Accomplishments! #SoL20

When I woke up this morning, I knew it was going to be a day of accomplishments. There were three important things I set out to do before the end of the day. And I did them.

  1. Before the world changed, I started a quest into learning about Teams on Microsoft. I work directly with 20 high-functioning professionals and Google just doesn’t always serve our purpose. I needed something more. I read about Teams and decided it was the direction to go. So I started. Bad news: it’s not really intuitive as there are so many options. Good news: I’m tenacious. I figured it out AND developed a pretty stellar scrum board (which is a planning board with a gross name that I love) devoted to upcoming curriculum revisions.
  2. Like many others, I am now spending an inordinate amount of time on Zoom meetings. A few people have these cool backgrounds and for the life of me I could not figure out how to get one to load up. I kept getting snarky messages from Zoom that my computer didn’t have the right stuff. Except it did. I figured out if I could just get a green screen of some sort, I, too, could be sitting in a cabana in the Maldives. undefined Voila, the green screen which was crafted from green 11×17 paper and tape. Success.
  3. When I decided to write with #SoL20 this year, I promised myself that I would not find excuses to not write. That no matter how hard the day or how tired I was, I would write SOMETHING. And I did. There are plenty of entries from this month that were done on days I simply did not feel like writing. But I promised myself and as my girl Rachel Hollis has ingrained in me, “never break a promise to yourself.” I didn’t break the promise and I am super grateful for the feedback I’ve received from so many. That’s really what kept me going and that’s what I continue to go back to and study. What was the feedback that spurred my writing. I need to capture it in order to share it with teachers.

Today was filled with accomplishments. Tomorrow will be, too, as I challenge myself to continue blogging (probably not daily) and learning. Thanks, #SoL20 for hosting an amazing experience for writers.


Things I Carried #SoL20

Last week I returned to my office to retrieve items I “need” in order to do my job at home. Looking back, it’s a little surreal to think about and I’ve just now had the opportunity to look through what I deemed necessary. I’m not sure what I was thinking at the time, but here’s a list of items other than technology:

  1. a random, and heavy, collection of unrelated books that aren’t particularly helpful
  2. three picture books
  3. some partially-filled notebooks that don’t really support the work I’m doing now
  4. a year supply of neon-colored Post-Its in an awkward size
  5. a spool of correction tape: honestly for what?
  6. my desk calendar that is zero percent practical at home
  7. colored paper
  8. chart paper…FOR WHAT
  9. brightly colored folders that have razor sharp edges
  10. an embarrassing number of colored pens
  11. my current notebook for keeping notes (at least no all my wits were gone)
  12. two issues of Ed Leadership

This is such an odd assortment of items and they remind me very much of what I used to take out of the pockets of my son when he was 6. I’m not sure how the items connect and I really don’t remember thinking much about what I was throwing into my wagon. What I do remember is feeling unsettled.

The good news: after a week of working at home, I am feeling less unsettled and more hopeful. I’m seeing the good come out of the bad and I’m only every-so-often thinking about having to lug back all the books I brought home.


Since late January I have been working toward a goal of running a 5K; I use the term “running” loosely. TODAY I SUCCEEDED. My goal was to run an official 5K in early May, but it’s been postponed and the day after early May in South Texas is too hot to do any running.

I’ve been building my stamina by working on my heath, nutrition, and fitness needs. Every day I focus on one of those elements a little more than other days, never completely ignoring the others. When I have a “rualk”-focused day, I know I need to fuel my bodies with more protein and carbs. When I have a nutrition-focused day, I know I need to fuel my body with fewer carbs and more protein. It’s a pattern I’ve developed with the help of a health and nutrition coach. And. Because I’m a teacher, I can’t help but think about how it relates to our students.

Stamina doesn’t just develop. It takes practice and time and patience and support. Our role when it comes to helping students build stamina is much like the role of my coach, Jaimielle. As coaches working alongside our students, we provide them with the support they need through focused instruction based on their needs, we help them find the texts and ideas that work for them, and help them set achievable goals and then celebrate the milestones along the way. Today I am feeling so accomplished and proud. I want that for our students. I want them to feel the exhilaration of success. Below is the sweaty face of accomplishment.

An Outing #SoL20

Don’t start getting all judgy and scorn-eyed. Today’s outing was desperately needed by mom. She’s 80 and lives with me and my husband. We are fortunate enough to have a large house and she had the entire upstairs at her disposal…and she can still climb the stairs. Unfortunately today was a bad day for her and we started off a little crossways. After tempers had time to simmer, I offered to take her for a drive. She declined, but after I explained that her Rapunzel-state-of-mind was felt by all, she agreed. I helped her into the car and we headed off.

Living west of Houston in the suburbs, we are close to open expanses of fields and farmland and I love taking half a day to drive around the country. I’ve never taken my mom and for her today’s drive wasn’t about what she could see, but just getting out of the house. What I noticed during our drive was nothing in the country seemed different. The cows were still milling about ignoring the calls for social distancing. The turkey buzzards still congregated by the roadkill and the goats played merrily about in the field. Out in the country, it appears life is moving along at the same pace it always has.

And that’s just it, right? Regardless of what’s happening in our immediate bubble, life is still moving along Our perspectives are so narrowed by our own walls and the incessant bad news. Getting out and feeling some sense of normalcy was invigorating and gave me, and my mom, hope. For today, hope is a thing with hooves and beaks.

