Wellness Wednesday

Self care is something I do not do 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.

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

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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 shared some stories about growing up in my newsletter this week. If you want in on the inner circle secrets you can sign up here. I also talk about the red thread of fate and how that applies to my friendships.

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 I am writing fiction every day by combining the Storyaday prompt for the challenge in September and the Sarah Selecky Daily prompt. I like the challenge of combining them and the process lends itself to unique and weird stories which I love to read and write. Most of the those stories have gone into the little black 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 tammybreitweiser@gmail.com.

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!

What I Have Learned about Virtual Learning…so far #SOL20

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Over the past 7 days I have been working in my classroom, reseraching and attending virutal PD.

Some of the PD has been great…other sessions not so much.

I always attend workshops with the idea of examining how the presenter choses to deliver the content. I have done this since college. I write down the way people start meetings, how they show content, how they have participants interact…or not. I steal what I like for my own presentations.

Here are some things I have learned, or were reminded of, from the content and being a student over the last week about virtual learning:

  1. One of the biggest pet peeves I have about PD is presenters who conduct a training in the opposite way of how they would want you to teach kids. The workshop you are presenting is a model to the people you are teaching. I went to more than one workshop where they talked at us for over an hour. Please. Don’t.
  2. I learned about this video that brings some things into perspective. I wrote about this idea in my newsletter last week.
  3. Kids are vessels that are already full of experiences and knowledge . We need to remember they are not empty just waiting to be filled.
  4. Relationships are the center of everything.
  5. Think about your own school life. Who was an influence on you and what did they do? Connect these ideas to your own teaching.
  6. One presenter used breakout rooms with the adults expertly. We were given a task independently and then asked to talk in the Zoom breakout room. Then we were asked to make a sticky note on the class Jamboard to show accountability. Brilliant! This one I will use for my own workshops with adults. Kindergarten will take a lot of scaffolding for it to happen.
  7. Grade level work needs to be taught to students. This is an equity issue.
  8. I can keep track of what to keep doing, start doing and set aside for now. I like this structure for unpacking what I already know.
  9. To build relationships virtually I need to schedule more one on one time with my students.
  10. I also need to provide virtual social time for my students.

What have you learned in this new time we are in about teaching?

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

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Welcome back to the weekend!

This has been a long week for me. It is the most I have been out of the house since March and it feels weird. I know that really doesn’t need to be said. It is an often expressed sentiment. I have learned I do prefer to be at home. I like the flexibility of being able to go to school in order to get materials or teach certain lessons.

What are you going to have today during our chat? I will have my normal black coffee. I have cream and sugar if you like. The coffee is hot! I am so glad you joined me for our chat today. I look forward to our time together on the weekends.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I went back to work on Monday. It was a day to work in my classroom. We are in person at the building but are only allowed to be without masks alone in our classroom with the door closed. The kids are attending virtually starting on September 8th. I struggle with the emotions surrounding this return. On one hand, I am glad to be back to a “normal” schedule but there are rules that I do not understand. Tuesday I was on Zoom all day. Literally. It doesn’t make sense to me why I have to be in the building when I was in a Zoom meeting for 7.5 hours. I can get a modified schedule but it has to be pre-approved and COVID related. Wednesday was a work day as well. Honestly, I cannot even remember what I did that day. I know I took down decorations from the last teacher. I put up learning target icons and threw a lot away. At the staff meeting we were told we are not allowed to have any personal furniture in the room. The earliest we will have students is the beginning of November.

There has been little conversation about what the virtual school day will look like. It seems every time we ask it is a slightly different answer. I am used to pivoting and am trying not to worry about what I do not know. I am choosing to deal with the new details as they present themselves.

I also have to go back to my question: How does this serve me? I can hyper focus on work and not get distracted. I have all my materials in one place. I will keep thinking on this path.

It is also confusing because on some of the days the meetings did not start until 8, but then I was required to be at school til 4pm. This was not clearly indicated and on two of those days I was there at 7:30 a.m. I am glad I only live 10 minutes away from my building but with all the change this is another irritant.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I started my day with the normal routine of writing and coffee first. This helps me start the day the right way for me.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I walked several times this week, but had to do it after school. It was hot this week. Dinners were the latest they have been all year as well.

