Opportunity Knocks…at the most unexpected times

Sometimes you’re minding your own business when opportunity jumps up and hits you over the head.

Or whispers in your ear.

Or quietly waves from across the room.

Do you remember The Sound of Music when Maria is sent away from the abbey to be nanny to motherless children? She consoles herself with the thought that “When one door closes, another opens.” Or maybe it was a window.

In any case, it seems that sometimes a window opens before another has closed. We can find ourselves momentarily caught in the cross-draft wondering which one to shut.

…………….

I received an email out of the blue. It was short: “This made me think of you.”

Sometimes that’s all it takes.

Please understand, I’m happy in my career. I like my role and my school. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful principal. I feel like I’ve grown into my role, but not that I’ve grown out of it. While I feel very capable, there’s always room to grow. For me that’s a must have. I need to feel that I have room to stretch myself, to continue learning.

I have quiet, someday dreams for myself, but I haven’t been actively pursuing them. They were going to be for after…after my boys graduated, after I had time to pursue another certification, maybe after I tackled a PhD (another quiet, someday dream).

Then, out of the ether, came those six words.

I read them and my heart skipped several beats. My breath caught in my chest. My thoughts whirled.

All of my ‘grown up’ jobs have come this way. At the very beginning of my road to being a teacher I applied to be a substitute. The assistant principal called and asked me if I’d like to be their intern instead. He thought I’d be a good fit, and wouldn’t I like to know I’d be there every day? (Umm, yes.) From that middle school, I was invited to student teach at the high school in town. The assistant principal there brought me on board and connected me with her friend as my mentor. After I had my second son and took time away from teaching, I received a phone call from that mentor. Lorrie was the principal of another middle school now and she was looking for a reading teacher, would I be interested? (Again, yes I would.) Lorrie hired me. Two years into that role she encouraged me to pursue my reading degree. So I did. No matter that I had two small children, not yet in school themselves. And not long after Lorrie moved on to become principal of my current district, she reached out to me again. One of the elementary schools was looking for a reading consultant and she thought it might be a great fit for me. Would I like the contact information for that school? (Indubitably.) She hired (or recommended) me for all three of the schools where I’ve taught. She nudged me to become the literacy professional that I am.

So when this latest email arrived, I thought of Lorrie (recently named superintendent of my very first district). I thought of Nicole, my mentor. It’s not her this time, but another former colleague who reached out. I thought of the unexpected ways that the people we know and work alongside can shape our paths in ways we might not expect. Even long after our paths have diverged.

When I was young I felt adamantly that I never wanted to get something because of who I knew. At this point in my life I’ve come to realize that sometimes opportunities arise because of who knows us–our character, our principles, our work ethic and way of being in the world. And if someone knows who I am and feels that I  just might be the kind of someone who would be a good fit, well, maybe that’s an opportunity worth considering. It’s an opportunity earned because I’m me.

Just as I hadn’t known I was ready to return to teaching, to pursue a sixth year degree, or shift from the classroom to a coaching role, I hadn’t thought my quiet, someday dream would happen for years.

But here it is. Closer and more achievable than I’d imagined.

I feel honored to be thought of for this opportunity. While there are reasons not to dive head first through this door, I would always wonder, “what if?” if I didn’t at least push this window open a little wider and peek through. It may not lead anywhere. Or…

 

To all the colleagues and mentors who have shaped me, nudged me, framed my thinking or encouraged me to dip a toe into another pool–Lorrie, Nicole, Lynn, Karen, Theresa, Sarah, Joann, Lanny, Lydia, Lauren, Susan, Annie, Cathy, Kristen, Alison, Bianca and on–Thank you for thinking with me and of me.

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#SOL Back in the Saddle…of Writing

“Wait, what day is it?!”

A week off from posting following the Slice of Life Challenge in March, and some wacky schedules at school…including yet another snow day…threw me for a loop. I found myself last Tuesday night with no post, no easy idea, and no energy.

Could I have drafted a post on Monday–the snow day?

