Writing Prompt and an Announcement

Starting on September 23rd if you join my Patreon community you will receive a daily prompt for 100 days like the one above. We have a Slack community as well so you can join other writers.

September 23rd starts a special time period – the last 100 days of 2020! Can you believe it???

The last 100 days is the perfect time to give yourself a challenge. You can join mine or create your own. I would love to hear what you plan to do.

Last year I vowed to do one yoga pose a day for the remaining 100 days of 2019. A friend wrote 100 word essays. The possibilities are endless. You could answer the same morning and evening questions. I follow Karissa Kouchis who is a national trainer for Tony Robbins. She has challenged herself to answer the same morning and evening questions for the next 30+ days for a training. I have been answering them in my journal as well.

What questions would propel you into a new reality if you committed to them for 100 days? One of the exercises in Tony Robbins Personal Power class is to construct questions you ask yourself every day. I have a list in my Google Keep Notes.

Here are the questions I am using right now from KK:

Morning:

  1. What are you most happy about in your life right now? How does that make you feel?
  2. What am I most proud of right now? How does that make me feel?
  3. What am I most committed to right now? How does that make me feel?

Do you see a pattern here?

Evening:

  1. What have I been given today?
  2. What have I given to others?
  3. What have I learned today?
  4. How has today added to the quality of the overall investment in my life?

Happy writing! Happy reflecting!

I would love to hear your ideas for the last 100 days. It is a perfect time for a self imposed challenge!

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?

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 tagĀ 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?

August Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

Welcome to the first weekend of August! Summer is officially halfway completed. Have you signed up for my newsletter?

I am having black coffee today as usual. What would you like today? I think we should take a walk after we have a cup or two. The weather has been less humid here this week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am in a course hosted by Caroline Donahue called “Write Free”. It is about coming back to your creativity and getting through blocks. She uses the Mighty Network which works well for this project in my opinion. There is a great community and the content has been stellar in week one. I was able to persuade three writing friends to join so that has been a fun thing to share as well.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I hosted Workshop Wednesday this past week. I prefer interactive classes and it was small enough in order for lots of conversation. The conversation centered around personality types and communication. Many people shared and we laughed a lot.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my kids tease me about doing Zoom calls in the closet. When I have to record anything audio or video it is a good spot with less noise. For workshops I go in there as well of course. A few people made comments afterwards about me teaching from the closet. Sounds like a title of a podcast. The new life we live!!

Do you need a refill? I always drink the first cup so fast!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my Back to Zero plan is still on track with fasting, hydration, and exercise. I ran/walked every day this past week. There were lots of interactions with animals this week. There are horses I pet on my way every day. There is also an attack mama turkey.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I learned about DMO this past Monday. It stands for Daily Method of Operation. It is the 3-5 things that if you do them means a successful day to you. I made a Keep note and have done my three every day. It is a nice tracking piece for me until it becomes engrained.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had a wonderful conversation with a friend on Tuesday and it lit my brain on fire. She made a comment to me that brought me back to what is, not what my perspective is. I have been thinking more and more about going back to coaching. I enjoy it so much. The Workshop Wednesday allowed me to use some of these skills as well as some other conversations this week. The lists have begun in the notebook!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am following the Ninja Writers BYOB (Blog Your Own Book) program this month. Last month was planning and this month is writing. I like the format that Shaunta talks about for articles and so far the community has been wonderful as well.

I would love to hear what delighted you this week!

I will see you in the comments or next week!

What Story Are You Telling Yourself? #SOL20

I write every Tuesday and share on the Two Writing Teachers blog. Join other teachers that share their writing and thoughts.

Think about a time you were teaching and you CRUSHED it! It was one of those lessons that went so perfect you wish you would have taped it or that your principal was in the back of the room frantically writing the notes of how brilliant your classroom is.

What were you doing? What had you done before the lesson began? What are your students doing? What were you saying to yourself?

What were you wearing? Where were you standing? Did you have a Powerpoint? What materials were out?

Get yourself back into that moment. See it in your mind’s eye and feel what it felt to be in that moment.

***

I have several moments that I like to come back to from my 25 years as an educator. One is from early in my teaching career when I was teaching first grade. We had gathered on the floor in a circle to share our writing journals. I had established a clear rhythm of family meeting that ended with a read aloud and then we wrote a group chart and then students wrote independently. I sat in the circle with everyone and had given the directions that someone would read and then we would ask questions about what was not clear and then also tell the writer what we loved about the writing.

I started the activity and guided the first couple of writers and the comments. Then my kids took over. They asked each other questions and took turns like expert writer workshop participants. I was awed. I slowly backed out of the circle because they didn’t need me. I watched as my students gave helpful feedback and suggestions. The writers knew the piece was still theirs and if they didn’t like the feedback they didn’t have to use it. I was so proud of my little students. My heart was so full that day.

I can literally tap into this experience because I have associated it within my physiology by my right hand tapping on my upper chest, right under my neck. I can get back to this moment by triggering the memory with the hand motion. I know young students are capable of doing great things because I have seen it. Even if I haven’t seen it with my own eyes I know I can find studies and stories from other teachers who have with their students. I can piggy back off their experience to fuel my own.

