3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge #1

I was tagged for the 3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge by The Bibliophile Empress! Thank you so much! I love quotes and this is the perfect challenge for me. It is so much fun!

The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Post a quote for three consecutive days (1 quote for each day)
  • Nominate three bloggers each day

My first quote I want to share is from Plato.

Courage is knowing what not to fear.


This quote came onto my radar recently. I had to read it a couple of times to comprehend it. I have the tendency to overthink. I can work myself into a downward spiral quickly if I don’t catch myself. Sometimes I get worked up over things that don’t even exist yet. I should not fear something that isn’t even a problem.

I have been working on controlling the things that I can control rather than worrying about what might be. One thing I have learned over the last couple of years is that just when you think you have it together life can throw you a curveball and knock you on your butt.

I do not have to fear,  I have to deal. This quote reminds me of that!


My three bloggers for today:

Baffled Mum 

Ms. Chiubooka Writes

Dad on Duty



#SOL18 Day 16 = Time Travel

There are a couple instances in life I feel time travel is a real concept, not just a trope in science fiction movies. Daylight savings time is one instance and the second instance is when I feel I am in a dream reminiscent of the movie Inception. I am living a dream that I control but has hazy wisps of my life. The pieces are recognizable but not quite right. It is a surreal feeling that makes me slightly uneasy.

I felt the second instance of surreal dreams last evening. My second oldest son had his awards for sports and he attends school where I used to work. My life is much different now and I do not have opportunities to interact with the people that I used to work with anymore. This idea is part of life and moving jobs and town but it used to make me uncomfortable because I am pushed back into the memory of my old life. It has been roughly four years now so last night it wasn’t uncomfortable because I am completely happy with the life I am living now. I refuse to apologize for being happy.  One of the most prominent factors of my new attitude is I am not pretending to be someone I am not and love the people in my circles. I do not pretend with severe hair anymore. I look different than I used to. My hair is long and natural to the point that I got double takes for people to realize who I was. I am comfortable with this, but being in the physical environment makes me mentally tick through checklists of my old life. Partly trying to remember names that match faces I recognize.

I am in a different chapter of my life now which means I get to revisit the old chapters in situations like last night. The people from those chapters remember me from the past. They don’t have the benefit of reading that chapters inbetween then and now. Sometimes when you change lanes in life, the people around you don’t always switch lanes with you.

Last night I felt like I was participating in a waking dream but standing just on the outside looking in. I was observing a life, that chapter, that is no longer mine. It is a strange feeling. It doesn’t make me sad. It doesn’t even make me miss it. It just is.

I do know that I had a lovely conversation with a fellow runner and teacher that I was happy to see. We worked summer school together one year and we have run together. Our current training stories were briefly swapped with talks of yoga and marathons peppered in.

The largest heart warmer was I saw my son get his first letter for sports and I was extremely proud. His Dad bought him his letter jacket for his birthday and he will wear it proudly.

After reflecting on the experience and this small slice of my life, I know for sure that I love my life now and would not trade it. I know for sure that the circumstances and choices I have made no matter how big or small have led me to my current place and time.  NOW is a very happy place indeed. All the memories stay with me. Hopefully, as time progresses only the happy memories will stick and the negative ones will be wisps that float and disappear like the steam of my coffee every morning. Every day is a new day and a new opportunity. The choices I make now are better ones as I learn and do better in life. We will see what happens during the next time travel moment!

Thursday Reflection

db4de-slice-of-life_individualYesterday was my Workshop Wednesday day. To be able to have professional development that is needs based for my staff I use team time twice a month. This is the time frame I create the environment to talk professionally or to bring strategies my teachers need.

For the first activity yesterday, I led each team through a trends chart about our last standardized testing window which produced professional discourse about what went well and what didn’t and the next steps to make the 2nd testing window more successful.

