- · It's gotten me back in a writing habit (I hope to keep it going!)
- · I’m trusting my voice more, and remembering again the value in it
- · Emotions came out in ways I didn’t know they would & I was able to process them much more effectively through writing about them
- · I’ve gained new insights into my students’ lives and personalities
- · I was reminded why I enjoy writing poetry so much
- · It’s given me ways to practice different ways/forms of writing
- · I’m realizing once again how anti-real life the five paragraph writing style is
- · It’s rebuilt our classroom community (through students’ participation and my sharing)
- · I’ve been vulnerable in my writing, which were some of the more impactful posts (based on comments) that I wrote
- · My passion is reenergized
- · It’s reminded me that I need to be a writer myself to be a more effective teacher of writing
- · I’m remembering how hard it can be to write sometimes, but that if I just go with it, it usually works – kinda like Field of Dreams: if you type it, it will come
- · It’s reminded me that I am a writer, no matter what form that might take
- · I remember that I like a challenge, and being held accountable by a larger audience, because it’s good motivation to get going!
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Monday, March 30, 2015
Sunday, March 29, 2015
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
What I hope my students know most
Thursday, March 26, 2015
You see, today just didn't go as planned. I have battled TMJ issues and severe tension headaches for many years. Some days are fine, but some days are really bad. Today was the third day in a row that I've been fighting a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad headache. I went to school this morning, and shortly thereafter realized I really should have stayed in bed. I just wanted to curl up in the corner and cry I was so sick of it...which was a sign. It was getting worse as I sat there, and I knew today would not go as I had planned.
So instead of writing my Slice (with that idea I loved) while my students were writing, I was instead sending emails to let people know I needed to go home early and find coverage for my afternoon classes and writing sub plans just in case I'm not feeling better tomorrow. I came home. I went to the chiropractor. I went to bed. I took a nap. I finished a book. I ate dinner. I'm feeling a bit better. Now I am just hoping it stays that way ten hours from now so tomorrow doesn't turn into another day that doesn't go as planned.
I'd like to get back to my classroom and my students - we have a lot going on tomorrow - and Slices to talk about. And now I'm going back to bed.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
They are: Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Turks & Caicos, Chile, Argentina, Ireland, England, France, Spain, Italy, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand + Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary (& possibly Germany if the school calendar and available award seats works out how we hope it will). I’m only counting countries where I actually left the airport–connections in Japan, South Korea & Brazil are not counted.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
~I am a reader at heart, mostly thanks to the influence of my parents when I was a child.
~Life gets harder as you get older with more responsibilities, but with experience comes perspective, which can make things easier.
~Relationships change as circumstances change, and that’s ok.
Some people are only in our lives for a short time for a reason.
~My 30s have been way better than my 20s. Being more settled in my life and sure of myself made it easier. Don’t be scared of a new decade.
~Everyone has numerous roles to play. Mine include wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, friend, author fangirl, writer, reader, photographer, presenter, supporter, listener, adviser, colleague, mentor, teacher…and I cherish them all.
~Middle school is hard. It was a hard time to be an adolescent, and it’s a hard time to witness the adolescent struggles of my students.
~Technology/social media can enhance and help just as much as they can distract and hurt.
~Having a dog to come home to, who always runs to the door tail wagging happy to see me, is good for my emotional sanity.
~Talking to myself is also good for my mental sanity – there’s no better listener.
~Venice is a magical city.
~There are no right answers (except maybe in math). There may be wrong answers, but there is not always just one right answer to problems.
~Choice is everything.
~Everyone has their own journey and path through life. You don’t know what someone else has gone through to get where they are, and remembering that is important.
~Remembering that there are always multiple perspectives and perceptions of any one moment can make life easier.
~Angkor Wat (& Ta Prohm & the Bayon Temple) in Siem Reap, Cambodia is a must see once in your life kind of place to visit.
~It’s not easy to work successfully in an environment of fear/mistrust.
~My heart breaks for the struggles and hardships some of my students have to face. Every. Single. Time.
~Test scores will never show you the full picture of who a child is. There are too many important elements of character that can’t be tested.
~Knowing who your true friends are who won’t judge you, but will judge with you, can make all the difference.
~Kids are not levels – they are readers.
~Sometimes just knowing someone understands and is there can be just what you need and make everything better.
~Kindness is crucial and respect is essential.
~Oftentimes it’s harder to be nice than to be right.
~Travel can open your eyes to the wider world beyond yours, giving you perspective on your own.