What He Taught Me #SoL20

My dad died three years ago today. He lived a robust 80 years and lived another ten with dementia. I can spend today thinking about the pain and suffering he went through the last ten years of his life, but he would absolutely be appalled. Instead, I want to honor him by sharing some of the things he taught me:

How to change a tire. For the obvious reasons, he taught me how to change a tire. However, the real reason was he did not want me to have to depend on anyone else to do it for me.

How to use common tools. I'm adept with most tools because he taught me how to use them. He also taught me that teeth are not tools and never to use them as openers.

The importance of accepting responsibility. Apologize when it's your fault. Accept blame when the fault is yours. 

How to forgive and forget. Holding a grudge only impacts the grudge holder. He taught me that it's okay to be mad, but it's not okay to stay mad. 

The importance of second chances. Goodness gracious did he teach me that life is full of second and third and fourth...chances. I flunked out of college my freshman year (who knew you had to go to classes?) and yet here I am with a BBA, masters, and a slew of certifications.

The importance of perseverance. He never allowed me to give up. Ever. 

The importance of reading. He always had a book in his hand and my home was filled with books. It wasn't anything he ever said, but it's what I learned through his actions.

The importance of learning. He built our first home computer from scratch using how-to manuals that were pages upon pages of complex instructions. My dad, born in Great Britain in 1926, did not have a formal education of any sort. He joined Her Majesty's Royal Navy at the age of 15. 

The importance of a sense of humor. He had a quick wit and thoroughly enjoyed the newspaper funnies every evening. He introduced me to the world of cartoons and Garfield will always be a part of me.

The importance of loving well. He loved us well.

In memory of Kenneth David Riordan
June 10, 1926-March 26, 2017

Long Day #SoL20

Wednesdays, I think, are hard. They don’t hold the promise of a new week ahead like Sundays and Monday nor do they grasp the thrill of end of the week like Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays aren’t even like Saturdays. Saturdays are the uncommitted siblings of Fridays and Sundays. No one has expectations of Saturdays; we enjoy them even though they’re fleeting.

But Wednesdays. Wednesdays are just hard.

Other People Live Here? #SoL20

I’m reading a new book right now, Fierce ,Free, and Full of Fire by Jen Hatmaker, and got to a part that really got me thinking about the labels we carry. By nature I’m an optimist – it’s a label I carry – but the last couple of weeks have really tested my Pollyana personality. In an effort to conjure up that label once more, I headed out on a walk looking for the good.

Woah did I find some good stuff! I had no idea so many people live in my neighborhood. This virus has kept us home and nervous, but tonight, for the first time, I saw people outside their houses. Kids were playing in the street-six feet apart. Parents set up chairs-six feet apart-and watched the kids playing in the street. People were riding bikes! People were walking dogs! People were stopping and chatting-six feet apart! NO ONE HAD THEIR PHONE OUT! I came home feeling more like myself than I have in days. Humanity for the win.

Something New #SoL20

Something that’s been stressing me out over the last two weeks are all people posting pictures of new hobbies they’re picking up or closets they’re cleaning out or glamorous meals they are learning to make. Perhaps stressing me out is not the right phrase, it’s more like making me jealous, but jealousy doesn’t really illicit the same reaction, huh?

Anyhow, jealousy (because I’m keeping it real with myself) spurred me toward a project today. I set out to clean out my email inbox. I won’t horrify anyone by sharing how many emails are so important that I can’t delete them because that’s not the point; the point is that I started this project during my lunch break. I got sucked into the content of the emails and ran across one I sent myself (the email version of talking to yourself) that was a sketchnote of Doug Neill’s daily routine. I decided then and there that this was a skill I was going to work on developing and, as it turns out, I also need a written routine in my world.

Sketchnoting is scary for me because my sketching skills are severely lacking. But, I tried! Tomorrow afternoon I will try my hand at a Wednesday routine and see if my iPhone sketch looks more like a phone than a used bar of soap – practice makes perfect! Maybe the salad in the salad bowl will have more than one leaf and maybe the egg I’m eating at lunch won’t look like it came from an ostrich. Perhaps tomorrow’s routine won’t feature a terrible rendition of me panicking (I’m allowed to wallow in panic for a few minute daily), and maybe tomorrow I’ll actually make some headway on the emails.

View from the Big Desk #SoL20

Today I sat down to start a newsletter to the teachers I work with in my district. It was quiet and overcast. Husband was watching a fishing show on tv and my mom was settled into a new Kindle book, so it was an opportune time. Until it wasn’t.

I looked out the window of my new office and wondered when the fog set in. I mean it was 10:00 in the morning and we don’t live directly on the coast – fog was a really weird phenomena this late. I got up to refill my water and noticed there was no fog in the parking lot (which is really the driveway, but I’m really living this home office thing). I went back to my office. There was still fog obscuring my view.

Upon closer inspection, I realized that the windows in my office are filthy; clearly the custodian has been neglecting this part of the office. After a brief conversation with her (during which my husband asked if I could talk to myself using my in-the-head voice), she and I agreed that the view from the office is important and as soon as some window cleaner is procured, she will get right on it. In the meantime, I’m pretending to be holed up on an island off the coast of Nantucket.