For the second section, I had my teams watch a video of a teacher deploying her FAVORITE NO strategy. The task was to answer the question: What do you notice? They had a graphic organizer with two columns to take their observations. One column was ACTION and the other was DIALOGUE.  In this exercise, the teachers always hyperfocus on what the teacher is doing in the video. This is not a bad focus considering we are working on becoming better teachers but I am trying to shift the mindset from the teaching to what the students are actually doing. To accomplish this task, we watch the video again and focus only on the students. They fill out the T chart focusing only on the students which changes the conversation. It is a paradigm shift to think about not only what is being taught but what is being gleaned by the students.

The video I used is My Favorite No which is a technique to pinpoint mistakes in math. I have also used it for grammar and sentence strucure by lifting a paragraph from student writing to correct.

The list of takeaways from the discussions was large!

Modeling, students teaching each other, growth mindset, vocabulary, academic feedback, the importance of routines, etc.

I left the school walking on a cloud proud of the insights my teachers came to!

It was one of my favorite days as a coach. I had forgotten how fun Workshop Wednesdays are and how much the teachers look forward to them.


WWW Wednesday

db4de-slice-of-life_individualI am borrowing this post idea from Peaks and Pages.

If you’re new, WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To participate, just answer the following three questions:

1. What did you read last?

I just finished An American Marriage by Tayari Jones on Sunday. It was the first fiction audiobook that I listened to the entire book. It is an amazing book and so well written. I do wish I had the print copy  – there would have been so many lines that I underlined. I attempted to dictate some lines into a Google Keep document but there were too many! I will use Goodreads quotes to make some reading journal entries.


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I also finished Force of Nature by Jane Harper. I did not see the ending coming – to a certain extent. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone so I won’t say any more. I did like it overall. I felt it was a lighter read but enjoyable and worth the time.

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I also read Kelly Link’s short story The Hortlak. Awesome story but a lot of questions at the end.

2. What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah. I am loving the book so far. The idea of being in Alaska off the grid is extremely appealing to me!

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3. What will you read next?

Since I loved The Immortalists I am looking forward to reading The Anatomy of Dreams by Chloe Benjamin which is her first novel. I also have Kelly Link’s Get in Trouble a collection of short stories. I love her. I have been sorting through podcasts trying to find interviews with her. She is amazing.


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What are you WWW this Wednesday? Share or link in the comments!


An Idea: Coach Collective #SOL18


At the Fall In Love with Close Reading Workshop yesterday I had a brief conversation about support and the community of instructional coaches with several talented ladies which got me thinking on the almost 5-hour drive home.

The coaching community has been on my mind for a long while. I originally started my blog with the idea of connecting with other coaches. I had a need to connect with other coaches especially in my first year. At the time, I was a TAP Master teacher and although there are many master teachers spread out across the state and country, I had limited interaction with them. It was usually limited to face to face meetings twice a year. I had looked for blogs of other teacher coaches to see how they structured their PD and what connections they made. I had hoped to find a post on field testing at the time too,  but came up empty.

Luckily, there have been people and resources that have come into my circle of influence and I now know about The Art of Coaching, Elena Aguilar, and other coaching organizations.

I currently have a writing community and I have a reading community, but I really don’t have a solid coaching community. I’m wondering if there are coaches out there that would desire to have Coach Collective.

The Coach Collective in my mind works like the writers collective where you work independently but then you get to talk about coaching in between work time, but also could share resources and conversations online.

I am considering making a survey to get people’s thoughts so I can determine a plan to move forward. I will then be contacting some other coaches I have connected with through Twitter.

Here are my initial thoughts:

Is there interest for a Coach Collective?

Do you feel you have enough peer support?

Would you like to have a network of people across the United States to touch base with?

Would you like to have access to a bank of resources shared and created among coaches?

What framework of coaching do you operate from?

Which coaching frameworks are you aware exist?

What is your best coaching tip?

What are the areas of refinement you need to be a better coach?

