Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Living “ishfully” Ever After
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Slice of Life: Living “ishfully” Ever After

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So “ish” is your new word, huh?

I paused, hoping she would add more information so I could understand her question.

Are you relating it to the book?

I decided I needed to let her know I had no idea what she was talking about.

What do you mean?

When you are answering teachers’ questions you are adding “ish” to your answers. 

I remained quiet.    I honestly had not noticed I was doing this, but once it she pointed it out I realized she was right.

  • A unit of study may last 4-6 weeks-“ish.”
  • Kids in kindergarten should read about a C-“ish” instructionally in January.
  • Your students should be reading independently for about 20-30 minutes-“ish.”
  • The lessons are not meant to be taught in this exact order day to day.  You want to teach the essential concepts.   It is more like a road map – scope and sequence-“ish.”
  • They should be able to write 2-3- “ish” pieces in that amount of time.
  • Your focus lessons should be 10-15 minutes- “ish.”
  • Reader’s workshop should last 45-60 minutes –“ish.”
  • You want to confer with your typical readers 1-2 times per week- “ish.”

 The more I listened to myself the more I noticed my words.  Why was I adding “ish” to my answers?    I thought about this over the past two weeks.  I noticed that my answers are typically in response to teachers sharing with me that they:

“…read in an article, book or website that you are supposed to….”

 Sometimes they are even quoting Tammy and me.

I love professional learning and I believe deeply that we all need to continue to grow in our practice to understand current research and its implication on our instruction.  I worry, however, that we can be too concerned with doing everything exactly as prescribed.  This worry to do everything perfectly can actually immobilize us.

I think I have been saying “ish” because I want teachers to calm down and trust themselves.  It is difficult to have hard and fast rules in classrooms that are dynamic.  We cannot plan to predict exactly how everything is going to go every moment of every day.  We need to immerse ourselves in research, best practices and the standards.  We then need to use this knowledge to teach our students.

In the book,  ish by Peter Reynolds, he writes:

Ramon felt light and energized.  Thinking ish-ly allowed his ideas to flow freely.  He began to draw what he felt – loose lines.  Quickly springing out.  Without worry.

Maybe this quote represents my unconscious decision to add “ish” to my answers.  I want teachers to learn something, understand the essence and then create those magical instructional moments in their classrooms.  We cannot teach when we are worried.  We need to be cognitively and emotionally available to think, question, and respond to our students.  Our ideas will not flow freely if we are trying to follow a prescription.

I hope all teachers feel light and energized when they teach.  Everyday we are learning and growing.  Things cannot always go as planned, but if we have an “ish” stance we can take what we learn each day and use it the next.

Ramon, in the story ish, “lives ishfully ever after”– seems to me that is a great goal to have!

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Clare

 

 

 

 

34 Comments
  • Avatar
    bernadette
    Posted at 10:40h, 28 January Reply

    Thanks for the post. It is a good reminder on how to live your day. Can’t wait to ready the book.
    Bernadette

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 14:19h, 29 January Reply

      It is a great book! I hope you enjoy it.
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Peter H. Reynolds
    Posted at 11:44h, 28 January Reply

    Clare! Thanks for sharing your ishful thoughts! I wrote the book initially as a response to seeing very young children shutting down their art & creativity for fear of not doing it “right.” I began using the word “isn” in my workshops to give kids some vocabulary to defend their ideas -allowing them to forge ahead, experimenting, exploring, and learning.

    It was a few months later that a second grade girl timidly shared something she wrote. “I’m not SURE if it’s a poem, but it’s poem-ish!” she said with a bright smile.

    I realized she had transferred the isn concept from art to writing. That was one of those lightning bolt moments. It occurred to me that this was a universal tool – handy not only for children but for us “grown up children.”

    I hope that this “perm-ish-ion” to express based on instinct, gut feel, passion, a hunch, a spark will fuel breakthroughs in creative teaching and learning.

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 15:25h, 29 January Reply

      Thank you for reading the post and commenting. We love all your books. We will certainly take your “perm-ish-ion” and use this idea more deliberatlely in the future. It is interesting sometimes how things evolve. Thank you for your work –it make such an important impact on so many children and adults.
      Best
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Melanie Meehan
    Posted at 12:04h, 28 January Reply

    I LOVE THIS POST!! (Sorry for yelling!) So many people want a prescription–you are SO spot on with needing to incorporate “ish” into practice and stop worrying about perfect getting in the way of good. I’m printing this and handing it out as a gift here and there. Thank you–thank you.

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 15:26h, 29 January Reply

      Thank you — we would love to hear the reactions you get from it. We appreciate your response.
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Cathy
    Posted at 13:30h, 28 January Reply

    Clare,
    I suppose this is why teaching might be an art and a science. Every community is different and every learner within it is on his/her own journey. We do have to trust ourselves a bit — and trust our students. This is great advice, “Things cannot always go as planned, but if we have an “ish” stance we can take what we learn each day and use it the next.”

    Cathy

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 15:27h, 29 January Reply

      I did not think of it as advice, but now that you mention it — I probably need to take my own advice sometimes! Thanks for sharing our thoughts with us.
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Jaana
    Posted at 14:16h, 28 January Reply

    Great post! I have to remember this as I feel we are so behind at school because of the snow/freeze days. Here are my new words: it is only snow-ish or polar vortex-ish. And I am determined to enjoy the sunshine from my comfortable-ish chair inside the house. Thanks for reminding me that if I can’t teach today, I can do something else to become a better teacher!

