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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Otherwise Never Told

I've been bouncing around this evening reading different slicers reflect on their month of writing. It is always wonderful to read how the challenge positively impacts so many people. The March SOLSC was certainly a life changer for me, and I'm always so happy to hear that it is an experience that replicates for so many others. 
There is something magical about writing every day. On those days when it seems difficult, finding an image or moment to write about always surprises me. They become words I never would have written. A story I'd never have told, yet I've told it. I think that is what I enjoy the most, writing and collecting stories and ideas I never would have otherwise. Writing every day and having the routine of collecting creates a treasure of ideas and is such a reward. 
Thanks again to this wonderful community who has fueled me for so many years and never disappoints. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Ghost Notes

Looking through
a sliver view
of opened window.
Sun touched leaves
embraced by the setting day
jitter outside
through the pixelated screen.
A bud-less branch
tickles and interrupts
the rays with sway.
And I sit
in this ghostly corner
where notes would flutter
up and out a different window
with the same name.
Keys, black and white
emoting a song,
now reduced
to a speaker
across the room.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Hitting Reset

It was a good couple days for a poetry break!

I had these big plans of some final flash drafts before spring break to review a few things from our information writing unit. Then all the disruptions hit. They were all good disruptions, just poor planning on my part.
I realized on Tuesday morning there was no way we were going to be able to carry out the reading and writing plans I had. So, we wrote color poems. I love the classic poetry book, Hailstones and halibut bones, by Mary O'Neill. There are so many examples of figurative language and kids usually get inspired by a color. Using O'Neill's book as a mentor is one of those very approachable yet still open for choices kind of prompts to get them going.
As always, when I do a poetry mini unit (two days this time) I always think, "I must be crazy. There is no way kids will get this. I am teaching way over their heads." Yet, I do it anyway and I am always surprised by their creativity and all that they take away.
Kids were making beautiful comparisons in their writing and even my most reluctant kids on the last day before break were pumped and motivated to make it all the way through the writing process and get a published piece before they left. Kids who don't normally share were running up to me at the close of our workshop to ask if they could read a line. It was a nice way to finish out a short week.
The afternoon came and we had our board game celebration during our math block to celebrate spring break's arrival.
Fist bumps, high fives, and hugs were delivered as kids shuffled out to the buses.
I am so grateful we all get a break. A reset is needed. And, better yet, I have several days planned already for when we get back because nothing I had thought I'd do this week happened! Win! Win!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

80’s Day

For an end of the month celebration, our school decided to have a dance party to celebrate March is Reading month. As a school, we read over 2,300 books and my third graders read well over 100 as a class, which was our goal as a group. In a fun twist, one of my third-grade colleagues offered up the idea of dressing like the 80's for our dance party.

Let's just say, the party started at lunch as a few of us "blasted" (you know as high as our phone would go), some of our fondest song memories from childhood. I REALLY wish I had videotaped my teaching partner's amazing renditions of several of her favorite hair band melodies. It was a sight to be seen and needless to say, I didn't eat much because I was laughing most of the time.
This we a nice change of pace from our usually quiet lunchtime conversations.
Many of my students reminded me of a nine-year-old version of myself today with pink leg warmers, ribbon clips, and side ponytails. When I told them this, they could not believe I would have ever dressed like that ON PURPOSE! 
Fun was had by all!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Cupcake Night!

For the past few years, my "little" girl has been evolving as a baker. She loves baking shows. Her eyes gleam at the thought of unique designs and sprinkles.
For Christmas, she got a special piping bag that supports three colors for a special swirl effect. Tonight was the night to try it out for her special unicorn inspired cupcakes.

She becomes a different kid when she's baking. Patience and glee are her best friends. She doesn't get rattled and instead is confident and excited. I love watching her get creative.

She did most of the work and when all was said and done we had forty cupcakes! Lucky for me she only needs thirty for school tomorrow.
We all agree they are delicious and this nearly eleven-year-old is a baker extraordinaire.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Foot Rubs and Head Scratches

When I was younger and living at home my mom and I would sit on the couch together with our feet outstretched to each other. It was foot rub time! I would often comb and brush my mom's hair, give her shoulder rubs, and we would draw pictures for the other to guess on our backs.

