Teaching (SOLSC31)


Join us in the Slice of Life story challenge. Every day for the month of March, bloggers all over the globe are writing their slices and sharing them on the Two Writing Teachers blog.

Today is the last day of the Slice of Life Challenge. I did not write every day this year. I missed two days because I was feeling sick and just didn’t have it in me. The end of the challenge made me start reflecting a little bit about my chosen profession. Being on Spring Break makes it easier to sit back and really reflect.

I have been teaching for fifteen years now. It hasn’t gotten any easier. In fact, it has gotten much harder. There is more paperwork to do. There are more expectations. I am expected to give up more of myself and my time off in order to complete the work that I am supposed to do. I am always facing down the most ridiculous to-do list. I never am able to get my day in the classroom to go exactly right. There is always something that I have not yet finished or something I want to improve. Yet, I would not choose to do anything other than this.

Lately, especially in the last few years in Wisconsin, teachers have been discontent. There are more people than ever talking about leaving the profession completely. There are so many people, at least in my school, who are so negative about the job and the work that needs to be done. I understand this sentiment to some extent, but I do not share the negativity about our chosen profession.

Every single school day I get the chance to give my students a safe place. I get the chance to wake up their curiosity and ignite their passion for a subject. I get the chance to read to them and with them and to talk about characters and situations and to celebrate when they finish books. I get the chance to be told the ins and outs of their lives outside of school. I get to help these kids be good friends to one another. I get the chance to show these children how to create good content and how to be good digital citizens. I get to show them how amazing it feels to solve a really tough problem and how awesome math can be. I get to laugh and be silly. I get to talk and to listen. I get to teach and encourage and love these kiddos. And I would not trade it for anything.



Selfish is as Selfish does (SOLSC30)


Join us in the Slice of Life story challenge. Every day for the month of March, bloggers all over the globe are writing their slices and sharing them on the Two Writing Teachers blog.

We are selfish. In our society, many people are focused almost entirely on themselves and instant gratification. People clamor for service to come to them instantly and are furious when they have to wait. The most popular kind of picture that we see on social media is “selfies.” Many times, when you are on your way into a building, the person in front of you drops the door in your face. Now, I don’t think these people necessarily mean to be rude, but they are so involved in their own thoughts and focused on themselves that they don’t even realize you are right behind them.

Just go to any public place and you will see it. People are maybe walking in groups and some of them might be talking to one another, but more and more you will see a group of people together, but entirely separate because each is wrapped up in the world of his cell phone. As we become more self-involved as a society, we also are losing the ability to empathize with others. This lack of empathy causes less kindness to others and a big problem is developing.

The lack of kind actions and words in every day life is appalling. The very fact that we have to encourage people to do “random acts of kindness” speaks volumes. Now, I am not saying that there is no one out there that is kind. I encounter kindness and know many people who do their utmost to be kind to everyone, even the rude people who are insulting them. I just think that there is a noticeable lack of kind actions in our society.

Because people are so wrapped up in their own lives and their own dramas, they forget to consider what the other person in their conversation may be experiencing– if they are even actually listening to the other person. We are so busy and our minds are constantly thinking about what needs to be done or that internet sensation that just popped up. We spend endless hours sucked into the vortex of social media and for some people, video games. We are so plugged in that we sometimes forget to unplug and unwind.

What is this doing to our kids? It is creating a generation of lazy and impolite people who use social media as a forum to air their dirty laundry and pick fights.

How do we combat this problem? Well, first and foremost, we need to create spaces in schools where students are learning about how to act in a way that is not selfish. We need to teach kids to empathize and consider the feelings of others before they act. As a teacher, it is imperative that I work to help students see how being kind can be the best choice in almost every situation.

There are many ways that teachers can work to help students learn how to be kind and productive members of society.

First and foremost, we must work to get students reading. The more you read, the better you get at empathizing. Putting yourself in the shoes of the characters in the books you read gives you practice thinking about how others might feel in different situations.

Next, we need to create safe places in our classrooms in which students learn to communicate in kind ways with one another. We need to create a space for do-overs and mistakes and learning how their actions affect others. How will students learn to empathize if we always punish them for unkind actions, without giving them chances to learn from their mistakes? We need to create spaces in which students are made to see why their unkind action was wrong and then given a logical consequence for that action. Many times, the consequence is as easy as working to make the situation right again with the person they have wronged.

