Thursday, January 31, 2019

#Mustreadin2019: My List

#Mustreadin2019: My List 

My friend and fellow blogger Elisabeth Ellington of The Dirigible Plum invited me to participate in blogger Carrie Gelson's #Mustreadin2019 Reading Challenge with her at the beginning of January. Since today is the last day in January, I am embarrassingly late to this party. 

From what I understand, the idea is to come up with a list of books that you want to and will commit to read in 2019. These are books of any category, meant to guide your reading for this year. There are even helpful invites to update your progress. 

As a voracious reader, I am game for this challenge. Since the beginning of January I have been trying to cultivate my list, but I admit that it has been more challenging than I initially thought! I keep getting distracted when I hear about new books coming out or when one of my students or friends tells me that I must read something.

Here goes, my Mustreadin2019:

16 titles I must read in 2019
Here's a closer look (none in any kind of order): 

Professional Titles:


Book in Verse:




As I put my list together, I was amazed at how many titles I selected were nonfiction. A little less than a decade ago, I barely read any nonfiction unless I was required to. I only read nonfiction, mostly YA books. It is stunning to see how my reading diet has evolved.  

*Update: I realized that I forgot to name and link a title in this post: Maria Popova's A Velocity of Being: Letters to A Young Reader

Saturday, January 12, 2019



On the first day of 2019, teacher and writer Leigh Anne Eck of A Day in the Life invited writers to publicly set writing goals and share them. I adore this invitation, yet it also caused me to pause. For the past several years I have set personal (and public) reading goals, usually on Goodreads. Each year I set professional goals centered on teacher growth and student learning outcomes. I've made goals about my education, health, my finances, my spiritual life, and even about house projects. 

I realized that I have never set a personal writing goal. 

How can this be? Writing is incredibly important to me. Nevertheless, I have been deeply thinking about an attainable, meaningful writing goal for the past twelve days. Below is what I came up with:

Trina's 2019 Writing Goals:
  • Continue to blog regularly. For me, this means writing and publishing at least three posts a month.
  • Continue daily writing in my writer's notebook - at least three pages each day.
  • Participate in March Slice of Life 
  • Participate in December Haiku-A-Day
  • Write and submit at least one professional piece of writing
  • Submit at least one poem locally or nationally
  • Apply for at least two professional opportunities - one in the form of a grant for classroom needs and the other in terms of professional growth 

Thank you, Leigh Anne, for organizing this challenge, the accountability check-ins, but mostly for engaging me in some deep thinking of what I want to accomplish as a writer this year. 

Thinking about setting a writing goal? Join A Day in the Life and use #letswrite2019

Friday, January 11, 2019

Pieces of My Writing Journey

When I was about eleven or twelve, my dad noticed that I was always buried in my spiral notebook: mapping out stories, creating poems, sketching cartoons, generating lists of characters, writing as much down as I could. Pencil to paper. Always. Being the kind of dad who never missed the opportunity to find a treasure at a yard sale, one day he bounded into our house donning a huge grin about his newest gem - a manual Smith Corona Typewriter. 

My second-hand Smith Corona Typewriter proudly held a spot on my student desk, complete with notepads and pencils surrounding it. Following my daily walk home from school and a substantial snack, I often retreated to my typewriter. I loved the loud clack clack of the keys, the smell of correction fluid, and even pride in owning a typewriter. Most of all, I cherished my time alone nested in my room writing. A few years later I received a new electric typewriter and alternated between using the electric and manual. Throughout middle school and high school, I always found time to write - especially poems, short stories, a few very bad novels, and of course, several research reports. 

In college, I continued to write most days, but little of my writing was personal. Instead my academics took priority, and I wrote research papers, literary analysis, lesson plans, and persuasive essays. Upon graduating from college - also around the time my parents moved - I sold both of my typewriters at our yard sale. I figured that I wouldn't need them anymore since I now had a desktop computer. 

Unfortunately, when I sold the typewriters, I also set aside my personal writing. Of course I had plenty of pens, paper, notebooks, and a desktop computer, but I did not make any time for writing. After all, I was busy - first as a newly minted English teacher, then a wife, next attending graduate school, and finally parenting. 

For at least a decade I forgot how much I loved to write.   

It wasn't until I was in my mid to late thirties that I began writing again. As a part of learning how to be a more effective teacher of writers, I realized that I needed to be a writer myself. Bit by bit, I came back to writing - first creating a writer's notebook for a part of a local training from staff developers of The Reading and Writing Project. Around the same time I discovered the work of Kelly Gallagher, and I starting writing with my students. Several years later, when I became a literacy coach, I began doing a lot more reflecting in my beliefs as a writer and teaching colleagues about writing. 

In the last five years I gradually added back daily writing. Not for any assignments or term papers or because I wanted to write with my students. I carved out time to write just for me. 

It took me a while for me to get into a strong daily writing routine, but now I write at least three full pages a day. My daily writing isn't always uninterrupted or even a place by myself, but I have fiercely held on to my writing routine. 

In retrospect, I wish that I had hung onto my typewriter, especially the manual one. Maybe I would have continued writing. Maybe I would not have stopped writing. This cannot be changed. 

What I am most grateful for is that I came back to writing. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tuesday Slice of Life: A Slice of Courage

Looking to connect with a positive, supportive online community?  Consider sharing a slice of your life with Two Writing Teachers. All writers are welcome! 

Tuesday Slice of Life: A Slice of Courage

"Finding courage may be the hardest thing about writing." 

On December 21st one of my poems was showcased as a part of a local art exhibit in my city. 

A few days before the opening I sheepishly invited my husband:

"So I submitted one of my poems to a show at The Draw. It was selected as a part of an art show. The opening night is Friday. Wanna come with me?"
"Really? That's great! Of course. Did you invite anyone else?"
"No, not really. It feels too weird." 

My husband was one of the few people I invited to the show. 

The day of the show my anxiety bubbled. What if no one reads it? What if someone reads it? What will they think of me? Does she really think she is a poet? 

Honestly, it was a bit uncomfortable to watch people read my poem from afar. I lurked a bit as strangers discussed it. I studied their body language. I creeped on conversations. To my surprise, I didn't hear anything negative. Instead I heard gentle comments of people who could relate to my poem. It was powerful. Validating. Kind of exciting.
My poem displayed

Check out my poem: 


When I was six years old,
my grandma placed a thick slice of Byerly's Bakery birthday cake-
adorned with rich golden frosted peaked roses-
on a small dessert plate in front of me.
She leaned in and sharply whispered, 
"you are not the kind of girl who can always eat cake."

Among the eleven of us, I was the only child who received her cautionary words.
I shifted in the cold metal folding chair at the kid table in Grandma's kitchen.
My round, fair face blazed.
My corduroy, hand-stitched jumper squeezed my chest. 
My shame-filled belly roared.

Yet I cautiously ate my piece of buttercream guilt,
licked the frosting off the top of my chubby fingertips, 
only to immediately regret my deed.
I am not the kind of girl who can always eat cake. 

For me, it takes a lot of courage to share my writing, especially when it is something so personal. Yet I know that this is necessary for who I am - to grow as a writer and teacher of I'm working on this, and I hope to submit more poetry (and maybe some professional writing) in 2019. 

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