Dear Fellow Educator #100dayproject

Dear Fellow Educator,

Today is the last day of winter break. I know I will walk into my classroom tomorrow and it will feel like I never left – that there was never a break. It happens every time. It is a bittersweet moment.

I saw an article this week about the DOOR concept as far as it relates to teaching. There is a mass exit from the profession during these pandemic times and it is not because of the children. It is all the other stuff on the outside of the classroom door: the things we cannot control, the rules that we must follow that do not make sense, the endless meetings, the paperwork, etc. There are always pros and cons to every job whether it is in education or not. I am looking forward to seeing my little kindergarten faces tomorrow but I am not looking forward to setting an alarm or being on someone else’s schedule. There are many things that bring me comfort and blogging and connection is on that list.

I first started blogging with the intention to connect with others who were doing the same job as I was. At the time I was a TAP Master Teacher. There weren’t many people that had that same job that I knew at the time. I was desperate for connection. The end result of the blog turned into something so much more. I found my teacher tribes early in Two Writing Teachers and TeachWrite which I am thankful for.

Yesterday I was reintroduced to how great it feels to be connected to other people professionally. I was part of the Teacher on Fire roundtable yesterday and we discussed our #onewordfor2021. It was a lively discussion of sharing stories and dedication. It was also an introduction for me to some dynamic people. I was introduced to Fresh Air at 5, a fellow educator’s TEDTALK, and Teachbetter. It was quite an impressive lineup of people.

I couldn’t help but think that it was a closing of a ring. I was introduced to the one word concept many years ago. I was part of the Indiana Reading Association and eventually became an executive board member. I remember sitting in a conference room at one of the hotels downtown Indianapolis listening to a presentation about it. Then we watched Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle talk. I do not remember what that first word was I chose but have been choosing them ever since.

I love this process so much that in my Patreon the December workshop was about sharing my process for choosing my one word. I love the anchor of one word to guide decisions and keep me aligned with my vision for the year.

Passion, Be, More, Create, Write – they have all been words I have lived for a year at a time. This year is PUSH. I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone and to take massive action. I have big plans for 2021 and I am setting the fear aside.

One of the teachers yesterday said that not only do we have the word for the year but then they compound as we live on. They are always with us. It felt so true in my body when she said it.

The experiences I have as an educator in the classroom and with interesting people also are always with me. What sticks with you?

Happy Sunday. Enjoy the last hours…

Love,

Tammy

End of Year Thoughts #SOL20

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Every week on Llama Tuesday I write a post and share it on the Two Writing Teachers blog.

Here are the rules:

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog.
SHARE a link to your post in the comments section.
GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

I have chosen to focus on the blessings of 2020 rather than the alternative.

Reframing is a skill I learned more about from Teach Like a Champion in education that I have applied in all areas of my life. During 2020 I trained with Tony Robbins and Karissa Kouchis and came back to the idea that my life happens for me and not to me. I have had this attitude most of my life but 2015-2019 were some rough years for me when I forgot.

Yes, there has been challenges and death in my life. I have learned to pivot even faster than I had in the past.

We are down to 3 days left in 2020. I have 3 more writing prompts to publish til the end of my #100writingpromptsproject. I have been joyously planning my next projects all this week on my walks.

2020 was the year of the pivot. I had to learn more about virtual teaching but had confidence going in. Most of my best friendships are with people I have never spent time with in real life. I know that strong relationships and learning can happen on Zoom because it was already part of my life. I also have participated in so many free or low cost writing classes over 2020 because of the generosity of teachers all over the world. Taking what I learn from these experiences and applied to my every day teaching makes me happier.

I learned from people around me. I went to Unleash the Power Within from Tony Robbins in July which was online for the first time. Tony Robbins at first didn’t think it was possible to do his events on Zoom but guess what? He figured it out. (He also built an incredible stage to run it from but that is another story.)

It is a whole different kind of exhaustion to be in front of a computer all day while teaching and attending meetings – this is a fact. It is also a reminder that we need to take care of ourselves. There are advantages to teaching online – my kids know their sight words better than any other year. They are more focused during lessons because they are watching me on the screen and they feel like I am talking right to them.

My word of the year came to me and I tried to ignore it for awhile but it persisted and won. My word for 2021 is PUSH. I have lots of plans (and secret plots) brewing already for the new year. There is a certain ceremony for the changing of the month and the year – especially in kindergarten! It is a fresh start and exciting.

There are a lot of things I am going to let go of this year. I have been hanging onto to them for so long and it is time.

I am also going to be open and allow things to come into my life. I have goals and intentions of course but sometimes things come into our life in a much different way than expected – and sometimes that is even better.

Building my own circle of people I associate consistently with is a focus of mine this year. I am always learning from life giving conversation and have to create these experiences in a different way now! I am beginning my PUSH groups on January 4th (which are FREE!). The first one is on journaling and if you would like to join in the fun and learn 3 ways I journal to better writing then please click here.