Well, technically, yes. But (as I’ve posted before) something about posting less frequently seems to raise the stakes. If you’re only going to see one thing from me, I really want it to be good. To top that, sometime during the March Challenge I read a post about branding blogs. The post suggested that for maximum impact a blog should have a single, relatively narrow, focus. On reflection, many of the blogs I enjoy do have that kind of focus. Mine tends to be rather more eclectic–books, writing, coaching, cute kid moments at school, my own kids, etc. Again the pressure seemed to mount.

The result? No post.

I imagine the writing malaise might have lasted longer had I not received an invitation. For two years I’ve been working with the Connecticut Reading Association’s (CRA) conference committee. As a result of connections I’ve made through CRA and my (somewhat erratic and eclectic) blog, I was invited to write a monthly blog for one of the local CRA chapters. This past Saturday we met over coffee to brainstorm the vision for that blog. In an hour we’d branded the new venture and generated ideas for a year’s worth of posts. Granted, some of those may never come to print and others may overtake them, but the pump has been primed. In the past three days I’ve drafted three posts.

I’m back in the saddle, as it were. Refreshed by the break, reinvigorated with fresh purpose and a guaranteed audience, as well as responsible to a firm deadline for sharing a complete draft with my collaborator, I’m armed with three of the most significant weapons in the arsenal of a writer–audience, purpose & a deadline.

Granted, this new opportunity is more high stakes than a weekly post. Only once before have I had to submit my writing for approval (aside from casually writing for my college newspaper). And we’re hoping to build an audience that includes literacy professionals across Connecticut. We hope the blog will help teachers to feel connected to CRA throughout the year and not only for the annual conference. Like other blogs have done, we’re hoping to grow a digital PLN.

This leaves me thinking about what we ask of students with regard to writing. Are we ramping up the pressure or taking it down a notch through the formats and frequency with which we ask them to write? Do we do them a disservice by giving them only a single chance at a type of writing? (Hey kids, write your best speech, how-to, literary essay… Ready? Go!…Oh and you can only try it once. Good luck!) Do we leave room for voice and choice? Yet do we also help them beyond the dreaded blank page? Do we offer students a guaranteed or potential audience (beyond ourselves)? And is there a genuine purpose for their writing?

All of these factors were critical in returning me to the craft and practice of writing. How much more so must they be for young writers who may not (yet) feel like real writers? Or for whom writing is done only for someone else (the teacher)?

Let’s invite our writers in. Let’s give them purpose to fuel their (perhaps nascent) passion. Let’s figure out how to provide genuine audiences for that endorphin rush from feedback. Let’s give them enough opportunities to write that one (or six) bad drafts aren’t devastating, but just part of the process.

………………………..

If you’re interested, be on the lookout for monthly blogs about literacy at betruetoyourselflifeofliteracy.wordpress.com starting May 1 and on the first of every month.

*See? Now you know the plan and I’m responsible to you & my collaborator. Can’t back out now. <Yikes!>

 

#IMWAYR When’s the last time you were totally hooked?

I’m a little bleary eyed at the computer this morning. I’ve pumped up my caffeine intake to try to compensate.

Last night, well, if I’m being truthful it was this morning, I stayed up way too late. I huddled next to the lamp on my nightstand. When I climbed into bed I still had about half an inch of pages left. I’d started it Friday after school and churned quickly through the first half an inch. I can’t even remember, now, if it was Friday or Saturday night that I first read into the dark.

I just couldn’t stop. Even when my neck started to feel the strain and I shifted positions again and again to get comfortable, I could barely blink. I felt like a kid with a flashlight as I peeked ahead at the number of pages remaining and did the story math in my head about what still needed to happen before the end. How could I sleep before I knew if she’d find him. If he’d escape. If he’d live. If she could save her family or withstand the consequences of not. How could I put it down?

So with a delightfully guilty conscience…I didn’t.

I read through the night and into the wee smalls of this morning, in spite of a quick glance at the time which guaranteed I’d get no more than four hours of sleep.

