The Art of Chaos: Breaking the Order

Being a mom to most of us means, there is no room for “messing up.” We believe we have one shot at motherhood, sometimes we tend to address every situation in isolation and become increasingly hard on ourselves. We see every “mistake” or “wrong move” as a failure in our eyes. When do we give ourselves a break and come to terms with the realities of learning?

When I had my first child, my daughter I thought to myself, I cannot “mess” this up. I have one shot. I have to do this right. The truth is I have “messed up” so many times since the day she was born. In fact, she is now 13 and I think I have “messed up” more times in the past few years than the rest of her life. But for some reason, I am more okay with “messing up” today than I was years ago. I do not consider it “messing up.” Each of these situations I have come to learn more and more, are learning experiences. Experiences that I have and will continue to use to parent my kids.

For many life happens sequentially, in a certain order. I must do this, then this, then this… For me, not so much all the time. Despite having a first degree before I had my daughter, I decided to further my studies, just when she began pre-school. Many would deem this impossible as it does not fit into the sequential realm of things. My first thought was…”Girl you are crazy, you are in a new country without your mom and you think going back to school with a 3-year-old is a good idea!” But life happened, I went back to school and survived with the gift of twin boys at the end  of my two years. My daughter survived preschool! Hubby and the village helped make it happen and before I knew it, it was over. Amidst all this chaos, many lessons were learned. At that point when I thought I was “messing up” as a mom, I realized that I can by no means fight my battles alone.

When it was time for elementary school, we wanted to make sure we made the best decision for our daughter. I struggled with decisions around sending her to a church school versus  a public school. Growing up in the church and going to public school all my life I knew deep down they were both essentially important. We came to the decision of sending her to a church school. We loved all she was learning, both academically and biblically, but being a public school teacher I just felt like something was missing.  After 3 years, we decided to send her to public school. We found a real traditional public school we both liked. Everything seemed great, she was doing well academically. However, there was little room for exposure to extra curricular activities or opportunities. At the time, this was at the forefront of my mind, since my school was evolving and I saw so many of these opportunities available to the students there. I thought it would be a great idea for her to experience this. Needless to say, she spent her final year of elementary school in my school. As these changes occurred, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt, because I thought I was doing her an injustice. However, today I can safely say as she is in her final semester of middle school, I have seen where she has drawn from experiences from each elementary school in so many situations as a means to survive middle school. Today, this chaos I thought I created, after having a discussion with her about these decisions, I believe has groomed a strong young lady.

When it was time for our boys to go to elementary school, they came to my school, no questions asked. I was not going to “mess up again,” I thought.  After pre kindergarten we had to make a decision about regular program versus a Spanish Dual Language program for the rest of their elementary years. Here we go again. We decided on the Spanish DLP program. We thought it would be great for the boys to learn a second language, but the challenges that came with this decision remained a concern. This decision to date has me wondering if I once again…yes, “messed up.” I often times question this decision. While this is great opportunity, as a parent you cannot help but wonder about the…”what ifs?” With a few more years of experience from my first go as a parent, I am taking it one day at a time.

As life takes its toll, we are going to “mess up.” Sometimes these so-called “mess ups” are actually learning experiences. Whether we have kids or not, these experiences can become our greatest motivations. When things in life break the usual sequence or order, sometimes it is worth giving it a try.


5 Writing Tips to Save Parents at Home

So you are at home and your child comes home with a writing assignment and you just want to scream and throw a tantrum, since you have no clue what to do. The task seems impossible for your child, because deep down you think, there is no way my child can pull this off. Your child senses your frustration and doubt and immediately acts on it. “If mommy or daddy believes this is too difficult for me to do, even though I know I can complete this writing piece, I will play the game. Sounds familiar?

Keep calm and read these tips…


1) Find Favorable Topics

It is always helpful to find out what your child likes to read/ do. This more than likely is what they will enjoy writing about. If your child finds a topic boring, this will definitely hinder them from wanting to write about that topic. Think about it, as adults we are given the opportunity to choose what we want to write about in most cases. Why wouldn’t we grant this same opportunity to our budding writers. Start a running list of favorable topics at home with your child and have them choose one each week. There are numerous writing activities that can go with this idea. Rather than limiting them to writing a story everyday, make it fun! You can have your child write of course a story or extended response one or two days to continue building stamina, then have them do a vocabulary writing activity, have them write a letter, have them write a menu, a poem, their opinion about the topic or a song. By doing this you are opening up a world of writing experiences for your child.

