Ideas but No Direction


A few years back I took the Strengthsfinder assessment. One of my top 5 strengths is ideation. Some people might consider this strength a weakness because of how they perceive ideation in action. Ideation is the ability to generate ideas and make connections between seemingly disparate phenomena. I like this strength. I like how I have a lot of ideas for anything I do, and I like how my brain craves to know more, find answers, and seek new solutions.

Still, though, problems emerge with this strength:

  1. I sometimes chase one idea then another then another not knowing where to stop.
  2. Others shake their head in bewilderment as to what my point is.
  3. Ideas come at strange time
  4. Sometimes at the last minute I decide to manufacture a product from an idea and do so before I can envision where I’m going.
  5. Without a clear vision, my dots get jumbled and the mental picture created is unclear even for me.
  6. Oftentimes I chase new ideas instead of just building off an old idea.

In the past, I would take those ideas and jump into the deep end. Lately, though, I’ve realized that easing into the water really is better for everyone.

Because I keep nodding off, I’m going to cut this post short. Perhaps I need to let these thoughts sit in the shallow end before wading deeper.Perhaps I need to rethink the ways I allow this strength to work for me.

Perhaps the time is now for the hamster to step off the wheel and let the ideas rest.

Yes…even my ideas need rest. If I write anymore, the dots will create a jumbled mess.




Letter of Reflection/Encouragment


Day 31 of 31 of Year 5 Slicing & First Year I’ve Posted Daily before Midnight

The other morning I was listening to the Jeff and Jenn Show ( & ) on Star 94.1 and I got an idea for a my last blogpost of the month. You see the DJs both wrote letters to themselves (Jenn’s letter, Jeff’s letter). These were letters they wrote to themselves, letters of reflection and encouragement inspired from a producer who had done the same thing when first moving to Atlanta.

After a month of daily blogging, I feel like an inspirational letter of challenge would be a good way for me to think about how I can heed my words moving forward.

Dear Maya,

Congratulations! For the first time in 5 years of slicing with Two Writing Teachers, you have  met the midnight deadline in your daily blogs. Wow! Way to go! When you focus on  a goal and set your sights on it, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to achieving. That is something that you are finally seeing at the age of 47. 

Even though the blogging takes a lot of time, you become much more cognizant of the little things in life as you write daily. You have an outlet for your swirling thoughts, and you are able to process things and gain a more realistic perspective. With the encouragement from reader friends who discuss your posts with as well as teachers who you’ve never met who leave comments, you are able to make sense of the challenges you face.

Just this month you have written and reflected and come to a greater understanding of the nuances of your principal as you wrote of his “Button Pushing Hyperbolic Subtlety” as well as with “The Best.”  

You dealt with writer’s block with parodies, haiku, and bad poetry. Haikuing your way out of writer’s block and filling your blog space, baby, that made for fun moments.

You squared off with your #oneword2016, deliberate, asked some tough questions, and tried some new things. Of course, remember what your “nuts and bolts” principal tells you, “Maya, you’ve got to try something for longer than a few days to know if it works.” Maya, reflect on what you’ve written and tried this month but not for too long. Remember you’ve decided that you need to have a “Bias Towards Action.” Remember that you getting things done will give you more of what you need and more of what your family needs.

Spend your break rereading some of your posts, so you can take reflection into action. Maya, you’ve come a long way. Your words on your blog help you process, but you know, girl, that without action reflection is nothing. Reflection needs to turn into something. You need to set goals–stretch and smart goals, so you can begin to accomplish what you set out to do.  Your kids are growing up. Spend some time with Duhigg–read the rest of Smarter Better Faster: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. You’ll find it refreshing to read a book from outside of the realm of education, and it might be just what you need, a new perspective to fix old problems–deliberateness, prioritization, balance. Remember, though, if you can post and comment for 31 days straight, you can build routines and habits in other areas of life as well. Don’t let the process culminate as words on a screen–make this process something that can be seen. 

