I Don’t Want to Write Today!

I’m tired today and I didn’t plan well enough to have a blog post ready for this morning…so here I am, struggling to find something to write. I realize it’s only day five of the challenge, but I am already struggling with topics. None of my mentor posts feel like something I could write today. I just want to skip today.

I could write later in the day, but that always seems to get away from me. I feel like I’ve failed if I don’t post first thing in the morning. So here I am, frustrated…with the challenge, but if I’m being honest, mostly with myself.

This is why I’m here. Writing is hard. It’s hard to show up every day. It’s hard to be clever and interesting and creative on a daily basis…but I’m here. I have to be. This is what writers do. Writers struggle to write. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

I hesitate to use “writer’s block” to describe my experience this morning. A writer friend, Patti Digh, once told me and my students that there’s no such thing as writer’s block. She said that you must show up and do the work. Plumbers don’t have plumber’s block. That’s ridiculous! She said that’s why she doesn’t believe in writer’s block. Show up and do the work.


And look…


I showed up. I complained. I whined, a little…but a post is written. It’s not my best. It certainly isn’t perfect, but the work got done. Writing is messy and hard, but I’m so glad that I showed up and wrote.

We Are Writers

We write every day in sixth grade. Each class begins with writing time in our notebooks. During the month of March, the slicers may blog during that time. Showing up and writing every day has created habits for us. We are living as writers. On rare occasions when the schedule changes, we feel it. We miss our writing time. Writing isn’t the only important part of this…sharing our writing is vital. I wish we shared daily, but time seems to get away from us. My goal is for writers to have the opportunity to share every two or three days. This week, our sharing time got pushed til Friday.

Sharing gives writers an audience.
Sharing inspires new ideas and techniques.
Sharing teaches us.
Sharing makes us all better writers.
Sharing is fun!

Here are some sixth-grade writers sharing. Notice the confidence? Notice the joy?

It’s the Small Things

It’s the small things that can make a big difference. Yesterday, a friend bought a snack in a vending machine. When two snacks appeared, her face lit up and she said, “This made my day!”

We have a wonderful custodian in our sixth-grade house and her name is Gloria. She always smiles. She works hard and she makes a big difference in my days here. As the classroom craziness and chaos ends, she quietly enters and says hello. Some days we chat, other days we don’t, but she’s always smiling.

When she cleans the bathrooms, she folds the toilet paper and paper towels into a triangular point. She does this every day. Every day that I see it, I smile. I feel special. It feels like I’m in a five-star hotel. She does this for the students too. Taking this extra moment to make us feel loved and special…it matters. She matters.

Pay attention to the small things. They matter.


“You teach MIDDLE SCHOOL?!?!”

I love this reaction from people. When I meet someone new and we get to the, “What do you do?” part of the conversation, my answer seems to incite yelps and cringes from people. They say, with horrified expressions, “MIDDLE SCHOOL? Really?” and they often follow it up with a blessing or a prayer.

The joke is on them. Middle school is the BEST. I feel like it’s the best-kept secret in education. Middle schoolers are quirky and funny and sassy. They are creative and interesting and in search of themselves. Every single day something hilarious happens…you just have to be paying attention.

I was out sick for a couple of days last week. My sixth graders had to find something from their notebook to publish. Here’s what I came back to…

Come on…that’s funny! When I take the status of the class, one student varies her response method. A few weeks ago she answered every day using a British accent and now she says, “Yo!” every other word. In that same class, I can’t say anything that resembles a song lyric or else the entire class will spontaneously break into song. (I fall into the trap with “Don’t Stop Believing” more often than you’d think!)

Middle school students are kind and goofy and inquisitive and they are figuring out who they are. I get the opportunity to witness that. They allow me to be part of their journey. There’s nothing better than that. So when you ask me, “You teach MIDDLE SCHOOL?!?!” I will smile and say, “Of course I do.”

We are Slicers!

