An Education Opportunity – A Mastermind Connection

An Opportunity for Connection

I wrote this morning about my #oneword and how important this process has been to me. This year’s word was connection and it has made a huge difference in my writing community.

I have another community – my education community. I connect with other educators through the Twowritingteachers blog and Teachers on Fire podcast and Medium publication.

But I want MORE.

I want to have some real life discussions about things that matter to us.

I want us to share the sparkle and sprinkles of the day and the things that didn’t go so great and what we learned.

As a coach, I get to have conversations with teachers every day. I want to extend my reach and nurture some deeper connections before the end of the year.

Let’s Connect and a Do A Challenge

I love a challenge. We are looking at the last couple of weeks and we have influence on children before the end of the decade – let’s go out with a bang!

Sign up here for a 2 week reflection and sharing challenge. I will send you an email every day during the time frame of December 4-18th.

Each day I will ask you to record

-one energizing and impactful thing for students no matter how small

-one thing that didn’t go well that day

-something you learned about yourself, your teaching, or your students.

Three sentences – that is all!

You can share it on your own blog, email me, or join the Slack channel to share with other educators.

Click here and sign up!

I cannot wait to get to know some of you better!

The New Thanksgiving

My life has changed and therefore so has my holiday traditions.

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

My Thanksgiving used to be traditional. It used to be like everyone else’s holiday.

I used to get up and cook. My onions and celery would be softened with butter and mixed with sage and various breads for the stuffing. It went into a fresh bird that had been ordered weeks before. I prepared for at least 30 people for dinner. The multiple tables would be set with cloth tablecloths and loads of themed tablescapes. There were mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes I would make fresh. People typically brought pies. That I would allow someone else to control.

I refused to allow paper products. The china came out from the cabinet. I insisted on real plates for dinner. It is the holiday. It is special. Wine glasses were used for the bottles that would be passed around the house adding to the merriment and chatter.

This year is different. We had dinner on the Wednesday before with just immediate family plus a girlfriend. Cooking started on Tuesday. The dishes are different now. Corn bake, holiday recipe mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole were made Tuesday. I still got up Wednesday and made the turkey but it was purchased from the grocery store, not the butcher. Crescent rolls were made right before we sat down at the table in the kitchen and we ate on paper plates. The glasses were red plastic cups so the dishes are less.

I used to love the cooking and the celebration. I used to love hosting for so many people but life is different now. There were two candles in the center with a ceramic decoration.

There was one glass of wine this year.

Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday.

I used to get the turkey in the oven and then go run a 5K race. Not anymore. I used to have to cook alone. It was a metal of honor that my turkey was picked apart and devoured every year. These are past routines.

The tradition is different now. Today I am writing. I will watch the football game and then go to the Dunes for a hike. It will be quiet. I am grateful for my life and my immediate family. I am thankful for a roof over my head and all the food around the table. I am thankful for work and my paycheck and all the abundance that is in my life.

What I Didn’t Do in November

Photo by WARREN BLAKE on Pexels.com

A Month of Gratitude and Reflection

November is full of words for a writer. This month was no different. National Novel Writing Month as a challenge on top of the regular challenges I impose on myself.

There are some things I didn’t do this November.

  • I didn’t conduct my annual ANONYMOUS LETTER project. Every November I have my students write anonymous thank you letters to someone in the school. It has to be an adult working in the building currently so I am able to deliver the letters. This could be a teacher, the principal, the lunch lady, the custodian. The rules of the letter are to thank the person for something specific and to give clues to who you are. One of the reason I started this project was because I was tired of the same trite writing of being thankful every year. I also could never remember how to spell “anonymous”. This project hit both those targets. Plus, the ripple effect bonus was the joy and mystery that surrounded these letters. Sneaky smiles and “did you get a letter?” questions as students went past adults added an air of fun and joy. For that, I was truly grateful.
  • I didn’t read IN NOVEMBER by Cynthia Rylant to any group of people. Last year I used the picture book as a brain drainer for a Workshop Wednesday I conducted. I love this book for the prose and the imagery.
  • I didn’t answer work email when I was not at work. There are a few exceptions to this practice but 99% of of them go unread and unanswered until I am “on the clock.” I had taken my work email off my phone but realized with Google it was required for the calendar to be synced. The calendar is necessary, but I ignore the emails.
  • I didn’t go to the Writer UNboxed UNCON. This was heartbreaking really. My plans early in the year were to go to Salem the first week of November and be immersed in writing and learning. Due to some glitches I was not able to attend. Luckily, I have two writer friends who did attend and gracefully shared some of their knowledge and insights with me.
  • I didn’t do yoga every day. My 100 day end of year goal was to do a pose every day. I usually do a couple after my shower in the morning but that routine has fallen away a few days. Not a lot of them, but enough for it to bother me that I forgot.
  • I didn’t finish my NANOWRIMO novel in flash stories….yet. This will get finished but it might not be 50,000 words and that is OK. The story will be wrapped up though for certain by the end of November.

