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!

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!

Summer Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

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It is the weekend again! Summer is moving along. We have been engrossed in it for a week now. Have you done anything fun?

I am having black coffee today since I am fasting. I have some creamer and some other flavors. Would you like ice water today? It has been hot here. I do love these mugs though. I bought some after I had coffee in them at a coffee shop back in Indiana.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we went to a water park for Father’s Day. Because of corona and the ripple effect, there were only about 6 rides open. It was a beautiful sunny 80-degree day. Because of my Back to Zero program, I was not embarrassed to be in a swimsuit. By the time we go camping at the end of July, I will be back to the weight and look want to be. We rode the slides until we didn’t feel like it anymore. We ate in the park because the meal deals came with our tickets. Then we of course stopped for ice cream. I am going to have to call this the ICE CREAM Share by the time summer is over.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am taking a writing class this week and couldn’t be more thrilled. After I read the first story on Monday morning I was blown away with how wonderful all the writing is from the other participants. There was one It was one flash piece that stuck with me all day and I kept going back to reread it. The exercises are ones that I can come back to again and again. The instructor has at least 5 example stories for each day, most of which were new to me. I also appreciated the mini video explanations that she included this time as well. It was so worth the money but her classes always are.

If we were having coffee I would tell you my story was published in a book! Here is the link to purchase. I am super excited to have a story and an essay now in a real book. I loved this story too called APP WORLD and had fun writing it.

If we were having coffee I would tell you a poem was published this week. You can read it here.It is called Window of Time.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I published an article about closing gaps in Teachers on Fire magazine. Even if you aren’t a teacher, summer is a time to learn something new or take an action to become more of the person you want to be. You can click and read that here.

If we were having coffee I would tell you we went to the beach this week. We played in the water, jumped off the pier, and enjoyed the beautiful day. Of course, there was ice cream involved before we set back home.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you a friend through Unleashing Her Power Within just launched her website. Her first post is up and it is amazing! Check that out here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the kids and I went to a fun tourist attraction called the TOP SECRET Upside Down House. The kids’ reactions were the best. There was a photo op before we went in of course. They each got little secret agent cards. Then we went to lunch. It was an adventure.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you a writing friend and I have decided to check in with each other more often. We have been giving feedback to each other’s writing the last couple of weeks and I am glad to welcome her to my inner circle of writing! I was thrilled she reached out.

What is new with you this week? What decisions have you made to move forward?

I would love to hear. Til next week’s coffee time!

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

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Welcome back to Sunday — this time on a holiday weekend!

Let’s have some french vanilla on the porch. The view of the hills is lovely and it isn’t too hot yet today.

I have missed you this week friend. There is lots to catch up on.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have been obsessed with Karissa Kouchis this week. She is a national trainer and speaker for Tony Robbins and her energy is contagious. Her words have sprung me to action this week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you this quote showed up in my Readwise app email this morning:

How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields


Step 1 — Create your perfect moment. Take a few moments and ask, “What would I love to do or create or have that I’m not pursuing because it’s not a sure thing?” Write your answer in your journal. Then ask, “What would my life look and feel like, how would it be materially different, if I got what I wanted?” Journal your answer. Now ask, “What am I waiting for?” Write it out.

It seems like a good task to do today.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I learned about the Dickens Pattern. It is where you analyze the price you will pay if you don’t change now. It comes from the idea of Scrooge and The Christmas Carol with the Ghost of Christmas Past. It is not a pretty list of journaling but it is motivating. Telling yourself “It’s not that bad” keeps you stuck.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the last couple of days we have been having fun with the kids with Kahoot games and Jeopardy. I log funny things the kids say and use that list to make questions. We also have strange categories of facts about planets, music, or sports. The wrong answer choices are sometimes the funniest part. There is lots of laughing.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you we have had great food this week! Food is a joy and a reason for gathering in our home. Favorites have been eaten this week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have had some great writing and life conversations with two friends. One in Montana and the other in Portland. I am lucky to have these two women in my inner circle. They always tell me the truth and the conversations are always enlightening.

Do you need a refill? Or some water?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you there was a tornado warning yesterday. The sky was black and freaked the kids out. We are safe though and I got a scene written from the experience.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am about over e-learning in kindergarten. I am in school til June 10th. That is all about that topic this week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I swapped stories with a newer writing friend this week and it has been wonderful. She is an amazing person and writer and I am so glad we are critique partners now.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the running is going well and I know that because I had to order new shoes! Gray Kinvaras are on their way!

I almost forgot! I started a podcast! They are less than 10 minutes about what inspires me and how you can live a more creative life. You can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/tammy-breitweiser-792640834 New episodes drop on Fridays.

What is inspiring you this week? I would love to know!

A New Challenge Begins #SOL20



Today begins the 7th annual #the100dayproject where people choose an art project to pursue their creativity for 100 days.

As many of you know, I love a good challenge. I always enjoy the Two Writing Teachers challenge and am happy to continue on Tuesdays.

