I didn’t use the tools I had, and it got UGLY

I teach writing.

Well, that’s not completely accurate. I teach students in grades 3 and up how to get ideas out of their heads and onto paper. So technically, that’s writing.

I also teach teachers how to teach their students to write. 

That last part might be my favorite. There’s nothing like teaching educators how to use seriously great tools and strategies with their own students. Knowing those tools will help their students create pieces of writing they never thought possible is one of the reasons I’m still in education.

So when I was tasked to write a blog post that had something to do with language, literacy, or learning, I used…none of them.

Not a one.

Here’s how THAT went: I sat down, wrote two lines, and deleted them. I wrote two more lines, but they sounded suspiciously like the first two, so I deleted those as well. Then I got up and wandered around the basement, put in a load of laundry, ate some popcorn, and sat back down.

I got back up when I realized that we had some leftover holiday candy in the bowl on the bar and decided to “make sure it hadn’t gone bad.” I sighed loudly several times and twirled around on the stool. I watched a YouTube video about the world’s most dangerous animals. (Did you know the mosquito is at the top of that list?) 

I finally forced myself to just start writing, and viola…blog post! It was about a song from A Chorus Line. It had nothing to do with language, literacy, or learning.

That’s when the crying started. What an ugly afternoon.

Know what could have saved me a whole lot of time, stress eating, and tears? If I had just used the tools and strategies I’ve been teaching everyone else to use. Brain Frames. Six visual tools that get ideas out of your head and onto paper in an organized way. 

They are tried and true, and they work. I know, because I’ve been teaching them and witnessing what happens when teachers and students use them for over 16 years.

I realized I was giving myself the same lecture I sometimes give to my students, and I was glad no one was around to witness it. Then I decided to tell the world about it in this blog post. So there’s that.


Anyone who writes — or teaches writing — has these moments. We all need to remember to practice what we preach.