Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tending to our Hearts {Slice of Life}

It's falling at a light steady pace.  There's a rhythm and a sense of calm within my sight.  A glistening brightness is covering our view.  It starts to call my name.   I find out it's inside recess and that doesn't feel right.  The temperature is warm enough and I wrestle with a few thoughts.  Sure there's an accumulation on the ground.  Sure the playground is not black.  Sure the students don't have boots.  Then my thoughts stop wrestling and I listened to my heart.

Students need fresh air.  Students need to be free.  Students need to be kids.  Students need to run, giggle and embrace the magic that is happening outside.   We snuck outside for 10 minutes and those ten minutes were filled with joy, laughter, excitement, smiles, and delight.  My heart was fuller and I like to think I took time to tend to the hearts of my students.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers group for hosting our writing community and you can enjoy other slices from today by stopping by the link provided.  Thank you for stopping by. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

It's More than Okay it's... {Slice of Life}

"Saying no, is self care."

I stop and wonder, what did Nancy Jane Smith just say to me?  She gives a few examples of how and why we might say no to doing things during the holidays and then this - "It's a form of self-care, so reminding yourself that you are taking care of yourself by limiting all the activities you're engaging in."

And then, while I continue to paint my master bathroom I have a little conversation with myself as the brush goes up and down, side to side.  It's okay I said no yesterday and didn't go to work.  It's okay I stayed home when the day before I was hoping my voice could make it through a bare minimum mini-lesson.  It's okay I took a day off from work because I was sick and not someone else in my family.  I was doing self care!  It's more than okay I was doing self care!

Slice of Life PS - Painting is a great way to catch up on podcasts!  Nancy Jane Smith can be found at Stories From a Quest to Live Happier podcast and here is the transcript for the episode I am referring to.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers group for hosting our writing community and you can enjoy other slices from today by stopping by the link provided.  Thank you for stopping by. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Writing and Erasing Do Go Together {Slice of Life}

Paper.  Pencil.  Time at the airport.  

It's been a long time since I wrote anything in length without a keyboard.  My longest paper pencil piece of late might just be - "Mom and the dogs are out for a walk."  I had clearly decided to leave my laptop home for this trip and knew I had an article idea to play around with.  I found a comfortable spot.  I pulled out my new notebook, my mechanical pencil, and started writing.

The writing was flowing and then I needed a revision.  I saw a need to use different words.  This was a brand new notebook.  I didn't want to cross out and keep going.  I tell my students this all the time.   I know it's okay to cross out and keep going.  I knew I should practice what I "preach" but  I was actually quite proud how neat my handwriting was and I didn't want to change that look.  My problem wasn't going away, my words needed to be revised and moved around.   I decided this was my notebook and I knew how I wanted it to look so I used the eraser to revise my words.  This felt very awkward to me.  I had to remind myself an eraser is like the backspace button on my keyboard.  I consciously decided to use my pencil eraser a few more times and was very pleased with the results.  I actually liked using an eraser.  My writing was still neat, my thoughts were clearer,  and the eraser had become a great tool to have.

This may not seem like a big writing decision; erase vs cross out, but it was a struggle.   I encourage my students to cross out and keep writing; it keeps their ideas flowing, focused, and the erasers are used up really quickly otherwise with plenty of led to be used.  I never get out the pink eraser blocks from my closet because it's one more thing to think about, keep track of, and I think writing decisions can be made too quickly because erasing is easy.  However, on this day my ideas kept flowing, they were focused and the eraser was helpful.  Maybe my classroom writers need erasers as an option beyond the one on the pencil that gets used up too quickly.  

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers group for hosting our writing community and you can enjoy other slices from today by stopping by the link provided.  Thank you for stopping 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Ultimate Goal of Planning {Slice of Life}

"So, you're a teacher?"

"Yes, I am."

"Good for you," with a pat to my knee.

I shared I'm currently teaching second grade and the conversation went back and forth a bit in a predictable pattern of how cute the students are and interested in learning.  Then this dear, kind, older gentleman went on to tell me how much he liked learning math, especially geometry.  His teacher gave them an assignment one time to prepare a lesson to teach others.  He had fun doing this assignment and always thought fourth grade would be a fun age to teach.  

This past weekend at NCTE, Ernest Morrell encouraged a packed house to think about our planning. "Have you created that unit, where they will tell their grandkids."  He calls this the grandchildren test.  Maybe we should name it something more global.  I had a gentleman in his eighties tell a complete stranger about a math project from his own school days.  Not a story from one of his five children that are grown adults but from his own experience.  

