Imposter Syndrome #SOL18

db4de-slice-of-life_individualAs defined by Wikipedia:

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.


I have suffered from this “syndrome” unfortunately in several ways throughout my professional life. There was a time that I didn’t feel worthy to give any teaching advice because “I didn’t have enough years.” When I was asked for my input early in my teaching career for professional development, or to have a student teacher, to lead a cadre of teachers to be in charge of new teacher orientation training, or to take on a leadership role I thought that someone would find me out and send me to the corner.

Professional writers deal with this all the time. I cannot count the interviews with authors, even famous ones like Neil Gaiman, who don’t feel like “real” authors. Writers who have books on the New York Times Bestseller list even.

I am writing my professional manuscript about teaching writing for #CAMPNANOWRIMO this month. Last week over spring break it occurred to me and I tweeted:


As adults, we struggle with imposter syndrome. As teachers of writing, we struggle with imposter syndrome. How many colleagues say, “Well, I am not really a writer?” The TWO WRITING TEACHERS host the March Challenge for Slice of Life to help teachers feel like writers with the support of the blog and the other teachers who comment.

As we move forward we need to remember to support our student writers. The impact of one strong piece of academic feedback and encouragement we give to students can literally make or break a writer. In fifth grade, a teacher praised my descriptive writing. I HAVE NEVER FORGOTTEN THE COMMENT and think about it as I write in my journal, a blog post, a letter to a friend, or my book.

Sometimes we have to get out of our own way.

If we write, students see us as writers.

If you wrote blog posts (1-31) in March, you are a writer.

If you write on Tuesdays for Slice of Life, you are a writer.

If you write in a journal, you are a writer.

If you write short stories, you are a writer.

If you only write as models and WE DO’s with students, you are a writer.


Own it, and pass it on.

Books Read over SB

Betwixt and Between: Essays on the Writing Life by Jenny Boully

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I loved this book. It is from Coffee House Press. It is weird and lovely. I am going to start reading from the beginning again! Very rarely does a book have this effect on me!

Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk Kathleen Rooney

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This book was a BOTM choice from last January. One of my goals to read books I already have on my shelves and this is one of them. The book is well written which is mostly why it held my attention. The plot is literally a woman who goes for a walk and reflects on her life on New Year’s Eve in New York. The premise sounds boring but I assure you it is not.

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

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Another BOTM pick recommended by Libery Hardy. I enjoyed this book and the research that included about solitude. Lots of underlined passages!

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

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This book has been on my TBR list for a long time. It did not make me cry and I found it to be a fast read. Overall it was good, not great.

On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for Writing by Ann Kroeker

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I loved this book. I listen to Ann Kroeker’s podcast and enjoy her emails for writers as well. I really want to talk about this book with some other writers!

Writers Digest Magazine

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I treated myself to a digital subscription to Writer’s Digest magazine. I really enjoyed this issue especially since there are articles by Julie Duffy from Storyaday and Gabriela Pereira from DIYMFA. I am a sucker for a good list and this issue is full of great lists AND articles.

What have you read lately?



Sunday, Sunday

This past week I was on spring break. My main goals were to read, write, run, and sleep. I did get more sleep than normal. I did read a lot. For CampNANOWRIMO I am up to 18,000 words. The weather was cold and windy so I did not run as much as I wanted. The weather should cooperate today so I can get some miles in.

I did get a screw in my tire Friday which put a wrench in some scheduling.

I have some reading posts for this week scheduled to talk about my books and my reactions. I will continue to work on the manuscript too.

One of the new teacher books I treated myself to is Poems Are Teachers by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater. It came in the mail yesterday and I am super excited to dig in. Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher’s new book is on the way too. The #teachwrite chat on Twitter is to blame for those purchases!! Ha ha

One of the epiphanys I had was to start a questioning coaching cycle. I will work on starting Monday. There are measurable pieces and a definite need. I am thrilled to have a new project.

I also have some more block scheduling research to conduct.

I much prefer the schedule at home but must return to work tomorrow. I will wring as much out of Sunday as possible!



Intentionality & Challenges #oneword

My word of 2018 is BE.

Why BE? It is the beginning of a two-word sentence. Today I will focus on


I have been thinking about being intentional especially in the month of April in my professional and personal life.

