Teachers are Writing Again! Day 1 #SOL21

It’s March which means it’s time for the daily Slice of Life Story Challenge. This is my 3rd year participating though I joined mid-month last year so maybe that one doesn’t count. I was grateful for the opportunity to now have a record of some of my experiences early on in this pandemic. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep writing as my last blog post was in April of 2020.

Writing is akin to healthy eating and exercising. I know all three are good for me but there are so many other things demanding my time and attention. Pandemic teaching is taking most of my time and attention this year. I’m excited to be a part of a group of teachers in my district who are coming together to support one another through the March Story Challenge for the first time this year. Some of us are experienced Slicers and some are first time Slicers. Knowing I’m a part of a community is motivating.

I’m pretty much a rule follower so I know I’ll complete the challenge. I’ve done it before so I know I can do it again. While it seems like a daunting task, once you get in the habit you really do start to see stories throughout your day. I find I’m so much more observant when I’m slicing. The past two years I’ve told myself I would continue to slice every Tuesday but sadly, I have not. Maybe this year will be the year.

Writing teachers writing and sharing in a community of writers is powerful. It benefits our teaching, our students and our writing. I’m excited to be a part of that community again through Two Writing Teachers. I’m grateful to my instructional coach @Ona Thought for organizing a group of us to support each other through the March challenge. I look forward to growing and learning with my colleagues as well as connecting with them through their slices when it is so hard to connect at all right now.

If We Were Having Coffee Day 7 #SOL21

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I started drinking it just after you left. I realized my need when the pitter patter of two feet changed to four. You would love them both so much.

If we were having coffee, I would show you photos of your nine grandchildren. One a doctor, one a nurse, one an engineer, one a filmmaker, one a recent college graduate waiting to make her mark on the world, two college students and . . .”Guess what?” I’d say, “we have another set of twins! They’re still in high school.”

If we were having coffee, I would share the wedding photos and introduce you to my two daughters-in-law. DIL 1 has a wit that keeps us laughing, she’s fluent in French and she loves cats. DIL 2 is artistic, she designs books and she loves plants. We are a family of six for now.

If we were having coffee, you’d smile at these photos with the same crooked grin I have, the one you gave me.

If we were having coffee, there would be a lot we would need to catch up on since it’s been 26 years since we’ve talked.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am blogging every day this month. I would have to figure out how to explain blogging to you and the internet, cell phones, Facebook, Instagram and by the way we’re living through a pandemic.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have thought about blogging about you but it’s been too hard. Many have encouraged me to give it a try but I haven’t had the courage, until today.

She loved being a grandma circa 1993.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I miss you. I miss your crooked smile, your Sally Jessy glasses, the joy your grandchildren brought, your sneeze anytime you cooked with black pepper, your precise Catholic school girl handwriting, your hairnet in the morning and even your stomping foot as the expletives exited your lips.

If we were having coffee, there wouldn’t be enough hours in the day to catch up on the 9,558 days you have been gone.

If we were having coffee, all I would need to say is, “I love you, Mom.”

Inspired by The Accidental Inspirationalist and the dirigible plum today.

I am participating in the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge by Two Writing Teachers. This is my third year of daily slicing during the month of March. Thanks for stopping by!

Milo vs. The Cat Day6 #SOL21

We are not cat people we are dog people. Milo is a 23 pound Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. We call him The Prince but in reality he is the King of the Castle in our empty nest. He’s been with us for almost three years now since our boys’ childhood dog left us after close to 15 years of companionship. I vowed I wouldn’t get a dog until I retired from teaching. That lasted two days into summer break of 2018 and a few days later he joined our family.

Milo is a 23 pound Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who is supposed to be a foofy lap dog. He plays his part well for the most part. He has acute hearing and the slightest unwanted noise will bring out a low grumble even if he seems to be sound asleep. He defends our castle fiercely, almost to the point of our embarrassment as friendly neighbors walk past. If they were to enter the yard he would wiggle from head to toe and roll over on his back awaiting a belly rub from anyone who was willing to indulge him.

Cats are another story though. There are several cats who freely roam our neighborhood much to Milo’s dissatisfaction. Occasionally, one will enter the yard and try to stake claim on Milo’s domain. He does not take kindly to this show of aggression and appears to lose his mind barking as if he were injured by a predator. We know this bark now and try our best to keep him in the house when the cats are about.

One very large black and white cat appears to live behind us and it shows up at the edge of our backyard frequently. At times I look out without glasses or contacts and I can’t tell if the animal is a skunk or The Cat, as we refer to it. This morning with glasses on I wasn’t sure but did determine it was The Cat. The standoffs between The Cat and Milo do entertain us so we decided to let him out. While today’s encounter wasn’t the most entertaining, Milo was the clear winner. He ventured out onto the upper deck and surveyed his kingdom from above. Sensing something was not right he let out a low grumble followed by a half bark. He didn’t perform the lose my mind circle the kingdom kind of bark he’s known for, it was just a low “woof, woof” I’m here kind of bark. It was all The Cat needed to hear this morning. After about four of those low “woof, woof” barks The Cat was slinking back into the row of evergreens that line our neighbors yard. He wasn’t up for the standoff at the property line with Milo this morning but we were entertained all the same. Score 1 for Milo today!

