Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Snapshots
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Slice of Life: Snapshots

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI was setting up a gallery walk (or carousel strategy) of poems for a professional development session. As I was looking through poems and choosing some to display to inspire conversations about craft and imagery in this genre, this poem jumped out at me:


This young woman

with long hair

blowing in the wind

was my mother

long ago

before I was born


I was immediately transported to a photo of my mother – one of my favorites.


When I look at this photo I imagine her inner thoughts, her hopes, and her fears. I imagine being her friend rather than her daughter. I wonder what we would talk about and laugh about together. So often we see a person in just one way or in one role. It is easy to forget one person has many layers.

Who are our colleagues at home?

Who is this student on the sports field?

Who is this child in her home?

Who were you before I met you?

Who are you when I am not with you?

Going through my mother’s photos helped me remember the woman she was, not just the mother I defined her to be. As educators, colleagues, and parents we need to think about the many roles we all fulfill. We need to think about the hopes, dreams, fears and inner thoughts of those around us. If we take the time to stop and really look at someone – a photo or a snapshot in time – we cannot help but notice and wonder about the person we are looking at. We cannot help but realize there are many layers to a person.

This poem reminds me of Slice of Life – a snapshot – of our lives. Slice of Life is slowing down, considering, reflecting and honoring the moments and the people in our lives. It is amazing what you can see, truly see, when you take the time to look.


Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnnaBeth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for us to share our stories each day in March.  Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts and consider joining this community.

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    Jennifer Laffin
    Posted at 09:47h, 23 March Reply

    This is one of the reasons I love teaching at the elementary level because I have my students all day long and can really get to know them and their many layers. I feel this is so key! (Beautiful picture of your mom too!!)


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    Posted at 10:28h, 23 March Reply

    Thank you for sharing the great picture of your mom, Clare. I agree, we all have many layers and wear many hats. Really getting to know someone takes time, and lots of questioning and wondering. I think it’s the same for getting to know characters in books. Using snapshots may be a way to demonstrate that to kids.

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    Diane Dougherty
    Posted at 10:44h, 23 March Reply

    Clare, what you shared today reminded me of Don Graves’s advice about getting to know our students. The people we know and love have multiple layers, and as Rose says, getting to know them takes time and a great deal of listening. The same is true of getting to know our students. I love how your posts always make me think.

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    Lynne Dorfman
    Posted at 11:16h, 23 March Reply

    Love the photo of your mom, Clare, and the questions you asked here. It is always wonderful to look at photos, either recalling memories or imagining them. Either way, our head is filled with stories – the stories of our lives. I like the idea of modeling this with students and asking them to bring in photos as well. When I had my own classroom, one of my favorite things to do was the “Every Picture Tells a Story: right around now – spring conferences. We posted stories and photos on the long wall outside my classroom. Teachers, students, and parents loved looking at the photos and reading the stories behind them. Right now, I am feeling an urge to pull out some photo albums and just sit and wonder. Thanks, Clare. Another great post! I so look forward to reading your writing before I leave the house in the morning!

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    Karen Terlecky
    Posted at 11:16h, 23 March Reply

    Clare – I love that setting up for a PD session transported you to thinking about this picture. And what a great picture it is! I have a similar one of my mom at a lake. It is so easy to slot people into one-dimensional roles. I think about my own children; how they probably define me in my mom role.
    An important message in our personal lives and for our lives at school, also. I have been thinking a lot lately about this boy in one of the schools where I coach. At school, he is one of the children at risk of not passing 3rd grade because of our state’s 3rd Grade Guarantee. At home, he is the evening caretaker for his younger siblings.

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    Posted at 11:52h, 23 March Reply

    What a great post. I love that so many slices I have read this month have helped me open my eyes, reframe a situation, appreciate with greater depth. Looking for the layers of others would go such a long way in breaking down stereotypes, creating empathy, and building community.
    It also got me thinking-do we expose our ‘layers’ to others enough so that they can see us as people and not in our singular role in our jobs, with our kids, or in our neighborhoods? Your post has me doing a lot of thinking! Thanks for this delicious slice!

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    Karen Szymusiak
    Posted at 15:42h, 23 March Reply

    Such a thoughtful post! I loved the picture of your mom. I like the way it can bring back thoughts of your mom but also encourage us to look deeply at the people around us. To discover and appreciate who we all are.

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    Linda Baie
    Posted at 15:54h, 23 March Reply

    We really did post about almost the same thing, didn’t we, Clare? I love the picture of your mother & the questions you posed. I’ve seen so many of these kinds of pictures of my mom, and wonder how her life was going then, what she was thinking, and many times I loved seeing her smiling in that moment. I have collected many old photos of strangers through the years and had my students write from them, imagining. It was always a delight to see what they wrote.

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    Melanie Meehan
    Posted at 21:07h, 23 March Reply

    And, isn’t it especially true that SOL lets us share only what we choose to share? Sometimes the students in front of us are a little less guarded. For whatever reason, this year, I have been much more aware of the layers in slicers–maybe because I know many of them in different ways. I’m rambling–I guess my takeaway is that I agree–such important work to know and to share more than just the top layer.

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    Posted at 23:35h, 23 March Reply

    Yes! Look for the layers in our kids. How can we reach them otherwise?

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    Christine Baldiga
    Posted at 01:14h, 24 March Reply

    How profound. Yes, we do need to peel back those layers and see other sides to people. Interesting and lovely post. You are certainly honoring your mom with such thoughtful posts!

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    Posted at 03:08h, 24 March Reply

    I love this! I especially like that you are reflecting on seeing people outside of their role with you. So true, but I had never thought of it in that way.

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