My daughter loves foot rubs or a good back scratch. She will often lay her head in my lap and I will stroke her hair and scratch her head in a sweeping motion. It reminds me of when I would sit in the back seat of the car with my great-grandma on our way somewhere as a kid, and she would stroke my head, tuck my hair behind my ears, and gently rub my forehead. She had such soft skin, it would just glide through my hair. Pure relaxation. I see that relaxed expression on my daughter's face now.

When my mom and I get the chance we will still comb each other's hair and give each other a foot rub. It's like old times and each of us knows just the right spots.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Baby Love

A beautiful day to celebrate.

My daughter and I went to a baby shower today. The sun was shining, and there were many smiles. The location was the same as the lucky parents-to-be wedding day. It’s a beautiful place. 

And of course, what’s a baby shower without games? We played: baby gift bingo, measure the belly, how many goldfish in the fishbowl, and baby supply total. Some of these were new to me, and I really enjoyed them. 
The food was delicious and felt like spring! Salads, croissants, cheese, and crackers made for a light and tasty meal. 

Each of us wrote a little tidbit of advice for the mom to be. Above are our "things to remember."

Then the day ended with a car drive home that knocked out this little cherub of mine. It's been a busy weekend but lots to enjoy.

Saturday, March 24, 2018


Like many people I know, my phone is my alarm. I purposefully have set my alarm sound to be the same as my incoming call sound. At 5 o'clock sharp my began to ring. Somehow I knew it wasn't the alarm. Maybe I was already half awake. Maybe I was expecting the call. Maybe I knew it was Saturday.

"Oh, hi, I wasn't expecting you to be awake."

"Oh, well, I wasn't. What's up?"
"Oh, wow, that was fast."

The conversation continued. It registered very quickly who was on the phone, and I knew I was going to be getting dressed and heading out the door. My daughter went to a sleepover last night. She had been a bit nervous about going. Although I am very familiar with the family, she wasn't. She was ready to come home.
So I threw on my clothes from yesterday, made a quick cup of coffee, brushed my ponytail out, took out the dog since my coffee wasn't done, and headed toward the cold car. Heated seats are truly a gift.
The drive was going to be about 40 minutes in the dark. I wasn't super thrilled and yet I didn't mind. I saw three dead opossums, and a very living raccoon ran in front of me the last ten minutes. No deer, thankfully.
We made a quick exit, said our thank yous, and drove home in mostly silence. Some couch sleeping and snuggling ensued when we got home and all was right in the world again.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Key Turns the Day

Schwit, click

Blurred trees
slow turns
lights looking for deer.
Occasional jumpy leaves

Light creeps
in, grays
blue tints
slice between trees
whispering morning.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Morning Routines

Each morning before school I get up and make the lunches. Sometimes, I'm way ahead and have several items prepped. Lunches take less than ten minutes when this occurs. As much as I love having items prepped, I haven't been doing it lately. So instead I wander out to the kitchen, bitter that I didn't bag, rinse, or spread. My time is easily doubled, and I silently groan about how much I despise making lunches. It's one of those things I feel good about after having done it but before and during I don't like it all that much.
From the lunch counter, I switch to the coffee counter to start brewing my cup. Then it's time to go search for the dog. Out he goes, and some days he just takes his sweet time. Another groan in my head, sometimes audible, in hopes my desperate tone will make him go faster. 
At this point, I get a few minutes on my computer and take the first sips of coffee. I watch the clock. I push it to the limit but finally find my way to the shower after making sure the kids are awake. My shower is usually quick, especially if I've left myself little time for clothes, hair, and makeup. 
Out of the shower, the real mad rush begins. We almost always make it out of the door with lots of time to spare, some days a little more than others, but there is a surge of energy once I'm in the final stages of my morning. All the thoughts of all the things needed and remembered. 
Start the car, get your bag, where's that binder, do I have my good pen, folder in the bag, purse, keys--OH, start the car...the car is running, "Get your shoes on," I need to fill my water, is my next cup of coffee ready to go, what's stuck to the counter, "Okay, gotta go."

