For years I absolutely loved writing about education from my perspective of a high school special education teacher, teaching students with special needs.  My students were my muses, and I would write about the challenges and joys of being a high school teacher. When I retired from being a classroom teacher, I no longer had students. I no longer had muses, and I stopped writing this edublog. But recently, I’ve become inspired again to write about students and educational issues as I see them.   I’m not certain where this new inspiration to write has come from, but I’m delighted it’s back.  So please join me here as I discuss and question current educational issues.


Photo CC-J-P M. Bongayon

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If you’re anything like me, you probably have students who are very reluctant to do any journal or creative writing. I have to confess, at times, I fall into the category of reluctant writer as well. But, never mind. That discussion is for another time.

Over the years, I’ve tried different strategies to motivate my reluctant writers. There’re a couple of strategies that I combine that make my students less reluctant to do their journal entries or their creative writing assignments. Perhaps these two strategies combined will work for you too.

First, I provide my students with photo writing prompts such as the one below that I found on Pinterest.

Writing prompt from Pinterest

Pinterest is a great resource for photo writing prompts. I especially like the combination of the photo and the written prompts. There are lots  of photo prompts with written prompts on Pinterest.   I simply choose a few photo writing prompts on a given day and then upload them onto our class site, or when I’m lucky enough to have a document camera I use it to project the photo writing prompts onto the screen. Then my students choose a photo writing prompt that appeals to them. I also have some emergency photo writing prompts printed off and available in case the computer isn’t working. I’ve learned the hard way to be prepared.

Having my students choose a photo writing  prompt is the first part of my strategy. The second part is to have my students do a 5 minute writing sprint. My students like the fact that there is a time limit to their writing. I used to use an actual timer in class but I’ve found that using an  on-line timer that I  project onto the screen is better. My students  can look up at the projected timer and see when the agony is over. Surprisingly, most of my  students enjoy using the photo writing prompts and doing the five minute sprint. It’s fun to see them so engaged by the photo writing prompts. The Internet is such a wonderful resource.






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I’ve been talking and talking and talking  about writing a book based on my blog but that’s all I’ve been doing is talking about writing my book. Writing’s not a problem. I did a lot of writing while completing my MEd and liked it. I did a lot of writing for my blog over the eight years and liked it. Well, to be honest, I haven’t been writing many blog posts lately. It’s not writing that’s the problem.  The problem is I just can’t seem to get started.

When I was really busy teaching in the classroom, I used to set aside a time to write my blog and respond to comments. No problem getting the writing done. But now, that I have more time I can’t seem to get to writing my blog, never mind my book. There’s that  old adage that goes something like “if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person”, well  I didn’t fully appreciate the message until recently. I’m not busy, and I’m not getting things done.

I was reading a tweet my son, Chris Hartjes, recently wrote . I follow his tweets just because I’m his Mom and have to know. He’s been encouraging me to write this book for a while. Chris is  super busy at work and with family responsibilities and yet he’s writing his third book as well as speaking at conferences and doing  video-casts. People are always asking him how does he find the time to do all that he does when he’s so busy all the time. His answer to that question is ” Use your calendar to block out time for tasks and only do them during that time”.>

Use my calendar to block out time to write my book? I think I can do that. I will do that, and I’ll let you know how it goes.



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For me. living an authentic life is living a life that honours what I value. Shakespseare said it best when he said ” Know thyself and to thine self be true”.

By now, I have a pretty good idea what I value in life. I also know that if I do not live my life according to what I value, life soon starts to suck.

For the most part, I love teaching. But, every once in a while I start to hate it. When I realize I’m starting to hate teaching, I’m always surprised.  I love teaching, especially teaching the academically at risk students I usually teach, so why am I starting to hate it?

I’ve learned to ask myself what is it about teaching my students that I love, and am I doing that? Invariably, the answer is that I am not teaching according to what I value. By not honouring what I value in my teaching practice, I’m  disconnecting  myself from my teaching practice and from my students. Once disconnected from my teaching practice and my students, life starts to suck. Once I realize there’s a problem, I start to reconnect to my teaching practice and to my students. I’ll do this  by asking  myself what it is  that I value about my students, and what is it at I value about my teaching practice. Once I’ve identified what I’m doing that doesn’t honour my values, I can change what I’m doing and start to be more authentic.  Soon, life  becomes good again.

Just a thought here: Can someone be more authentic or is being authentic one of those absolute states wherein you are authentic or you are not authentic- there’s no more or less.











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