In this time of uncertainty I am choosing to focus on the delights of my day. I am celebrating the wins. I will admit this is not always something I do well.
After seeing fellow teachers with personal sized laminators I inquired about them and found out how reasonably priced they were. That warm smell of melting plastic is one of the reasons I wanted to be a teacher. The aroma filled my room yesterday. I remember being in second grade wanting desperately to cut out the laminated paper pieces. DELIGHT!
The coffee I have while I teach in my empty classroom is a delight. The smiles and repeating of the days of the week and singing our family meeting songs are delights through the screen.
I start my students’ day with breathing. We inhale and hold and then blow it out like the wind. Then we share something they are thankful for and something they are proud of. We will add pieces to this routine as we move forward through the year.
They are thankful for brownies and birthday cake. They are thankful for their family and their pets. They are thankful for stories and finding the white scottie dog in a David Shannon book.
They are proud they helped their mom in the kitchen and picked out the peppers for dinner. They are proud of their dads.
Every session a student of the day is chosen and we make a chart of their favorites. They write their classmates names and we draw pictures of them. One of my students said their favorite food is chicken wings on the bone – don’t give him boneless!
I chose to focus on what makes school delightful for my students and me because this is our reality and this is all they know.
As I write this, the temperature outside slowly climbs. All this week it has rained and been cool. I walked every day after work anyway. There were five days of rain. When I walked yesterday the rain broke and the sun emerged for about an hour. My jacket and layers became too warm then. I am still considering whether I will walk today or not.
As a writer I pride myself in paying attention to the details. Yesterday I was shocked to see a small patch of 10 7 foot sunflowers in a yard I pass several times a week. I wondered if they had sprung up from the rain or they had escaped my attention before then. I guess I wasn’t in a place where I was ready to see them til yesterday. The sunflowers were a welcome sight in one way and a reminder of my flaws in another.
As I write this I think about how I have been incorrect about so much the last couple of days. I thought I had a writing meeting today but do not. The disappointment is immense. More so than it should be. I am consciously thinking about how I want to savor the Sunday time since I have to return to work tomorrow. The ease in to virtual learning is over and tomorrow the schedule is packed. I have written this morning and composed fiction. I have considered how I want to spend the day. I am hoping a book club meets today but anticipate it will not because the host is in Mexico. I feel like the rain clouds are weighing on me even though they have passed in the sky.
Yesterday I was highly irritated and the day did not go as I would have hoped. It happens. I am reminded that my mantra is true – Everything is temporary. Everything had been going quite smooth for too long and I knew it. I listened to a masterclass about Enneagram and honestly learned some things about my type that I am not pleased with. It made sense and was true but that reflection is the mirror was difficult to battle yesterday. There were other irritants as well, like the WIFI dropping in the middle of a podcast. Unusual and I didn’t want to be with my own thoughts.
As I write this I think about how I finished Near Witch by V.E. Schwab last night. It was not as satisfying to finish a novel yesterday. I am fascinated by the story behind this novel. She wrote it in 2 hour blocks while she was working somewhere else. She wrote it in a cafe. There is a romance to that snippet I admire.
As I write this I think about how I am obsessed with the idea that if I went to high school in a different town I would have come to writing as a serious pursuit much earlier. There was a lack of writing influence in my youth. I knew no creative people. I only knew books. Books I knew well, but there was no real life model for me then. I have this fantasy that I would have gone to school for creative writing and been immersed in an MFA. I should appreciate how far I have come in this life but today every thing seems heavy.
As I write this I send you peace and light to your realm of the world.