Anyone can join. The idea is simple: choose a project, do it every day for 100 days, and share your process on Instagram with the hashtag #The100DayProject.

There is a newsletter and a community on Instagram.

My challenge:

One of my favorite writing exercises is writing lists of random sentences. I learned from Sarah Selecky to write 100 sentences that do not connect. You must write them in the same point of view.

Then at the end you read the sentences aloud and you will see how they tie together.

At the end of the challenge I will construct a short story based on the list!

Next Right Things:

This week started the planning and teaching of my kindergarten class. It was interesting to have a Zoom call with the kids who were excited and then shy at the same time.

The “first day” after Spring Break was full of meetings – on Zoom. Today is lighter and then there are 3 more meetings tomorrow.

This is all a new time for us.

Who Are Your Five People?

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On a creative group Zoom call last evening the idea that you are the sum of the 5 people closest to you came up. I have thought a lot about this idea since I heard it about a year ago.

I waver back and forth as to my belief in this statement. I do believe there is a circle of concern for the people that are closest to me. There is also a circle of influence that flows both ways. I influence others and they influence me. (Covey, anyone?)

I do know that I am more creative and business minded with my writing since I became part of my creative group last fall. The women in that group are all over the country and have perspective and know me in a way no one in my real life does.

[As an aside here – Does this phrasing bother anyone else? If my friends are online it is still my real life – I abhor the idea that since I am not in the same room they are not real! I vow to stop using it now.]

I have education people, writing people, creative people, personal people. Only a couple of them overlap.

Do you know who your five people are?

I challenge you to make that list today. Writing it down may surprise you.

How to Increase Intentional Student Talk with Protocols

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Protocols are systems used to engage students in intentional talk. The person who is talking is the one who is learning. Using protocols also increases the levels of engagement for every student.

Join me in a workshop to learn how to use protocols with your students.

What is the book that you keep coming back to? What is the text you use in your classroom over and over again no matter what level you teach because it resonates with you and your students?

If you teach a class that isn’t reading or language arts based is there a text that you refer to because it’s just one you love?

I have a friend who loved a book in third grade so much she stole it from her library. She still has it — in fact she ran to her classroom excitedly to come show me the book after workshop at one time.

If you were attending my workshop in real life after you signed in and picked up your workshop point page you would write this text on an index card. We will be using it in just a few minutes.

The secret for some of these actions to work is you must do something with them. Students are more likely to participate and engage if they know their efforts are not wasted.

I’m just not having you arbitrarily write down a book because I want to add it to my Amazon list. We are going to talk about it and make connections.

Now let’s come to the back of the room and form a circle — it may be more of an oval because of how the class is arranged. Please bring your index card with you. We are going to do something called CrewWe are all crew, not passengers. Everyone has a job. We stand in a circle because everyone is equal, there are no sides, and everyone can see each other.

We will introduce ourselves and tell everyone where we teach and then the rest of the group will greet us by name. When you do this with students it is important to use names. There are several students I am sure you can think of that never hear their names in a positive tone throughout the day. Crew builds the culture and the shared accountability in the classroom. It’s important for them to hear their name in a loving supportive way from the teacher and from their fellow crew members..


Crew is made up of three parts — greeting, reading, and closing. Now we are ready for the reading part.

Can someone please give voice to the quote on the screen —

“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” — Jim Rohn

Can someone else please give voice to the quote?

For our crew today everyone brought their index card with them which is your Admit Ticket. Now I’m going to have you combine your work from the Admit Ticket protocol with a protocol called Back-to-Back Face-to-Face.

You’re going to share what you wrote on your card and make a connection to the quote we just read about reading.

Back-to-Back Face-to-Face is a protocol where two students find a partner and stand back-to-back. This allows students to have thinking time for what they’re going to say when it is time to share with their partner. Teachers can have students put a thumb up on their chest when they are done thinking so the teacher has a visual clue that everyone is ready. Then the teacher says “face-to-face” and students turn and share. This can be a one-time share or you can have students find another partner and go back to back and face to face and share again to get another perspective.


Tea Party

The next protocol we’re going to move to is called Tea Party. This protocol was created by Kylene Beers. It takes a little more preparation than the protocols we have practiced so far.

I selected an article for you to read. It was cut apart in an intentional way.

Each student gets a piece of the article and independently reads it. On the back of their excerpt or on a separate piece of paper the student writes a prediction of what they think the article is about in a complete sentence.

Then students get in groups. Today I chose groups of three. Within the group share and compare text and predictions.

Then each student receives a copy of the article and reads it independently. Here annotation can be helpful.

Now each individual student finishes the sentence stem of

I used to think ….now I know….

using their first written predictions and their new information learned from the reading.

Back to the same groups and share these statement and formulate a group statement using the same sentence stem. Share out will be the group statement of predictions and new learning.

I particularly like the tea party protocol because it allows students to practice the idea of predicting and then changing their prediction based on new information.

