Tag Archives: Gratitude

What’s Your Win?

This week as I was meeting with my mentee (and brilliant new teacher) Heather, we were discussing some of the challenges of teaching kindergarten. But then she talked about how she and her kinder colleagues try to share a “win” with one another each day. When they see each other they’ll ask, “What’s your win for today?” This got me jazzed because one of my mantras for this year is Nothing is too small to celebrate, and here these teachers were putting that idea into action.

The next day at my “lunch bunch”  (5th and 6th grade teachers in a different school) we were discussing our day and I thought I’d try asking “What’s your win for today?” to each of them. Though some were humorous, and some took a little thinking, they all had a positive aspect to what is often a very tough job. It certainly brought some levity and light to the table.

We see what we look for.

It’s not always easy to recognize a win unless you are looking for it. Sure, we sometimes have those amazing moments that reaffirm for us why we became teachers or that fill us with pride. (Here’s a link to one of my proud teaching moments)But more often there are dozens of wins going on in our day that we don’t celebrate, and might not even notice.  Did a quiet student find their voice? Did kids transition well between activities? Did turn-and-talk produce good conversation? Was someone kind to a classmate? Did students enjoy the read aloud? Did you make it to the end of the day!?

We create an environment in which kids can thrive each day and sometimes we don’t realize what the impact is of the choices and decisions we make has on their social-emotional and academic learning. We tend to notice (and perseverate) on what didn’t go well, especially when we are tired and frustrated. But so often the conditions we’ve created spark lots of small victories for our students. We just need to look for them.

This week, try and ask yourself, “What’s my win?” Then perhaps ask a colleague, “What’s your win?“Encourage one another to look for and notice those small (or large) successes that happen each day in your classrooms. They’re there!  I plan to revisit this topic in the future after checking in with more teachers on their wins. I’d love to hear about your wins!

screen shot 2019-01-27 at 9.45.11 amShared Spark! In keeping with the theme of this week’s blog post, invite students or colleagues to quick write the answer to the question, “What’s My Win Today?” There’s a large body of research that shows writing or journaling about positive events or what we are grateful for can have a powerful impact on our mental health and mood. Taking 3 to 5 minutes to reflect on a win could set you on a more positive trajectory for the rest of the day.  Try it for a few days and see what you begin to notice.

One More Off My TBR Stack!

Merci Suarez

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal! Meg Medina has written a compassionate story about a family coming to grips with the brutal reality of Alzheimer’s disease while also dealing with the everyday struggles of daily life. Merci Suárez is beginning her 6th grade at a private school where she was “lucky” to get scholarship, but she doesn’t feel so lucky when she comes up against the most popular girl at school and when her beloved Grandfather, Lolo’s, behavior makes her feel like she doesn’t know him anymore. You’ll fall in love with these characters and find yourself rooting for them to overcome hardship, I know I did.

Privilege Primer


  • “I don’t need to march, I’m not oppressed.” 
  • “They just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”
  • “I’m not racist. Those people are just looking for attention.” 
  • “My ancestors came here legally.”
  • “How do you not know what sex you are?”  
  • “They’re rapists, and some I assume are good people
  • “She’s too shrill. She’s such a b***ch!”
  • He shouldn’ta been wearing a hoodie.”
  • They don’t want equal rights, they want special rights.”
  • He’s so disrespectful not standing for the National Anthem.”
  • “I just start kissing them, I don’t even wait.”
  • Nobody helped me!”

What I’ve Learned From My Place of Privilege

Privilege is when you aren’t constantly reminded of…

Your race, your gender, your sexual orientation, your income, your education, Your identity.

Privilege is when you don’t have to fear…

The police, the government, the landlord, the neighborhood watch, your future

Privilege is when you don’t have to think about…

Where you drive, how to talk, what you wear, who you date, where you live, pigmentation

Privilege is when you can choose…

Who you’ll marry,  where to dine, which color of car to drive, what college you’ll attend

Privilege is when you can choose not to…

March for someone’s rights, listen to someone’s pleas, tune in to disturbing news, see color.

Privilege is never having a reason to notice your privilege or deny its existence.

Privilege does not require an apology…but seeks acknowledgement

Privilege does not demand a sense of guilt…but should engender gratitude.

