SOLC22: day 31, 31 things I learned

One of the things I appreciate about blogging is the opportunity to reflect.
So for the last day of March 2022, I listed the 31 things I learned and/or relearned this month. Some need explanation. I’ll save that for future posts.

About my writing

  1. Mentor texts are essential.
  2. Whatever I’m reading reverberates in my brain and comes out in my writer’s stance/voice.
  3. My writing territories include cats, students, books and gardens.
  4. I don’t do enough notebooking.
  5. Writing with my students allowed for self reflection.
  6. I can write on my phone.
  7. Photographs provide entry points.
  8. My favorite time to write is Saturday morning.
  9. Interaction with other writers always inspires.
  10. Goal setting is about resetting and adjusting daily goals with the end goal in mind.

About teaching writing

  1. Mentor texts should change as student expectations/goals grow.
  2. Sentence starters are not to be avoided, but to be abandoned.
  3. How’s it going my favorite way to start a writing conference.
  4. Varying the pace of student’s drafting/revision cycle can be powerful.
  5. Students’ ability to feel comfortable with choice varies.
  6. Student writing spotlights parts unseen.
  7. There is never too much notebooking.
  8. Poetry seeps into writing even if you only teach it once a week.
  9. Holding students close to a mentor text can reap rewards.
  10. Memoir has become one of my favorite units to teach.

About myself

  1. I admit I could be wrong more than ever before.
  2. I question myself less.
  3. I care less about what others think.
  4. I worry that I care less about what others think.
  5. I’m finding ways to avoid adding more without feeling guilty about it.
  6. I prefer quiet spaces.
  7. In spite of number 6, I love being with children.
  8. Teachers are my second favorite group of humans, children being my first.
  9. I seek out story in all forms.
  10. There are never too many books.

About this year’s Slice of Life Challenge

  1. Even though I questioned my ability to continue, I am so glad I did.

Sending out gobs of gratitude to
the Two Writing Teachers blogging team
and all of those who participated.
It was an honor.

SOLC22: day 30, a successful dialogue

During morning circle, I asked, “what does it mean to be successful?”

J, K and E started off with the responses of “good grades, good college, good job.”

S said, “money,” and several others laughed and echoed his idea.

Then C said, “I think if I became very good at something. An expert, that would mean I’m successful.”

C called on me. After some thought, I said, “To be able to do something I loved.”

I passed it to M who said, “I would feel successful if I could give to other people who are in need. There are so many people who have so little. If I could give to them, that would mean I’m successful.”


After that, X said, “I want to do like M, and be in the MLB.” X passed it to G.

G said, “I wanna do like M, and be in the NBA.”

M’s idea was infectious. It made so much sense.

So often our morning circle brings out surprising and beautiful thoughts. Things I would never have anticipated.

These are moments of success doing something I love.

What does success mean for you?

SOLC22: day 29, in the garden

Windows line the back of my house’ doors open to the garden. Succulents and fruit trees share land with pines. Rosemary trails around the pathway occasionally being crushed leaving its scent.

The cat nibbles on iceberg rose petals.

A rain drop holds on.

Tips buried wait to be the next leaf reaching up.

So many worlds are at work in the garden.

SOLC22: day 28, a thank you note

I have been sloughing through the last couple of days. I could blame poor sleep, or bad weather. But the rain is just for today, and poor sleep isn’t anything new. I have no excuse for being mopey and irritable. Just am. Maybe I should allow this state, but it is exhausting and leads to no good.

Somehow, someone, somewhere anticipated my state. And answered it with a book.

I have thought of buying this, but hadn’t. It came from Book Depository with no note, just a book mark.

The collection of essays are addictive. Meditations on the moment that reflect on present beauty and past memories can’t help but lighten my mood and inspire reaching for a notebook.

Whomever sent me this lovely gift knew what I needed. Something to delight me as a reader, inspire me to write and discover what is in plain sight. Thank you.

