"Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it, because action has magic, grace, and power in it." Goethe


The Reality of a Teacher’s Life: One List

Sometimes I just make a list about a day. Who knows why…

Last 24 hours:

two iPads stolen from kindergarten teacher’s desk during dismissal

$51.05 brought to school by second grader as bribe money to stay out of trouble with teacher

Colleague had to wake a woman at stoplight on way to work…the lady was asleep at an intersection. At the wheel.

I mistakenly congratulated a student on her expectant mother. Her mother is remarrying, not delivering. Sigh.

Two fourth graders (not mine this time)
assigned to alternative setting for blatant disrespect.

State assessment scores came in from last spring’s testing…parents need to call their state legislators. Enough said.

Practice tests for tomorrow’s benchmark assessments delivered out of format.

Parent obnoxious to administrator who was insisting on child’s safety.

Different parent was obnoxious to different administrator because her child doesn’t know how to behave.

New teacher wants to know why kids aren’t on grade level.

A day in a life…really, only a few hours of a life. These are just the highlights.

Or lowlights, as the case may be.


Tomorrow is on the horizon.

We must laugh when we can, and we must change what we can.

And dig our heels in deeper. We are needed here.

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Teaching Tip: Timed Writings

Daily writing. We all know it matters.

We know our own writing improves the more we write, the more we give ourselves time and structure.

So, why is it so difficult to write daily in some classrooms?

I think about this often as a teacher of writers and as a writer myself. I must write daily or I feel lost.

I know this isn’t the case for every teacher.

Some other subject or activity often takes the place of any “free” time that was designated to write. After all…it’s only writing. Sigh.

If you are looking for a sure fire way to improve your writing instruction, pay attention.

Buy a timer. Use it. Daily.

Set it for 15 minutes and write.

Write with your students. Write uninterrupted.

This builds fluency. It builds stamina.

This builds self confidence.

Timed writings give students a sense of power.

Try it. It works.

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It’s been a theme since I began this blog.

More and more I see the power we have in each other’s lives.

A simple word in greeting. A sincere
compliment. A shared joke. An expression of gratitude. A smile.

Never underestimate the part you play here.

Pay attention to how you feel when receiving the smallest taste of hope from someone.

And how you feel when you give the same to someone else.

We are here for so brief a moment.


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Sunday’s Song: Six Word Memoir

I’m in the process of exploring and adjusting, so I’m going to go with an idea that is not new, and not mine, but one I was reminded of recently in two instances: one, at a convention where we practiced writing a few six word memoirs; the other, a comment from a reader to write a “Sunday Six.”
So, here’s mine for today:

Put the list away, just play.

That pretty much sums up my day. I would love to read your six word summaries…any time.
Have a great week.

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Friday’s Five

Well. Friday is here and not one moment too soon. Counting this evening at home as a big reason for gratefulness. What would I do without a couple of days to reenergize?

My other four reasons to smile this week:

…a surprise piece of art from a colleague’s second grader–he drew crosses on a hillside with people and a sunrise, and copied Romans 8:37 for me. I take this as a good sign.
Isn’t it interesting how surprises are delightful on so many levels? His mom and I don’t understand what precipitated this message, but I’m listening.

…time laughing with a great team of coworkers. We are all at different stages of life and experience, yet we mesh. It’s nice to be able to be real.

…a call from the director of a regional service center. I may be presenting some workshops there. Sounds good to this writing teacher!

…a request for a peacock scarf. Can I do that? Why yes, darlin’, I surely can.

Oh, there are so many more than five good things this week. It will always be so, because I know how to look. Don’t you?
Happy weekend, sweet readers.