Key strategies for attention management

Photo of small light fixtures hanging from long wires as viewed from below.
Photo by Skye Studios on Unsplash

Productivity expert Maura Thomas makes a compelling argument for discarding the time management mindset. She believes that blocking off portions of our workday for focusing on a project only works if we are, in fact, able to focus.

And, really, who hasn’t felt that pain. I know I feel it every morning when I sit down to work and my thoughts are squirrel!-ing around my head. There are the emails I need to send out, the dishes that need to be loaded in the dishwasher, the bills that need to be paid online. It probably takes over twenty minutes for…

Six strategies for helping our newest colleagues find success and stay in the field.

My overly-pragmatic brain looks at birth announcements as job security. “Nice work with those babies, America! You’re filling up our classrooms nicely!”

But I’m not as cheerful when I look at the serious teacher shortage in our country. The Economic Policy Institute recently reported that, as of this fall, public K-12 education employment is 890,000 below where it needs to be in order to keep up with student enrolment. …

Three surprising outcomes, none of which were directly related to Biden’s win.

Woman showing gratitude after the election by holding her hands over her heart.
Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

Before you dismiss this as, “oh great, here’s another Trumper who’s all in her feelings because he lost,” please know that I am thrilled that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve been sleeping better and my anxiety has eased up since the results were announced. After HRC’s defeat in 2016, I was so afraid that our country would continue to be led by unethical fascists.

With that said, however, I have been unexpectedly grateful for three experiences that haven’t been directly related to the election results.

1. The Week-Long Emotional Hangover

We went to Florida to visit…

How we can utilize self-reflection, respectful communication norms, and supportive outside resources

Photo of multiple people placing their hands on top of one another in a gesture of solidarity.
Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

For many American households, the 2020 election elicited feelings of either relief and jubilation or shock and bitterness. For me, I was grateful that the results were announced on a Saturday and that our family had the weekend to privately process our reactions to the historic results. Even so, as I was finalizing my lesson plans on Sunday night, I found myself staring into space, still preoccupied with all of it. I thought about how much time I had needed over the weekend to process everything, even though I was more mentally prepared after the similarly divisive 2016 election.


How I got my family on board with five practical strategies for lowering anxiety and getting back in control

Author’s photo of a kitchen counter with piles of papers, a laptop, red purse, basket of apples
Image by the author: the To-Do Zone

Above is a picture of one of my kitchen counters. Judge away!

This is also my designated To-Do Zone.

Come, come! Lean closer and let me walk you through it so that you, too, can revel in the chaos.

  • The pile: vote by mail ballots, some cards I need to write and mail out, a Christmas ornament that needs to be put away in the attic.
  • An Order of the Arrow patch that I want to modify and sew onto my Scouting hoodie. …

The List that aspires to reach proper noun status.

Photo of grains of sand falling through fingers of both hands.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Look, if you weren’t completely down with the “extra” hour that we got from the time change yesterday, I’m not sure if we can still be best friends.

I’m just kidding. Of course, we’re still best friends. Because: it’s just too hard to make new friends as an adult, right? Plus, the nice thing about having writer friends is that they will tolerate strong opinions about inconsequential nonsense. They know the slipper will be on the other foot soon enough.

Anyways, I’m glad we’ve had this reaffirmation-of-our-friendship talk. …

Or you can call me Dr. Miss.

Photo of author standing outside of her house.
Author’s Photo

Big Picture

I write and I teach. I live on the south side of Chicago.

Up until recently, I spent 90% of my professional time teaching high school Spanish and then crammed in some writing on the side. However, I recently had to take a leave of absence from teaching — thanks, Covid! — and I now spend the majority of my time writing. Both endeavors are hard and humbling.

My teaching days often ended with me feeling too mentally exhausted to even have a conversation with my family. …

The emotional labor will be worth it.

interlinked chain of alternating red and blue paperclips; the middle paperclip is broken
Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

I decided to end my marriage of twenty years after I learned my husband was giving blowjobs to a random guy he had met on Craig’s List.

To be clear, I wasn’t shocked that he was bisexual — I already knew that — but I was horrified when he confided that he might have contracted an STD. We did not have an open marriage and I had been having unprotected sex with him while he was out there endangering us both.

I was devastated and angry, yes. …

Little things that have made my writing life more bearable.

Photo of an open book with an autumnal leaf laying on one of the pages.
Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

1. “The End of October” by Lawrence Wright

Just this past April, Pulitzer-prize winning author Lawrence Wright published a novel about a pandemic, just as our own pandemic was gaining steam. The story is told through the eyes of Henry, a doctor who leaves Atlanta to help contain a “new flu” abroad. It’s eerily prescient in its examination of how humans bring catastrophe upon themselves. …

How the pivot to remote learning changed my mindset.

Photo of a computer keyboard and mouse, spiral bound journal, scissors, glasses, cup of coffee.
Photo by Andrijana Bozic on Unsplash

When Illinois’ governor mandated last spring that all schools needed to switch to a remote learning model, I was filled with anxiety. I had never completely relied on technology to teach my students, but even more than that, I was worried that the students’ progress would grind to a halt.

And for a while, I was right.

The Illinois State Board of Education mandated that we could “do no harm” and that the students’ grades couldn’t drop below where they had been before the switch to remote learning.

And so time…

Dr. Miss

{writer | educator | Ed.D. | hiker | leader | feminist} email:

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