In the garden, rain has stopped. Shadows form under the outside chairs as water drips down. Leaves catch light and the cloud cover opens in patches.

SOLC22: day 27, falling in love again

I have had many relationships. When I was younger I’d switch it up daily. Sure it could be a bit unsettling but that was half the fun.

Then there were children. Overburdened with their needs, I got practical. They had to do the job.

Then when the children needed me less, I became independent again and reverted a bit to my old ways. Trying out various options. Eventually I settled. Matured. I’d switch once a year. Sort of like daylight savings.

Currently, my relationships have hit a rocky patch. We’ve had a good run. but it’s time to move on.

For the past few years I’ve had a steady relationship with two perfect handbags. Not too big or too small. Goldilocks bags.

My black bag, being black, will go on for decades. But my tan bag is a more delicate creature. No one has mentioned it, but it is showing its age. I have been searching for a replacement for years. I had yet to find one, until last week.

I wasn’t looking for it. I just happened to be scrolling through my Target app and up popped a tan crossbody bucket bag. Probably won’t work I thought. Probably will look awful. Thinking, I can always return it, I clicked on ship it.

Two days later it appeared in a plastic bag on my porch. I wasn’t bowled over. It looked flatter in real life. And longer. Not a good beginning. But I’d give it a try.

Test number one: It must hold the necessary without excess room. Pulling out the stuffing, I loaded up the contents of my black bag. Everything fit, nothing stuck out and there wasn’t room for me to add in excess junk (I have that tendency). With this test one passed, I decided to take the $30 risk.

Test number two: It must be able to work with others. Because I’m not always keen on draping a bag across my body, it must stay on my shoulder without adjustment. Nothing is worse than when your shoulder bag slips down to your forearm when carrying book bags and a lunch bag. Last Thursday and Friday, new tan bag passed with flying colors. No slipage.

Test number three. It must allow easy access to what I need. I must be able to see and grab needed item without having to empty the contents. This test required running errands. Grocery shopping, Office Depot, both gratifying stops. Then walking out to the car I heard my phone. Open, peek, grab. Easy.

I think I’m falling in love.

This post was inspired by Nina Stibbe’s handbag letter to her sister in Love, Nina and Kristi Lonheim’s letter to SB

SOLC22: day 26,

5 things that made me smile
The joy my students had in science making and playing straw kazoos. Now they have new ways of annoying their siblings.

The thought of having a concert with straw kazoos.

A facetime call from my daughter about her students, about new episodes of Bridgerton and more about her students.

How much my students noticed in a piece of “non objective” art as a prelude to their Friday art inspired by Marcia Beckett. A fantastic ending to a long week.

Watching a student, ponytail bouncing, skip off at the end of the day.

4 words to describe my week
Scattered Surprising Successful Moments

3 plans for the weekend
Sleep in on Sunday
Finish a book
Write… something

2 things I learned this week
Students always rise when you listen attentively.
There is always enough time to listen.

1 goal for the weekend
Do yoga. (I have let this go too long!)


I found this format, as I have found so many, on Elisabeth Ellington‘s blog. She has been my teacher in this year’s challenge. Thank you, friend. You are always a good read and an inspiration.

SOLC22: day 25, five guilty pleasures

I’m still feeling the effects of daylight savings time change.
End of the day. With HUGE effort, I get to my car.
Maneuvered my way around the car that loves to double park behind me.
Nine miles left in my tank and a low tire pressure light requires a detour from home.
Drive by first gas station.
OVER six dollars a gallon.
Drive by next gas station.
No better.

I go a few miles out of my way to the cheapest gas station in town.
STILL the total cost to fill my tank is 95 dollars and some cents.
NEVER EVER in my life have I EVER paid so much for a tank of gas.
Why didn’t I keep my Prius?

A few miles and stop signs later, I’m home, and I go for the thing I always go for when I’m particularly tired, Trader Joe’s Organic Stone Ground Blue Corn Tortilla Chips. They are not too salty, and not to thin. I love them. I could eat a whole bag. Easily. That could be diner. They are one of my guilty pleasures.