~The right clothes and shoes can make you feel more confident.
~Sometimes a day may be just a waste of makeup, but that doesn’t mean it was a loss.
~Goals may change, but you should always have one to work toward.
~There is nothing quite like meandering the streets of Paris.
~Feeling loved is important, being loveable more so, giving love most so.
~If I know better, and I don’t try to do better, I am doing it wrong.
~The sound of waves crashing on the shore, sand under my feet, and sun shining on my skin will always improve my mood and make me feel relaxed.
~There is nothing wrong with taking a mental health day.
~The right book, in the right hands, at the right time, can make things right.
~Writing can be hard, but the more I practice it and do it, the easier it becomes. The more I write, the more I believe I am a writer.
Monday, March 23, 2015
Over the weekend, I had to make a difficult decision to put a pause on something that I’ve been working on for over a year (a book idea). I talked through lots of aspects around it with my husband, but ultimately, I had to make the decision to step back. Essentially: quit. (Although I prefer to look at it as just putting on a backburner for now – knowing that it might still be there when I am able to work on it again.)
Because of circumstances outside of my control, my focus and time are going to need to be on other things in the coming months, meaning I would be constantly feeling guilty for not finding the time to work on this idea, and therefore, not being fair to myself or the other person impacted by it. And I don’t want to have things hanging over my head anymore making me feel like I can’t have any downtime. And although I hope one day to find that I have the time to go back to it, at this point I have to put it on hold.
Sometimes it can be hard to say no to opportunities, and it can be even harder to say no once you’ve invested time and energy and thought into one. But when life throws bends in the road at you, you need to be able to lean into the curve, which may mean throwing something out the window so you don’t end up off balance.
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Saturday, March 21, 2015
It was a long week for both myself and my husband. That often leads to wanting some dessert. I do want to start trying to make healthier choices, but sometimes you just need to get the ice cream. Which I went ahead and did tonight...and it was delicious.
Friday, March 20, 2015
Now, just like buying a new car, what’s most important to me after functionality is the color. My husband always lovingly rolls his eyes at this. But, here’s the thing, it’s something I’m looking at ALL the time. How many times a day do you pick up your phone, or see it laying somewhere? Too many to count, right? So it matters.
|And, yes, my case highlight color matches my lesson planbook/calendar for this year. |
I was apparently in an aqua mood in August!
Turquoise, auqa, teal…that whole color family encompasses my favorite color. Maybe it’s related to my birthday being in December and having turquoise as my birthstone. Maybe it’s related to all of the Southwestern Native American jewelry my grandmother wore while living in Arizona, which I have fond memories of seeing when I was a kid. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of the ocean as I’m settled on a beach in the Caribbean. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t really matter, I’m just happy that I was able to find a case that fit my needs…and highlighted my favorite color.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
than I know I should
I wish I had more
time, energy, understanding
I get frustrated
and hear how short my tone is
I may have to stop
and count to ten…or twenty
I have to remember
to take a moment and check myself
I wonder how I ended up
back in middle school
when the pressures are mounting
and attitudes are striking
I take a moment
to get my headspace right
I remind myself
why I do this
they are still just kids
I push myself
to recall what it was like
to be an adolescent
a look connects or
a comment is made or
a piece is written or
a book is finished or
a laugh is shared or
a joke is told or
a smile is given or
a tear leaks down cheeks or
a dream is stated or
an email is received or
a thought is sparked or
a lightbulb goes on or
a face brightens
On those days
I know my spirits may be low
but my hope is renewed
there is a moment when I remember
why teaching middle school
is the right place for me
I love my students
and find the motivation to try my hardest
because I want the best for all of them
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
This is Dooley.
|She loves being Up North at the lake in the summer - even if she does get some owies on her nose|
She is a yellow lab/golden retriever mix.
|Relaxing at home|
I had already started searching and had found some possibilities in the area. Then Jeff came over to show me one he had found, and as soon as I saw her face on the Petfinder website, I knew we had to apply to adopt her and go visit her at the foster home to meet her. She was a puppy that came out of the Hurricane Katrina rescues, when they put all the dogs together as they tried to save them, months later there were baby puppies, and she was one of them. There was not enough space for them, so a rescue, HOPE Safehouse, in Racine, Wisconsin took a bunch of puppies in to save them.
