Weekend Coffee Share

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Today I am having my regular large mug of black coffee. What would you like? It has been a busy week over here and I am looking forward to talking to you about it.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the work week felt odd. I was in charge of facilitating training for two full days. Tuesday ending up being an e-learning day due to weather so the schedule had to get all rearranged. Friday our literacy consultant was there who had been rescheduled at least twice. It was a crazy mixed up week where I kept forgetting what day of the week it was! Then I ran out of coffee at work on Friday morning! BOOOOOO!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had a marvelous dinner on Friday. We went to an old school steak place in a nearby town and it was an amazing meal. Creamy garlic dressing for the salad, cheesy potato soup, ribeye, baked potato and fresh bread with honey butter. The creme brulee was disappointing but I will focus on the main meal!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you Saturday was Adventure Day. We drove about 2 hours to Kokomo. When I started my teaching career it was in Howard County. I have loads of fond memories there. Saturday’s trip centered around the Seiberling Mansion. It was built in the 1880s for about $50,000. All the materials and labor were local. The mansion is three floors and the Sierberlings loved to entertain so the top floor is a ballroom. I really wish there were pictures from that time period. There is only one picture of a daughter in a bedroom at her desk. There have been several owners over the years and Thomas Edison is said to have attended a wedding there.

The Indiana University extension took over the building for a while. Then the historical society came in and renovated.

There were several idea sparks that came to me while I was enjoying the house. There are lots of architectural details to look at. Lots of people have enjoyed the house and many more still do.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the restaurant I was so looking forward to eating at was closed just last week. I was so sad. Mike’s Pizza had been a place I ate at often when I lived there. They had the best Italian beef sandwiches and breadsticks. We made do with another lunch place that was still delicious but not familiar.

If we were having coffee I would tell you the last stop for this trip was Treasure Mart. This is a most interesting place. If you ever have writers’ block and any type of BLOCK walk around this place and it will be gone. There are all types of artifacts and trinkets and memorabilia. There are old typewriters, Coleman picnic kits from the 60’s, furniture, old photographs, cast iron skillets, decorative and practical kitchenware, old books, knives, guns, and the Oscar Mayer Weiner Whistle…you name it it is probably in the building somewhere. Again, lots of story sparks for me here.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had my critique group call on Saturday night. I was a bit late to the call because of the drive from Adventure Saturday. I should have taken bullet point notes to talk about the stories I critiqued. It was a new format for me. I did get to hear about my story too and I clarified some questions about it. Overall, it was a great experience. Thanks to Julie Duffy at storyaday.org for facilitating!

If we were having coffee I would tell you the #write28days word for today is CREATE. If you would like to read more post in this series click here for the landing page. I have created a lot of writing lately including some letters! I have written and revised several stories too. I even submitted 2 stories yesterday. I also submitted 2 super short pieces on Friday as well. We will see what happens! I am excited about the possibilities!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I met with a new writing friend at a local restaurant and we talked blogging, writing, and teaching. It was wonderful! We made plans to get together soon to write.

It was a full week of great things! What great things filled your last 7 days? I would love to hear about them!

This post is inspired by Eclectic Alli and her Coffee share page

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Currently… Feb 14

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LOVING // Valentine’s Day!!!

READING// This wonderful short story: https://storyaday.org/wow-anachrony/  Joan of Arc Sits Naked In Her Dorm Room by Rachel Engelman

EXCITED ABOUT// I get to spend the day with wonderful English teachers and the evening with my perfect-for-me-husband!

LISTENING TO// fireplace sounds in Norway on Youtube and teachers collaborating

MAKING// Student materials based on ILEARN specifications for ELA with teachers today

DREAMING OF// writing in my dream treehouse in Minnesota

WORKING ON// Thinking about future plans with work and writing

ENJOYING// Black coffee!

WEARING// Black dress, black tights, black shoes

NEEDING// Clarity

THINKING ABOUT//Dinner! hahaha

Thank you to Maria @ Cooks & Books for her inspirational post – you can read hers here.