Lastly, we need to create an environment in which kindness is valued. We need to model being kind. We need to help students to understand what it looks like to be kind. We need to help students learn how good it feels to do something kind for another person without expecting anything in return. We need to teach students that it is important to hold the door for the person behind them. We need to teach students about the adage-“You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

Let’s work together to create a generation of kind people who work hard to create a community in which we all work to achieve common goals instead of being selfish.


No Voice (SOLSC29)


Join us in the Slice of Life story challenge. Every day for the month of March, bloggers all over the globe are writing their slices and sharing them on the Two Writing Teachers blog.

I don’t have a voice today. I haven’t really had a voice in three days. Does this stop me from trying to talk? Nope. It just sounds ridiculous and no one can really hear me well so I end up repeating myself, which is probably worse for my voice. I don’t have a sore throat. I think it is just the extra mucus that I have from the sinus infection that has taken over my whole head.

I hate not having a voice. I like being heard. I also have phone calls to make and appointments to keep since I don’t have to work this week. My insurance agent called and I tried to stumble through the phone call but he could hardly hear me. Whoops.

I tried to go do a routine MRI today as part of my wellness plan with my neurologist checking on my MS. We had to stop the procedure. I will have to reschedule, there was too much gunk in my head and I couldn’t keep myself from coughing.

I don’t like to complain. I try not to wallow in the negative, so I won’t complain today. I will celebrate the fact that I had a nice nap. I will celebrate the fact that my doctor prescribed antibiotics. I will celebrate the fact that I do not have to try to get a classroom full of fourth graders to listen to me when I do not have a voice. I will relax and write and work on my writing voice and hope that this sickness leaves soon so I can get my physical voice back.


The House Concert (SOLSC28)


Join us in the Slice of Life story challenge. Every day for the month of March, bloggers all over the globe are writing their slices and sharing them on the Two Writing Teachers blog.

We put the address into the GPS and drove out of the city. We went down the country highways and curved through the countryside. The three of us were headed on a new adventure for a new experience.

We arrived at the front door and filled out a name tag. We put out the dish we had brought to pass. We grabbed plates and filled them with amazing food. We relaxed and enjoyed some time to chat with the other attendees.

It is odd to arrive at a strangers house and to then make yourself comfortable as if you were at a friend’s party. Everyone that was there was quite friendly, but it felt weird.

Then we filed down to the lower level of the house to pick our seats. The room was set up as a small, intimate stage with about fifty chairs set up.

The first performer was Rui Zhou. He played us two beautiful guitar solos.

Then Helen Avakian and Dave Irwin came up on stage. They played some instrumental songs and sang as well.

Then we had a short intermission as they got ready for the featured performer of the evening.

Stefano Barone is from Italy and he plays some really interesting and innovative guitar solos. He was using technology to create loops of himself playing a part and then adding loops until it sounded like there were multiple guitarists. It was so cool.

We had never heard before of house concerts. We set off on the adventure without really knowing what we were in for. But we are so glad that we did it.

Moral of the story: if you hear about a house concert near you, it is definitely something you should investigate further. I know we will be looking for more in the future.


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/28


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? –From Picture Books to YA is a weekly meme started by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers. This is a chance for bloggers to recap their week of reading and share their plans for the next reading adventures they will take. Visit the host blogs for a list of great blogs participating in this meme and a whole bunch of titles to add to your to-read lists.

Books I Finished This Week:

I finally finished 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. *throws confetti* According to my shelves on Goodreads, I started this one on December 20th. Granted, it was not the only thing I was reading during that whole time, but it certainly took me a long time. I enjoyed the story and was glad that the ending didn’t disappoint. It is not the genre that I usually read so it was an interesting departure for me. I would recommend this one with a caution that it will be a big undertaking!

This week, we were fortunate to have Peter Lerangis visit our school. I bought the entire Seven Wonders series. I really enjoyed this first book in the series, The Colossus Rises. Fans of Percy Jackson would enjoy this one. I am excited to pass this one on to one of my students when I get back to school.

Books I am currently reading:

I am still listening to Queen of Shadows, but that is all since I just finished a book last night.

