Monday, March 14, 2016

Why I Write

I have been reading quite a few blogs on writing and writing instruction.  I read Margaret Simon's blog about discovering the writer's life, Pernille Ripp's blog about helping students find their writing identity, and multiple blogs from Two Writing Teachers.  This really got me thinking about why we want our students to write, how I do not write nearly enough, and why I need to write more.

In Pernille's blog, she writes about how she was asked to be recorded speaking about her writing process for Wisconsin Writes.  There's a great video where she talks about this process.  I watched the video and started reflecting that I don't really have a process.  I suppose I do in the fact that I get everything out of my head when I write a blog post and hit the publish button.  I've never been much of a drafter or one who does multiple revisions.  After reading these blogs it really made me reflect that I really need a more defined writing process to help me grow as a writer.  My trigger finger tends to be really quick when it comes to clicking the publish button.  So this was reflection number one.

Pernille blog really inspired me to keep writing (hence this post!). She talks about how every writer is a writer! And every writer needs time and choice.  All great points to remember when working with young writers.

Another reason why I write and blog is to work my feelings out, sometimes my writing may not always be clear. For example, I watched a very powerful 20/20 episode about the Heroin epidemic in America and more specifically in New Hampshire. I wrote a blog post about it. What stood out to me was the person reporting mentioned that imprisoning addicts does not solve the problem. They shared two heartbreaking stories of families. I shared my thoughts and it helped me heal a little more.  I never think I'll be fully healed, I believe the grief will always be there and I just continually learn to accept a new normal.  I will never get over the premature loss of my brother.

I write for myself, and if I can help someone along the way with Kevin's story or a book review, or a new teaching tip then I am achieving what I set out to achieve.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

#SOL16 Heroin in America: A Personal Story

"Mary, you're brother is dead. He overdosed."

Those were words I had been waiting to hear but was hoping I would never hear. Kevin, my younger brother, passed away Friday, January 4th, 2013. It's a day I will always remember.

I'm watching Friday's 20/20 episode about Heroin in America and it is heartbreaking. I find it interesting that according to 20/20 129 people die every day from drug overdoses and more specifically prescription pills and heroin.

It is hard to watch but these stories need to be told.  I listened to a father relay the story of when he received the news that his son had overdosed again, but did not make it.  It was reliving that awful day.

My first reaction when my dad called to tell me was to not believe him. I wanted to know what hospital Kevin was at so I could go visit him.  Even when I saw him on the gurney at the funeral home, in the back of my mind I kept thinking he would just sit up.  It never seemed real.

I have shared bits and pieces of Kevin's story before, and I keep coming back to it because I truly feel that it can help save someone or multiple someones.  Kevin had a promising future despite many obstacles he faced and was able to overcome, yet he gave in and succumbed to a drug addiction. He was a semester away from graduating with a degree in sociology and had the capacity to help so many people.

My main reason for sharing this is because addiction in this country needs to be seen and treated as a mental illness.  And mental illness needs to be treated just as much as a heart condition or any other disease.  We should not feel embarrassed because someone in our family is an addict or has a mental illness.  I will not be embarrassed and will keep telling Kevin's story in hopes that it can save someone's life. I couldn't save my brother's life, but I'm hoping this story can make a difference and save someone else's life.

I love you Kevin and miss you every day!

Friday, March 11, 2016

#SOL16 Currently

Here is what I've been up to:

I am absolutely loving The Lumineers' new song, "Ophelia"! I really liked (bit of an understatement!) their first album and their story. From what I understand the drummer was best friend's with the lead singer's brother. The lead singer's brother passed away from a heroin overdose and they helped their grief by writing and performing music. I truly believe music is healing.  When my brother passed away from similar circumstances I listened to the Grace Potter song, "Stars", over and over and over again. It really helped get me through.  An amazing, supportive network of family and friends helped too! 

I am loving this spring weather in the Chicago land area.  So exciting!  

My brain is on information overload. I started reading Elena Aguilar's book The Art of Coaching Teams with so many good ideas and things to think about!

I am wanting more time to read. With a 19 month old this has become a total luxury!  I also need a lot of sleep!  

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

#SOL16 Fear and Self Doubt

So on one hand I'm super proud of myself for committing to writing every day, but on the other hand, I'm kind of wondering what the heck I got myself into. March is turning out to be quite the month in our house with colds and just feeling out of sorts.  So that's been a battle.  A huge battle actually.  

Then I read other people's blogs, and they are so well written!  They are such great narratives, and I'm trying really, really hard to be kind to myself, and I'm just not there yet.  But I want to be there!  Right now, I just don't have time to revise and edit like I want to.  But with trying to focus on the positive, I'm writing practically every day. And that is huge for me!  This is the most I've written in quite a while.  So I do have that to be proud of.  I'm hoping we are on the mend so I can write more in-depth blogs.  I feel like I'm barely scratching the surface lately!  

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

#SOL16 Kind of Excited

I am new to my position as a middle school instructional coach and have enjoyed the school, students, and culture of my new school.  It has been such a rewarding experience.  

I was talking to my assistant principal about an idea I had that wasn't of interest in my previous district. I wanted to start One Book, One District.  She was all on board!  

We hashed out our mission and vision and some action steps, she shared it with district level personnel, and it looks like we are going to get moving on this!  

