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!

Just Breathe #SOL

Yesterday I spent time on a video call with some of my creative companions. We were discussing how we can get overwhelmed by fear. One of the other people said we just have to remember to not look at the big picture all the time and we just need to focus on the next right thing. It reminded me Emily P. Freeman’s book and podcast of the same name.

Yesterday was a frustrating day of work. It was the day of unhappy morning meetings, lost orders, wrong orders, and classroom visits being cancelled. It was one of those days where you wonder why you got into your profession. It’s the day you fantasize about a job where you don’t have to think. I know I wouldn’t be satisfied with a job like that, but my mind went there.

Yesterday I had to assist with a standardized test given to a young third grade class. A group that had never seen scan-tron and didn’t understand the importance of filling in a bubble.

Words came back to me from my years of giving ISTEP+: Fill in the circle completely and make your mark dark. If you need to change an answer, erase your mark completely and make your new mark .

In between each of these 10-minute tests I led them in a breathing exercise as a brain drainer. I had them inhale, fill their lungs and hold the breath. Then we exhaled without any sound. We did three rounds and were all calmer. I’m a yoga teacher and I used to say many times “I need my own yoga today” at the beginning of class.

Yesterday was a day I needed my own breathing exercise. It took a group of young third graders help me along the way. It was the next right thing I needed to do to heal myself.

aerial photo of pine trees


What do you need to heal today?

How to Cultivate Writers


Yesterday I followed up on a coaching conversation from last week. A teacher had expressed concern about a student who has ability but does not produce much work product in class.

My intent was to watch her interact within the culture of the classroom to see if I could spot some strengths and possible insights to her reluctance before talking to her. Unfortunately, the teacher loudly announced my presence as I walked in.

I stood to the side for a bit waiting for the teacher to finish directions of reading material curated for them in connection to this week’s learning targets. Then he asked them to take out their writing and move to the floor.

I took this opportunity to have a quieter conversation with the little one. She brought her 2 books and her notebook. We talked about her day as we walked to my office. I assured her she wasn’t in trouble and that I just wanted to talk reading and writing with her.

This little one has a soft spoken voice and spoke like she is often interrupted – Heavy breaths lay in between her thoughts.

Her notebook didn’t have much writing. A sentence or two on some pages. Some only the date at the top with the label “Quickwrite”.

We talked about ways to make quickwrites easier for her. Then I wrote with her.

As we readied ourselves to write together she expressed a piece she had worked on earlier that she wanted to add to. PERFECT. I had her reread what she had written. I reread mine as well since I said I was adding to something I had started already.

I set a pretty hourglass timer on my phone in the middle of the table and we wrote.

Sometimes we need each other to do the thing – no matter what is.

Other ways to cultivate writing:

+Have them talk before they write.

+Use materials and resources that real writers would use – not just teaching resources.

+Writing as an experience –treat them like real writers and not just children. Acknowledge they have something to say.

+Teaching them to honor their feelings and imagination when they are in the younger grades can help them to not lose the spark that is their voice when they get older.

+Writing is not about having a formula and plugging words into it.  Don’t treat it or teach it this way.

+Write with them.

+Give them freedom and trust. They will produce amazing pieces that are heart felt and honorable. A group of fourth graders I worked with in 2006 had such great writers they sometimes moved me to tears with their insight and it was from ALL the students not just the ones you “expect” to be good writers.

+Performance is a true part of the writing process. Let your students shine that have this ability.

+Remember writing is hard and fun! Support them in both areas.

Happy Writing today!

Weekend Coffee Share

Join me for coffee and conversation!

It is Sunday again and the temps are a little cooler here. There is supposed to be a heat wave this week here in the Midwest later this week. I hope it stays away.

If we were having coffee I would tell you this weekend is the anniversary of me moving into the house I am living in now. It is not my forever home and I feel it. The birds do great us every morning as do the bunnies and the baby squirrels. There is lots of green which I adore.

If we were having coffee I would tell you it was a productive and busy week at work. Lots of conversation and planning which was positive.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am in week 5 of the Artist’s Way program. I am doing my morning pages every day which are three handwritten pages of whatever comes to mind. It clears the way for the creative juice to flow. On Thursday night the ideas kept coming for articles and stories and I really wish I could have taken a writing day ALL DAY Friday to massage and nurture those words into pieces but alas the day job and other responsibilities called.

If we were having coffee I would tell you Storyaday is going strong. I have been writing to the prompts everyday and it has been going well. I enjoy the challenge and use it to try different techniques to foster my writing skills. I tried a new genre this week — cyberpunk. It was out of my comfort zone but a fun experiment. I wrote a 100ish word story and still do not like them! hahaha I have met some new writers through the group as well and that has been interesting. The Zoom call was Tuesday night. We did a lot of writing sprints — where we set the time and write all together — but there was some talking. I write in the morning on my own so I show up more for the conversation then the word count. It does get me some extra words. This week I worked on nonfiction during the call.

You can read the whole post here.

