Throwback Poetry: Empty

Inspired by the the end of the school year in 2020, when we were told that we were going on a “two week break” to stem the rise of COVID-19. I wrote this when I accepted we were not going back for the rest of the year.

Empty desks

Crowded bins

Stacked with papers

Never returned

Empty Chairs

Silent Room

Filled with voices

Of the past.

Join me for Throwback Thursday Poetry! Drop a link to one of your poems in my comment section! Have fun reading each other’s poems.

Happy Writing!


© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Blogs / Life

First Year of Teaching: Inspiring the Next Generation of Writers

When I was in high school, I was always asked the cliche question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The answer was immediate, “An author! But I’ll probably teach too.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the idea of teaching, but it always came secondary to my desire to write. I started teaching college classes in the Spring of 2018, after I received my Master’s degree in English Literature, and realized that I not only enjoyed teaching, I loved it. There was nothing better than helping college students realize that they did not have to hate English even if they had hated it their entire high school experience. In fact, they could even, Heaven forbid, LIKE it!

Then, in the Fall of 2019, I got my wish. I was hired as a full-time Middle School English teacher at a private Christian School where I could help students become better readers and better writers while sharing my love of Christ. This past year, as crazy as it was, taught me that teaching no longer comes second to my desire to write.

I learned that my dreams of becoming a well-established author and my focus on inspiring the next generation to love writing and reading could work together hand-in-hand.

In my English class this year, I shared with my students the process of writing Agency in the Hunger Games, the revision process, the publishing process, and I even got to bring a copy of my book to show my class. I taught them about perserverance and endurance. I told them that at their age, I had sat in that very same classroom, in those VERY same desks, writing in one of my dozens of notebooks while people around me told me that I was wasting my time. I would never be published. The field was too hard to break through. I told them that I had not listened to those voices, but that I had followed my dream and I had worked hard for it. I told them that the dreams they had now did not have to be impossiblilities.

I never realized how much my words meant to them until about a month ago.

A month after online learning ended, one of my students emailed me to let me know that my personal story had inspired him. He had always wanted to write, but never felt good enough being so young and so inexperienced. This summer, he was challenging himself to write his first full-length novel and it was all because I had encouraged him to do so. He told me that he was writing his book in honor of me. It was a simple email, only a few lines long, but it meant the world to me.

I realized then that as an author and as a teacher, it is my duty to inspire the next generation of writers and educators.

What good is experience if we are not willing to share it with others? What good is failure if we can not use it to better ourselves? What use is success if we do not share that success with others to inspire them to follow after their dreams as well?

As both an author and a teacher, I have a new dream of what to be when I grow up. I hope to be the inspiration that the next generation needs.

Blogs / Life, teacher life

First Year of Teaching: The Day It All Changed

We had mentioned it in passing.

We had discussed it in hypotheticals.

We had never imagined it would turn out the way it did.

March 13th.

In the days and weeks leading up to March 13th, teachers and students alike were talking about COVID. Was it as bad as people said? Would it come to California? Would it come to our school? Would we have to shut down? We were so sure for so long that it would never come to that, but that whole week, it seemed like there was something in the atmosphere building to this day. The whole week it rained, and any teachers out there known that rainy days make for interesting school days. When there are rainy days back-to-back, tensions rise, we begin to feel couped up (teachers and students). It was the perfect preface for what was to come.

That Friday my phone continued to light up, but as I was teaching, I could not check it. At passing period, I would briefly look at my notifications: Disney announces closure, school district announces closure . . . Pandemic sweeps through the United States . . . COVID infection rising . . .

Between the rain, the notifications, the confusion amongst our own staff, (and oh ya, I was releasing the production cast list that day!) and the questions from the students, I just needed two minutes. Two minutes to gather myself, to prepare myself for another round of questions from my students: What is COVID? Will we die if we get it? Is this the end? Are we safe?

But it was rainy day, which meant that I did not have two minutes. My doors needed to be opened for students to come inside. I’ll never forget that I had a partner teacher who just happened to walk in randomly when I needed her most. She shut my door, told me that I was human, that I could take the two minutes I needed, that she would watch my kiddos so that I could catch my breath and regain my game face. I cannot say what her generosity and simple kindness meant to me.

I opened my door and the day resumed. Then, at 2:30pm, 15 minutes before the end of the school day, 15 minutes before I was to post my production cast, 15 minutes before the end of a very long, hard week, our principle came on the announcement system.

Due to COVID, we would not be returning to school the next week. We would break for Spring Break and we would most likely be back in a couple of weeks. Students were instructed to take all of their books home for online instruction.

During the entire announcement, students were whispering amongst themselves. When the announcement ended, some cheered and others burst into tears. Some thought it would be an extended Spring Break and others thought it signaled the end of the world.

We ended that day in prayer. We prayed for our nation, we prayed for each other and we prayed for wisdom. Looking back now, I am so grateful that that is the last memory my students will have of my “physical classroom.” Although we would continue to meet online, I am glad that we ended our classroom experience in prayer.

What was your #COVIDMOMENT ?

Let me know in the comments below!



Empty Desks

Crowded bins

Stacked with papers

Never returned

Empty Chairs

Silent Room

Filled with voices

Of the past.

When school let out for #COVID we all truly thought we would come back before the end of the school year… This was something I wrote when I accepted that was not going to happen.



© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Blogs / Life

Where have I been?

Drowning in work, mostly.

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Hey guys, Kayla Ann here with an update on life. Usually I stay away from these kind of blog posts because they seem very focused on myself instead of the community, but I also feel that I owe an explanation. Many of you have read my exhortations to remain a part of community, reading other posts, commenting on other blogs, reciprocating responses with other bloggers, etc. Well, I’ll admit, I have not done a great job of this lately.