Everything I have learned has brought me to right here. It is a good place to be!

A Gift for You Today

I love an increment of 10 minutes. There is something magical about the number 10. It is my daily goal to write at least 10 minutes.

Set a timer for 10 minutes and write to this prompt:

If you were 17 again and had to spend 20K in a short amount of time what would you do?

I love this prompt because it is part dream and part planning. You have the knowledge of you life experiences up to now which influences. It allows you to look back at what you have learned about yourself along the way.

I like a list for this prompt but a couple sentences per item would do as well. I would love to hear about your list.

Here is mine:

  1. Go to Germany. (Right away, I would do this first)
  2. Set some money aside for Google and whenever Zoom comes onto the market to buy stock
  3. Put money in an investment to go to the IOWA’s writers workshop
  4. Go to writing conferences
  5. Babysit a house in a rural location and write for a month.
  6. Go to Norway.
  7. Take cooking classes in Paris

What would you do?

Could you take a moment and fill out this survey for me? I am not collecting email or names, just info. It is a few clicks and I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

Tuesday Walking Thoughts #SOL20

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Every week on Llama Tuesday I write a blog post and share it on the Two Writing Teachers blog. Then I comment on at least 3 other posts.

Here are the rules:

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog.
SHARE a link to your post in the comments section.
GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

We are down to 9 days left in 2020. I have 9 more writing prompts to publish til the end of my #100writingpromptsproject. I can hardly believe it or how fun it has been!

One of the delights of winter break is that I can take my walks in the morning, which means sunshine. My body prefers to walk in the morning rather than after school. Today I walked 13 miles and was positively giddy about it.

I listened to the MFA Podcast which I love about writing (A new episode came out today.) I did a Tara Brach meditation. I made notes about writing.

But I also thought about my grandmother and some complicated feelings around her and current circumstances. Grief and lost things were on my mind too. It is always surprising to me when there is a domino effect of memory. One leads to the next like a “if you read this you’ll like this” list. Or a recommended list from the memory before. This ripple can send me into a spiral of not pleasant memories fast. A thought of a loss falls into another one and into another.

In addition to this memory parade, I have been dealing with other pain. Physical pain is not something I typically have to deal with even when I was a long distance runner. Lately, I start my walks with my muscles all balled up and it can take two miles before I feel my body relax.

On a different note, on my mind today was also a writing prompt that stuck with me about a desk and an egg metaphor. I reflected on the year and how I can use what I know to help others or save them time.

I learned about Chalene Johnson’s tradition of 10 envelopes. Her family writes letters and includes a monetary gift in an envelope and then hands them to strangers on an outing for the purpose of distribution. They hand the envelopes to people with the phrase: Here is a gift for you, Merry Christmas. In November in years past I have had students write anonymous letters to adults in the school thanking them for something specific. I have been the anonymous gift fairy. This 10 envelope idea intrigues me and I plan to make it my own.

I am thankful for the time and less obligations this week. I will continue to carve out time to read and write and simply rest.

Also, my flash story was published in Gone Lawn yesterday. Click here to read it. One of the most influential teachers was my orchestra director who taught me from 6th grade to 12th. This (mostly) true story was inspired by him and my love of music.

What are you thinking today?

Wrap Up #SOL20

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Every week on Llama Tuesday I write a blog post and share it on the Two Writing Teachers blog. Then I comment on at least 3 other posts.

Here are the rules:

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog.
SHARE a link to your post in the comments section.
GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

There are 16 days left in 2020 which means I have 16 more writing prompts to publish. Do you have plans for the last 16 days?

Today’s Prompt

This month I hosted a Bradbury Trio Challenge. For people who signed up, I sent 5 days of emails that curated a list of a short story, a poem, and an essay. Ray Bradbury talked about reading as a way to fuel your writing. In order to write better you needed to read every night for 1,000 nights.

It was a popular challenge and it was fun for me to pull together. I was able to share some of my favorite pieces with others. Searching for the things to read can be more time consuming than the reading time some days!

As a wrap up for the challenge I had a Zoom meeting to discuss the challenge. This call was life giving conversation and I am so glad I hosted it! There was a variety of responses to the challenge. Some people read more than others , which was to be expected with the time of year and state of the world. Everyone noticed different things.

One writer used a line from a poem to writer her own story.

One writer found a collection of short stories she would have not read before.

One writer analyzed what she liked to read and how that showed up in her writing.

One writer admitted that if I had not hand selected one of the stories she would have never read it all the way through. She did and ended up loving the story!

They all gave me great suggestions on how to move forward with the next version of the trio I create.

This call was just what I needed yesterday. A conversation connecting reading and writing and how I could help was what I needed on a Monday evening.

I also had books delivered yesterday which was an added bonus!