11 Questions Answered

clear glass bulb on human palm

Tim Ferris asks successful people 11 questions in his book Tribe of Mentors. I have answered his questions in order for you to know me a little better. I would love to hear your answers to these questions as well!

Comment here or on Medium!

“What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?”

I love books about life experiments and was immediately drawn to this book as soon as I heard about it. I believe in the idea that you are influenced by the people and books you surround yourself with. Megan had coffee with a new person to learn from them and also to make new connections.

“What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? My readers love specifics like brand and model, where you found it, etc.”

  • Kaweco Classic Sport Fountain pen, black, fine nib
  • A pair of scissors in every room
  • $10 business cards that have writer printed on them — solidified the idea that I am really a writer

What new belief, behaviors, or habits, adopted within the last 5 years, have most positively impacted your life?

  • intermittent fasting
  • keeping only what I love
  • stop saying yes to things I want to say no to
  • study what is energizing and what is draining

What would you put on a billboard?

  • Everything is temporary — good and bad

Click here to read the entire Medium article.

10 On Tuesday #SOL19

A writing prompt and a routine memory:

When I had my own classroom I provided a journal prompt on Tuesdays called 10 on Tuesday. I would provide a topic and the students would write a list of 10 things that fit.

I had an option in my room if students were compelled to write something they could “chuck” the topic — they just needed to let me know.

Some students would write a list of 10 words, some would write a list of sentences. Some would take an item from their list and write more about it or simply tell the whole story.

It was a change in format which met the needs of all of my writers.

Now on Tuesdays, I listen to Laura Tremaine’s “10 Things to Tell You” podcast. Listening this morning reminded me of this past activity. My writing prompt this morning was also a list so this post seemed appropriate!

I was going to write 10 Things I am Grateful For but decided instead to take a spin from Laura’s “What are your intentions?” topic.

My 10 on Tuesday:

I intend to live my day with fire today.

I intend to do at least one yoga pose.

I intend to write.

I intend to have meaningful, life giving conversations with teachers today.

I will intentionally listen to what needs my teachers are telling me through conversations.

I intend to pay attention to my surroundings today.

I intend to write down 5–10 experiences from my day.

I intend to write down a random memory.

I intend to smile and say hello to as many students today to celebrate Llama Tuesday!

I intend to enjoy a beverage when I get home from work.

What are your intentions today?

You can read this post on Medium here.

Writing Life VS Coaching Life

An examination of my identities

I identify myself multiple ways and with several labels.

I am a writer, a teacher, a coach, a runner, a friend, a wife, and a mother.

These main identities take over my daily to do lists and the habits I create in my life. Typically my thinking is organic of a thinker as I am, I do like a framework to navigate within. The caveat for me is I need to create the system. These systems often look like habits and routines for me and often overlap between my coach life and my writing life.

I have come to learn that perfectionism is not achievable. I strive toward it, but sometimes a project is good enough just to exist. I have learned it is a step in the process. This applies to writing, teaching and improving in general.

This past week I went back to work in a new role. I changed from coaching between two grade levels in one building to two separate schools spanning four grade levels. There are only about 4 people I knew before Monday in these schools. There was a lot of “peopling”. I had to introduce myself and my skills and start to build meaningful relationships so we can all work together.

To read the rest of this post click here.

A Beginner’s Guide to Starting Fresh

Advice for starting with a new batch of coworkers

Starting work with new people can be intimidating but relationships matter. Here are some actions I kept in mind this past week as I started fresh with two new groups of colleagues.

  1. Go to the lunch you are invited to even if you are an introvert and usually do not eat lunch.
  2. Listen more than you talk.
  3. Smile
  4. Offer to help even if it is something small
  5. Ask questions — people like to talk about themselves and their roles
  6. Visit their environment but keep it low key.
  7. Don’t try to change anything…yet.

As I made the rounds yesterday in one of the new schools I now work in, I had quick conversations. The question I had at the ready was, “What is your favorite thing to teach?” Most of the teachers said math which was surprising to me. One showed off her wall of vocabulary.

I got even was gifted a loaf of fresh bread.

I heard from a reading teacher that a 10 minute number activity was something that changed her teaching. I always love hearing stories like this one. I was thrilled she shared it with me.

One teacher told me she was afraid of writing so we are working on it together this first trimester.

All week there was lots of peopling but I think it is going to be worth it. I am encouraged and excited for this year!

What is Your Mantra? #10thingstotellyou

The podcast #10thingstotellyou is becoming one of my favorites.

This week’s question had me thinking that I have several mantras. Some are for work. Some are for general life. Some are for running.

My general life mantra is:

Everything is temporary.

The good in life is temporary as well as the bad. It is a phrase that keeps me grounded and from having my anxiety spiral out of control.

A mantra I use in teaching and coaching is:

I have chosen a word of the year that guides my thinking and is a mantra in a sense. This year’s word is:

For running the mantra in a race is:

This is what you have been training for. Or Just keep going.

Just keep going works for writing too!

What are your mantras?