#FMF A Love Letter to #Time

Dear Time,

I meant to write this letter yesterday, but I ran out of you. Our relationship is so complicated. You are a human design constraint, but hard to escape when my body craves the cycles of the moon and the seasons.

Not only are there boundaries of seconds, minutes and hours to lead me like a horse through my day but then there are rules about what you are allowed to do and when.

In the mornings, you are supposed to be on time to wherever you are scheduled to report and there are morning beverages on the approved list. There are things you are not supposed to eat or drink in the evenings either. I don’t tend to follow these rules, but they are there.

There is no changing of the to do list after a certain time in the day. You can skip lunch and scroll through Instagram but don’t leave the building early.

Yesterday, there wasn’t enough of you. I had talks by Cheryl Strayed, Ada Limon, Sabrina Ward Harrison, KK, Tony Robbins, and the Quench collective that felt like there were on all at once. I needed to be able to listen with both ears separately and reflect and write simultaneously.

I wanted to write my daily prompt, this letter, the senses writing program activity but had other obligations that put money in my bank account. I made notes in my journal all day, but it wasn’t the same. The time I wanted was a creative bubble that was only interrupted by coffee refills and walks.

You have played tricks on me all week. The work day went fast and then the evenings went slow but you know that you make me weary and the writing comes slow in the night. My energy seems tied to you and the numbers that represent.

Yesterday was a great day in spite of these issues. My morning boys were fun and formed a writing group suddenly giving feedback and chatting during writing time. Talking cats will bring that out.

Dinner was amazing too.

I still love you.



End of Year Thoughts #SOL20


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!

Tuesday Walking Thoughts #SOL20


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


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


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


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.”


“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


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!

Inspiration from Everywhere #SOL20

Come join me and other teacher writers at the Two Writing Teachers blog. Every Tuesday teachers blog a slice of their life and others comment. It is a wonderful community.

One of my favorite questions is, “What inspires you?”

Here in Wisconsin, there are hints of November. I am in the midst of NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) and getting ready for Thanksgiving. The weather however is warmer than it was in the spring. It has been over 70 degrees here over the last couple of days.

I am feeling a bit rebellious about it. I should not be wearing a t-shirt and shorts to walk. I will have to use this feeling and details in a story this week.

This week in class we are utilizing the website Mystery Science. The kids really like these videos, as do I, because they are interesting and we always learn something new.

Yesterday we watched a video about poisonous plants. We learned about the Manchineel tree that can kill you. We saw trees that had grown around signs, benches, motorcycles, and bikes. Not only did it ignite lots of conversation from my 5 year olds it fueled our writing as well. The students wrote in their journals what a tree would “eat”.

One little one kept saying, “That is terrifying!” I write down their comments all day long. I have to go back through my teaching notebook and log them all in a document. The kid speak alone is gold.

The video even inspired my writing. For one of the daily prompts I needed to write a story from the POV of something that normally doesn’t have one. I wrote from the perspective of this tree with the warning label.

What has inspired you that was surprising lately? I would love to hear in the comments.

Choices – Path to the Future or the Past?

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

This school year feels like it is everyone’s first year teaching no matter what year you are on.

A friend recommended a book by Debbie Ford called The Right Questions. There is power to questions. The first one in the book is: Will this choice propel me toward an inspiring future or will it keep me stuck in the past?

As I was making notes on these first two weeks of the new school year this question was floating around in my head.

After 7 years as a coach, I went back to the classroom. As I have written before, there is a list of reasons for this movement. It is a step of learning and experience. I believe it is an important step for me necessary for an inspired future and what I want to do next.

How does this change serve me? One of the ways is to experience teaching again in a day to day way. Kindergarten is the year where the I am required to think about the simplest explanations for the most complex ideas. In kindergarten there is potential for stories in everything. Five year olds make connections and say things that are unusual and is one of my favorite parts of the job.

When I teach, I make micro-movements in instruction based on the students actions. I am taking this year to analyze how I do this in real time. This year I have the advantage of recording my meetings with students so I can go back again if there are important breakthroughs that happen in class.

There has been two weeks of this school year so far and all prep. Breaking down what I have done with my time is important for my own learning.

-There has been lots of professional development and meetings (all virtual). Some meetings have been done well, and others not so much. I am always analyzing how people conduct their trainings so I can learn what to do and what not to do in my own.

-Everything is new for everyone. The overwhelm hit us all at different times. There were moments that people felt like there were too many changes. This happened for first year teachers and the 30 year veterans. We all feel like we learn and then stumble around in the dark and find our way again. My team is wonderful and we help each other. The strengths we have become everyone’s because of the sharing. We teach each other. I have not had a true team in a long time.

-Contact with parents is always a tricky area for me but a requirement. We are must use Class DOJO and SEESAW here at the beginning. Parents are familiar with DOJO we were told. I have issue with starting with too many things and then changing.

In the Spring, I had success with text messages for contact with parents so I did the same this fall.

I sent this message to my parents this week:

Hello! This is Mrs. Breitweiser (child)’s Kindergarten teacher. I just wanted to reach out and say hello.

Material pick up starts tomorrow.

We will have a combination of live and recorded teaching in 2 sessions. 8-11 and 12-3. Please let me know which (child) prefers.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Follow up texts required answered questions. I also sent this message:

What is something you would like me to know about (child)? Something that is her/his favorite? Or a special story?

I use the child’s name as much as possible. I send audio messages talking to the student and short video messages as well.

-Virtual open house was successful. We had two 30 minute Zoom meetings and I had over half my students show up. There were smiling faces and cats on the screen. The virtual tour of the classroom and my live explanation of the learning kits were a hit. I introduced myself with a list of favorites that I told the students they would answer starting next week. I showed pictures of my family. Whatever we show our students is what they think we value so those first impressions are important.

It was important to me to tell the parents my past teaching experience. I want to assure them I am qualified to teach their child so they feel as secure as possible.

In the virtual tour I showed all the places where I have the student’s names. I want them to know that it is their classroom even when we are far away.

-Having to be in the building has helped with focus for the start of school. I had some frustration with this requirement especially on the days I spent most of the time in a chair in a meeting in front of my computer. Another focus that is a positive is that it is easier to fast while at school. There is no food there and it requires effort to get in the car and leave if I am stressed.

Do I feel prepped enough? I think so. If something goes wrong then I will pivot and we will use it as a learning experience.

I will make a list of things to remember before Tuesday at 8am.

There is a list of things I want to make sure to remember. If I don’t? I will write it down for the next meeting. This is the same practice whether I am in real life teaching or virtual.

We will see how it goes! I know for certain my choice propels me to the future I create.

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

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

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?