Tuesday, October 15, 2019

3 A.M.

This is the time I woke up today...and yesterday...and the day before that. I'm in a cycle of 3 AM wake-ups. It's peaceful. The world is still asleep. When I wake up and I know I'm not going back to sleep, I may read or write. I feel productive.

3 AM is not the problem...the problem is 3 PM. It's when I've been awake and going for twelve hours and the day isn't done. I'll deal with it later. Until then, I'll enjoy that my blog post is finished because I woke up at 3 AM. 

(Not the first time, I've blogged about this either. I just found this post from 2017.) 

This post is for my writing goal for #TeachWritetober for TeachWrite. This post is also a slice for the Two Writing Teachers Blog

Monday, October 14, 2019


Take a break. Weekends and days off are a break in routine. These days are sometimes slower and sometimes faster...they are always different.

I give myself permission to take a break from the stress on these days. If I don't get something finished, it's fine. If I take an extra-long walk with Bella or get distracted by something on TV, no problem. 

I used to get frustrated and upset with myself. No more.  Now, I give myself permission for these moments. They are necessary to get through the busy-ness of life. 

Yesterday, I didn't finish my writing goals. My first inclination was guilt and to push through my headache and get it done...until I thought about permission. One day off this month won't mean I've failed! Actually, a day off reminds me how important this work is and how much I want to get back to it. Here I am today...finishing my writing goal for today. 

Give yourself a break when something doesn't get done. It helps! 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Lost in Reading

In Accelerated Literacy, we threw the plans out the window. (I secretly love days like this!) We started class with our circle and we shared people we respect. Ask a middle schooler who she or he respects and then ask why...their stories were powerful and thoughtful. It was one of my favorite opening circle times. 

We transitioned into silent reading. I got a new book and just fell into it. In case you were wondering, it's Cleo Wade's new book called Where to Begin. She's a poet and the poems and stories in the book captivated me. I lost all track of time. I also book talked Jason Reynolds's new book, Look Both Ways. That brought us into a conversation about the author and his experience as a reader which brought us to a YouTube video called Dear, Dreamer

That started an interesting conversation about the power of books and reading. The planned lessons didn't get finished today, but they'll keep. Today we read together and we talked about books. Today we fell a little bit in love with reading...I'd say that's a good day!

(Written on the afternoon of Thursday, October 10th)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thinking and Play-Doh

We are planning out podcast episodes in communications class. Students always want to jump in and record early, but planning is so essential. I was wracking my brain for a way to keep their interest in the planning process when it hit me...make it fun and creative! 

The podcasting unit created by NPR is what I'm following and I highly recommend it, but the lesson for planning was to discuss and write about some heavy questions. I worried that students would not be able to do this effectively in a collaborative group. When writing is required, I usually see one student writing and the rest get distracted. 

Instead, they were tasked with answering and discussing the questions using their "magic toolbox"! It contained, playdoh, googlie eyes, a yellow legal pad, sticky notes, sentence strip, and a sharpie. The magic really happened! EVERY student was engaged with their group. Their creations were creative and they reported that using the playdoh reminded them what it was like to be a kid again. 

Every single group came up with a driving question for their episode and brainstormed some details about what they would do during the episode. Many students reported that these tools helped them think of more ideas than they normally would. 

A day in middle school...with playdoh. It was a good day!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

I am an artist?

I love art. I love doodling and painting and building with clay. I adore creating. The thing is that I haven't had any kind of art class since I was in the primary grades of elementary school...even then it was my classroom teacher. No art teacher...ever. No wonder I have no clue, but I love it. 

I've taken some online art classes that have taught me to dive into it. My love for art supersedes my embarrassment at my results. Actually, I kind of love the results. I found some paintbrushes that look like pens and now sometimes I paint in my notebook. 

It's messy and smudgy and so much fun! It brings me so much joy when I look back on it. I remember the struggle to create it and I laugh when I see what I actually created. 

I see what the art teachers accomplish with our middle school students and I'm in awe. I'm so jealous of the kids that they get to attend these amazing classes. I hope they know how lucky they are. Art is something I feel like I missed in my own education, but no more! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019


It's October and Halloween is coming so I thought I'd write about writing fears. They can be paralyzing. Imposter syndrome is probably the biggest fear I battle. Thinking I'm just faking it and I'm not good enough...those thoughts float around in my head while I write. Those thoughts have stopped me from writing. Those thoughts have pushed me to stop writing entirely and abandon writing projects...for a while. 

After years and years of failure and years and years of writing, I recognize fear when it rears its face and I have some strategies that help me.

1. Ignore the fear and write anyway. Who says I have to listen to the fear? 

2. Write to the fear or about the fear. While writing bigger projects, when the fear hits, I will open my notebook or open a new document and take a few moments to write about the fear. It helps. My favorite thing to do is to address the fear directly and tell it to GO AWAY! I'M WRITING!

3. Writing friends. Fear seems to stay away from large groups. When the fear becomes too much, I reach out to my writing friends. I ask for help and encouragement. I must say my friends (especially Jen) are so skilled at talking me away from fear. After a conversation, I feel calmer and able to write again. 

We had a conversation on Twitter last night about fear and writing. The best thing that came out of it is seeing that everyone has fears and every writer must work through fear...even those writers among us that are published. 

Fears are here. They aren't going anywhere. Let's use them to fuel our writing instead of allowing it to stop our writing.

Monday, October 7, 2019


I ordered groceries online and had them delivered via Instacart. The process was easy. I didn't have to leave my house, but I'm left it better? 

Somehow I have six boxes of macaroni and cheese that I don't remember ordering. I don't have my vitamin water or anything else to drink, because an app can't find a substitution that works for me. I miss the grocery store.

It's the Amazon of grocery shopping. I must confess that I do shop for books on Amazon but something's missing...those serendipitous book discoveries. You know, when someone leaves a book in the wrong place and you find it. Just being in the bookstore is an experience that I miss when I shop online. I felt the same way about grocery shopping...I missed browsing the aisles. (I didn't miss slow-walking shoppers or being cut off with a grocery cart.) 

No more insta-shopping for me...I need to be inside the place where the apples and the cucumbers reside... so I can find the very best. 

Sunday, October 6, 2019


Sundays can set the tone for the entire week. I like spending Sunday afternoons preparing and planning for the week ahead...lesson plans and grading. Creating the agendas for the week. Answering and organizing emails. 

I feel good going into the week if I finish everything and if I don't, I feel unprepared and anxious. It all doesn't always get today, I have two things left on my list that probably won't be finished tonight. To deal with the panic, I focus on the things I have gotten done this weekend. 

Here's my done list:
1. Plans
2. Grading
3. Preparing for our advisory
4. Christmas shopping for most of my family
5. Grocery shopping
6. Revising
7. Reading
8. Long walks with Bella
9. Notebooking
10. Blogging

Hope you had a productive weekend too!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Self-Care Saturday

Today is a lazy day...a long walk with my dog, reading a good book, and just be-ing. Showing up to write here today is not easy, but I made a commitment to do this every day. What will I write about on Saturdays? How will it look different?

I'm not sure yet. For now, I'm here. I'm showing up. How are you spending your Saturday?