Third Baby, Finally a Birth Story

Ever since before my oldest was born, I’ve meant to write each of my birth stories…but then I had a newborn, and then a newborn and a toddler, and for the past 364 days a preschooler/kindergartener, a preschooler and a baby. Today marks the last day of our final “baby year”. Harrison is our last baby and tomorrow he turns one. And with all of the big feelings that come with his birthday, one is nostalgia and wanting to hold onto the details that are already blurry. So I decided to finally sit down and write one of my babies’ birth stories.

A year ago today, I was six days overdue with our third baby. I had had my membranes stripped the day before because my doctor was a little worried about low fluid, as I’d had low fluid at the end of both of my previous two pregnancies, I had been suffering from PUPPS for the last few weeks and my maternity leave had already started and really, it was baby #3 and I was a week overdue. We were ready. But stripping my membranes had been anti-climactic and 24 hours later, nothing had happened.

Our two older kiddos were with my in-laws for the afternoon, so Chris and I ran some errands. We walked the aisles of BJs first and I had to stop a few times for some cramps. I wondered out loud if they were contractions and so we kept walking. After BJs, we figured if the walking was helping we might as well head across the street to Walmart and what maybe were contractions continued…coming sometimes every fifteen minutes, sometimes closer to twenty-five minutes apart. So nothing consistent but it definitely felt like maybe it could be something…and I wasn’t sure I’d know since my first pregnancy ended in a planned cesarean and my second was an induction in the hospital. And I didn’t want to get my hopes up and feel frustrated when and if they fizzled out. Which is exactly what happened while we were out eating dinner later that evening. So we chalked it up to an afternoon of my body getting a little closer and enjoyed what would most likely be our last date night for awhile. We got home around 8:30 and as we’re talking to my mother in law, I had another cramping episode and I had to hold onto the edge of the couch. I didn’t say anything though because again I didn’t want anyone to start thinking “this is it”, including myself.

As the night went on, the contractions seemed more regular, 15 mins apart, 10 mins apart…I tried using a heating pad and laying down in bed to see if I could get some sleep, but every time I started to doze off, another contraction would start and I was just too uncomfortable. I moved down to the couch and alternated between sitting on my exercise ball and laying down with the heating pad. I think I finally fell asleep around 4 am for about 45 minutes.

The next morning, as I filled my mother in over coffee, I asked her to get Henning, who was two and a half, from his crib when he woke up. I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry him since, at that point, I was way too uncomfortable. I had an appointment that morning for an NST and ultrasound at 9:30 and we were planning on dropping Louisa off at nursery school at 9:00 on our way. I figured I could make it until then, but by 7:45, I had to wake up Chris. I couldn’t make it. I couldn’t stay standing up through the contractions and it was hard to be in front of the two kids while I was in pain because they were getting worried and also still wanted me to help them with breakfast, snuggle and I couldn’t. So, Chris and I got in the car and headed over to the hospital and I called and left a message for my doctor.

We arrived on the maternity floor and we were shown to a room. The nurses hooked me up to the monitor and then a few minutes later the resident came in to check me. My contractions were still 5 to 7 minutes apart and discouragingly, I was only a little over 2 cm dilated. The resident said I should stay to get the ultrasound, but then we could either stay and see what happens, but that it might make more sense to go home until “active labor” really started. We were really frustrated–I had been so uncomfortable all morning and to only be 2 cm.

I was wheeled down to get the ultrasound to check my fluid levels and while the tech was taking the measurements, I had two more contractions. I remember her saying, “I know, lying flat can be really uncomfortable.” And I replied, sort of annoyed, “No, I’m having pretty strong contractions actually.”
Since the tech didn’t give us any information about the baby’s fluid levels, we had to wait upstairs in the room for news from the resident. While waiting, my contractions continued and I decided it might help to go for a walk. As we walked down one of the halls, I had to stop, bend over and hold onto the wall. I started crying and told Chris, “I’m not going to be able to do this, if it’s this bad already and I’m only at 2. I can’t do this.” He convinced me to walk back to the room and when I got there, the pain was starting to be consuming and I was literally climbing up the chair and then the bed, putting my forehead to the mattress and just rocking side to side. At this point, the resident returned and squatted down next to me. “This sounds like active labor.”

