The Power of Words

A few years ago, I was working in a district that was going through a lot of upheaval and the stress was palpable. It was during that time that I experienced, first hand, how powerful kind words can be. The teachers in the district were feeling the same stress but continued to support me with comforting, healing words. Those words are what got me through the toughest time I had ever experienced during the 34 years of my career. Those words helped me see that I had made a difference and that I still had a lot to do. Those words helped me realize that there were people willing to go the extra mile to make sure I knew I was appreciated. What an amazing group of people they were!

Now, five years later, I am happy to say that I find myself in a job that I absolutely love, with another group of wonderful educators. At the end of this SOLC I am reminded once again of the power of our words. We were all sharing our words and trusting the community to honor our thoughts and ideas…and the SOL community did so with kindness and encouragement. I cherished each and every comment I received and have to admit, that I got a little giddy when each new one came in!

A special thank you to Fran, Christine, Jess, Erika, Dawn, and Faith for checking in and commenting faithfully! I didn’t get a post done every day, but I knew you’d understand. This has been a wonderful experience for me and I have all of you to thank.

See you on Slice of Life Tuesdays!

My Own First Times

A member of this wonderful SOL community, Fran Haley, wrote about how she helps writers of all ages write about their own first time experiences (see ). Thanks to Fran, I now have an idea for tonight’s post. Now that we’re down to the end of the month, I am running out of ideas…at least for now…so I was grateful for Fran’s help! Of course, now I realize that each of these ‘first times’ is a story waiting to be told.

The first time I saw my parents hold hands,

I knew something had to be wrong.

The first time I was allowed to stay home alone,

I hid in my closet with a bb gun.

The first time I met my daughter,

I just stared at her.

The first time I had to stand on my own two feet as an adult,

I did it…a little wobbly at first…but I did it.

The first time I met my son,

he gave me flowers.

The first time I drove to Florida,

I took the wrong road and drove 2 hours off course.

The first time I got flowers from someone other than my dad,

I felt surprisingly special.

The first time I wrote for the SOLC,

I was a nervous wreck.

What a hodgepodge of firsts! I’m tempted to reorganize them, but instead, I think I’ll use them for the Tuesday SOL posts that I want to start as yet another “first”.










Hallway Reminder

I love to watch young children as they travel from place to place on their own in a school. Some walk with a sense of purpose, attendance slip in hand, and walk back to the classroom with deliberate steps. Others, however, take advantage of this time alone to try walking backwards while flapping their arms or hopping to every other tile. Still others will skip along as if they have never heard the directive, “Walk in the halls, please!” And, my personal favorite, the ones who sing a little ditty to themselves while wandering slowly toward their destination, oblivious of anyone else along the way.

These hallway trips must feel a bit like a mini break to children, a time to unwind and relax. Maybe we all need to take a hallway break at times. I might have a little ditty of my own to try out.


Something’s Happening Here

This weekend, I saw many powerful images from the March for Our Lives on TV and on Facebook. I was so proud of all of the young people…and some not so young…who took part in these protests. While scrolling through the images, I found one colleague who was in D.C. holding a sign that said, “Call me a dreamer, but I wish mental health care was as easy to get as a gun!” Other friends highlighted students from Sandy Hook who came out to march, as well.

Until today, I wasn’t sure we would be able to make the change that is so sorely needed in our country. Now, I am feeling a sense of renewed hope.

Thank you to all who participated in the marches. I think we’ve turned a corner…Something’s happening here!

Welcome, Pearl!

As I was rushing to bus duty one afternoon last week, a third grader I know pulled up beside me, asking if I wanted something. With all of the commotion in the hallway at the time, I wasn’t quite sure what she was asking me. Before I could clarify, she dashed off to her bus.

The next morning, a Betta fish, her tank, and all her supplies were on a table in my room. After putting the pieces together, I realized that the new inhabitant must have come from my third grade friend, Bea. When I caught up with her, Bea explained that she thought Pearl would feel right at home here, at school, and knew I wouldn’t mind.

In the past week, I’ve learned more about Betta fish than I ever thought I would. For instance, did you know that fish can actually get constipated? Yes, that big bulge on Pearl’s underbelly is a sign that she has eaten too much food or the wrong food and is now severely constipated. Who knew? Now, she must be fed live blood worms (ugh). Luckily, her system is becoming more “regular” now and she appears to be quite happy, if not a bit slimmer.

Pearl has become a superstar in a short time. A group of fifth graders stops in each morning to say hi and to comment on the new additions to her tank. They have even created their own sign up sheet for students who want to take Pearl home for the weekend.

Most importantly, I think Pearl was meant to be a part of our community so that she could be a great listener for one of my first grade friends, Tommy. You see, Pearl has a tendency to come right to the glass when someone sits down next to her tank. We think it’s because she loves to be read to…and wouldn’t you know…Tommy is learning to read! So, Pearl now has someone to read to her each day and Tommy no longer resists reading- at least when he is reading to Pearl!

