Intentions

Today is Tuesday and typically I would be writing a blog post for the #SOL Tuesday challenge on the Two Writing Teachers blog site. But, over the last few weeks, probably more than that, I haven’t been able to write much of anything…or even read much of anything, for that matter. I have had a partial block as far as reading and writing goes. I consider myself an avid reader and an emerging writer. Actually, the bit about being an emerging writer is so new to me that I even hesitate to say this out loud. So, writing it down is that much easier. I even notice that when I reread this post, I whisper that phrase – emerging writer. Do you hear it? Soft as a the breeze.

So, as part of my trifecta of practices – actually, it’s more like a double trifecta since it’s more like six daily practices that I’m trying to build into solid habits instead of three, which would be enough of a challenge, but you know me, or maybe you don’t but now you will –  to practice self-compassion, I have put daily writing as one of them. I’m trying really hard not to be orthodox about this. Like if I wrote on 750 words this morning, then I’m done with my writing. Or, why didn’t I write on the 750 words site and then wrote somewhere else, like my blog, for example? So, you see where this is heading, right?

I am too rigid. Too much of a rule follower. Too hard on myself.

So, instead of making more goals that I may or may not stick to, I am declaring my intentions. (Hat tip to Angela Stockman.)

I intend to be more kind to myself.

I intent to be more forgiving of myself.

I intend to practice gratitude every day by acknowledging it, writing it down or simply declaring my gratitude to a significant person in my life.

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I intend to not put myself down, but instead to raise myself up thereby doing the same for everyone around me.

I intend to walk into my classroom and my house with a clean heart, an open mind and a loving heart.

Happy Tuesday Slice of Life everybody. And, thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for hosting this challenge every Tuesday all year!

 

10 minutes of uninterrupted writing

Once a week, on Mondays, my students have writing homework.

They write, anything, for at least 10 minutes without stopping. A parent used the term “uninterrupted writing” in an email message to me earlier this year, and so the phrase has stuck.

10 minutes of uninterrupted writing

child writing pexels-photo-256468

My students keep track of their writing on a sheet of paper. They record what they wrote that night and how it went for them. Comments range from “no one interrupted me” to “I wrote more than I have previously”. Although this is a start, we’ll be working on being more metacognitive over the next few months.

 

Sometimes my students

  • write a letter to someone
  • write the next section of a story they’ve been working on
  • write about their families
  • tell a story about an after school activity
  • make lists.

And, sometimes, they don’t even share their writing with me.

But, when they do, I am often pleasantly surprised and secretly pleased.

Last night two students wrote poems.

The first poem was about getting writer’s block in the middle of writing her poem, and how she overcame it.

The second poem was shorter than the first poem. It rhymed, just like the first poem. It was written on a loose sheet of paper, unlike the first poem. It was about running and walking at the same time.

My students are finding their voices. Slowly. Tentatively.

They are learning to explore their ideas and feelings through their writing. They are discovering, whether or not they know it yet, that writing worth reading isn’t about the extraordinary experiences in life, although it is that too. But, writing worth reading,the kind of writing readers gravitate to, is about the everyday. The mundane. The ordinary.

It’s writing that mirrors all of our stories.

what's your story pexels-photo-261734

If that is my students’ one takeaway from our writing experience this year, that will have been enough.

Crossposted to The Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge

My Daughters are Home

Posted to Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge

The house is full.
My daughters are home.

I still say “home” even though it’s not really home to them anymore.

It’s not the home they grew up in,
not where they lived for 4 years and
10 years when they were little
and before my oldest went off to college.

It’s the home we built after they graduated from college
and they were no longer living with us.

It’s the “home” they come to when they come home.

It’s home because we’re all together,
and together we make it home.

My daughters are home.
They fill up the house.
Every corner is taken with their belongings.
Every table top is cluttered
with books, cameras, and electronic devices.
All the bedrooms are occupied.
The bathrooms look used.

Evidence is everywhere.
It screams, “We’ve been here.
We’re here still.”

They mark the territory.
It becomes theirs.
We welcome them.
And there is balance in the world.
All is right after all.

Until they leave again.

Then, my husband, my son and I readjust,
find our center because it has shifted.
It takes a few days for our routines
to make themselves present again
even as we fight the change
because it means
we’re on our own again.

My daughters are home.

Electrical Storm

This afternoon there was an electrical storm.
Apparently, we’ll be experiencing these more often this month
at the same time that the bad weather starts to diminish.
Hopefully, May will be a better month, for the weather
and for changes I am hoping for.

Winter here has never been like this before.
In fact, we’ve never had an actual weather report before.
The weather here is generally constant in the winter.
Sunny skies, rain in the afternoon, sunny skies after that.
Temperatures hovering between 15 and 20 degrees
with a strong sun in the middle of the day.

But, this winter all we’ve had is
rain, rain, and more rain.
Cold temperatures that linger and linger and linger.

Fortunately, today I worked late as I waited for my son
who was practicing for the school play.
So, I didn’t experience the electrical storms
though I heard the noise but didn’t see the lightning,
if that makes sense.

My husband was at home
and that was a different story.

There was a power surge.
The lights went out.
And, so did the TV.

Our second-hand TV is dead.

I could be sad about that.
But, I’m not.
I’d rather read anyway.

My husband is definitely not happy.
No more soccer matches.
No more local news channels.
No more cooking shows.
Only Netflix on my computer
for now.

Grateful

Today I’ve been thinking of that saying, “when one door closes, another one opens“. You know the one I’m talking about.

