any kind of organized fashion! So far our summer has been filled with swim lessons and afternoons by the pool followed by rallying tired kids until bedtime-bathing off sunscreen and summer days just in time to do it all again. In between, I sneak in moments for all of the projects I planned and packed for when school ended, just less than two weeks ago. I’m trying to keep up with reading Being the Change, by Sara Ahmed, and my first experience with #cyberpd. Our summer writing group is reading Independent Writing by Colleen Cruz and we are meeting for the first time later this week. So, I have two professional books going at once. I also really want to reread the first read aloud texts for grades 3-5 and think about how to embed modeling some bands of text complexity work through read aloud and create some model reading notebook pages to use with students. Mixed in that pile are other books I’d love to graze on and writing I’d love to try…I keep seeing Jennifer Serravallo’s Writing Camp videos online every day and I keep thinking I’ll have a few minutes to try that too…

With all of these big plans, all great and worthwhile, the serenading continued from backseat of the car. I was struggling for a way to pull all my plans together-to find some sort of order.


That’s what I came up with. Everything I’m thinking about and aiming to accomplish this summer can somehow be tied to independence and how to foster that with kids.

It’s fitting that this morning I snuck in chapter two of Cruz’ Independent Writing. She began the chapter with a story about a high school teacher who said, “I live by the saying that a teacher knows he has done his job when his student no longer needs him…” Colleen went on to share her own thinking on this, stating, “Now that I am a teacher, I see how primary that goal is in my practice. The central point to our teaching of independence should be to teach out students how to write without us.”

I think we can replace that bold “write” to a number of other verbs: read, think, walk, solve problems, care for others… the list goes on and on. This has me thinking a lot about instruction…and parenting for that matter. How can we authentically share our processes or different ways of approaching our lives as readers, writers, and humans?

The read aloud work I hope to accomplish will hopefully help students to read their own books more deeply-something I’ve been trying to tackle for a few years now. I think that rethinking the way we model our own brainwork during read aloud could help kids to notice the ways texts get more complex when reading on their own.

As I read Independent Writing, I’m thinking about all of the ways we can enhance our instruction during any unit of study in a way that will feed and grow writers. Today, after reading a chapter on mentor texts, I’m specifically thinking about whether or not our students really know the power of a mentor. Are we using them to their full potential? Can we do a better job of teaching kids to read like writers? Do I model this enough and make this thinking work clear? PLUG for Colleen Cruz’s new book Writers Read Better, which I just added to my cart today because I think it will help me continue thinking about this…

As I make my way through Being the Change, I’m facing my ultimate question about raising and mentoring (Sara Ahmed uses mentor vs. teach and I love it!) kind people. This one hits me each day as I struggle with my own kids’ endless bickering.

I could get lost in all of these questions and big ideas…but as I coach my one year old in her latest endeavor, walking, I remind myself that it’s just one foot in front of the other…just keep moving.


8 thoughts on “A million dreams…

  1. I love a good brain dump, Jen! Terribly therapeutic, don’t you think? And non-educators think teachers take the summer off. Hah! I’m still spinning my wheels a bit, coming up with a summer plan. So many books to be read, podcasts to listen to, online PD to explore. I think I’ll linger a little longer on the porch with my morning coffee.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This slice is glimpse into your head and your summer life! I do agree, shocking, I know, that it all comes down to independence! As parents and teachers we want to “teach” our children to read, write, and walk independently – and yes we want them to be independent and confident so they will go out and share themselves and their stories with others!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These ideas are mixed up in my head with resilience and engagement. I want to think more about both independence and mentor v. teacher. My initial thought is our goal as coaches is to ‘work our way out of a job’. That’s what my friends, Clare and Tammy, always say. I am so tempted to add that Writers Read Better book and Independent Writing to my cart, but one of my resolves is to read what I have before I add more. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love reading about how you pull this all together – and how you do it with your kids accompanying you. I, too, have had a messy start to the summer (ok – I take that back – I’ve only been off for 7 school days – but it FEELS slow!). I appreciate your sharing about your experiences and your thinking and your learning. And I’m excited to hear about the walking – here comes more independence!


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