Privilege is not possessed by only few, but often only perceived in others.

My privilege can empower me,

to push others down

or lift others up

Privilege is relative…Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 9.38.35 PM

Privilege is real.


Moments of Elation

slice-of-life_individualScreen Shot 2017-03-21 at 9.02.31 PM

Finding a note on my windshield after work; a flirtation from my future hubby.

Standing by the water’s edge, holding his hands, and proclaiming, “I do.”

Seeing a heartbeat on the ultrasound beyond the fateful weeks of four miscarriages.

Feeling my baby laid across my chest as I sob “I love you. I love you. I love you.”

Watching my daughter cradle her baby brother in her lap for the first time.

Waking to the realization we’d slept through an entire night.

Getting the call from mom that the spot on her lung was an imaging error.

Putting her on the bus for the first time and racing to school to watch her arrive.

Celebrating his little league team come from behind to win the championship game.

Mesmerized by her pirouette, tendue, and leap across the stage .

Cheering his first varsity soccer goal and humble celebration.

Opening the acceptance email from my editor.

Showering my colleagues rejoicing life changes.

Hearing her give the salutatorian speech to her graduating class.

Hugging my hubby before returning home in our emptied out van.

Lying side by side, spooning throughout the night.

Waking up each morning and realizing this isn’t just a dream.

Slow Down, Look Around

IMG_8840 - Version 2Many teachers I know are familiar with the analogy of summer vacation being like a weekend; June is the Friday, July is the Saturday and August is the Sunday.  We tend to respond the same way to our summers as we do to our weekends, often driven by the same thoughts and behaviors.  As I write this, on my “Saturday evening”, I am pausing IMG_8817to reflect and project on the time I call vacation.  As much as I try, I cannot slow time, but I know I can be more present in the moments I am given, and that is about as close as I can come to deceleration.

So yesterdaIMG_8814y I decided that I was going to slow down and really look around.  I wanted to try to be present in each moment I could, appreciate how beautiful my world is and be grateful for the life I have.  I tried not to worry about ‘to do’ lists, work awaiting me at home or school, curriculum, manuscripts, housework, etc.  Whatever I was doing, or wherever I was, I wanted to experience it fully.

As you can see, it did not stop time-the day passed, as all do.  But I can already IMG_8912see that parts of that day are going to travel forward with me.  Some of the images, some of the thoughts, some of the feelings I experienced made a strong enough impression that I hope will sustain me when life seems to be racing far too fast.  When I revisit these images on those crazy days to come, I hope some of that peace and gratitude will revisit my spirit.

Now I happen to think I am incredibly lucky to live in a breathtakingly beautiful place.  Maine has such diverse natural IMG_8869beauty that I can’t possibly  experience it all in a single day, so I chose a few of my favorites to savor for my day.  Wherever you live, you can  find beauty as well.  Let yourself be drawn to the places that fill you with awe and gratitude; a park, a cornfield, a stream, aIMG_8874 city skyline or your backyard.  When you find it, slow down.  Look around.  Tune out the rest of the world for just a few moments.  Become awash with the sounds, the smells, the spectacle of what is in front of you and around you.  Draw it, photograph it, write about it so that you can return to it when you need to.

We cannot slow or stop time, but we can capture moments with intention, focus and gratefulness.  We can share them or stash them away for future reminiscence.  Where will you slow down and look around and capture a moment?IMG_8823

May you savor your summer and replenish your spirit, wherever you are.




What’s on My Book Radar?

IMG_8915I just finished Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.  I am not sure how this part of our nation’s history was something I knew almost nothing about.  From the 1850’s to the 1930’s children categorized as orphans from cities and towns on the east coast, boarded trains and were shipped west.  Though the benevolent intention was to find good homes for these unwanted children, that was not always the outcome.  Baker beautifully weaves the life of 90 year old Vivian, a former train rider, with Molly, a young foster child in Maine as the strike up an unlikely friendship.  You will truly appreciate how luck plays such a dramatic role in the fate of so many lives.  I couldn’t help but think of our modern day ‘orphan’ crisis on the southern borders of our country right now as I read about the disparate acts of kindness or contempt that these helpless children faced. History does have a way of repeating itself.