The Writing Tribe Love


Blog Love showed me some love by highlighting my blog in one of their fantastic posts! I am in very good company! Click the link to see the highlighted blogs and follow them!

I guest blogged for Teach Write Twitter Blog about writing community during the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge. Click the link to read it! Thank you for the invite! I was able to reach different readers than I would have any other way!

The continued support from Twitter and other bloggers have been tremendously motivating and encouraging!


What I Learned in March

  1. I like challenges. I accomplished writing a post everyday. I was more thoughtful this year I feel too and improved my writing skill.
  2. It got a little harder to write every day around the 24th of the month and my other writing suffered. I still made notes and did a little short story writing but focusing on both would have required more time blocking.
  3. Planning a list of post ideas in Feb was a good idea. It saved me on days I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write.
  4. It is fun to borrow post ideas from other slicers. They are inspiring.
  5. I love my writing teacher tribe.
  6. It felt good to expand my writing. I was a guest blogger for the Teachwrite Twitter Blog and was super excited about it.
  7. My reading didn’t suffer at all from the challenge but my posts were school focused. I try to mix them up usually between writing, reading, and coach related ideas.
  8. Receiving and giving comments is fun.
  9. I love the people I connected with this month and hope it continues.
  10. Two writing teachers is amazing (this one I already knew!)

What I Have Been Reading

I have been tearing through books lately and loving it.

Here are some I have read recently.

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I had heard some great things about this book but it was a little disappointing in my opinion. There were some twists and turns which were interesting. A few surprises were there too. Many references to movies I found annoying.

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I listened to Jen Sincero’s book on Overdrive audiobook. I really enjoyed her first book. There is a ton of useful information in this book but I felt it was too long. Many concepts were repeated over and over. I liked the narrative pieces but there were too many.

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The third book in the Lousia Clark series was a fun read. The story was sweet and I enjoyed the NEW YORK setting.

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Chloe Benjamin’s first book was much different from the Immortalists. I am fascinated by dreams and this book was full of a dream study and some twists. I enjoyed the main character but felt the supporting characters were not as well developed. Good book over all!

Happy Reading!

My Favorite Question #SOL18

db4de-slice-of-life_individualMy favorite question to ask students and teachers is:

What do you notice?


I use it when I model lessons for teachers.

I use it when I am asking students about text.

I use it during a brain drainer [defocus to refocus] to reflect on a quote from Marianne Williamson.

I use it when I debrief with a teacher after a visit.

I use it with teachers when examining student work.

What is your favorite question to ask??

A bonus question: Instead of What do you do? I like to ask: What are you most passionate about? What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Ten On Tuesday


10 Random Statements about Tammy

  1. I have lived in Indiana my whole life. I hope to move to Minnesota within 5 years though. I knew that if I didn’t leave Indiana after college graduation I would stay here for the long haul.
  2. I am a runner, but have been running less than 10 years. I have raced distances from 5K to 50 miles. I never thought I could run. It was the Biggest Losers Fault.
  3. I believe in lifelong learning. I really do. It isn’t just something that sounds good in an interview.
  4. I believe reading is the gateway to everything.
  5. I used to be a Pampered Chef consultant – when Doris owned the company, not Buffet. I loved it. I was able to cook and not go to the grocery store!
  6. I pay attention to everyone’s shoes. One time I went to a beach pole vaulting event in Michigan and all the comments I made were about the vaulter’s shoes!
  7. I always have a book with me.
  8. I have traveled to a lot of places in the United States:
    1. LA
    2. Monterey Bay
    3. New Orleans
    4. Florida
    5. Big Island, Hawaii
    6. Sun Valley, Idaho
    7. Albany, New York
    8. Vegas
    9. Tennessee
    10. Chicago
  9. I miss my Oma almost everyday. (German grandmother)
  10. I love Twitter!

I Became a Teacher Because… #SOL18

db4de-slice-of-life_individualAs a brain drainer [ an activity for defocus to refocus!] last week I posed the question:

Why did you become a teacher?

At this point in the school year we all get so overwhelmed with all the tasks being thrown at us. I find it best to start at the beginning when I am feeling overwhelmed. I have been thinking about this question myself. When I first started, why did I become a teacher in the first place.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”

― Simon SinekStart with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

I often turn to this quote when I start to question if I am making a difference.

I loved school growing up. I played school at home. Later I wanted to be the teacher of reading and writing that I did not have when I was in school.

I believe in reading.

I believe it is the gateway to everything else.

The world makes more sense to a reader.

I want to help create lifelong learners – not because it sounds good in an interview, but because I truly believe it with everything I have.

Why did you become a teacher?

My teachers filled out their answers on a bright orange post-it note and they are all hanging proudly on an anchor chart in my office. I find myself wandering over there and rereading them a couple times a day. I continue to support them as a coach. Some days it is reminding them about the few sentences of writing on an orange post it. It can make all the difference.


Students Doing the Work #SOL18

db4de-slice-of-life_individualAt a training a few weeks ago the presenter reminded a room full of coaches that the teachers needed to do the work, just like our students. Although coaches mean well, sometimes we do too much work and then are frustrated when there is not ownership for the data or learning.