And it was so worth it.

When was the last time you felt so utterly compelled by a story? When you couldn’t bear to tear yourself from the pages of a book? It had been a while for me. Sure, I’ve read things, good things even. But I hadn’t had the all consuming need to devour a story in quite some time.

And that got me thinking about students. Not even the reluctant or striving readers–though this is likely doubly true for them. I thought about most students. When is the last time that they felt this connected to a character or story? Had they, ever?

Recently, a teacher new to our team explained to me that she would simply have to put reading logs in place for accountability of home reading. Not having a relationship established, yet, I tread carefully. But in my minds eye flashed movies of children bursting off the couch or away from the dining room table as soon as the timer ended for their nightly 20 minutes, dutifully recording the pages and having a parent sign the formal document…then walking away from the book without a backward glance.

Then I played mental movies of the nights I went to tuck in my middle school son. I’d gently intrude on his far away look to alert him to the time. I’d sit quietly watching as his eyes continued to slide down the page, sometimes turning another one or two before he slid a finger in his page and folded the cover shut to look up. I’d smile that he was lost in his story and letting the tale tell him where to pause rather than the clock.

As teachers (and parents) do we foster the conditions that lead to that deeply immersed reading? Do we offer children books that hook them to the bone and demand to be read? Do we hold reading up as a joy and even at times a guilty pleasure? Do we gently turn out the lights and wish them good dreams…knowing that we’ve replaced the flashlight batteries and that their books are within reach from the pillow?

I hope so. I wouldn’t miss this experience for all the world, even though I’ll be tired after lunch and possibly irritable by dinner.

It was worth it!

…………….

If you’re wondering, I was reading Torch Against the Night, the second in the Ember in the Ashes quartet by Sabaa Tahir. It’s a YA tale of torn loyalties, life and death struggle, political intrigue, and love. I won’t be handing it to any of my K-5 readers, so it was entirely a guilty pleasure. I’d gotten the first in the series two years ago, where it kept me up into the small hours at ILA Boston. Then this February I bumped into this gem at The Strand bookstore in NYC. It’s been sitting by my bed waiting for a vacation…but crept higher and higher up the TBR pile. Vacation won’t start until next weekend, but this little escape was fantastical.

#SOL18 Complete but Not Farewell

The timer ticks down the  minutes until these concoctions need to come out of the oven.

The boys are long since in bed. I might have been, too, if I’d counted the eggs right yesterday afternoon. But 45 matzo balls and last minute hard boiled eggs meant a trip to the store tonight when I discovered I was 10 eggs short.

Its been an overlapping blur of whisking, blending and simmering since I returned.

15:00 minutes left on the timer.

One last post for the challenge.

Thank you to all the Two Writing Teachers for hosting this challenge and building a community that makes it both possible and rewarding. Thanks to those of you who have read and responded to my posts. As a late night slicer through most of March, it was delightful to wake up to your words of encouragement or camaraderie first thing in the mornings.

I couldn’t have managed to get both the lemon bars and creme  brûlée ready for the oven simultaneously without a little help in the kitchen. And I couldn’t have juggled school, home, tournaments…and slicing this month without all of you.

Just as I eagerly anticipate eating these desserts tomorrow, I look forward to reading many more slices from you in the year ahead.

Happy Passover. Happy Easter. And Happy Writing!

 

#SOL18 Day 29 Numb Tongue

Daniel met us at the door when we drove in.

“How’d it go?” he called to his brother.

As I passed him in the doorway I teased, “es gohh nunnnm tuuuunm.”

“What?” his eyebrows quirked in confusion.

Qaiden came in carrying his milkshake. “asdfkj fjeio ;lksj ruei jiewj.” It was completely unintelligible. I shook my head and chuckled.

Daniel’s eyebrows arched higher.

“He’s got numb tongue, numb tongue!” I explained. “It was the Novocaine.”

