Slice of Life Day 17 – Omar 

Thank you, Omar.

For picking up my family in the middle of the night.

For leaving your own sleeping family to take mine back to the airport.

For sharing your phone number, just in case.

For having seat belts in your taxi.

For driving your cab and making our adventure possible, even though, at home in Egypt you were an accountant.

For driving safely with my whole world buckled into your seats.

For sharing your family’s story and listening to my husband tell you ours.

For your genuine kindness.

It mattered to us.

Thank you, Omar.


Slice of Life Day 15 – A Day

It’s one of those days. The kind where you just want to put your head in your hands and have a good cry. I was awake much of last night thinking of a difficult conversation I needed to have once I arrived to school today. Starting the day both tired and apprehensive is not a winning combination.

I had to have this conversation. I am advocating for the best interest of students who need as much love and support as we can give. However, my colleague did not view my thoughts in the same way and nothing I had to say was well received. Our conversation ended with me hearing, “I can’t even talk to you. I’m not having this conversation.” All before 7:15 AM.

It took a lot of courage for me to have this conversation. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been as brave, so I guess that’s my silver lining. I know today that I will not apologize for doing what is right for students and children. My hope of conversation quickly became me feeling confrontation.

It’s now late in the afternoon, and I have resisted the urge to give in and cry or go home. Though both are tempting. But, I know the problem won’t go away with tears or avoidance. The optimist in me is hopeful that by tomorrow the, “I can’t talk to you,” will change to, “Let’s talk.”

Slice of Life Day 14 – Who am I as a writer?

I am a poet, essayist, short story writer, aspiring novelist, journalist, and list writer. My first and most formative experience as a writer was winning a citywide writing contest in sixth grade. I wrote a short story about a snowflake on a piece of wrapping paper who was separated from her family, as she was cut off the paper roll. That award was the first recognition that I received for having talent as a writer. Since then I have not received any awards, but I have regularly written many pieces – professional and personal – and continue to love the process of writing.

Another experience that shaped my craft was working as a writer for a company that provides online continuing education for emergency medical professionals. Over a three-year period, I wrote material for well over fifty courses. I researched, wrote and edited each course knowing that the content and accuracy of the work was vital and could truly mean the difference between life and death.

When my children were young and our family lived states away from any family, I regularly kept a blog detailing stories and anecdotes of our lives. My audience was family and close friends but all enjoyed reading stories of our adventures. While I do not write as routinely on that blog, I have kept numerous others and am currently part of this 31 day writing challenge, writing one slice of life every day.  In addition to writing for continuing education for medical professionals and a personal blog, I have also written other articles for local newspapers and at least one for a professional journal.

One challenge I have, that I am working on conquering, is having a writing life beyond my responsibilities as an educator. During vacations I keep a journal, but it is abandoned as we resume our daily activities at home. I have started countless daily gratitude journals to try to jump-start my writing life, but inevitably I am more grateful for not having to write about what I’m grateful for each day. I have written short stories for my children but not as often as I’d like. I have talked with colleagues about researching and publishing more professional articles, but the conversations have not morphed into printed word. Yet.

I can tell a story well, both orally and in writing, but I seem to find my strongest voice in the written word. I can convey emotion, mood, and setting in detail helping my readers to feel they are part of my experiences. While I can write a narrative, capturing the essence, I would like to improve my fiction writing abilities. I’m able to write a short story and have written a number of chunks of what I hope will eventually develop into novels, I generally turn to essay and nonfiction as preferred genres of writing. I greatly desire to improve my craft in fiction writing. After all, that is where I had my start as a writer winning the sixth grade writing contest. I’m sure there’s another story about a snowflake waiting to be written.

Slice of Life Day 13 – Writing Conferences

I would like to further and more deeply investigate the process of writing conferences with students. Currently, in my role as a Literacy Coach, I’m piloting the Lucy  Calkins Units of Study in a sixth grade English Language Arts class. This is also the first time I have taught using the Units of Study.

