Day 2- Making Time to Reflect

According to Petty, reflection is the act pondering questions deeply.  He says, “Ask good questions and you get good reflection.  This leads to deep learning and discovery.”  

I like how the author says we should consider the pace of our work and the amount of time that is normally taken for reflection.  

How often do you reflect on your life and your work? In the past, sadly, too much of my reflection has taken place in my head, and not really been written down.  One thing I typically do, is just process the actual day or the lesson I taught and how it went.  I would like to improve the quality of the questions I am asking myself, to dig deeper and really analyze my teaching and the materials used for students to demonstrate learning.  By forcing myself to ask some of the tougher questions, and less obvious ones, I may uncover some of the themes in my methods as a teacher.  Perhaps I can consider what my lessons and assignments say about me as a learner, and what type of learning I am asking my students to demonstrate.  I am interested in  what story  I am trying to tell with the students in my classroom.

What are some of the questions you could ask students to get them to discover important things such as their purpose or what they hope to get from their time in school?  I found a copy of The  40 Reflection Questions  These questions will help me to generate a few good ones to regularly ask.  I really like how the questions are broken down into different categories.  I really appreciate how the author used “Backward, inward, outward and forward-looking” categories  in order to organize the questions.  One of the questions, that would be really good for students to answer would be, “Did I do my work the way other people did theirs?  In what ways did I do it differently?  Or, If you were the teacher, which comments would you make on this project/ assignment?” “In what ways were the standards or objectives met?”

I love the inward looking question, “What does this assignment tell about you as a learner?”  With this question, I like the idea of further extending it to a few of the backward looking questions that ask, “What story are you telling with this project?  What will people be able to learn about you?”

What steps can you take to incorporate more reflection in your personal life and your classroom?  One thing I have started doing in order to reflect on the books that I am reading, is to post some of the book covers to Twitter and Instagram.  I like sharing what I am reading.  I also write my Grandma a weekly letter where I tell her about what is happening in my life, but also the books I am reading.  I share the essence of the different books with her, and it somehow feels like a reflection;  like I am continuing a legacy by talking about the books I read.  

I also write a one sentence journal each day.  I like to incorporate on the margin which books I am currently reading at the time to add to later reflection of my year.  As I reflect on my writing today, one thing I need to improve in order  to frame my reflection, is the questions that I am asking.  Lastly, I like this link about Personal Reflection Questions.  I love the questions that ask about what my priorities are right now, and if I am living in the past, present or future right now.  And lastly since we are moving in two weeks, I love the questions, “What is your ideal home like?  How can you take the steps to achieve your ideal home?”  Clearly this list of 101 personal reflection questions will get me started and keep me thinking for a long time.


31 Days of Teaching Like an Artist Day 1

product_thumbnail 31 Days from now, I will have written 31 blogs!  This is exciting since my goal for blog posts this year is 52!  I have written two so far, and it is March.  So, it is time.

This year at the 2017 Macul Conference, I won a prize! I was privileged to be in an amazing session, and won Mike Petty’s Teaching Like an Artist book. After being hooked on the first entry of a 31 day challenge with journal and reflection prompts, I decided this this book would be exactly what I needed to get me blogging every day!

So here it is.  Day 1.

Finding your Passion. First, start by listing your three favorite movies.  After much deliberation, here they are.  This honestly took about a day to figure out! This is based on Michael Hyatt’s work.

  1.  Notting Hill
  2. The Family Man
  3. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

What common thread runs through them? Figuring out a common thread between all three movies provided to be a challenging task.  I realized that I like the fact that each of these stories are about a journey.  The protagonist goes through so many different challenges throughout the movie.  It does take them a while to even figure out that they are on a journey in the first place.  I love that once they get a goal in mind, and realize what they are looking to accomplish, nothing will stand in their way.  I love the raw story. I love that they are attacked to the simple life, and focus on relationships.  I love seeing a character take a risk.  Maybe these are all things that I am hoping come true for me.  These movies also bring up some of my favorite things.  London, friendship, books, being a mom, writing, and travel.

What do you think that indicates about your passion?  I am a sucker for a good story. I like to hear about people’s lives.  I like the process in something. I like seeing growth.  I am attacked to  the idea of really living life, and  enjoying the present. I love the challenge, and making things my own. I like seeing a story as a work of art. I like seeing someone or myself work through challenges.

If you think this helped to clarify your passion, state your passion in a sentence. One sentence is tough.  So, I might revise it as I think about it. I might also look at a list of themes from literature to see if anything sticks out.