Let’s take a walk and a thermos of coffee with us today. It is beautiful and I would enjoy the stroll.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I listened to Brene Brown’s podcast this week about a books called Stretch. It is about resourcefulness and based on science. I put a hold on it from the library and am excited to read it. The interview on the podcast was fun and interesting.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I revisited the pyramid of mastery this week. I know it is not exclusive to Tony Robbins but it is where most of my training on the matter comes from. I examined where in my life I am right now in each area on a scale from 1-10. Body, Emotions, Relationships, Time, Mission, Finances, and Contribution. I find it a good practice to revisit the 7 areas to check in. At the beginning of June I did the same exercise.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I got the newsletter out on time another week! This week’s topic was about all the areas we receive feedback in our lives. Specifically, about all the areas I received feedback over the past week. If you are not a subscriber to the newsletter, I would love to have you! Click here to allow me to visit your inbox once a week.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I published the first part of my conversation workshop. I made a video to go with the slides explaining the three experiment choices so the conversation can be rich. I did my own conversation experiment this week as well and was surprised at how deep the conversation got so quickly.
If we were having coffee I would remind you Labor Day was just last Monday. I did a lot of driving that day shuffling kids. Everyone was super sleepy from being in the river and kayaking the day before. I was glad to listen to some podcasts during the time.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I started week 7 of the Artist’s Way this week. I like the tasks. This is the week with the Jealousy Map exercise and a lot of sentence stems to finish. I feel I know myself better now and it was easier to answer than the other times I have done the program.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I answered my morning and evening questions every day in my notebook. I enjoy the feedback it gives me. It helps me to be more intentional with my tasks as well.
As a coach, I try to help people remember the ways they can take care of themselves. Hopefully, this will remind me! Several years ago I had mini 15 minute initial meetings with everyone in my school and asked them what was most important to them at that moment and how did they treat themselves. They were good questions to ask.
My self care looks like this:
I fast and exercise every day. I start my day with the morning routine that fuels and fulfills me. I learn something every day.
How do you take care of yourself? I would love to know.
I had my lists. I had my weird before school dreams (that will become a short story).
On the way drive to school, I was thinking about my to do list with my first morning meeting with my students. In Wisconsin, the left turn signal is sometimes on the right side of the horizontal traffic light. Well…..I saw the green and went forward – straight through my red light. Ooops.
My first Zoom class meeting started at 8 am and the second was at noon! I had almost all my students show up! I did morning message, calendar, and got everyone signed in. I read David Goes to School by David Shannon. One of the things I like to do is throw random facts about the author into my read alouds. It makes it interesting for everyone. I have met a lot of authors and David Shannon’s info nugget is that every book he writes he puts a white scottie dog somewhere in the book’s illustrations. It is an Easter Egg for the kids to find.
I started both my live sessions with a variance of priming. I talk about a script here in a precious post. Today it was about breathing and about sharing something they were thankful for. This activity started the sessions beautifully.
Since I am fasting I was able to take my lunch time and get my Conversation Workshop completed for my Patreon community. In the spring I decided to start teaching workshops again. I missed them from my middle school coaching days. I had even planned them before the pandemic. It is always fun to get together and have engaging and life giving conversations with interesting people! If you want to learn more you can click here or visit my Patreon link at the top of the blog page.
Starting on September 23rd if you join my Patreon community you will receive a daily prompt for 100 days like the one above. We have a Slack community as well so you can join other writers.
September 23rd starts a special time period – the last 100 days of 2020! Can you believe it???
The last 100 days is the perfect time to give yourself a challenge. You can join mine or create your own. I would love to hear what you plan to do.
Last year I vowed to do one yoga pose a day for the remaining 100 days of 2019. A friend wrote 100 word essays. The possibilities are endless. You could answer the same morning and evening questions. I follow Karissa Kouchis who is a national trainer for Tony Robbins. She has challenged herself to answer the same morning and evening questions for the next 30+ days for a training. I have been answering them in my journal as well.
What questions would propel you into a new reality if you committed to them for 100 days? One of the exercises in Tony Robbins Personal Power class is to construct questions you ask yourself every day. I have a list in my Google Keep Notes.
Here are the questions I am using right now from KK:
What are you most happy about in your life right now? How does that make you feel?
What am I most proud of right now? How does that make me feel?