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

New Routine

Since March began and slicing season was in full force, my own two children have been more intrigued. They are almost 11 and 13, and this is the first year I feel like they really understand what it is and have noticed a little more about the process.
My daughter has been especially interested. She loves when I come in her room at tuck-in time and read several slices to her. I tend to click randomly, finding some of the later day slicers. I read her my comment and then go on to the next.
It's very different from listening to her read or sharing a book with her. It's little bits of life. I have been able to share so many wonderful stories and pieces of our community with her. I'm so happy she gets to participate in this way, as a listener.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Parable Writer?

I sat down and wrote the draft of a parable today. It was swirling around in my head this morning on the way to school. I don't think I have never written a parable, that I can remember. 
I often think of things in terms of comparisons and I was rehearsing a conversation in my head that I was going to have later in the day. I kept making different comparisons to try and figure out the best way to articulate my point without offending the person on the other side of the table, without putting them in defensive mode. 
As I rehearsed the conversation it started to turn into a story. I started telling the person a story to help her see my point. Mind you, this is all going on in my head, not really happening. The whole thing started to roll around in there and I realized I was writing a parable. It was quite possibly the most bizarre creation of a story I have ever had. 
I kept thinking about the story all day. Rewriting, changing the point of view, from second to third, then back to second. 
I got home and told my husband the story and then I typed it all out. It ended up different than the many tellings in my head but close. It's in the third person since that seemed more authentically parable-like. Again, I'm not a parable writing master. I will say, the idea is a keeper, but the draft definitely needs some work. 

Monday, March 19, 2018


You know how sometimes people will describe a conversation and end it with, "and there were crickets." Meaning, no one responded or no one had anything to offer. In essence, we use the word crickets as a synonym for silence. Maybe because crickets are like a background noise, when present, and if no one says anything, all you can hear are the songs of the crickets.

Then there are the crickets in my son's room. I don't know where these guys came from but they are full of conversation. I can barely talk to my son in his room when it's dark because it sounds like I'm in a field in the middle of July and I'm surrounded by the echoing and disorienting scream of a choir of crickets. There are literally about 40 of them, and apparently, they have a lot to say. I think this is going to significantly hinder my ability to sleep tonight. I kind of wish I could say something profound to shut them up.

Sunday, March 18, 2018


When I was little I grew up about two miles from an army base. We had helicopters flying over our house on a regular basis. In the center of town was the library and next to it sat a huge tank. Kids would climb on it and jump off. It felt so risky and exciting.

My children were reminded of a tank memory the other day as we were driving to a nearby town. We passed a random tank on the side of the road, it looked to be an old memorial, maybe recently moved to the area.

"Hey mom, remember the first time we saw that tank going down the road?" Janie asked me.

Beating me to respond, Elliot said, "Yeah, remember that? We were like, 'Oh my gosh, a tank' and you were like, 'big deal."

"Ha, yes I remember." I glanced over at my husband, who also grew up in the same town.

"Wait, you guys saw a tank driving down the road?" He was so bewildered. "We never saw tanks driving around!"

"NO, not driving. It was on a big trailer. There were a bunch of them going down the road one day. I hadn't realized they'd never seen a tank before. Well, out in the wild!"

This little exchange was a reminder of how our childhood has been so different from our own children. Also a reminder that it isn't getting any more similar either.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Each year on the seventeenth day of March I write a little slice about my grandmother. March 17 is the anniversary of her death in 1990. It was so long ago and yet when the day comes it feels closer. We are currently piano shopping and a wonderful store is in the same town as the cemetery where she is buried. She is joined there by her father and mother, my great-grandparents.

We had been talking about visiting the piano store on this particular weekend for a couple of weeks and I had not put two and two together until I woke up this morning.

"Hey, we should visit the cemetery today."

We all got into the car early this morning and made the drive. We tapped on and listened to several pianos all of which made me a bit teary, I miss my piano. Then we piled back in the car to make the short drive two miles down the road to the cemetery.

"Do you remember where it is?" Shawn asked as we got closer.
"Yes, it's been a while but we just need to stay to the left unless things have changed."

I was picturing the turns in the drive that mazed around the cemetery. I could see where the water spigots were in my mind because I often filled milk jugs when we would water the flowers. I wondered as I imagined. The dirt path, was it a road now, or still just dirt? As we pulled in it looked the same yet aged from greening moss. We slowly made our way to the back.