Sometimes a door closes and it’s not a surprise. Although you’re hopeful, deep down inside you know what the outcome is going to be even before you go down that path. But, even though you hesitate at first, you open that door and go through it. Otherwise you’ll always regret not trying. 

So, now I am looking for another door. Or, as my daughter says, another window. A door or a window to slip through and find what I’m looking for. 

Sitting outside in my porch, overlooking some pretty majestic mountains, I am humbled. I am healing. 

Things happen for a reason, don’t they? Although my reason is yet to be revealed and my next steps are still tentative, I am grateful. 

I am grateful for my family. 
They’ve always got my back.

I am grateful for these mountains. 
They help to clear my mind.

I am grateful for the quiet breeze that plays with my hair. 
It reminds me of life all around.

I am grateful for a community of educators that nurture, encourage, support and celebrate each other. 
It sustains me.

I can just see that door open up a crack. 
The window is big and transparent.

I am ready.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this weekly space to write in a community of other writers.







Thank You

Source:
http://www.planwallpaper.com/static/images/thank-you-clothesline-752×483.jpg


I had a hard time writing this post. In fact, I kept putting it off all week and now, a week and a day later, I am forced to write something. I feel like I should have a big, inspiring story about a former student who contacted me years later to thank me for being his or her teacher. 

But, sadly, I don’t have a story like that though after 30 years of teaching, it seems like I should. At least, I don’t have one big story. I have small moments. 
It seems like those should count, too. They’re important. Aren’t they?
I can excuse myself by saying that of the 30 years I’ve been in education, I spent seven out of the classroom, and so I lost contact with a lot of kids and their families. But, that sounds lame. What is true (read: less lame) is that I have never stayed more than six years in one school site and I’ve moved from North to South America and back again twice. It’s easy to sever ties when that happens. 
Nevertheless, I do have one small moment from this past year to share. In January one of my students moved away and for a few months after that, we were in touch via email. My student would write about how much she missed our class, what she was doing and, in one memorable email, thanked me for being a strict teacher. 
Bye miss I will never forget you, from all the teachers I had you’ve been the funniest, hilarious, and the one who most teached (sic) me. I like you most…because your’e strict. Take it as a good thing because you are preparing us for the other grades. THANK YOU. You’ve also been very funny. Never forget me because I never will.
This was from a student who spent the entire time she was in my class trying to undermine or poke fun at everything we did. I could never call her out on it, but I knew she was doing things behind my back. The fact that everyone found her charming, and I found her sneaky, made my suspicions that much harder to handle. 
Social media has facilitated staying in touch with families of former students. Facebook, LinkedIn, email, and Twitter make it easy to track down just about anybody you want to find who wants to be found. 
I know that my students from my first few years of teaching are out there somewhere. They’re in their early 30’s. I sometimes wonder where they are, what they’re doing. How they turned out. Do they remember our year together? 
It took me over 20 years to connect with a teacher who was my mentor in high school. I don’t know if I’ve ever told him how much he meant to me at the time. Even after reuniting face-to-face a few years ago in NY, I never got up the courage to thank him for his support, encouragement and unconditional faith in my potential to become whatever I set my mind on becoming. I wonder how often that really happens. There are definitely stories out there, but how often do students contact their former teachers to thank them? I wish I’d told Mr. G how grateful I was that he was my teacher. But, I still haven’t done that. Does that mean I care any less? Does that make him less effective?
I’d like to think it doesn’t. But, taking the time to reach out makes us feel appreciated and loved. 
As I move into my 31st year in education, although I have no regrets there are many things I wish I had done differently. I hope my hundreds of former students out there know that I love them and wish them well. 
And, I hope it’s mutual. 
I learned so much more from my students than they could have ever learned from me. 

Thank you for being my teachers. 

Writing Does That For Me

Writing has always been a cathartic activity for me.

I write when I’m upset or confused and, after just a few minutes, I start to feel better.

Writing about failures or challenging situations helps me clarify my thinking so that I can sort through the muck and figure out what my next steps might be.

Writing allows me to uncover what was hidden and is no longer so.

Writing can free me up so I can discover a better version of myself.
To uncover something I didn’t know.
To sift through the parts in order to get to the whole.
The whole that matters.

Writing does that for me.

And, just as quickly, a perceived barrier to making my writing public can shut me down.

If I can’t write publicly about a controversial topic without feeling vulnerable, then I feel lost.

Untethered.

Groundless.

Without a backbone.

Trapped.

I want to write without worrying that I will offend someone. But the fact of the matter is that every piece of good, honest writing will always offend someone. If that someone is a co-worker, friend or family, then I have to censor myself. Either I have to dance around the topic or simply write for myself, rather than for a larger community. Of course, while there’s nothing wrong with that, this is the kind of writing that begs for an audience outside of myself.

Sigh.

So, the last few days have been difficult. 

I have been working with my students on declaring strengths, and setting goals and plans for reaching those goals in academic and social areas. 

And, it has been hard! 

We haven’t done any reading or writing outside of what was needed for setting goals. 

Tomorrow my students will confer with their parents about their goals. 
I look forward to seeing how my students frame their goals and how they respond to their parents’ questions. 

I look forward to stepping back and thinking about this process. About how to make it more authentic. How to guide my students to set goals that are truly theirs. Goals over which they feel ownership. In order to do this, I will be asking my students for their perspectives. 

After the feelings of frustration and helplessness wear away, I will reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly in order to hopefully create something better and more meaningful.

I can already feel the waves of frustration and anger slipping away. I feel the calm settling in. 
I am ready to witness my students’ brilliance shining through.

Writing does that for me.

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday