College Ready

Sharing strategies for student success, college readiness and academic coaching


The Only Writing Advice You’ll Ever Need

The simple but true writing advice I give my students:


Truth! And this is true not just in writing, but in teaching, too. Let students see at least a little bit of the real you. Authentic connections lead to engaged, connected classrooms.

Happy Saturday, friends,

Lisa (aka The Happy Teacher)

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Writing Haiku in the Rain

On Wednesday, it rained in Northern California. This is something that hasn’t been happening very often. (See also: drought.) It was glorious & noteworthy.

And so, my frosh college comp students wrote haikus about the rain. Yes, it had to happen.

And it was good. To stop. To not rush. To listen. Feel. Connect. Discover. To Write. Together.

Here’s some of what they had to say. (All writing by English100 students, each space is a new writer):


Rain is like wet peace

Cascading down my body
Piercing my very soul

Grey slippery drops
Renewing luscious hillsides
Quenching nature’s thirst

Joy Fills the Gray Sky
Dull Struggles are Dropped

Clouds filled with wet life
Sound of peace with sleep

The earth is renewed
Every time rain falls down
Water creates life.

Photo @ by: lisalu22


Each line is a complete image in very few words. I compiled this one longer poem from various lines out of the students’ original work. Each one was lovely as a stand alone haiku, but putting it together like this connected writers’ ideas to a collaborative mosaic.

Do you teach poetry in your classes? If so, what do the students think? A few of mine were skeptical at first. They needed time to brainstorm, to think it out, and to really understand that there was no objective, and no assessment. If the haiku turned out well, great. If students weren’t happy with it, then they need not turn it in. Low risk and high reward, especially as students read their poems aloud. I hope you will take some time to notice the rain, or the snow, or whatever else is of interest in your part of the world. Make it noteworthy. Craft some poetry together. Share some writing. Make some connections.


I happen to love the rain. Do you? I love the smell, the way the air feels. I love walking across campus in it. Here in California, we aren’t going to be making our way out of this devastating drought anytime soon, but at least we had a little sliver of silver lining on Wednesday.

Happy Friday,

Lisa (aka, The Happy Teacher)

Need a refresher course on Haiku? It’s a form of Japanese poetry made up of three lines. Lines are 5/7/5 syllables each. The first line consists of 5 syllables, the second line consists of 7 syllables, and the third line consists of 5 syllables. Haiku often focuses on nature. For more on how to write a haiku, click here.

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3 Simple Ways to Cultivate Kindness in the Classroom This Thanksgiving & Why It Matters

During this time of year, many lessons naturally tend to focus on the first Thanksgiving, what students have to be thankful for, and how we might give back to others in need. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to cultivate kindness in the classroom. Here’s why:


Kindness is best learned by feeling it.” Cultivate kindness in your classroom and watch the ripples grow & spread. It’s an amazing thing to watch kindness catch on, AND studies prove that students learn better when they feel supported, appreciated, and safe.

Be a Role Model: I am a big believer in the need for teachers to show kindness to their students. Heck, what does a smile cost us? Not one thing!! And you never know when that smile you give to a student might just be the only one he or she receives all day.

Get Involved: Many teachers have started random acts of kindness projects in their classrooms. Others get the students involved by holding a food drive, a sock drive, or a diaper drive to support community organizations such as food banks and homeless shelters. There are so many little things that even our youngest students can participate in. Being directly involved and taking a hands-on approach to helping others will in-turn help foster kindness, gratitude and empathy in our students.

Strengthen Bonds, Build Community: When our students feel loved (or at least liked) in our classrooms, they feel comfortable and capable. Resilience is strengthened. They can take risks. That hard to reach or “tough” student can let down some barriers and even show kindness and caring to others. Students feel responsible for their classroom and larger community and engage in building it up rather than tearing each other down. I like to think of it like a wave of kindness that starts when one person reaches out to another. Start that ripple and watch it grow.

There you have it. Three simple ways to build a culture of KINDNESS in the classroom. If you have ideas and suggestions that have worked for you, please leave them in the comments. I would absolutely LOVE to hear how you help foster community and kindness with your students. 🙂

Happy November everyone. May this season of thanks and giving be a healthy & happy one for you.

xo, Lisa (aka, The Happy Teacher)