Today begins a month-long blog challenge, called Slice of Life Challenge. Students were invited to participate in this challenge and more than TWENTY sixth graders have accepted the challenge! Here are the blogs that are participating, please visit and comment…

Ten Years in the Blink of an Eye, Slice of Life Challenge #1

Ten years since we’ve talked.
Ten years since I got a hug from you.
Ten years since we went for ice cream.
Ten years since we saw each other.
Ten years since we talked and talked and talked.
Ten years since I’ve gotten advice from you.
Ten years since I’ve heard your laugh.
Ten years since we fought over who gets the last cucumber.
Ten years since I heard you say, “I love you!”

But, you are with me every day.
You are there when I succeed.
You are there when I fail.
You are there when I walk my dog.
You are there when I sing along to the radio.
You are there when I’m comforting a struggling student.
You are there when I’m writing and writing and writing.

You are there
in the tears,
in the laughter,
in the confusion,
in the joy,
in the fear,
in the wonder,
in the sorrow
in the love…
you are there.

I miss you.
Recently, a friend shared these words of comfort,
“I realized the beauty of missing someone is the
reality that you had someone special to love.” 

That’s you…someone special to love.
You loved!
I love you, Dad!

I carry you with me
every day, but a
little closer today…
the day I lost you,
ten years ago. 

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you’ve created! I’m honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

Road Trip Slice of Life

What is it about taking a road trip? As a kid, I wasn’t crazy about long car rides. They were boring and I fought with my sister about where we were sitting in the back seat and sometimes I got car sick. As an adult, if I am within driving distance, I prefer driving over flying. Long car rides mean discovering new places. Road trips give me a sense of possibility. I love the potential for getting lost, although I don’t always love getting lost. I love when I find my own way and get to a new place. This weekend I drove from Virginia to Ohio. I’d never been to Ohio before, so this was an adventure. I confess that driving over the mountains was my least favorite part, but I can look back and say I did it.

I rolled down the windows and cranked up the music and drove. I feel like each road trip changes me a tiny bit…makes me a little braver and reminds me to see the world beyond my own. Can’t wait for my next road trip! Where do you like to go?

RISE in 2017

I wanted a synonym for “show up”. I think the act of showing up is important to a good life and I wanted a daily reminder for myself, but I didn’t want to use a phrase. When I started searching for it, I found ARISE. I like that, but I wasn’t sold. I played around with the word AWAKE for awhile, but I kept coming back to RISE.

It occurs to me that one of my favorite songs of 2016 is Katy Perry’s “Rise”.


The beginning of a new year is exciting, filled with potential and possibilities. Things can be different. I use this time to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m going. I use a word to help me focus my reflection and my choices. This year my word is RISE. What do I want to accomplish with this word? What do I want RISE to help me do or be?

I want to RISE from the grasp of fear. We are all afraid of things. We all feel fear. There are times when I feel frozen in fear. It stops me. I want to RISE from the fear and simply begin. As soon as I begin, the fear dissipates.

I want to do things and RISE from the negativity. I want to show up. I want to write. I want to be a better teacher. I want to make this world a better place. This means I need to RISE to the occasion and do something.


How will I RISE in 2017? That’s the best part… I don’t know. I want to focus on the positive. I want to develop rituals and routines in my life that help this goal. Here are a few I have planned, some are simple and some are bigger, but all are designed to guide my year…

1. Start every day with writing in my newly organized writing spot.

2. Document the year with daily pictures and post them on Instagram using the hashtag #haseltinegratitude17
3. Paint my nails.
4. Write for five minutes at the end of each school day to reflect and grow as an educator.
5. Send 3-5 cards each week to those I love.

New lamp with the sun RISING from the clouds.


I’m hoping that RISE will serve me well this year. What will your 2017 look like? Do you have a word or a phrase that will guide you? 


I can’t wait to see where this word leads me. I’ll RISE up to meet it!

IMWAYR, January 3, 2017

IMWAYR…that stands for, It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Every Monday we will check in and share what we are reading. Please share what you read over break, too! On the padlet below, put your name & the title of the book you’re reading in the title of your post and then write two sentences about your book. Can’t wait to see what everyone is reading! 

Made with Padlet