What Happens When Technology Fails?

Six hours. It took me six hours to grade their technology essays. I was logging in to three teacher’s sites, reading and commenting on essays. Finally I was done. I was able to give the students their work.

But then it happened.

The documents were incomplete. When students used their iPads to look at the documents, comments were missing or strange text boxes appeared. I was devastated.

Conferences are next week and I was really looking forward to having the students show this work. Sadly, it didn’t work out.

I Will Not Apologize

Dear Students,

You asked me the other day if I write about you. You asked me to read you a piece inspired by you. This is a  piece inspired by you, my family.


Your Teacher


Snippets of a typical conversation:

Stranger: Do you have children?

Me: No, not yet.

Stranger: How many children do you have?

Me: None. I hope I start soon or I’ll be too old!

Stranger: Don’t you want children?

Me: My mom wants grandchildren. I’m her last hope.


Today’s conversation:

Stranger: Are you dating?

Me: No. I just don’t find anyone I want to date…..And that is okay.


That is the first time in a long time that I haven’t cracked a joke about not having s boyfriend or children. I realize that I consistently make fun of myself for the fact that I am not dating seriously and don’t have children. There is this idea that if I don’t have kids I am somehow “less than”. This message is reiterated in pop culture, from strangers and even my own family.

The fact is, I have a classroom full of students that I worry about, rejoice over and marvel at EVERY SINGLE DAY! I go home to grade papers and plan to make sure that they are learning. I worry that my lessons are too fast or that all the talking distracts students from learning. I loose sleep over the students who aren’t focused and the students who have too much going on at home to do well in class. On the way to school I talk through my day. Some morning my eyes open at 5 a.m., brain on fire, sparking thoughts and ideas.

I love my job but I don’t think I could do it and have children and do everything else that balances out my life: soccer, traveling, writing, cooking.

I choose this chaotic, messy, adventure-filled life. I am not dating and I don’t have kids and that’s okay. In fact, I prefer it. Children are a choice, not better or worse, just a choice.  Maybe next time when someone asks if I have kids, I will say, “I have 30 children, five days a week and they are amazing!


Another Restless Sunday Night

Sunday night and the sun has set.

Dinner devoured

and kitchen scrubbed clean,

Now it is time to wind down.

A yawn

two eye blinks

the day’s tasks wear on me.

A longing to sleep and wake well rested

yet my mind will not wind down

Thoughts run laps ’round my brain

Asking questions

What if?

Why not?

Should you have?

Where is the off switch?

The dimmer to dim these thoughts?

One Sided Love

I live upstairs from a grumpy cat. No, not the grumpy cat but rather a very neurotic, possibly bipolar cat.

Delilah the cat used to be owned by our neighbor across the way. When the neighbor died, Delilah was left here. No one claimed her. Our downstairs neighbor who had recently moved in, took the cat in. For the longest time, Delilah would visit her previous owner’s porch and wait.

This was 4 years ago. Now Delilah has bonded with her new owners. Delilah and I share the same outdoor space. She loves sleeping in the hibiscus plant (difficult to water with a cat in the pot) and lounging on the stairs (hard to pass when she flips out if I come towards her).  Delilah comes when the neighbor calls her. She just stares at me in contempt. Delilah meows for her owner. She only meows when I feed her from a safe distance and then she runs away.

I still think of Delilah as partly mine since my roommate and I have known her for seven years, longer than anyone else in the building. And yet, her most caring emotion is mild tolerance of me.

But every morning I say hello and often I take the long route to the mailbox just to look for her.

I love Delilah and I’m glad she tolerates me sometimes.

The Quiet Between Storms

Santa Ana winds blow in.

The school day ends and I walk to my car and open up the car door.

A blast of warm hair hits my face.

I wilt slightly at the first breeze, more aware of the weight of the week.

I turn towards the ocean and feel the sun warming my skin.

Minutes go by as I just stand there, soaking up the sun’s rays like an iguana.

The sound of an engine nearby stirs me from my daydreams.

Shades on…check.


Windows down.

Roll out of the lot and towards the weekend.

I put my hand out the window and surf the current as I cruise slowly, meandering towards home.

No deadline.

No strict rules.

There is Saturday class at 9 a.m. and a sink full of dishes and a box of papers to grade that somehow followed me home but in this moment I am free.

Here is to the free moments, the quiet between storms.

A Blog In 6 Minutes – Sometimes it’s Just About Getting Things Done

Step one: find a spot with cell service.

Step 2: Set the timer.

Step 3: Pull up blog post.  Hope swipe works.

My day in 6 Minutes.

Open half closed eyes.

Shuffle into kitchen.

Brew water for neti pot.

Boil water for tea.

