What a Productive Spring Break!

This Spring Break was so needed! I honestly can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a school break so much. Between good weather, good health, and over all good times, it was exactly what it was supposed to be! It was a chance to relax, spend quality time with family and friends, do activities, and check off some to-do’s from my list. Where shall I begin?

Of course, I hosted Easter, and we actually had a few more guests than I originally anticipated, which was fine, and I actually had too much food, which I was stressing about when I agreed to take the extra family on. But it all worked out, the weather was beautiful, and the kids all had a great time. They did an Easter egg hunt, and we even got a surprise: a robin laid eggs in her nest in the kids’ playhouse.

As for non-academic goings-on, we took the kids to see Sonic the Hedgehog 2, went to the beach for the first time this season (woo hoo!), and surprised the kids with a trip to Monster Jam! The kids had their first softball game and little league practices, and my daughter got to have a sleepover with her cousin. We took down two huge cedars that were leaning ominously towards my deck, and the future site of our pool. I planted all my herbs and veggie seeds.

And we (my sister and I) got a huge chunk accomplished at my dad’s house. Out with the old couch, which was quite literally falling apart, and in with the “new” (a hand-me-down from my mother-in-law, but it freed up room in her basement, and fit perfectly in my dad’s living room. Two birds, one stone, right?) We also managed to excavate his bedroom, and uncovered his bed, which was covered in a mini-mountain of crap for longer than I’d care to admit. And out of this accomplishment, I also incorporated a new scene into my thesis project, which I slowly chipped away at.

While in my mind I should have been more productive, I think I still made good progress towards my thesis goals. Better to shoot for the moon, right? I got a nice chunk of scenes added to Ch. 8, as well as beginning Ch. 9, which will be my character’s “descent” literally and, hopefully, figuratively. I also accomplished adding more information to my Preface to better explain my methodology and what this piece adds to the academic applications of “speculative memoir” as a redefined genre.

I even managed to knock out my next two weeks of lesson plans, so I don’t have to stress about them when I’m finishing up my thesis work over these final two weeks.

I can honestly say that I’m happy with how this Spring Break went, soup to nuts, personally, professionally, and academically. 🙂

Good Work Never Comes Easy!

Pitch within yourself.

A jarring quote in isolation, without the context of who said it (Tom Seaver), and in what context (the MLB in reality, as life advice in my case.) In elementary school, I had this scribbled on the inside of all my notebooks and journals and practiced saying it in all sorts of tones with all sorts of faces in case someone else would ever need this life-changing saying. 

I’d stuck it at the top of my dedication page, as a placeholder, but I don’t think it’ll be changing anytime soon now. In fact, it’ll be good advice for me to keep in mind in the future when I revisit my thesis in the future since I went way beyond anywhere anyone I know, or myself has been to bring this thing to life.

I could go on here forever and a day, but scroll down to read my thesis update.

If I Had My Way, Never Let You Go

Getting to the end of the semester and preparing to power through my remaining thesis concerns and self-assessment is daunting. But, I feel like nothing captures what this point means to me quite like “High and Low” by Empire of the Sun. (Seriously, give it a listen!) I’ll give you a sneak peek of what my self-assessment looks like below!

In my second blog last semester, I mentioned how I knew that no matter what I ended up picking as a thesis topic, in the back of my mind I’d be thinking about all the amazing figures from over the years of my life that played a role in helping me build some grit and sense of belonging; Scott Neidermayer, a huge part of why I grew up to love the game of hockey, the New Jersey Devils, and who taught me that you can play your own way and succeed, Martin St. Louis, who was considered “too small,” was left undrafted, and went on to have an unparalleled career, David Wright, the heart of the New York Mets, a player with both grit and care, whose retirement brought me to tears, and of course, the great Tom Seaver, baseball’s finest pitcher. 