Understanding dawned. The eyebrows settled into their normal places and the corner of his mouth quirked up.

We spent the next five minutes making Qaiden try to say things so we could laugh at how ridiculous it sounded. Q laughed right along with us.

 

To top it off, I got him a milkshake since he couldn’t chew for a couple hours. I got myself one, too. And Rich’s shakes are about a pint of ice cream in a cup with a straw! No need to cook. *wink*

 

 

#SOL18 Day 28 Down the Rabbit Hole

My eyes squeezed shut against the strain of reading the screen. When they opened again it was like emerging from a tunnel. I glanced around to get my bearings. Everyone else had left the dining room. I rolled my shoulders to counter act the keyboard hunch I’d been huddled in. Oof. Stiff. Absentmindedly I reached for my tea. My fingers grasped for the smooth sides of the mug. Curling it toward me, I paused, felt the bottom with my opposite hand and shrugged as I put it back down. It was cold.

Looking back at the screen I’d clearly been absorbed in for some time, there were ten different tabs open. The map of central London, the walking tour of the Dover cliffs, the Norman castle used in Age of Ultron, a theater schedule, and more.

Our trip is approaching quickly. While we have the bones of the vacation laid out, we’re still filling in the finer details. Like: If I’m in Dover for the day, can I see both the white cliffs and the Norman castle? And if I spend the whole day in Dover, what do I do with my luggage since I’m checking out of one lodging that morning and into another that night nearer to the airport? And depending on what I need to do with my luggage, how early can I catch an eastbound train in the morning? How late can I catch a return train? Then what will it take to collect my luggage and get to the hotel at the airport?

The lights in all the adjacent rooms are off. The house is quiet.

My brain isn’t.

I went down the rabbit hole and now my mind is buzzing with questions and connections. The train I’ll be taking from London is heading to Kent, just like Ada’s train in The War that Saved my Life. Also, the castle represents both a medieval  fortress and a modern military base of operations for both WWI and WWII. To top that off, it was featured both in the relatively recent Avengers movie, and one of the earliest Doctor Who episodes.

It is a microcosm of England. Old. And new.

#SOL18 Back to the Kids

I noticed recently that last year I had far more slices about school and kids. When I stopped to think why, it felt like I’ve been in a series of meetings and work sessions for more than a month now. After being immersed in one classroom throughout an entire unit following New Years, I’ve been away from classrooms and even my intervention students for a few weeks.

I missed them.

Today was like re-integration therapy.

Before school I greeted a small group of our Reading Ambassadors as they were dropped off for our workshop. Eight readers in grades three through five spent the better part of an hour creating stop motion videos to promote books. It is painstaking work to capture even a few seconds of video since each frame is only 1/10 of a second. These kiddos have innovated solutions for propping up iPads, for maneuvering the Stik Bots without their hands and arms being seem, crafting speech bubbles to convey meaning. It was like being out on a playground. The room was full of happy noise as small teams of students collaborated on their projects. There will be no grade. When they’re done we’ll find or create an audience for them. And we’ll invite them to become the experts who teach others how to use this new-to-us tool.

Immediately after waving the group off for the start of the school day, I welcomed back one of my intervention students after the interlude between sessions. It feels like I haven’t seen her in a month.

We welcomed author Sarah Albee today (on her book’s birthday, no less!). I sat in as she regaled our kinders and first graders with stories. We laughed together. She shared two interactive read alouds. One of them included a roaring, snorting, sniffling dragon played by a squirmy kindergarten friend. I particularly enjoyed her asides to the kids, “Is that right? Do you believe him? No way!” The other one included some impressive voice acting by Sarah, herself. Then for the grand finale she opened up the floor to questions. “Remember,” she coached, “questions start wit words like what, who, why…Does anyone have a question?” forty-five hands shot in the air. When she called on the first boy, the first words out of his mouth were, “That reminds me. One time I….” She smiled the same smile that I did, and we both shook our heads. Because in kindergarten, we’re still working on what a question is…or at least when they’re eager for a turn to share. We all know that in other situations five year olds are champion questioners.

