Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Here I Am

I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. I've been thinking for the past couple of days about this post...but I can't think of anything to write. Frozen in my failure, I want to quit, but I push through and show up here...even though it seems pointless. Who wants to read a blog post about nothing? 

I begin to panic a bit...Have I "lost it"? My passion for blogging? My ability to blog? Why can't I think of something clever? What do I have to say that anyone will want to read? (By the way, I'd have all of these answers if it was you asking the questions!) Should I quit? Give up? Accept defeat?


Instead, I show up. 
Instead, I remember the words I said yesterday to my seventh-graders, 
"Show up. It gets easier."
Instead, I write and show grace to myself.
Instead, I remember that blogging is a muscle that I haven't stretched in a while and I need to warm up, I need to take some deep breaths.

Here I am. Showing up to the page. I'm not entirely happy with what's here, but it's here. It's about showing grit in moments of weakness. I'm here. I'm writing my story. Next time, it will be better...more interesting, maybe even funny...until then, I'm here. 

Visit Two Writing Teachers to read other slices today. 

Monday, September 3, 2018

'Twas the Day Before Back to School Night

Tomorrow is Back to School Night. My brain is filled with thoughts and plans to make that a productive and successful evening. My slice today will contain the top ten important things in my life: 
1. I quit diet coke a week and a day ago. Brain fog has finally lifted. 
2. I'm teaching only seventh graders this year. I miss my sixth graders, but I do love my seventh graders. There's never a dull moment. 
3. Instagram stories are a new obsession of mine. I make silly and goofy stories and I have way too much fun doing it. 
4. For the first year in forever, I have a paper calendar for school that I'm using and loving!
5. I'm only teaching electives this year. It's a whole new world and I'm really enjoying it!
6. Currently, I'm on notebook number 77 and loving it! 

7. I read 86% of the Harry Potter series this summer. I only have book seven left. 
8. This is my 23rd year of teaching. I just realized that I'm four years away from teaching as long as my mom taught! 
9. Lunch is my favorite meal of the day...because of the company. 
10. Seventh-graders make me laugh!

Random list of a slice, but it's all my brain could create today. It's a "good enough" day of writing. I showed up. That's better than I did last steps. What important things are going on with you?

Join us at Two Writing Teachers and share a slice!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Confessions of a Nerd

If you're a long time reader, you'll know this. 
If you know me IRL, you'll know this. 
If you're related to me, you'll know this...

I'm a nerd. 

WAIT a minute! I reject each and every one of these definitions. Unstylish? Unattractive? Socially awkward? Foolish or contemptible?!?!

NO! That's not what a nerd is...that's not what I am. It's time for the definition (dictionary definition) of this word to change. What am I? I can accept that I have a single-minded focus. Writing. Yes, I am a writing nerd. I love all things writing.

My notebook is my constant companion. It goes more places with me than my dog. I can always be counted on to have a fancy pen or two stashed away in my purse or my pocket. When something happens in my family and we need something written, I'm the one they always turn to and I get the job done.
Writing brings me peace and clarity. Writing comforts me when I feel lonely and it celebrates with me when I succeed. Words have power. Being someone who writes and uses words feels good. So, when someone calls me a nerd...I smile, say thank you, and I own it!

Are you a nerd too?

Two Writing Teachers
Slice of Life

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Creation of a Classroom

As a new school year is on the horizon, I begin the process to set up my classroom. This is the twenty-third time I'm doing this and it's always a challenge. Move furniture around. Unpack books. Arrange. Rearrange. Move again. It’s exhausting, but it’s mostly exhilarating. Let’s start at the beginning.

After a summer away from this space, I return to my classroom. This will be my second year in room 734. I find it takes me three or four (maybe five) years to figure out the best way a space works for me. Whenever I first walk in, I stop and take it all in...breathe it all in. Before anything else, I turn on some fun music. I curated a playlist called Teacher Theme Songs inspired by Gravity Goldberg’s new book, Teach Like Yourself. Music sets the mood and I’m off…

Moving furniture to just the right spot is something that is a challenge. I can’t figure out which is the best Tupperware to use for leftovers, so designing an entire room is not easy for me, but I’ve learned to enjoy the process. I ask myself these questions:

Do I have a small space for myself?
Is there a space for the class to gather?
Where can students work together?
Are there places to work independently?
Is all the space being used efficiently?

