Welcome to Read – Write – Connect, Inc.

the Internet home of Leah Mermelstein.

Best Writing consultant 002 copyLeah is an internationally recognized literacy consultant who specializes in K-5 Reading and Writing Workshop. She is the President and CEO of Read-Write-Connect, INC. She is also the author of Reading/​​Writing Connections in the K-2 Classroom, (Allyn & Bacon), Don’t Forget to Share (Heinemann) and the co-author of Launching the Writing Workshop (with Lucy Calkins) (Heinemann).


Selected Works

DVD

Quality Writing Instruction
This brand new DVD will assist teachers with high quality writing instruction.

Non-fiction

Don’t Forget to Share: The Crucial Last Step in the Writing Workshop
This brand new book will show you how to make your share sessions more instructional.

Nonfiction

Reading/Writing Connections in the K-2 Classroom: Find the Clarity and Then Blur the Lines
This book demonstrates how through careful, explicit assessing, planning, and teaching every student can understand and use the reading/writing connection to become stronger readers and writers at the same time.

Units of Study for Primary Writing: A Yearlong Curriculum: Launching the Writing Workshop
This book shows teachers how to launch a joyful and rigorous Writing Workshop in their classrooms.

QUICK LINKS

E-mail the author

Authors Guild

findauthors

Leah Mermelstein
536 Grand Street, Ste. 501,
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(917) 503-1947

leahmermelstein@earthlink.net

1Leah best writing consultant 1.4 copy

Blog Posts are Below:

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Teaching and Living with Persistence and Resilience: How I coped the week I had head lice, a flat tire and food poisoning all the while being 5 months pregnant

In my last blog, I listed the qualities of self-directed writers.  They were:

  1. Self-directed writers are independent first, interdependent second
  2. Self-directed writers are confident
  3. Self-directed writers are risk takers
  4. Self-directed writers are engaged
  5. Self-directed writers are excited
  6.  Self-directed writers are persistent
  7. Self-directed writers are resilient
  8.  Self-directed writers are resourceful
  9. Self-directed writers are resourceful
  10. Self-directed writers self -regulate themselves

Nurturing these qualities in students is essential not only because it helps to improve the quality of their writing, but also because these qualities will come in pretty handy one day when they are adults. 

 

In today’s blog we’re going to look at two of these words:  persistence and resilience

To start us off let me define what these words mean

Persistence:  Continuing especially in spite of opposition

Resilience:  An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

Next, I’m going to share one personal story where I was both resilient and persistent and two classroom stories where amazing teachers nurtured these very same qualities in their students.

 

First, my story.

 

It was the first week of school and I was looking forward to long, quiet days of writing.  But alas life didn’t go as planned.  On Sunday night, my phone rang. It was my brother. He said, “You’re going to kill me.  Celia has lice.”  Celia is his daughter and my niece and unfortunately I had slept in her bed two nights earlier!

I had taught young kids for fifteen years and had never contracted lice but now at five and half months pregnant it was the moment of truth.  I couldn’t use the regular chemical laden hair products so that Monday instead of a long quiet day of writing, I began an hour and a half drive to a place called Lice Fairy Mothers. I had been told that the owners knew how to get rid of the lice without harsh chemicals.

 

About an hour into the ride, I blew a tire and was stuck on the side of the road for a good hour. Once a police officer came to save me, I questioned him incessantly on how long he thought I could drive on the space tire. I was persistent in my desire to get rid of the lice immediately, but unfortunately he sent me home with a smile and told me to get a new tire first and take care of the lice later. (Poor guy, he thought I was a bit crazy!)

 

The next morning, once again there was no quiet, reflective writing.  Instead I spent the morning getting a new tire for my car and the afternoon getting rid of my lice.

 

And if things couldn’t get worse would you believe that two days later I went to a barbeque and got food poisoning? Most of the  week was spent not on writing, but throwing up and combing lice eggs out of my hair.

 

I had to admit though that I handled it pretty well. I found a way to be resilient and realize that these bumps are inevitable. I was also persistent and made sure that I got some writing completed in the midst of all the chaos.