Today as you walked with Sarah through the parking lot, you were holding hands as you walked.  A part of you wanted to freeze that moment in time as you began to fear the time that would come when she would no longer hold your hand in parking lots. 

Yes, you have a stack of papers. Yes, you want to engage your students. Yes, you get pulled up and down the hall to help people with technology. At the end of the day, though, you know who the most important people are in your life. Live that love for family. Prioritize. Be deliberate. Figure out how to be Smarter Better Faster

Your boss is right about that. You need to take down time. You need to calendar your down time. In fact, you need to figure out  over break because you know he’s going to ask you when you plan to shut down. Don’t even say you can’t shut down for a few weeks. You can. You will. You must. For your family. For your students. For your coworkers. For yourself. Your health and well-being depend on it. Remember that blog post about letting go

Remember, Maya,  what Jon Gordon wrote. Remember that post you wrote about it–when you feel like you haven’t done something to the best of your ability, when you feel less than successful. When you see a 2 on an evaluation based on a 10 minute window–the way you see each moment is a matter of your perspective. You are not failing; you are becoming. Continue the process of becoming each and every day.









Don’t Blink


Baby Toes?

Adorable kissable baby toes–don’t  you just love them?   Look at those little toes–those aren’t the toes of my 8-year-old, are they?  Where did the baby toes go?

Tonight I painted Sarah’s fingernails and toenails because tomorrow is picture day. Yes, I know the nails won’t show, but that didn’t stop her insistence.

As we sat across from each other, we laughed, talked, sang, and cut up. Times like tonight make me wonder why I let so many potential moments pass me by?  Look at those toes. One day they’ll be as big as mine.


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Simple Pleasures

Sometimes I get so caught up in the responsibilities of teaching that I forget about the simple pleasures of being a mom.

Actually, I think that’s kind of sad and pathetic because, after all, my first role as teacher is all about the footsteps I walk in my own house.



I adore my kids. As an “older” parent, I sometimes shake my head when people say something like, “Don’t blink because they will be all grown up. Hold on to each precious moment.”

Tonight I saw a precious moment in a simple pleasure–simply being together in an ordinary moment. And in the moment what I found was the extraordinary in the ordinary. And tonight I didn’t want to blink for fear that those little baby toes would be all grown up.

Truly living life is about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. A few jars of nail polish, and a little girl time–so simple, so beautiful–extraordinary. As I wrapped my arms around Sarah, she took my phone to snap the shot. As soon as I looked at the photo, I knew I didn’t want to blink.



Collaboration: Opening not Closing Doors






Sometimes I love collaboration. When people with different ways of thinking come together, each with his/her own strengths, each willing to contribute, each willing to listen to the others. I love that. I can see the sum is greater than the parts, and I can feel the impact it has on my teaching.









I love how we can envision teaching and learning in new ways and make what we do better. I love hearing other people’s ideas for teaching strategies to work with a certain concept, skill, or text. I love sharing an idea and having someone help me break it down, and together we build it back up until we know that something amazing has been created that will engage students and impact learning.





138900c6ce0e90745e024b15be48f70aOther times I shake my head wondering how in the world a team of people so different can possibly come into one room and share ideas willingly, contribute equally, and follow through consistently? In these moments, I wonder how I can be inclusive instead of divisive, and what I can do to build on the good each person has to offer.

What collaboration boils down to is teamwork, shared responsibility, and listening. Most of all, teachers need to be able to see the other people’s strengths and view working together as a good thing and not see what is happening in the classroom next door as a competition. We are, in fact, all in this together.

This time of the year is always tough on collaboration: testing season, spring break, the final quarter, yet perhaps this is the time collaboration is most important. This is sometimes the time when doors are closing when they should be opening. When I’m in the final stretch, I would like to cheer on others and be cheered on, too. And I’d like to know that we are all on the same team, and this is not about personal best it’s about coming together to challenge, inspire, and share.