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 15:28h, 29 January Reply

      Thank you! I hope you enjoyed a relaxing-ish day at home!
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Michelle Nero
    Posted at 14:44h, 28 January Reply

    Yes, this “ish” exactly right! 🙂 I have been trying to tell myself and other this idea, but you said it beautifully, Clare. The balance of research and knowledge with knowing what those little ones sitting eagerly in front of you need. Thank you for your words today. I will be sharing this with 18-20-ish friends and colleagues!
    Michelle

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 15:29h, 29 January Reply

      Thanks Michelle. It just sort of happened — funny how some things evolve. We would love to hear if it helps! Have a great day.
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Chris
    Posted at 15:07h, 28 January Reply

    Yes, yes! Teachers (and parents) need to be calm and trust themselves. Thank you for a great perspective!

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 15:30h, 29 January Reply

      Calm….. now that is a good word. Thank you for your perspective. You now have me thinking about calm!
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Tara
    Posted at 15:55h, 28 January Reply

    I’m joining Melanie in yelling out: I LOVE THIS POST!! Living ish-fully frees us up, so here’s to more of it!

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 15:30h, 29 January Reply

      I plan on giving it a go!
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Terje
    Posted at 16:17h, 28 January Reply

    I love “Ish” by Peter Reynolds and use it with my students. I love that you relate it to teacher learning. “Ish” allows risk-taking and experimenting, and encourages celebration.

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 15:32h, 29 January Reply

      I agree about the celebration piece — if we want to celebrate along the way then we need to have an “ish” point of view.

      Thanks
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Julie Johnson
    Posted at 17:28h, 28 January Reply

    I’ll chime in too…I LOVE THIS POST! I think many teachers are afraid that they aren’t doing “it” exactly right. Sometimes I sit in meetings that one of our math or literacy coaches are leading and listen to teachers’ anxiety. I just want to say, “Relax. Trust yourself.” There is more than one right way to get the job done.” Thank you for your words. I think I may just hang this in our lounge so other teachers can read it.

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 15:33h, 29 January Reply

      We feel the same way — we often want to say “Breathe” We would love to hear how it goes with the teachers in your school.

      Thanks
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Robin
    Posted at 19:55h, 28 January Reply

    I love the “ish” in life. I think much of the time things are more ish than black and white. Ish makes me feel like I have wiggle room, whereas cut and dried makes me feel more confined. I loved following your train of thought today. Thanks!

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 15:34h, 29 January Reply

      Thank you! Reading everyone’s train of thought on this post has given me a lot to think about. I love your idea around wiggle room — we need space to learn and grow.

      Clare

  • Avatar
    Chelsee
    Posted at 20:53h, 28 January Reply

    What a good reminder! Love the book connection as well. Something I am going to share with my co-workers at school.

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 15:35h, 29 January Reply

      So glad –hope it connects with them!
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Fran
    Posted at 22:02h, 28 January Reply

    Clare,
    I love the book “Ish” so I loved this post as well. There are so many unconsciously competent teachers who worry about every step of the day. However, I have seen some unconsciously incompetent teachers who are “positive” that they are following the demonstration or process to the letter and they may not even be in the correct ball park. The good news is that we can all learn new/better ways to work collaboratively to benefit students!

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 15:37h, 29 January Reply

      Fran,
      We completely agree! Collaboration is key. We find that an inquiry stance in collaboration is so important. Demonstration lessons or co-teaching can be so stressful if teachers see things as a right or wrong way to do it. This “ish” stance will hopefully open all teachers up to taking new risks and trying new things whether they are doing it “right” or “wrong.” We appreciate your response and getting us to think more deeply about how collaboration fits in.
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Carol Varsalona
    Posted at 01:06h, 29 January Reply

    Well written and will post this for the #nyedchat community. ish fully ever after – Thanks for the thought.

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 15:37h, 29 January Reply

      Thank you for your response and for sharing it.
      Clare

  • Avatar
    Carrie Gelson @There's a Book for That
    Posted at 01:58h, 29 January Reply

    Love! Love the reminder to feel light and energized 🙂 Such a truly wonderful post that says all of the importantish things 🙂

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 15:38h, 29 January Reply

      Thank you — I am glad it connected to so many people. I hope a few more people feel light and energized today.

      Clare

  • Avatar
    Stacey
    Posted at 21:50h, 29 January Reply

    I, too, worry, that we get far too concerned with doing everything the way it’s prescribed. I tend to talk in terms of ranges, but adding -ish doesn’t seem like a bad thing. In fact, I think it can help a lot of people (teachers, kids, administrators, parents) if we were all to think a lot more ishly!

    • Avatar
      Clare and Tammy
      Posted at 22:16h, 29 January Reply

      I honestly was unaware I was doing it at all. I typically talk in ranges as well. I am not sure how it evolved except a lot of teachers are really stressed right now. I think we all need to breathe, look into the eyes of children and teach. Thanks for all you do for our profession.
      Clare

  • Avatar
    fireflytrails
    Posted at 13:56h, 01 February Reply

    I have always adored this book, and now even more and in a different light. The book and your writing about it speak to me about the sadness of a prescribed (basal) reading curriculum that is being forced upon our district. Bah! We need more -ish. But as students become numbers we are losing that individuality and spark. Thank you for sharing these timely thoughts.

  • Avatar
    Loralee Druart
    Posted at 08:06h, 09 February Reply

    Thank you for the reminder.

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