Monthly Archives: August 2016

Slices of the second day of school.

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers.

I’m glad Slice of Life is on Tuesdays. I’m glad my school year started yesterday, not on a Tuesday . . . I wouldn’t have wanted to write a slice of life yesterday. It would have gone something like this: 

Can’t sleep, wake up, tired. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Greet kids, help with lockers, answer a million questions with “I’m not sure. I’ll try to find out.” Over-planned, no time, focus on community. Talk at kids, bore myself. Comfort the overwhelmed, read aloud. Expectations, presentations, rules, rules, rules. Meeting, walk, walk, walk…” 

But today I have slices. Slices that remind me why I love teaching. 

I asked this question: 


Got great answers: 


Let me zoom in on one my favorite questions. 

Version 2

Later. . .

We had student council elections where the following campaign occurred: 

Student A: Vote for me. I’m going to make this classroom great again! 

Student B: Hey! This classroom is already great!

During reading my classroom library lit up with students taking books, and it made my heart fill. A group of girls came over to me to ask, “Can we take out more than one book? We have books but we want to read this as a book club.” 


Then in writing we did some quick 6 word memoirs, and that’s when I truly remembered how much I love my job. 


I needed those 6 word memoirs…

Tomorrow’s To do list:

  • Finish learning everyone’s name
  • Read
  • Write

Start slow. Take breaths. Work hard.





Celebrating Mistakes

So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend! 

I've taught 6th grade more than a dozen times before
I just did the fuzzy math, subtracting 
maternity leaves
coaching leave
and my year in second grade 
That's over 500 kids
And thousands of mistakes

Like when I forced kids (well, their parents)
to make a model of a boat for homework
A boat.
For homework.  

And all the times I took away recess when kids needed
you know, 
a break. 
When kids needed a break. 

I used to make all the kids
read the same books
and answer comprehension questions
to prove they read the assignment
and write vocabulary sentences
that let them pretend they were learning vocabulary. 
To prove
and pretend. 


I have to celebrate these mistakes, 
because I have learned so much
in this lucky lucky job
that starts over every August. 

I have to celebrate these mistakes, 
because when I made them 
I was doing the best I could
at the time. 

I have to celebrate these mistakes, 
because now I know better
which means now I'm doing the best I can
at the time. 

Which logically means
I'm making more mistakes
to learn from. 

A slice of Before that

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers.


I’m sitting at my (messy) dining room table, with an empty writer’s notebook in front of me. I’ve decided that typing a slice might be more productive.

Before that, I got home from a short dog walk, shortened because something about seeing a police car hanging out around the block made me get uncomfortable in the dark. I’m easily scared of the dark. The police officer in the car looked friendly and happy. It’s not her, it’s me.

Before that, the dog was bite-y

Before that, the dog peed on the rug.

Before that, I was working on random to do list items but without the actual to do list. I was  entering students into my classroom library database, and replying to parent emails, and thinking about how I should make an actual to do list.


Before that, the whole family took a year and a half to decide that we should just order pizza for dinner.

Before that, I tried to get L to put ice on her head because she was hit in the head with a basketball.

Before that, I was briefly sitting on the porch with E, listening to the sounds of happy basketball playing.

Before that, I was dropping my bags, and taking off my shoes, drinking water, and hugging my kids.

Before that, I was finally leaving school, with information overload, and too much left to do.

Before that, I was creating class lists, locker lists, labels, maps and presentations for back to school night.

Before that, I was on a tipping ladder, realizing one of the legs was up on the edge of a carpet.

Before that, I was on the floor picking up a hundred magnetic words.

Before that, I was on a ladder, re-positioning a giant question mark, when it suddenly fell and knocked everything off of the top of my bookshelf.

Before that, I was gluing signs.

Before that, I was in a meeting.

Before that, I was in a lunch meeting.

Before that, I was in a meeting.

Before that, I was in a meeting.


Before that, I was picking up friends to drive to our opening day meeting.

Before that, I was hurriedly throwing bags in my car, giving giant hugs and watching sad children as I drove away.