It also allows for individual accountability for the reading and then a group accountability because the group works on writing their own statement


Boxing

The next protocol we’re going to use as one of my new favorites. You will receive a large poster paper for each group. Please draw the boxes to prepare.

You will read the first page only of the article you just received. As a group please log your thoughts about what you already know about the topic and what you want to learn.


Now as a group decide how you want to read the rest of the article — everyone reads it all, or you may chunk it up. After reading, log quotes and new learning in the middle box on your poster.


After your new learning then log a summary within the center box. It can be a picture, a phrase or just one word.

This protocol is one where there’s lots of room for variation for digging in deeper to a worthy text. You can use it for poetry analysis where each group does a chunk of the poetry and digs in deeper to each stanza.

A gallery walk can then be done where each group moves from poster to poster reading their classmates work to learn of everyone’s insights.

Closing

Let’s circle up again in the back of the room. We are going to go around one last time. I would like you to share one word from today that sums up how you are feeling, what you learned, or maybe what your next action is.

Thanks for attending the workshop today!

Tammy L. Breitweiser is a curriculum coach in Northwest Indiana where she is currently dedicated to impacting student achievement in grades 3–6. With more than 24 years of experience, she is a reading advocate who believes reading is the gateway. She is working on a collection of short stories. You can connect with Tammy on Twitter (@tlbreit)or You can sign up for her newsletter here.

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.

3+ Ideas about Hope

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The word hope has come up several times this week. I have learned that if a concept keeps showing itself in different venues then I need to pay attention.

Yesterday was my last session with Jim Knight for instructional coaching training and the topic was being a Better Leader. One of the main concepts was …you guessed it…HOPE.

Shane J. Lopez is a psychologist who has written about hope extensively. His definition is “the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so.”

Part of Knight’s training session yesterday was asking the question: How are you living your life? Are you spending time on the things you are passionate about? This idea is how we keep hope alive and partly how we teach ourselves to be hopeful.

At this time of the school year it is easy to dip into the valley of despair and lose hope. I have to keep reminding myself I do the work I do to provide an environment of inspiration and learning for what is best for kids. When you are worried about schedules, state testing, and getting through the day sometimes you forget.

Part of this process is to do the next right thing. If you know where you are going, this isn’t as hard as it seems. Action is what needs to happen.

Knight asked us to think of someone who we thought of as a hope mentor. A person that emanates hope who we can learn from. Having a hope mentor is partly how we can teach ourselves to be hopeful. My person is Maya Angelou. She was open, intelligent, overcame obstacles, and can command a room. She was an amazing woman and I am thankful I was able to hear her speak before she passed away.

What are you most excited about?

Hope is doing more of what makes you happy.

Hope is allowing other people to teach you being hopeful.

Hope is having a hope mentor.

Three Things about Hope

Having hope means you have a preferred future vision. You can visualize it. You have goals.

Having hope means you have the belief you can get here. There is magic here.

Having hope means you have multiple pathways to get to that preferred future.

Some questions to consider and reflect on today:

What gives you energy and therefore hope?

What is your purpose? How do you make a difference?

Am I doing what I really want to do with my time?

What is working and what do I need to modify?

What is your next right thing?

This past week was busy for me. My sleep suffered and I was starting to crash. I was not taking care of myself.

Part of what helped me was 12 hours of sleep and the life giving conversation I had yesterday with my fellow coaches. We made plans to support each other in our hope. These questions are still with me today. I will do some more journaling and thinking as the day moves forward.

I would love to hear your thoughts on HOPE! Comment below…

#FMF Next

I participate in Five Minute Friday. Set the timer for 5 minutes and freewrite with the word provided. Find the link up here.

Set the timer and GO!

As I read the information about the prompt this week on the site I immediately thought of my work with Emily P. Freeman’s book The Next Right Thing. If you follow my blog, you know I love this book and have been reflecting through it since the beginning of the month. Each chapter is highlight by Emily on Instagram.

The idea of #mynextrightthing has been on my mind for quite awhile. It is a decision making process that makes sense especially in the sense of overwhelm. I can figure out what to do next, even if it is little like take a shower, or make a sandwich, or breath. I have been through trauma that had me feeling like I was trying to make it through the minute, not the day. I don’t remember exactly when I found the podcast The Next Right Thing but I know that it spoke to me. Emily’s voice is amazing if you haven’t listened to her either. I am thankful Emily is in my life this way.

There are lots of circumstances in this world that do not make sense to me. I used to be able to make a decision pretty quickly. This was at a time where my perception was that “Everything was gonna work out.” I have made some decisions which led to more obstacles as time went on and now I second guess as to if I will make the wrong decision. I have people relying on me and cannot afford to make any more mistakes than I have to. I will continue to make mistakes but try to be as informed as possible!

My next right thing right now is to keep writing. I will interact with my writing people this morning and my family this afternoon. Another next thing is to be open to opportunities and appreciate the moments I am in. The amount of next right things I get to choose are not guaranteed.

If you have not read Emily’s book I urge you to get a copy. It will be given as a gift from me several times this year! You can find it here.