The Write Timing

My voyage toward publication

Getting Back Up July 11, 2018

Filed under: Classroom,Family,Uncategorized — michellephillips @ 6:57 am

It seems counterproductive to spend much time talking about my absence.  No, I did not plan to take a year and a half (!) off from my blog.  Yes, I did think about coming back to post many times during that hiatus.  Why today?  I really don’t know.  Except that I have a good cup of coffee, my three beautiful children are all still sleeping (probably because the littlest angel has already seen me three times since she went to bed), and I’ve been reading a great professional development book (180 Days by Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle) that mentions both teachers’ practice of writing every morning.  So here I am.  Run-on sentences and all.

So very much has changed since my last post in January of 2017.  Our family of 4 has grown to a family of 5 with the addition of our sweet Amelia Pearl on December 19, 2017.  She has added an extra layer of love and chaos to our lives, and we truly wouldn’t have it any other way.  People ask if we’re done.  I tell them I’m 95% sure we are, but I tend not to say “never.”  However, my cousin just had her 2nd child yesterday and looking at his sweet face must’ve stuck in my brain, because last night I had a dream that we had a fourth child.  It was a girl.  And I was terrified.  We do not know what the future holds, but we are loving our three littles as much as we can and soaking up their little faces and voices among stops to various restaurants for potty breaks, trips down the basement stairs on tricycles (yikes!), swimming lessons, dance recitals, bedtime books, runny noses,  ear infections, sibling squabbles, chubby hands reaching for the baby, and on and on and on.

Another change since my last post is that I have also changed positions within my school building.  I continue to teach at St. Wenceslaus School, however, I made the decision to accept a 6th grade (middle school!) literature and language arts position for the previous school year and completely LOVED it.  Those of you who know me personally know at heart, I am a reader and a writer.  This position allows me to focus on those two loves and combine it with my love of learning and educating and viola!  My perfect job.  My students and I had the best year in 2017-2018, and I am anxious to begin another new school year in the fall.

My baby monitor tells me I am about to have a writing partner this morning, so this is where I’ll leave you.  Thank you for reading, thank you for sticking with me, and here’s to hoping this is the first of many new blog posts.  Happy Wednesday! -M

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Always August 18, 2016

Filed under: Classroom,Family,Parenthood,School,Uncategorized — michellephillips @ 9:48 pm
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Today was the first day of school.  As a teacher, I have always loved this time of year.  The excitement of finding out who is going to be in your class, the sun streaming in the classroom windows, and the school supply shopping – oh the school supplies!  And as much as I love teaching and love this time of year, today was difficult for me.  Because back-to-school doesn’t just mean I get to start a new school year with my students anymore.  It means I have to end a summer spent cuddling, reading to, laughing with, and loving up my babies.

 

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Last night, I figured I should probably rid my purse of its “mom” contents.  I removed a tiny tube of Aquifor, two pacifiers, and a couple of crunched up Goldfish.  But this morning, as I was searching for my lanyard that Olivia surely took out and hid somewhere, my fingers brushed a  mini Minnie Mouse.  And that’s the beauty of being a mommy, especially a working mommy.

 

Even though you aren’t always with them, your children are always with you.  They are in the stories you tell – how Olivia had the time of her life at the splash pad and how Nate’s new favorite game is patty cake.  The lunches you pack that now include food in an assortment of Disney Princess containers.  The coffee you grab because someone woke up more times than normal last night.  The frames on your desk and the videos on your phone.  They are there.  They are always there.

 

But what makes it easier is working with a beautiful group of students.  Students whose parents are thinking about them all day.  In their stories, while eating their lunches, drinking their coffee.  They leave their child and entrust them to me.  And I promise to take care of that child and help him or her to grow.  Because I know that when each parent leaves their child at school, they aren’t just leaving a 7 year-old.  They’re leaving their heart.  Because that’s what I did.