“No shit,” I thought to myself, nodding to her. She then asked if I wanted to get in the tub and I agreed, and then she suggested maybe to start in the shower since that would be faster. I needed to be put on a fetal monitor because I was attempting a VBAC, so she had the nurse go get it while she and Chris helped me into the shower. As soon as I was in the shower, the pain got even worse. The guttural moaning felt like it took over and I had a moment of thinking, “I think I’m at 8 cm now…this is what it felt like at 8cm with Henning, this point where I feel like my body is tearing apart and I can’t go on.” I dropped to my knees and the nurse came in and started trying to find the baby’s heartbeat. She was right in that tiny shower stall with me, partly holding me up and also urgently, repeatedly trying to get his heartbeat on the monitor. The resident came back in and asked if I was pushing and I wasn’t sure (Chris laughs now as he remembers this part because during both boys’ births, when asked if I was pushing, I said, “I don’t know”)…she told Chris to get me out of the shower and he looped my arms around his neck and half carried me to the bed. At this point, more people were coming into the room, there was a gurney by the door I remember noticing in my peripheral view and thinking, “No, I don’t want a c-section, oh no, what is happening.” They were having trouble keeping track of his heartbeat and were using wire leads to find it on his head instead of with the monitor. I could tell they were worried. Chris says they were whispering about prepping the OR. And then, my doctor came running in and jumped over the gurney that was blocking the doorway and over to me. He had me roll onto my side, had Chris hold one of my legs and told me we needed to have this baby now. He told me to take a deep breath and push. I was still screaming and trying to push, and at one point he said, “Okay, Kirsten, we need this baby out, so less screaming, more pushing.” And so I focused in and started pushing more. But the baby was having a hard time. The doctor had to give me an episiotomy and the baby was still not coming, so they got the vacuum. The details are blurry now, but on the second or third attempt, his head was finally out and the doctor pulled him out and onto my chest.

Harrison was born at 12:06 pm on March 23, 2017, just over 3 hours after we arrived at the hospital. Happy Birthday, Harrison.

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (9/9/13)

From Evernote:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (9/9/13)

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

Since last week was the first week of school and we had a super-busy weekend at home, I didn’t read as much as I had hoped to. Hopefully, as things settle down, I’ll be able to get into a routine that includes more reading each evening!

I did, though, set up the entrance to my office to be a place to share new and old favorites with my colleagues. Here are two pictures:

What I Read This Week:

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Of course, I had to read this after reading all of the blogposts about this new picture book! And it didn’t disappoint. It took me a moment during the first read to understand what was happening, but I love that about the book. I quickly shared it with a few teachers and can’t wait to see how their students respond to the story!

The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman

Another much-read-about picture book, I laughed out loud as I read this story. A great story about friendship and trying new things–perfect at the start of the school year.

Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan

A beautiful story, another tearjerker by Patricia MacLachlan, about a boy and his grandfather. I love how Patricia lets us into her characters’ lives through conversations and a child’s observations and thoughts.

The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar

I’ve been dipping into this book as I try to learn more about how best to support other teachers at the start of the school year. There are some great prompts and questions for coaching conversations as well as helpful ways to think about the different lenses through which we can observe and give helpful feedback.

What’s Next in My Reading Stack:

The First Day

Today was the first day of school. For me, it was my first day of school since 2000 that I was not beginning the school year in my own classroom with a new group of students. (I’ve been a full-time instructional coach since last November when I returned from maternity leave.)

Instead, today, I had the privilege of getting to be a part of nine classroom’s first days. While at first I felt as if I were intruding on the “magic” of the first day, I soon fell in love with my new stance as an observer, as another set of hands and pair of eyes for my colleagues, and as someone who knows many of the faces that were new to their teachers.

Here are a few of the wonderful “firsts” I saw and heard today:

~Sixty kindergarten families, students and their parents, waiting for their classroom orientations in our school’s lobby. So many proud parents holding their children’s hands as they embark on a magical year of learning and discovery.

~Teachers prompting students to write using all they know to write their very first piece of writing of the year and students quickly and quietly moving their pencils across the lines on their papers.