Part of why I love blogging with SOL is because here is a place where I feel challenged and inspired, and we are, this month especially, spending a lot of time together–collaboratively not competitively. Thank you.







Go Head to Head or Cultivate Peace?

Day 8 of 31: SOLSC


How often have people advised you to avoid confrontation with this or that person. They will advise you in no uncertain terms that you should not go head to head with _____________ (that kid, that teacher, that guy, that boss, etc.)  They go on to to tell you that you’ll never win.

Recently I found myself advising adults in a certain child’s life to not go head to head with this child because it just doesn’t work. I attributed my building of rapport and improved relationship to not going head to head. Perhaps that helped, but what really changed is I showed the student I cared about him, his struggles, and his success. Essentially, I listened and empathized.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the people I have gone head to head with on a regular basis over the past few years:

  • certain friends
  • authority figures (yes, the boss)
  • certain students
  • my own children

Now I realize that over the years I’ve been “that” person, the one they say not to go head to head with.

I can imagine what was said, “Don’t go head to head with her. She’s stubborn. She’s defiant. She’s opinionated and bullheaded. She’s self-righteous.”

The mere act of going head to head results in the power tipping one way or the other or in stalemate with two people walking away frustrated, mad, and misunderstood. In essence, neither way leads to understanding. Perhaps  a kinder, gentler, more empathic me will emerge if I try to keep this in mind. Who wants to come out swinging? I, for one, do not.


Yes, I have noticed that when I change, the people around me change, too. It’s a beautiful thing, actually.

As I watch the presidential debates, I see personal attacks and mudslinging. I see individuals playing dirty as they go head to head.

Perhaps the answer isn’t fighting for my beliefs. Perhaps the answer isn’t about making sure you understand where I’m coming from. Perhaps as I continue to seek to grow and change my nature, I will find myself able to listen on a different level. Perhaps then, I’ll truly embrace the answer, an  answer of cultivating peace and understanding.

Perhaps then, someone will speak of me in this way:

Don’t go head to head with her. She won’t take your bait. She will rise above that, listen, and meet you where you are in a non-confrontational way. She will cultivate peace and understanding.

That’s the person I’d like to be, so please don’t go head to head with me. This isn’t backing down. This isn’t a loss. This definitely isn’t weakness. This is truly victory on a higher level.

Let me end with powerful peace cultivating words,  The St. Francis Prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.



Time on Task: Deliberate


I want to see what I can do this evening to be more deliberate (One Word, OLW)  in my evening tasks. I want to get some things done, but I want to do it without wasting time. I set up tasks using a Google Chrome Extension called Task Timer.

taskI used an app called Task Timer. Now I’m going to see what I can get done in the next hour and a half.


1 hour and 40 minutes later, I feel good about tonight. I set times and I stuck pretty closely to them. I got my work done, and I will be in bed at an hour that is more reasonable than usual.

Here is how I spent my time:


Was I deliberate? Yes. It took me a few tasks to realize that I should turn on the volume, so I would hear the warning bing. I wanted to be done at 10:30–it’s now 10:40. Lessons are updated. I have a few more newbie SOL blogs I need to respond to, but I’m going to save that until tomorrow.

My goal: finish my tasks and go to bed before 11. I did better than usual.

Things that threw me off: converting my clipped image from tiff to jpg, emails and messages coming in on my phone and at the top of my computer screen, my daughter saying goodnight a second time, and the dog chomping on her rawhide.

Now I just need to figure out how to add a little R and R into my tasks.

10 minutes–I can be in bed. My body needs more rest. Goodnight.







One Word 2016: Deliberate. As I sought to become more intentional and focused in my actions, I chose the word deliberate for this year. I liked the fact that my word could express my thoughts as a verb, an action. I liked the fact that I could strive to become a more deliberate person as if I could grab hold of this adjective, this trait and think with a sort of conscious awareness that would propel me into action. As if…

One Word 2015: Prioritize.  The result of 2015 was  I felt incomplete and reworded and rebranded myself (and my blog name) for 2016–perhaps a new word with a new slant would change my actions, help me prioritize, and help me evolve into a person who meanders less and becomes deliberate.