Think of what to wear.

Debate wearing makeup.

Pick clean clothes from laundry off of the floor.  (Don’t judge.  It happens to the best of us.)

Drive to work with NPR.

Grade last few papers before school.

Get students with a smile.

At break;  email,  email,  email.

Teach some more.

Bell rings.

Grade, grade,  grade.

Drive downtown.

Eat dinner.

Head off to a play.

Look at the clock. 6:50


Realize you haven’t posted!


Sit in a corner of the theater before the show starts.

Type like a crazy person

Give up. The show is about to begin.

Power off phone.

Watch play.

Exit theater.

Power on cell.

Ten minutes until 9 p.m. Pacific Central time.

Type, type, type.

8:54, Two minutes to spell check.

And post.

Made it!


Time: The Great Thief



My body sits upright, legs pulled underneath desk, pen in hand. Stacks and stacks of papers fill the space before me.  While my body is present, my mind is far away, out for a walk on the beach or curled up underneath a tree while reading a summer novel.

I mentally drift back into the classroom suddenly aware that time has been ticking by. It hasn’t stopped for my thoughts to catch up. Time stole the minutes from my life when I needed to grade, to assess. Time stole free time from my future self. Time is selfish.

Anxiety begins to build as I wonder aloud how I will get through it all. If only time stopped for a day, only for me. Or maybe I could hire a grader from care.com. Those commercials on t.v. show busy individuals relieved from their burdens by hiring help. They are so carefree. Is that even legal? Ethical?

I snap back to the piles. Relax. Breathe. Slowly. Don’t breathe too deeply. Can someone hear me breathing loudly? What would they think if they walked in right now?

My mind might be more selfish than time. It is selfish, fighting for some space to think of something other than work, other than grading and emails and to do lists.

And so I turn to my blog. I begin to write for myself, to clear my mind, to give it space. I write for the audience I have not met but long to hear from daily. I write to validate my thoughts, to understand my feelings and to connect.

Our minds and souls need spaces to reflect, to connect, to breathe mentally. I turn back to the piles, with a little less anxiety and a little less time, but with a bit more sanity.

Complaint Letter

Dear Monday,

While it is true that I enjoy punctuality and accountability I do wish you would grace me with your presence less often. You come every week without fail. I do object to the fact that you appeared the day after daylight savings, causing me to wake in the dark to get ready for work. I taught my lessons with blurry eyes today.

Monday, you remind me of the work I did not grade on the weekend and of the number of days I need to wait to purchase my once weekly (Friday) snack at Starbucks. (I wish I only noshed once a week on junk food but it isn’t true.)


One Tired Teacher


The SDAWP Experience

This weekend I attended the San Diego Area Writing Project Spring Conference. This is how events with the writing project feel:

A  warm hug and a smile.

Catching up with colleagues and friends,

some you haven’t seen for months,

some weeks.

The session begins and you are asked to write,

give input,

throw your own ideas into the ring.

You matter.

Instead of information being relayed to you,

you, the audience member,

engage, reflect, discuss,

new concepts, ideas, ways of writing.

In the sessions you hear from real teachers

who are in their classrooms everyday,

trying out (and sometimes failing at) ideas.

The beauty is in the practice, the effort.

Rather than being sold a product you are asked to try on a concept,

take it, change it, amp it up,

as long as it helps kids to think, to grow, to change.

Every time you leave with some new idea but more than that,

a sense that you are not alone in the quest to make your practices better,

to refine your craft.

You are part of a larger group of amazing educators

who give up their Saturday to learn, and laugh and connect.

Thank you SDAWP for another wonderful conference and for

a chance to spend time with my writing family.

What Not To Microwave

“Pop. Pop. Ssssss. Pop.”

It was lunchtime and the end of a busy day. Our school has half days on Friday. Instead of leaving at 2:20, the students each lunch and leave at 12:45. Today was a whirlwind of activity with students leaving the classroom for an art project, kindergarten buddies and a guest lesson about Egypt.

All the students where hyped up. Was it the great weather or the early start of Spring fever? After tracking down kids with late assignments and trying to calm a bit of the chaos and teach content I was thankful that lunchtime had rolled around.

I popped in my lunch and sat down to a conversation with some other teachers about weekend plans. My teaching partner asked who’s lunch was in the microwave.

“It’s mine,” I said. “It should be done.”

Brian turned to hand me my food and paused. “Here are your……grapes.”

“What?!? Oh no. I microwaved my grapes! The popping sound was grapes exploding!” A purple soup had formed at the bottom of my bowl.

I put my head down on the table. I grabbed the wrong tupperware. I microwaved grapes today. I’m so tried. It’s time to go home.

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