Small Steps to Creating

Sometimes with small steps we take, we have no intention of creating something bigger. We may just be stepping in to test out the water. This happened to me recently when I started using spices in the kitchen. It happened to me when I made a decision to say yes to teaching kindergarten  during a college summer, when my major was not education.

One of the things I thought about this week that started small and became something greater is my very first tweet inquiry about “genius hour.” Thanks to the fact that together we are smarter, #geniushour has grown a lot over the years. It was nine years ago that I saw a tweet by Angela Maiers about something called “genius hour.” I

I did hear more and learned more. I started giving my students time for genius hour and sharing about it on Twitter. Thanks to my future friends, Hugh and Gallit, who were teaching partners at the time, we began to use the #geniushour hashtag, first just the three of us and gradually it has developed into a huge PLN.

Gallit had the idea to start a Twitter chat once a month, that has gone on continuously since March 2012. Hugh, Gallit and I, along with Joy Kirr were asked to be interviewed about Genius Hour and write a Genius Hour Manifesto. We all wrote about Genius Hour extensively on our blogs and practiced this empowering learning with our students.  The next year Gallit and I wrote an e-book about Genius Hour, which didn’t actually get published because of changes at the publisher. In 2015 it was picked up by Middle Web and Routledge Eye on Education and became published as The Genius Hour Guidebook. The second edition was released in 2020.

This past spring we had a chance to talk about the importance of Genius Hour in at home learning.

When I started doing Genius Hour with our middle school students, I never would have imagined that it would become a thing that so many people are practicing with their students.

Today is Saturday, Day 172 in Bahrain’s Covid season, Prompt 104 from Suleika Jaouad’s The Isolation Journals. Today’s prompt from Prune Nourry is “Reflect on a time you took one small action that led to a much greater creation.” Watch a video about the cathartic sculpture Prune made during her fight with breast cancer.

Covid-19 Teeth Cleaning

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org

Today was my regular teeth cleaning, though it wasn’t really regular. I was three months late due to the dental department closure for some months in the springtime. Even now that they are open, it wasn’t regular. It was a Covid-19 teeth cleaning.

When I came into the room, I felt conspicuous, especially when they asked me to remove my mask. Of course, I would need to remove my mask. What was I thinking? The periodontist and the assistant were each decked out with double masks and a boldly-marked FACE SHIELD.

They both meticulously used hand sanitizer and then put on a pair of rubber gloves. They busily set up the work station, getting all their tools lined up. The assistant poured me a cocktail of betadine and water to rinse my mouth.

After getting everything set up, they removed and disposed of those gloves and then put on a new pair. At this point, I was clearly feeling like I myself was the virus from which they needed protection.

As I sat there, occasionally opening my eyes, I saw a trio of images. In the center was the dental light focused on my mouth, on either side the periodontist and the assistant. I couldn’t help but notice their attentive and vulnerable eyes under their shields. I wondered how many of my droplets were able to reach those defenseless, exposed orifices. I felt guilty and prayed I didn’t have Covid-19.

Fortunately, teeth cleaning is a fast and furious process here. It is not for the faint of heart, indulged or coddled. He is on a mission to get through all four sections of teeth before giving the person in the chair a break. Three tools were put into my mouth, a water jet, a suction and some kind of an ultrasonic teeth cleaner. I began breathing deeply and slowly. He began traveling on the lingual mandibular route. Then surprisingly, two of the tools escaped. I closed my mouth over the suction, happy for the unexpected break. Then he continued on the labial mandibular teeth, jumped up to the maxillary, turned and scaled every surface along that route. He then did another u-turn around my wisdom tooth and continued on the front of the upper jaw. No more breaks to be had until the end.

In the next moments, he gobbed that gritty polish onto all the surfaces and scrubbed it off like lightning.

I looked down at my watch. The whole process had taken 13 minutes.


Today is Day 168 in Bahrain’s Covid-19  time.

Movement and Creativity

Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org

It is really difficult to get enough movement and exercise during both the Covid-19 outbreak and this hottest time of year (On 23 July days it was over 40C [104F] and got up to 118F a couple times. It is also steamy). We sometimes go to the mall early in the morning and walk before the shoppers come, but we don’t do that too often because of my husband’s work schedule.

However, I do keep moving and creating even in my small flat. As I sit at my computer so often these days, I have learned that I need to get up just as often. I pop up and walk every hour, at least for 250 steps. It does clear my head. I am on a serious band exercise routine every other day.

Today when I needed a creativity break after working, I went into the kitchen, watched the news, and painted part of an egg carton that has been sitting here for a couple weeks and my husband was getting close to throwing in the garbage. Making my very hungry caterpillar took the sting off watching the news with chyrons like, “All the promises trump has made, but not kept on health care.”

Another thing I’m doing these days is practicing my singing. I still can’t believe that I signed up for virtual singing lessons, and I even do my homework! I practice creativity in the kitchen too. We are eating better than ever.

Are creativity and movement related? Absolutely. I am a changed person after these months of living more intentionally and with a greater range of priorities. In the past, I could get stuck in the overwork cycle of doing school work for days at a time. It is so unhealthy! Even after the coronavirus chapter, I am committed to exercise and creativity and not just work.

Today is Tuesday, time for a Slice of Life post, Day 161 in Bahrain’s Covid-19 chapter, and Prompt #103 in The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad. (This prompt was about how  movement helps with fresh ideas and contemplative thinking.)