What am I most committed to right now? How does that make me feel?
Do you see a pattern here?
What have I been given today?
What have I given to others?
What have I learned today?
How has today added to the quality of the overall investment in my life?
Happy writing! Happy reflecting!
I would love to hear your ideas for the last 100 days. It is a perfect time for a self imposed challenge!
This school year feels like it is everyone’s first year teaching no matter what year you are on.
A friend recommended a book by Debbie Ford called The Right Questions. There is power to questions. The first one in the book is: Will this choice propel me toward an inspiring future or will it keep me stuck in the past?
As I was making notes on these first two weeks of the new school year this question was floating around in my head.
After 7 years as a coach, I went back to the classroom. As I have written before, there is a list of reasons for this movement. It is a step of learning and experience. I believe it is an important step for me necessary for an inspired future and what I want to do next.
How does this change serve me? One of the ways is to experience teaching again in a day to day way. Kindergarten is the year where the I am required to think about the simplest explanations for the most complex ideas. In kindergarten there is potential for stories in everything. Five year olds make connections and say things that are unusual and is one of my favorite parts of the job.
When I teach, I make micro-movements in instruction based on the students actions. I am taking this year to analyze how I do this in real time. This year I have the advantage of recording my meetings with students so I can go back again if there are important breakthroughs that happen in class.
There has been two weeks of this school year so far and all prep. Breaking down what I have done with my time is important for my own learning.
-There has been lots of professional development and meetings (all virtual). Some meetings have been done well, and others not so much. I am always analyzing how people conduct their trainings so I can learn what to do and what not to do in my own.
-Everything is new for everyone. The overwhelm hit us all at different times. There were moments that people felt like there were too many changes. This happened for first year teachers and the 30 year veterans. We all feel like we learn and then stumble around in the dark and find our way again. My team is wonderful and we help each other. The strengths we have become everyone’s because of the sharing. We teach each other. I have not had a true team in a long time.
-Contact with parents is always a tricky area for me but a requirement. We are must use Class DOJO and SEESAW here at the beginning. Parents are familiar with DOJO we were told. I have issue with starting with too many things and then changing.
In the Spring, I had success with text messages for contact with parents so I did the same this fall.
I sent this message to my parents this week:
Hello! This is Mrs. Breitweiser (child)’s Kindergarten teacher. I just wanted to reach out and say hello.
Material pick up starts tomorrow.
We will have a combinationof live and recorded teaching in 2 sessions. 8-11 and 12-3. Please let me know which (child) prefers.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Follow up texts required answered questions. I also sent this message:
What is something you would like me to know about (child)? Something that is her/his favorite? Or a special story?
I use the child’s name as much as possible. I send audio messages talking to the student and short video messages as well.
-Virtual open house was successful. We had two 30 minute Zoom meetings and I had over half my students show up. There were smiling faces and cats on the screen. The virtual tour of the classroom and my live explanation of the learning kits were a hit. I introduced myself with a list of favorites that I told the students they would answer starting next week. I showed pictures of my family. Whatever we show our students is what they think we value so those first impressions are important.
It was important to me to tell the parents my past teaching experience. I want to assure them I am qualified to teach their child so they feel as secure as possible.
In the virtual tour I showed all the places where I have the student’s names. I want them to know that it is their classroom even when we are far away.
-Having to be in the building has helped with focus for the start of school. I had some frustration with this requirement especially on the days I spent most of the time in a chair in a meeting in front of my computer. Another focus that is a positive is that it is easier to fast while at school. There is no food there and it requires effort to get in the car and leave if I am stressed.
Do I feel prepped enough? I think so. If something goes wrong then I will pivot and we will use it as a learning experience.
I will make a list of things to remember before Tuesday at 8am.
There is a list of things I want to make sure to remember. If I don’t? I will write it down for the next meeting. This is the same practice whether I am in real life teaching or virtual.
We will see how it goes! I know for certain my choice propels me to the future I create.