If we were having coffee I would tell you it seems like a lot happened this week but there isn’t much to write about. I feel like the life that fueled me this week was after the afternoon hit 3:30 or later.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I started my Story Intensive class this week. We did introductions within the small class of 8. There were a masterclass for us to listen to and some lessons on freewriting. I will post my week 1 assignment later today.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I was on a celebration call for my Write Free class from Caroline Donahue. It was such a wonderful class and I recommend anything she does. She is offering the class again. She also does IG lives every Friday morning which are worth the time to tune in.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I received three letters this week! I was so excited to get happy mail.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I was a bit more vulnerable newsletter. I know I need to tell more of my story and why I do what I do. I was asked again this weekend, “How do you get so much writing done?” I plan to examine this idea and others more in depth in my newsletter. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can here.

How was your week?

What inspired you?

Until our next coffee share! Be safe!

Official Back to School #SOL20

Two Writing Teachers run the Slice of Life tag ever Tuesday, where readers and writers are encouraged to write and share something about their life or day. You can check out the tag here.

Yesterday, was the first day back to school officially. The label was work day.

Delights of the Day

  • I coached a client through text
  • I connected with writer and educator friends
  • I found a word wall feature in a Bitmoji classroom I was perusing
  • I listened to some great podcasts while I went through files and books.
  • I connected with my kindergarten team who are amazing women!
  • I ordered bulletin board sets and remembered there was a time I couldn’t afford to buy much for my classroom. I spent hours cutting out items early in my career to decorate. During student teaching when I had no money I folded over packing tape 3/4ths and adhered it to a large sheet of cardboard to make a pocket chart. I remembered I have come a long way in knowledge and experience.
  • I got my SMART board to work
  • During my lunch time I revised my novel and gave myself a sticker
  • My classroom is a few steps closer to being acceptable for teaching and learning

What were the delights in your day?

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

Welcome back to the weekend. This week has flown by as the hint of normal schedules looms in the balance. I feel that rush of trying to get errands done and checklists checked before the start of the new school year. My children have gone back to school all virtually. I will be virtual as well (at least for the first 9 weeks) but have to report to the building every day for my normal hours.

I am having black coffee today as usual. What would you like? The temperature is cooler today but I will get the pitcher of ice water anyway. The weather app lies. The humidity plays with the feeling of the air for sure.

If we were having coffee I would tell you the first round of boat repairs were completed and we launched the boat on Friday. We were doing a test run really. There are still some adjustments that need to be made on the motor as it wasn’t throttling properly. It was the first time I had launched the boat as we usually rent and it is already in the water. It was a beautiful day on the lake anyway and I was glad we were able to take it out no matter how short the trip was. It was logged as a delight in the notebook this morning!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I loaded up my copy of Story Genius which is a writing craft book by Lisa Cron. She has several books and a Ted Talk. This book is unusual as Cron says what we have learned about writing stories is essentially all wrong. People don’t worry about the change of characters which is what a lot of stories are missing. She believes we fall into the trap of writing stories “where a bunch of stuff happens.” I was encouraged by my friend Nicole Rivera of Stop Writing Alone to break out my copy. The second section is full of specific questions to ask yourself about your own story and I am examining my novel I am revising. So far, it has been helpful!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am excited about my Patreon page! I did a soft launch with my newsletter peeps and everything will roll out by the end of the month. I have 4 tiers and the platform works well for all my projects. Check it out here. I have been hosting workshops and now I can contain all the content in one area. September’s workshop is all about Conversation Experiments and I am super excited to share this class with people! My content is for Teachers and Friends of Teachers. Educators and writers make good friends. This was definitely the next right step for me.

If we were having coffee I would tell you Jami Attenberg hosted #1000words of summer this week. Her emails were brilliant and sparked an idea for an essay that is in my notebook now!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I made a 6 hour round trip to pick up some items I left behind this week. I was anxious about going but did it anyway. On the way there I was able to listen to several great podcasts and I collected many notes for writing projects. I thought of it as a story nugget gathering trip and enjoyed it so much more. I was able to have lunch with a great friend and have some amazing flatbread pizza. I also visited my Grandmother who will turn 90 on October. She still lives on her own and is a kick ass independent woman.

Do you need a refill on your coffee?