What didn’t you do in November?

There are a few days left!

You can read this article on Medium here and support me as a writer.

Weekend Coffee Share

A cup of coffee and a conversation

Welcome to coffee time with Tammy! I am so glad we are getting together today. I cannot wait to hear about your week. There were some fun things that happened this week for me so I have been looking forward to our chat all wekk!

If we were having coffee I would tell you the greatest news is I do not have to go to work next week at all! We have the whole week off for the Thanksgiving holiday and I could not be more thrilled. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday anyway which makes it even better. We are cooking dinner on Wednesday — turkey, stuffing, corn bake, green bean casserole, rolls, and mashed potatoes.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I went to a vision/dream board workshop hosted by my friend Jane. It was in a lovely coffee shop. The conversation flowed, we searched for pictures for our boards and I had the best coffee called Roger That. It was full of cocoa and vanilla and cayenne. I love a coffee drink with some heat! The photo above is my delicious beverage. My board is still being added to because I had a file folder of pictures I had accumulated over the past few weeks. Vision boards are part of The Artist’s Way which was the motivation. My new word for 2020 MORE is on there too! The end of the decade is rapidly approaching. Last year my word was CONNECT and I made efforts to build my communities. I nurtured my relationships especially with other writers.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a video chat with my writer friend who went to an amazing writing conference at the beginning of the month. she reminded me of the PIE journal technique which I used yesterday morning. I love this article and come back to it often.How The PIE Journal Optimizes My Creativity And Self-AwarenessPrompts, ideas and experiencesmedium.com

The conversation also centered around short story writers and how we don’t quite fit in with the writing community at large. I am working through my thinking with this concept still. Be on the lookout for an article.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I published my “I Am Not A Niche” article and I am pleased with it. Many writers have told me they have struggled with the same issue.I am Not A NicheI am not a niche, so why does my writing require one?medium.com

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am still in the midst of my energy challenge which completes in a few days. The group is having our second call later today. I log what gives me energy, what depletes me and what I have learned every day. Doing the challenge has allowed me to be more hyper aware of what is that fuels me. Being aware also has helped me to stop negative emotions from taking over and ruining the day.

Would you like a refill? I need to warm my cup up. I also think I am going to get some ice water. Sparkling water is an option too!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a different experience in the post office line this week. On the surface it seems silly but is a testament to how different my thinking is lately. It was a pleasant line of polite people even through the man behind me was standing quite close. The main change was I did not feel the anxiety of having to be somewhere else and pressed for time. I was calm and just allowing the experience to be. Snowy Day stamps were purchased which made my teacher heart happy. I sent my airmail letter. It was energizing to not feel rushed and enjoy the experience.

You can read the rest of this post here.

I Am Not A Niche

An honest reflection about niche and writing.

I am not a niche, so why does my writing require one?

As a writer, I am many things.

I am a teacher.

I am a teacher who writers.

I am a teacher of writing.

I am a mother of four and a writer.

I am an ultra runner and a writer.

I am a wife and a writer.

I am a reader and a writer.

I have interests galore and roles which influence my writing.

Worrying about an email list and promotion has been the topic of conversation between a writer friend and I. It has spanned days. We love our craft and we also love money. We have both been told we need a niche to be successful. It has been told we need a niche to increase followers and subscribers and it makes it easier. I am not sure this idea is true.

I am a poet and essayist.

I am a blogger and a short story writer.

I am a novel writer.

Why should I only have to focus on one of these things to be successful?

The answer is — I don’t.

I am also a yogi and a yoga teacher. I bend and am flexible with my physical form so the mental form is going to follow. Reflection is one of the superpowers I possess.

As a writer, one of the types of essays I receive the most feedback for are my Weekend Coffee Share posts. It is a reflection of my week written in a conversational tone and the sentence stem, “If we were having coffee”.Weekend Coffee ShareA cup of coffee and a conversationmedium.com

I also get a lot of feedback from my poems. These are two genres of posts that are the easiest to write for me. The Weekend Coffee Share posts give a glimpse into the life I lead. In some ways it seems odd for people to be fascinated by this post, but I read those types of posts myself from others and adore them. The poems are insights into my emotions as cryptic as that may be. They are real and raw. The exact reasons I read myself. There is an honesty like no where else.

You can read this article here on Medium.

Ideas for A More Inclusive Classroom Culture

To build culture in a classroom the teacher needs to be reflective about their own culture and how it connects to the cultures of their students. Equity and recognizing differences and similarities in humans is fundamental to us learning. A culture of learning, high quality work, and character is essential to students becoming leaders of their own learning.

We carry our stories with us. They are weaved into the essence of who we are. The stories are there whether they are told or not. I am an advocate for telling them and appreciating them.

Beginning Reflections:

  • The more we know about our students allows us a better perspective of our students to teach and reach them.
  • Learning occurs from interactions with others no matter which culture they identify with or the role they occupy within the school.