I helped to shift the library furniture to accommodate our bigger fourth and fifth graders. Then sat in on most of Sarah’s session with them, as well. These bigger kids were treated to stories about the history of sewage and all that goes along with it, as well as the four bugs who’ve caused the most mayhem through history by spreading terrible diseases. Three “doctors” offered diagnoses and treatment advice to poor, unsuspecting, patients suffering from plague, cholera, and yellow fever. The white lab coats were fun. Cholera lead to a discussion of poison and eventually circled around to bizarre wardrobe choices through the ages. It sounds like pieces of completely different puzzles, but she wound it together seamlessly. I kept watching the clock, but was able to stay long enough to see a brave 4th grader dressed in 16th century style complete with the butt bump (I think that’s what Sarah called it…I need to read her book!), the full skirt, AND the ruff collar!

I was sorry to sneak out, but I got to read with my little Boo. Do you know the youngest girl in Despicable Me? That’s her. She bubbles over with joy and a little mischief and reading is really starting to click for her (most days)! Really, you can’t help but smile.

I rounded out the day by joining a fourth grade class for a grand conversation of their first few read aloud books in an informational reading unit focused on the Civil Rights era. I was technically there as support for a conversation that could broach sensitive topics. Not once did the group need to be re-directed. Although they’ve had only a few grand conversations this year, they treated each other with respect. My heart swelled when I heard one boy pipe up to say, “I think we should give some other people a chance to be in the conversation who haven’t said much yet.” He was advocating for those to his left and right who’d been patiently waiting. And as for the issues of race and segregation that arose, every single child took a position of empathy and compassion. It tugged at my heartstrings when they asked earnestly why anyone would want to treat other people the way that African Americans were treated “bac then.” And I was delighted when a few students made their own connections to some other groups who faced discrimination: women, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and even people of different sizes or economic circumstances. Is there more for these children to learn and understand about our society and our world…much. But from today’s conversation I am convinced that they have the hearts to engage openly and fairly with difficult truths.

After I’d complimented the group for being inclusive, for referring to specific parts of the read aloud texts, and even for bringing in other texts familiar to the whole group to make insightful connections, I sent them off to the next part of their afternoon. One boy stayed behind at the carpet and asked, “IS  there still slavery in America?” From a comment he’d made during the conversation, I knew he was aware that slavery still existed in some other parts of the world. I took a deep breath and answered, “yes.” He followed up with other questions about how it could still happen. I explained that it has been illegal since the Civil War, but that some terrible people still bring other people into the country and then force them to work in secret. “Is it like blackmail?” he asked. “I heard that in some places people get blackmailed and forced to do things that they wouldn’t do ever except for that.” He referenced vandalism and I was happy to leave it at that. Our conversation continued for another minute as his classmates returned to the carpet for read aloud. I’d heard his curiosity and his concern and met him only as far as he lead.

Today was so renewing.

During the next two weeks I will be away from my own students again, though I’ll be borrowing and meeting some others. For now, it was perfect to get back to my own students big and little.

 

#SOL18 The Labsite

A fellow slicer inquired about labsites as a coaching format. After butchering my initial response, I thought I’d try again to explain them in a clearer way.

Fifteen adults crowded into an already full classroom. They tried to cause as little disruption as possible, but let’s face it, they almost doubled the population of the room. They were hard to miss.

The students, seated on the carpet, looked with curiosity at the grown ups folding themselves into kid sized chairs around the carpet, or sitting criss-cross applesauce right alongside them.

“Readers, I’d like to introduce you to some of my friends. We’re all teachers. Your teacher has been telling us such wonderful things about your class that we all wanted to come and see for ourselves. Thank you for having us today.” The consultant settled herself into the teacher’s chair near the chart for the beginning of the mini lesson.

