Are You One of Us?

A reflection about identity.

Recently I was asked by a fellow teacher:
“Are you one of us?”
Even after being in a coach position for 4 years, there is still confusion about my role. There are a couple factors at play here. One factor is the role I play in certain scenarios. If there is a lock down for instance, I am one of the people with a radio. Two, even though I have a good relationship with my teachers I think sometimes they feel like I’m “checking up on them” because the administrator has asked me to. Three, there is an openness to my position that is different from a teacher even though I have the same contract. When I first started I actually was blocked at first from a meeting and was told at the door “Only teachers.”
I’ve had the honor of being a coach in two corporations but the roles were glaringly different. One coaching was mandatory and I was an evaluator/quasi admin. Here, it is voluntary and not evaluative.

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Questioning #SOL19


DOK (Depth of Knowledge) is a scale for questioning I utilize with teachers and students.

Level 3: Strategic Thinking Characteristics

  • Requires deep knowledge
  • Students encouraged to go beyond text
  • Students asked to explain, generalize, or connect ideas
  • Students must be able to support their thinking, citing references from the text or other sources
  • Items may involve abstract theme identification, inferences between or across passages, application of prior knowledge, or text support for analytical judgment about a text

2 Strategies for increasing the rigor and use of questioning

1. Have students write their own questions relevant to the content of the class using DOK question stems.

Not only is this a great creation exercise for students but it also hyper focuses their attention on the content and what is important to know. The students find out quickly that higher level questions are not always the easiest item to write!

DOK 3 Sentence Stems

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I have been working on my manifesto for a long while now. I even read a book about it last year called The Motivation Manifesto by: Brendan Burchard. It is a “living document” as a former boss used to call paperwork which has the expectation for constant updates. The one in my notebook is prettier with each section drawn in its own block.

  • Reading is the gateway.
  • Coffee is necessary.
  • Think fast. Talk slow.
  • Love over fear.
  • Trust your first instinct.

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What is on your manifesto?

Weekend Coffee Share 11

Join me for a conversation and a cup of coffee!

I am so ready for our coffee date today! Since it is the last Saturday before I go back to work lets have a fire in the firepit! A morning fire seems like such a luxury. I have some apple fritters and some fresh coffee.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had my Artist’s Way group video call on Sunday which was super exciting. The people in this group are amazing and all have different avenues of creativity they are pursuing. I have done the Artists Way before on my own but never with a group. There is comfort in this process for me and I am hoping to make some strides using it now.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had training for 2 days this week which was wonderful about EL education. There is a lot to this new program and there were points where I felt a touch overwhelmed or that I needed to start making massive lists!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I met the new coach that is going to be working with me in the grades 3–6 bands. We were able to get some initial chatting done and a little bit of planning for next week. There will be a lot of conversation over the next week.

If we were having coffee I would tell you writing practice happened every day and I used my prompts. I didn’t submit anything this week but that is ok. I am polishing a few things and will get them out before the end of the month.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a meeting with one of my financial people and I think I am finally able to get this situation under control with the correct paperwork. Fingers crossed — I have my people on it.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I used Kohls to return an item to Amazon which seems really weird but was surprisinly easy and quick. Who knew.

If we were having coffee I would tell you the barista at Starbucks this week made comment about my tattoos which threw me off. I haven’t had anyone comment in a while and I was really surprised. Iam not certain why.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I spent some time with my grandma this week who is going to be 89 in October. Still lives on her own and takes care of other people! She does meals on wheels twice a week and is a volunteer at the hospital.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I can hardly believe I have to go back to school on Monday. I had to get my planner pages aligned because there is already a huge to-do list being created for the first 2 days.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I met with a writing friend who I needed to catch up with yesterday morning. We had the most delightful conversation. She is a gatherer of people and it was fun to hear about the projects she is working on and the groups she has started. She is working on a book as well so talking about that is always fun.

I cannot wait to hear about your week!