2) Choose Preferable Means/ Method of Writing

Choose the best means of writing for your child. Some children rather the good old-fashioned pen-to-paper, some rather typing it up on the computer/tablet, while some children rather speaking and recording what they want to express. Choosing the best method will spark much more writing. I for one, can attest to situations, where my students dislike writing. Upon noticing, I decided to allow them to use the computer to write, which changed their whole perspective on writing. It is very important to value prefered learning styles of our children in every situation and setting.

3) Use Model Sample Work

Find model sample work that is in the genre or area of writing your child likes. You can choose an author or a few authors who write about the same or similar topics/ ideas as your child enjoys. By doing so your child will be able to get first hand experience as to what quality writing looks like. They will be able to use these model samples as a reference for improvement. In addition, this can be very encouraging for your child to see published writers with similar tastes or likings.

4) Use Standard Measures to Gage Writing Progress

In schools students are accustomed to using standardized rubrics and checklists to guide them as they write. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a rubric is a guide listing specific criteria for grading or scoring academic papers, projects, or tests. While checklists are tools used to guide students step by-by-step as they work towards an end product. By providing these tools, students are able to effectively work with an end goal in mind. Do not hesitate to ask teachers to provide you with information as to how to access these rubrics and checklists. When your child sees you pulling out the same tools they use in school they know you mean business. More importantly, it send a message that you care, as you made an extra effort to connect home with school.

5) Assessment 

 The purpose of assessment in education is to know more about how someone is learning and to understand how to improve that learning. This process is ongoing. So if it is ongoing and children do this daily in school, why shouldn’t they be held to the same standards at home? Assessing will provide a means by which children are able to self check and improve themselves as learners. Parents can request assessment tools used in your child’s school, to assess at home. Also, many of these same or very similar tools are accessible online for support.
If your child comes to realization that you are aware of what happens is school and are holding them accountable to the same expectations, most of your battle is over. Many of our children (including mine) lower their standards at home because they think that we do not know what is expected at school or in fact we do not know the quality of work they produce at school. Let us push our children to always extend themselves, despite the setting or situation.

5 Stages of Writers: Transforming Writing in the Classroom

I am a third grade teacher. I teach and love all subjects, but my passion for teaching writing is a deep-rooted one. Every year students who were deemed “non-writers” or ‘non- likers’ of writing shine in my room.  I do believe that a teacher’s feelings and passion for a subject can impact a student’s reaction and success in the area. The average student believes that writing is boring and takes too much energy. In a typical math problem, you solve and you are done or for a reading assignment you read and provide an explanation of what you read. Writing comes with more structure, planning and end product results. There is a writing process to follow and a grand end product to be shared, that comes with the extended work put in as one labors through the dreaded writing process! When you are in a classroom and students echo loud groans of disappointment when you announce the end of an extended writing workshop, you know the love for writing is real. So…how do I get my kids to write? Well, I first share my love for writing, some of my personal writing pieces and habits that work for me. I believe that writers fall into one of these 5 stages of writing below.

Stage 5 – “The Naturals”

In the beginning I immediately gain the attention of the “Naturals.” They already have keen interest and a natural love for writing. They possess an urgent need to do well and have already emulated good writing practices. These are my leaders of writing who pave the way for the rest of the writers. I share their work with permission and I encourage them to keep pushing. This in turn attracts the eyes of the next group.

Stage 4 -“The On-the-Fencers”

The “On-the -fencers”- these are my students who are the easiest to transform. They ‘kinda-like to write,’ but believe it is too difficult, but just need that extra jolt. They benefit the most from shared examples from the ‘naturals.’ They appreciate the knowledge that they can have a similar love and appreciation for writing. They push themselves, as they are partnered with the ‘naturals’ and become challenged by the experiences. Very soon they build the stamina and use the same tools to develop their work. Before we know it they become ‘naturals’.

