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.









Writing Territories



More later…incomplete brainstorming of idea

Today I was thinking about how I want a page of ideas because some days I just think about what’s nagging me or about how tired I am, and that gets old after awhile. Then, I remembered the days before the high stakes got higher and the days before CC architect David Coleman told us all that nobody really gives a shit about what you (students) think or feel.  Back in the days, where I spent time with students gathering seed ideas for writing. I thought how I would make a page of seed ideas for writing based on that mini-lesson of helping students find their writing territories. Then, I can add to the list from time to time and use the list as a launching pad at others.  I may also go through the list at some point and think of what on it really fits for a slice. Below I have included Atwell’s list followed by my response:

Atwell’s list from which to gather writing territories:

* memories: early, earlier, and recent

* favorites, now and then
* obsessions * pets, now and then
* idiosyncrasies * teachers, now and then
* problems * places: school, camp, trips, times away with             friends and relatives
* dreams * hobbies
* itches * sports
* understandings * games
* confusions * music
* passions * books
* sorrows * poems
* risks * songs
* accomplishments * movies
* fears * writers and artists
* worries * food
* fantasies * pet peeves
* family, close and distant * beloved things—objects and possessions—now             and then
* friends, now and then * all the loves of your life
* fads * anything else

 My Writing Territories list:


Grown up memories-my first classroom, getting married, birth of my kids, Bike South 2000, my children’s injuries, snuggle time, KMWP

Childhood memories-hiding in my closet as a child, playing in the woods, writing notes in class, correcting a ex-boyfriend’s love letter, the fight in 8th grade


coffee, random Googling to find answers to things that aren’t important, checking email


I’m not sure I have these. I eat ketchup on my grilled cheese. Maybe I should ask someone else…


What is this problems that bother me? GA and CC–to be or not to be? Testing culture, not knowing what will be on the tests, the mystery of the state of education,  feeling like I teach well and jump through hoops, working too hard, lack of balance, not knowing how to juggle all of life’s demands, consistency in balance


A new house, visiting family in Iceland, a convertible


Bipartisin nature of education reform, emphasizing standards over teaching, lack of real support with teaching, not enough support for literacy, too many worksheets for my kids, teachers without passion


Losing my dad, my mom’s loneliness, the thought of losing a loved one, Cancer


Back in the day I was a free and reckless spirit. Not so much now–perhaps it’s teaching and motherhood


Don’t know that I’d want to blog my accomplishments…


Losing my husband or kids, the thought of losing my mom, not being good enough, never being able to conquer clutter in my mind/house/classroom


being the youngest, seeing my youngest be the youngest, little sisters, big brothers, half brothers, family in Iceland, getting new family when marrying, sibling rivalry


Tracy and Mandy-friends then a fight, reuniting–Arizona trip, Bonnie and Lisa, team friends, high school friends, bike tour friends, work friends, 


Silly bands become rubber bands, Loom bands–from my child’s obsession to eBay, my boy and his Elite socks


coffee, dark chocolate, Apple gadgets, The Closer, Colbert


Annabelle my Border Collie Aussie herder


WP teachers, 


hiking/camping in Iceland


writing, hiking, camping


training, yoga, cycling


Head Bandz, Apples to Apples, Words with Friends


U2, my daughter and music, my husband’s love songs




The Rider, the misinterpreted poem, Two Voice poems, fun poems with kids, playing with poems, parody, 


the lullaby at night for my 6 year old, my bad voice




dark chocolate, Hibachi, Welcome to Moes, fireside picnic basket

Pet Peeves

sharpening a pencil while someone is talking, tapping a pencil like it’s a drumstick, people not doing their jobs, children talking back, 

Beloved Things

The Loves of My Life

Anything pales in comparison to my amazing husband–the one and only true love of my life

Anything Else






I Tried to Find a Slice



Day 2


Today I tried to find a slice

in a moment of the day,

but nothing took hold

as words for the blog.

Maybe because I didn’t seek

to live each moment of the day.


Today there was laundry,

sleeves reaching out

through the lid

beckoning me to the task.

I started the laundry.


Today my husband , as usual, finished what I started.

He finished the laundry.


Today my husband played with the kids.

He cooked dinner with the kids helping.


Today there was beautiful weather.  

I spent  the day inside

planning and typing and preparing

for another week.


Tonight there was reading and snuggling.

My daughter seemed to fall 

asleep holding my hand,

and I thought I found a slice,

but she was still awake

and wanted me to stay.


I dozed off thinking of the things to do

before bed.

Restlessness in my head.

Not present in a moment.

Then, I sat in her room

with my laptop tapping away

to prepare for another day.


Today I didn’t live enough

to find the slice of life

I’d like to live.


Tomorrow I want to live by a different tune,

so at the end of the day,

I’ll  have a happy moment 

wrapped neatly in words

on a page.













Still Seeking Sacred



Looking at my one word for the year–sacred–I am trying to find how that will work for me tomorrow. You see tomorrow marks a new venture and a return to a sacred spot as I begin doing some work with KMWP, my local chapter of the National Writing Project.  I’m trying to figure out how I am going to work with teachers at the school level and where this is going to take my presentation. I’ve decided to change directions from focusing on content writing in working with social studies teachers to reclaiming the sacred in writing.

As I surround myself with other teachers who truly value the sacredness of certain practices in the teaching of writing, I will force myself to look long and hard and what I am doing right now and how I need to change. This is both scary and exhilarating to me, scary because I know I have taken the prepackaged units given to me and not done what I could and what I should to make them better and exhilarating because I am going to finally begin to put into action what has been tearing at my writing teacher soul this school year.  Questions I have to answer as I seek to find the wiggle room in the units provided to me.  

  • How can I add writing that isn’t text-based or is loosely text-based that will help each student find his/her own unique voice?
  • How can I loosen the shackles of the curriculum and seek the sacred in writing? I mean I have a provided unit, but I have some freedom.
  • In this age of collaboration and data and same page teaching, CC and district mandates, how can I find a way, in spite of it all, to do what is best for my student writers?
  • How can I do all I have to do but still create a space where writers will flourish?
  • How can I find the time and space for the sacredness of the writing groups?
  • Jim Gray, founder of NWP, writes of how writing project teachers find their niche in the teaching of writing. I want to find my niche, explore my niche, and yes, even (ugh!) scratch my niche. 
  • How can I help my students find a true audience when the summative tasks provided are essays written for me?
  • How can I help students still find that memoir that exists inside all of us and use writing not just for analysis, but also to  make meaning out of life?

Wallflower Blog

A blog after 10 is a wallflower,

Standing alone,


Waiting for a dance,

Will my words be forlorn?

Will my blog disappear in the cyber-void, unnoticed?

Please glance my way,

finding my words.


Another late blogger responding

and hoping for someone to find her words

at the end of our blogging day,


My thoughts are tired and rambling,

or blank and wordless.

Maybe it’s better if my words stay on the wall, alone.


Why do I make myself write?

Fingers poised on the keys,


no words coming.

It’s Tuesday night–

I don’t know what to write.


I think of what my fellow bloggers have shared

their hopes, their dreams, their fears–

Connected to bloggers by the sacredness

of words–just one word per blogger, a personal mantra for 2013–

celebrate, joy, live, create, gratitude, love,

embrace, dreams, gratitude, dedication,

courage, contentment, believe,

acceptance, irrigate, renew,

continue, refresh—

Authentic words and real commitment…

Oh, to be those mantras rolled into one,

Even with my blog’s loneliness,

just writing with you is enough,

a sacred time, space, and place

where our words dance with one another.