School Year Slices - My Space

I didn't make it through the last March Slice challenge I tried (2019) and knew 2020 wouldn't work for me (I was teaching a graduate level class and that new work needed my concentration; I do regret not having more personal writing from those first weeks of COVID; what a loss to not be Slicing then).

But here I am, September 1, the first Tuesday of the school year. My senior son is upstairs on a Zoom call, and my college sophomore daughter is at her small liberal arts college, seemingly safe in their campus-wide bubble with lots of testing to ensure the bubble is tight. 
So can I work my "writing muscles" and Slice this school year, capturing the small moments of my life on the precipice of great change (empty nester) and great social unrest (dual pandemics of COVID (new) and racism (all too old)). 

My dining room table is a cluttered mess of books, files and other tools that represent my current life:

* An empty Talenti container stuffed with pens, as I've struggled with the dual identify of savvy digital notetaker vs. post-it note/notebook addict - so pens remain a critical tool of this mostly remote coach

* A copy of All American Boys that I need to skim before meeting with a teacher in the park this Friday - we are long time planning partners; her school can no longer afford consultant coaches (all money going to tech) but our relationship is deep and important, so we've found a way to continue our work, especially as she shifts down to teach 9th grade this year.

* A bin of greeting cards, as I try to create more connections through old fashioned notes through the U.S. Mail. One has this Thoreau quote: "Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; them make the latitudes and longitudes." I want to push myself this school year to send more of these cards (maybe one each Tuesday, after Slicing?), to tether myself through writing to those people I love and miss - to ensure they know they are loved and missed.

* So many important racial equity texts:
- Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain (Zaretta Hammond), ready for a study group starting tonight
- The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys (Eddie Moore Jr is one of the authors, and I was in a provocative, uncomfortable-yet-that's-where-the-learning-is online class organized by Paul Gorski this summer, and Eddie Moore's energy, smarts and ideas 
- Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom (Matthew Kay is also writing a column in Ed Leadership this year)

And stacks! Stacks and stacks of curriculum plans and coaching notes and notebooks started and discarded. This disorganized table is a tangible reminder of my foggy brain. I can usually find what I need for that moment but I've let systems and structures slip away during these last weeks of summer, as back to back professional learning days filled the August calendar.

I literally take a deep breath and survey the table. What should I do, could I do, to create a bit of organization around this work space? I gather the books and move them off the table, finding a book I need tomorrow for a call. I take the pens and corral them, the post-its zipped into a pouch. Deep breath again. That already feels and looks better. I spend 5 minutes plowing through one of the stacks. Toss, toss, toss, toss (actually, that's all going to recycling!). I notice how much I've gotten done in August, how many documents are safely in my Drive and no longer need to live in drafted paper versions in this work space. 

There. It's already better.
More to do, for sure.
But September, I am a bit more ready for you.
Yes, let me say that with more confidence:
I am ready.


  1. Welcome back to slicing! You’re welcome any time during the year.

    I like your repurposed Talenti container. Brilliance!

  2. Welcome back my friend!!! I can imagine all your pens and post it's since I have been a part of so many trainings with you. Happy you are slicing again

  3. There are so many details you’ve captured in this slice—it reminds me of nesting, but for start of school, rather than a new baby. Anticipating a challenge and expecting joy!

  4. Lisa, I loved reading your slice. It felt like I was sitting there with you. I especially loved this line, "I've struggled with the dual identify of savvy digital notetaker vs. post-it note/notebook addict - so pens remain a critical tool of this mostly remote coach..." I'm a bit of a pen and paper person, too. I have a few writing tool holders myself. I am glad you've made a point to slice today.
    -Marina R.

  5. "There. It's already better." I love it! And I love the idea of inventorying your tools on your table.

  6. I applaud your courageous return to slicing and your "more than ready" for September stance! I almost have a sense of a soldier standing ready at the front lines ... fully-outfitted and prepared, confident, and most definitely believing in the mission. The battle is against things and time and schedules and finding a way through ... all the while holding arms open for colleagues and always, always, the kids... what matters most is the clarity of vision and it shows here, all the way through your post, even in "cluttered mess" on the table and despite moments of "foggy brain." Writing always clears the fog for me, even when the fog is thickest ... writing proves itself a lifeline time and time again. It's called you back! Such strength here in your words.

  7. I too, struggle with the dual identity and keep supplies at hand. Digital note-taking is fantastic, but pen to paper is a bit of magic too.

  8. I also have a senior in the house. This year represents great change for our household with another two kids living at home temporarily during the Covid pandemic. Quite possibly, they could all exit at the same time! Which is a horrifying thought. But, like these changes we are experiencing, perhaps that emptying will be a positive thing as well. Best wishes for organizing and preparing for a wonderful new year full of changes and excitement.


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