Here are some ideas to ponder as we plan units...
Have you created that unit, the stranger test?
Have you created that unit, the airplane neighbor test?
Have you created that unit, that will make someone sixty years later smile and tell their story?  

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers group for hosting our writing community and you can enjoy other slices from today by stopping by the link provided.  Thank you for stopping by.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Learning for Me! {Celebrate This Week}

Today I'm celebrating learning for me!  I spend a lot of time planning and thinking about the learning of others; this brings me joy, it brings me worry, and it brings me happiness.  In the past week, I've taken the time and participated in some learning for me.  Ruth wrote two weeks ago about taking time, not making time and that really spoke to me.  Luckily, I had a few things coming up and planned that brought me joy, simple worries, and great happiness without thinking about my students. 

1.  I took two GRIT exercise classes at the YMCA.

2.  I took a decorative/personalized sign making class with two friends to celebrate a birthday.

3.  I took a beginning embroidery class with my daughter for her birthday gift.

4.  I spent a Saturday with colleagues learning about making your own literacy tools.

5.  I took another class, a weaving class with my daughter to finish her birthday gift experiences.

Taking time this past week brought joy, simple worries, and happiness.  I find great joy in creating and making things.  My simple worries were about color choices, where to position a needle, and can I really do one more squat or burpee jump. All of these things brought me great happiness because I was working towards new learning and changes in health, knowledge, and creativity.  I also spent time with family and friends without worrying about my teaching.  I know I can't plan all weeks like this but I'm going to work on sneaking in some of this learning/work more regularly. 


Thank you Ruth at Ruth Ayers Writes for encouraging us to find daily celebrations in our lives.  If you want to read more positive things stop by this week's post, I get to be their mama.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Writer's Feelings {Celebrate This Week}

This week I'm celebrating writing.

Sometimes when I think about writing I get overwhelmed and think it has to be big and grand.  Then I find myself doing a lot of self talk about just doing it.  Last week I attended our state math conference for teachers and my mind was swirling with ideas.  So many ideas that the writing just flowed.  Then when I wanted to capture a slice of life, the writing stalled a bit but I just wrote what I was thinking about and a piece was created.  While it wasn't what I intended I was pleased with this reentry.  Then last night I wanted to share some thinking for Poetry Friday and worked on making my writing small and to the point, remembering it doesn't have to be big and grand.  I timed myself and wrote two pieces in 30 minutes.  These pieces got my mind thinking about an article I might start drafting notes for.  I always find switching grade levels frustrating when it comes to writing articles for Choice Literacy because I worry I don't have anything new to add to the field at this grade level but I'm working on overcoming this.   I think all these feelings I had as a writer this week are natural and hopefully are a sign I'm back to writing with more consistency.

Thank you Ruth at Ruth Ayers Writes for encouraging us to find daily celebrations in our lives.  If you want to read more positive things stop by this week's post, Taking Time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Writing - Waiting - Re-Welcome - {Slice of Life}

I've missed writing.  I sat down here tonight thinking I had an idea or two and they were just a spark; nothing I felt like developing beyond the sky was blue - the sun was shining - the temperatures were warm - I can't believe it's November 1st.  November is a month that often brings reflection and finding gratitude.  Reflection and gratitude shouldn't only be a November idea but if it takes a little jump starting then that might be what my writing needs.  I'm grateful this space has been here waiting.  I'm grateful this community lets members come and go.  I'm grateful this community will re-welcome me with ease.  Maybe there will be more gratitude slices this month.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers group for hosting our writing community and you can enjoy other slices from today by stopping by the link provided.  Thank you for stopping by.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

An Invitation {Celebrate this Week}

When I began teaching, I learned about a wonderful local organization promoting the use of children's literature in classrooms.  Several of my colleagues were involved with The Literacy Connection and I enjoyed hearing their conversations about the programming they were planning and organizing.  I attended a session or two early on and then didn't so I could be home as much as possible with the girls.  

I then switched school districts, needed some continuing education credits, and missed the spirit of my old school.  I decided to look into The Literacy Connection for their programming and fell in love.  Yes, it's true - I love my time I spend learning with The Literacy Connection community.  People come because they want to.  People choose to study a professional book for the year.  The author of these professional books comes twice to speak, share, and listen as we learn together.  I love listening to professional authors.

