The Write Timing

My voyage toward publication

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.



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
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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!!!


Always a writer March 23, 2012

Filed under: School,Uncategorized,Writing — michellephillips @ 1:35 pm
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As I sit to write my lastest post, I am just rounding out my spring break week.  I had big plans for this spring break.  Read book for book club – check.  Take Grandpa out to lunch – check.  Clean out the junk room – uncheck (who wants to spend spring break doing that anyway?).  Speak to the 2nd graders at St. Wenceslaus about writing – great big, successful check!

My mom is a teacher, just as I am.  She’s a wonderful teacher – 2nd grade at St. Wenceslaus.  Fun fact: she teaches 2nd grade in the same classroom where I attended 2nd grade (with a different teacher, of course).  My mom and her colleagues split up who teaches some of the subjects – social studies, science, and creative writing.  Mom teaches creative writing.  At the beginning of the school year, she told her students that her daughter (namely, moi) is a writer and is hoping to publish a book in the near future.  She decided that I would be the perfect person to come in and talk to the kids about writing.

My wonderful parents, John and Mary Mimick!

Now, just as anyone who loves and respects their mother would, I agreed.  I agreed as in “sure, some day I’ll come in and talk about writing” kind of agreement.  But wouldn’t you know, my spring break fell a week after theirs and I happened to be free.  My mom booked the community room at St. Wenceslaus for an hour and I was charged with keeping 90 2nd graders entertained and learning about writing for AN HOUR!  More than that, these students have had authors come and speak to them before.  Real, live authors.  As in, ones who have been published.  Authors who’ve seen more than a series of rejection letters.  So needless to say, I felt a bit nervous and inadequate.

Luckily for me, I’m a teacher.  I’ll go ahead and toot my own horn and say I have a way with children.  The presentation went beautifully.  The students were engaged, they asked interesting questions, and I think they may have just left inspired to keep writing.

But there’s a secret.

I think I may have gotten more out of it then they did.

In creating my presentation, I was reminded of how much I’ve loved writing for virtually as long as I can remember.  From 2nd grade on, I wanted to be an author.  I even found some (and by some, I mean a stack at least a foot tall) of my old writing.  Writing from grade school, middle school, high school.  Writing that won me entrance to 2 conferences for young authors.  Writing that was published in local publications.  Writing that made me remember who I had a crush on in 8th grade.  Writing that reminded me how desperately I wanted to be in the “popular” group in middle school.  Writing that reaffirmed my faith.  Writing that demonstrated the rawness of emotion after a terrible loss.  Writing that made me chuckle as I reread it.  Writing that made me think, “Yes, this is what I am meant to be.”  Writing that was me.

I am a writer, and I thank the students at St. Wenceslaus for helping reaffirm my belief in myself.

I am a writer.


Grammar Glamour September 26, 2011

Filed under: Classroom,Life Lessons,Writing — michellephillips @ 7:09 am
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If you pulled a student from every 5th grade class I’ve ever taught, lined them up, and then asked, “What’s important in Mrs. Phillips’s (or Miss Mimick, for those early groups) class?” you’d hear a variety of responses.

Be respectful.

Writing time is quiet work time.

Use your resources.

The list goes on.  But one thing I guarantee each child would remember, is my dedication to grammar.  My students do not get away with “lazy” speech.  If a student comes up and asks if “me and Jason” can go in the hall to read, they get the same response.


The first few times, this is met with a surprised expression, “Me and Jason.”


Here, they start to think.  What’s wrong with what I asked?  Usually, once we’re a few weeks into the school year, they are able to quickly correct themselves.  “I mean, may Jason and I go into the hall to read?”

Their reward is a broad smile and permission to go in the hall.  I’m pleased and proud.

Part of my dedication to grammar comes from being a writer.  I love language and feel it’s one of my duties to help my students realize that speaking properly will get them farther in life.  It makes them sound smarter, more reliable.  Mature.

The other part comes from my mom.  I remember a period in my life (I’m thinking probably junior high) where I was constantly being reminded to speak correctly.  As annoying as it was then (This is home, not school, why should I care about how I talk?), I’m incredibly grateful that she helped me understand the importance of grammar.  It makes me a stronger writer.  It makes me a stronger teacher.  And it just makes me sound smart. 🙂

I know that this focus on grammar is carrying into my student’s home lives based on stories that parents have shared with me.  Here’s my favorite:

When speaking with a parent of a student I taught two years ago, I was told that grammar had become more important in their house.  The student (a 5th grader at the time) took it upon himself to correct his 2nd grade sister whenever she said “me and _____” at home.  He would shake his head, tell her how she should’ve said it, and then inform her, “That’s not going to fly when you’re in Mrs. Phillips’s class.”

Love, love, LOVE it!

Making grammar more glamorous,



Remember Me? August 17, 2011

This math graphing activity is only one of the many exciting activities awaiting my new students!

Monday marked the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year for 26 of the most adorable 5th graders on the planet.  They came in all bright-eyed and looking slightly intimidated.  No one laughed at my hilarious jokes the entire first morning (and I’m telling you, I’m a funny girl), and it took a long pause after “When you come in, put your attendance stick in the Present cup, but if you’re not here, you’ll want to put your stick in the Absent cup,” before one of my little “darlings” said, “Well, that doesn’t make sense.”  I love 5th graders.  And at the beginning of each new school year, I’m reminded of why.  They’re so sweet, so eager to please, so unjaded.

