Saturday, October 5, 2019


I missed Day 4.  I went to watch GUYER play football. It’s so weird, even this many years after Tripp graduated to sit in the stands and see other young men wearing the jersey #s of my son and his friends. I see my friends sitting in my place as a senior mom and my heart hurts a little for them. I know they they, too, will soon feel what I feel now.

There is, however, a silver lining for me. I have Brody. He has blessed our family many times over by being just the surprise we needed. I am excited about the future. I am looking forward to sitting again amongst those senior moms several years from now. I imagine I will approach it a little differently than I did the first go round, or even the second. I love my family and all the parts that make it unique. I know I’m blessed and plan to be present, in the moment, and enjoy whatever comes our way.

Choose joy, my friends. Why not?

Tara Reed

Thursday, October 3, 2019


Tonight was curriculum night at my school. I’m exhausted. I’m giving myself permission to let this be my writing for today.

Good night.
Tara Reed

Wednesday, October 2, 2019


Today I got to do one of my favorite things... talk about assessment practices and put them to use. One of the fun parts about having a new teammate is continuously being reminded of how important it is to have consistency and deep understanding in our work. It was engaging and informative to sit with colleagues, study student samples, and debate score points and evidence. These moments remind me of two things. First, my profession is remarkable. We work hard to ensure we are doing everything possible to move kids along in their learning. Second, our students are impressive. Every day I’m blown away by what they offer in discussions around books, writing, and life. They are such different people than we were when we were kids. I’m not sure I could have done what these kids do. They make it exciting to come to work and see what they come up with next.

Data is an amazing, complicated, needed tool for learning. I’m glad to have a district that values student progress and the importance of critical thinking.


Tara Reed

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


Today starts another new writing opportunity. I love these opportunities to focus on my writing, but I realize I need accountability. In the past, I’ve only been successful because I have had great friends and colleagues holding me accountable and cheering me on! This year I’m adding to that group with a colleague from my school (hey Ginny!👋), and I’m really excited about the month ahead. So thank you Mandy, Sandy, Brittany, Yesi, and especially Tenille (and anyone I left out). Without you guys pushing me along, I don’t think I would be continuing to sign up for these great opportunities.

I noticed a similar phenomenon happening in my classroom. We are working through a writing piece, and my students aren’t willing to let go of their own accountability partners, even when it’s an assessment. They deeply believe in the power of these relationships and their conversations are inspiring. One of my students was struggling with how to layout his story, so his partner set up labeled parts for him to think about what might go where (the orange). The writer was then free to think about how the story might be told in a way that builds to a climax and then ‘gets better’.

These kids were so eager to get/give feedback! They were working on helping their partners’ story hold a reader’s attention.

My point is, I guess, that it doesn’t matter whether you are a child or an adult, it is comforting to have a tribe of people with who you can share and you are confident they will be there to keep you on track.

See ya tomorrow!


Tara Reed

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Here we go!

Well... some people say better late than never. This year I’m hoping that’s true. It is March 3rd, and I am on my first day of posting for the Slice of Life Challenge this year. I must admit that I’m filled with trepidation, excitement, and a little dread. I know there will be days I forget to post. I also know that on the days I do post there will be nerves. It takes a lot of vulnerability to put your writing out into the world for others. Mostly, however, I am thankful for this community of writers and an opportunity to live that life we so often forget our kids are living when we ask them to share their writing with an audience.

Bring on March! I’m looking forward to the challenge!!!

Tara Reed

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Day 1: Texas Independence Day

Today, March 2nd, is Texas Independence Day. If you aren't from Texas, you may not understand the level of allegiance a Texan has to the Lone Star State. :) I thought I would start off this month long challenge listing reasons I love living in Texas.
  1. We are the largest state in the continguous US. That is, I believe, why everyone learns early that everything is bigger in Texas. I love that anyone in the US can easily pick out Texas on a map due to our unique and awesome shape.
  2. We won our independence from Mexico in 1836 and became our own independent nation, The Republic of Texas, at that time and remained independent until 1845. Independence is a cornerstone of my state and flows through the blood of all Texans.
  3. We make the best music. George Strait, Pat Green, Willie Nelson, and Beyonce all call Texas home. Do I need to say more?
  4. Texas is the home of Tex-Mex, the most amazing food you could ever eat. 
  5. Memphis may be known for their barbecue, but Texas barbecue is from another planet! Stop in at any local barbecue joint, you'll see what I mean.
  6. I love that I grew up in small town Texas. Roscoe, to be exact. Small towns in Texas are pretty amazing! 
  7. It totally rocks that in Texas we teach our kids Texas history not just once in 4th grade, but again in 7th grade, just in case they didn't get it down the first time. 
  8. I just recently learned that not all states have their own pledge that their kiddos learn early and say in the morning following the US pledge. Why not???
  9. Texas is the home of Texas Tech University, the center of the universe.
  10. Travel anywhere in the world, and when you say you are from Texas, they are immediately ready to start up a conversation about your ranch/horse/farm/cowboy hat that not all of us happen to own. The awesome thing about this is that the old west gunslinger, trailblazer persona is synonymous with Texas.

Monday, June 27, 2016

How teaching is like roller skating...

When I was a child, roller skating was one of my favorite activities. I would roller skate at the roller skating rink, in the driveway, or down the street at my friend's house pretending we were in the Olympics. The thing is, when I was learning to skate, there wasn't a lot of instruction and support. My dad did give me a few tips: the rubber stopper is to stop you; if you fall, be careful that you don't run over your fingers when you get up; always skate counter-clockwise around the rink. We figured it out from watching others and just trying until we got it. Recently, my youngest son, Brody, was invited to a skating party for a friend's birthday. He met the day full of trepidation and worry over the unknown. He worried about not knowing how to skate and what to expect when he got there. I gave him my dad's 3 key instructions, helped him get his skates on, and sent him off. Bad idea. Knowing everything I know about direct instruction, feedback, and gradual release, why would I not put those tools to use here??? So I picked my sweet boy up off the floor (again) and took him aside. I gave him some instruction on skating, along with some feedback on what I had seen so far. But then I realized he needed more support. In the corner of the skating rink, I spotted some super cool pvc pipe contraptions that kiddos can use as a support. GENIUS! Soon Brody was on his way to skating! All he needed was  explicit instruction on skating, a little feedback, time and  the pvc support to keep him moving while he was learning. The support didn't skate for him, but it offered him something to lean on when he felt like he was in trouble and kept him from crashing and burning. Soon, I noticed Brody would use the support for a little bit and then when he felt like he could do it on his own, he set the pvc support aside and gave it a try. There were times when he might go back and use the support for reinforcement, but as time moved on he needed the support less and less. 

I thought about what a great metaphor this skating experience is for our instruction in literacy. Our students need our instruction, they can't play the game if they don't know the strategies to play; however, they also need support. Not the kind of support that does it for them, but support that is there for them to use when needed, yet gives them the option to let it go when they feel like they are ready to try it on their own. In my classroom, I have lots of those supports in place. They might be mentor texts, anchor charts, our CAFE menu, checklists and rubrics for kids to use when self-assessing and setting goals to keep moving forward.  I think these supports are necessary in a student's journey. They give kids an opportunity to feel success without an all or nothing weight around their neck. What a great way to honor a child's individual learning journey! What are supports that you offer in your classroom to keep your kids going?

Tara Reed