Teacher pens poised above clipboards ready to capture and make tracks of the magic that was about to happen. This person, who didn’t know these kids and possibly wasn’t from this school, was about to model an entire workshop! One group of teachers listened for teacher language- What sorts of prompts or questions might she use? How would she reframe student responses for the class? A second group listened for student talk during the active engagements. A third monitored how the consultant managed her time to keep the lesson moving and brief.

At one point just before she called on children to share in the active engagement she looked up over the children’s heads and voiced over her thinking to the adults in the room. “You’re going to notice how I don’t just ask who wants to share. That could go off the tracks. Instead I’m going to call on two partnerships that I overheard and I already know that what they talked about can help the group.” Then she simply cast her gaze back to the students, reeled them in, and continued on as if there had been no interruption.

A few teachers in the back whispered in amazement that the students were entirely nonplussed by the voice-over. Another was wowed by the simple way the consultant had kept this part of the active engagement both powerful and down to 30 seconds. That was the part of her lesson that sometimes dragged on into double digit minutes.

Following the mini lesson, teachers edged to the outside of the room, making space for students to transition to independent reading. The consultant released them with an “off you go!”

The teachers gathered again at the edges of the carpet and the consultant checked in. “Next I’ll be doing a conference.” Gesturing to one third of the teachers she said, “This group, listen for how I research.” To the next group she advised, “You will make a list of possible compliments I could give the student. And the rest of you, make a list of next steps for this student. What teaching points might I choose?”

With that the classroom teacher quietly tapped a student on the shoulder and motioned him over to the carpet. He sat down across from the consultant.

As she conferred with the boy, teachers leaned in to listen. From time to time they jotted parts of the conversation based on the lens they’d been given.

Five minutes later, the consultant thanked the boy and sent him back to his reading. She turned to the adults and named out what she’d done in the conference. “When we get back to the conference room, we’ll share out the observations you just made and answer any questions. For now, I’d like you to pair up. In each pair decide who will be the teacher, and who will observe and make the conference notes. Remember you’re trying to capture the compliment, the possible next steps, as well as the one teaching point you choose. Ready? Off you go!”

Teachers fanned around the room. Some watched students from afar before pulling up alongside them. Tentatively or with a bit more confidence, teachers of varying experience conferred with readers who were not their own. At their shoulders were trusty partners to capture the key points of the exchange. Meanwhile, the consultant moved from team to team, listening, nodding encouragement, occasionally whispering in to the teacher, then observing a moment longer and moving on.

Five minutes later she called for the partners to switch roles and confer with a different student.

“Readers, I’d like to call you back to the carpet for a share. Please bring…”

After thanking the students and their teacher for opening their classroom, the adults excused themselves and maneuvered back into the hall.

…………………………

Just as I was writing this slice it dawned on me. A workshop is an oreo! The chocolate cookies are the teacher-led mini lesson and share at the beginning and end of the workshop. In between is the really good stuff, the independent practice! Oh, you thought I was going to say the filling.

If the workshop is an oreo, then a labsite is like a double decker oreo. The pre-meeting where the consultant sets teachers up for what they’ll observe and which parts of the teaching they may try out is a chocolate cookie bit. Then the group goes off to a classroom for the practice part. Yum! And finally they all meet back together after the lesson, to share observations and reflect on what they’ve learned (Hey it’s a teaching share!)–another chocolate cookie.

Labsites are a great, hands on, way to share teaching methods with teachers. Because the consultant (or coach) guides the group to notice certain things, they don’t go by unseen. Since there are so many teaching moves in a single workshop, every teacher, regardless of experience can take away a few things to add to their own basket of tricks. Trying out a new or refined teaching method (or coaching strategy) in a labsite is low risk. Even if your teaching doesn’t go according to plan, you’ve only borrowed these students. Their own teacher will pick things up the next day and carry on with their learning. Because multiple people are trying it out simultaneously, no one has to be on the spot (unless they volunteer for a fishbowl). And yet, you have access to instant feedback about how the attempt went, which means you can revise and improve your practice, on the spot. Labsites are highly engaging, high impact structures for professional learning.