"Here, stop near the middle of this section, it's right up on that hill."

We got out and walked up to the three flat stones with urns on each side. The headstone nearby had somewhat recent flowers left behind. A neighbor from my mother's childhood who died too young. I talked to my kids about who we were visiting, when they died, what we did together when I was a child.

It was nice to visit and even nicer to visit today.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Basket Weavers

Last night was a night full of conversation and laughs. As we talked, we began to share memories about the restaurant we were dining in and I revealed that I had not been since childhood. It spilled into conversations about the town, a town not far from where I live now. A town I visited every summer of my earliest childhood memories.

*      *        *         *         *          

When I was a child we visited small and large towns each weekend in the summer. My parents were both teachers and we had a happy living on teacher salaries supplemented by my parents business in the summer. Country Creations was my parents business. They made baskets and cradles to sell at craft shows throughout the summer months. This family business pulled us on the side of the road to pick up walnuts that had fallen on the ground later to be made into dye for the reed. It meant summer weekdays were spent filling pots with warm water and soaking the reed for my parents to later weave together. It meant watching my mother's hands "braid" together pieces of wood, bending them into shapes. The snapping of wooden strips on the counter was a common sound. The smells of boiling walnuts brewed into dye is a memory burned into my brain. Loops of reed hung in all sizes on nails from the floor joists on the basement ceiling. I'll never forget the time both of my parents were in the basement (their usual workspace) and I answered the phone:

"Hi, are your parents home?"
"Yes, they are 'dying' in the basement."

My mother's footsteps up from the basement upon hearing my response to quickly explain they were in the process of dying reed.
I have many basket weaving memories. I loved going to "shows." My sister and I in the back seat of our cavalier covered in baskets with little room to move and if it was a good show, we had all the room we needed on the way home. The weekends where rain poured down and we had to cover everything in plastic and few came to buy. The orders. The awe of my parents' craft. The passion and dedication they showed for their art. These memories are far away now in time but permanently present in my mind.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Evening Smiles

Tonight I got to...

Listen to stories
Eat yummy food
Have real conversation
and then laugh some more

One of my greatest influences as an educator was in town this week. When I first met Geri I was struck by the way she spoke to teachers and to children. There was a spirit that is rarely found in human beings and she had it. I decided then and there I wanted to do everything I could to create environments around myself where I would never stop growing. Watching a passionate educator decades past me in her career still walk with the passion of a learner helped me realize I would never be able to stop if I wanted my flame to stay lit. It started with a meeting and my then curriculum director brought her to us. I thank him for seeing something that we needed and being an agent of change. It continued as relationships grew and connections were made. Tonight I got to listen, laugh, and learn and my gratitude is overflowing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Conference Week

It's been a pretty busy couple of weeks. Report cards and insurance claim work was last week. This week I've been focused on conference prep and meetings with parents. Conferences are always so tiring. Being ON all day with students and then remaining ON for parents is draining. I don't need to tell any other teacher about the work involved or the energy. We all know what conference week means. My friend Robin, over at Teaching Tomorrow's Leaders, put it perfectly the other day referencing the dirty dishes that pile, and extra coffee. 
I have witnessed both occur as the week unfolded. Dishes sat, meals were quick, and coffees were extra large. Shoulders are achy, my back is stiff, and my eyelids are much heavier. The weekend will be a welcomed getaway of sleep-ins, coffee sips (not gulps), and leisurely meals. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Should of Started Sooner

My class this year isn't full of a lot of "interrupters." I have had groups in the past who blurted out, made noises, and had little control over questions or concerns they had even if I was clearly unavailable and working with a student or group. It's been a nice group of kids and I didn't really feel I needed too many tools for kids to stay out of the way as far as conferring.

Until two weeks ago.

Suddenly kids were standing near me, or coming over in the middle of a small group and talking to me. I ignored and then acknowledged when I was ready. We talked. We problem solved. It didn't work.

I always keep a little set of sticky notes or notecards on my desk for kids to write me notes. For instance, "I had a problem at recess," or "I need to talk to you." I realized today I needed a public notebook for the little things like, "My book is in my locker," or "Are we using the Chromebooks in math today?" Questions they feel like they need answered right then, but actually, don't. I think there was some relief when I said, just write down you are going to your locker and go! Just let me know you are wondering what math tools we'll use today. It worked like a charm. They just needed to be heard and reassured that I trust them and I want to help when I can.