Thank you, Pearl, for teaching us about Betta fish and for being a good listener to a little boy who didn’t feel much joy in reading until you came along. I think you deserve a little brine shrimp for all you’ve accomplished this week.

A Circle of Marigolds

“The marigold is one of the best companion plants because it protects a wide variety of plants from pests and harmful weeds….Marigolds exist in our schools as well–encouraging, supporting, and nurturing growing teachers on their way to maturity.”- Jennifer Gonzalez, Cult of Pedagogy

This quote came from an article that I’ve had posted over my desk for a while now. It emphasizes the importance for new teachers to surround themselves with “good” people that will nurture them. I believe that we all need marigold colleagues- people who inspire, encourage and nurture others.

Last week, I read a recent post from the Nerdy Book Club by Elana Arnold that talked about children needing a “Circle of Seven” caring adults in their lives and that led me back to the marigolds.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if each of us had a Circle of Seven caring marigolds in our teaching lives? Maybe we do. Who inspires us when we don’t feel very inspired? Who nurtures us when we are having a really lousy day? Who encourages us to try again tomorrow?

When I thought about my own Circle of Seven, I realized just how blessed I am.

Thank you to all you marigolds out there!

My Favorite Emoji😂

One Halloween, all of our teachers decided to dress as emojis. It was an easy costume to create…and choosing which emoji was really easy for me. My favorite is the laugh-until-you-cry one because it reminds me of my dad. Whenever I visit my parents, there is usually at least one episode during our time together when my father and I end up laughing until we cry over something silly.

There was that time in a Disney restaurant when we laughed/cried each time someone said “Wasabi”, much to the embarrassment of the rest of the family.

…And that time when mom walked out of the store when we started to laugh/cry about something we don’t even remember what we were laughing about now.

Of course, no evening playing Scrabble or Mahjongg can end without one good belly laugh/cry!

Good times, for sure. Now that we don’t see each other as much, the laughs are fewer, but I still giggle whenever I think of our laugh/cry times. Thanks, Dad. I love you.

Words Looking for a Home

Since beginning the SOLC, I have often thought of the title of a favorite book of mine; A Place My Words Are Looking For by Paul Janeczko. Not only do I enjoy the poems that the author selected for the collection, but I love the concept of words finding a place to settle…a home. This challenge has given me a home to put all of the ideas I’ve wanted to write about for so long.

There are still some words that need to find the right home, but I have a couple of weeks to help them get there!

For example, years ago I sat on my back porch on a windy spring day and couldn’t help but be mesmerized by all of the beautiful new leaves that were flapping in the trees all around me. The phrase “it was as if the leaves were applauding” came to mind and has stayed with me all this time. I haven’t been able to find a place for these words just yet, but I’ll keep at it.

I just love the image of leaves applauding spring for a job well done.

Thank you so much to this wonderful community for giving me a home for my words. What a feeling!

This Too Shall Pass?

With all of the craziness going on in this country and the world these days, I often find myself worrying about the future for my children. I have trouble keeping calm during planned lockdown drills at school and I cringe when my own children discuss how they will hide in their school if there is an intruder.

This past week, however, I felt a little more hopeful after hearing about other time periods in this country’s history that we, as a country, have made it through.

A colleague and friend of mine told me how, when she was growing up during the height of the Cold War, she remembers having to hide under desks and in basements during bombing drills. She also recalled watching the movie, On the Beach, and how terrified she was for months afterward.

Listening to a podcast about the 60’s, I was reminded of all the tragedies that had happened in that decade, ending with the 1968 assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

Maybe I’m looking for solace, but thinking about just some of the many challenges our country has faced in the past makes me think that we will make it through this very difficult time. Hopefully, we will emerge as kinder, more loving people in the end.

Mary’s View

While I was at church this morning, I couldn’t help but scan the pews for a woman I know only as “Mary”. I haven’t seen her for a while and wondered if she was okay. Mary is one of the white-haired ladies who has always been there. She always sat in the same pew and gave you that same, sweet smile whenever you were able to shake her hand during the sharing of the peace time.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been blessed with people who have come and gone in my life, but have left me with a life lesson of some kind. Mary is one of those people. One cool spring day, as I was leaving church, Mary and I struck up a conversation. It took us a while to get to the back of the church because Mary walked with a cane and needed to be slow and deliberate with her steps these days. I opened the heavy doors to the outside and looked at the huge set of stairs that led down to the street. Worried that Mary wouldn’t be able to make it down the steps, I tried hinting that she might want to go out the back way instead and said, “Oh, these steps are so big and steep!”

Mary turned to me with another sweet smile, said “Yes, but aren’t they beautiful?”, and waved goodbye as she made her way slowly down to the street. I stood at the top and marveled as I watched her go. While I’ve been known to grumble a bit when Sunday morning rolled around and we needed to get to church, Mary was grateful to be there and even loved those beautiful steps. I think of Mary often on Sunday mornings.