Currently… Feb 9

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LOVING // The writing retreat space and people today

READING// I am currently reading my draft of my novel

EXCITED ABOUT// FINALLY outlining and starting revision on my novel

LISTENING TO// silence, the gas fireplace, other people writing, a singing bowl

MAKING// word clouds of amazement and connections along with new friends

DREAMING OF// writing all day, every day

WORKING ON// novel, reflections, and a library timeline of stories

ENJOYING// Black coffee! ALL DAY LONG vegetarian chili homemade with cornbread and focaccia bread

WEARING// warm slippers, BSU sweatshirt and black athletic pants

NEEDING// More days like this!

THINKING ABOUT//My characters and this amazing magical space that I didn’t know about until a few weeks ago

Thank you to Maria @ Cooks & Books for her inspirational post – you can read hers here.

How to Develop a Library of Stories

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The word belonging came up at the Jim Knight training I attended yesterday and several times this week. Belonging is a large component of engagement which is a buzzword in education right now, but applies to everyone. Everyone has the need to belong which can mean simply to have friends and to be part of a tribe. Sometimes we find these people in real life and sometimes they are online.

One practice of how we connect with another human is through stories.

Developing a library of stories is the biggest takeaway for me from yesterday’s training. A library of stories is basically a cheat sheet to jog your memory when you need a story to illustrate a point or for entertainment. It could be on a physical piece of paper, it could be a list in your phone or a mapped graphic organizer at the back of your planner. It is a tool. It is similar to how I use my Goodreads list. Whenever someone asks what me I have read lately, my mind immediately goes blank. I often will open Goodreads to jar my memory. A library of stories is a similar tool.

Telling stories is one of the most important things we can do as people. It is how our brains work and also connects us to people! Stories are part of why I am a writer and an educator.

Storytelling is an effective practice for engagement. They are quite effective for fostering hope.

A few components to keep in mind:

  1. The story needs a purpose to the story – a why to why you are telling it. In the classroom it is likely to demonstrate concept or key idea. It may be humor or just a show of a similar situation.
  2. Effective stories CANNOT BE LAME. They should be concise, vivid, surprising, and emotional – but maybe not all at the same time.
  3. You audience must identify with the story you have chosen.

Using stories can help you illustrate the ideas you are trying to teach or portray. Danny Bauer talks about core value stories. His story of tenacity is portrayed with a story about honeybadgers. Doing the most important thing first is illustrated with the BIG DOMINO story. I remember these concepts because of the stories he told. Check out his podcast to hear the stories for yourself.

How to:

To develop a library for stories create a timeline from birth until today. The beauty is you can keep this paper (larger size might be better) for you to capture story ideas with a few words so that when you need to pull a story for a lesson or situation they are gathered in one place. You scan and choose.

List people.

List events.

List the stories that go with each using a few words.

When I first did this activity I was shocked how difficult it was for me to come up with events and people. It might have been due to the fact Knight told us the exercise should take 90 minutes and we were doing it in 2 minutes.

BUT… when I woke up this morning this idea was still with me. On the commute to my writers retreat I decided I would go through each age and see if I could recall stories that corresponded. The ones that emerged on the paper yesterday were the ones that I often tell. Several of them I have even written about on the blog. There were a few that I had forgotten about like the story I shared in my small group about a surprisingly difficult exercise class that left me uncharacteristically sore for days! It even hurt to breathe. I am sure if I would have had more time and it wasn’t 20 minutes before the end of the workshop I would have had more things to write.

A couple months ago I had made a list of 25 life altering moments based on a business book I was reading so I am going to find that list in whatever notebook it is in and add it to my timeline.

Moving forward, one idea Knight shared was to roll this idea out to teachers and then have check ins to talk about the stories they were using with students. I would love to start this practice. It would not only help the students strengthen relationships with teachers but it would cement the bond between educators.

What do you think of a library of stories? Do you like the idea of a timeline? Do you like the idea of a list? Is there a story you tell over and over?

Currently… Feb 8

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LOVING // The connections I have with my fellow coaches

READING// I am currently reading my Instructional Coaching to Increase Engagement Workbook

EXCITED ABOUT// The learning happening today

LISTENING TO// Jim Knight talk and the other coaches I am paired up with during the day.