Over the next few weeks, I am creating a teacher identity that exemplifies what I want to accomplish this school year no matter what it looks like.

Here are some of the questions I am asking myself:

What adjectives would you use to describe yourself as a level 10 teacher?

What outcomes do you want to consistently create over the school year?

What actions do you need to take to ensure those outcomes are reached?

What mantras do you need to remember to bring you back to your goals? I wrote about this one here.

What three things if I do every day at school will guarantee I have a successful day?

What gives me energy during the school day and what depletes it?

What beliefs do I have about school, my students, and my teaching? Are they limiting or empowering?

I would love to hear about your teaching moment that you brought to the forefront of your memories!

Sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t already! I would love to connect!

The Delight of Swings

One of the delights of living somewhere new is all the fresh running routes you get to embark on! Thanks to my husband, I was able to walk/run on a new route with wonderful hills. (See the tall one pictured above.) The weather was much less humid and was overcast yesterday so overall it was a pleasant session. I also saw my assistant principal and we were able to chat for a few minutes as well.

Along this route there is also a playground in one of the neighborhoods. I could not resist the delight of swinging for a few minutes. The smile on my face was wide and I felt like a kid. There also happens to be a free little library there as well.

One of the focuses for this week has been centered around play. I want to take advantage of the small opportunities that bring me joy. I have always loved swings, and I do not know a child that doesn’t like them either. We used to have jumping contests and height contests in elementary school. For a short time I thought about putting a plank swing in my living room in one of my apartments! I am certain that wasn’t practical and it would cost me my security deposit for sure.

What opportunities for play have you taken advantage of lately? What has been bringing you joy?

I would love to hear in the comments.

Synchronicity #SOL20

How a request was met with an answer…

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Several days ago I wrote a post called, “The Delight of Connections,” about wanting to connect with a specific type of educator. You can read that here. Luckily, I have this community of teacher writers and it has changed my life for the better. I am so glad to know there are so many teacher writers out there. There are friends that I see their names or the names of their blog and I know I am in for a reading treat, especially on Tuesdays.

Lately, I have felt a bit lost. There is uncertainty that every one feels hovering around the next couple of weeks. I struggle with how I feel about it. I never shy away from hard work or new learning. I thrive on growth, but I cannot wrap my head around the details to plan because I have none.

When I am uncertain I try to find other people who are doing it better than I am. I learn from everyone I interact with. This was the reasoning behind the post: to find someone in a similar situation to find some solutions and validation. The post was liked, but there were no comments. That sometimes happens of course. Not every post we write resonates with someone and compels them to respond.

Sunday a friend reached out in text and we started talking. As a coach, I went into her room frequently. She is one of those teachers I love working with because her teaching light is so bright. Every time it was a joy to enter her room. Her kids learned and were happy to do it. They were fun and had humor in their room. I listened to them perform their readers theatre just after winter break and the students were amazing and expressive. I will never forget that day.

This friend mentioned she knew one of the ladies that had applied for my job when I left. Through the text conversation I learned she was teaching fifth grade but had been a coach and a kindergarten teacher in the duration of her career! This new connection and I had an amazing conversation over Instagram.

If there is something you are seeking, ask. You never know how the answer will show up for you. I remained open to it and am pleased with this new connection. I thought it would come from the blog. It is a delight it came through a random conversation with a friend who doesn’t even know I have a blog! Be open to what comes. I love it when our needs are provided for in such unexpected ways.

Have you experienced Synchronicity lately? I would love to hear about it.

Do You Have a Mantra? #sol20

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I have been thinking about mantras. What are the phrases you repeat to yourself? Are they positive or negative? Are you paying attention?

Within my group coaching program I am working on a higher level mantra this week. As I was listening to my coach this morning I was thinking about my mantras for school.

What do you repeat to students constantly? I am not talking about the behavior corrections here. What academic feedback do you give to students to encourage the behavior you desire in them?

My favorite phrase to tell students, especially when we are working on something new or difficult is:

I am the facilitator in my classroom. My students need to trust that what I am providing for them is something valuable. It has to be the right fit for them – not too hard, not too easy, just enough productive struggle. Students need to feel that I know what I am talking about. This is why I share my writing with students. I believe you cannot teach writing well unless you are a writer in some form yourself.

Several years ago I was talking to a colleague about writing prompts. She had expressed frustration about her students not writing well to the prompts she was giving to them. I asked her if she had provided a model for them. She had said no because she didn’t want them to copy hers. In the past, she had provided models only to have carbon copies of her piece come back to her.

We talked about the gradual release framework (I do, We do, You do) and then came back to the model.

She decided to write her own version based on the prompt. She gave herself her own assignment. Do you know what she found?

She had trouble writing the essay.

Huh.

It occurred to her if she was in her 40’s and didn’t have enough experience to write a layered piece then 8,9 and 10 year olds would not be able to either. She had to change the prompts she was giving to her students. There would need to be changes to the actual prompt or scaffolding and some group research would need to happen first.

Sometimes we have to do the work first in order for it to be the highest good for our students.

I would love to hear about your mantras and beliefs from your classrooms!