Writing Alongside My Classroom of Authors

As the mini-lesson about fleshing out characters ends, I send my young authors away from our meeting place to work on revising their personal narratives.  I remind them to consider how they can make their characters more human, more realistic, so that their readers will be able to connect with them.

While everyone is settling, I sit down with own writer’s notebook and begin to consider the revisions my students suggested for fleshing out the character in my own narrative.  We had decided that she was too perfect (or too Goody Two Shoes, as one student pointed out.  Another quickly said, “No one is THAT good!”).  Of course, they were right.  My plan was to work on giving this character some imperfect traits.  I planned to share my revisions right along with my students during the sharing time.

As I write, I notice that several of my kiddos get up to move closer to the table where I chose to work today.  I smile.  This happens every time.  They get right back to work but every now and then, I see them sneaking glances to watch me as I write, also.  Before long, I notice that they are moving their post it note revision suggestions around, spider-legging (adding items to the bottom of the page and drawing arrows to where it should go), and adding additional scenes on separate sheets of paper.  We continue writing until it is sharing time.  I answer a few questions here and there and occasionally walk around the room to see if anyone needs help.  Everyone is working and seems to understand what they are doing.

I am constantly amazed that writing alongside my writers holds so much power.  I could talk all day about these revision strategies, but watching as I apply these strategies to my own writing gives them a model to follow and practice.  As a bonus, I am getting lots of opportunity to sharpen my own narrative writing skills.  It’s a win-win situation.

My Imperfect Life

I am learning to enjoy my imperfect life.  Each imperfect facet of my life adds color, flavor, and inspiration. Learning to let go of the need for perfection has allowed me to see the richness and spontaneity that come from life’s unexpected moments.

For example, on the way to my house for the annual July 4th cookout, my mother ran over something in the street.  Later, my niece noticed that mom’s tire was completely flat.  My husband and son-in-law jumped to it and fixed it in a jiffy.  They were almost as fast as a pit crew in the Indy 500.  This unexpected event gave us all the opportunity to marvel at their speed and efficiency.

Also, my sister and brother in law unexpectedly brought over massive fireworks.  Awesome, right? Yes, but we live in town, and my overactive imagination could see the neighbors’ houses, or my own, igniting into giant, uncontrollable blazes.  Each time my husband and brother in law lit the fuse on one of the huge barrels or boxes, I oohed and aahed, but I cringed inside.  My guests were enthralled by the show, so I did my best to keep my fears to myself.  I found, though, that my excessive worry was not needed.  My husband carefully ensured the safety of everyone and everything, and he had the hose ready to attack any rogue sparks.  This experience gave me an opportunity to deepen my trust of my husband and his ability to keep everyone safe.

At one point in my life, these unplanned events would have, in my mind, ruined the holiday gathering.  However, I am learning to let go of the rigid and antiseptic world of perfectionism and go with the flow.  Those imperfect moments create memories and often new understandings.  I will always hold myself to high expectations, but I now understand the importance of freeing myself from the bondage of expecting perfection in everything and everyone. My life is all the richer for it.

My Happy Place

One of the joys of summer is spending time in my backyard.  My backyard space offers relaxation, peace, joy, and inspiration.  It is a gathering space for family and friends.  Its quiet beauty makes it a perfect spot to read, write, take naps, or as you can see below, snap lots of pictures!








































Nature Therapy

“Into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.”- John Muir

When the stress of life (or the end of the school year) becomes too much, I make my way to the woods. Nature, in all its beauty and vibrancy, always puts everything in perspective.
With all of the rain in the area this spring, everything is especially lush and full of new life.

 I love the colors and textures of spring and summer.









Wild Strawberry

Evidence of animal life is everywhere.










The pond and wetland areas are also teaming with life.

Tadpoles of various stages of development are everywhere in this small pond!


This lone turtle is enjoying the late morning on the log. Usually this log is covered with turtles.