What’s Next?

I am on Spring Break this week so I have some big plans. I am definitely going to read the second book in the Seven Wonders series. I also want to read Carry On by Rainbow Rowell and The Kitchens of the Great Midwest, which I also got for Christmas. I will also be picking up a couple middle grade titles to read this week.

What are you reading this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!


Celebrating Celebration and Mindfulness (SOLSC26)

celebrate-image   slice

Join us in the Slice of Life story challenge. Every day for the month of March, bloggers all over the globe are writing their slices and sharing them on the Two Writing Teachers blog.

It’s Saturday and that means it is time to reflect on the week and celebrate things both big and small. Join our community and celebrate this week by linking up or just stopping by the host Ruth Ayres’ blog to read others’ celebrations.


I am sick today and have been since Tuesday. It is so hard to remain in the realm of positivity when you feel miserable, but that is exactly the reason that I celebrate today. Before I joined this community of celebration, I used to allow myself to dwell in the space of negativity. I have learned through my weekly reflections to look for and find the moments to celebrate and in so doing, I have found a way to place myself squarely in the realm of positive thought. So this week I am first celebrating celebration. The practice has helped me get through this week and enjoy life even when I feel crappy.

I started a series of free meditations for weight loss that Oprah and Deepak Chopra have come together to provide for people. I really love the centering thoughts and the reflections that they are providing each day. Find out more and register for this 21-day experience on the Chopra Center Meditation website.

On Wednesday, we had another author visit at my school. I am so happy that I connected with the local independent bookstore that works hard to sponsor author events throughout our city. What is awesome is that this bookseller is so excited about creating readers that he allows my school to participate even though he knows that we will not create the same volume of book sales as many of the suburban schools will. I have been lucky over the last few years to host many amazing authors. This time, we welcomed Peter Lerangis to our school. I had heard of the Seven Wonders series but had not read any of them. I am halfway through the first book at this point and am loving the series. Peter Lerangis had an engaging and fun presentation and it was so fun to hear the auditorium full of child laughter at his antics and his funny pictures. He spoke to the audience about The 39 Clues series as well, because he has written some of the books in the series. Three of my students are now reading Book 1 of The 39 Clues. I love the power that authors have to turn kids on to reading!

Yesterday started my Spring Break. I am so excited to have a week off and be able to work on writing and reading with a more leisurely pace. I started the vacation with a trip to my doctor for this bronchitis and I have a routine MRI scheduled for next Tuesday as part of my care for MS, but it is nice to be able to do some of these medical things without writing sub plans or working around my work schedule.

Tonight, I am looking forward to spending time with my Mom. She found out about a concert that some people are having in their house. It starts with a potluck and then a semi-private guitar concert. It sounds like an interesting time and I am looking forward to it. We also are spending Easter Sunday with my mom. We had gotten away from really spending this holiday with family in the last few years and I am glad we are coming back to it this year. I am looking forward to brunch with family and a church service and maybe even some coloring of eggs. I think we will probably also FaceTime with my sister and her husband and our nieces. That will be special as well.

Here are my posts from this week:

Creating Readers to Create Kindness–my blog manifesto

Silence, Trauma, and Forgiveness 

Where is the Muse?

The Importance of Community


The Best Laid Plans

What are you celebrating this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!


The Best Laid Plans (SOLSC25)


Join us in the Slice of Life story challenge. Every day for the month of March, bloggers all over the globe are writing their slices and sharing them on the Two Writing Teachers blog.

I have worked hard to slice each day in March. I am loving the posts that I have done so far. I am enjoying the work I am doing to improve. I made it a priority to write every day. And then, this week I got sick. I was perfectly healthy on Monday. Then Tuesday morning, I woke up with a cough and congestion. By Tuesday afternoon, I was hacking up a lung. Wednesday and Thursday it was all I could do to be able to stay at school all day. And last night, I didn’t write. I was unable to write. I am sick.

The doctor gave me some medicine today. I will take it and I will hope to be able to sleep with the cough syrup helping me sleep. I hope to write a better slice tomorrow. Here’s hoping my lungs decide to recover soon and I will be able to finish out the challenge strong.