Welcome to the holiday weekend! I love the photo above. It makes me smile today. Do you have favorite photos? Are they on your phone or somewhere else? Do you look at them often?
I am having my regular black coffee. What would you like today? I have a pitcher of ice water as well. Let’s use the pitcher I inherited from my Oma. She used to make iced tea in it long ago. The kids use it for cherry Kool-Aid now!
If we were having coffee I would tell you I used two notebooks this week – both black. I have a notebook with thin pages that works perfectly with my fountain pen in the mornings. I keep that one at home. It is part of my daily writing routine. I have a smaller black notebook I write in the rest of the day. I guess I have an at home notebook and a going out notebook!
If we were having coffee I would tell you my writing intensive started this week. I posted my first assignment and did my reading reflection. I received some lovely comments about what I posted so that was motivating. It is a piece I can expand. We used the prompt “I don’t remember” which is one Natalie Goldberg writes about as well.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a conversation with two people this week about how I write so much! I am working on a workshop about this topic. Unpacking my process around writing has been an interesting process and more difficult than I think it should be! I welcome any questions you have about my process or what you would want to know. Leave them in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If we were having coffee I would tell you it was a full moon this week! The energy felt like it shifted for sure. With the school schedule getting more robust this week the energy was different too. I had the new adventure of making contact with my kindergarten parents and students. We did our virtual open house which was fun! Cats visited the screen as happens in this time! Next week starts live instruction and everyone is excited. All of my kids are adorable and I am learning about their favorite songs, things to do and unique things about them.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I am trying to find a boxing class near me. It is something that keeps coming up in my writing about an activity I want to try. We are going kayaking again this weekend. The weather is supposed to be nice. I walked several times this week and several were 10 milers. I have found fasting is easier when I am at work. I am busy and there is no food there.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I am working on my 100 writing prompts. I plan to share one writing prompt a day for the last 100 days of 2020! I am so excited for this project.
What is the most important thing about your week? I want to hear all about it!
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
The schedule feels new for the month of September. In the Northern Hemisphere it is time for school. Labor Day marks the beginning of time that feels different. Summer days fade and all the color seems different. Nature begins to shift.
The day for me always begins with writing and coffee. Sometimes it is 15 minutes of writing and gulping down hot liquid because now I am bound by the clock more than my natural rhythms. Today it is more than two hours because I am up early. Lots of words and coffee both.
My initial instinct for this question are my go to favorite authors. Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link start the list. I am not sure I could sit with them and talk writing and not be intimidated. I am sure they are lovely people. I have seen them both speak. One of the best times I have seen Neil speak is with a video call with V.E. Schwab. The mutual admiration was adorable.
I have tried to locate all the talks Kelly has given online. I hope one day to travel to her bookstore in the East.
Another author I would like to sit down with is Amber Sparks. In these pandemic times I have been able to hear her speak on several panels about writing. I admire her writing and her style. Sitting across a table talking about how stories get onto the page would be thrilling.
In all honesty, sitting down with any writer who writes and talking about technique and how words get on the page is thrilling to me. I love that conversation almost as much as the writing itself.
For my writing class I have to prepare a short story show and tell. This title is perfect for September, isn’t it? I take a favorite story and examine the craft. How it is put together from my perspective. I am looking forward to this exercise. Taking time to look at a story line by line is like having a conversation with the piece itself. There is no way to know what the exact intent is of the author but I can have this experience with the story. It is a different type of experience I can sink into.
As an educator, one of the reasons I like to hear authors speak is to get the nugget about writing the story no one knows. It is why I love podcasts. I heard David Shannon, the children’s author speak many years ago and learned he always puts his little white Scottie dog somewhere in the illustrations of his books. When I told my students this information there was a “Where’s Waldo?” hunt for the little dog. It is fun and makes you feel like you are in an inner circle of writers.
The inner circle is a great place to be.
I would love to hear what your favorite short story is….