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Slice of Life: What I’m Working On (7/31 Edition)

What I’m working on this week includes too many things. And whenever I get into “too many things” territory, I’ll follow the advice I always give to students who find themselves similarly overwhelmed: make a list, prioritize, take on one thing at a time. 

Professionally (outside of school):

  1. Finish Gatsby #DisruptTexts chat reflection and post.
  2. Draft #DisruptTexts pages for website.
  3. #TeachLivingPoets chat tonight.
  4. Outline blog post series on bias.
  5. Finish book proposal.

Professionally (for my students / in my classroom):

  1. Map out first semester of American Lit, including:
    • Summer reading (Fallen Angels): reread text to find passages to match with non-fiction articles
    • This I Believe Essay Writing
    • Native American / Indigenous literature unit (finalize texts for lit circles, curate non-fiction and media resources, sequence)
    • The Crucible (finalize essential questions): check/participate in  #DisruptTexts Crucible chat this week
    • Japanese American literature (w/contemporary connections); finish reading NCTE literature series resource, compile resources
    • Apply Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards to all units – need connecting thread across all units
    • Draft syllabus
  2. Review The Things They Carried for AP Lang
  3. Map out first semester of AP Seminar (meet with teaching partner)

Finish Reading

  1. The Beauty that Remains by Ashley Woodfolk
  2. Troublemakers by Carla Shalaby
  3. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
  4. Beyond Literary Analysis by Marchetti and O’Dell
  5. The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly (read aloud with my boys)

I like the advice of just getting “one thing done today” so I’ll focus today on the first bolded items.  I’m also teaching American Lit for the first time in more than ten years, which explains all the action items listed under it. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. Summer is almost over and I’m not even close to being ready yet, and I can already feel that familiar anxious knot tightening in my chest.

Deep breaths, I tell myself. Just one thing at a time.

Filed under: Slice of Life

About the Author

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English teacher. Writer. Reader. Photography hobbyist. Daughter of immigrants. Wife to best friend. Mom to three Jedi-in-training. She/her.


  1. “Deep breaths” is right! I used to set aside July for non-school things and then once August hit, it was full-steam ahead! With technology the way it is, and the yearning to continue learning year-round, I am finding that I never fully disconnect, so tasks can seem overwhelming for me, too. One of my Ss donated The Land of Forgotten Girls to our classroom at the end of the year. Looking forward to sharing it with new crop of Ss – love many of her other works! One day at a time – your list will keep you organized and hopefully sane, too! Enjoy summer!


  2. I love a good list! I am also feeling the urgency to start preparing for the year ahead. It’s exciting too though. I like your idea of prioritizing, and focusing on just a few things. Good luck in with American Lit this year!

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  3. I love a good list too. I’m trying to prep my fall courses, including one entirely new prep, Theory & Practice of Teaching Reading, and I’m having such a hard time getting a handle on this course–probably because I have WAY too many ideas and every time I start prepping, I end up falling down rabbit holes online and coming up with MORE ideas. The American Lit course sounds fascinating! (Also, I just ordered White Fragility–hoping it’s helpful with some of the conversations I need to be having more of.)


    • That courses sounds amazing, Elisabeth! And your problem is exactly mine—I have too many ideas and no idea how to get a handle around them. Too many rabbit holes! Yes, White Fragility is a must-read. There’s a #ClearTheAir chat on the book in September, too!


  4. That’s quite a list (though not so different from my own)! However, it’s the “Finish Reading” selection of five books that stands out to me. For pleasure reading, I’ve always preferred to read one book at a time, start to finish. Usually, I get so drawn in to the story or perspective that I have difficulty putting the book down until I’ve finished. Love your book list and adding a few of those to my mental library cart.

    Not too much time left until school begins. My personal suggestion is a little procrastination to make time for whatever will bring you the most summer enjoyment and fulfillment…. once September hits, we don’t have that “luxury.”


  5. Wow! When you put the list like that (that is to say: ambitiously), I see why feeling overwhelmed is one likely result. As an alternative, I’m going to share words from Malcolm Cooley that came my way today via librarian Todd Burleson: “When you can’t figure out what to do, it’s time for a nap.” Perhaps not a productive solution, but I hope it made you smile 🙂


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