Lately, I’ve been quietly reflective about my life and what I want to do moving forward in the next five years. At the end of the workshop yesterday Chris Lehmann said a few words that resonated with me. Hearing them jolted me to attention. To paraphrase, he said the work of teaching is hard,  but don’t give up. The kids need us. He had made several references to the less stressful environment to work at Starbucks and just worry about lattes – and only while you are at work.

But that wasn’t who the people are in that room. The educators there were not the people who just want to put in their time and then go home and not think about learning and students. We are the ones who make a difference in kids’ lives and believe in the mission.

Sometimes we need a little help and I think a Coach Collective might be a good step for additional support. Let me know your thoughts!

I Love Close Reading

db4de-slice-of-life_individualToday it is all about the love.

I am at the Fall In Love with Close Reading Workshop in Cleveland, Ohio today with Kate Roberts and Chris Lehman. I bought the book when it was first published and even had a little book club online with a few teacher friends.

I am honored to be at a conference learning about close reading. I am here on the recommendation of a literacy consultant I am working with. What is apparent from the first few minutes of the conference is that it is all about the love. The love of reading, the love of learning, the love of life, and how reading is all about life.

Talk about people who are on board with my thinking.

Some takeaways from today:

** Your beliefs and the WHY of your teaching drives what you do – otherwise it is just a bunch of activities

** “Close readings isn’t just a school thing, it’s a life thing.”

*”Every test is a test of reading.” It doesn’t matter what content area it is. This also goes along with the idea that no one worries about the kids who read and how they will do on standardized tests. The kids who read…pass.

** As teachers we want kids to practice things over and over especially when answering questions: “What we need to be giving kids is: How do I do that better?” 

** “Teach the reader…not the book.”

** Give the students a structure:

  1. First rough draft read with a lens
  2. List the details
  3. Find the patterns
  4. Revise your ideas and create understanding

** I am learning how to make some notebook pages to have strategies ready for problems I can anticipate for student learning. Having the tools ready makes it easier to differentiate.

Other fun things:

I met the Heinemann rep from Ohio and made a great connection. I met another fabulous coach of teachers and was able to spend some great time with my friend who also coaches me.

I did yoga with the above people at lunch which was super fun as well.

I am so happy that I took the time to come today. I still have a long drive home but now I have lots to think about!





db4de-slice-of-life_individualI live in an area of the country where we recognize daylight savings time. I usually think of daylight savings time as jet lag without the trip. I have felt off all weekend anyway and this loss of an hour did not help this morning. I also have a 4.5 hour drive ahead of me today with another time change. So, I guess this spring time I do have a trip!

I have an audio book to finish on my trip and some podcasts. Maybe some writing ideas will flow in my brain that I can dictate as well! Hopefully, I will have some writing time at the hotel tonight as well.


The Emotional Bank Account

db4de-slice-of-life_individualI believe strongly in the emotional bank account.

Stephen Covey (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) uses the metaphor of Emotional Bank Account to describe “the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship” (p. 188).

Covey describes 6 ways to make a deposit:

– Understanding the individual;
– Attending to little things;
– Keeping commitments;
– Clarifying expectations;
– Showing personal integrity; and
– Apologizing sincerely when you make a “withdrawal”

When I first started teaching I had the honor of working with Dr. Rita Brodnax who exposed me to researchers and learning that became part of who I am at the core of being a teacher. One of the workshops she brought to the corporation was Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

The concept stuck with me and connects to all the relationships – students and adults. The emotional bank account works like a checking account. You make deposits and you make withdrawals.

Deposits are the things that are listed above. Withdrawals are when you hurt someone’s feelings, forget an appointment, don’t answer, break a confidence, don’t keep your word, lie, etc

If you have a relationship built with someone over a year and most of the interactions are deposits then you are in the black even if the other person hurts you in a minor way. Your relationship is ok.

If you haven’t known the person long and there hasn’t been many depsostis, then a few withdrawals can deplete the account quickly. A large betrayal could deplete the account all together.

