All posts by onathought

A slice of data

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

The other day, I came across a facebook memory:

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This memory should make me think, “Thank goodness I’m not in the classroom this year, getting interrupted by the phone.” It should make me think about all the stressful things about being a classroom teacher.

But for some reason, it made me write a little note and stick it next to my desk:

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I think I wanted to collect a little reminder for myself, a little data.

There’s so much joy around me, so many welcoming teachers and students. Yet, I still miss my corner of 6th grade. I miss my classroom:  The room where I close the door and take care of my class; The place where we work hard, and we laugh, and we read and we write and we talk and we learn and we play. It’s a place where I always belong.

This school year, I’m collecting joy. I am documenting the times I am able to #findthejoy during the day. It isn’t hard work because I work in elementary schools. I challenge you to work with students and teachers and not find joy. It’s everywhere!

But maybe I need to keep collecting my little post-it note reminders about things I’m missing too. There’s something comforting about missing my classroom. It’s a good reminder to me that my teaching heart is going strong.

 

 

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Slice of Life: The night of homework, the dog, and a little bit of quiet

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

I’ve helped everyone start their homework, and I’ve taken the dog out. He tricked me though and didn’t pee. He just ominously stared into the darkness behind my house. I think he knows just how to freak me out.

Or, he knows something I don’t know about the forest back there.

My house is quiet now. The sophomore is doing her Art History homework, the third-grader is reading a Captain Underpants book. The 6th grader finished his reading (Good Dog) so I think he’s doing scratch or very quiet youtube. It’s quiet though, so instead of checking on him, I write. (I should teach a parenting class, no?)

Did I mention that my house is quiet now?

The dog can sense the quiet so he does his little growl-bark. Again.

“We’ve been through this, Finn.” I tell him.

“If you are lying, I’m going to be mad.” I say as I get up and put my shoes on, open the door and take him out.

He sniffs around. Again. I have to shine the flashlight because if I don’t, that’s when he will find a toad, chase a toad, try to eat a toad, and (hopefully) spit out a toad. I just don’t want to end my night by prying a toad out of my dog’s jaws. Please.

Finn slowly starts towards the back of the house again, and I wonder if maybe this is my small moment of the day; the dog sniffs, the dog barks, the dog is a liar and doesn’t have to pee. “Wow,” I think, “my life is super exciting!” A new thought creeps in though.  I hope my story doesn’t get too exciting, too scary, too interesting. I don’t need a skunk, or a  bear or an intruder.

“What if I can’t even finish writing my slice because I get attacked out here while my kids are inside doing their homework?” (I knew I didn’t like homework)

This thought is interrupted by Finn finally finding a spot to do his business.

Inside, it’s still quiet, but now it’s bedtime. Wish me luck.

A slice of Writing Again

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

 

I'm slicing
I'm writing
I'm soon-to-be-sleeping
I'm slicing
I'm writing 
I'm just-want-to-be-starting

Today, I told a group of 5th graders that in March, I slice every day. In the back of my head, a little alarm went off.

“You haven’t sliced in over 2 months!” I shouted at myself.

So now, I slice. I write.

I wonder how many slices of life I’ve lost forever because I didn’t write them down!

I'll slice again
Maybe next Tuesday
I'll slice again
Maybe with Substance
I'll slice again
Maybe with story
I'll slice again
Maybe next Tuesday

A Slice of summer moments and a giant unicorn float

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

This summer, I have accidentally overscheduled my kids. They are very busy until August. Our mantra has been to find the summer moments to enjoy.

So, I promised the kids an evening at a nearby State Park. There’s a  nice little beach there, and picnic tables. Find the summer moments to enjoy.

“I’ll pick you up from camp with our picnic packed,” I promised the boys, as they dutifully got ready for camp.

My daughter and I ran some errands. We bought some food, sand toys and a cheap giant unicorn float that, inflated, would never fit in our car. After rushing around to buy supplies, pack a cooler, take the dog out, and shove everything into the car including an electric battery pump for the giant unicorn float,  we were off to get the boys and drive the 20 minutes to the park.