Yeah, right…I ain’t there yet!

I get things done. I meet my deadlines. Still, though, I just feel like there is so much to do and not enough hours in the day to do all these things. I feel like I am always playing catch up. For March Madness (blogging madness, that is), I add blogging and commenting to my plate, and life becomes busier.

I have no problem filling my plate with so many things, yet taking the time deliberately to get things done is where I find myself challenged.

I deliberately looked for deliberate quotes/images to examine. Tonight I deliberate about becoming more deliberate.



While this weekend, I gave time to my husband, my kids (not enough, though), my mom, and my friends, now I find myself wondering how to fit all the things to do before tomorrow in this evening while still being deliberate about the sleep my body needs.

I do want sleep. I sacrifice sleep. My husband constantly tells me about the studies that show that sleep deprivation leads to   X, Y, and Z.  Yet still the clock ticks, midnight comes and goes, I’m still awake, and 5:30 AM is sooooo early.

At some point being deliberate should mean getting the rest I need, giving my family the time they need, and turning off my brain long enough to relax and refuel. A person can only go, go, go for so long.


Intentional and Accidental directions.  Opposite traffic sign.

The intentional action produces deliberate results.

The accidental action takes me down my meandering path. Sometimes I make sense of my meandering, yet other times I flounder and get sidetracked.





For me, this means think about what I’m going to do, and then, make it happen. All too often, I have spent too much time considering, and then, the action just doesn’t happen.




For me, I think this quote is what being deliberate needs to become for me–manage my thoughts, focus my attention, and act deliberately. Compartmentalizing anything other than a multiple choice question is difficult for me.



deliberate2bdefinition And therein lies what being a deliberate person truly means. Being this blog is one of eight things I need to do tonight. Checked blog off the to do list I made (Yes, I made a to do list for a change!). Let’s see if I can be deliberate and prioritize this evening as I work my way through what absolutely needs to be done on my to do list.



How true this is! Perhaps this is the essence of being and living deliberately instead of just thinking deliberately.

I liken this to the difference between wisdom and prudence–prudence is the pinnacle of wisdom–this is where the actions match the thoughts.

Now I shall go and see if I can quit deliberating so much about being deliberate. Moving thoughts to action.

My goal in being deliberate is truly the action brought about by focused attention and managed thoughts.

The time is now.

Taking Flight


“I’m into butterflies now,” my 82-year-old mom told me this afternoon showing me her latest paintings.

People throughout the world are into butterflies, too.The symbols of the butterfly are many: hope, endurance, change, life, time, soul, grace, growth, elegance, resurrection, expansion, lightness, surrender, transition, expression, celebration, and vulnerability.


Today my favorite painting of the three is the butterfly on the left (and below), the one taking flight.

Look closely at this butterfly. I connect to her as she prepares for take off. She’s transitory yet grounded. She’s moving forward into her future. Her destination is elusive, and her desire to fly is apparent. She’s suspended in a moment of grace, a moment that may or may not last based on what happens and how she responds as she flies into the foggy green horizon.

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Taking Flight

Ah, the winged, transformative creature is no longer an awkward clunky caterpillar as she prepares to spread her wings. She is made anew. I loved this painting as soon as I saw it. In her newness preparing to take flight, she still appears a bit vulnerable as her legs are not firmly planted, her wings look fragile, and the horizon is elusive, yet this moment is still one of grace.

Sometimes at the age of 47,  I feel like this winged creature. Not too long ago, I pushed my way out of my cocoon-like walls and shed myself of my caterpillar clunkiness, and now I feel like I am becoming more butterfly.