But the thing I always forget that comes with the beginning of the school year is the tremendous amount of work it entails.  The immense feeling of exhaustion that finds me wishing it was bedtime around 8:00.  And this brings me back to the title of this entry.  It was on the way home from school today (I left at 5:04 after I told myself I’d try to leave my 4:30) when I heard my dear old friend Shirley, “Hey, remember me???”  Longtime blog followers, you’ll remember Shirley.  She’s that voice in my head (not like a crazy voice, more like a what-are-you-thinking-you-can’t-possibly-publish-a-book voice) that has a way of sneaking into my brain and trying to convince me I’m not going to be successful.  I think she crawls in top of my ear, sits there, and then flicks it every once in a while.


Gee, pretty tired tonight, aren’t you?


Bet you don’t even want to think about that blog post you had scheduled to write on Monday.


By the way, it’s Wednesday.


I have no idea why you thought you’d be able to keep writing daily once school started.  Fool.

So, after addressing invitations to my 30th birthday party (more on what that’s doing to my psyche later), I told Shirley the same thing I’ve told her many times.  Shut it, Shirl.  No way am I going to let her deter me.  Not when I’m closer than I’ve ever been.  Not when I’m finally starting to identify myself as a writer.  Not now, Shirl.  I’m not the fool.  You are.

***And now, an exciting notice to readers!***

Be sure to stop by my blog this Sunday, August 21 to check out a guest post from a writer friend of mine, Heather McCorkle.  Heather is doing a blog tour (Tour of Secrets) in honor of the publication of her novel, The Secret of Spruce Knoll.  I’m excited and honored that Heather has made The Write Timing a stop on her tour.  Be sure to stop by and check out one of her writing secrets!


Back to School! August 10, 2011

Filed under: Classroom,School — michellephillips @ 6:53 pm
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It is my very favorite time of year – Back to School time!  Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always LOVED the back-to-school season.  As a child, it meant finding a new pair of shoes for the year (as a uniform-wearer, shoes were about my only outlet of fashion fun), running to the doors at St. Wenceslaus to check and see who my new teacher was (and if my BFFs were in my class), and my ultimate favorite activity – school supply shopping.

As a little girl, Mom would take my brother, sister, cousin Nikki, and I to the store (usually Target), supply lists in hand.  I took my time combing the aisles, selecting the perfect assignment notebook and an array of Lisa Frank folders.  When we got home, the supplies went into the office and I waited (with bated breath) for my dad to get home so that I could pull the brown paper bag out of the office and show him each of my school supplies, one by one.  It was, in a word, heaven.

My husband and I took a trip to Target tonight.  I found myself gravitating toward the school supplies (just as he always goes straight for the toys; I swear he’s really just a big kid).  I couldn’t help it.  The smell of bright pink erasers and No. 2 pencils beckoned me (I meant it, just walk by the aisle; the smell is intoxicating).  As a teacher, I at least have a little bit of an excuse for browsing the school supply aisle.  Typically, I’ll buy a few things “for the classroom.”  Tonight, I resisted the temptation (and was quite proud of myself, thank-you-very-much).  But I’m not sure I’ll be able to hold out forever.  The back-to-school season is only around for so long.  I’m sure there will be something I’ll need.

I know that one of the reasons that I have such a deep affection for school supply shopping is that I’ve always really enjoyed school (a real “plus” for a teacher, don’t you think?).  Even as an adult, I consider myself a lifelong learner.  And really, when you think about it, lifelong learners are always learning.  The world is our classroom.  And learners need supplies.  And…on second thought, I may need to take another glance.  Let me grab my keys.


Editing and Revising April 29, 2010

Filed under: April,Uncategorized — michellephillips @ 5:17 pm
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At the beginning of the school year, when I’m introducing my students to writing, we review a few main topics.  One of those topics is the writing process.  What I notice, year after year, no matter what the class, is that 5th graders, as a whole, hate to edit and revise.

And I get it.

I totally understand their reluctance.  Although, being their teacher, I am required by law (or at least my personal philosophy of teaching) to talk and talk about the importance of editing and revising.  I tell them that their writing is never at its best the first time around.  I show them the drafts of the first few pages of Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn Dixie to see that real life authors have to edit and revise.  Every time they turn in a piece of writing, I look for the number of corrections or changes they made to their initial piece.

But in my head?  In my head, I’m grinning (if not rolling my eyes at the words coming out of my mouth) because I have the same reluctance.  I would much rather start a brand new piece of writing than go back to edit and revise one that is already written.  Why?  For the simple fact that it’s hard work!

Revising, in particular, takes a long time.  It takes patience.  And it also takes a different eye.  I tell my students that when they are revising their own work, they need to try to look at it as a reader, not as the author of the piece.  They have to step back and pretend they don’t have a vested interest in the writing.  And that’s a really tough thing to do.

But you know what?

Around this time of year, late April, they’ve got it (well, most of them).  I flip through the various parts of the writing process when a completed assignment is turned in, and I see rough drafts that have been colored with many editing corrections and revisions.  The students’ writing is better for it, and I know that mine is, too.


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