If we were having coffee I would tell you I have been writing everyday in my notebooks with my fountain pen. I had avoided using it all pandemic but broke it out last week and even ordered new ink refills. I also started the letter writing again and have been using it for that as well. There is something enjoyable about using it to craft words. It is a delight for me!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I went to the eye doctor this week. It has been a minute. Luckily, my prescription hasn’t changed much but I was able to get new glasses. My old glasses had been repaired with a paper clip but since I only use them to drive it wasn’t an issue. I do use them if I go to a conference and have to see speakers or screens but I don’t think I will have to worry about the scenario for a while. For added excitement, the tornado sirens went off and I was trapped there for awhile. The doctor and I had a nice conversation about moving, nature, and Ben Shapiro!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am slowly transitioning back to school mode. There was so much uncertainty about the beginning of the school year (there still is) but at least I know I will be teaching from my classroom. I was a bit surprised I have to be in the building for the contractual hours, but it makes sense. Once I get back into the new schedule it will be fine.

How was your week? Was is inspiring you right now? What was one of your daily delights?

I would love to hear!

Create An AWESOME Ritual

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Every August there is the feeling like air is slowly leaking out of a balloon. As each day ticks by on the calendar we get closer to the first day of school.

How do you get ready?

This year the world is not the same which is the perfect opportunity for you to create a new kick ass ritual. You need a series of actions that lead to going back to the school year.

I use EL education materials and one aspect of this curriculum is CREW. Crew is the term EL uses which I used to call Family Meeting. It is time about learning and relationships. A book was released and I ordered it right away. It should be here by Monday!

Back to school shopping: In order to be a happy writer and teacher I need supplies. I have many friends that do not even have kids who are thrilled all the supplies are displayed in the middle of all the stores.

I am going to buy some new school shoes. It goes back to going shopping with my grandparents. A new outfit too.

I will also search the names of my new students (when they are available!) I keep checking.

I will plan the first week of school and start making my massive pile of read alouds.

Another thing I am doing this year to connect my personal passions with my professional ones is starting a Patreon. I kept trying to figure out how to serve my readers and people in my professional circle in a streamlined way. I have been saying lately that my offerings are for “Teachers and Friends of Teachers”. It makes for the most interesting group and mix of life giving conversations.

There are 142 days left in 2020. I have going to do a #100writingpromptproject for the last 100 days. My supporters will get access to a daily prompt, an exclusive community, and write in times to get together with others.

I also am expanding my coaching services and workshops. Now all the information for my events will be in one place. I am super excited!

Check it out for yourself and see if anything resonates with you!

My questions for you today:

What are you currently excited about?

What steps can you take to make a new ritual?

How To List Your Way to Better Teaching

What Lists to Keep to Move Your Instruction Forward

7 Reasons to Actually Start Using Google Keep | PCMag

I am a list keeper.

There is satisfacton in making a checklist and completing the list.

I keep lists in my paper planner and also in my Google Keep app. Keep is on my phone and also provides a checkbox option. I can also transfer any note to a Google Doc. New learning from the last two weeks is that I can share a note with another person. This means personal notes I can share with my teacher gmail account so I have access and edit ability for everything.

For teaching , I toggle back and forth between my planner and what I call the “Rose Binder”. The rose binder is the place I put all the important things. It is where I keep student data before it ends up in the spreadsheet, lists, papers I need to not lose in the abyss of my desk, etc. Why rose binder? The binder I use has a clear sleeve for the cover where I add pictures I like. Many years ago I found a picture of a bouquet of roses from Victoria Magazine which I placed in the front. Voila!

Lists calm my mind because I know important actions have been captured and I do not have to use brain power to repeat things to myself. Lists keep me sane.

For me, my teacher lists ensure I do not lose or forget anything. With as many decisions that need to be made moment to moment this simple tool keeps me focused and on track.