I love the drive to this park, up a mountain, down a mountain, around a windy forest road, sunshine filtering through the trees, kids bickering in the backseat. . . Find the summer moments to enjoy.

Once there we had to find a picnic table, or a spot on the beach. We had the age old debate, swim or eat dinner first? Find the summer moments to enjoy. We decided that we should definitely swim first.

That’s when we realized we had left the bag of bathing suits at home.

As Mr. Thought prepared to go home to get the bathing suits, we prepared to blow up the giant unicorns with our big battery pack.

“It’s going to take us awhile to blow this up anyway, so it’s not too bad to have to wait 45 minutes to get our bathing suits,” we told ourselves, and the kids took the giant unicorn over to a grassy area to inflate. I enjoyed my beach chair, my feet in the sand… Find the summer moments to enjoy.

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And then the kids started walking towards me, heads hung, battery pack to L’s side,

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giant unicorn drooping off H’s shoulder.

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The battery had died, with only the head inflated.

So, we spent the next half an hour blowing up a giant unicorn. We took turns, almost blacked out a few times, but kept going. I was wondering if this summer evening was ruined. “I’m so sorry I forgot the bathing suits and now the battery died!” I kept telling the kids. But they didn’t say anything.

They were wading in the water, finding and taking pictures of salamanders, fish, and even a turtle. They befriended a pair of brothers and dug a trench in the sand. They were busy finding the summer moments to enjoy. 

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So, I sat back and took a deep breath (and blew some more air into the giant unicorn).

Soon enough, Mr. Thought came back, the unicorn was ready to float and everyone had their dinner. The kids swam and floated, and got every blanket and towel full of sand. As the sun set, we forced them out of the water, shook off as much sand as we could, cleaned up our spot, deflated the giant unicorn, shoved things back in the trunk, and hopped back in the car.  I wouldn’t say it was the perfect evening in the park, but we found some summer moments to enjoy. 

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A (late) Slice #amwriting

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

I don’t spend enough time at the library. Today I have just about an hour while the kids are at their camps, so I decided to go to my local library.

I walked in, paid the fine for my overdue Guys and Dolls DVD (which the kids didn’t even watch yet… so we’ll have to take that out again. . . ) and then stopped and looked. I could go straight into the bright and cheery children’s section, or up the stairs to the adult section. I only paused for a moment, but it was a tough decision. Whenever we do venture to the library, it is always to the children’s section, and I often yearn for the quiet of the adult library. But, I want to write and all of my current works in progress are children’s books. I imagined myself with a stack of mentor texts and editing inspiration. But the quiet lure of the upstairs library won.

Upstairs, I was faced with another choice. To the left was the young adult section. That’s where my 6th-grade teacher heart wanted to go. But, all my kids are at camp, and I’m an adult so I turned right.

I used to work in a library. It was a quiet job, shelving books. I thought about those days as I walked through a few of the bookshelves, looking for the right table. When I was 15, working as a page, I longed to read the books I was shelving. Sometimes I’d sneak a few minutes behind a shelf and read a chapter or two. My biggest dream though was to check out patrons’ books at the circulation desk. Now they have scanners and self check-out computers so I will never get the satisfaction of putting the library card and checkout card  in the machine and hearing that “ch-chunk.”

But, at least I can sit in the library, and listen to the quiet, the sound of my laptop keys as I type, and the intermittent sounds of people picking up books, flipping pages to decide if that will be their next read. I can open my works in progress and wonder if one day I’ll have a book on one of those shelves. I can risk a little hope that one day a young library page is shelving my book and decides to sneak behind the stacks to read a few pages.

