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

  1. bernadette January 28, 2014

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

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

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

      Reply
  2. Peter H. Reynolds January 28, 2014

    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.

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

      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

      Reply
  3. Melanie Meehan January 28, 2014

    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.

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

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

      Reply
  4. Cathy January 28, 2014

    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

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

      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

      Reply
  5. Jaana January 28, 2014

    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!

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

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

      Reply
  6. Michelle Nero January 28, 2014

    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

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

      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

      Reply
  7. Chris January 28, 2014

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

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

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

      Reply
  8. Tara January 28, 2014

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

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

      I plan on giving it a go!
      Clare

      Reply
  9. Terje January 28, 2014

    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.

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

      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

      Reply
  10. Julie Johnson January 28, 2014

    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.

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

      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

      Reply
  11. Robin January 28, 2014

    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!

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

      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

      Reply
  12. Chelsee January 28, 2014

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

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

      So glad –hope it connects with them!
      Clare

      Reply
  13. Fran January 28, 2014

    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!

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

      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

      Reply
  14. Carol Varsalona January 29, 2014

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

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

      Thank you for your response and for sharing it.
      Clare

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

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

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

      Clare

      Reply
  16. Stacey January 29, 2014

    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!

    Reply
    • Clare and Tammy January 29, 2014

      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

      Reply
  17. fireflytrails February 1, 2014

    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.

    Reply
  18. Loralee Druart February 9, 2014

    Thank you for the reminder.

    Reply

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