Taking flight, shedding the old, and becoming anew–feeling a bit vulnerable in self-discovery of who I’ve been and who I’m becoming. No longer protected by the walls of my cocoon, no longer clunking around as a caterpillar, I am taking flight.



Perhaps on another day I will feel as if I have spread my wings in celebration of my true self without the vulnerability or elusiveness that I sometime feel now.

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Spreading my Wings



WINGS OF_____________

Day to day and moment to moment as I spread my wings, perhaps I will feel the wings of hope, change, endurance, and life. Who knows, but as long as I spread my wings and open myself to discovery of who I am and who others around me are, I will continue to grow and change and love in new ways.

I, too, am into butterflies.

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Wings of ___________________

So much depends

Slice Daily for the Entire Month of March

March Slice of Life Challenge

Once again, I offer my apologies to William Carlos Williams. His short poems make perfect model/mentor/copycat poems, especially now when I have little energy to create my own writing.

A Good Night’s Sleep

so much depends

a good night’s

filled with a soft

beneath my snoozing

A Hacking Cough

so little left because

a hacking

stealing my restful

and killing my

The Original

The Red Wheelbarrow
W. C. Williams

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Engage: It’s all the Rage

Slice Daily for the Entire Month of March

March Slice of Life Challenge

Yesterday I wrote about the desire to create Endings that Don’t Suck. That writing helped me reflect and so did the responses I received from fellow teacher bloggers who affirmed me and gave me a few ideas, as well as the usual suspect, that blog reading princiPAL of mine who told me to go back and read all the good things on my evaluation.

I did. I like to see the nice stuff, but lately I like to see the other stuff, too. I like to see the challenge. I like to get the feedback. In fact, perhaps I dare even say I am glad I had 6 evals this year because I got something from each visit, and I did something to improve from each visit. The way my mind works, though, is the good is good because of where my passion and interests lie, so I don’t focus on that as much because usually that builds naturally for me.

Here’s what I thought about after blogging and reading responses.
All I need to do to figure things out is
be open,
and reflect on what that means for me,
Then, I just need to do something.
Reflecting is who I am, but reflection without action is stagnation.

And so, I did a little Googling, did a little thinking, and I found myself thinking about comments from a few people about involving the kids. Then, I thought about buy in from the kids and from me, so today I tried out something new, “Anyone who has a QR reader, get your phone out.” We’re pretty nerdy in my room because I’m involved in a TechEd initiative.

That being the case phones are flying out of pockets and they are on the QR reader app (I-nigma is my favorite) and scanning my code.

QR reflection

This comes from the work of Tony Vincent. Here is some more QR fun from him.

After the students had fun answering random questions, we talked about QR codes,and what they thought of closings. The students collectively groaned–they don’t like closings. I told them that in a moment of learning (like yesterday) I would be involved working them and would forget, even shutting off the alarm and promptly forgetting it went off.

I asked them what they thought about creating closings using QR codes and technology. I said how about we try to think of closings that we’re excited about. So that’s where I am today–for me, all the rage is to engage.

If I’m bored, they’re bored.
If I’m not having fun, they’re not having fun.
If I don’t enjoy what I do, what’s the point.

Yeah, I know, it’s not all fun and games, but I’m passionate about learning, I’m passionate about my content, I’m passionate about loving what I do.

For me to consistently be “The Closer” I think I’ve got to find a way to add it to my schtick. Anytime I can combine fun and learning; there is buy in on all levels, and anytime I can put a little of my own flavor in something, well, that’s awesome, too.

I think as I look how I can use my strengths to build my weaknesses I am finally getting the hang of what evaluation is really meant to do for us as teachers. Evaluation should really, after all, be an opportunity to learn and grow. I’m really sounding like a Born Again teacher, ha.

Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog. Slicing with y’all puts me in such an amazing community of teacher writers with whom I connect. People think I’m crazy for writing every day of March. Day 5 and I’m still inspired, and I am determined to post before midnight each night lest I turn into a pumpkin.