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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Think Positively

One of the many quotes on my bathroom mirror. This is a quote that Pat, my baby nurse said to me. It says “Don’t anticipate that she’ll be upset. Anticipate that she will be fine and if she is not try and soothe her.”

 

I’ve never been a person to put much stock in inspirational quotes. As a matter of fact, I have always secretly poked fun at people who put quotes up around their homes.  “Don’t write about what you’re going to do, I would think to myself. Just do it.”

Having a baby changes everything, I guess, because now covering my bathroom mirror are quotes, not from famous people, but rather parenting advice from friends and family.

Last week, I was really struggling to get Ariana to settle down to sleep and I said to my baby nurse Pat, “I don’t know what I’ll do tonight when Ariana doesn’t settle down.”

Pat, in her soft spoken way said, “Perhaps you shouldn’t anticipate that things will go wrong.  Anticipate that she will be fine, but if she is not try and soothe her.”

Such simple advice but I realized when she said it, it was the advice I needed to hear.

Assume it will go well and if it doesn’t figure out then what to do…

As you see in the picture above, I immediately added her words to my bathroom mirror.

Her words have been so helpful.  It really was a matter of changing my  mindset from one of  assuming things would go poorly to one of assuming things would be fine and intervening when/if  they weren’t.

Since I’ve added Pat’s advice on my mirror (and read those words every morning and evening), Ariana has been so much less fussy and I have been able to settle her down to sleep more easily.

I don’t know if she is growing up (she turned three weeks today 🙂 ), or if it’s my mindset, or perhaps a combination of both of these things but things are getting better-at least for now.

So what does this mean for teaching?

Two thoughts I am thinking but am hoping to hear your connections and thoughts as well.

At times when I visit a classroom of kids and I tell them we will be doing Writing Workshop together they groan—I know hard to believe that someone wouldn’t LOVE Writing Workshop!

When this happens, I  stop everything and have a little bit of a heart to heart with the kids.

I say, “If  you start off thinking that Writing Workshop won’t be fun it probably won’t be. If you start off  saying wow, that could be interesting it might very well be.”

This usually calms the kids down and things tend to go much better  just from those few words of advice from me. Really, if you think about it my words of advice in this situation are the same words of advice that Pat gave me. Assume it will go well and figure out later if there is a problem.   Interesting that I can see it in work but needed to have it pointed out to me in parenting.

When talking with teachers about Writing Workshop, at times when I say that in a Writing Workshop kids choose their own topics I will have a few teachers say, “What if they can’t?”

I always respond by saying, “Let’s assume that the kids can choose their own topics and if they can’t we will brainstorm and figure out ways to help them.”

Once again..the same advice that Pat gave me.

Having a positive  rather than a negative mind set has seemed to work  with my parenting, as well as working with kids and teachers.

I would love to know your thoughts about this connection.

Until next time,

Leah.

 

 

Until next time,

Leah

12 Responses to Think Positively
  1. Bonnie norton
    January 15, 2013 | 11:27 pm

    Awesome connection! I always try to assume competence in my teaching of intensive special needs students, it is always good to get the reminder as it can be easy to get tied up in the fear of, ” what if…”
    On another note, if you ever need advice of getting Arianna to sleep through the night, I’m known around here as the ” baby whisperer”!
    Your blog is fun!
    Bonnie

  2. Ashley Levine
    January 15, 2013 | 11:28 pm

    Leah, your new parenting thoughts and mindful mention of writing workshop attitudes have made so many connections for me.

    I must say first that you are lucky to have such a knowledgeable baby nurse to guide you as a mother, the support you will get from her is irreplaceable! Trust your instincts because they’re almost always right, and count on others that have done this before for support.

    Secondly, your thoughts about assuming things will go well (instead of the opposite) reminded me of a cliche quote that I put in my fifth grade classroom at the beginning of the school year. “If you think you can, if you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” In the past I too have also regarded these as lame and unhelpful but thought that it couldn’t hurt to try. Others have read this, reflected on it, and have even mentioned what a nice reminder it was to think positively about ourselves when attempting any task life brings to us. I hope to instill this in my students, my colleagues, and myself!

    Good luck in your journey. If you think you “can”, you are in fact probably right.

  3. Kirsten Belrose
    January 16, 2013 | 2:18 am

    Happy 3 Week Birthday! Don’t blink, because she will be 3 years, and then 13 and then graduating from high school before you know it.

    I am a person who loves those quotes and I have many that I hang in my room. I find that they make me pause and reflect often, as well as offer opportunities for great discussions with my kids.

    That being said, I always believe that in any situation, and most definitely in both teaching our students and raising our children, “Attitude is the mind’s paintbrush. It can color any situation.” I am best as both a teacher and a parent when I am relaxed. It sets the tone and kids can sense it. I also always make sure to tell my kiddos that, “I think they are smart. I know they will succeed because they are so smart.” When I do this in a sincere way, their confidence begins to rise and slowly I see it reflected in their work, attitude, and the manner in which they handle a challenge.

    Enjoy your little one.

    Peace,
    Kirsten

  4. Lisa Burman
    January 16, 2013 | 9:21 am

    Love reading your posts from the perspective of being the learner and the parent, Leah! I remember this piece of advice from my early childhood training with babies:

    “If your baby is distressed or unsettled, calm yourself first.”