I'll never forget that first year I returned and navigated my way into Max Brand and Franki Sibberson's small group because I was a huge fan, quite the stalker move.  I hung back as I saw people start to gather and form groups.  I didn't make eye contact with a couple of people in my new district in hopes of being asked to join the neighboring school district which was closer to my house with Franki.  It worked.  I was going to go and visit Max Brand's classroom!  As I sat there with two of my heroes, I just wanted to pinch myself.  

After several years of attending, I finished and maxed out my continuing education credits and thought I would save some money and take a year or two off.  That didn't work, my heart was calling me to go.  Connecting with others who want to learn on a Saturday, drives my own work and passion.    Seeing friends from neighboring districts fuels my soul.  I called the Wednesday before the first Saturday and asked if I could still come.  Of course, they said yes.  

Today I attended my first board meeting for The Literacy Connection.  When I got my invitation email this summer I couldn't believe it.  I was so surprised and honored.  I'm really looking forward to my participation as a board member and continuing the work to promote childrens literature.  

If you are local or can travel, please consider joining us for our visits with Kate Roberts this year, as we study her and Maggie B Roberts book DIY Literacy, Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence.

Thank you Ruth at Ruth Ayers Writes for encouraging us to find daily celebrations in our lives.  If you want to read more positive things stop by this week's post, Hug Em'.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Anticipation and Faith {Slice of Life}

Low tide.
An opportunity to see the dolphins.
I've waited two years.

We are walking the beach.
Just N and I.
Three more join us.
The inlet seems further away.
Three leave us.

Faith keeps two walking.
Anticipation keeps us going,
Maybe a pinch of determination.
We see beach goers headed back.
Maybe we missed them.
Faith and anticipation turn into hope.

We arrive hopeful.
We scan the beach.
We wait with anticipation.
We start relying on faith and believing,
they will come.

This is at Seabrook Island in South Carolina.  One of the few places in the world where dolphins strand feed.  For more information - from the National Wildlife Federation.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers group for hosting our writing community and you can enjoy other slices from today by stopping by the link provided.  Thank you for stopping by.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Listening {Celebrate this Week}

This week I'm celebrating taking the time to listen to my students.

I just completed my fourth week of school.  If you are in education you know all about the hustle and bustle of starting a new school year.  Each year things increase.  Each year crazy things are thrown at us that are nonnegotiable.  Each year there is a lot of self talk; get off this bus, slow down, and get back to what you know works.  Well, I can't completely get off the bus because I have to turn in the scores from three one minute probes to determine a child's fluency online and big brother is watching but what I can do is sit with my students.  I can ask them questions about their reading lives.  I can probe for more insight.  I can listen.  When I chose to listen, I found personality, honesty, warmth, and love in these new students; a formula for learning.

Do you have a favorite author?  Explain.
     I don’t really know much authors, I have this friend George he works at the library close to my house and I don’t know if he makes books but he is funny and a nice guy.

How do you feel about reading?
     bored sometimes, I find a lot of books I don’t like

What kinds of books do you like to read?
     Puff the Magic dragon, it’s a family favorite

Where do you read at home?
     I like to read in my room, it’s really quiet or outside

What was your last favorite book?  Explain
     I don’t really have one because I will technically read anything.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Being Together - {Celebrate This Week}

Today I am celebrating being together.  I'm discovering when all five of us are together my heart is fuller and there's a sense of complete.  I feel lucky to have this week ahead of us.  No sports, no pets, no school, no camps, no friends, and no household chores.  New places to explore.  New things to observe.  New things to try.  Old things to enjoy.  I love pulling the girls away from their day to day lives that take them in different directions and watching them interact and enjoy each other; here's to a week of enjoying being together.

Thank you Ruth at Ruth Ayers Writes for encouraging us to find daily celebrations in our lives.  If you want to read more positive things stop by this week's post, Keep Celebrating.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Eating and Haiku - {Poetry Friday}

cascading water
over steady stones and moss
relaxation - bliss

@Mandy E. Robek 2016

I've been eyeing a local restaurant named, Haiku for quite some time and a few weeks ago I had dinner with my college daughter there.  Her best friend and roommate is working there so of course we had to go to support M!  Knowing M helped us out this evening because it wasn't too busy and her serving area had a table right next to this lovely outside center area.  M brought us post it notes and said everyone writes haikus and we hang them up.  I wish I had my notebook out and could share the process.  I really wanted to focus on the setting and nature, making several revisions and feeling disappointed when my syllables didn't quite work out.  If you are local, dinner was delicious!