Once I move desks, bookcases, chairs, I usually move them again and again before I’m happy. (Hey, it’s just like revising my writing!) That must be finished before I start pulling out what I call the “fun stuff”. Books. Lights. Accessories to make the room cozy, warm, and a place I want to be.

I wish I had more guidance when I was a newer teacher about room set-up. Here are some of my tips for teachers:

*The bulletin board does not have to be perfect. A little slant gives it character.
*Leave some spaces unfinished to allow students to have ownership. My walls stay pretty bare and my books aren’t fully organized until students arrive.
*Make sure you feel comfortable in your classroom. It’s a space where you spend so much of your time.
*Resist lots of store bought posters. Student made posters always make me happier.
*Do not compare. (I still fall victim to this one.) Make your classroom reflect your students, your philosophy. A Pinterest classroom is pretty, but students are looking for heart!
*Ask for help. Ask where teachers found things or if someone can help you arrange. That's how I learned.
*It's not easy, but it's worth it!

Going in today to finish my classroom. I haven’t taken many pictures yet, but I will and I’ll share. Enjoy this time. It’s hectic and busy, but you’re creating a classroom community where your students will learn and grow. It’s important.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Why Notebooks?

This week I finished my 76th notebook and started in on my 77th. I love my notebooks. I treasure the time I spend writing inside the blank pages. I value the reflection it provides. A question I've been asked a lot about notebooks is why? Why do I prefer notebooks to digital writing? 

First let me confess, that I respect all kinds of writing. It's all important. It's all helpful. It's all worthy...but notebook writing tops them all for me. 

1. Connecting. The connection to the page. There's something about the physical connection of pen (or pencil or marker) to a page that feels like coming home to me. I can be anywhere in the world, but the connection to the notebook and the pages inside ground me. I feel closer to the page. I trust it so I write things in my notebook that I wouldn't write anywhere else. 

2. Messy. Notebooks are messy. Harvesting the messy and keeping it reminds me to cherish the mess. Writing is messy. Crossing out. Arrows. Smashing words to fit where there's no space to fit one more thing. There's nothing pretty or orderly about the process of writing. My notebook reminds me of the merit in the mess. 

3. Collecting. Having the thoughts I gather and spew all together is significant. When I go back and wander through the words and doodles, I notice serendipitous connections that I never would have made on my own but because of their placement inside my notebook, something creative and original clicks. 

4. Permission. My notebooks give me permission to be me. I can scribble and doodle and write crazy, outlandish ideas in my notebook. Nobody judges me. Having a place to take chances in my's made me the writer I am today. 

5. Forever. When I started this blog post this morning, I'd typed up a few hundred words on a completely different topic. My judge came out and decided it was no good, so I deleted the words...all the words. GONE. Those ideas, those words...they are gone forever. With a notebook, I can search and find my ideas whenever I like. They aren't all fact, many are silly and boring, but they live inside these pages forever. 

Don't our students deserve the same opportunity to become writers? I believe every writer needs a notebook that belongs to them so they can write and risk and fail and discover and live. 

This year in school we will all have notebooks. We will all have a place to write our story...students and teacher alike. 

Thank you for reading. Please join me at Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Celebrating a Goal Achieved!

In March, I was knee deep in the slice of life challenge, when I saw a post on Instagram about #the100dayproject. It was shared by a favorite author of mine, Elle Luna. 
Created by Elle Luna

I was teaching two different classes, writing blog posts every day, reading and commenting on student blog posts too, and something inside of me nudged me to take on this project. 
Created by Elle Luna
Now, I had to decide what I should do...I wish I'd documented my thought process somewhere, but for some reason, I thought of writing a poem a day using my pink typewriter. You can read about my first day here

I started the challenge on April 1st. I completed the challenge and shared my 100th poem yesterday. What did I learn? 

