Posts in Teacher Self-Care
Bullet Journal: Back to School Teacher Planner and Bullet Journal Setup (Year)

Get ready with me for the new school year! I love my bullet journal for keeping my general life focused and for daily morning pages; however, I am going to try to also use a bullet journal for my teacher planning this year. I end up always writing my teacher plans, dreams, and schemes all over the place. This could be in countless random notebooks, my personal bullet journal, and on my little clipboards. My goal is to put all of these things in one location-including my meeting notes-so the end of the year reflection will be easier and I will stay more organized. I also want to take much of my teacher planning out of my personal bullet journal and use that more for life goals, personal reflections, and other writing projects. I recently posted my August Plan With Me for my personal bullet journal, and if you don’t know where to start, here are some amazing Teacher Bullet Journals to follow on my Bullet Journal Round-Up Post. It is important to note that my spreads in this post are not all the way filled in yet. Once our calendar/contract are finalized, I can add in some dates and marking period cut-offs to my schedules. Also, like in my classroom, I like to leave some things blank because I find that there is something about filling things in as you go that is part of the bullet journal process. I think it encourages reflection at the end of one marking period to stop and reflect, and then go on to plan the next six weeks. I will post these as they are updated throughout the year.

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10 Criteria for Choosing Diverse Texts for Your Classroom

Can you hear me clapping? Can you hear me screaming in happiness? If you can't, imagine one excited English teacher from Kalamazoo, MI that is proud and excited her district is approving thousands of dollars in research to help infuse the curriculums and classrooms in it with diverse literature in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. Currently, I am working on a team of teachers to read, research, and review hundreds of diverse texts. 

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Ways to Conquer Three Types of Assessments (So, I'm Not Taking Papers Home)

The secret behind our workload is our mindset. While I named my blog and place of reflection “writing mindset,” it really means teacher mindset regarding the job we are doing each day. I just so happen to love teaching reading and writing. The way we think about assessment leads us to take papers home. We believe that we have to take stacks home to provide effective feedback in our English Language Arts classrooms because that has been the tradition. However, a change in mindset can cause us to sway in our thinking; teachers can become flexible in how and why they assess materials in the classroom. Simply, We can minimize the paper load coming home each time we hand out an assignment due to the perceptions we have about the assignment outcome. Bottom line? We control our paper. 

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In Response to Pernille Ripp's Post: "What Did You Want to Be This Year?"

Pernille Ripp asked her readers in her post “What Did You Want to Be This Year?”: “Did you accomplish the goals you set out to reach or did you realize that your life needed something else?”  Pernille Ripp’s blog is one of my favorites because she makes me think and reflect on who I am as a teacher. I love any situation that puts me in student-mode because I am ever learning. Ever since I saw her speak in March at the Michigan Reading Association Conference, I often remind myself of her words: “It is time to be reading warriors” and “for too long we have been too nice.” As I doodled these phrases in my journal during the conference, I nodded my head, I scrunched my nose, I squinted my eyes, and I did some reflecting on my own work. Now, as I close out the 2018-2019 year, I want to focus on what I wanted for myself in my classroom, in my writing lab, and in my teaching life this past year.

And to answer her main question, I accomplished some goals and I realized my teaching life needed something else.

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Emergency Calm for the Classroom Teacher

This post outlines the emergency response to helping you calm your teacher brain. This is what worked for me in a big moment like this example, and also in small moments when I feel like everything is piling up. Both types of moments can call for a teacher to scream, “TIME OUT,” and take a moment to breathe. This isn’t the first time I have written about teacher stress, but I wanted to share what worked for me when I was having a particularly difficult time dealing with the amount of stress.

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"Why Education": A Narrative on Why I Chose to Be a Teacher (And Why It Is Still Pretty Great)

The conversation about teachers leaving the field of education is a real one. We hear the statistics early on: Teachers leave within the first five years of their career, new teachers struggle with anxiety and depression, the field of education is shrinking as a whole, and so on. The problem is all teachers feel all of these things at every point of their career. Teaching is hard. All the time. If it were easy, everyone would do it and attempt to do it well. But, we exist among those that are self-labeled as crazy for doing what we love to do. We are all going to have mornings where we don’t feel like going, where we drag ourselves to the doorstep of our buildings just to hold on to our coffee cups tighter. But the bottom line is, there are so many good things about this job that make a teacher want to keep teaching. And the truth is that the silent urge to constantly quit all the time is a friendly reminder we are doing the hard work. I often will scroll Indeed just to see what is out there or to feel like I have professional options. However, I have been faced twice with the option to leave, and I cannot do it.

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The Meaning Behind My Blog Name: Writing Mindset

I recently realized with the two-year anniversary of my blog this past month, I have never really explained why I chose the name Writing Mindset for this small place in the world of the internet I call my own. Each piece of writing that we put out into the universe has two meanings: the meaning for the author and their intention and the meaning for the reader and their perception. This duality is a reason why I loved English class in high school and eventually became an English teacher. There is a beauty in trying to find a common understanding between people and their ideas. The words “writing” and “mindset” can immediately strike meaning to any person who reads them; however, both of these words hold a few different meanings for me. Together, they are the reason why I keep coming back week after week to continue my work on the blog.

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English Teacher Anxiety: Using Our Own Tools to Quiet Panic

When I first started working on this post, I looked up synonyms for anxiety. Not that I needed a definition, I just was curious what would pop-up on the page. The word that stuck out to me the most was mistrust. As English Teachers and teachers in general, we mistrust ourselves based on our profession workload because it is a.) overwhelming and b.) important work. We come to grasp that we can never achieve perfection, and for many perfectionists, this means in our minds we think we are settling. Teacher anxiety does not apply to just English Teachers alone, but the volume of paper and grading that is specific to the teaching of English creates an interesting dynamic where we often feel behind, tired, and downright depressed. I am not putting on the table that other subjects do not have grading issues, but there is a special place in my soul that dies a little when I take 76 MLA research paper rough drafts home to grade.