 

Being persistent and resilient was essential to my survival that week.

 

Now, two teacher stories:  Just last week, I saw Marnie Gleissner conduct a lesson where she modeled for her students how to use classroom tools to get spelling help.  While modeling, she tried out a few strategies before she got the spelling help that she needed. Watching Marnie I couldn’t help but notice that not only was she teaching kids how to use the tools in the room to get spelling help, but she was also modeling how to be persistent in solving a problem.

 

Then on that same day, I watched Lorena teach a lesson about what to do when you don’t know what to write about.  Throughout the lesson, she was very careful in her word choice saying things in her lesson such as “All writers have days where they don’t know what to write about.” A few of the students yelled out that they already had ideas and she responded by saying, “Well today is your lucky day.” She told me later that she was deliberate in her word choice because she wanted kids to realize that even if they didn’t have this particular problem today they probably would in the future and if/when they did she didn’t want them to be surprised or upset. Yes, Lorena was teaching them what to do when they didn’t have a writing idea, but she was also teaching resilience.

 

So there you have it…two teachers teaching persistence and resilience and one pregnant lady having to experience it.

I would love to hear from you!

What qualities of self-directedness have you tried to nurture this year?

Have you been successful?

What problems have you run across?

Until next time,

Leah

12 Responses to Teaching and Living with Persistence and Resilience: How I coped the week I had head lice, a flat tire and food poisoning all the while being 5 months pregnant
  1. Sheila Meade
    October 4, 2012 | 10:34 pm

    Leah,
    I LOVE this topic! Persistance and resiliance are the qualities that make the successful, successful!! It doesn’t matter how much education you have, or how intelligent you are— if you don’t have the characteristics of persistance and resiliance within you, you’re sunk!! Being cognizant of this in our teaching is just so important. Thank you for bringing this to the forefront of our thinking!
    Also… I hope you have better times ahead of you!! What a crazy couple of days for you!!! When it rains, it pours! Good luck to you and your little one!

  2. Leah Mermelstein
    October 4, 2012 | 10:55 pm

    Hi Sheila,
    It’s great to hear from you and I hope the start of your year has been a great one. I love this topic as well and I feel lucky that Heinemann is letting me write a book about it. Yes, I am 7 months pregnant and am trying to get this book out before the baby :)))) Talk about having to be self directed. Please tell everyone that I say hello.
    Leah

  3. Lee Orlando
    October 5, 2012 | 1:52 am

    Oh my gosh! As I read your tale of lice, flat tire, and food poisoning, I could hear my mother’s voice: “It doesn’t rain but it pours.” What a string of bad luck! I can also relate to your persistence in getting rid of the lice as soon as possible. I, too, taught for years without contracting lice, but my luck ran out two years ago when my youngest came home with them… and promptly “shared” with me. I could not get to the drug store fast enough.

    The school year is still new, but a goal I have this year as a sixth grade teacher is to offer my students more choice and voice in their learning. That can make a world of difference in helping them be self-directed. In writing, specifically, I plan to use online tools like wikis, Voicethread, and digital storytelling to provide my writers with a broader, more authentic audience.

    • Leah Mermelstein
      October 5, 2012 | 7:02 pm

      Hi Lee,
      I’ll be interested in hearing how it goes when you make a deliberate effort to give kids more voice and choice in their writing. Please feel free to let us all know on the blog. 🙂 I’m sorry that you had lice as well. :))
      Keep in touch and hopefully I will see you soon.
      Leah

  4. Nancy Rondeau
    October 5, 2012 | 6:53 pm

    Wow,Leah! Mazel Tov on having a baby!! I wish you well and hopefully the lice have moved on and out of your life… It does provide a great example of persistance and resiliance and I can even picture you telling this story in your workshops. Tough stuff to go through!! Good luck on your book and staying focused. I’ll look forward to reading it!!

    • Leah Mermelstein
      October 5, 2012 | 7:01 pm

      Thanks, Nancy! I couldn’t be more excited!!!! I am lice free, thank goodness! I hope all is well with you and I’ll let you know when the book comes out.