I have been working to have differentiated trainings and coaching and trying to improve.

Yesterday was the district’s regularly scheduled PLC time. I had planned to go a gallery walk with questions pertaining to 4 chapters in the Eric Jensen book Poor Students, Rich Teaching which is a district initiative.

I used a STAND UP SIT DOWN braindrainer to bridge the gap from the teaching day to learning time.

Next I explained the procedure. All teachers were given a book but a couple could not find theirs. I had made some copies so no one would be without text.

As teachers, we expect behavior from students but do not always give them time. Reading is important. To honor this idea I have the teacher time to read the chapter as part of the PLC time. I am honoring the reading with the time. I am hoping some of the teachers do the same in their classes even if it is only 10 minutes of reading time.

I had a sketchnote type exit ticket for teachers to make notes on and use for the discussion with the other staff who chose the same chapter as they did. I collected them and will make copies and then return the notes to them.

Last, the groups shared out some key takeaways to the whole group. I had the youngest person in the group responsible for sharing.

The PLC went smoothly and the group discussions were insightful and on point. I had two teachers come up at the end and say they appreciated the time to read. At first she was irritated that I was making them read but once she started she really was able to absorb the information. Another teacher made connections from a previous presentation on Jensen but said he got more out of it with him having to do the work rather than being “talked at”.

I really would like to connect with some other coaches and how they do their PD with their teachers. Please email me at or make a comment with your contact info below! Sharing some resources and setting up a Twitter chat would be awesome!


Occam’s Razor #SOL18

db4de-slice-of-life_individualOccam’s razor is the theory that the simplest solution is usually the correct one.

“The problem is not to find the answer but to face the answer.”  Thomas McKenna

I was first introduced to this concept about 4 years ago by my husband before he was my husband. He recognized quickly by working with me that I had an overthinking problem. I had never heard of Occam’s Razor before him. Usually, I am the one quoting researchers and concepts that other people aren’t familiar with yet, so he really got my attention.

I knew we were designed to be together when he texted me a link to the article before I even had a chance to Google it. After we had a spirited conversation about the concept it became part of our verbiage. If he saw me spiraling he would simply say, “Occam’s Razor.”

When I make decisions now I try to keep in mind that humans often procrastinate because we overthink. I try to work out all the possible scenarios in my mind so I am prepared no matter what happens.

As I go through my day today I keep reminding myself of Occam’s Razor so I do not over complicate ideas and make my job more difficult.

It’s A Party!

I am joining the party started by A Day In The Life.

Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we share a slice of life every single day in the month of March.

This is the slice that keeps on sharing. Sometime this month when you need a slice, (and yes, you know it WILL happen!) accept this invitation and join the party. The best part is that you can stop by anytime during the month, but here is the catch. You have to bring five items that are listed on the invitation above.

A favorite book:

Hands down it is THE IMMORTALIST by Chloe Benjamin. We would have a silent book party and just read!

A favorite person (living or dead):

Neil Gaiman. I want to hear him talk in his accent about books and reading. I want to hear him tell the story about being patted down before he left the house with his parents for books!

A favorite food or beverage:

I would make my prosciutto wrapped chicken and we would have a nice beverage of choice with it! It is super simple to make but fancy looking. Perfect for guests.

A favorite song:

To get the blood pumping this is the song I will bring:

A surprise:

A nice lined journal and some inkjoy pens for everyone! Then we would do a sketchnotes page on the first one to remind everyone of the great party time!

Thursday Reflection

db4de-slice-of-life_individualYesterday was my Workshop Wednesday day. To be able to have professional development that is needs based for my staff I use team time twice a month. This is the time frame I create the environment to talk professionally or to bring strategies my teachers need.

For the first activity yesterday, I led each team through a trends chart about our last standardized testing window which produced professional discourse about what went well and what didn’t and the next steps to make the 2nd testing window more successful.

For the second section, I had my teams watch a video of a teacher deploying her FAVORITE NO strategy. The task was to answer the question: What do you notice? They had a graphic organizer with two columns to take their observations. One column was ACTION and the other was DIALOGUE.  In this exercise, the teachers always hyperfocus on what the teacher is doing in the video. This is not a bad focus considering we are working on becoming better teachers but I am trying to shift the mindset from the teaching to what the students are actually doing. To accomplish this task, we watch the video again and focus only on the students. They fill out the T chart focusing only on the students which changes the conversation. It is a paradigm shift to think about not only what is being taught but what is being gleaned by the students.

The video I used is My Favorite No which is a technique to pinpoint mistakes in math. I have also used it for grammar and sentence structure by lifting a paragraph from student writing to correct.

The list of takeaways from the discussions was large!

Modeling, students teaching each other, growth mindset, vocabulary, academic feedback, the importance of routines, etc.

I left the school walking on a cloud proud of the insights my teachers came to!

It was one of my favorite days as a coach. I had forgotten how fun Workshop Wednesdays are and how much the teachers look forward to them.