~Teachers reading favorite picture books to launch the day, launch Math Workshop, launch Reading and Writing Workshops and to kick-off the first conversations of the year. Books included: Chrysanthemum, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, One Green Apple, and The Math Curse.

~Third graders squealing and giggling as their teacher read Lulu and the Brontosaurus and she read the phrase “she was a pain in the b-u-t-t”. Followed a few moments later by students joining in as the teacher sang Lulu’s song about finding a brontosaurus for a pet.

~Fifth graders sharing that a few problems they tried to solve were a little difficult since they just came from vacation and couldn’t remember everything from fourth grade so quickly;)

~Fourth graders turning and sharing with a neighbor a “Math Curse” problem from their summer with glowing faces as they excitedly tried to create creative and tricky stories.

~So many students and teachers making a fresh start, hope in their eyes and voices as they reflected on the past and started sharing goals and dreams for their new year together.

Here are a few hopes I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of–could we have any greater hopes for our students?!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (9/2/13)

From Evernote:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (9/2/13)

Being new to Twitter and relatively new to the blogging world, I just discovered this "meme" and am excited to attempt my first time participating. It will be great to find new titles that others are reading, share what I’ve been reading, and make reading plans for the week ahead.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

What I Read This Week:

The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng

This is the book that the fourth grade teachers I work with are planning to use as their first read aloud of the new school year. The main character, Anna, who is in the fourth grade figures out over the course of the story how to be and make friends…something that many fourth grade girls are figuring out. The book is also a nominee for the Rhode Island Children’s Book Awards, and I’m excited to share it with many of our students.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

I’m very in the late in the game when it comes to reading this beautiful story. I was hesitant to read it because, just like a movie that gets rave reviews, I was worried it wouldn’t live up to al lot the great things I had heard….But, I finished it in two sittings and loved it. I’m so excited that one of our fifth grade teachers has decided to kick-off the year with this book, as I think the fourth graders who read Charlotte’s Web last year as a grade will find many connections between Ivan, Stella, Bob and Ruby and Charlotte, Wilbur and Templeton. The story moved me to tears and I’m so glad I finally made the time to read this new children’s classic!

The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan

I am a sucker for anything written by Patricia MacLachlan, especially Baby, Sarah, Plain and Tall, Edward’s Eyes, and Word After Word After Word. See, I’m about to list a dozen of her books:) This story of a young boy learning about himself and his family is both magical and beautifully written. Not sure if it ranks at the top of my PM list, but I loved reading it and can’t wait to share it with my colleagues who also love her work.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Another teacher I work with was carrying this very large book around with him a few weeks ago and I was intrigued. The size alone is intimidating, although very appealing for many young readers. I just had to check it out;) After reading the blurb and seeing the first few pages, I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical. Would I really be able to follow a story half of which was told only in picture? And the answer…a definitive YES. I loved this book and found myself "closely reading" the illustrations and trying to figure out how the characters were connected. As a former New Yorker who loved getting lost in its museums, I loved being transported into the Museum of Natural History.

Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst

One of the third grade teachers is thinking of starting the year with this funny book. My daughter’s nickname is Lulu and so I found myself both laughing out loud and cringing at the main character’s behavior. I loved the songs and the story and can’t wait to see how this book helps her start to build a community of readers who love to read and laugh together.

What’s Next in My Reading Stack:

Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan

Double Dog Dare by Lisa Graffiti

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

And for my adult book club, I need to get started on:

Lean In: Women, Work, and The Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

On Behalf of My Daughter

Yesterday, I was at the mall doing a bit of back-to-school shopping for myself and as I was browsing the racks and simultaneously chatting with my 14 month old daughter, two of the saleswomen at the store noticed her pigtails and pink shoes and exclaimed, “Why aren’t you adorable? Hi, cutie!” I prompted Louisa to say hi, and she smiled shyly, and then I continued looking through the rack of blouses. The saleswomen kept chatting with one another, remarking, “Oh, doesn’t she make you want to have another?” To which I found myself smiling, because, yes, for my husband and I, our daughter does make us want to have another baby. But then, their conversation continued and I felt my inner mama-rage set in…

“Oh, but girls are so hard. I’d take five boys before I’d have another girl,” one of the women commented. “Ugh, I know. Girls…” I gritted my teeth and quickly pushed my daughter’s stroller out of earshot and to the other side of the store.