I wonder if our neighbor enjoys these standoffs like we do. I hope so.

I am participating in the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge by Two Writing Teachers. This is my third year of daily slicing during the month of March. Thanks for stopping by!

#guestteachersrock Day 5 #SOL21

This year more than ever I am thankful for guest teachers. These individuals agree to go into numerous buildings and expose themselves to hundreds of strangers week after week. Teachers traditionally push through many days because it is an incredible amount of work to prepare for a guest teacher. This year we can’t do that in order to comply with our health and safety plan so we can keep our entire school community safe. The slightest twinge or sniffle has us considering the risk we put every person we encounter at during a typical school day.

I was faced with this decision in the wee hours of the morning so I opted to write the plans and hope one of my colleagues didn’t have to cover my class. Thankfully, a guest teacher was able to step in and with some help from teammates, administrators and my classroom paraprofessional she was set for the day.

My class was having an earned reward for the afternoon but the system we use to show videos is not reliable for guest teachers so in case it didn’t work I gave a few other options for how to celebrate this afternoon. A longer afternoon recess and some free time exploring Apps we don’t get to use often would still be a treat for my kids. I told her to tell the class we would watch the video next week if it didn’t work out for today.

I learned through a text the video system was working perfectly and all was set for our afternoon reward. That was a huge relief as I know the kids were looking forward to it.

A few hours later I saw an email stating the internet is out across all district buildings. I can’t ever remember the internet going out across the district. On top of that, despite the beautiful yet windy sunny day, the Real Feel temperature is too low for outdoor recess. I’m helpless here at home and I feel guilty for the stress the guest teacher must be experiencing. We cannot operate schools without guest teachers and especially this year when the need has been even greater. I’m so grateful to the people who have chosen to serve us and their entire community in this way.

I probably need to pick up a Starbucks gift card this weekend. #guestteachersrock

Part of Slice of Life Writing by Two Writing Teachers

Lesson Adjustments Day 4 #SOL21

Today’s math lesson was yet another that had to be adjusted to comply with our health and safety plan. There have been many. These adjustments have left me longing for what my colleagues and I have come to call “normal” school. My 2nd graders should have been working in groups today to clip plastic chain links together to form chains of 10 and then make a chain of 100 with their partners. The chains of 100 are then connected together to make a chain of 1,000 that we take into the hall to gain an understanding of its length. There should have been a buzz in the room during this activity but instead each child received their own container of chain links and made chains of 10 at their own desk 6 feet away from their classmates.

Today, I made the chain of 100 clips though I tried to make them feel a part of this activity. Disinfectant wipe in hand, I collected a chain of 10 from each child, wiped it from end to end and connected it to the previous chain. The excitement grew as the chain got longer but it wasn’t the same. Fortunately, they didn’t know it wasn’t the same as they exuberantly counted by 10’s as each chain was added.

Tomorrow, I’ll make the chain of 1,000 clips after the chains we created today sit untouched for 24 hours. I’ll stretch it out in the hall and standing 6 feet apart we’ll count by 100’s to 1,000 with the same enthusiasm as we would if school were “normal”. It won’t be the same but they are learning, growing and gaining resilience as they navigate this unusual year in 2nd grade.

A Part of Slice of Life Writing by Two Writing Teachers

The Simpler Things Day 3 #SOL21

Tweet, Tweet! “Time to line up!” I announced to my 13 squealing friends.

“14, 13, 12, 11 . . .” I called out, ensuring we lined up in order so we can maintain distance from the playground back to our coat hooks and finally into our classroom. At times I feel like I’m leading the marching ants but this is school during a pandemic.

“Hands out! Gloves off!” I reminded everyone as I made my way down the line with the hand sanitizer.

As I approached the door it hit me, “Oh, no!” I cried.

“Mrs. H. did you forget your keys again?” one of my students asked.

“That’s the third time!” another exclaimed.

“Yes, I forget the keys again.” I answered.

For the third time in two weeks I texted my teammates asking for help. Knowing they headed in before me and were deep into teaching their calendar activities, I only waited a minute of two before I started marching my ants to the front of the building.

“Stay apart, don’t run, stay in your place in line.” I reminded them as we made our way around the building.

As we approached the front door I saw a parent had already buzzed to get in the building. We were inside shortly making our way down the hall. Once again we gathered all our belongings so I could use every second we had left to do our calendar activities.