Before that I was rushing around wishing I hadn’t turned my first alarm off.

Before that, it was still summer.

The Giant Question Mark, the glued signs….

A Slice of August


Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers.

Yesterday someone referred to August as Summer’s Sunday. I’m not so good at Sundays. They are simultaneously the day I have finally relaxed into my weekend, and the day I remember all of the things I need to do for the week ahead. “There’s not enough time!” is my accidental mantra every August.

In the car, driving L to camp – over the mountain into the woods, she asked me if I had noticed the trees lining the road into the campus.

“They are such narrow trees, but such a thick forest.” She told me.

I hadn’t noticed. Yesterday picking her up from camp, I had noticed the tight one lane driveway, the way I had to pull over to let other cars through. I had noticed the forest, the way the light changed enough to make me take off my sunglasses.  I hadn’t noticed the interesting way the small thin trees stood close and thick and created the dappled light.

I guess I couldn’t see the trees for the forest. This must mean something.

So this morning, I noticed the trees in the forest, and decided I was so glad it was Tuesday… a day to notice slices.

I took the boys school shopping while L was at camp. I want to package up these little kids — resistant school shoppers who ended up really getting into picking their own clothes.  One day they’ll be borrowing my car, I guess… and running to the store to get their own stuff. I tear up just typing that. That is the day I want to pull out my package of slices. I want to laugh about H taking matters into his own hands to find a quarter for him and one for his brother, after I told them I didn’t think I had any. I want to remember their little selves, standing in fresh button down shirts off the clearance rack.

Slices were easy to see…

H standing in front of me, fresh from the fitting room where he wanted to go himself.  He’s wearing one pair of jeans and holding another. “If you’re wondering why that took so long to try these on? I took the other ones off – they were too small. I noticed they were inside out from taking them off, so I took all that time to inside in them. Then I tried on the other pair, and they felt exactly  like the too small pair. Then I realized I had just put the first pair on again! The ones I had just fixed! So I had to take that pair off, and start again! Phew. These feel so much better.” 

E searching searching searching for an orange shirt in his size, small. He couldn’t quite figure out how to tell which size something was. He kept bringing me shirts, and then realizing they were the wrong size. “Ugh. Mommy. I thought it was my lucky day for a minute! But this is an xs not an s!” Why did he want a bright orange shirt? To match the bright orange shorts he had picked out, of course.  “I just really like vibrant colors, mommy.” 

Even easier slices this evening at a local dam. I live in the same town I used to live in as a child. We moved away after fourth grade. Perhaps because I didn’t live here for a decade or so, I often feel like I’m time traveling when I watch my kids in the same places I went to when I was their age.

A slice: The drive up and down the mountain roads to the dam…turning off into a thickly wooded gravel road. The bumping of the car and the beauty of the woods just out of reach because your head starts to hurt from the sunlight popping in and out of the trees — just enough to make your eyes squint.

A slice: The view. I stood in the dam, tried to quiet my anxieties about water and kids, wished I had my camera, and just focused on the view. Dark rippled water, the swimming section roped off, with more water beyond. Trees everywhere, and a blue sky meeting a mountain on the horizon. I wanted to take a picture, but forced myself to stay in the water just being there instead of walking to my car to grab my phone. Instead I begged L to take a mental picture so she can paint me this scene one day soon.

A slice: L with her friend, chatting in the water, building a sand castle, running into the water, splashing.  H searching for fish underwater. E floating along with his floaties saying “I’m glad you brought us here today, Mama. It’s so fun. I like lake swimming better than pool swimming I think.” 

It’s too much, these slices of time travel. I know I’ve gone too far into nostalgia when I start to wonder if the sand I’m standing on is the same exact sand I stood on 30 years ago.

“This is the same place I went to when I was a kid!” I tell Lilian – excited to see nostalgic things come full circle.

“Great.” She says, eyebrows raised in only the way a 13 year old can do it.

Apparently she isn’t pre-nostalgic for her own childhood quite yet.

Thank goodness. I think that means that we are still in the forest of her childhood.