Tammy Breitweiser is a writer and teacher who is a force of nature and woman of honor; seer of nuance; an accidental inspirationalist; a keeper of the little red doors, and a conjurer of everyday magic who is busy writing short stories. A future Minnesotan temporarily hiding in Indiana, her poetry has been published in The Storyteller Magazine and her flash fiction in The Ninja Writers Monthly and Elephants Never. Her essay is published in the I Wrote it Anyway anthology. She is a writer for the publication The Noteworthy Journal. You can connect with Tammy through Twitter @TLBREIT and her newsletter here!

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#FMF Again


Every week I write for 5 minutes with the Friday word. It is time to set the timer and write!

Here we are again — it is Friday again and also the start of the new school year. As an educator, I have the privilege of having fresh starts to my years in January and in August. One of the best parts of the new school year is all the school supplies! It is a time to begin again with new refreshed goals and reflections.

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How to Be A Better Cook

A story about food gossip…

I can cook well but have been out of the habit lately. I do have a few signature dishes which makes it appear like I am a better cook than I actually am. Some of my recipes are ones that I have graciously stolen from friends and then made them my own. Some are fancier than others but all are delicious. Otherwise, what would be the point?

There might not be a perfect meal, but there are close to perfect recipes.

When talking to others, if you mention an unusual ingredient you have cooked with like bok choy then your cooking street cred goes way up. Having a few signature dishes makes it appear as if you are a better chef than you actually are. My husband is really good at taking what’s in the refrigerator and producing a meal out of it or taking leftovers and making it look completely different. I have not honed that particular cooking skill myself.

You can read the rest of this post on Medium!

#IWSG Wednesday

The awesome co-hosts for the August 7 posting of the IWSG are Renee Scattergood, Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!

RULES: This group posts EVERY month.

Visit members. Return comments. Be respectful. And have FUN!

August 7 question — Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you’d forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

I began a writing practice at the beginning of the year after rereading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. It has given focus to my daily writing. When I begin writing every morning I use a prompt that is sent to me. The surprise is I never know where the writing will take me once I begin. I allow the words to flow, sometimes even if they do not make much sense. It always seems to loop back to a cohesive story which is also surprising. I have learned to listen to my intuition and allow all the literary input of all my poems, short stories and other readings to shape my prose within my own voice.

It is quite satisfying to reread an entry from a few weeks before and be pleased with the order of words that came out! Writers write. I cannot wait to see what surprises are in store for today!

Comment here or click here to read and clap at Medium!

When is A Wheelbarrow Just a Wheelbarrow?

Photo by Johannes Plenio on

My district is adopting a new literacy curriculum and today was the training. As a coach, I have to be able to support my teachers and help them navigate these new materials. I must say, there is a lot of buzz around this program. It is open source which means it is essentially free to use. The materials are high quality and student centered. There is dialogue and writing embedded in all the complex text.

The sample lesson from 4th grade was about poetry. I appreciate a training where we experience an actual lesson. One of the core texts is Sharon Creech’s Love that Dog. The main character in the story is supposed to write a poem and is having difficulty understanding The Red Wheelbarrow.

As a “class” we discussed what we thought the theme of the poem is. Many at the table were uncomfortable with the genre and wanted to be “right”.

“Poets are crazy,” uttered one teacher.

You can read this post here.

Weekend Coffee Share

Join me for a conversation and a cup of coffee!

First, I will say I am so glad August is here and July is OVER. Thank you for meeting with me for coffee today. I have been looking forward to our time all week. I am a bit tired today, so let’s sit and lounge in the backyard under the trees. My energy levels have been low and I am hoping to get some pep back.

I am drinking my regular dark black coffee. What would you like in addition to ice water?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went back to work this week for 2.5 days. I was able to teach my Better Conversations class on Monday and it was so much fun! I watched people having life-giving conversation and get to know each other in a low-risk environment. The occasion was our literacy academy for grades 5–8 and it was an enlightening workshop.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I published some poems and short stories on Medium and they are doing well! There were many reads and highlights and it made me happy that people are enjoying them.

Clicking and reading the Medium link directly supports my writing! Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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You can also read other coffeesharers here.