Currently, I am reading The All Night Sun by Diane Zinna

The All-Night Sun: A Novel by [Diane Zinna]

I also have Wild Milk by Sabrine Orah Mark

Wild Milk by [Sabrina Mark]

The 2021 Best American Short Stories and my Book of the Month December selection

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

I am set for reading for at least a week! HA! Good thing holiday break is coming up.

What are you reading?

How Are You Feeling? #SOL20

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Every week on Llama Tuesday I write a blog post and share it on the Two Writing Teachers blog. Then I comment on at least 3 other posts.

Here are the rules:

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog.
SHARE a link to your post in the comments section.
GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

There are 23 days left in 2020 which means I have 23 more writing prompts to publish. Do you have plans for the last 23 days?

How are you feeling? is a question I don’t like very much. Honestly, I am not sure I am always sure how to answer. I have learned to suppress and ignore my feelings all my life. My brain works at a high rate of speed and often I have many emotions at once and sometimes they conflict. That fact also makes it hard to answer what seems like a simple inquiry that we SHOULD know the answer to.

As I was walking this week I revisited the podcast Just the Right Book. I had to stop listening to reading podcasts because my TBR got so out of control it was overwhelming. I came upon an episode about the book Permission to Feel by a Yale professor.

Many people I have been learning from over the last year about emotions say, “Honor your feelings” “Feel them.” “All emotions are ok.”

Yes, in theory.

But tell someone you are close to you are sad and they will tell you that you shouldnt be.

Or tell someone you are upset and someone will defend the others actions to try to talk you out of it.

No wonder we don’t know how we feel.

When I was upset as a child, I was often offered ice cream. Someone’s situation was always worse so I got the feeling I didn’t have the right to feel that way. It wasn’t all the time but the stories started forming early about how to deal with emotions or rather NOT deal with them.

So as a teacher, I have to be careful to honor the feelings of my little people. They don’t have to be happy all the time – nor is that realistic. Sometimes they are angry. But I have to give space for them to be able to talk to them about it. I do breathing and sharing at the start of every class and yesterday I added the question, How are you feeling?

I am looking forward to reading more about this research and being able to react to the answers to this question in a smarter way but honoring they have feelings and giving them space to express them is a good start.

I feel like this book came to me at just the right time on my journey and I am thankful. Maybe I will learn not to detest this question after all!

How do you feel about this question? And is your usual answer, “Fine”?

Avoidance of I #SOL20

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Every week on Llama Tuesday I write a blog post and share it on the Two Writing Teachers blog. Then I comment on at least 3 other posts.

Here are the rules:

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog.
SHARE a link to your post in the comments section.
GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

There are 31 days left in 2020 which means I have 31 more writing prompts to publish. Do you have plans for the last 31 days?

I sit in my living room getting prepared to go to the building to work by the light of the Christmas tree.

Yesterday I had a writing conversation with a friend and we were talking about craft. I read a piece yesterday that started too many sentences that began with “I”. It was distracting and took me out of the piece.

All the years I have taught, I have loved to teach writing. I am sure it had something to do with the fact that deep down I want to be a full time writer but that was not an acceptable career choice in my family. I figured that teaching writing was the next best thing.

Teaching kindergarteners to write is a amazing because they have little prior experience.

One of the things I do is avoid having my K student write sentences that begin with “I”. What ends up happening is that later when they are writing more you get pages of “I” statements.

I like dogs.

I like to swim.

I love my mom.

It sounds all the same.

Sentence fluency is something I start with so that is the skill that becomes the habit and not the list of I statements that I would have to try to break later. As often as we can, our shared writing sentences begin with any other word.

Yesterday we learned the sight word GO so the sentences we wrote were:

We go camping. and

We go outside.

Details now are in the illustrations where lots of academic feedback is given. I have also taught them how to give feedback to each other. They discuss what they are writing outloud and then cues are picked up by other students.

In my live class you will often hear: “W. said he is adding a sun. I think that is a good idea and am adding one too.”

or

“I like the way A. added details to his butterfly. I am adding some to mine. He reminded me.”

Of course, one of my favorite questions is: Is it time for writing YET?

What have you noticed about teaching writing this year? I would love to hear in the comments.

High/Low/Learn #SOL20

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Every week on Llama Tuesday I write a blog post and share it on the Two Writing Teachers blog. Then I comment on at least 3 other posts.

Here are the rules:

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog.
SHARE a link to your post in the comments section.
GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

There are 38 days left in 2020 which means I have 38 more writing prompts to publish. Do you have plans for the last 38 days?

One of my obsessions lately has been journaling prompts. I even found a couple of podcasts dedicated to journaling. On an episode of Writing Your Best Self I heard a writer talk about logging the high of the day, the low and what you have learned.