Monday, March 12, 2018


I read the other day that someone was in a dinner rut. I realized we are in a bit of rut here as well and it prompted me to click on the Taste of Home Most Shared Recipes link, and the Twelve Tomatoes website to try and get some inspiration. I printed so many recipes. I think I was hungry at the time and it's actually very unlikely that I'm going to deviate much from my current situation. It's sort of like going to the grocery store without a list when you are hungry. Many things can end up in your cart if you are not careful. For me, it would be chex mix, mixed nuts, or sweet and salty mix snacks. 
What do you throw in the cart when you're hungry?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

And the Beat Goes On

I spent most of my day looking at numbers, abbreviations, totals, and contents. As I did this, I came across a receipt. I didn't realize at first the receipt I was looking at and then I was taken back to the moment.

My hands were on the cart. I was void of any emotion other than bewilderment. I stood and stared at shirts, pajamas, socks, and pants. I looked at the shoes, on my feet, now blackened but wearable. Would I buy shoes today? No, I needed socks more than I needed shoes.

I started randomly grabbing items. Toothbrushes, four, into the cart. Pens, paper, and a folder, into the cart. Shirts, two packs of socks, and a long sleeve shirt since the one I had on wasn't even my own but belonged to my neighbor.

Circling the aisles I'd forget what I was doing there, overwhelmed by feeling like I had nothing, needed everything, yet wanted nothing. It's what you do in moments when you don't know what to do. It's what you do when you don't know what might happen in the next five minutes, hours, or days.

And now today, I sat at my newer table, with my newer mug, with my newer computer and entered numbers into spreadsheets. I can't be filled with anything but gratitude now, but I still remember.

Saturday, March 10, 2018


I have done little else today that did not involve staring at my computer screen. If I wasn't working on slice of life and TWT co-author responsibilities, I was typing in items on our insurance claim form and reviewing all the items I put on before. I was staring at receipt after receipt writing the line items next to the items we've re-purchased.

You might remember if you were a slicer last year and read any of my posts, that all my March SOLSC slices revolved around things that were no longer mine. We lost our home to a fire in November of 2016 and our claim is coming to an end in a few weeks. We are trying to get all our T's crossed, and I's dotted. We have let a lot wait until this point, and now we are pretty much out of time. To say it's an added amount of stress would be an understatement.

I think when it is all done I will feel a whole lot lighter. All last year while we were planning and building our new home I remember thinking we would never reach this point. This will really be the end of a long and very drawn out process. We moved into our new home a few weeks into September 2017, and I remember a few days after we moved in I realized how much better I felt. It was like I could breathe a little easier. I remember thinking, now if we can just get through all this paperwork and the claim process we will be passed this entire ordeal. And, now we are there.

I really hope the air around me gets thinner and easier to take in because right now I feel like I might be surrounded by thick fog that won't let up.

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Night of Music




Hold breath

My son had his seventh-grade band festival this evening. It was the first time he participated in a band festival. He was VERY excited. The band sounded great and was rewarded with a Straight I rating!
It was great to listen to them play their prepared music but I really enjoyed watching them during the sight reading portion. The students were handed envelopes with the music and distributed it through the rows. They had five minutes to work the song together starting with about 30 seconds to a minute of talking among each other and pointing out key signatures, key changes, and time changes through the piece. Then the group sang portions of the song. To watch the group work together and sing followed by playing the song so well was impressive and fun to watch.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Giddy Book Love

A few weeks ago I ordered a large number of books from Scholastic. I had a whole bunch of points that I had been saving. I ordered a variety of information texts, picture book biographies, some series books that had peeked the interest of a few different students in my room, a couple of books related to baseball and football, as well as some other popular or new release chapter books.

My formal observation was scheduled and the week was planned. This was a couple weeks ago, and I had forgotten to check the arrival date of the books. The day of my observation came, and I walked into the teacher's lounge to check for any mail. There on the table was a big beautiful box! It was all my new books. I thought, "Maybe I should leave it here. I can't bring that in the room. I will get totally distracted, and everything will get thrown off. Wait...who am I kidding. I'm not leaving these books in here. He can come in for my observation, and we can be drooling over the new books."