I crave a story filled with challenges. (This is a working passion).  3/20

Would this activity be useful with any students or classes that you are teaching?  If so, describe how you might use it.  Are there ways that you could modify it, basing it on students’ favorite songs or books, for example?  I like this activity.  It was tough to look at three movies, rather than just one or two.  I can see using this in the classroom. I might start with my 8th graders for a journalism class activity.  I am not sure if I would use the word passion. That seems like of heavy for a middle school student.  I like the idea of using books too. I could easily come up with books that were my favorite, but I struggled with wondering if there was a reason it was a movie (more fiction oriented). I know that if I did books, I would most likely  have a few non fiction thrown in.  I do like the idea of  song lyrics too! That is kind of a neat way of thinking about a topic too.  However, the songs I like seem to change over the years. I do think students would like songs.  Maybe rather than just passion, I would have students look at learning about themselves.

Sharing Authors and Titles

One of my favorite questions to ask a reader is, “What are you reading right now?”  Hearing a title, author and brief plot summary not only gives me an idea of a new book that I might want to read, but a way to get to know a person a little bit more.  I love hearing about why a person chose a particular book, and what his or her opinion is about the author, style subject matter, or plot. As one of my favorite Bloggers and Pod-castors, Anne Bogel says, “How good it is to be among readers”.  This is true for me.  Hearing about books is comforting and truly makes me feel balanced as if all the world is right for a little while.

This year I am have read two different books that were recommended by my very good friend Sarah.  She really enjoyed, “At the Water’s Edge”, and “Living Well Spending Less”.  It was  really neat to pick up two books, where I was familiar with the author, but  would not necessarily have read without the recommendation.  Nichole, a friend of mine from work recommended, “The Book of Joy:  Lasting Happiness in a changing world”, and I absolutely loved it. I truly savored the book like an exceptional piece of dark chocolate.   Had it not been for her talking about the book being so amazing, I am not sure I would have picked it up, let alone bought it.

One of the reason I belong to a few book clubs is to have exposure to the recommendations from so many other readers.  I love hearing someone talk passionately about a book.  While I did enjoy both of these books, there are times that someone will recommend a book and I just won’t be that into it.  Maybe it is not the right time, or maybe it is not the right book for me.  “Literary Matchmaking”,  as Ann Bogel calls it is tough.  The good thing, is that a number of the books I get are from the library, and therefore can be returned without a lot of hassle.  When I find myself wishing that the book was over, then I know that I have to put it aside;  unless of course I am almost at the end, or I sense there is still something that can be gained from the book.  With the massive amount of books in circulation today, there is always something else that I would almost certainly like better.

On recommending books.  While it is tough to truly know if someone will love a book that you recommend, it is worth while to share what you are reading.  It makes you interesting, and gives  you something to talk about.  Plus, it is another way to give.  Podcast

My Running Story

Imagine this, You are a Senior on the varsity basketball team. You don’t get a lot of playing time, so you are truly excited to be in the game. All of a sudden, your coach yells loud enough so that the entire gymnasium could hear, “You know why I have you back here Laura? Because, your too slow.” I was crushed and embarrassed. I loved team sports growing up, but I always dreaded the running part of practice. Running around the block seemed like an ultra marathon. I was almost always one of the slowest on whichever team I was part of. Running a mile seemed insurmountable. I had run a few 5K races with the family, but truly felt complete exhaustion for days after a 3.1 mile race. For some reason, I was always drawn to the idea of being able to run a long distance and enjoy it. It seemed like something so beyond my range of ability.

Fast-forward a few months. My desire to pursue running was about to change. College had begun. I was on a first date with a guy I really liked (He is now my husband). He had been an awesome cross country runner in high school and was still running. His times were impressive. As conversation progressed that on our first date, out of my mouth came words that shocked me, “Oh, you like to run, we should go running sometime together.” As I got into bed that night I thought about what I had actually said. I was suggesting that I go running with someone who could easily run a 10K! It was that evening back in September of 1997, that I realized I had better start running again so that I would be able to follow through on my proposed running date! My desire to be a runner started out as I wanted to impress a guy, and have something in common with him. Weeks of running started to come together, and sure enough I can still remember one of our first runs. I think I ended up stopping once or twice, but we made it five miles! I was pretty proud of myself. It was pretty incredible to have had the support of someone who did not question my desire to run no matter how out of shape I probably seemed. He believed in me, and treated me as if I was a runner and good enough to be running with. He allowed me to be part of the community of runners when I was not sure I was good enough to belong. I can still remember what that felt like, which is why I am always striving to give others that same experience.