Stage 3 – “The Safes”

These are the students that are comfortable in their ‘safe space.’ They are okay writers and they believe it’s okay to remain that way. They usually use the least amount of next step tips possible, slowing attempting to move themselves, with minimal progress quite satisfying. This is the most difficult group to transform, since their work always to them seem okay. They have come to realize that the ‘Changers’ and the ‘Unnaturals’ require the most attention. As a result, I assign them to work with a ‘changer’ or a ‘non-liker.’ By doing this they are able to boost their confidence and take control of their own work.

Stage 2 – ‘The Changers”

The changers are the students who have come to believe that are not great writers. They were never given that extra push or just simply did not have the urge to make writing a priority. They were always satisfied with just getting by in writing, but there is room for change. Writing for them has to be proven to be fun and very interesting. They have to find a purpose to write. For these students I begin with basic writing activities or materials that will spark their interest. Some of these might include the use of writing games, acting it out activities, graphic organizers (helps student organize work), checklist and rubrics. These tools act as a guide to support these struggling writers. Upon realizing their potential, they eventually become very focused on improving their craft, with a newfound interest in writing.

Stage 1 – “The Non-Likers”

The “non-likers” have pretty much given up on writing, since it does not come naturally to them. This is a group that always says no! They are yet to see the reason to write and need the most convincing. But how can I convince someone who has given up? Well we celebrate! One might ask what are we are celebrating. Celebrate every moment of progress, no matter how minuscule. This is an opportunity to highlight qualities of writing that these students, without that extra encouragement would not see.

By no means does every student become a “natural,” but the increased level of interest in writing is evident in their positive attitudes and eagerness to write.


Let it Go!

Ever get that feeling you are a superhero without a cape, attempting to save the world with no particular super power! Maybe, I do possess some inner strength that leads me to believe this.  I can’t decipher…life’s happenings comes in droves. I feel compelled to take on the burdens of the world like they are all mine. Every invitation seems to have an inner conversation with me that eats away at every thought of saying no. I cannot make this one…LET IT GO!

I consider myself to be a ‘stand-up kinda-girl.’ I don’t wait around, I get up and do. I think about purpose and end results. I think about feelings and hurt. These attributes are derived from varied experiences from family relationships, lifelong friendships and just life. They have inadvertently contributed to my inability to LET IT GO and say no.’

Today, I have come to realize that I don’t always have to be that superhero and guess what it feels damn good! I just LET IT GO! I decided to utilize my rights of saying no sometimes, or delaying or putting off something that seemed like ‘life and death,’ but was actually just life. So when that superhero-like feeling overwhelms you, think twice and LET IT GO!

Charlia Moulton-Campbell


The Meaning

Pushing myself to limitless understandings,

Driving my mind to meaningless “demandings,”

This is unheard of, unless you are an extraordinary human,

A one in a million individual,

It sells itself even without attention,

It’s naturalness is beyond recognition.

But are we capable of the reality it unfolds,

The strength it beholds,

The attitude of the onlookers, the beneficiaries,

How does it play off,

Who has the stand,

Who is represented and admonished,

The true story is never told.

5 Reasons Why It Took Me So Long to Start My Blog

  1. Fear– I feared starting and failing. I feared what people would say. Me- super mom of a teenage daughter and twin boys, wife to a husband with one of the toughest jobs known and teacher to third graders!  I must admit, my first blog entry has been ready for almost a year, just sitting in my google drive. FYI, this is not the entry I had intended to use, but I believed that I needed to share this story. If you want to take a leap of faith…just do it!
  2. Time– I felt like I was always busy and always putting my blog goals off. But in reality I am indeed very busy with my family and working. I have come to understand that the importance of balancing responsibilities and time is pivotal in my journey. I believe I am in a better place with balancing life as it comes. The journey continues.
  3. Over-researching– I became the researching guru of blogging. Everytime I told myself I was ready to begin my blog, I found some information that ‘needed more research.’ This trend became habitual and contributed to numerous delays in the process. I guess I was trying to find another excuse!
  4. Too many questions– Would it affect my name as a future published writer? Would I be still taken seriously? Then after researching many well published bloggers my questions changed to -Am I blog material? How do I maintain the integrity of my blog? How will I attract my target audience?
  5. Finding a specific niche- I have so many things I want to write about, so many things to say. This made it very difficult for me to identify my niche at first. I decided to ‘keep it real.’ My intentions are to share my experiences as a mom, wife and teacher with you. Enjoy the ride.