Five Tips to Start the School Year Peacefully

Well, it’s getting closer to that time we teachers both dread and look forward to. The beginning of a new school year. Along with the mad rush to get everything ready, I try to also think of how I’ll promote peace this year. Here are a few things I do that you might find helpful.

1. Create a Peace Zone. Here I have a small table for both peace and discipline cards below inspirational posters.

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2. Plan your reward system. What rewards will you use?  Personally I have two reward systems: cooperative and individual. My students sit in cooperative groups and get points for on-task behavior. That group with the most points receives a prize at the end of the day. For individual behaviors, each student has the opportunity to get two tickets weekly: one for completing all homework and another if they did pull their card. They can use these ticket to purchase toys from the treasure box.

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3. Think about your rules and your assertive discipline plan. I find that a few  general rules are easier to manage than a long list of specific ones. Examples include: Treat others, property, and self with respect. Follow directions. Wait to be called upon to speak.

For discipline, my students make their own cards. On one side, they color their name and a positive scene doing something they like. This affirms their uniqueness and what privileges can be lost when rules are broken.On the opposite side are three columns: Date, Problem, Next Time. These are filled in when students get to the “pulled card” level of misbehavior. I believe writing the problem down and then writing what would have been a good choice helps children reflect on their behavior. I do have this caveat: Next time must be stated as a POSITIVE. If the problem is pushing in line, then he/she should write, “Keep hands to self.”

4. Write Discipline into your lesson plans for the first weeks of school. Give yourself plenty of time to train students. This is not the time to rush into the standards but to establish procedures.Believe me, it’ll pay off. Whenever I’ve rushed because I’ve felt under the gun, discipline got a heck of a lot tougher. And you don’t want to start the year like that.

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5. Plan an art project that will make every child  feel successful. Need ideas? Pinterest has tons.

Key Words

Would you like your new book to rank high on Amazon? Have you always dreamed of seeing “number one” next to your novel? If so, use Amazon’s key word function to narrow its category. Choose as specific of a niche as possible. For example, my recently released Artania: The Pharaohs’ Cry  reached number one by being in the category of “Children’s” then “Arts, Music, & Photography” and “Art” and finally narrower still in “Painting.”  Because the category was small that shot my rankings up.

So, what are you waiting for? Play with your categories and watch your ranking soar!

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Give and It Comes Back Tenfold

Giving. A simple word. But one often met with suspicion. People say, “Why help him, what’s he ever done for you?” or “Take care of yourself first.” I disagree. When you give, it not only feels wonderful but it says to others, I care. About you. My community. My nation. This amazing universe we were born into. And if you keep doing it with an open heart, it comes back tenfold.

I have experienced reciprocity from so many people over the years, I feel blessed to be Homo sapiens. But this week, something happened that brought me to tears.

Now I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember and started my first novel, oh about fifteen years ago. Like many newbies, I was sure I’d get a six-figure contract after the first draft. Well, that didn’t happen. So I revised. Took courses. Joined critique groups. Attended conferences and workshops. Wrote more novels. Self-published.

And although I had no contract, I never forgot that we are all in this together. We are here to help each other become the best we can be. So as I advised other writers about their work, they did the same for me.

One day a friend of mine contacted me about his manuscript. He’d written a few drafts but still wasn’t completely satisfied. So I offered to read it over for him and give him notes, which he, in turn used  before publishing. His thanks warmed my heart. Fast forward a couple of years and he sends me an email saying he’d like to tell his publisher about me and my novels. Am I interested.

Umm. Yes! I’d had so many rejections and almosts by then I was ready to put all my savings into self-publishing.

So he did. And yesterday the publisher offered me a three book contract.

Give and watch the magic of exponential returns…

Never Giving Up

I love writing. It takes me to places beyond. Centering and providing catharsis.

At the same time, I’m like anyone, and want recognition. Others to say, I see with your eyes and it’s beautiful. So for years I’ve sent out poems, stories, manuscripts, queries, synopsis hoping to land a book deal.

And got more rejections than I can count. Until I started to doubt whether anyone would like my work.

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What did I do? Stop writing? Hell no. Instead I submitted to anthologies and smaller presses. Got a few things published too. Waited. Queried some more. Then I went the indie route with Artania and Forest Secrets.  Even hit Amazon top twenty.

But I wanted more so I kept querying. Until today. It happened. A publisher offered me a contract. They said, “We’ve already reviewed your MS and would be happy to offer you a publishing contract with Creativia. There’s definite market potential with your writing, and the team believes your book has a bright future in the marketplace.”

I love writing!

Why We the People Should Never Forget

We the people…

Beautiful words.

Like open arms ready to

Envelop all citizens.

Of the United States 

United, united, united?

In order to form a perfect union.

A union.  Not dissolution of the different.

Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility.

Tranquil? Really?

Provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare,

Caring for others. Because they are human.

and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. 

Security from the Founding Fathers. Who knew just what a blessing liberty is.

Do ordain this Constitution. 

Thank you to the fifty-five delegates of 1787 who spent 116 days in a hot, stuffy hall writing draft after draft. We the people…your posterity.. use them to guide us in times of light and dark .

We the people…

Another Break-up

I know. I know, this blog is supposed to be about peace and writing. But when you have a break-up, it’s hard to think about caring for the world. The world gets smaller until it’s just you and the guy.

And the words.

And the hurt.

And the regrets.

In the end, what hurts the most? Last night he said, “I’m not into the red carpet life.”

Writing is one big red carpet? Where has he been these last two years?

I only saw the tan carpet under the couch I’ve sat on, computer in my lap. My classroom’s rug is speckled grey and turquoise.  The book store where I signed copies of Forest Secrets had industrial brown.

No red anywhere.

Except maybe down my throat with the lump I’ve had since last night. You know what really hurts is that after two years, he still doesn’t understand. Doesn’t get that writing is how I make meaning in my life, and publishing is a way to share myself with the world. I’m looking to see if a little part of me moves a little part of others. It’s my way of saying,  Here I am. I see you. Do you see me?

In the end, he just didn’t.