Tis the season for joyful giving, receiving and good old-fashioned fun!

Just when I feared my writer’s block was buried deep inside underneath lots of turkey, trimmings and Christmas cookies, the lovely Ariel Sacks (On the Shoulders of Giants) saved me from having to think about what my fellow bloggers and teacher leaders might want to read next. She graciously “tagged” me in the “More Homework Meme,” a game designed to reveal who teacher writers are when we’re not teaching or writing!

Ariel posed 11 questions for tagged bloggers to answer. Here’s my best attempt to receive the meme in the spirit of the season, and give back in the form of the following responses:

1. What is a great education book you hold dear? 

My shelves are filled with professional texts and books about education. I also have a healthy stack of new books I’m anxious to dig into over the break (including Ariel’s Whole Novels for the Whole Class: A Student-Centered Approach, and Marsha Ratzel’s Teaching in High Gear: My Shift Toward a Student-Driven, Inquiry-Based Science Classroom). Bottom line: if a book focuses on keeping students at the center while improving teacher practice, I’m hooked. If I had to name one text that I continue to come back to it’d be Peter Johnston’s Choice Words. This thin book of wisdom on how our language impacts children’s learning is dog-eared, highlighted, and marked up in the margins. It reminds me that what we say and how we say it matters. I’m also heavily inspired and influenced by Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Both books remind me of the importance of genuine high expectations, and serve as mentors for the classroom community I work daily to create.

2. What is a great non-education book you hold dear?

This is a tough one. I hold many books dear, from classics to contemporary young adult fiction. One of my childhood (and adulthood) favorites is Harper Lee’s masterpiece: To Kill A Mockingbird. As a child I imagined having a friend like Scout, longed for a brother like Jem, and admired and appreciated Atticus, a character who to this day represents the type of parent, person, and subtle social justice champion our world still needs. First published in 1960, this book continues to teach its readers about the human experience in the 21st century…and likely for many generations to come.

3. E-reader or old-fashioned paper?

Both. I love having a backlit, portable e-reader filled with books, magazines, and newspapers at my fingertips and not having to worry about running out of reading material. But sometimes, I just need to feel the weight of a “real” book in my hands, smell the ink on the pages, and experience the act of reading–the old-fashioned way.

4. What’s your morning preference: coffee, tea, water, or other?

Coffee. My morning beverage tends to double as breakfast so I often indulge in flavored lattes (or at this time of year skinny peppermint mochas :). I always have a bottle of water alongside my caffeine, but tend to drain my coffee tumbler first. I occasionally choose tea (chai is my favorite), especially if I feel the sniffles approaching.

5. What drives you to write, given how busy you are with everything else? Answer in one sentence only.

I write to authentically share with my students why writing matters…and because it’s therapeutic, reflective and fun.

6. How do you get to work in the morning?

Like most Coloradoans, I drive. My bright apple red Mazda 3 gets me from point A to point B — about a 15-20 minute commute from home to school.

7. What TV show–past or present–is funniest?

Admittedly, I’m more into dramas. But the classic I Love Lucy is pretty hard to beat, and the quirky Seinfeld still retains its humor and is reprised frequently in the form of family jokes and inside references.

8. What dish do you cook for company?

If I can, I get out of cooking altogether and take company out for dinner :). As such, I don’t have a “go-to” dish and tend to create a menu based on the event or guest list. I follow recipes pretty religiously since I rarely make the same thing on a regular basis.

9. If you had to live in another country, which one would it be? 

It’s a tie–for beauty and nostalgia (and an abundance of amazing food and wine), I’d live in Italy, the country where I honeymooned. And for very different reasons, I’d live in Ethiopia, a country with which I’m developing a very personal and spiritual connection. I believe every American should live in (or at least visit) the developing world to more fully understand the global human experience.

10. Where are your grandparents from?

My maternal grandparents were from the former Yugoslavia (Croatia and Slovenia) and my paternal grandparents had ancestral ties to the United Kingdom (Ireland and England). All four called Colorado home however, so my family roots in my home state run deep.

11. If you had to wear either sweatpants and a t-shirt or formal attire (formal, not business casual, folks) to work every day for a month, which one would you choose?   

I love dressing up now and then, but would have to opt for sweatpants and a t-shirt. I wouldn’t want my attire (or really high heels) to slow me down from keeping up with a room full of adolescents…and comfortable clothes are currently my mainstay for working in the virtual world!

Your turn! 

Want to join in the meme merriment? Just create a new post with your responses (add the link below) or post your musings to one or more of the questions here in the comments. (Note: I’m not tagging 11 bloggers since so many of my fellow CTQ edu-bloggers have already been tagged — read herehere and here for more fun facts and to access other tagged bloggers). 


1. Who would you invite (dead or alive) to a dinner party of 10 if you knew your invitees would RSVP “yes!”

2. What’s that one song that gets stuck in your head?

3. Where do you do your best lesson planning?

4. If you were stranded on a deserted island with access to one book, one movie, and one snack of your choice what would you choose?

5. Mac or PC?

6. What are you most proud of?

7. How has blogging changed you as a person, a writer or a teacher?

8. Do you make (and keep) resolutions? Why/why not?

10. Define teacher leadership in 140 characters (then tweet it! 🙂

11. What’s one thing on your bucket list that you’ve been able to cross off?

May your 2014 be filled with joy, abundant blessings, passionate teacher leadership, and a voracious growth mindset that supports you through any challenges or problems of practice. Cheers!

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