MAKING// I am formulating lots of ideas as I sit here about writing and coaching

DREAMING OF// Minnesota and cabins with a writing treehouse

WORKING ON// Strategies to increase engagement with students and TEACHERS

ENJOYING// Black coffee! ALL MORNING LONG

WEARING// Orange sweater, black jeans and Black DOC MARTINS

NEEDING// Laughter

THINKING ABOUT//ENGAGEMENT

Thank you to Maria @ Cooks & Books for her inspirational post – you can read hers here.

Currently…

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LOVING // All the comments on the blog this week! I feel I am connecting with more people which I LOVE

READING// I am currently reading LETTER FROM SKYE which was recommended by Tiffany/reads/too_many_books on Instagram. She is the creator of the Literacy Society group.

EXCITED ABOUT// The stories I have been working on this week. My beta reader read the one and loved it. It makes me happy. She gasped in all the right places.

LISTENING TO// Intermittent Fasting Stories Podcast

MAKING// Stories! SO many stories and blog posts!

DREAMING OF// Minnesota and cabins with a writing shed in the back

WORKING ON// Stories and coaching strategies – training tomorrow with the wonderful Jim Knight.

ENJOYING// Recent trips to Chicago with the hubby

WEARING// My favorite gray and black super soft baseball shirt

NEEDING// Clarity

THINKING ABOUT//the future

Thank you to Maria @ Cooks & Books for her inspirational post – you can read hers here.

10 Things to Tell You

Every Tuesday (And every day in March!!!!) I blog and share it with teacher-writers on the Two Writing Teachers blog.

My Slice of Life today is inspired by the new podcast of the same title of the post. To listen you can find it here.

Image result for 10 things to tell you podcast
  1. Accept is my word today for today’s #Write28days. I need to accept some truths. I am contemplating and planning these GATHERINGS and I need to find the WHY. I think I have realized some truth after some journaling yesterday. One truth is I am an introvert so I need to carefully plan the execution of these events to not exhaust myself.
  2. I am super excited for my critique group video call this evening with Katherine and Marta. I am so honored to be writing friends with these ladies. I value their feedback and thoughts and they never steer me wrong.
  3. Storyaday.org’s Julie Duffy hosted a free writer Zoom call last night where 16 of us got together and wrote. It was wonderful to do 3 sprints together and I crafted a new short story! It took a surprising twist and direction. It is always fulfilling to talk story with other writers.
  4. The topic for the above podcast today is “Are you Lonely?” I love solitude but there are times I feel disconnected from people. On my commute this morning, I was thinking about being disconnected which is why I think I am pursuing the GATHERINGS idea. I want to have time to connect to other creatives for everyone’s creative well to be filled.
  5. Several years ago my life blew up and I was lonely because I was thrust into a situation where I knew NO ONE who had gone through the same thing. There was one person that had a small connection and I was rejected. Luckily, I found a group that supported me. I am forever grateful for this organization and they helped me from going into a spiral that would have not been recoverable.
  6. The #teachwrite Twitter chat was last night and super fun! The questions were amazing. I love that a teacher is part of this group that works in the corporation I used to. Seeing her name pop up in my feed makes me feel closer to teacher-writers locally! There is a chat every month – If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it. (I will put the questions at the end of this post.)
  7. I have a literacy/coach meeting this afternoon with a consultant I adore listening to and working with. I am looking forward to the word for are going to do today!
  8. This is a wonderful site to follow. There are daily writing tips, great words, great quotes and a prompt. https://writerswrite.co.za/
  9. Another person to follow is Nancy Stohlman. She is an amazing flash fiction author, editor, and overall fantastic person. Find her here: https://nancystohlman.com/
  10. Connection for students is important and creating a feeling of belonging. I once named a remediation group “Writing Club” because I wanted them to come and I wanted them to enjoy the writing not get down on themselves for being selected for writing remediation. I wanted to instill an abundance mindset. Everyone wants to be part of a club especially one that you have a special invitation to!

What do you want to tell me today?

Happy Writing!

#write28days Simmer

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I am participating in the #write28days Blogging challenge. If you would like to see the other posts in this series click here for the landing page.