“Coats on the back of your chair, backpacks on the floor, hands out!” I called as I made my way from desk 14 to desk 1 sanitizer in hand.

This is pandemic teaching. There are so may things to remember that I can’t even remember the simple things like attaching my badge and keys to my pocket in the morning. In my former teaching life I never forgot something like this, but not anymore. Keeping myself and my 13 students safe is my top priority. Making sure every safety procedure is followed takes a lot of head space each and every day. There’s not much room left for the simpler things.

I long for the day when there will be head space for the simpler things.

A Part of Slice of Life Writing By Two Writing Teachers

Today I’m Celebrating Day 2 #SOL21

Today I’m Celebrating

Young writers publishing precious stories.

Today I’m Celebrating

Recess filled with sunshine and squeals of joy.

Today I’m Celebrating

Time to focus on growing stronger.

Today I’m Celebrating

Dinner made by another’s hand.

Today I’m Celebrating

Yarn between my fingers twisting into patterns.

Today I’m Celebrating

A second day of slicing.

A Part of Slice of Life Writing by Two Writing Teachers

From My Chair Slice

I was inspired today by a video my instructional coach (she slices at On a Thought) made to teach primary students about Slice of Life writing. Two years ago she and I worked with my 2nd graders on Slice of Life writing as part of an inquiry I was doing for my yearly evaluation. It was a powerful experience and one I need to return to doing. I haven’t been slicing with students the last two years because of the demands of learning some new curriculum resources. This time of remote learning seems to be the perfect time to try some other types of writing with my students.

So here’s my From My Chair Slice for Slice of Life Tuesday:

From my chair I see . . .

My computer screen.

My new normal classroom.

 

From my chair I see . . .

Post-It notes at the ready.

Neon green reminders of things my brain can’t hold.

 

From my chair I see . . .

Stuffies given in love.

Reminders of smiling students.

 

From my chair I see . . .

An almost empty paper box made for a joyous summer celebration.

A vessel for stress relieving morsales of chocolatey goodness.

 

From my chair I see . . .

A precious photo of days gone by.

Little boys dressed for Halloween

 

From my chair I see . . .

All I need to get me through another day of teaching and learning from afar.

 

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Two Writing Teachers

Day 31 or Day 16 #SOL20

It’s day 31 of the 2020 Slice of Life challenge but it’s day 16 for me as I joined the challenge half way through this year. I am thankful to Two Writing Teachers for opening up the challenge midway through the month as a way to help many of us process how the world had changed in just two weeks. I’m grateful to have these 16 blog posts that have chronicaled this historic time.

I read a post earlier today by Book Dragon that was a play on a spine poem.  My fellow slicer encouraged me to give it a try in the reply to my comment on the post so here’s the story my titles tell:

A Slice of Morning Meeting

An Afternoon of Decompressing

Stay at Home Order

Schools Closed Indefinitely

Revelation

There Will Be Good

The encouragement from other writers throughout this challenge is what keeps many of us writing for 31 days or in my case 16. Thank you to the Slice of Life community for you words of support and encouragement. There were many stories to tell this year. I hope to join you on Tuesdays.

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Two Writing Teachers

Schools Closed Indefinitely #SOL20 Day 30

Well, it happened this afternoon. Our governor announced schools are closed indefinitely. We were getting notices in two week increments but this afternoon we received word of schools being closed indefinitely in my state. This may turn out to be a good thing as with things constantly changing the message from our school district kept changing too. We teachers are planners by nature and the ever changing requirements and expectations have made us a little crazy.  Maybe now we can have some consistency.

My desk and computer are covered with Post-It notes listing my Zoom meetings and training sessions. I can’t keep them straight. I started using a composition notebook to try and keep my planning and meetings organized but I haven’t been a pencil and paper planner for years now. I’ve used an online planbook since the 2012 school year and I miss it.

Screen Shot 2020-03-30 at 5.14.28 PMI decided to go to my digital planbook to get myself organized but I just couldn’t bring myself to edit my beautifully laid out planbook for the 2019-2020 school year. My schedule is laid out with a beautiful rainbow pattern listing each part of my day with the time. My reading workshop  blocks lists my four reading groups in a beautiful template so I only have to fill in the book we’re reading each week. I couldn’t face changing it. I’m still hopeful I’ll actually need my planbook again when I’m back in my classroom.

I made a new digital planbook today. It starts on March 29, 2020 and goes until June 12, 2020. I named it Remote Learning 2020. I am hoping I won’t need it until June but I think a part of me is starting to face the reality. The thought of not being in my classroom again with my students is heartbreaking. Zoom sessions are not the same. Those hugs I got on March 6th before they left for spring break cannot be duplicated in a Zoom session. The hard part though is that I see on their faces what I feel in my heart. We just aren’t talking about it yet.

 

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Two Writing Teachers