I brought the box, which by the way was a challenge, all the way back to my room. I had left my room earlier and turned off the lights, so it was dimly lit by my lamps. It felt like perfect mood lighting for my book reveals. While my students were in music, I started displaying all the titles on the bookcase and front table. I was giddy. I fanned out the books that were in multiple sets and balanced the series books on their spines so all the titles could be seen. It was quite beautiful.

I started to walk toward the music room to get my class and saw my principal.
"See you at 10:30," he said.
"Yeah, just a heads up, a great big box of books came, and I decided to deviate from the plans I sent you. We really need to look at the books. I know it will get them excited."

*          *          *          *          *
When we debriefed after my observation, I wondered if he would mention the fact that a good 20 minutes of my reading block was spent not "instructing." I wasn't holding formal small groups, or conferring sessions, but a lot was happening. I wasn't all that surprised when he told me how much he appreciated the fact that I let my passion for reading and readers make the decision instead of waiting because I had an observation.
I'm glad I didn't second guess my decision to go with it and crack open the box. I did hesitate for a moment, but I knew the right move for kids was to open up all those new and shiny, beautiful books.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Turn if Off

You know that student. The one who struggles academically knows things don't come easily but tries to save face. Circling answers and drawing random geometric shapes to just get it done. Grabs the biggest book and stares at its pages.

Anything to look like his peers.

I wish I could show him what I see. A student who loves to draw. A kid who has a sincere desire to learn. A boy who wants to find his way.

Instead, he raged. Instead, he yelled. Instead, he punched the desk and became red-faced. My hands on his shoulders I said, "I want to hear you. I see you." He relaxes. He laughs it off fighting his anger.

Anything to look like his peers.

I walk him to lunch. He tries to chat. He tries to gear himself up for a break, but he can't break his anger. I want so much for him, and all he can hear is the self-defeating dialogue that runs in his head non-stop. I say, "I'm right here, and I can stay." He yells, "No one hears me, no one cares."


He breathes. Fighting tears. Fighting stares. Fighting.

I wish he could see all that I see. All the unique parts that make him who he is.

Maybe someday.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A Lost Glove

6:30 a.m. "Keep me posted on how things go at the appointment, love you."

6:40 a.m. Drive to work

7:30 a.m. Arrive at work

8:35 a.m. My students arrive

8:46 a.m. Phone rings:

"Hey, what's up?"
"Do you want to hang out with me for the day?"
"Huh, I hadn't planned on it" I legitimately thought he was joking with me.
"Well, I'd like you to come. They are sending me to the ER by ambulance. They won't let me drive. There was a problem on the EKG."
"Give me 15 minutes, and I'll be on my way."

8:59 a.m. Get in the car and drive.
I forgot my water on my lectern. My mouth is dry, and my stomach feels like it might turn inside out. I really wish I could sip on some water, but I don't have time to stop. I just have to get there. 
9:55 a.m. Park the car

10:00 a.m. "Hi, who are you here to see?"
"My husband was just brought in by ambulance..."
"Okay, yes. Room 25. Go straight down this hallway to the end, turn left and it's on your right side."
I am so aware of my inability to focus that I am hyper-focused and I hear every direction, every sound, every conversation around me. Beeps echo like a slow-motion scene in a movie, and I stride with long steps to the end of the hall.

Time speeds up.
"Here, let me get you a chair."
Almost immediately I am told the EKG in the ER is fine. Bloodwork has already been done.



"Hi, are you Shawn? Can you tell me your birthdate? I'm taking you for X-rays."

Loud bangs and jerks, the untangling of wires. We wave with little-unsettled grins, and he disappears down the hall.

On the floor is a single blue glove. Just there. Wasted. Hidden, now revealed.
I stare at it for a moment. 

More time passes. All results are good. Atypical symptoms. Stress test ordered for later. 
Like a wasted glove, I feel a bit lost. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Click, Click, Click

Last night I was reading and commenting on slices while sitting in bed. It was late and my fingers were flying around on the keyboard as usual. My husband was next to me reading and I hadn't even noticed that he had begun staring at my hands.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the look on his face. I kept going. Then I noticed it again. I stopped.