Even better, labsites can be tailored to the current professional learning goals of the participating teachers. Their focus is on conferring? Run two or three rounds of conferences. Short on time? Skip the mini lesson. Confer in one or two different classrooms so each teacher can have multiple attempts. You could do the same if their focus was on small group instruction. Or, teacher volunteers could try out a small group as two or three other teachers observed (with a lens). Then the team could debrief quickly before switching roles.

The teachers’ focus is on building capacity for student talk? Link a workshop to a readaloud block and work on multiple formats of student talk. For the read aloud block focus on lifting the level of whole class conversation by holding a fishbowl grand conversation. Put half the class in the center circle to model a conversation. Put the other half in the outer circle, with a lens like you gave to the teachers in the labsite above. Then have pairs of teachers sit behind the outer ring to observe. The coach, or a couple of brave teacher-volunteers could practice whispering in to support the conversation in the center circle. At the end of the conversation give the outer circle (and teachers) a minute to finish their notes. Then invite the outer circle to name what worked well (a compliment), and propose strategies for improving the conversation. Celebrate both circles for their thoughtfulness and perhaps give them a moment to stretch while you set up for the workshop portion. In the workshop teachers could practice (or observe) coaching into turn and talk, partner conversations, or book clubs.

The labsite doesn’t take fancy equipment. You need a way to release teachers from their classes while they participate. It takes some planning on the part of whoever will be leading the labsite. But aside from open minds and a favorite notebook and pen, no other special resources are required.

Thanks to Tammy for reaching out to collaborate coach to coach! While we’re leading professional learning for our teachers, we also need advice and feedback to grow our practice. It’s great to grow a digital PLN here at Two Writing Teachers. Thank you to the TWT team for hosting the annual Slice of Life Challenge that gathers us together.

 

#SOL18 Day 25 Writing Self-Reflections

I’m drawing a blank tonight.

Sitting in a swiveling, rocking, club chair with my laptop, I find myself staring off into the corners of the room. I thought I’d finished cleaning it earlier today…but now the loose ends are showing. My fingers tap at the keys without pressing them. The repetitive noise that results sounds a little like typing, except it forms patterns. Hmmm…

Every other night of the challenge there have been a couple of ideas ripe for the picking. As I sit here trying to pin one down tonight, I find myself at a loss. That’s not to say that I don’t have a few ideas banked from earlier in the month, I do, but here’s the thing…

I’ve found that my pre-bedtime writing routine this month has been ideal for producing flash drafts of something that stood out from the day, something fresh and at the front of my mind. It’s a nice chance to reflect on and filter through the events of the day. I’m liking it, and I may continue with some kind of end of day journaling when the challenge is over.

But tackling bigger ideas, or (I hate to call them) leftover ideas, seems to work better earlier in he day. My logical, planning brain works best early in the morning. (Well my planning brain never turns off, though I wish it would.) I guess it’s a good thing that I’m recognizing this pattern.

But here’s the thing. I’ve been reading some of your slices lately about walking and about water, and about early mornings when the light is different than any other time of the day. And as the weather promises to tip toward spring (well, eventually), I’ve been thinking that I could adjust my routine to free up time in the mornings. There are 20 minutes between seeing my oldest off for the bus and wishing my youngest a good morning. That had been the time I got dressed and ready for work…but honestly it doesn’t take long to get dressed. If I choose what to wear the night before I could steal some precious alone time with the soft, diffuse light of the new day. Ahhhhh. That sounds good.

I’ve set my fiction project aside this month while I’m blogging for the challenge and writing (and re-rewriting) reading units for work. When I return to it–I should probably pick it up as soon as the challenge is over so I can capitalize on the momentum of writing something every day. But this is a project best suited to my stronger morning brainpower.

 

Hmmmm…

Well, I’m not sure I’ve come away with a decision. But this is the time of day suited to reflection. I’ll let that over-active planning brain roll around while I try to sleep. Then my stronger morning brain can solve the puzzle.

Good night.