I am excited by month-long challenges. I listen to and read Rachael Herron’s year long “replenish the well” quest she is undergoing at the present time with a hint of envy. You can read her monthly essays by following her on Patreon. You can also hear her talk about it occasionally on her podcast.

I also was inspired by Educators are Awakeners blogger Shawn. She has set a daily goal for herself centered around a theme for the next year. I may borrow some of her ideas for my own after May!

My Recent Challenges:

March was Slice of Life for the Two Writing Teachers blog. I continue to link in the comments to the Slice of Life Tuesday post on their site. This Tuesday routine is a year long challenge.

April is #Campnanowrimo . I have intentionally planned the month to write my professional education book. I finally was able to love a format inspired by Rachael Herrons Memoir book. The writing project is a mix of memoir and lesson plans.

April is also poetry month. I usually do something with students and teachers with poem in your pocket. I have found several blogs with poems a day including Ralph Fletcher and Jason Reynolds. I will also distribute well loved poems to students and teachers the rest of the month.

May this year will be Storyaday from Julie Duffy’s site. Her podcast and blog are at the top of my list of favorites for sure. She was just featured in Writer’s Digest magazine as well.

I am intentionally setting daily goals for writing and reading and it makes me happy and in a really great mood.

The blocked writing time will mainly be used for the book but I will blog some too when I have something intentional to say.

Other thoughts: I have been thinking about Coaching Cycles a lot over the past week as well. There is no set cycle in my district but after a conversation with another coach we are thinking about accountability. As I have written about before, a lot of coaching is conversation. I struggle with the amount of paperwork I should impose on myself to keep track of my work. So I am thinking about needs in my school and a way track and measure growth without a formal evaluation as part of my coaching role. Questioning is a favorite topic of mine and a research based strategy. I am thinking of launching a questioning project when I return to school after spring break. I am excited for the possibilities for growth for my teachers and myself.

Do you enjoy challenges? What are your favorites?

The Writing Tribe Love


Blog Love showed me some love by highlighting my blog in one of their fantastic posts! I am in very good company! Click the link to see the highlighted blogs and follow them!

I guest blogged for Teach Write Twitter Blog about writing community during the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge. Click the link to read it! Thank you for the invite! I was able to reach different readers than I would have any other way!

The continued support from Twitter and other bloggers have been tremendously motivating and encouraging!


Top Tips for Prompting Reluctant Writers

  • First and foremost there must be a relationship between the teacher and the student. Some students just need to believe that they can write or that they have something interesting to say.
  • Find something that interests that student and hook on to it.
  • I tell the students all the time, “I can help you be a better writer but you have to write something. I cannot help a blank page.”
  • We can all be writers with a lowercase W.
  • Let them talk…and don’t worry about getting all the words on the paper all the time. If they are really reluctant, scribe for them.
  • Let them type on the computer instead of writing it out.
  • Some students always need a graphic organizer…let them use one…even if it is just a list. Sharing with a friend may be an option as well. Timelines are also an option.
  • Explain the standardized test situation – they are judged, we are judged…it is how it is…place the importance on the task.
  • Have the students set some goals for writing – short term and long term.
  • CHOICE is very important! Topic, writing medium, paper, place to write, etc.
  • Give them specific academic feedback on how they are doing and try to stick to behaviors at first you are trying to encourage.
  • Use sentence stems to get them started – make an anchor chart for class/period favorites
  • Only ask for one sentence at a time…at first.
  • Give ample time to write
  • Celebrate successes!






It has been 18 years.

April 1st is the anniversary of my Oma’s death. I never forget.

Oma is the term for Grandma in German. It is a term of identification but to me it was her name.

I lived with my Oma for most of my formative years. From kindergarten to 8th grade I stayed with her every weekend and every holiday. She was one of the most important people in my life.

Thoughts of her always come to mind when I am eating good food – she was an amazing cook. I miss her cabbage soup, roast and gravy, boiled potatoes, potato salad, and plum cake. Oh, the plum cake.

I only dream of her occasionally. I wish it were more. I have smelled roses before I woke and knew it was her, but sadly that was only once. She is still with me when something important happens.

I remember the call. I remember the disbelief. I remember the drive back up north to see her for myself, otherwise, it wasn’t real.

I still miss her every day.