Can I tell you that I can’t even count how many times another woman, another mother has said that same thing to me–in front of my daughter? Boys are so much easier. I don’t want girls–they’re way too hard.

I know that most of the women saying this are not ill-intentioned, and I’m sure, they love their daughters, nieces, and granddaughters just as much as their sons, but I cannot tell you how maddening these comments are as the mother of a young girl. And how it boggles my mind that it is socially acceptable to say this to me (as a proud mama) and in front of my daughter…

We live in a world where most families still prefer sons, where in some countries daughters are given up (or worse) just because of their gender, and one in which women still have to fight for equal pay and recognition for doing the same work as a man. I worry that, although women’s rights are so vastly different than a century ago, our daughters will still grow up in a society where they will be up against double-standards. I worry that if our daughters hear from the very beginning–from other women–that they are more difficult or not wanted as much as boys, aren’t we setting them up to already have to prove themselves otherwise? Aren’t we already setting the stage for negativity and low self-esteem issues that many young girls battle?

And why are they more difficult? Maybe it’s that some studies show that girls are often more verbal at a younger age and so start voicing their opinions and ideas before their male counterparts? Is it because of what we foresee as the scary teenage years–the years in which they will be potentially moody and hormonal, and struggle with friendships and body image, and possibly sexual relationships? What about boys–shouldn’t we worry about those same things for our sons?

I honestly don’t know what it is that makes us say these things about our daughters, but as the mom to a strong-willed, curious, funny little girl (and an aunt to some pretty strong-willed, curious, funny boys), I don’t want my daughter to ever think she is less than. And so I write this plea to think twice before making what might seem like a harmless comment, on behalf of my daughter.

Five-Minute Friday: Last

Yesterday was the last day of our summer institute–eight days of professional development, discussions, learning and planning. The two weeks ended and I felt rejuvenated and excited to get back to work. I want this feeling to last and so I’m pushing myself to really strike a balance this year–between work and home, between being a teacher and a mother.

I’m hoping I can make that feeling last by:

Working only 4 days a week instead of 5. I’ve already signed my little girl up for “dance” class and can’t wait to have that special time with her each Friday morning.

Making time to read for myself. I’m part of a book club–a group of women I’ve just recently met–and we meet once a month to eat, drink, and talk about some really interesting books. I’m being pushed outside of my comfort zone in more ways than one–talking with new people and reading books I wouldn’t necessarily choose.

Making time to read children’s literature (aside from the board books I read to my daughter). I just received my first big shipment of new children’s books of the almost-school year. Some are written by favorite authors I used to read when I had my own classroom, others are the first read alouds of the teachers I work with, and still others are books I’ve heard about on Twitter.

Writing. I need to make the time to write–whether that’s here on my blog or simply reflecting on my work or day, I am really hoping I can make this happen and be something I can make last. I think writing may be the most challenging for me.

Spending time when I’m not half-asleep with my husband. This will be tricky too, but I can see making this happen by going to bed early on the nights he’s working.

Staying connected with colleagues, near and far. I’ve just recently joined twitter and started using Facebook to share professional links. I am endlessly curious about what other educators are trying and writing about and reading, and it’s exhilarating to feel a part of a larger community of teachers.

It’s eight o’clock right now, and I am peeking at the three books I have on deck to read next, and am secretly happy tonight is a night my husband is working because it means I get to crawl into bed now and read a good book or two or three. Well, let’s see how long I can last;)

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Year One: What I learned about mothering, working, and co-parenting

It’s been quite a long time since my last post. Since November, I’ve returned to work as an instructional coach, done work in Denver as a math consultant for 10 days–using both of my school vacations, traveled to attend the NCTM Annual Conference as well as a few teacher workshops. During the school year, I started working with a colleague who joined the coaching team this year (yay!), found myself working on being more direct, and crying a few times when the work-life balance seemed to get the best of me.

