From my chair, at my desk at 6:00 a.m. (A Slice of Life)

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

From my chair, at my desk at 6:00 a.m.

From my chair, at my desk at 6:00 a.m., I see
coffee, almost done
water bottle, waiting
a stack of books
a stack of bills
so many post-it notes
flair pens in
and out of their organizer
paper clips
a new pack of Sharpies
a mini typewriter pencil sharpener
a glasses cleaner cloth
notes my 9-year old left himself with
lego and pokemon passwords
notes I left myself:
“Reflect”
“Pen on the page”
“Stop Googling”

From my chair, at my desk at 6:00 a.m., I see
my floor,
(even though I try not to look)
bags packed for school
the dog’s tiger toy
the tiger’s stuffing in bits all over
the dog’s giant rope, frayed
a bin of printer paper
a stack of books
an extra bag

From my chair, at my desk at 6:00 a.m., I see
the dark hallway
the vacuum around the corner
the lit kitchen
where I know the empty lunchboxes wait
and maybe another drop of coffee

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Are you allowed to slice twice? A Slice of Apple

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

My backpack is torn, well-used, broken-in. I should buy a new one, but this one still works, so why spend the money?

“Clean out backpack” was on my list to do this morning, and since I’ve been working all summer I didn’t think it would be a big deal. I’ve been using my backpack a lot. I feel like I just cleaned it out a month ago.

That must have been when I put an apple in there for a mid-PD snack.

That apple died in my backpack. It was a terrible death, as evidenced by the disgusting paper towel I pulled from the bottom.

“I guess I can throw my bag in the wash tonight.” I comforted myself.

And then I pulled out my Coaching Institute notebook. The notebook that I use all the time. The notes help me frame so many things in my work: Purpose, inspiration,  feedback, balanced literacy, coaching in… The TCRWP Coaching Institute was the best Professional Development I’ve ever had!

My notes are mostly gone now – soaked away by dying apple juice.

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This better not be an indication of how my coaching year will go.

This better just be an indication that I need to buy a new backpack. And maybe a lunchbox. And maybe it’s time to go back to Teacher’s College for another Institute.

A Slice of Coaching: Year 3 Begins

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

In-service starts today.

I miss my classroom.

Facebook memories kept popping up all August, and even though so many memories are of times when I wrote about how tiring and stressful it is to set up a classroom, they still make me miss it.

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I miss organizing my library, touching every book.

I miss putting up bulletin boards, even though it usually means calling for a tall teacher friend to help.

I miss walking over to the teacher next door and helping them with their desk set-up, moving combinations until it’s just right.

I miss the multiple runs to Target to buy more adhesive label pockets.

I miss putting all the new school supplies in the cabinet.

Post-its. I miss gathering all of my post-its into the big bin and pulling some out to stay at my desk.

Sharpies. I miss those new packs of sharpies.

My mom sometimes makes fun of me, “You became a teacher for the supply closet!” she says.

And, I do like the supply closet. I like fresh back-to-school pencils and notebooks. I like perforating and laminating and cutting. (It’s not why I’m a teacher, but it is part of the job — a part I often enjoy)

I like classroom set-up because it’s fun and satisfying work and because it’s part of the rhythm of anticipating the real joy of the classroom: The students. Every label I make, every book I shelve, is part of the ritual. I know that soon the students will be choosing books from those labeled shelves, adding work to those bulletin boards, needing a sharpie, and jotting thoughts on those post-its.

Last week, a few teachers let me help them in their rooms.  I printed out some vinyl letters for them, helped them with a few odds and ends, perforated some math manipulatives, that sort of thing: Preparation!

I took a set of math manipulatives home with me to break apart. As I sat, doing the satisfying work, listening to the clicking of the pieces, I wondered, “Why is this so great? What is wrong with me that I am so happy to be sitting here clicking these pieces apart? Too bad there aren’t more new teachers who need me to do this job!”

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What’s so great? It’s no small thing to be trusted to put up a bulletin board, to take supplies home to organize. It’s no small thing to lay a hand in preparing for students.

I miss preparing things for my own classes of students,  printing out my class lists, and running my hand down the page — wondering who my amazing children will be!

As an Instructional Coach,  I don’t get my very own class of kids. I do get to share our kids though, and I can’t wait to see those kids fill the hallways next week. It’s year 3 for me in this role,  which means I’ve had the chance to get to know our children for 2 years. There’s something about watching familiar faces enter their new classrooms. There’s something about watching the new kindergarteners come in and find their teachers.

This week at in-service, I won’t be printing out my class list, but I will be reconnecting with my teachers. Maybe someone will have some math manipulatives for me to click apart, a box to unpack, library books to put on a shelf, class lists to print out. A coach can only dream…

Maybe I’ll print out a list of the amazing teachers I get to work with — the ones I’ve worked with deeply, the ones I am looking forward to working with more, and the ones I will meet today.

 

A Comic Slice: Mommy Starts School

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

Well, it made me a little late… but I was once again inspired by Beth Moore‘s comic slices… and since I just came back from TCRWP’s Graphic Novel Institute, I had to take that inspiration and give it a try. 

Hareem Atif Khan, one of the amazing teachers at the institute said this wonderful thing about me, that nobody has ever said before… that I make my own process visible as a public learner, that I take risks. Screen Shot 2019-05-08 at 12.39.42 AM.png

I don’t know if her compliments are true, but I’m going to try to make them true. (Thanks, Austin Kleon for these words!)