And what makes eating these chips even better is adding guilty pleasure number two. Binge watching Netflix shows. I have run through Call My Agent, Rita, Reign, Babylon Berlin, Pose, Inventing Anna, and of course, Lucifer. Right now I’m on hiatus. Looking for my next show. These are shows my husband would not have the patience for or interest in, so I watch them at times that are rather scandalous. Late afternoon.

When a guilty pleasure starts to feel like a necessity, then you’re in trouble. I’m there with guilty pleasure number three. Pedicures. Throughout my teaching career, this has been an indulgence that I have allowed myself. Every other week. There is nothing quite like it. Especially on a Friday after school when my feet are especially worn out.

Later in the evening, I may succumb to guilty pleasure number four, eating directly out of the ice cream container, and finishing it Horrible. Awful. I’m sure (I hope) you have done this.

And finally, guilty pleasure number five. This is reserved for Saturday mornings. Doing nothing but sitting in a chair and reading a book. From the beginning to the end.

I’m afraid sharing this list may cause some of you to think less of me. I’m sorry. But at the same time, I hope you share some of my pleasures. Guilt loves company.

Be vulnerable. What are your guilty pleasures?

SOLC: day 24, just because

I found a love letter in front of my classroom door this morning. The thoughtfulness of this bowled me over.

Just because… the note starts.

To have someone in your life that knows you well enough to find something that yes, you will love. And then, goes to the extent to get and give. Well, that is something. An over the top, completely unnecessary kind of care and love.

Unnecessary but necessary because everyone needs to get this kind of unexpected gift. One that shows you are being thought of —- your presence in the world is noted.

Think about people who you could give this kind of love to. It is deeply appreciated.

Currently dreaming about that trip to New York with my dear friend.

SOLC22: day 23, in this room

I’d been thinking about writing about a room since I read Margaret Simon’s “The Living Room” post. Today I spent the end of the day in a this favorite room.

In this room with an open door,
the backyard radiating late light,
a soft breeze wafts in.

In this room with family photos,
the bookshelves housing stories,
a contented cat sleeps.

In this room with plants in every corner,
the wind chime mixing melodies,
birds join in.

In this room with laundry-filled baskets,
the worries winding down,
rice steams.

In this room with the clock’s relentless tick,
the miss-matched beside lighting,
a quiet darkness falls.

In this room with windows all around,
an owl’s hooting presence,
and I find peace.

SOLC22: day 22, not a cool kid

I am an outsider in most social settings.
I am not a part of the cool kid group.
I don’t do cool. It doesn’t appeal or occur to me.
And being a grownup for quite some time, I thought it was something we outgrew.
Turns out I wasn’t paying attention.
Turns out humans at 6, 16, or 60 have the same ability to exclude.

Most of the time I pay it no mind. But for some reason, this time I noticed and in that noticing I realized it hurt. Ignoring the hurt was my next strategy coupled with acting like I don’t care. But that process costs energy I don’t want to waste.

I’ll let it go, but for now it’s something I’ve decided to notice and feel in a productive way.

To put the personal hurt and loneliness it produces to use, I’m thinking of the young people in my life, with much less experience and confidence, who face this trouble every day.

I make a mental list of the kiddos in my class. There are reasons kids position themselves at the cool kid table and push others to the outside. And my heart aches for them all.

Today, I sat next to one in writer’s workshop. She had turned away from her writing partner. Hadn’t written a word. There was no eye contact, but she started to share her story. It made we wonder out loud and she elaborated on and on. After our conversation, there was a few minutes left in workshop. She wrote one sentence and assured me that this was the story she was going to write tomorrow. I smiled saying, it’s gonna be a great one.

This is one of the many reasons to write and to have our kiddos write. To make meaning of our lives. To sort out the messiness and meanness. And, to share it with others. Writing confronts ideas and troubles in ways that can help. Like writing this helped me.