You can read the rest of this post here.

3 Ways to Start A Meeting

Transitioning from work to a meeting can sometimes be difficult. As a presenter to various groups for 25 years I have found a transition activity from a state of unfocus to refocus is necessary.

Here are three tried and true activities:

Have Your Participants Write Six Word Memoirs

A small story of 6 words. Constraints are great for creativity and may lead to an insight about the people sitting at the table.

Examples:

  • It must be the full moon
  • Comparison is a thief of joy
  • Create something that will outlive you
  • I’d pick you over french fries
  • Know your worth. Then add tax.
  • Catch 22, but give 21 back.
  • New mom of 4 almost overnight.
  • High School sweetheart was disappointing knight.
  • I might be Monday’s only friend.

Have Your Participants Make a List

List 5 things you are really good at:

1. listening

2. giving constructive criticism

3. believing in the impossible

4. singing

5.loving

List 5 things you love, but haven’t done in a while:

  1. Try a new recipe.
  2. Took a walk.
  3. Bought a new dress
  4. Painted
  5. Sang

List 5 Jobs You Would Love to Have Even if You Do NOT have the Skills:

  1. Photographer
  2. Caterer
  3. Queen
  4. Professional student
  5. Children’s book author

Ask a Question and Share the Answers

Any question that leads to an open ended answer will suffice. One that is interesting is: People often consider what it would be like to be the last person alive on earth and of course it would be horrible in lots of ways. But let us be a little different — tell me what fun you could have if the earth was all yours!?

or

What would a perfect school look like to you?

All three can be used with students and with adults alike!

You can read and clap for this article here on Medium.

Nanowrimo Report -10 days In

The first 10 days.

Salutations fellow writers! Happy Sunday to you.

The number 10 is important to me. When I am feeling like I do not know what to write I freewrite for 10 minutes. If there is something I do not want to do but know I have to I make a deal with myself to go for 10 minutes and then I can stop. I feel I can do just about anything for 10 minutes. Your time frame might be longer…or shorter.

This is the third year I have done NANOWRIMO — National Novel Writing Month. I have won the two previous years. There are the in between sessions called CAMP Nanowrimo but I have a harder time sticking to those months. I have no figured out why. I probably need to free write for 10 minutes about it.

I am a NANO rebel. The first year I had just discovered short stories were my niche in the fiction world and wanted to continue momentum from my self imposed story a day challenge from October.

Last year I wrote a novel with short stories within it. There is magic there but I have to revise that work. I did some work when I took a writing retreat last year. I have sent a couple chapters to writer groups but have not gotten farther with it.

This year I am writing short stories all about the same character — Brooklyn.

On day 10 I am up to 16,391 words and I have not written today. My goal this month was to write 2000 words a day Stephen King style. As you can tell from counting by 2’s, I am behind. That is ok.

While listening to a podcast talking about making writing goals for 2020 I came to the conclusion I make my own writing rules. I know this seems silly to state but it is true. I just don’t write on my WIP for Nano. I do morning pages every morning and I also write poetry and on Medium. Next year my goal will still be 2000 a day but 1000 of those words are for other projects than my WIP. My goal is still to reach the 50,000 words by the end of this month and I will get there.

Most of my words for Nano this year are written in my bed. I wake up, make my coffee, handwrite my morning pages, and then open the computer to write about Brooklyn. There was one day I woke up at 2am and was able to get 4 hours of writing in before I went to work. Other days I am up at 4am. I am often part of the #5amwritersclub on Twitter.

Brooklyn has been on my mind for a long while and she has a lot to say. I wrote her first story Hourglasses and Dreams awhile ago but it is a complicated world she lives in. Her stories are in a folder in Google. I know enough about myself as a writer to make each story separate otherwise it will never get revised. If the file is too big I intimidate myself.

Every day I receive Sarah Selecky’s writing prompts at 5am and whatever it is becomes a story about Brooklyn for the month of November. I also am participating in Nancy Stohlman’s NANO flash this month and incorporate her prompt into the same story for a open a new file. All the stories are about Brooklyn. It is often not difficult to use both prompts in that day’s writing because they are just jumping off points for me anyway. The prompts just get the sentence started and then flow takes over.

I have used my tarot cards to help me when I am uncertain which direction to write as well. Sometimes I do a spread just for the story of several cards and sometimes I just pull one card with the question, “What should happen next?” It works for me every time. I am working on an article about how I use tarot to write — stay tuned for that piece.

I enjoy the community of Nano. Many more writers come out on websites and Twitter this month. I check in with my writing communities on Slack every day. It helps to stay motivated. I am not thrilled with the new Nano website. It seems difficult to talk to my buddies there. I am tbreit there if you would like to add me.

I am not upset that the word count is a little lower than I wanted it to be when I started on November 1st. I will keep writing every day because that is what writers do.

You can sign up for my newsletter here. I would love for us to connect. I am on Twitter at @tlbreit

Happy writing!

You can read this article on Medium here.