So, I’m making my first comic slice visible.

Listen, it’s not great. It’s not really even good! But, it’s ok.  My desk is full of eraser clumps. My hands have pencil rubbings all over them. There are a million things I’d revise if it weren’t 12:37 a.m.

One day, maybe I’ll post a comic without a preface. Today is not that day. The first steps out of your comfort zone are weird, right?

Here’s my first Comic Slice: Mommy Starts School. 

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A slice of One of Those Days

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

It's one of those days
That kind of a day

Somehow 
you don't have too much homework
you don't have to drive people too many places
Somehow
you let yourself plan
sitting on the porch, listening to the rain, reading
(This is where you are 
allowed to laugh at me) 

It's one of those days
That kind of a day

Home from work
you find
2 kids making vegan chocolate eggs, cadbury style 
the counter is a chocolate-smelling disaster
so you pause 
and just smile

It's one of those days
That kind of day

Finnegan cries, he wants to go out
He sniffs for a minute but then he wants in
He's a lab mix who is scared of the rain
so he whines to go in
He whines 
to 
go
in

It's one of those days
That kind of day

Sitting on the porch, 
2 plates of vegan chocolate are served
You need to try each kind, so you can vote 
Which looks better?
Which tastes better?
Which chocolate ratio is best?
Which has the best texture?

It's one of those days
That kind of day

One child didn't want to make chocolate eggs
but chocolate chip muffins
and now the chocolate chips are gone
"I'm late" 
"I'm late to make muffins!" He says
and your heart breaks to hear that someone is
late
to 
make
muffins

It's one of those days
That kind of day

You remake chocolate chips
with leftover melted chocolate chips
spreading chocolate on the 
one small piece 
of parchment paper left
hoping it is 3/4 cup
and adding a chopped up vegan chocolate bunny 
to round it out

It's one of those days
That kind of a day

After the lame dinner
of pizza toast and salad
you are served another treat
the chocolate chip muffins are done! 
A+ muffins
Enough treats for days
Enough dishes for days too
(No sugar tomorrow!)

It's one of those days
That kind of a day

Your mini-baker adds the recipe
to the new family recipe book
and you watch him add 
notes 
highlights
and your heart melts more than that chocolate
to see his third-grade writing
that will one day maybe be read by his third-grade kid

It's one of those days
That kind of a day


 

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A slice of 2 PSSA pantoums of course!

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

I saw this “Anatomy of a Pantoum” on instagram today, posted by @beabetterwriter. So, I did some more reading about the form. I guess it used to be a rhyming poem, and now not so much. So I thought I’d try both kinds… no rhyme, and a rhyme…. Because it’s April, and it was the first day of the PSSAs, the first time any of my own children have taken the test. I’m fairly sure I’m not doing this totally correctly… but hey! I’m trying! 

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I don't think it's good for kids
a pantoum without rhyme 

One might be doing it to fit in
One might be doing it for the bubble gum
I'm not sure why I didn't just opt them out
But my kids took their first PSSA today

One might be doing it for the bubble gum
That's what motivates some through
But my kids took their first PSSA today
And by all accounts, it's fine

That's what motivates some through
For 4 more days they'll test 
And by all accounts, it's fine
I don't think it's good for kids 

For 4 more days they'll test
I'm not sure why I didn't just opt them out
I don't think it's good for kids 
One might be doing it to fit in


Cop out on the Opt Out
a pantoum with rhyme 

"I hope I get my teacher a good score"
You knew then you had copped out 
Because this was the very first time your
PSSA-hating self hadn't signed the opt out. 

You knew then you had copped out. 
Pressured from some unseen place, 
Tired of the invisible testing walkout
You can't beat it, so I guess you just embraced? 

Pressured from some unseen place
Your kids are annoyed with this task
Thinking the rules are stupid in this case
"Why no watches or snacks?" They ask.

Your kids are annoyed with this task
You knew then you had copped out 
You put on your happy mom mask:
"You can do it! I have no doubt." 



A Slice of A Saturday in your early 40s

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers


A Saturday in your early 40s. 
before these
there were stories
of Saturdays in your early 30s
with all your baby, toddler, preschool worries

Now you have older kids
and a Migraine
you just wake with it -
must be the pressure - barometric 
finally give in take some excedrin 
and then you live again 

Barnes & Noble
buying books time
but you also buy slime, 
expensive chocolate mousse and a blondie at snack time
and, admit it, a coconut milk vanilla latte - that's sublime

Overhear: 
someone asking about Wishtree - 
"Is that in the Magic treehouse series?" (Nope)
What is it about that desperate need 
to tell a stranger that the book in their hand
is one they should read?

Rush home so you can take the almost 16-ager
secondhand clothes shopping 
where you hold her t-shirts and jeans,
calmly trying to explain: 
"Yes, the line is long but even if they are only $16, you should definitely try them on."

These are some of the stories
of a Saturday in your early forties

It’s just a moment

 

The boy is maybe 2
he reaches for his dad’s hand
(I assume it’s his dad
but that’s not the point)

He’s maybe 2
they’re on a walk
and he reaches for his dad’s hand
it’s just a moment

I drive by
back from a quick dinner drop off
because my kids aren’t 2
they are 16, and 12 and 9

I have pictures
of my kids when they were maybe 2
walking with their dad
(It’s definitely their dad)

But you can’t climb
into pictures
and hold hands
with your 2 year old

So I’m adding this
to my list
of stuff
I sometimes cry about