"Is everything okay?" I asked with probably a pinched up look on my face-I was tired at this point so cut me some slack.
"Your hands are Like, how are you even doing that?" His bewildered tone was humorous.

My husband and I grew up in the same town, went to the same school, and occasionally had classes together. In our high school, there was a typing class on super cool typewriters. Computers were few and far between at that time in the 90's, and word processors were probably still too expensive (but I seem to remember there might have been a few if you got lucky).

So my response to his question was, "I had typing in high school! So did you, don't you remember? We had a great typing teacher."
Then he says, "Um, that was an elective, I never took typing."
Insert my gasp in response to this revelation!
"WHAT? Why didn't you take typing? It was a great class, and I'm pretty sure my parents told me it was required, which now that I think about it might have just been their requirement, which by the way I am extremely thankful if it was because clearly, it paid off!" Insert breath, because that was a lot to say in one inhale.

To which launched a full-on discussion of all the classes we took in high school, electives, and memories. It was a fun conversation. It's fun being married to someone you have a lot of history with but that you didn't necessarily make all that history with. We were friends pretty much all through high school but didn't actually begin dating until the last month or two of my senior year, and he was already in college at that point. We have so many connections to different people and experiences. It's always fun and interesting to compare notes.

As far as typing, he needs more practice.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Honk from Behind

I began teaching in 2001 in an inner-city school. It wasn't until 2003 that we moved and I was hired to teach in a more rural district. I was realizing today that in my sixteen plus years as a teacher I have worked with four different superintendents and five principals. This is probably typical, and honestly, I think my husband has me beat. 

My current superintendent is in his second year within our district. I haven't been able to engage in many one-on-one conversations with him but what I will say is I have seen many interactions between him and students. It can be difficult to feel like you and a colleague or your leadership are on the same page, share the same beliefs about learning, unpack information in the same interpretive ways, or trust each other the way you should. It takes really knowing someone, and that can be difficult in a school setting if you are always under your own pile of "things to do." What I do know is actions, as many of us would believe, often offer more insight than an inspiring word or the latest jargon. Our superintendent, since he began, is present in our building multiple times each week. One of his most frequent reasons to visit is to stand in our parking lot as cars pull up to drop off kids. He opens doors, shakes hands, closes trunks, puts backpacks on kids, picks up dropped mittens, and most of all he smiles. He waves at the school buses, engages in chit-chat with the parents before they drive off, and is purposeful in all of these actions. 
On Friday, I received an all-staff email that included the following:

Opening car doors at FPE in the mornings, I have started noticing flocks of geese returning to their summer home. Here are some thoughts about what we can learn from geese: 
As each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in V formation the whole flock adds about 71% greater flying range that if each bird flew on his own.People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of another.When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels a drag and resistance of trying to go it alone…and quickly…gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.If we have as much sense as a goose we will stay in formation with those who are headed in the same way we are.When the Head Goose gets tired it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs…with people or with geese flying south.Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.What do we say when we honk from behind?Finally, and this is important, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshots, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies, and only then do they launch out, on their own, or with another formation, to catch up with their group.If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand together like that.

I responded with appreciation and requested to share it. He explained that not all the connections originated with him, but he had used it some thirty years ago.

Making comparisons is kind of how I wrap my head around understandings. I am always comparing ideas to something that might seem more tangible when talking to kids. As I read this and have been thinking about it, the one that resonates the most with me is geese honk from behind to share encouragement. Teachers, leaders, and educators everywhere are in need of encouragement. Intentionally noticing the niches of our colleagues and encouraging them to go farther is so important. Being passionate and excited as a teacher is what gets me through tough days. I am able to roll on my own momentum a bit. It's even better when I feel encouraged.

Knowing this bit of information will give me a smile the next time I see a v-formation and hear the honking. I might give my own little silent cheer to the lead goose.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Bits and Pieces

I've been on my computer multiple times today for multiple reasons. Every time I sat down to start a new task, I would say, "I should probably get my slice done and then work on x, y, or z." I would start, and then I would stop and work on the other task.

It began with a story about the new graphic novel Anne of Green Gables and how I loved watching those PBS specials as a kid. Now the story is written in a graphic novel format, and my daughter loves it.