Where To Keep Your Lists

  1. In the back of your paper planner (I use the Passion Planner)
  2. Important Paper Binder (My Rose Binder)
  3. Post it notes (that you adhere to the paper planner or the binder)

Teacher Lists I Keep

  1. Favorite quotes
    1. For writing instruction
    2. Motivation
    3. For articles
  2. Education article ideas to write
  3. Things to Remember for the Next School year
    1. I add to this list all year – this is where the lightbulb moments for changes to a lesson get logged, the resources you want to add later to a unit, materials you need to make or find, systems to begin, things to let go of, etc.
  4. Things to Buy for my Classroom
  5. Picture Books I need
    1. I buy a lot from thrift stores and Goodwill
    2. Borrow from Library
  6. DMO for school
  7. Printing jobs
  8. Project Ideas to Do with Students
    1. Current ones for me: mini gardens using toilet paper rolls, Kindness project, Books for me to write for kids, and Books for the World

Other Lists I Keep

  1. Random notes
  2. To do for the day
  3. Topic lists to research
  4. Lists of 10 impressions I have noticed within the day
  5. Short Story ideas
  6. Delights
  7. Articles to read later
  8. Places to publish
  9. Funny phrases the kids say
  10. Anything I want to remember
  11. DMO (see below)

D.M.O

I keep a list called the DMO – Daily Method of Operation. This is the list you keep that is the minimum for you to have a successful day that comes from Tony Robbins. One thing I have learned recently is that success is subjective. I will also tell you I have been thinking a lot about fulfillment vs achievement.

What is my DMO list you ask?

  1. water
  2. walk
  3. mantra
  4. connection
  5. fasting

What are Your Lists?

What are the most important lists you keep? I would love to hear in the comments!

Do You Know How to Rest?

What Does Rest Look Like to You?

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I am the type of person that thrives on action. I am always thinking and planning and using up all my energy by the end of the day is my goal. I use up the energy by pursuing things that light me up. This is my soul work. The question I ask myself is often, “How can I do this [insert action] at a level 10?” Level 10 is the best I can be at that moment.

But the last couple of days I have been mentally tired. I cannot focus. I cannot read for more than a couple of minutes. To leverage this feeling, I examined how I need to rest and rejuvenate. My rest doesn’t look like other people’s I have learned over the years. In the past, I also have not done this well.

I read the other day that if you have decided to rest yet you are worried about what you are not accomplishing then you are doing it wrong.

What does rest look like to you?

Sometimes rest or slowing down is the way to refuel your mind and creativity.

I love data and research so of course I used my Enneagram type to look up ways to rejuvenate. Some of the ways I listed in my Passion Planner:

  1. Enjoy morning routine and coffee ritual
  2. Laugh
  3. Run
  4. Fold towels (or some other mundane task)
  5. Read
  6. Help someone learn something
  7. Bask in the sun
  8. Listen to a podcast
  9. Be the gift fairy

I execute Level 10 well when I am thinking about my mission. I do not always do so well with the rest side of the coin.

For example, I am the type of woman who moves every day. I have been doing a daily walk/run depending on how I feel for over 70 days now. I know it doesn’t always have to be an intense walk. In order to rest, I need to walk at a slower pace and enjoy the scenery. I need to not be in a hurry to get to the next thing or to be done. I need to enjoy the moment. If I am compelled to run, I run. But if I am going to do rest at a Level 10 there is likely to just be walking.

Planning for the day or the week can be rejuvenating for me because I anticipate obstacles which then calms my mind. I can marinate on how I can show up at a level 10 for them all.

Writing is always rejuvenating for me.

What is your soul work? Where are you putting your energy?

Reading: I reread “Cuisine des Mémoires” by N.K. Jemisin just to enjoy it. It doesn’t mean that if I want to write down a favorite line it is not rest. I just have to pay attention to how I feel.

I know I need a rest day because I have been frustrated the last couple of days and cannot pinpoint why.

I have to pay attention.

I delight in the butterflies and the grasshoppers. the mama horse that takes the apple from me. The collage technique I play with.

Sometimes rest doesn’t look like laying around.

What what does rest look like during COVID? There are still many areas of the nation that are in lockdown. Many people I know do not leave their houses unless it is necessary. Zoom can be just as exhausting as a string of social obligations.

Rest may look different now to you since the world is different. Sometimes it can be hard to rest when there are too many people in the house, especially if they are on a different schedule than you are.

What does your ideal rest look like to you today? How can you make at least one thing from that list happen?