We are a K-8 District so I'm thinking we may have to do two books, one for the middle school and one for the elementary kids.  I'm guessing we will want the same theme.  Some book titles that stand out to me, but I'm afraid a majority of kids have read are Out of My Mind and Wonder.  

So, I guess I'm looking for ideas on book titles and activities.  What have you guys done that has worked? Thank you for reading! 

Monday, March 7, 2016

#SOL16 Day 6: Life Happened

I'm a tad disappointed in myself. This weekend was intense with a tot who was feeling under the weather. Since the later part of last week, Grace wasn't sleeping through the night. She would wake up around 3 crying and we would bring her in our bed.  It's a habit I really don't want to start, but we were desperate!

I think this all goes back to the Great Toddler Hunger Strike we are experiencing. She's not eating enough at dinner and this is making her wake up in the middle of the night.  Luckily, we had success last night. I put her down at around 8, but she woke up an hour later. I gave her some whole milk and she went back to bed and slept till 6:30 this morning! (Luckily I am off today for Pulaski Day!)

I'm hoping we are seeing a trend of sleeping through the night.  I have been debating about looking into essential oils and possibly try some of those. She has a runny nose again and I'm not sure if it's a cold or allergies.  I'm just hoping we can get some normal sleep this week!  So that's why I was off the grid :o) I was dealing with a fussy toddler!

Friday, March 4, 2016

#SOL16 The Great Hunger Strike

Each day in March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Writing Challenge. I got this amazing idea from Two Writing Teachers. 

My day began at 2:50 this morning with the cries of a hungry, angry toddler! 

We are currently experiencing a toddler hunger strike.  She used to love avocados. Now if I even show her one, I get a glare and a look as if I was trying to poison her. Same with yogurt. Same with meatballs. Same with many other foods. 

Her neonatologist warned us that this may happen, and we kind of brushed it off.  Gracie has a healthy appetite, she's so good at trying new foods, and she eats just about anything we give her were thoughts we frequently shared.  Well, now we are experiencing the great hunger strike.  

So for now, we are providing a variety of foods and try not to stress when she doesn't eat much at dinner.  But it's so nerve racking for this first-time momma!  I'm trying to remind myself that every stage has struggles but also has so many wonderful moments such as running Gracie hugs!  The smile when I pick her up from the sitter and many more.  I just worry if I'm doing right by my baby girl, and of course, in my brain I know I am!  But if anyone has any suggestions or magic toddler food please let me know! 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Thankful Thursday #SOL16 Day 3

I was reading a Slice of Life blog and the author (I wish I would have saved it!) was reflecting on being thankful. I know from personal experience how easy it is to slip in a negative/complaining mindset. I do not like staying there. The post that I had read was about thankfulness and I loved it. I had bought a gratitude journal a while back, but have fallen out of the habit of using it. So I am thinking I will use my Thursday blogs to post about what I am grateful for. The biggest thing I am grateful for is my family. My husband is amazing and so supportive. I've been trying to get back on a clean eating kick and he is supporting me 100% and even suggested I try a new studio for spin. Which I am absolutely loving! It's spin with weights. I am also grateful for my daughter Gracie. She is just amazing with everything she has overcome being born 10 weeks early. She makes me laugh and smile so much. I'm amazed at what she learns everyday. I am also grateful for my mom and dad. We have been through so much as a family (see this blog post if you want to find out more!) They are amazing grandparents to Gracie, and she is so lucky to have them. They have helped my little family out in so many ways, and I am beyond grateful and lucky to have them!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Engaging With Breakout EDU#SOL16 Day 2

Each day in March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Writing Challenge. I got this amazing idea from Two Writing Teachers! My district is new this year to Breakout EDU. If you're not sure what it is, let me explain. It's the same general idea of a breakout room where adults are locked into a room. There are clues posted around the room, and the objective is to break out. Breakout EDU has brought a version of that into classrooms and it is amazing! "When are we doing this again?" "This was awesome!" "This used all of our special gifts and we worked as a team!" These were just a sampling of comments that I heard from students. So the premise of Breakout EDU is that there is a box, and that box has a certain number of locks. Apparently it is frowned upon to lock middle schoolers in a room! There are clues strategically placed around the room. The company has some premade games and we usually start out with one as we want the teachers to see what the format is. The kids have to use the clues to open the locks. We had used a directional lock, 2 number locks, and a letter lock. The students had to work together to figure out the clues. It was so exciting to hear their enthusiasm and awe and wonder as they worked their way through the clues to solve the puzzle! Such a rewarding day!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Being More Present #SOL16 Day 1

Each day in March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Writing Challenge.

I had to take a sick day from school today to take my 18-month-old daughter Grace to several doctor appointments yesterday.  I look at this picture and wonder where time has gone.  How has my little girl grown up so fast? 

Gracie is getting fitted for glasses. She was born ten and a half weeks early so the doctors have been keeping a close look (pun intended!) at her vision and if it is improving. And it's not improving so glasses here we come! (Side note, I'm not sure if she will keep them on and I'm a little worried  

My one little word that I have chosen for myself this year is present. I need to be more present in the moment. Spend less time on my phone or in a book, and more time observing what's around me. While we were at the eye doctor, I looked over at Gracie sitting on my husband's lap and saw this! She looks like a big girl. Not a baby anymore, but a toddler. This was a reminder to me to put my phone down...after I snapped this adorable picture, and take in every little detail. This stage will be over before I know it, so I just want to soak it in.