A Slice of the Summer Porch

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

 

I don’t mean to be overly dramatic
about brief summer moments
But, I hope I will always remember
Reading on the sunny porch —
Looking over my book, to see you reading
Looking behind me, to see you reading

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I don’t mean to be overly dramatic
You both stopped soon after the timer went off
(But not the second it went off, so that’s a win)
It’s not like you want to stay out here,
reading in the summer heat all day
(like I could)
But, you both said you enjoyed your book
You both stayed until after the timer went off

I don’t mean to be overly dramatic
about brief summer moments
But, I hope I will always remember
Reading on the sunny porch
with you
I hope I will always remember
Looking over my book
Looking behind me
to see you
reading on the summer porch
with me

Oh, my E. A bedtime snapshot

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

Oh, my E.

E is finishing second grade, and almost every night he is up later than his older brother and sister. While I tuck them in, he is in his room with legos or a book.  This week he is listening to Endling: The Last. (Great book, please read!)

When I walk into his room to tell him it’s time for bed, and he tells me he’s almost done with the chapter. “2 minutes!”

Of course, I let him finish his chapter. This is a week spot for me.

Time to clean your room. I'm reading. Ok.
Time for bed. I'm reading. Ok.
We aren't buying anything at the store. How about this book? Ok.

Once his chapter is over, he choses a Calm app sleep meditation, and we snuggle in. Some nights he falls asleep in just a few minutes, and other nights, we have a little chat.

Last night he had a few things to say:

“Mommy, if you are measuring something and it is exactly half, do you say the number before or after?”

. . . Nothing like a little rounding conversation with your 8 year old, at 9:45 at night. . . 

“Mommy? You might actually still be alive when I’m 60! You will be like 90, and 60 is actually kind of old. I mean, 80 is when people really start to get old. And wrinkly.”

. . . 

“Mommy? I wish it were my birthday.”

. . .

“You know how some people say Halloween is their favorite because they like the costumes? That’s not true. They like the candy. Halloween is my favorite because of the candy, I have to admit it.”

. . .

“What does relish mean?”

. . . I think I might be falling asleep at this point, but I manage a definition. . . 

“I relish relish!”

. . .

And moments later, he’s asleep.

Oh, my E.

 

 

 

From my chair, I see (A slice)

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

From my chair, I see

A beautiful piano, rarely played
Pictures of kids, and by kids
One slipper, all alone  — oh, there’s the other one
Two socks, discarded
My backpack, still packed
A dog, with his bone
A bright old lamp, with a new shade
Beyond the door, the house is asleep
But here at my new-to-me desk, already messy
I am awake
Zoom in
My desk with my laptop, my summer calendar, seltzer water, laptop case,
candle, pens, and of course
a container of tiny tree trunks

 

A slice of Speaking Up

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

Lately, I’m trying to chew a lot of gum. It helps to keep me from snacking too much, sure. But, it also helps to keep me from talking too much. (Sometimes.)

I used to bring apples to meetings, I’d eat the apple if someone was saying something that upset me. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and it also probably kept me from getting a letter in my file. It did not always keep me from talking though.

I had a sign on my computer to start this year. It said “Just Breathe/Be the last to speak.” As a coach, I need to be especially mindful of my listening skills. In the middle of the year, some of the words had peeled off. It said “Just Breathe/Speak” for awhile. Then it said “Just Speak.” Finally, it said “Speak.” I don’t know if this is a message, or just a funny coincidence.

When do I listen? When do I speak? I listen to understand, and I’m all for a little cognitive dissonance to push my learning…. And sometimes there isn’t enough gum in the world, enough apples in my lunchbag, or the right message on my computer to stop me from speaking.

Today at an Instructional Coaching conference, I did a lot of listening and learning, and I also found myself speaking up. I’m doing some reflective data work (I like saying “reflective data work” instead of just telling the truth, “I’m trying to tally in my head the kinds of conversations that made me speak up…”)

I spoke up when I felt that some of my core beliefs weren’t even on the table at a conversation. When other people could have but didn’t factor in choice, inclusion, trust, listening, authenticity, or teacher efficacy, I couldn’t help but bring the idea to the discussion. I think this might just be hard wired in my personality.

I”ll keep bringing my gum and apples — but I’m also going to keep speaking up.