  5. Maureen Garber
    October 7, 2012 | 12:33 am

    Unfortunately, the week that you described mimics the joys of parenting. When things weren’t going as planned, I’d look at my children and say “It never ends!” I’m sure that they got tired of hearing it. Hope you have completed your combing exercise and are feeling better again. Enjoying your work, as always.
    Maureen

    • Leah Mermelstein
      October 7, 2012 | 12:52 pm

      Hi Maureen,
      Yes, I know that I’ll have many, many, many more weeks like this 🙂 Hopefully I will see you in November when I’m working in Vermont. I hope you are enjoying the start of the year. 🙂
      Leah

  6. Ryan Scala
    October 8, 2012 | 2:21 am

    Hi Leah,
    It would be interesting to take these qualities and rank them. At the top of my list in September would be independent, engaged, excited, resourceful, risk-takers. Then it would be fun to place these qualities alongside UoS or workshop structures, which units or methods encourage these qualities or is it just about the stance you take as a teacher? How do you encourage these qualities? I think that part of it comes from the language we use? Do we tell – teaches obedience or do we teach – encourages independence? I think a teaching share is a great place to nurture self-directedness, while at the same time, the link in the mini-lesson can assign or offer possibilities. In a conference, we encourage self-directedness when we allow students to set the agenda. It would be an interesting PD exercise to take the month long map of a unit and imagine how we are nurturing these qualities. What about mentor texts? Do we recruit students in the search? This was the original thinking behind immersion, as I remember Isoke Nia talking about gathering and sifting when I began to learn about teaching kids within genre studies and how to read like writers. As I wrap up our unit on raising the quality of narrative writing and move to fiction, I can’t help but think about how I can nurture these qualities. Another place I think I might do this is finding places to make student growth visible so that their progress spurs them on, and encourages them to tackle new challenges.

    • Leah Mermelstein
      October 8, 2012 | 12:31 pm

      It is so interesting that you talk about putting these qualities next to structures of teaching as well as ranking them. Although I haven’t thought about ranking them (but now will!) my upcoming book does talk about each of the teaching structures and how to angle those structures towards self-direction. I look forward to your thoughts once the book is out and you read it 🙂 I also talk about how to plan them into units of study as well as a year long calendar towards self-direction. I’m glad to discover someone else who sees how vital this is. I truly believe that if we want kids to be self-directed it must be intertwined into each part of Writing Workshop. Thanks for your always thoughtful response. If you try any of what you said above, plese let me know. I would love to include it in the book.
      All my best,
      Leah

  7. Amelie
    October 8, 2012 | 3:11 am

    Hi Leah,
    I have not come and read on your blog in a while, I am glad that you got to “write a story” out of your misfortune. I’d like to share with you how, in my fourth grade classroom this year, I teach writing and collecting writing ideas almost all day long. Would it count as perseverance or persistence? When a student tells me about an incident that happened on the playground, and explained how the problem was solved, I can’t help saying, “I sure hope this story makes its way to your writer’s notebook!”. If a student shares a small moment that happened right before school, I’ll mention the writer’s notebook again. And after we had our first class party for having collected tons of “points” for great community behavior, I again suggested that these stories entered the writer’s notebook. These past few days, I have found myself itching to get to my desk or my home to quickly jot an idea or a thought in my writer’s notebook. I hope my students are feeling the same way… How is the book coming along? I can’t wait to open it!

  8. Leah Mermelstein
    October 8, 2012 | 12:34 pm

    Hi Amelie,
    There are probably a million different ways to define what you are doing with your kids, but at a first glance I would say you are teachign them to be resourceful–that is to understand that what happens to them every day is fuel for their notebook and their writing life. One of the things I talk about in the book is language and I think that you are very deliberate with your language so that kids understand that they have many resources for topic ideas. Keep sharing!!!! The book is coming along–I am really excited about the idea and the hope is that will be out through Heinemann for the fall of the next school year. I will keep you posted!!!

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