I follow this method similarly with my energy challenge that comes from the author of The Third Door. I log what fueled my energy, what drained it and what I learned from those observations.

I was reminded of a protocol I learned at the EL Education conference last year in October called HIGH/LOW/BUFFALO. In this version, you share a high and a low and something completely out of left field! Some people need some prodding in order to be silly sometimes. It helps to get to know people in a hurry.

My day of working from home has just started but here is mine so far (Subject to change by the evening)

High: Wellness of my family and it snowed!

Low: I was woken up early by loud vehicles driving by

Buffalo: I learned today that pickled carrots are a thing and I am writing about them!

What are yours?

I would love to hear in the comments!

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation Every Weekend

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Welcome back to the weekend. Thank you chatting with me today. What can I get you? Coffee? Cream? Sugar?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the week felt heavy. Many COVID cases are coming closer to me. Work is a high volume problem area. Places are starting to shut down again or modifying service. It seems we are right back to where we were in March. (Insert big sigh)

Have you signed up for my newsletter yet? If you like the Weekend Coffee Share you will love the newsletter. I wrote about traditions, pain anniversaries, and Thanksgiving. You don’t want to miss the next edition of the Inner Circle Secrets Newsletter.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am working on my story for my final project in my Short Story Intensive. I still have to cut 1000 words… It is due to the group on November 30th. Then it goes into the first round of critique by the teacher and another member of the group.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my writing prompts are going strong. I have gotten so much pleasure out of this project. More than I suspected. You can receive daily emails of the new prompts and get access to all the previous posted prompts by signing up at my Patreon here. Each prompt comes with a reflection.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my friend Jenna is opening her coaching program connected to Human Design! I am so excited. She is amazing and insightful. You can find the info here about her offerings. You won’t be sorry you signed up for a session. My sessions with her have been incredible and I always leave energized with new information.

Here are some words from Jenna herself:

I created the Clarity + Connection Conversations offering to make it easier; to clearly identify the next steps that are best for you and to provide you with the encouragement and accountability to see them through.

No matter the session you select below, these Conversations are designed to focus in on an area of your life where you need guidance, reference the nuances of your unique design, help you gain clarity on the answers you seek, and solidify your next steps forward.

Do you need a warm up? Ice water perhaps?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I was inspired by my students this week and our readings of The Three Little Pigs and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. I had one little that insisted everyday that was the FAKE version of the story. His version was the only REAL one with the pigs not getting eaten.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I enjoyed my walks this week. The sunset was part of all of them. I was able to listen to some good podcasts as well. Lately, I have been disappointed in the podcast feed.

If we were having coffee I would wish you a wonderful week and American Thanksgiving! The holiday will look different for many this year due to lockdowns and travel bans.

Thank you for joining me today! Thanks to https://eclecticali.wordpress.com/ for being the host of this amazing gathering every weekend!

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation Every Weekend

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Hello! Welcome back to the weekend. Thank you for joining me for a chat. Can I pour you a cup of coffee? Cream? Sugar?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went to the dentist twice this week. Once for a cleaning and then for a filling and repair. It was supposed to be on the same day, but the dentist’s daughter had a high fever and they had to reschedule. For the first time in my life the numbing didn’t take. It was luckily a small amount of decay so I muscled through with three little electric shocks. I am happy that all the repairs are over and I just have cleanings to look forward to.

Have you signed up for my newsletter yet? If you like the Weekend Coffee Share you will love the newsletter. I wrote about my perfectionism this past Friday. It got quite a response. You don’t want to miss the next edition of the Inner Circle Secrets Newsletter.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have a writing class on Saturday. I also have a writing call with my Intensive group on Sunday morning. I have been writing every day. I am doing a combo of Sarah Selecky daily prompts, the Nancy Stohlman Flash Nano prompts, and my own regular writing.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you we are in the last 50 days of 2020 now! You can receive daily emails of the new prompts and get access to all the previous posted prompts by signing up at my Patreon here. Each prompt comes with a reflection and more info as well.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had a story published this week at Five on the Fifth! I was excited this story found a home. I love it so much. You can read that here. Another story I love is being published in February of 2021 in another fantastic publication. More info about that as we get closer.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I enjoy reading my horoscopes from Chani Nicholas. I have always been fascinated by astrology but find Chani’s work extra special. Even if this is something you don’t “believe” in they are great sources for writing inspiration as well. You can sign up for her emails here.

Do you need a warm up? Ice water perhaps?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I starting doing drawing videos with my students this week. It is super fun and takes 5 minutes. My students are fantastic writers and have come so far in 11 weeks. We drew a cartoon fox and turkey this week and they were so detailed and fun. I highly recommend this Youtube channel. Even if you just like to doodle yourself with no kids they are super fun! It is a great way to be playful.

Thank you for joining me today! Thanks to https://eclecticali.wordpress.com/ for being the host of this amazing gathering every weekend!