|As you can see, she is now very comfortable in our house!|
|The day we brought her home - she was SO small!|
|Never far away, even when I'm reading, she just wants attention and love|
|Love this face!|
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
We’re going to write poems today
I said to my 7th graders
Almost all of them groaned
And didn’t believe me
When I said it might be easier
Let me show you my poem from yesterday
I said to my 7th graders
They all listened attentively
But thought a poem should rhyme
Even though mine never do
Go start slicing your poem today
I said to my 7th graders
Use the same topic, but phrases and thoughts instead
Some didn’t know what their topic would be
So I told them they just figured it out
I think I should write another poem today
I said to my 7th graders as I sat down to write also
Not one of them responded
Because they were so engaged and typing away
Writing their own
Poems for today’s slices
Monday, March 16, 2015
Opening Yourself Up to Feedback
Sometimes it’s scary
opening yourself up
Sometimes it’s necessary
opening yourself up
how to improve
how to see it differently
how to put it in perspective
Sometimes it’s humbling
opening yourself up
seeing yourself from the outside
seeing yourself for what’s there
seeing yourself as others do
Sometimes it’s validating
opening yourself up
reminding you that you know what you’re doing
reminding you that you have room to grow
reminding you that there are others who see you
Sometimes it’s scary
opening yourself up
but it can be one of the best ways
to see yourself
and the reality
of your situation
it can remind you
that there are various perspectives
and they are all valid
pushing yourself to do better
and be your best
can be improved
when you let in
what others see in you
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Saturday, March 14, 2015
Friday, March 13, 2015
I expect a lot from them…because they need to be ready for high school and success beyond.
I press them to go further than mediocre…because they need to show their best.
I keep pushing them to revise and try more…because they need to learn that work is involved in improving.
I want them to remember what they’ve learned…because they need to use what they know for their futures.
I want lessons to work out…but sometimes they don’t.
I hope for new ideas to go well…but sometimes they surprise me and surpass even what I expected and hoped they could do.
I plan for certain things to happen…but sometimes they surprise me and show depth of thoughts and honesty and emotion in poems that I never would have expected.
I am thankful that we are Slicing this month…but sometimes I wish it was all year…because they have grown so much in only 13 days of writing…and I can’t imagine the impact it would make and growth we would see if they were to do it all year.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
It was exciting to see things from my eyes 12 days into this, and also from her eyes as someone who doesn’t live in this room with these students. I’ve been so happy with where things have been going since starting the Slice of Life Classroom Challenge, and having Jen visit today and share thoughts, ideas, and questions, gave me the push to keep going, and ideas for things to remind my students about as we move forward (and things to remember for getting started next year). I love that she also showed one of my classes her writer’s notebook where she planned out her Slice of Life ideas and keeps a topic list.
Plus, it’s always good to see and get a hug from a friend who you don’t get to see very often. Thank goodness for twitter and the connections I’ve made there!
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
See, I have a bunch of picture books at home that I’m trying to read through that have been submitted for consideration for my work as Chair of the WSRA Children’s Literature Committee. My nieces and nephews are visiting this week, so I was reading a few of the picture books off my stacks with my nieces last night.
One of the books just seemed a bit weird to me, and as I always do when that happens, I made it my next #bookaday picture book read aloud with my students for today. Why? Because when I’m unsure of a book, I come to them – my students.
They are kids, they are teens - they have plenty of opinions and usually aren’t afraid to share them (I can relate to that!). I love that I have this captive audience that I can present things to and ask for their opinions – they always seem to perk up just a bit and sit a bit straighter when I start a read aloud with, “ok, so I’m not sure what I think about this book, so I need your help.”
It is always beneficial to get other perspectives on things, and I am grateful that my students allow me to ask for their thoughts and are willing to share theirs with me.
Monday, March 9, 2015
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Friday, March 6, 2015
This is the hardest part – the getting started.
I look around my room at my students and see…
…some already writing
…some looking up, hoping to snatch an idea out of thin air
…some glancing around, tapping fingers
…some throwing pens down already done
…some with furrowed brows trying to think of just the right word
…some with heads down intent on their page
…some rubbing their eyes with their hands
…some stretching out
…some fidgeting, avoiding
…some at that moment when the idea hits, and they begin scribbling away
I look at myself and see…
…a moment of panic – what will I write about?
…glancing around the room for an idea
…thinking about what I’m seeing
…fingers starting to type, frantically so as not to lose the idea
…using what’s around me
…realizing it’s a universal experience
Finally recognizing that what we do every day at this time is a small slice of our lives, and all of a sudden, my Slice for today has written itself.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
|The shining sun view from my window yesterday.|
|The sunset view from the building before Thanksgiving.|