Thank you to Chelanne at Books 4 Learning for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sewing Emergency - {Slice of Life}

Things have been going pretty smoothly with this years sewing project for 4H.  Judging is in 28 hours and we have a plan on how to wrap it up, without worry, and work in some normal events in our day. We need to put in an invisible zipper, a hem, and tweak the details.  Tweaking the details involves trimming any and all extra thread ends, basting stitches, and gathering stitches one might be able to see from the outside view.  Another thing we do to tweak the details is to iron it over and over again; pressing for success.  

Things are feeling pretty good until...we need an invisible zipper foot?  This is something we weren't anticipating but we were flexible and headed to the big chain fabric store.

I wanted to get there quickly.  I didn't want to show I was a little bit stressed so I tried to talk about other things.  I was driving my husband's car which turns differently than my van so the turn was a little quick.  I really don't like driving his car so I wanted to hide my frustration.  "Since this is a emergency, we need a siren."  She giggled and then I went a bit further.  "We then need a little needle and thread logo on the side of the car since it's a sewing emergency."  She giggled more and I forget the suggestions she offered but it made the air light for both of us.  I'm glad we were able to laugh while we were both a bit worried.

Reflection - I found myself wanting to tell more about our day and going back to the ending but reminded myself slices are moments and moments are small not a longer list of events or things.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers group for hosting our writing community and you can enjoy other slices from today by stopping by the link provided.  Thank you for stopping by.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Thank You - {Celebrate This Week}

If you are stopping by this new space today, I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time.  I hope you will stop back by and enjoy this journey with me.

Thank you Ruth at Ruth Ayers Writes for encouraging us to find daily celebrations in our lives.  If you want to read more positive things stop by this week's post, Family Life.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Slice of Life - Productive Effort

I'm in my ready position and my iPhone lens is carefully placed between fence lines to capture some early Sunday morning softball catching photos.  I wait for the play and before I know it, she's right in front of me!  It's not the picture I planned on capturing which unsettles me for a minute and then I realize what if she catches this foul ball, I better start snapping photos.  

Let's think about what was happening on the other side of the fence and pretend we are A.  

The pitch comes in.  
The batter tips the ball and it up, over, and behind me.  
I have to spin half way around.
I flip off my catching mask.
I turn my head to the sky in hopes of seeing where this yellow ball is.
I reach really wide in hopes of catching this ball for an out.
While flipping, looking, and reaching, I'm also moving my feet backwards and side to side.
I didn't catch that ball.
The batter got to try again.


After I capture a couple of "standard" catching photos I look back through my camera roll and see the photo above.  I love this different angle of the game.  I'm pretty proud of the quality of this shot with my iPhone6.  Then I get ecstatic!  I just captured productive effort!  A made her productive effort public.  Her coach was so excited and praising this productive effort.  

Productive effort are probably the two most important words for me in Who's Doing the Work? by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris, which I shared yesterday.  I can't wait to share this photo and tell this story to my second graders as a productive effort mentor.  If you own the book, productive effort is discussed in the Chapter 2, Read Aloud.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting this writing community and for encouraging us to live a writerly life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Slice of Life - Figuring Out the New

I wasn't sure what I would do.  There was a new experience ahead of me.  I didn't want it all planned out.  I wanted to explore and have some flexibility.  I was a bit uncertain but told myself I could be confident and figure this out.  I dropped the girls off to their classes at the local art college downtown and thought, I can do this.  I can be alone and try new things in a new part of town.

I walked through the campus to a local coffee shop a friend shared on Instagram with a bag of things I could do.  I walked in confidently.  I asked the server for drink recommendations and ordered something new.  I then saw a delicious snack and added that to my order.  I found a spot to sit by the window to enjoy the sunshine and watch the sidewalk.  I did some planning for next year and wrote a blogpost.  I enjoyed my treats.  I watched what appeared to be frequent customers order and linger, enjoying this coffee house.  They weren't new to this kind of free time.  Many of them entered or met a friend, greeting them with hugs and hellos.  I've admired friends who can share such leisure moments out and about and I can now say these moments are as enjoyable as they look.  

Today I thought a little bit about that first day of school.  My students will come in probably a little uncertain.  They will be without their family.  I'm sure they will know someone in the class.  Maybe we need time to linger that first day.  Maybe we need to create moments to observe and figure out our new space.  Maybe our schedule doesn't need to be mapped out minute by minute.  We'll need time to talk and time to be quiet.  With time, I want my new students to walk in and greet each other with hellos and smiles.  I think I'll start with hugs and hello on day one.  


Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting this writing community and for encouraging us to live a writerly life.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Slice of Life - Rocked My World

During the past month, on and off there is has been a little slice reoccurring.  

N:  My phone won't work.
Me:  That's too bad.
N:  My phone is working.
Me:  Great news, maybe something isn't quite right.

Silence for a while, on this topic.
Repeat previous conversation.

N:  I went to the "carrier" for my phone today.
N:  They said it has water damage and it would cost four hundred dollars.
Me:  What did you do?
N:  I walked out, the phone is working again.
Me:  Silent, Phew!  Audible - Maybe you should go to the Apple store.  

Silence for a while, on this topic.  It all came crashing down today and today is an important day.  N turned 20 and had people sending her wishes and making plans for a fun night out.  Technology rocked her world.  We went to the Apple store and delayed her plans.  The outcome was superior customer service and a brand new phone for free!  There was a glitch in how it was operating not caused by the user.  Yahoo.

I got back in the car at her apartment and had a moment to reflect.  Technology rocked her world today and that's important right now for her.  It's the world we live in and can be frustrating.  However, twenty years ago she rocked my world.  She rocked my daily schedule, my thinking, my emotions, and my heart.  I still laugh at myself because I thought pre - N, my life wouldn't really change.  

I didn't expect her to rock my professional world but she did.  I arrived on time and I left on time.  I started working through lunches to take less home.  Professional development outside of the day wasn't a choice I made for a bit.  While these things cross the personal and professional line, she really rocked my teaching.  I became fascinated with what young students are able to do when they arrive at school.  I had this incredible urge to get to find out about the whole child. Observations became essential in moving students forward and learning about students.  Conferring with students was so enlightening.  Their words and conversations were daily delights because I took the time to listen about their topics.  Exploring different media for sharing learning became essential because kids are naturally curious and what we call now, makers.  These reflections are some nuggets I want to hold on to, as I start working with a new set of students in August.  Thanks N for making a difference in my life.

PS - This is just my slice and in no way intended to state I think teachers need to be parents.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting this writing community and for encouraging us to live a writerly life.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Slice of Life - Notice and Move On

In an attempt of holding on to the past week and long walks along the lake road or hiking a mountain, I headed out for a long walk with just one of my two dogs.  She likes to walk faster and our other dog was outside all day "doing" yard work with my husband.  I wanted to hold on to my walks and climbs of the past week in New Hampshire and our longer journey might just do that.  

We were almost through this small wooden part of our trek when something shiny caught my attention.  It was low to the ground and looked a bit glassy but was very dark.  I looked again and then saw stripes.  I looked again but it was hard to distinguish what I was seeing because the woods were settling in for the night.  After several quick short glances, while my dog kept going forward I decided the stripes were brown and black.  I then realized there were not only two shiny eyes looking my way from the edge of the path.  I counted four sets of eyes and decided there were four raccoon pups looking at me.  Now, when I call them pups they were probably teenagers.  They were bigger than my hand, maybe the size of a bunny, small cat, or a very small dog.  

I wanted to stop and observe.  I wanted to know about them and wondered if their Mama was near.  I wondered why my dog didn't notice them and kept on walking for a brief moment because then I realized if she did chase them we might be in trouble.  What would four raccoon pups do if they were spooked?  What would their mother or father do if they thought the pups were in trouble?  

As I walked away reluctantly, I thought about my classroom and while we want to capture everything that happens, it might just be unrealistic.  It is unrealistic.  Maybe there are small moments where one needs to only savor and/or ponder that observation.  Maybe students, like these raccoon pups need to explore the world without the notion of someone always watching and jotting things down.  Maybe the notebook, electronic device, or photo equipment should/can be laid to rest, a bit more.  

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting this writing community and for encouraging us to live a writerly life.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Celebrate This Week - Best and Difference

Today I celebrate a year of trying my best and knowing today I made a difference for one.  W walked into my classroom with his huge charming grin and held a little mesh bag for me with a handwritten note.  I could tell he was eager for me to open it.  I opened it, found a bracelet, and slowly burst into tears.  See that careful word choice because I was really trying to not instantaneously burst into tears.   He held up his wrist and said, "I got one too" with that huge charming grin.  As I hugged him, I asked if he knew I would cry and he replied with a yea.