  • Doing something for 100 days truly built a habit. 
  • Showing up on days I didn't feel like it, was hard.
  • Sharing on days when I knew my poem was bad, humbled me.
  • I enjoyed the quiet every day when I wrote.
  • I love tap of my typewriter.
  • I found confidence every day I showed up to the page.
  • Many people enjoyed my poems. 

I'd do it a minute. The process was powerful. I learned a lot. I'm grateful that I was able to complete this. On to another challenge...
Created by Elle Luna

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Walking into Writing

I set some goals for myself this summer. I shared them here, but I've revised them. My goals are simple for this summer:
1. Walk
2. Write
3. Clean
4. Read
5. Swim

The first goal is the one I'd like to talk about. I have a confession...I'm a relatively sedentary person. The things I love to do include sitting: writing and reading. It's not good. During this past school year, a friend nudged me to accompany her after school on walks. I did and look where I am now. School has been out since June 15th. Of the sixteen weekdays, I've walked fourteen of them: missed one for rain and one for not feeling well. 

My day starts with the walk. Sometimes I walk with a friend and other days I walk silence or accompanied by some of my favorite the cool mornings or in the extreme heat. Regardless, I lace up my sneakers and I walk. 

How has this changed me? I feel better. I have energy. My day begins with something already accomplished. Feeling more motivated, I get more done and I am happier.

Walking has helped me as a writer too. I work out ideas as I walk. This morning, I wrote my typewriter poem, in my head, on my walk. (I jotted it down in my note app, so I could type it later.) 

Walking calms me and gives me confidence. This helps when I sit down to write. As writers, we often doubt ourselves. I often have the, "I'm not good enough!" imposter syndrome worry. Walking calms that in me. I don't know why. I don't understand it. (I don't even care why!) 

Walking has motivated me to clean and purge and organize. I'm almost done with my house and the garage is next. Taking a walk can be overwhelming to a sedentary person like me. It's all about one step at a time...hmmm, just like writing. One word after another. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Where Have I Been?

I can't believe it's been almost a month since I've blogged here. This space is special to me. I'm sorry I've been gone so long. Where have I been? 

I've been packing up and ending the inaugural year at my brand new middle school. It was a wonderful year!

I've been walking. Every day. Incorporating walking into my daily routine has been so worth it. I feel more energy. I feel inspired by being outside. I enjoy chatting with a friend or the silence on my own. 

I've been writing...mostly typewriter poetry. I took on #the100daychallenge and decided to write a poem a day for 100 days. Currently, I'm on day 87. 

I've been reading. I'm in the midst of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and I'm reading Innovator's Mindset for school. That doesn't include the news and poetry I read daily.

Finally, I've been cleaning and organizing and purging. Taking it shelf by shelf, room by room...and really being mindful of what stays and what goes. 

I'm grateful for this community. You are always here, whether I show up or not. I will do better. I will show up to this place...the place that inspired so much of my writing life.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

47 Days of Summer

This school year is quickly approaching its end. (I'm sad about that as it's been one of the best years for me as a teacher!)  I've found it helpful to make plans for the summer.

With family visiting and PD sessions, I have forty-seven days this summer that are currently unplanned. What will I do with that time? There are a few things I want to develop habits by doing them every single day. 

1. Walk. I want to go on walks every day. I've already made some plans with a few people who may join me. Starting the day out with a walk is a great way to get outside and really begin my day. 

2. Swim. I love to swim. Being in water always brings me joy. I'm putting it out there. One goal is to get to the pool every single day. Again, I'm not one to spend lots of time outside and I want to change that. What's better than swimming? 

3. Read. Ok. I read. I love to read, but my pleasure reading has fallen off. Bringing a book (or my Kindle) with me to the pool will help with this goal. Audiobooks for cleaning my house and long car rides will help me here too!

4. Podcasts. This is something that I can never seem to fit into my schedule. I always pick music over podcasts. This summer, I'll really give this one a try. 

5. Writing. I want to write a complete draft of a book that I'd like to get published. I've been taking notes and researching and planning forever. It's time to dive in and just write it...write it all! 

This sounds like a lovely way to spend a summer. Five specific goals to incorporate into my days. I may have one or two more before summer begins. How will you spend your summer days? 

Thank you for reading. Please join me at Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.