Jenny Blake wrote a book called PIVOT. It is a fabulous book and she talks about pilots and making the next moves to be successful. She has an inspiring podcast as well. Here is her definition of PILOTS:

Pilots, in the career context, are small, low-risk experiments to dip your toe in the water of your new direction. Pilots help gather feedback, and build the bridge between where you are now and where you want to end up. 

Simply stated, it is an experiment that you can see if your idea works. I hope to have a pilot to try at the end of the month. The ideas and the details have to simmer a little bit. I want to make sure when I launch the pilot that I have enough in place to make a decision about what the next right thing is.

Some ideas from The Art of Gathering book I am marinating in and letting simmer are:

We are tempted to focus on the “stuff” of gatherings because we believe those are the only details we can control. pg. xi

My job [author Priya Parker] is to put the right people in a room and help them collectively think, dream, argue, heal, envision, trust, and connect for a specific larger purpose. pg. xi

I am endlessly intrigued by the small and important interventions we can all make to help groups gel.

The last quote is sticking with me and why I purchased my own copy of this book so I can write in it and fill it up with marginalia. I want to know the little things that make that gathering you go to so dynamic you don’t forget how you felt that night. I want to know the things that are in place so that that the next time that host wants to invite you to something – no matter what it is – you go because you know there is something different and fulfilling about their events.

I am also pondering and letting what I am grateful for simmer in my stew pot mind today! The list keeps growing and my heart keeps swelling!

What are you simmering in your mind today??

#Write28days STRIVE

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As a creative person I strive to be inspiring to others. I enjoy a group of creatives to collaborative with and grow as a person. I appreciate conversations that expand into something impactful to my life. Sometimes this manifests itself as a conversation that is life giving.

As an educator I strive to be motivating to students and teachers in my building. I believe words are important – spoken and written. I believe in the powers of notes and kind words and the giving of books.

I strive to have my writing mean something. To write is to be read.

Connecting with my in real life writing group allows me to share writing with others and for them to share their writing with me. This idea of interaction with other writers is more important than I thought even a year ago. A group dynamic is impactful but also one on one. I was working on a critique the other day for a writing partner and just the act of carefully reading and thinking about her piece raised my level of a writer. Recognizing components in her writing made me aware of different things in what I read for the next couple of days and my own writing! It is like magic!

As another writing friend stated – groups have to have the right fit. We have different groups for different purposes – they feed us differently.

As I explore the idea of gatherings for creatives over the next month I will be doing some reading in The Art of Gathering a wonderful book about events. I will be sharing some information from it as we move forward!

How do your groups feed you? What conversations are the most life giving to you? What do you need as a creative?

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Every Tuesday teachers gather at TWO WRITING TEACHERS to share slices of life. They link their blogs in the comments and then comment on at least 3 other sites. Come join us today!

Today’s Slice:

The text came through at 8:50 pm yesterday. Before that hour, there had been hours of speculation. We were not the first corporation in the area to call it. To my surprise there was no two-hour delay game, it was straight to cancellation. It was not just cancellation for today…IT IS FOR 3 days! I do not go back to work until Friday.

The weather reports keep saying the Midwest is colder than Antarctica with this winter storm. I woke up this morning thinking about updating my eLearning page and heard the wind. The new house doesn’t have a fireplace and we miss it. We have found how drafty the windows are.

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Earlier the actual temperature was 6 degrees with a – 13 windchill. Tomorrow the high is supposed to be -12 and a low of -22 (without the windchill). I cannot remember when it was that cold before now. I am sure it has been.

Last week I went to school two days. This week it will be only one.

We don’t celebrate winter here so most people will be hunkered down inside their house. To be fair, the weather is not consistent which makes it difficult to adjust. Yesterday afternoon it was 47 degrees before the temperature started to drop several degrees an hour again.

We kept warm in my house. We ate veggie soup with warm bread fresh from the oven.

I am thankful the snow makes everything bright.

I am thankful I do not have to commute many miles this week.

I am thankful for time to finish Slade House by David Mitchell.

I am thankful I will have time to go to the gym every day.

I am thankful I am able to work from home.

I am thankful my furnace works.

I am thankful I am with people I love.

What are your thoughts on winter? What are you thankful for today?