This became our word this year; a little guidance, a little patience with uncertainty, a little encouragement when redirected, a little increase in stamina, a willingness to try again, a willingness to slow down, believing in himself, and less tears.


Thank you Ruth at Ruth Ayers Writes for encouraging us to find celebrations in daily lives.  If you need to read more positive things stop by this weeks linkup.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Slice of Life - Finding Joy

Last week I shared one way I find joy in teaching is through helping my students create.  It stirs my passion and keeps me going.  Several readers mentioned wanting to see photos of our poetry publication I had planned.  Today is a photo essay of sorts, I've been reading a lot of Elsie Tries Writing as a mentor text.

Before you look at the photos you must know this was worthwhile hard work.  The night I brought home 80 poems to read and offer some quick editing advice on was tiring.  The busy room was joyful and every student knew what they had to get done and what they wanted to get done.  There was lots of choice and voice.  I believe choice and voice brings magic and growth.  I wasn't happy using tempera paints as the color wash.  The students struggled with getting the right watery consistency.  Next year I will use liquid watercolors instead.  Oh there were moments of spills and messes but during those moments I encouraged the children to clean it up.  Messes happen but there was a double spill for one child that took a few deep breathes.  He doesn't understand the balancing act of a brush in a cup of water.  How is he going to learn?  There was paint on the floor.  Clean up means teamwork and it was amazing to see how clean we got our room.  There's still a small amount of paint in the hallway but the waxing this summer will get that off.  Watching each student pick one poem to orally share at our Poetry Cafe was joyful.  Watching parents mingle and read many student's poems was joyful.  Bringing home 20 books and reading 80 poems last night while leaving them a Reader's Comment was joyful.  
Drafting, Editing, Comparing Drafts and Final Copies

Creating Mental Images from the Words with Oil Pastels

Color Wash with Tempera Cakes

Messy, Yes!  Drying in the Hallway, Clean Up

Poetry Cafe

Published Poetry

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for hosting this writing community and for encouraging us to live a writerly life.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Slice of Life - Sad, Brave, Follow your Heart

I've been sitting on this Slice of Life for a couple of weeks.  It's not my story to tell but my reflections are.  My friend is in her second year of teaching and in her early thirties.  I checked on her one day a couple of weeks ago and I was so thankful there wasn't an away softball game because I could sit and listen.  Not only did I listen, I cried with her and for her.

Here is a mature, bubbly, young lady full of life, kindness, and joy.  Sadness surrounded her this day.  As I listened, I heard; teaching isn't what I thought it was going to be, I can't keep up with all of this as her desk was a mess of papers, my heart isn't here like I want it to be, I'm spending so much time here I can't work out, or help my family when they need me.  She's talking about her extended family, she doesn't have children of her own yet.  I sensed some frustration with managing the party of a classroom and I felt her sadness but a sadness of my own because this job has gotten really hard during my twenty years of education.  She commented on not feeling the passion and then told me you just radiate passion for teaching and get us all excited.  She caught me by surprise and I've been wrestling with this thought. 

Since our time together, I find myself asking, how do I find this passion when documentation is out of control.  Testing is way overboard.  Emails come pouring in.  My friend knew the joy wasn't there for her and as I pondered her situation my sadness turned to admiration.  I've felt these same frustrations.  I don't think any of us should have to search for the joy when we get the honor to work with children daily.  But I do.  My admiration found the word brave.  My friend is being very brave.  She is leaving something she's always wanted to do and has a plan to make teaching work for her in another way.  Every time I've seen her since our day of listening and crying - she smiles, there's a skip in her step, she's giggly with excitement.  She is following her heart and will continue to make a difference. 

This week I decided the best way to find my passion was to do what I/we love.  Create.  We are publishing our poetry into a hard covered book.  Our PTO is so supportive.  They prep the chipboard, contact paper covers and are ready to help us sew with needle and thread our stories.  The final product is always joyful but the process is what I love best.  Today we edited, made better 80 poems and hand wrote new clean copies in sharpie.  Tomorrow we will create About the Author pages in Google Drive and use oil pastels to illustrate our mental images.  Thursday will be our day to color wash over the illustrations and words.  Friday is our binding day.  Next week is our Poetry Cafe, sharing.  I think it's hard to stop and enjoy teaching right now but I am definitely on the lookout and trying to plan for those moments. It boosts my passion and will hopefully guide those days when sadness comes and I am feeling worn down.

Thank you to my friend for sharing a story that will stay with me a long time.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for encouraging teachers to write and fostering this community.