Currently when the students are writing, I pull small groups for precision instruction, as well as meeting one-on-one and having individual student writing conferences. During small group writing conferences, I generally review the day’s minilesson, as it relates to student writing. In the one-on-one conferences I work to notice something in the student’s writing, listen to understand why the author chose to write, and try to push the writer forward in their thinking and writing. My intentions and what actually happens are often disconnected, leading me to want to further investigate the process of writing conferences.

The Calkins Units of Study are very much process versus product oriented approach. The process oriented writing has made me work harder on my instructional approaches than I have in the past teaching writing. I need to be confident knowing where each of my students and my class are as a whole every day. However, my students are not yet fully used to learning for process, and I am not yet 100% confident in my instruction. I notice that I am leaving student authors feeling frustrated or confused during and after a writing conference. My students are looking for answers, when I am trying to instruct on process instead of driving them to produce a product. My intention is for students to understand the writing process so that they can transfer their learning from our sixth grade class  to their writing life beyond our classroom. We would all benefit from deeper learning and instruction on best practices in writing conferences.

Slice of Life Day 12 – State Champ

My son and his team played in the divisional state hockey championship this weekend. They lost their first game, so they automatically lost the ability to win the championship trophy. After that first game, in which their team played hard but was handily outskated and outwitted by their opponents, many of my son’s teammates skated right off the ice into the locker room. But my son, after fist bumping with all of the players, took off his right glove and shook hands with each of the referees and the opponent’s coaches. I swallowed tears at this gesture. My son knew they were out of contention for first place, but he had the heart to still act like the champion.

His team went on to win the second game yesterday and played for the consolation trophy this morning. Late in the second period of today’s game it was tied 2-2. My guy had a breakaway with a teammate and an opponent quickly closing the gap as they moved towards the goal. In a split second, he could have made a shot that likely would have pulled their team ahead, but he made a beautiful pass to his teammate. His teammate then shot and missed. Another teammate made the remaining two goals – alone – no passing when other players were wide open.

After the game, in which they won, and took home the consolation trophy, and well after the gear was packed up and we were headed home, I asked, “Why did you choose to pass?”

“Because I really wanted my teammate to have a goal in the tournament. I already had one yesterday.”  The heart of a champion.

I’m so proud of my hockey player. Not for winning the consolation trophy, for making goals, for winning games, but for being the person he is on and off the ice. He is coming into his own, and at this young age, already knows champions shake hands after a loss, pass to teammates, and celebrate wins and losses as a team. He’s mine, so of course, he’s always my state champ, but today he showed everyone at the rink that he is also their state champion.

Slice of Life Day 11 – Eleven

Eleven Years of…

Loving you.

Snuggling from 21 inches to five feet.

Watching you sleep.

Listening to your laughter.

Sharing my favorite stories with you.

Running with you, from your stroller to my side.

Hiking trails in our neighborhood and around our world.

Learning your dreams and nurturing your passions.

Soothing your fears and disappointments.

Admiring your genuine ability to love 100%.

Being your mama.



Slice of Life Day 10 – Tired

So this slice of life was to be published on March 10, but it’s now March 12. Sometime in the middle of the night, well after midnight, in the wee hours of March 11, I realized I’d never written my slice of life for the day. Friday afternoon. A long but fulfilling week at home and at work led me to be “bone tired”, as my mom would say, at the end of the day.

My highlight on Friday was watching my son perform a rap solo in his show choir concert. I am constantly amazed that he has the courage to try out, then the courage to perform. His choir performed as part of a high school show choir and talent show event. The high school students were nothing short of awesome after his solo – screaming and hooting and cheering for him. I love kids cheering on other kids.

We were home from the concert a little after 8 PM and I’m sure I was asleep by 8:30 PM. Tired. Slice of Life Day 10 delayed. But truly a slice of life.