The Power of Keeping a Teaching Journal

“We surprise ourselves by what we write.  Writing is thinking, not thought recorded.”  —Donald Murray Far be it from me to add one more thing to your plate.  Heaven knows, it’s already overflowing!  However, this one-more-thing isn’t to please your administrator or a grumpy parent or the critical public.  It is just for you.  (Isn’t […]

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Second Semester: Give the Gift of a New Beginning

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” –Henry Ford I have always thought that one of the gifts of being a teacher is that every school year, and new semester for that matter, presents us with a fresh start.  No matter how difficult the previous year or semester was, we get to take […]

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Try the What-Went-Well Exercise for a Happier Year

“When we take time to notice the things that go right—it means we’re getting a lot of little rewards throughout the day.” – Martin E. P. Seligman, PhD.   I know we can all agree that 2020 was a rough year. This is especially true for teachers…and students…and parents of students doing remote learning.  And […]

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My FIRST DAY JITTERS lesson plan

Over the years, teachers have frequently asked me if I read any of my books to my middle school students. The answer is yes. I started off, as everyone does on that first day of a new year, by introducing myself.  After briefly sharing stories about my family, about my past teaching experiences, and even what […]

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A Story for the Teacher

“The shortest distance between two people is a story.”   –Patti Digh     Before first period, Sandra told me about her embarrassing cheerleading accident. After second period, TJ described a movie he saw over the weekend. Kyle always had a story for me; one day it was about his new kitten, on another it was about […]

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Motivational Quotes

                  Who doesn’t love a great quote? Quotes are a quick way to not only motivate yourself to write, but the best ones seem to get to the truth in as few words as possible.  Below is a short list of some of my favorites: “The more […]

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Thank You Teachers! (Part 2)

“Something ancient and holy was unfolding all around me. It was what the wandering pilgrim-poet Basho called a ‘glimpse of the under-glimmer’ an experience of the deeply real that lurks everywhere beneath centuries of stereotypes and false images that prevent us from truly seeing other people.” The Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau   When […]

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Thank You Teachers! (part 1)

On a good day, when there isn’t a pandemic, it’s hard to be a teacher. And yet, day-by-day, year-by-year, teachers bring their A-game, giving their all to their students. They use their own funds to buy books and supplies, spend their evenings creating engaging lessons and weekends grading assignments. They deal compassionately with children’s emotional […]

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Minilesson Monday: Mapping the Writing Process

I believe that one of the most valuable tools I use as a writer is understanding my own personal process of creating and revising.   Over the years, I have learned, through trial and error and lots of reflection, what writing strategies and approaches work best for me. As a writing teacher, I wanted my students […]

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