Then you have to decide if you are going to close the account and therefore the relationship. Overdrafting your emotional bank account suffers penalities.

This works in marriage. My husband has a simple explanation of a happy marriage: You take care of my needs , I take care of your needs. Simple to say,  not always simple to deploy.

It works in a classroom. The classroom culture is a relationship. You have to give and take for it to work.  There is the relationship between you and your students and there are the relationships between the students themselves. As the teacher, we often have to manage both to a certain extent.

Deposits are important and can as simple as knowing everyone’s names. My goal is always to make more deposits than withdrawals!

5 on Friday! Favorite Mentor Texts for Ideas #SOL18 #TWTBLOG

5 on Friday


These 5 favorite books have been read to countless children over the years by me. They are books I return to over and over. I use these mentor texts for the exemplar of the writing and to use as a springboard for ideas. I have included suggested prompts but there are a variety of craft lessons that can be gleaned from each book.

All the Places to Love

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I love the language in this book. This book was introduced to me when I initially was trained in 6+1 writing with Ruth Culham. It never gets old to read aloud. All her books are amazing.

Writing prompt: What is the place you love?


The Black Book of Colors

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This book was introduced to me by Lester Laminack in a workshop session. It is a book the children want to touch. It is unique and has braille as well as print. There are unusual connections to color and how we think of hues.

Writing Prompt: Write your own poem! Use imagery to convey what you see in your brain.

Saturdays and Teacakes

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Picture books are meant to be savored. This book is memoir written by Lester Laminack and tells the story of the relationship he had with his grandmother. There are tons of craft lessons in this book. Lester made many intentional moves to lead the reader where he wants them to go. Spacing, repeated phrasing, the illustrations, etc. This book is one you can come back to again and again.

Writing prompt: Tell a story of an important person in your life. What is something special you do together?

I Want My Hat Back

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This book produces more conversation about the ending than any other book I read aloud. It is not for every class. I typically read it in upper elementary and higher. This book is fun to read and perform. The looks on kids faces at the end is something I never tire of.

Writing prompts: What REALLY happened to the rabbit? What kind of character traits does the bear have vs the rabbit?

This is the Rope


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Jacqueline Woodson is a national treasure in my eyes. Her books always take difficult topics and tells the story in the most beautiful ways.

Writing prompt: What is an object that is special to you? What is its story?


How Much Memory Do You Have Remaining?


This week I organized and deleted documents in my Google Drives with the goal to free some space. An alert I was running out of memory popped up in my Gmail warning me. I have random documents everywhere floating in the abyss of the cloud.

Last Fall when I assigned myself the task of writing a complete short story a day which morphed into NANOWRIMO last November. Some stories and other writings I just saved in the general drive thinking that I would organize them later. I am organized to a point, but sometimes if I’m frenzied or passionate about an idea I save but do not curate. When I procrastinate, then I am searching for a story I can’t find and the Google Drive does not always locate things as quickly as I would prefer. Does anyone else have this problem?

I am trying to get better at curating my own resources. For me, I have created a problem that is a writing storage problem and a teacher resource storage problem. I was trying to sort through all my saved artifacts trying to attach an appropriate folder or to delete.

At the end of the sorting session I ended up finding some pieces I had thought were “lost” and snippets of saved conversation. I renamed more than a handful of “Untitled Documents” which were mostly dictated pieces from my Google Keep app. I write on my commute and save it to the drive and revise later. I transferred story sparks to a large Dump document I call Notes and Musings. I saved all the words that don’t belong anywhere else. The Notes and Musings document is the technology equivalent of my black writer’s notebook. Notes and Musings is the document that holds a part of a poem, a line, a memory, or something that I’m going to use in a story later.

My hope is moving forward, I will organize documents as I go. I will remind myself to take 5 seconds and place the work in a folder that makes sense. Wish me luck!