Time passed, and I sat down again. This time I was listening to my son practice his cornet. As I was listening, I thought I would write about how much he has grown this year. I don't just mean in inches but in other areas too. His sound on that cornet is getting so good I can almost hear his pride with each note.

Late this afternoon I had to run out to the hardware store to return a garage door opener. As I drove there and back, a pretty short trip, I thought about writing a poem describing the maze-like dodging that takes place on Michigan roads right now. Some of the potholes on side streets around here are just downright dangerous. The lines whipped around in my head but never made it to a page or post.

This evening I talked with my sister on the phone. We were catching up and talking about lots of different topics, some of which cycled around world events. She talked about tackling her own causes to make the world a better place.

So many stories. Tomorrow I may write about geese in v-formation. I'm hoping to see some. That story was circling in my head today too but for different reasons. Until then these little bits and pieces will do just fine.

Friday, March 2, 2018


It's March and we started our annual March is Reading Month activities yesterday. I personally love many of the extras we do during the month of March. I feel like it gives us all (our students and ourselves) a burst at the end of a dull period. Sometimes the extras feel stressful but then I remind myself that deviations are good and sometimes taking yourself out of focus helps you re-focus with more clarity.  

One of the activities we typically do as a staff is decorate our door. We might choose a favorite book or some kind of reading-related topic and go crazy with crafts for an afternoon. Door decorating was taken off the menu of "extras" this year but some teachers in our building are continuing the tradition. A first-grade classroom down the hall from me is all decked out in orange, puffy trees, and Lorax like characteristics--a popular Dr. Seuss story.

When my kids were young, I didn't read a lot of Dr. Seuss books. They are classic but they were not my favorite picture books to read. When my son, now a seventh grader, was in first grade, his teacher was a Dr. Seuss fanatic. Her entire classroom was steeped in Dr. Seuss colors, characters, and themes from familiar stories. It was the year he was in first grade that the movie The Lorax first hit theatres and I remember him being excited. I remember going with him and feeling a sense of hope at the end of the film.

Last night I went to a movie screening put on by local organizations working to inform the community through education and support for teachers where I live. The movie Resilience, a documentary about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) was available for educators and I decided to go watch as a mom and a teacher. It was one of those movies that hits you with science and hard to ignore cold facts that we would tend to repress and pretend don't exist. I knew this going in but I couldn't help feeling like my school community would butt the facts and respond with "what can we do?"

After the movie, the nearly packed theatre of teachers, community members, and those in healthcare had an open discussion about the film. There were bits of defeatest tone but for the most part many wanted to do something, they want to take what they know and somehow create actionary steps that help the children and their families who are suffering. One teacher stood up and said in so many words, "I won't be a worse teacher for having seen this. I might not know what I can do tomorrow, but maybe I can just be more effective for knowing." It gave me some hope. It reminded me of sitting in the theatre many years ago watching The Lorax with my wide-eyed six-year-old son as I watched and thought about the message of caring and doing.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. ~Dr Seuss, The Lorax

Thursday, March 1, 2018

My Baker

It is the end of a long day. A long day with very few problems, which is quite wonderful.

I didn't get home until around seven this evening. After a quick phone call to my mom, a hair tie, and a drink of water I'm finally sitting. My daughter and I love to watch baking shows. So I am sitting on my couch watching Kids Baking Championship on Hulu.

If I'm being honest, I am not the best baker. I enjoy eating baked things. I enjoy having baked--because I enjoy eating baked things. However, measuring ingredients, eh...not my cup of tea. I'd rather mix up something delicious with a little whimsy and the plan can be the inspiration, not the rule. My daughter, however, LOVES to bake. She is a baker extraordinaire. Since she became old enough to do several steps on her own I love letting her loose on cupcakes, muffins, and cookies. Her creativity pours out when she gets going with frosting and sprinkles. I pride myself on being her professional taster.

At the end of this long and lovely month of writing, I will likely share a picture or two of my little baker. Her birthday is at the end of the month and she loves to make a treat for school. I'm never sure what she'll come up with and there are lots of indecisive ideas along the way until she lands on one. We'll see if this show ends up inspiring some baking experiences in the future!