Monopoly (SOLSC23)


Join us in the Slice of Life story challenge. Every day for the month of March, bloggers all over the globe are writing their slices and sharing them on the Two Writing Teachers blog.

The Monopoly board came out and we started to talk. My grandma and I spent entire weekends playing this game and talking. When it was time to go to bed, we would leave the board out on the dining room table and come back to it the next morning. Neither of us were cutthroat players, the end result didn’t really matter. The talks were the reason for our games. I let her in on my hearts desires and my biggest heartaches from the weeks since I had been there before. She listened without judgement and gave me a safe place. Her advice always made me reflect and helped me navigate all kinds of twists and turns.

We each had our favorite properties. She always wanted the yellows and I always tried for the greens. We both celebrated when one of us landed on Park Place or Boardwalk, even if that meant that one of us was going to win soon.

I don’t recall who usually won. I don’t even know if we ever actually finished these marathon games. What I do know is that anytime I see the Monopoly board I think about my Grandma and miss those talks.


The Importance of Community (SOLSC22)


Join us in the Slice of Life story challenge. Every day for the month of March, bloggers all over the globe are writing their slices and sharing them on the Two Writing Teachers blog.

The last few weeks have been a little crazy in my classroom. The nicer weather, the approaching Spring Break, and some crazy schedules and different activities have really messed with our routines. I also have a class composition at this point of the school year of almost exactly 2 boys to 1 girl. This makes our class noisy and active and boisterous.

In the last weeks, this has meant that I have had to dig deep for the extra well of patience that I seem to be able to find when I need it. I have had to send students back to their desks to put heads down and calm their bodies and minds before we continued with the lessons. I have had to lecture about being safe and making sure that people are not getting hurt in our classroom when they are supposed to be working on math activities. I have had to send everyone back to their desks to work instead of being able to choose their spots.

We even had a problem solving class meeting about their behavior. Students were honest and reflective in the meeting, but soon went back to their wayward ways.

But the biggest mistake I made in the last week was to skip our sharing in the morning meeting. I told students that we were not sharing because I could not trust that they would be respectful listeners when their classmates were sharing (which was absolutely true). I could not even get through one sentence without being interrupted and that let me know that they would not do the listening that was needed. But we all missed the chance to share. I was asked multiple times by multiple kids when we were going to get to share again. I unfairly put us on a punishment that didn’t fit. I silenced their voices instead of giving them a chance and letting them prove that they could listen, at least to a few students at a time.

Then, yesterday, we started out crazy again. So, I talked to students and reminded them of our class norms. I took the time to talk to them about why I am worried about our behaviors. We talked about how it is my job to make sure they learn as much as they can and how their behaviors have lately stood in the way of that happening. I told them about how we are already 2/3 of the way through our school year and we have so much more work to do so that they can reach their best level by the end of the year. I told them that we only had 180 days together so we had to make it count. One of my students replied, “Wait, it’s only 180 days of school? But I thought it was more because it’s like 10 months.” I think this number clicked with this particular student.

Then, we shared. Students were more ready to listen and did their utmost to make sure they were being respectful of one another. Almost everyone shared. We usually have at least a few who pass when we go around the circle, but this time only one passed. We had long stories to share because we had pent up details from last week. But, the energy shifted and I realized that I had inadvertently changed our climate when I stopped the conversation.

This morning I made sure that we got right back to our routine of a morning meeting complete with a sharing circle. We reminded each other about our class norms. We remembered that we are all in this together and our behavior affects the learning of everyone in the room. And we proceeded to have a wonderful day full of learning.

How very important that community is to all of us in our classroom. I am so glad I listened to the voices of my students clamoring for their chances to share. They reminded me that it is in the craziness that we really need to take time to build our communities and listen to our stories.




Where is the Muse? (SOLSC21)


Join us in the Slice of Life story challenge. Every day for the month of March, bloggers all over the globe are writing their slices and sharing them on the Two Writing Teachers blog.

My muse abandoned me today.

She has been working overtime

giving me ideas and powerful words.

She must’ve finally thought

that she deserved a vacation.

But why must she take a break

in the middle of my month of slicing?

I hope she will be back tomorrow.

I hope she isn’t sick or hasn’t up and quit.

Maybe she is just focusing on report cards

Like I should be.