 

 

Goals for the 2015-2016 School Year August 8, 2015

Filed under: Classroom,Goals — michellephillips @ 9:24 am
Tags: , , ,
Image courtesy of Pexels.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

It’s about that time!  School supplies fill the aisles, my Pinterest account is dominated by lesson ideas, and I’ve ordered my first ever Erin Condren planner (I cannot WAIT for it to arrive!).  That means it is time to set some goals for my 2015-2016 school year.

I am a firm believer in setting goals and in documenting those goals.  If they aren’t written down, it is a lot easier to let yourself slack (at least it is for me!).  So, I’m posting my goals today.  In addition, I will be posting the list of goals by my desk at school and the cabinet at home.

1.) Complete lesson plans for the following week before I leave the building on Friday.

My lesson plans have to be turned in by the end of the day on Monday of each week.  Last year, my first year in second grade at a new school, I had them turned in on time (almost always) and even had them turned in by Friday during some weeks.  I noticed that my weekend was so much more relaxing if my plans had been completed and emailed before I left school on Friday.  In the interest of relaxing weekends this year, my goal is to submit my plans by Friday afternoon.

2.) Implement a Math Workshop model.

I’ve read a lot about math workshops on some of the teacher blogs I follow and in other professional reading.  I have a difficult time teaching whole group math to a mixed ability group of learners, and I think a math workshop model will help me feel like I can better serve the students I teach.  I know in the beginning of a new method of teaching, there can be a learning curve, so I hope I can adjust quickly and my students will be game to try this new model along with me!

3.) Write every week.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

It is incredibly easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of the school year.  Once that bell rings on the first day of school,

many other things in my life that I enjoy get pushed to the backburner.  This year, since I am dedicating more time to submissions with the hope of finally being published, I know I need to dedicate time to my writing.

4.) Read for pleasure.

One of my favorite parts of summer is being able to read what I want to read.  Don’t get me wrong, I love reading professional development books (I love the new ideas!), but there is nothing like picking out a book and reading the whole thing just for fun.  After all, that’s what I want my students to do!

5.) Stay positive.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a positive person.  I smile a lot, I’m friendly, and I always try to look on the bright side.  In the education field, that isn’t always an easy thing to do.  I can sometimes fall into the negativity trap (especially on a gray or rainy day).  This year, I will surround myself with positive people, try new things, and keep smiling.

I’m certain I’ll come up with more goals as the year progresses, but for now – this is where I’ll begin.  It’s the 2015-2016 school year.  Here we go!!!

 

The Write Timing Indeed July 22, 2014

Filed under: Blogs,Classroom,Dreams,Family — michellephillips @ 6:50 am

Hello there, blog followers!  Are there any of you still out there?  I’m sure you’ve been wondering where I’ve been.  And instead of listing my numerous excuses, I’ll just summarize it with a mini timeline of exactly why I’ve been absent from my blog for oh-so long.

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Photo by Julian Adair

August-September 2013

Sold our house, moved in with my parents while looking for new house, had abdominal surgery

October 2013

Recovered from surgery, continued looking for new houses, made offers on two

November 2013

Found new house and offer accepted

December 2013

Closed on new house (that needed – and still needs – LOTS of TLC), and most importantly…found out we were expecting!!!!

January 2014

Moved into said house, began the long series of improvements that needed to be made, had first ultrasound, marveled that we were finally having the opportunity to do so

February 2014

Announced pregnancy to my students on Valentine’s Day (with pink and blue iced Krispy Kreme) and to the world via social media

March 2014

Enjoyed the end of my first trimester and the return of my former energy level

April-May 2014

Interviewed for and accepted new position for the fall  in a new district, school, and grade level (Ah! Am I crazy?!)

June 2014

Taught Children’s Literature at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, taught at Fine Lines Writing Camp, had first baby shower

July 2014

Had second baby shower (the clothes are so cute – and tiny!), began getting new classroom ready, tried to wrap my brain around the fact I will be a mom in one month

(Coming soon…) August 2014

We will be joined by our new son or daughter in mid-August!!!  Wish us luck!