    Wise words I think, just like the ones you have on your mirror.

    I was so sad to read about the children groaning about Writing Workshop! I think we underestimate how much our attitude and mindset unconsciously communicates to others. Children are ALWAYS learning – sometimes they learn the not so helpful things like a poor disposition to be a learner, a writer, a reader…My guess is the teachers in these classes don’t love Writing Workshop either. Maybe they are struggling with learning new pedagogy, or aren’t confident in their own power as writers? To be the best teacher I think we often need to let go and accept that we are called to be learners first. And it’s okay to share this with the children. 2013 is the time to let go of those old notions that we ‘should know everything’! Advice for teachers and for new parents too, perhaps?

  5. Nicole
    January 16, 2013 | 12:35 pm

    It is not always easy to keep positive. We just have to remind ourselves that we should keep working at it. I found it myself this morning with my eldest daughter, she pushes my buttons easily and I let her, easily. Students are the same. Relax and assume the best is the way to go!

    Cheers on three weeks!!! I remember counting the weeks and then the months….it is such a fleeting time, babyness!

    Nicole

  6. Laurie Mack
    January 16, 2013 | 1:05 pm

    Leah,
    All you shared rings so true to me. I discovered as a teacher, educators set the tone in the classroom as students follow our lead. I’ve had many trials and errors, but now – I practice being happy, thoughtful, and caring as I teach all subjects. Thus far, it has come back to me through the kids. They seem to be happy, thoughtful, and caring of others too. It’s a win-win experience.
    By the way, congrats on your three weeks journey with motherhood and God bless.

    Warm regards,
    Laurie

  7. Jen
    January 16, 2013 | 2:47 pm

    I did the same thing with math. The kids were groaning every day when I said it was time for math so I made a deal with them. I told them that if they cheer when I say it’s time for math, I will stop math a minute earlier. They immediately started cheering and soon after forgot why. We never end math a minute earlier, but it is so nice to hear their cheers and it gets us off on the right foot. They always seem to have fun in math too- so I think the groaning was something one kid started probably on a bad day and other kids continued. But the cheering has won!

  8. Joni Pecor
    January 16, 2013 | 3:44 pm

    Thanks for the words of encouragement! It is moving week for Flynn School , followed by progress monitoring assessments and report cards. We need many positive thoughts as we can collect!!!!

  9. Joanna Palumbo
    January 16, 2013 | 4:43 pm

    This is all about expectations, and how kids have an innate way of feeling the vibes of our expectations and living up to them. Whether it’s the anxiety/stress/exhausted vibes we emit to restless babies (which I swear makes them realize their mommy isn’t happy with them and which makes them more miserable and harder to soothe, thus beginning a vicious cycle) or the glass-half-empty way we sometimes approach lessons or students, when we automatically anticipate the worst BEFORE we even begin the day……kids sense that and it weirdly translates to them as an expectation. And they want to meet our expectations, they really do. One time Douglas, in my first grade gifted class, kept asking for help on something he was “messing up” in his work. Oddly, I truly thought he almost was doing it on purpose, since I had seen him handle the issue fine in the past. I finally asked him if he REALLY was having so much trouble and he said “No but when you were teaching you showed us how to fix this and I can’t do what you said unless I do it wrong first and then fix it and I want to fix it right so you will be happy!” OMG: What a moment for me as a teacher. My teaching had been too much from the negative point of view, that “this will be hard” that “you will need to fix this because I don’t think you can do it right by yourself” etc. So, thanks to Douglas, I completely revised the way I introduced teaching points and ALWAYS tried to make everything sound very possible, accessible and do-able! And if it wasn’t, THEN we fixed it!

  10. Leah Mermelstein
    January 16, 2013 | 7:11 pm

    Thanks everyone for your comments..please know that I read every single comment but just can’t respond to every single one at this moment in time. But I am in awe at how smart, reflective, helpful and sweet each one is. They are so helpful to me as I navigate motherhood and rethink entry into work. I hope they are as helpful to you.
    All my best,
    Leah

  11. Terry Ferland
    January 17, 2013 | 12:05 am

    I love to read the positive responses. Leah, the bumps will smooth out on the baby-rollercoaster as you hold firm with the ” it will all work out” !
    The comments are especially uplifting as I reflect on the gains that each student has made this year through the writing workshop process. Groans aside, like Jen, my students also get antsy with math- but giving them empowering uses for both subjects sometimes gets them “energized”.

    To all, keep the pearls of wisdom flowing. I need this pespective at the midyear point – more than most would realize.

  12. Kate Dembowski
    January 25, 2013 | 5:46 pm

    Leah, as always, your blog makes me appreciate the wonderful profession we get to be in every day!

    I think this particular entry, though, is crucial right now. As we all sit around tables and talk through the new Common Core – as we all attempt to write and rewrite units that push kids to even higher learning expectations than we ever thought we would have – and as we all try to hang on to what we know in our hearts is good teaching, it is SO important to remember that kids CAN. It’s easy to get caught up in the anxiety and negativity, but when we sit down and look at the new higher standards that the CCSS place before us, let’s remember to assume kids can, and then revise if we need to later. Our energy will be much better spent!

    Thank you for bringing some positivity into my day 🙂 Hope all is well!

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