Monday, October 28, 2019

Slice of Life: Lots of Ways To Make Decisions

Tuesdays are for slicing about life. Join us at Two Writing Teachers!

"Mom," Cecily said. She peeked into my office where I was on the phone. 

I could tell from the way she said my name she had something big to ask or tell me, but I was on a conference call. She'd have to wait. 

As soon as I hung up, I found her. I was curious about her news. You never know what's a big deal for Cecily. It could be that she won the lottery, and it could be she found an earring backing in her coat pocket. Truth: I love that little things really do matter to her. 

"I think I want to cut my hair," she said.

(You all need to know that Cecily's hair is pretty spectacular.)

"Okay," I said. "Like donate it? Like how much are you thinking?"

I might have breathed a sigh of relief when she indicated less than ten inches. I'm sorry for my lack of generosity, but I can't picture her with a bob. 

"Have you talked to the sisters?" I asked. 

Cecily is the youngest of my four daughters, and it cracks me up how they all consult with each other on all aspects of life. 

Cecily described her sisters' reactions, and I had to laugh. Larkin, true to her impulsive form, said absolutely, go for it. Julia, who weighs all options and frequently still doesn't decide, wasn't sure how to advise, and Clare, the keeper of the common sense, talked pros and cons, as well as logistics. 

I've been trying to challenge myself to relate these slice of life family moments to my teaching life whenever I can, and I have to say that there are decision-making prototypes in writing classrooms. Just this morning, I coached Dalton (aka the Julia prototype) through deciding on which story he would write. The commitment to a story literally froze him in his writing tracks until I let him know that he could change his mind or finish one story and write the other one he wasn't choosing. Then there's Gaby (aka the Larkin prototype) who opens up her notebook, looks at her list of possible story ideas, and is off and planning before I have to say a word. Cecily is the type who want to talk through her ideas before she gets going-- yep, those writers exist in elementary classrooms as well. And then there are the Clares who systematically weigh their options and then go with the idea that seems like it will be the strongest and easiest to write. 

My daughters' personalities and decision-making processes have been consistent throughout their lives, in school, in work, and in their personal existences. It's fun to think about the different ways to approach students who are like them as I teach. 

Happy Slicing,


  1. You are lucky to have daughters who have such different approaches to life and who consult with each other. What a great help that must be in making decisions. I love the way you link what you know about your daughters to your students. How helpful it is when we think of each student with their own approach to the world, and to their writing. p.s. Did she cut that beautiful hair????

  2. I can relate to the sisters. My daughters consult each other on everything. Just wait until they have children! It's been so fun to watch their different styles come through in becoming a mother. I should write about it. Ha!

  3. I love how you wrote Cecily's story, her sister's involvement, and then linking it all to the choices you see children making in the classroom. Understanding our world is so much about finding patterns. The noticing and writing connects us.

  4. So true ... and taking the time to help students see how one might try and eventually find a comfort zone for making decisions is so important in life. I love what the other points of view have to offer and how they might even push us out of our comfort zone and every now and then.

  5. I appreciate and admire your challenge to connect family slices to classrooms. There are so many lessons at home that connect to our students. I particularly appreciate this parallel story. Thank you!