For me the mile run that seemed near impossible turned into several 5K, 10K and 20K, 2 half marathons, 23 marathons and one ultra marathon . I remember after he ran his first Detroit marathon, I thought, I can do that. And, I will do that. At the time, I really had no idea what exactly a marathon was. I am not sure I even understood how many miles it was when I decided it was something I would do. I was not trained correctly for my first marathon. I felt it, and gained a whole new respect for distance running. I remember my uncle (also a marathon runner), telling me that I would have the desire to run another one when I finished the race. At mile 17, I did not think that was possible! Never again would I run! This was hard! Sure enough, he was right. Upon crossing the finish line on Ford Field back in 2002, as tears welled up in my eyes, I realized I was hooked.

Running has carried me through two college degrees, studying in Mexico, changes in jobs, three pregnancies, and 15 years of marriage. I ran through a diagnosis of Celiac Disease, teaching layoffs, a miscarriage, and all of the uncertainty that comes with life. Today, I am a middle school teacher and a mom of three very busy kids. I have never stopped running. It has carried me through some of my toughest times. I know that I can always count on the road, and that no matter what, if I show up and run, I am always better because of it. Running brings me closer to God. Today I run to be an example for my kids and my students and connect with other athletes. But, most importantly I run for me. I run because it allows me time to pray, be brave, overcome challenges, connect to others, enjoy competition, be healthy, handle stress, be in the moment, be creative, engage with the beautiful world, think big and discover a way to become the best version of myself.

Right now I am reading…


The Teach Like a Pirate series books for educators are amazing!  I recently bought Play Like a Pirate at a conference, and was hooked!  The books are so captivating, full of high energy and give the reader so many practical ideas that can be used in the classroom.  Lately, this series has been an amazing read during the end of the school year.  The book is pretty short, and would make an awesome book study or book club read.

The Uglies is a book that has been crammed in my classroom bookshelf for quite sometime.  I remember teaching high school, and having a student tell me about reading it.  However, it was not until I watched a recent video a part of a 7th grade English teacher’s blog that I knew I needed to read the book.  When her students of both genders would say that it was the best book that they had ever read, I decided it was time to give it a go.  I am excited!

Two books at once?  I find that I am most grounded when I am reading a fiction and nonfiction book at the same time. When I say the “same time”, I don’t mean that I read both of them every day.  I might get lost in my fiction for several days, and not have time to read the other book.  But, overall I love the spontaneity and flexibility of being able to go back and forth when I am looking to challenge myself with something new.

Once again I am part of a group book challenge.  I have to read 60 books in various categories.  While it is a lot of work, I love the way the challenge is designed to stretch me as a reader.  I am required to see out different genres, and get out of my comfort zone.  I also found out last year, as I was part of this challenge, that there will be books that do not fall into any of the categories.  I love when it is determined that a book is a must read, and therefore it does not matter if it “counts” or not.  As of right now, I have read 19 books this year.  I am not sure that all of the different books in the, “Pirate education series will fit”.  However, they are so good, and the authors are so captivating and willing to interact online, that these are “must reads” while my energy and focus are there.

Check out my ELA Instagram account.  You can see more of the book that are being recommended.  #scmsela7

My kids were encouraged to play sports.

Why sports?

From soccer to baseball, basketball, tennis, running and dance;  my kids have played it all.  My kids absolutely love being on a team or participating with a group of people in an athletic competition.  My husband and I are both athletic, and played several sports when we were younger.  We both continue to train as distance runners.  In addition to their own sports, my kids have grown up watching races of all distances.  They have helped  to congratulate me at more marathon finish lines than they can count on their hands.  So, the other day I started thinking about my kids, and why I have encouraged their participation in sports.

Active participation on athletic teams, has taught me some of my greatest lessons.  I have learned how to work with teammates toward a common goal.  I have had to be patient and sit on the bench, even when I so desperately wanted to get into a game.  I have struck out, or missed a free throw when it mattered.  Many of the words that coaches used to stay still come out of my mouth today.l  There is no substitute for the tremendous feeling of winning a close game! Lessons about good sportsmanship also matter.  There are many times when another player has not been respectful during a game.  However, kids quickly learn that it always important to take the high road.  When my kids are part of a team, they represent something big!  Therefore, there behavior, attitude, appreance and overall respect for others is always on display.  They soon resize what it is like to be a role model .

In addition to all the lessons abut character, student athletes  are active, and inderstand why eating healthy and sleeping well are necessary. They also understand how amazing it can feel to run around for an hour.

While there are so many positives, being a student athlete can be tough.  There are days when it exhausting, and practice does not sound like fun.  Completing homework in the late hours after a busy night at the baseball field can be daunting .  But, is there a better way to prepare for real life?  Lessons about time management and priorities are best learned when kids are younger.