Whew!  Busy year.  Thank you for continuing to read my blog.  I would promise to write more, but we will see what Baby Phillips has to say about that whole idea…

 

 

 

International Literacy Day September 9, 2013

Today will quite possibly rank as one of the best in my teaching career.  A few weeks ago, I opened an email from one of my favorite professional organizations, the International Reading Association.  It heralded the upcoming International Literacy Day, a day to celebrate the gift of literacy and promote literacy throughout the world.  I knew immediately that I wanted my class to celebrate it, but the question was – how?

As I pondered and brainstormed, our celebration day grew from a single guest reader to a day completely filled with literacy activities!  Here’s how our day looked in Room 311:

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9:05 am – Students tumbled into the room, lugging pillows, stuffed animals, and bags full of books for our afternoon “Read In.”  One student brought me a wonderful sign to post in the room – Hooray for Literacy Day!

9:15 am – Dancing Classrooms and Music Class – Our physical activity and musical experience for the day!

11:00 am – Special guest reader, assistant principal, Mrs. Simmons came in and read The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns.  We talked as a class about literacy and how it relates to math.  The students came up with all kinds of ways we use mathematical literacy (in algebra, reading and writing story problems, interpreting graphs, etc.).

11:30 am – We discussed literacy facts and figures from around the world.  My students learned that 115 million children around the world cannot read and write.  My students wrote the figures in standard, expanded, and word forms.  We tried to imagine how many people that would be and discussed what those children would be doing instead of going to school.  We all agreed that receiving an education is a tremendous gift.

12:20 – Recess and Lunch (Literacy loves sustenance.)

1:00 – Reading class!!!
Read In – Students camped out around the classroom with pillows, blankets, and books galore!  They munched on read-and-feed snacks, played literary element charades, and read some more!

Passing It On – Students were paired and went into a primary classroom (K-3) to talk about literacy and then read a picture book aloud.  The students were SO excited to share what they knew about literacy with the youngest students in our school.  They came back to the classroom chattering with stories to tell and grins from ear to ear.

Writing Prompt – Students responded to one or both of the following prompts: Because I am literate, I can… AND Literacy allows me to invent my future by…

3:00 – Science Literacy and Experiments

Throughout the day and evening, I was able to tweet from my classroom account all of the wonderful activities we were doing to promote literacy throughout our building and our community.  The cherry on top was a retweet this evening by the International Reading Foundation.  It was a quote from a student who is not my most confident reader, but who fully embraced World Literacy Day.  I can hardly WAIT to tell him about it tomorrow!

“Because I am literate, I can be the smartest me I can be.”

 

Summer Time, Summer Time June 17, 2013

There are things I genuinely love about each of the four seasons.  The fall, with its back-to-school shopping and return of college football; the winter, with multiple opportunities to spend time with family and cuddle up with a good book; the spring, with its explosion of color.  But there’s just something about summer…

The Fountain of Nations at Disney World, one of my favorite summer (and year-round!) destinations, contains water from each of 22 different countries.

The Fountain of Nations at Disney World, one of my favorite summer (and year-round!) destinations, contains water from each of 22 different countries.

We all remember how exciting summer was when we were young.  As kids, we counted down the final days of the school year, waiting for that glorious day when we could walk out of the school building and be greeted with nothing but luxurious days of friends and fun ahead.  As a little girl, my summers consisted of swimming lessons at Millard North High School, frequent trips to the Omaha Public Library to update my progress on the Summer Reading Program, afternoons full of running through the sprinklers, and an annual family vacation.

And I’m pretty lucky, even now, as an adult.  As a teacher, I still get to feel that summertime anticipation.  I still get to walk out of the school building (though these days, it’s a few days after the students have already left), with the promise of the best gift ahead of me.

Time.

Time to write (and to catch back up with my blog).  *Writing goals = Journal every day, blog once each week, send out more query letters, and begin a new piece (a screenplay!).