Look closely.  Do you see what I see?

This little guy is well-hidden!

There is so much beauty in the woods.





May Apple


Bald Cypress Tree with Knees


Beautiful reflection even with the breeze!

My spirit is light and happy.  I look forward to visiting again soon and seeing what changes have taken place since my last visit!

The Vast Expanse

There is no sky above-
only billowing clouds in browns, grays, and blacks
from tall belching towers that press my spirit into the ground.
Lost is the blue with white puffy clouds,
the purply/pink/red setting the horizon on fire,
and the endless black dotted with diamonds.
Gone is gazing at the vast expanse,
watching my soul soar free from its binding chains-
I weep.

My own sobs wake me-
free from the grip of a nightmarish vision,
a glance at the window eases my stress.
I bow my head in thankful silence and
move to the porch to rest my eyes on
miles of endless blue.
Join me, won’t you, to gaze at the vast expanse and
watch our souls soar free from their binding chains-
we appreciate.

The Lie of Perfect

Elusive, hiding, just out of reach,
chasing the wind,
impossible dream.

Painful, stressful, maker of angst,
never worth it,
abandon it-now.

Hidden, anxious, fearful of risk,
unless perfect,
time to step away.

Relax, accept, leaper of faith,
it will be fine,
see re-a-li-ty.

Joyful, happy, liver of dreams,
mistakes enrich,
trust in what will be.

The Moments of My Day

Here is a list of moments
that carried me through my day.
Some happy, some sad,
Some caused my nerves to fray.

Let’s start at the beginning
as the morn I groggily greet.
My daily dose of caffeine, yoga, and routine,
then to school I hastily speed.

I slid into my Wednesday a.m. meeting
just as the principal began to speak.
Next, my students came in quietly
and got to work without a squeak.

Next was art for the kiddos
and a parent meeting for me.
I hope she does what she says she’ll do.
Fingers crossed; I’ll wait and see.

Back to class with fifth grade
then fourth was next to teach.
They are learning to write literary essays.
For many, this is a reach.

Lunch, recess, then fourth grade again.
They worked well today.
Next, third grade, oh me, oh my!
A challenge-what can I say!

I helped with Crochet Club after school.
What a fun way to unwind.
I enjoyed watching them create
and seeing the satisfaction they find.

Now here I am-Home at last.
Online with my #TeachWrite friends.
Happily crafting poetry (or making an attempt)
as this day comes to an end.

2019 Tracy Vogelgesang

Lessons in Nature

My day at school today:

My heart bleeds
as I watch my student
for the past three years
pack his things-
mom and stepdad split.

My heart bleeds
as another student
will not get a meal
until midnight-
mom comes to then.

My heart bleeds
for the injustices
so many kids
face daily-
my heart aches.

After school I pull into my drive:

My bleeding heart
peeking above ground
mingling with other
budding plants-
spring is coming.

My bleeding heart
gives me hope
for brighter days
for all-
I cling to that.

My bleeding heart
reminds me that
fragile flowers blossom
despite the cold-
The kids will, too.


I tested the plugins Compfight, Easy Tables, Visual Editor, and Light Box for Images to see some of the great options that are available to me with this blogging platform.  As I looked at them, I considered ease of use and benefit to future blog posts.  Below is the chart that shows my opinions about these plugins.

Compfight Easy Tables Visual Editor  Light Box for Images
 Compfight is great.  I used it recently to find amazing photos that are free to use in blogging.  I will use this plugin frequently. This plugin seems fairly cut and dry.  Easy to use and likely to be used frequently.  This works like the original Visual Editor.  Easy.  I appreciate this plugin.  It adds a layer of convenience for visitors to my blog.  However, it does not seem to be working with the Compfight image below.

Additionally, I activated the Supreme Google Webfonts plugin.  I am thrilled to have various fonts from which to choose.  
Connexion 48/52Creative Commons License Gauthier DELECROIX – 郭天 via Compfight