As some of you may recall, I started a new job in August as a full time English teacher at a Middle School. It was a job I had prayed and waited for. I love my job, and because I love it so much, I put almost everything I have into it. It has been a hard struggle lately to find the balance between giving enough of myself and not too much of myself. I am having to find boundaries between my work life and my home life for my own mental and emotional health. All that to say, there hasn’t been a ton of time for blogging.

I did have some posts pre-scheduled so that I did not disappear from the blogging sphere, but I haven’t really been able to visit and respond as I would like. I’m still working on finding that balance between work and home and so I ask for patience from my blogging friends. All this to say:

I do not want you to feel as though I have dipped out, I’m here, waving through the window.

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College Writing Tips

Dear Teachers: Welcome Back

Christmas Break is over and you’re somewhat devastated, am I right?

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The break was not long enough and all that grading/curriculum planning you told yourself you were going to get done is still sitting in the back of your car.

You’re not alone, but it is time to get back in the groove of things, so wake up! Here are some of my tips to help get you through this upcoming semester:

  1. Get Up Early and Prep for each day. (I can already hear the communal groan). This tip is especially helpful for college professors. I know it may sound tipping to wing your lecture if you’ve written it before, but get up 20 minutes earlier and refresh yourself on the content. Your students will thank you.
  2. Every Sunday night, make sure you are fully prepped for the upcoming week. While morning refreshers are nice, it is better to be fully prepared in case you do not have the time.
  3. Grade immediately! As soon as those essays (or tests) start coming in, start grading them! Do not, I repeat DO NOT, put off grading. It will severely bite you in the rear end at the end of the semester.
  4. Have a Clear and Concise Rubric that you share with the class. This will not only give them direction on what to aim for in their essays, but it will make grading easier on you. In my opinion, no teacher should grade off a “gut-feeling.” Essays can only be graded evenly when being graded against the same scale.
  5. Plan easier lessons during the semester where there is less assignments. This provides breaks for both your students and yourself. During these times, go have fun! (Or more realistically, catch up on the grading that you keep putting off).

There you have it, my five “Welcome Back” tips for professors and teachers alike!

I wish you all the best!


College Writing Tips

College Writing Tip: Go to Class

This might seem a little redundant right?

Well let me tell you a story. When I was substituting at my local high school, one of my senior students told me, “I can’t wait to go to college, it’s gonna be so much better than this place!”

I responded, “You’re right, it will be better, but it is also going to be harder. No one is going to force you to go to class, no one is going to care if you show up or not.”

“Awesome! Then I’ll actually have freedom!”

“That’s true, you will have freedom. You’ll have the freedom to not take your classes seriously, you’ll have the freedom to skip, and you’ll have the freedom to fail subjects that you are more than capable of passing.”

Of course, in true senior fashion, this student shrugged off my warning, but I do hope that they will come to remember it. This semester, I had a student miss over 50% of my class. When it came to the end of the semester and he was failing, he could not understand why regardless of how much I stressed class attendance and participation.

According to CSION PR Newswire (read full article here) students skip class for the following reasons:

This data—consisting of nearly 1.1 million tweets—provided Class120 with an unprecedented look into why students skip class, with five primary reasons becoming clear:

  • Hanging with Friends: 37 percent of the Twitter posts referenced skipping class to spend more time with their friends.

  • Too Tired: 32 percent of students tweeted that they were sleeping or too tired to go to class.

  • Recreation: 17 percent of students indicated a specific recreational event or activity that took precedence over attending class. There were a vast number of specific events mentioned, including sports, watching television and playing video games.

  • Studying: 11 percent of students mentioned being too busy with other school work to attend class.

  • Weather: three percent of students’ posts cited the weather—whether too beautiful or too unpleasant—as the reason they skipped.

As a professor and a teacher, I really do get it. Sometimes going to class sucks, there are days when I would rather be at the beach, or Disneyland, or sleeping, or working on my books, but it is my job to teach and it is the student’s job to attend.

I encourage every student out there to attend classes regularly! You really have no idea what you miss when you miss repeatedly.

Attending is a HUGE part of Succeeding! – KaylaAnn


© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Blogs / Life

First Semester of Teaching – Told Through GIFS

Whelp, that is it! After turning in my grades, I have successfully completed teaching my first semester at the college, undergraduate level!

And let me tell you, it was quite the roller coaster ride, filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, and even one startling loop-de-loop! I think the only way I can adequately describe what it was like is through GIFs, so enjoy my journey as told through GIFs.

Week One is filled with excitement for both the teacher and the students. Students are well-behaved and the teacher is ready to go!

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That First Month is really all about finding your groove. Who are you as a teacher and what do your students need from you? Some days you go home thinking “I totally nailed it!” Other days, you kinda feel like this:

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By the time you hit the Second Month, you finally feel like you’ve got it all figured out and things are going pretty well!

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However, it’s about that Third Month where you start to hit bumps in the roller coaster as students just kind of stop showing up.

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Thanking God that there is a Spring Break in the Spring Semester!

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Lastly there’s that Final Fourth Month which is pretty rough, you’ve got students who missed the first half of the semester and they keep asking about material that you covered weeks ago. . .

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Finals Week

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That’s pretty much how the semester goes, but regardless of the hardships I love teaching! My favorite moment this year was when a student came up to me after the last class and said,

I just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed this class a lot better than the one I took last semester. You’re a great teacher and actually made the class interesting.

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Seriously though, I will never forget that.

Oh and just for fun because I also did some substituting at a local high school and really, all I need is one gif to explain how those days go.

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