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The Best of Writing Mindset in 2018

As we close out 2018, I am so thankful for this tiny blog space that I share with you all. In January 2017, I started Writing Mindset as a way to reflect on teaching; however, it has transformed how I do business. I am constantly on the lookout for writing inspiration for the blog, and how I can put new ideas into my classroom to share. I sent out a newsletter to subscribers today talking to them about 2018 accomplishments. So much has happened this school year already that it seems a bit poetic to talk about endings…when we are in the middle. However, the end of 2018 marks many accomplishments in terms of blogging, writing, and reading.

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It All Starts With The Book Talk!

Reading and writing are all too often cyclical. Everyone knows good reading fuels good writing and vice versa. As a middle school teacher, I really wish that I was able to teach reading and writing separately or even give them their own block of time, but I do also love the impossible harmony that is being a reading AND writing teacher. This post will explain how I start my week with students. I always start each hour the first day of the week with a book talk about a middle grade or young adult novel or nonfiction book. It kicks off my mentor text work with kids, and it gets them excited about a book they may or may not have heard about before.

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Plan for Multi-Genre Project: Novel Reflection

Looking at these documents, you may think I am a little bit crazy. I am okay with that. However, I am excited to have a go at this project with my third hour group. I am constantly evaluating how I end a novel unit, and I enjoy reflecting on the type of paper writing I express as important to my students. When my grade-level colleague and I attended MCTE in October and listened to Kelly Gallagher, we got excited about the idea of a multi-genre project with our sixth graders. We teach a variety of paper genres throughout the school year, including the five-paragraph essay, but we wanted students to get a chance to be innovative and inquisitive about the world around them.

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All About Narrative Writing: Pacing, Strategies, and Mentor Texts!

I am pretty sure that October may be one of the toughest months to teach in considering that it consists of conferences, the end of the first marking period for my middle school, the flu starts circulating, and it is my birthday month. The last part is not a bad thing, I just find it easier to resent less “me time” with all of the to-do lists piling up. I have been sharing my mentor text work on the blog, but I also wanted to take a minute to share how I completed our personal narrative writing units this year so far, and also the changes I made from previous years. What you take away from this may be a sneak peek into how I teach personal narrative writing or how perhaps you can spice up a unit with some mentor text writing.

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Summer School Round Up: Week 2

Week two flew by without even slowing down to catch a drink of water. It was tough this week to balance wanting to do the things that summer allows like landscaping, working on an assortment of house projects, leisurely drinking coffee, and writing. I was having some jealousy over those that got to have the time off. My goal was to make it to the beach at least three times. Let's just say my fingers are crossed. 

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Summer School Round Up: Week 1

I can't believe the whirlwind of the first week of summer school is over. There always seems like there are two camps in education: Those that can see why people work summer school and those that think we are crazy. The former camp has been refreshing to return to after working writing camps at the university for the past few summers. And really, teaching is teaching. Isn't it? That depends on who you are talking to. I wonder sometimes if why we all often get into teaching is something we feel renewed with on a day-to-day basis. Do I have to remind myself, what is my why for teaching? Yes. And often. 

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5 Ways to Respond When You Are Asked to Censor Classroom Material

Imagine the plate spinner at a circus performance. So many intricacies of hand-eye coordination, focus, and practice have gone into making sure that the plates don't fall to their demise and break into thousands of pieces. Censorship in the classroom is best described as the plate spinner. There is an intricate balance that goes into contemporary content, current events and issues, parent and family input, school curriculum, administrative support, and more. Sometimes, you will find teachers not wanting to put themselves in that fight. All of these factors lend to the dizzying effect of plate spinning, but the question is what breaks when we don't present this content to students? Controversial content comes with major risks and rewards. The American Library Association has put together a pretty cohesive timeline of banning content in the past 30 years. Words like "censorship" and "banning" are used with intention in this purpose because often we are asked as educators to keep information from our students. 

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How to Do an Essay Workshop for Struggling Writers

I would like to take a second to pause out of all of the hustle and bustle of testing and the end of the month of May to realize that it is really, the end of the month of May. I have spent 9 months with my students. Thinking back about accomplishments, it is easy to see how far they have come. Then, I do what all teachers do, and I focus on what they don't know. My missteps, my come-up-shorts, my "yes, you tried, but you didn't quite make it" mentality. This is the ugly stepsister of make-up or catch-up growth: Realizing you still have a long way to go.

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My Plan to Get Through May State Testing...Alive

It is always good practice to revisit experiences that are similar from year to year. I wanted to look at the Testing Post from last year to see what I did to survive, and what my new additions are for this year.  The goal here? My students and I make to June with our sanity, AND we still are pushing ourselves to learn new information each day. 

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10 Ways to Use Your Cell Phone to Make Your Teaching Life Easier

The title of this post is also what I named my This I Believe Personal Narrative assignments in the fall. Let's talk cell phones. I would like to start this post by recapping every single conversation I have ever had with a new teacher, a seasoned teacher, or an intern about the use of cell phones in the classroom.

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How to Rock a Focused Writing Warm-Up

I am not sure what I did before warm-ups. I think what I did before warm-ups when I was first starting out was make a warm-up activity that was catered to each and every lesson. As a new teacher, this was exhausting. After doing some research a couple of summers ago, I moved to canned warm-ups, and I have loved every minute of them. What I mean by canned warm-ups is that each day has a theme and each week uses a specific form. In other terms, there is a plan. 

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