The few precious moments when we connect with other teachers


All day we devote our energy to the kiddos,  our broadway faces, bright and engaging.  Even though I love what I do, it’s exhausting.  This is why I’m so grateful for moments of laughter with other teachers to fill my tank back up.  Meeting to go over math data is rarely fulfilling.  However, taking time in between discussing the data to laugh and share with my teaching partner was just what I needed to end my yesterday.  Over the years, my teaching partner and I have found small moments to share stories from our day, recommend book titles, or re-live some favorite episodes from Outlander.  Our love of good story continues to bind our interests together and carry us through the hardest days.  In this rough patch of the year, when the cold continues to sting my cheeks on the way into the building, I anticipate moments of warmth and laughter yet to come.

(Photo credit Matt Batchelor)


Trying to give life to the program

After all these years of learning, I’m teaching a reading program.  It has taken me time to accept the reality after training in reading and writing workshop for over ten years and sending myself to Teacher’s College twice.

Yesterday, I brought in the New York Times to show my students.  I am getting back to the basics of taking the little time I have to share my reading life with my students.

I feel like I have been keeping a secret from my first graders.  Although it pains me, I have to find a way through.  Each day, I’m going to try and celebrate the discoveries they are making in real text.  There are children buying Frog and Toad to share with the rest of the class. So I must be doing something right.


Me? A writer? Naw, you’re kidding!

I could never have predicted I would love writing as much as I do.  As a child I was a terrible speller.  Reading never really hooked me like it did my friends.  But getting into education to support other students like me forced me to research the idea of reading.  As soon as I learned about why and how I read, something clicked.  Getting an english concentration in college and studying texts like Mosaic of Thought by Ellin Oliver Keene in graduate school were the keys to unlock the door to my writing identity.  First I had to establish a reading identity.  Slowly, as I labored over comments on student report cards and newsletter articles for my students’ parents until my writing self demanded more space in my life.  I never would have thought at the age of 44 I would be known among my colleagues and friends as a person to go to for book recommendations.  It gives me joy, this writing/reading self.  It is a reflective part of me I try to grow each day.  I’m grateful to the teachers at Two Writing Teachers for maintaining this idea for the last 10 years.  It has truly bridged my teaching life with my own reading/writing life seemlessly.

Veggie Straws, are they really good for you?

Have I been tricked?  They taste like the potato chip Munchos.  These veggie straws, are they truly veggies?  I know the salt in them makes them less healthy.  But, they are so yummy!  I’m sure I’m being duped into thinking I am being healthy.  When really these companies are putting veggies in the name only to convince suckers like myself I am making a good food choice.  I took an interest as soon as my students started bringing them into the classroom for snack.  Like the other health conscious snacks with flax seed and quinoa, my hope for a healthy heart rests in the stakes I am investing in the veggie straw.  Are there any foundations for my hope?  I’m curious.

Lime Green

Lime green makes me happy!  Sitting at Anna’s House this morning with my daughter, I was surrounded by bright colors.  Starting my day without sun in west Michigan challenges me daily.  On the walls in Anna’s House, the bright colors and fresh knick knacks surrounded my daughter and I as we engaged in a difficult conversation.  My jaunty waiter and I bantered a bit before we ordered an omlette and pancakes with the agreement of switching halfway through.  By the time we were on our second food rotation, both of us were giggling with tummies full.  I wasn’t sure if it was the bright lime green, the good food, or the Saturday of it all.  But my heart was full when I left.  Now I want to recreate it at home, just to see. . . how much of it was the lime green?

Post-Childhood Minivan Era

My husband and I both come from a brother / sister family of origin.  So when we got pregnant with our third daughter, it took a while for us to wrap our head around the idea of a family of five.  Where would we sit at the restaurant?  How would we all stay together on the plane?  One of the natural decisions we would make: the minivan purchase.  By now I already gone through two.  My second van is at about 140,000 miles now.  I’m looking to make my next car purchase next year.  Since two out of three will be in college next year and one in high school I was considering downsizing.  For about six months I fantasized about the Honda CRV.  But the reality of aging parents and college drop off trips seven plus hours away with the family of five reality keeps drawing me back to the purchase of one more minivan.

Last night when I put my groceries in the back I stopped to look at the years of their childhood stains on the carpet, the scrapes on the sides from Ikea bunk beds, the crack in the front from last week’s trip to Chicago.  Honestly, I’m looking forward to renewal and cleanliness.  I think I’ve earned the chance to drive the clean car.  But, for now I’ll appreciate my janky mom transportation with kid written all over it!

Creative Countdown to Spring Break

Its back again!  That blasted snow and ice.  In February the dark days were flip-flopped with peeks of warm usually to be found in March.  Does this mean March will now become February? It is going to take all I have to summon up the energy the sun gives me to push through the spring break.

For the first time my family and I get to go for a glorious week to Sanibel Island.  I’m already daydreaming about Ding-Darling Nature Preserve and long days with books in hand, napping lazily.  This year we are meeting two of my favorite people on the planet whom I usually only get to see during my treasured summer months. We love to make each other laugh.  So in a group text we have been counting down the number of days to break with numeral references that are puzzles to solve.  On 42 days before break my husband sent the text “Jackie Robinson.”  On day 31 I sent an image of Baskin Robbins ice cream, formerly known as 31 flavors.  I started to come up with a countdown list for the final 30 days.  This upset my spontaneous creative husband.  I, the consummate planner, could not just let this exercise be an unpredictable effort.

Today is day 28.  If anyone out there can think of a clever reference it would be greatly appreciated.