This isn’t even touching on all the learning and loving I’ve done as a still new mom and wife. So before I start (hopefully) blogging about the current events in my life as a mom and educator, here are a few things I’ve learned in Year One as a full-time working-outside-the-home new mom:

Leaving our children while we work is harder on us than it is them. While it makes my heart hurt whenever my daughter cries as I leave for the day, I notice that the crying always stops before I close the kitchen door behind me. Some have called it “mommy-guilt”, but for me it’s a genuine wish to be there with her each day–not wanting to miss the majority of her awake hours each day and miss seeing her explore and excite in her ever-expanding world. I am lucky that for rolling over, my husband caught it on his iPhone and she started walking on a Saturday:)

Having a supportive community at work is HUGE. I am lucky enough to work at a school where even the co-directors are new parents. One of the other instructional coaches and I were pregnant together and still love to drop by each other’s offices for updates on our little ones. Another colleague with whom I’m good friends, had her twins two months after Louisa was born and returned to work a few months after me. It was cathartic to share with her some of the ups and downs of returning to work, and share with her the mom-envy we sometimes had of our stay-at-home husbands. I’m not saying non-new-parents aren’t supportive, but that it helps tremendously to have others to talk with who understand my intense desire to talk about my daughter’s sleeping and eating habits.

Being a parent does change my perspective (a bit) on classrooms and teaching. I used to HATE when people would tell me that my not being a parent put me at a disadvantage as a teacher. I would still never say that to one of my colleagues, because I still think I did some of my best teaching and learning way before I even thought of becoming a parent. However, I do think being a parent has added a new dimension to how I view classrooms and instruction. I really notice whether the children in a classroom are valued and loved as people first, if they are seen and heard. I watch how teachers interact with and talk about their students and imagine my daughter in their care for thirty-plus hours a week. I find myself pulling my Teaching Children to Care off the shelf more and more frequently (and will be pulling it out again to reread as a parent)–thank you Ruth Sidney Charney!

Just like the students in our classrooms, each of us as mothers is different. My sister and best friend are both pregnant right now (and mothers already to some pretty adorable boys) and my dear friend and sister-in-law just gave birth to her beautiful son two weeks ago. I cherish each of my phone calls, texting “conversations”, and visits with them, as they help me cope with all of the uncertainty and celebrate all of the milestones of the past 13 months. But, we each have our own stories, our own struggles and what makes me cry, makes one of them laugh, what is important to me is irrelevant to them…and that’s okay. These differences are what are helping me learn and grow as a mother and friend.

Co-parenting is amazing and amazingly hard. I’m saying it here: parenting with my husband (whom I adore) is difficult. I want him to do things my way, to spend his days with her while I’m at work the way I dream of spending my days with her. But he doesn’t dream of his days like I do and so we get annoyed with each other and get resentful when the other offers suggestions on how to feed her or what to feed her or how to wrangle her into a clean diaper. I secretly, or maybe not quite so secretly, enjoy that she is a mama’s girl right now and flaps her arms up and down in joy whenever I enter the room and cries and clings to the gate at the top of our stairs each morning that I leave. But, I adore watching her climb over to him in our bed after I bring her in from her morning nap and she pushes her little face in his neck and kisses his face; I can’t get enough of it.

I love being a mom. Before we had Louisa, before I was pregnant, I was a workaholic who loved her job. I went to conferences, read piles of professional books, harbored secret “crushes” on my teacher idols, worked 10-12 hour days and then went home to write and respond to emails and read more. I took on extra work with committees, started consulting and loved it all. Don’t get me wrong, I still crave learning and love being a part of an amazing school where I am constantly challenged, and (as I sit on a flight to Denver headed to do some work with math teachers) I love working in other schools with some of the smartest teacher leaders with whom I’ve ever worked. But, if I could give it all up for just a little while, I might, might just be tempted to spend my days and weeks only as Louisa’s mom and Chris’s wife.

I’ve also learned that my free time is often taken up with household chores or relaxing with some brainless tv show, and it’s clearly hard to keep up with a blog. But, I’ve been inspired by some amazing women and men who really do seem to find time to “do it all” and I’m going to try to be more dedicated to writing and reflecting as I start Year Two…

motherhood–a realization

Louisa slept in her own room for the first time last night.

It’s taken me awhile to get to the point where I’m ready to have her in there and not in her sleeper next to my bed. We’ve been discussing it for over a month. Chris has actually been suggesting it for even longer, but I kept telling him I wasn’t ready and that the AAP recommends keeping infants in your room until 6 months of age. She’s not yet 5 months, but I there was a part of me that knew it was time. The part that understood my husband and I would sleep better, and that Louisa would probably sleep better too. And so after each discussion, Chris would smile and shake his head. He saw me those first few nights at home sleeping with my hand on Louisa’s belly or feet, so he knew that it might take this mama a little while longer to let go.

Last weekend, we finally finished decorating her room (she couldn’t start sleeping in there until it was done!)–we hung the shelves and the pictures and all that’s left is moving the rocker back in.

Yesterday, before Chris headed to work, we were discussing it again. “It’d be good for us,” he pointed out.

“But the AAP says…” I argued back.

“Yes, I’m sure they do, but she’d be fine. It’s up to you, though. Do it when you’re ready,” he relented.

And then bedtime came last night, and I looked down at my little girl as I dressed her in her 6-9 month sized pajamas, and thought that maybe he was right. So I quickly moved the monitor and sound machine into the nursery.

After we finished her bedtime routine of singing and nursing, kissing her and laying her down in the crib, I slowed backed out of the room and closed the door. I turned on the monitor and watched as she played with her feet and whimpered a little, before settling in and falling asleep with one little hand tucked under her head.

The pride I felt (that my baby girl fell asleep on her own in her own room) was mixed with heartbreak (she didn’t need me)…and as I sat there watching her on the monitor, I realized that my life from now on will be filled up by moments like this.

Quiet–Five Minute Friday

I went back to work this week.

It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but what I found the most unsettling at work was how quiet it was.

Transitioning back into my position when the school year started nine weeks ago means I have a lot of catching up to do. There’s observing and listening and reading work I need to do to understand what’s been happening in my absence. I also have a new office space that needed to be organized and set up. This work was all very quiet compared to the work I’m usually doing, and it was a bit unsettling.

I found myself on a few occasions, sitting in my new office, looking around and feeling a bit overwhelmed by how quiet it was, so I’d pop into a classroom to be with students or walk down the hallway to “eavesdrop” on the work teachers and students were doing. I know that the quiet will be soon be replaced by a schedule crammed with teacher meetings and classroom work (I can’t wait!), but I’ve also realized that quiet is a good thing–I’m getting to hear and observe what I might otherwise have missed if I was jumping in quickly to add my ideas. Hopefully, I can remember to hold onto a little quiet in the coming weeks…

5-Minute Friday: LOOK

It’s Friday again, and that means another 5-Minute Friday challenge from Lisa-Jo Baker. If you want to join in or read other people’s posts, check out her page here: http://lisajobaker.com/five-minute-friday/. Here’s my take on this week’s word and something I’ve been thinking about since a meeting I had earlier this week…

LOOK

In any classroom, good teachers know that the most important thing is seeing your students. Knowing them. Understanding who they are. We can’t be good teachers if we don’t really listen to and look at the children who walk into our classrooms each morning.

And with instruction, particularly in the workshop model where one-on-one conferring is essential, knowing your students is a must. Lucy Calkins, author of many books including The Art of Teaching Writing, described this conferring as having 3 parts: Research, Decide, Teach. Inherent in the research part of a conference is looking at and really understanding what each child is working on as a writer (or reader, or mathematician, or scientist). We might ask questions, read some of their writing, listen to them explain their work or read alongside them. The goal is to really know what they’re thinking, what they’re doing well, and what they’re trying to do. And then compliment them on something they are doing well. Everyone likes to feel good about their work before hearing a suggestion, don’t we?

Recently, I’ve heard my own student voice in my head during a few interactions I’ve had as a new mom. Times when I was struggling to breastfeed my daughter or figure out sleep routines and sought advice, I’ve heard a part of me yelling, “Wait! You’re not listening! You don’t know me! You don’t know what I’ve been trying.” And then I’ve been left feeling ignored, given rote information that doesn’t really apply to me or my situation, and, frankly, pissed off.

We adults have a lot of opinions, and “experts” are often expected to just give their opinions, perhaps without listening. However, here’s a lesson from the classroom for the greater world—do a little research, really look and see and understand, before you try to teach others. It makes a difference.