Category Archives: Salamander Sky

Supporting teachers, emotional labor, critical project-based learning (Winter updates)

Warming up.

I am relieved January is behind us. It is deep deep winter here in Vermont. Very little light. But there is a quiet beauty, even if your fingers and toes sting with the cold. Like the woods behind my house. Always quiet, beautiful, waiting for a visit. They stand guard and connect me to a world beyond impeachment, caucus meltdowns, and other human issues.

Since Why Great Teachers Quit and How We Might Stop the Exodus was published in 2010 I have been pondering, how would I write about that now? What would I add? I wrote a recent post for Edutopia with some new thinking about the hugely important issue of supporting teachers for a long and happy career in the field of education. It is crystal clear to me that we must work to increase the humanity we extend to teachers and students in schools, and create what Carla Shalaby calls in Troublemakers:

Resurrect our imagination for schooling as a deeply human, wildly revolutionary site of possibility.

Here are 7 ways to make teaching a sustainable profession, and these ideas are not revolutionary.. but they are ways to build the kind of learning environments we know support the growth and emotional health of teachers and students. I would also add the importance of building supportive teacher networks and communities, online and off as essential to this work.

Another piece that is often overlooked and undervalued is the emotional labor teachers put forth each day. I wrote about that over here at the TIIE blog. This one is personal for sure. I hope that we can validate and make visible the care and effort teachers give students each day.

Lastly, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we tend to focus on what is wrong before we focus on what is right. How can we bring a strength-based lens to project-based learning work so students can learn deeply about the values of their communities? By intentionally planning it.

One of the beauties we found on the dirt road outside our house. Can’t wait!

And the salamanders will be coming…. soon! I’m excited to head to a few schools this spring to share about the great salamander migration and Salamander Sky and how to write for change.

Thanks for reading!

Salamander Sky Wins a Riverby Award from the John Burroughs Association

Photo by Tania Barricklo

What a day. We attended an award luncheon hosted by the John Burroughs Association, who’s mission is to enrich lives through nature by celebrating the legacy, writing, and natural world of one of the great American nature writers.

Not only did I finally meet the incredible illustrator of Salamander Sky Meg Sodano, in person, but we had a lovely lunch with Green Writers Press founder Dede Cummings, and a room full of nature advocates, writers, and their families.

Once I saw and hugged Meg, well, I could have gone home then. I cried great big happy tears. We worked for years together, but only met virtually, and sometimes across oceans.

Then, we saw our little salamander book with a great big silver medal on it, and we squealed like little kids.  In the Yale Club. It seems like a place where people don’t really squeal.

via GIPHY. But seriously, the room had hand painted nature and park scenes on the walls, and we sat at a SALAMANDER TABLE. With moss. I was home there.

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New Salamander Defenders: School Visits!

 

We have legions of new salamander defenders!

Lucky me: I have had the chance to visit several schools since the launch of Salamander Sky in March, from pre-kindergarten to grade 6.  Kids big and small love learning about mysterious creatures that come out at night in their own backyards.

Last month I headed down to three schools in the Middlebury area. I met 400 new friends at the Mary Hogan School. The gym was full of kids excited to learn about these secretive creatures, to see recent pictures of the crossing, and to meet herpetologist Jim Andrews and Audubon salamander crossing guard Carol Ramsayer.

Then I headed to Beeman Elementary for a a inquistive group of about 60 kids ready to learn about salamanders. They were treated to Carol’s mini salamander crossing set up and helped me take care of Sky, my pet (fake) spotted salamander.  Thanks so much to Susie Snow for hosting us, and for writing up this blog post about the event! Continue reading