I have been thinking about things I have done in the past that I enjoy but have been neglecting. One of which is playing with collages. I have been inspired by Austin Kleon and his tape collages on Instagram. I also have been missing letter writing. I have a few friends I snail mail occasionally but I have resubscribed to The Letter Exchange. It is a magazine and forwarding service for letter writers. You can read more about it here.

I challenge you to find a new way to rest today – even if it doesn’t look like anyone else’s.

Let me know what you come up with in the comments!

Life Experiments

How Trying Something New Can Help You Be A Better Teacher

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Someone who follows their curiosities is far more interesting than someone who does not. Life experiments are fun challenges that allow you to play with an idea.

I love to read life experiment memoirs. A.J. Jacobs has made a writing career out of this idea. He tried different skills or lifestyles and writes about it. The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell is also one of these books. Another is The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders. I find these books inspiring to try something new.

Several years ago I went to a conference (will these even happen anymore in real life? Jury is still out…) and the speaker talked about an experiment with questions.

I love great questions. They lead to fantastic conversations and insights. Questions are great ice breakers and I have used ,”What music are you listening to in your car right now?” and “If you could live 5 imaginary lives, what would they be?” I even did a question and answer experiment and wrote about it using the 36 questions that lead to deep connection.

Inspired by the conference, at the next workshop I taught I only asked questions. I made no statements at all. i answered all questions with a question. In theory, this seems like a simple task. Humans like validation I learned. I wanted to see how my teachers would react if I turned everything back on them. Part of my personality is to be the person who gives a direct answer and my teachers know this. It isn’t always the answer people want, but it is the honest one. Many teachers come to me as a coach wanting me to give them permission to do something. In this meeting, I answered every question with a question and it drove them a little nuts. There was some anger in spurts as well. Some questions I asked were simple, “Well, what do you think?” and “How would that look in your classroom?” Finally at the end I told them what I had done. They were relieved and then we discussed how much we rely on validation and feeling seen with answers in workshops and even conversation. They talked about how they felt during the meeting and couldn’t pinpoint what it was that was making them uncomfortable. The questions made them feel unsure about what they were contributing. It was exhausting and I haven’t tried it again. Some of the teachers turned the tables on their students and asked only questions within the next week. It allowed focus on asking great questions in the classroom too.

Following your own self imposed challenges can lead to some fun. I have done challenges like eating vegan for two weeks. I learned I love cheese on my pizza and don’t want to give that up. I also learned how much dairy is in processed food that shouldn’t be – like lentil soup. I read labels much more carefully now.

Summer break allows me to experiment with time. Every summer there is always a reading project. One year, I read books only in one genre and another a whole author’s backlist. I have written many times about my Bradbury Trio challenge. Ray Bradbury, the famous brilliant author, said to be a better writer a short story, a poem, and an essay before bed. This experiment has changed the way I write. The input of wonderful writing and structure has shaped my owns words on the page and I am grateful to all the writers who are my models.

Last summer I imposed “The Writer Schedule”. I imagined what my schedule would look like as a full-time writer and followed it. My first thoughts are about creation in the morning. I wrote short stories and submitted them. I revised my novel. I entered contests. I also observed the world, created experiences, wrote at the coffee shop, made trips to the library and used bookstore, read, listened to podcasts and wrote down these impressions. There was also time for writing conversation with other writers I know. I recorded my wild life as Mary Oliver would have wanted me to. There were also naps. Many details made it into stories and some were just for me in my notebooks.

What experiment will you try?

Ideas to Try to See What Happens

  1. Copy a poem every day in your notebook
  2. Declutter one item per day for 30 days
  3. Perform a random act of kindness for 30 days
  4. Journal every day
  5. No social media for a week
  6. No reading for a week
  7. Walk in the forest
  8. No coffee for a week
  9. A news fast
  10. Cold shower for 3 minutes to start your day
  11. Buy nothing new for a month
  12. Go ziplining
  13. Rent a canoe
  14. Try a weird fruit you never have (you may have to YouTube it to figure out how to eat it!)
  15. Compliment a stranger every day

Growing and sharing these stories with your students is fun. Seeing their reactions to something they didn’t expect you would do is a glorious feeling. Even if the experiment doesn’t go well, you will always get a great story out of it!

I would love to hear which experiments resonate with you. Do you have one I haven’t thought of? Let me know in the comments.