Category Archives: Slice of Life

Sights, Sounds, & Smells around EIU’s Woody Panther Trail #SOL #NOWM #EIU


The perfectly blue sky after a midnight thunderstorm.

The sound of a gentle rain–not from clouds but rather from the two fountains in the pond.

A small tanker truck pumping maybe water out of the baseball dugout–EW! Nope, it’s pumping out the porta-potties behind the dugout.

The standing water on the low sides of the trail trying to escape into the already swampy grass; the footprints that I am following sunken into muddy middle.

The whistle blowing to start the football players on their down and back runs.

The metronome clucking the beat for the hundred drum majors learning a new cadence.

The encouraging high five from a friend and fellow jogger; the smile and “Good morning!” From a fellow walker who I only see during summer laps around the trail.

The pin pricks of pain on my calves from the sunny dry gravel that I kick up after walking through the shady wet gravel.

The buzzing chirps of the summer locusts, and my relief that it isn’t the din of the thirteen-year cicadas.

The startled caws of the crows as the grounds crew attempts to mow the swampy grass.

The drum majors practicing high steps and precise 90 degree turns.

The friendly wave from another groundskeeper making me feel welcomed and safe.

The gentle rain of the fountains framed by the perfectly blue sky.

Circadian Rhythms of Teachers #SOL

About a week before the end of the school year, a state government employee, who only works 4 days/week, tried to tell me how easy teachers had it with summers off. I politely bit my tongue, although I did try to point out that I would spend much of my summer either in classes or planning for next school year and that the school district doesn’t pay me to work in the summer. She wouldn’t listen.

What I really wanted to tell her was that if she had to work with students day-in-and-day-out, then she would understand why every teacher looks forward to each break just as eagerly as the students. It’s difficult to convince a student of any age to focus and learn new material when they are busy watching the first snow of the season, or planning a Halloween costume, or looking forward to the first day that the pool will be open. And I know that I’m fortunate to be in a school with central air conditioning and a wonderful custodial staff that answers the phone every time I call to report that my classroom is too hot or too cold. Not every teacher is so lucky.

So my summer break is not a vacation (we travel over spring break for that). Until this summer, most of my days were spent at a sports field–some soccer, but mostly baseball. Lots and lots of baseball. I was very busy as a mom, and as a teacher-mom who wasn’t going to work every day in the summer, I volunteered to drive other players to games for parents who couldn’t get off work that early. I was keenly aware of my luxury of free time. My sons are now out of high school; it’s taking some getting used to not cheering on a team all summer long.

And like most of the prior 25 summers, I will be doing whatever I can to improve my teaching. I firmly believe that change is good. This summer is especially busy. I am participating in an online book club that I found out about through a Twitter chat that I follow most Sundays (shout out to Talks with Teachers and #aplitchat). Currently, we are reading Ken Robinson’s¬†The Element, a¬†nonfiction book that I probably would not have chosen to read on my own. It’s very positive, and I’ve already figured out how to use part of chapter 2 for a writing prompt next school year.

I have already gone through Level 3 training/Coaches Academy training for EIU TPS. That training started literally the day after the teacher institute day. I am now using that training to revamp my go-to informational texts resources presentation since I am giving that in two weeks. at an EIU Writing Project professional development day. I need it to be fresh for both me and my audience. When I give that presentation, I will also be giving a brand new presentation that I need to create. So it’s a working break, just different employers.

I am also attending a professional development afternoon this week (I am incredibly fortunate to live in a town with an education-oriented university); coaching for the EIU Writing Project; attending the annual ILA conference in St. Louis; and planning to teach two new-to-me courses that will start on August 18th. To be honest, I am really looking forward to each of those activities.

I know that sounds like I am either bragging or complaining, but I don’t intend to be doing either. I’m trying to be factual. Will I have a lot of time to do what I want and when I want to do it? Of course! I will get up and run some mornings; I will paint the interior of my house; I will sleep in or stay up late; I will not grade a single essay; and I will read a LOT of books. After 25 years teaching, I don’t know how to live my life any other way.

The circadian rhythms of a teacher are just different from the so-called norm.

Half a Slice #SOL2015 Day 31

I haven’t counted the number of times that I wrote in March, so I may not (and probably did not) write for half of the days. But I did write seven or ten or thirteen times more than I would have without the Slice of Life challenge.

Some days my life seemed boring; some days my life was too personal; and some days my life was too busy.

I appreciated the support from the blogosphere. I found it interesting and inspirational the random musings that I would post that readers complimented me on. It was confidence building and motivating to know that I could write well, whatever that means, off the top of my head.

I read a tweet by Roxane Gay recently that said if you are going to blog, do it regularly, whatever that may be. My blog was never intended to be a slice of my life; rather, I wanted it to be a way to share my experiences as a teacher and a provider of professional development, and that will continue to be my focus. I’ll just make sure to do so regularly; I’m thinking every other Sunday as a way to regroup from the previous weeks and to focus for the upcoming weeks. Essentially two times per month feels doable.

So, thank you to everyone who read my slices, whether or not you left a comment. I hope to see you back here for my regular posts, and I will certainly be revisiting your pages in the future, too!