Thursday, October 24, 2019

Fall Break, Comfort Food, and Nikki Grimes #TeachWritetober19

It's fall break. But a break is a far cry from what I would call these past two days.

I have been

and wondering how in the world did all of this mess happen in these short nine weeks.

Among all this cleaning, I did take some time to read Between the Lines by Nikki Grimes. My eyes are always opened and my heart gets a little bigger when I read something from her. And this book did not let me down.

We just finished our first nine weeks, so realtionships are strengthening. Reading the stories of Kyle, Marcel, Darrian, Freddie, Jenesis, Valentina, Angela, and Li help me to remember that behind each pair of eyes that look at me each day, is a story, stories that some are afraid to tell and stories that don't yet know how to be told.

I begin to wonder how I can be more like Mr. Ward and teach them how to not only search for their stories, but how to find their words.

We're not there yet, but I'm still working on it. I reflect on Darrian's words, "Once you teach a bird to fly, you should expect him to use his wings."

Yes, we'll get there.

Tonight I fixed a dinner of comfort - a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato-basil soup. The kind of meal that warms the heart and soothes the soul (and I so wish it could soothe these aching muscles too!).

I have Nikki Grimes' newest book, Ordiary Hazards, beside me ready to read and my notebook open, ready to write. From what I hear, it has many lines that need to be savored and treasured. Check out Paul Hankins' review on Goodreads.

Fall break, comfort food, and Nikki Grimes...a fall evening doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Ripple #TeachWritetober19

Last week I read the book Each Kindness by Jackie Woodson to my 6th graders. Although we were doing character ananlysis, I love this book for its simple message.

Ripple is my one little word for this year becuase I truly believe that what we do makes an impact in some way, big or small.

Sunday, I was in the drive-thru of our McDonald's before I went to school to prepare for this week, and I saw my colleague behind me. As I approached the window, I told the employee, who happened to be a former student, that I wanted to pay for Mr. Connor's meal. My student looked up the amount, and I paid it and pulled forward. 

As Mr. Connor approached the window, I saw that he handed the employee his card. I thought, "Hmm...what is going on? He shouldn't be paying."

Little did I know that when Mr. Connor was in line, the car behind him turned his music up really loud - the kind of loud where you can literally "feel" the beat. Mr. Connor stuck his head out the window and looked at the guy. Surprisingly, the young man turned it down. Mr. Connor thought, "I should buy that guy's meal since he respectfully turned down his music when I looked at him."

That's when the ripple began. When Mr. Connor got up to the window and found out that his meal was paid for, he then made the decision to pay for the meal of the young man behind him. As Mr. Connor moved up, he watched the car to see his expression, and guess what? That young man handed the employee some money.


Monday, October 14, 2019

The Finish #TeachWritetober19

Today one of my students came running over to me. I could tell she was excited about something and seemed just as excited to tell me about.

She had her book in her hand and said, "Look! I have just a few more pages left to read. I read this weekend at home."

I gave her a high five although I really wanted to just hug her tight and try not to cry.

You see, she struggles with reading. She has book hopped her way through the first grading period, starting and stopping book after book, forgetting to bring her book to class, and not completing a single one.

During reading time in class, I heard her tell her neighbor, "Look she ended getting Henry (the dog) after all."

When I asked her why she just didn't finish it home this weekend, she replied with a huge smile on her face, "I saved these last few pages because I wanted to finish it at school."

This. Just this.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Walking Out

I have always been amazed by those teachers who never carry a bag to and from school. Many days I walk in behind someone either leaving or arriving at school with nothing.

Not a single bag.

For most of my teaching years I have carried two bags:  my computer bag and my school bag. My computer bag, obviously, has my computer. My school bag at any given time may contain the current book I'm reading, the book I'm reading next, my notebook, a folder with the current unit or the unit I am revising, PD books to help plan those units, papers/tests to grade, my pencil/pen pouch, current projects, my standards binder, my student reading tracking binder, my mentor text binder, and/or my teacher notebook.

I am always afraid that I will not have something I need when I need it. I am always working on several different things at one time - usually something current and something in the near future. But many nights I take the bag home, and nothing comes out. I don't even open it.

But I still need that safety net...just in case.

Two nights this week I stayed late at school to watch our volleyball teams play. Both nights I left after 8:00, and both nights I decided to not take anything home. Not even my computer.

And do you know what? The world didn't stop spinning. I didn't stay up late thinking I was forgetting something. I didn't get up the next morning worrying that I didn't get something done.

I survived, and I felt so light the next day walking in with those other bagless teachers.

After all these years, I learned how teachers do it.

They just walk out. I can't say this will happen every day, but at least I know I can do it!

Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Only 158 Pages to Go! #TeachWritetober19

I am procratination's best friend! We go togther like peanut butter and jelly! 

I had intentions of sharing stories this school year - 180 of them - one each day of the school year.

But THAT obviously didn't happen. 

Instead, I decided to take the time this month while I participate in #TeachWritetober19 to find those stories in my classroom and live my school year through them. Single stories are all around us, single stories that build great things.

Here is story number one.

"Briana" is a student who has struggled with reading. It's not that she can't - she just doesn't. As I conferred with her yesterday, I could tell she wasn't into her book. I suggested another book, but when I mentioned foster care, she immediately cut me off and said, "I don't want to read about foster care."

I backed off, not knowing what our conversation had triggered.

Come to find out, she was mad at me for another matter. Later that day she came in and asked if she could get another book becuase she didn't like the one she was reading. She looked down and asked me, "Can I have that one you were talking about this morning?"

I smiled and said, "Of course." I went to my closet to get one of my extra copies of Orbiting Jupiter, and handed it to her. "You're going to love it. I promise!"

Today during first period we were reading, and when I made the announcement that it was time to close our books, she begged, "No, wait!" She even carried and read the book with her to get a computer from the computer cart - she did not want to put the book down!

My reading heart skipped a beat.

She is only on page 25, and if you have read this book, then you know how much I want to talk to her when she finishes this book.

Only 158 pages to go!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


It is hard to believe that almost three months has passed since I have occupied this space.

I have no excuses. 

Just this reminder from Jennifer from TeachWite.

I believe in every word of this. Writing is important to me, and I have missed it. Lucky for me, I have a wonderful support system to help me avoid the excuses. With the calendar turning to October, I am participating in #TeachWriteober19 with some amazing teacher-writers.

This month we have agreed to spend time working on our writing. The best part of participaing is that there are no rules...just glorious writing.  I can write what I want, when I want, and why I want. But I do have a plan to write every. Single. Day.

My goals for this month:

  1. increase notebook writing
  2. write a weekly reflection on my progress
  3. write a blog post for an upcoming venture
  4. launch a new writing space
Why don't you join us? Follow the hashtag #TeachWritetober19 on Twitter to find some inspiration and accountablilty. I look forward to writing this month with you.

Happy Writing!