Time to read.  *Reading goal = Read one new book each week (stay tuned for a weekly account of these books).

Time to hang out with my family.  My mom is a teacher, too, and we love to spend our summer days shopping, going out to lunch, and planning activities for our students for the next year.  I also spend time at Preco, Inc., where my husband, dad, and brother all work.  Even though all of us are working (the boys on their Preco stuff; me on my writing), it’s nice to be together.

Time to reconnect with friends.  This week alone I have two lunch dates, two coffee dates, and a dinner date with friends!

Time to rejuvenate.  Sometimes I have to force myself to relax.  I am constantly on the go and I know that, for my own sanity (and my husband’s), sometimes I need to stop and take some time to do nothing.

Time to reenergize.  I love to generate new ideas for my classroom over the summer.  I am also attending some professional development sessions later in July, as well as presenting at a conference!

Summer gives me such a gift.  The gift of time.

(Note: There are a lot more things I love about summer.  Enough, in fact, I think I’ll do a second post about them!  Stay tuned…)

 

Writerly Notes February 22, 2013

It’s kind of funny; sometimes the universe sends you a message in any way it possibly can.  Lately, the message I’ve been receiving is about my writing.  Allow me to explain…

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1.) Revision Workshop

About a month ago, I read a posting in the Omaha World Herald about a revision workshop that would take place at The Bookworm on February 23 (tomorrow!).  It was inexpensive, with a discount for SCBWI members (score!), at a place I love (with connected coffee shop – win/win), and the focus is something I need – revision.  We are bringing multiple copies of the first 5 pages of our current work-in-progress and an assortment of highlighters.  I have no idea what kinds of exercises are in store, but I’m looking forward to getting feedback on those vital first 5 pages from some new sets of eyes.

2.) Another Agent Politely Declines

Over the summer of 2012, I sent out a number of queries to agents.  A couple responded quickly (polite “no thank yous”), some did not respond at all (a different way to say “no thank you” in the agent world), and one responded this week.  Yes, you read that correctly.  This week, approximately 9 months later, with….a no.  Which is fine.  After a number of potential agents say no, the rejections don’t sting as much, but I was surprised by the email.  I had already assumed this particular query was a “no” since the agent had been radio-silent for 9 months, but I did appreciate his recognition of receiving my query and sample of my manuscript.  It would have been easier for him to simply ignore the query.  As a writer, I appreciate knowing that someone has looked at my work, even if it is to determine that it’s not for them.  It’s classy.  And I like it.

3.) A Contest!

I am a member of a number of associations for teaching (International Reading Association, Nebraska State Reading Association, Metropolitan Reading Council, Nebraska Association of Teachers of Mathematics).  Because of this, I often receive emails updating me on the goings-on of each group.  One of these emails brought something interesting to my attention.  The National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation, along with a Boston publishing company, Charlesbridge Publishing, is holding a children’s book contest.  Contestants (me!) can submit picture books or chapter books to become one of at least two books that will be published by Charlesbridge.  There will be 25 finalists and at least two of them will result in publication.  I just so happen to have a picture book AND a chapter book that are currently seeking a home.  Perfect opportunity, right?  Time to brush up my manuscripts and put them in their Sunday-best.

4.) Fine Lines

As you, my beloved readers, may remember, last summer, I participated in some writing workshops and camps.  One of these was Fine Lines Summer Camp, held during June.  I attended as a camper, and was grateful not only for the time to focus on my writing, but the opportunity to network with fellow local writers.  I was recently contacted by the wonderful David Martin, editor of Fine Lines journal and organizer of summer camp, and asked to be an educator at this summer’s camp.  I will work as the assistant coordinator for the elementary side of camp and and am very much looking forward to it!  I’m hoping that I can recruit some of my current students (and future students recommended by some of my colleagues – hint, hint) to attend summer camp.

It’s been a bit of writing whirlwind lately with things popping up when I least expected them.  But the things that surprise us are often some of the best things in life.  I’m hoping these will be just some of those things.

 

 
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