And while I never thought I would do anything that qualified me to feel like I’ve accomplished something like they have, I think that I’m starting out on that path. All things considered, this thesis process didn’t go as smoothly or perfectly as I would have liked, and since it wasn’t a project completed in isolation, there was always the self-imposed pressure of trying to “measure up” to either the creativity, research prowess, and work ethic of everyone around me. But reviewing the past few months, I definitely pitched well outside of myself. In a matter of months, I had to learn all the basics, footholds, intricacies, and controversies within a major field of study outside the scope of the current program while also balancing the responsibilities of a job and all my other, immediate coursework for my degree. I had to figure out how to accurately, yet interestingly portray forensic linguistics, and I had to move mountains to find resources that gave me perspective on application, and not just theory. All of this cut the typical writing time down from two semesters to a little less than a whole one, and while that pressure got to me, it just reminded me of what my younger self would have said; pitch within yourself. In this case, it meant looking at the mess and figuring out what my greatest personal strengths were, and how they could help in this situation. And two immediately came to mind; honesty and perseverance. Sure, it stings knowing it isn’t going to be over when I thought it was going to be, but it’s better than crashing, burning, and feeling unsatisfied by rushing through things. And as far as perseverance goes, I’m still typing and generating content at a decent rate. If I had to pick a player comparison looking at the end of the road, it wouldn’t be any of the heavyweights up above, but maybe someone like Ray Whitney

I doubt anyone is surprised that there are a ton of hockey and baseball references in my self-assessment, and I doubt anyone is itching to go Google every legend I mentioned above! In regards to my actual thesis, yes, I produced a few more pages and churned out a side story that was based on real-life events (forensic linguists make great matchmakers, FYI!). But, I took the time to outline the organization of my thesis to step out for a second and see what needs to be built up and what needs to get started. Take a look! 

Thesis Organization Outline

  1. Dedication Page
  2. Introduction (Doubles as a research proposal)
  3. Literature Review + Methodology (
  4. Brief Character Bios + Setting Overview 
  5. Stories One, Two, and Three 
  6.  Author’s Note and “Conclusion” 

Put My Life Over My Right Shoulder With Confidence

It only feels right to round off with something as upbeat and reminiscent of happy childhood summers as “Hey Driver” by Lucky Boys Confusion, and with some more of Tom Seaver’s wisdom; “The concentration and dedication – the intangibles are the deciding factor between who won and who lost.”

See ya later today!

Sunday Thoughts

Everyone around me is done with their thesis, and I can’t wait to be there. I can’t wait to feel that feeling of satisfaction. Or will I even feel satisfied? 

For now, all I feel is sheer fear that I’ll never finish. I keep battling the need to be perfect for moving on. I have a hard time writing the next part or next chapter until the previous one feels perfectly complete. 

I’m struggling with the last two chapters. I don’t know what I want to write or how I want to end this. I’ve been at this point for the previous two weeks. I almost thought about keeping just eight, but I know this project doesn’t feel complete. I need a closing chapter, something to tie things together. 

I just want to complete all my writing by the due date. Let’s change the tone. I will complete all my writing by the due date. Wish me luck!

Almost There

We are almost there, with just four meetings left, and just 3 weeks to go. In other words we are on the homestretch, and all of you should be in “final revision details” mode. At this stage, I am here just to help clarify any last questions you may have, and to see you through any final submission questions.

Here is a run down of our final dates in terms of thesis class:

  • Apr 18 F2F Bailey; conference check-in
  • Apr 25 F2F Teethee; conference check-in; Self-publishing tips from Jessie 
  • May 2  F2F Conferencing
  • May 4 F2F Office Hours 
  • May 9 F2F MA Thesis SUBMISSION

Thank you to Diana for a wonderful read through of both her “preface” or “forward” (depending on your definition), as well as the glimpse of some of her more recently developed chapters. Her project has really come so far. Her work has diligently and intentionally opened up a new genre to understand – that of “speculative memoir”. The hallmark of Diana’s storytelling is a rich combination of meaningful reflection, lucid description, and the personal. “Everything Must Go” is a tribute to both her writing talent but also her courage to anticipate painful transitions that are inevitable in life. As she uses her gift of writing to face head on such pain, we come to recognize, in a new way, the power of writing to help process and grapple with our real lives. Congratulations on such a beautiful project Diana!

I look forward to wrapping up our presentation series with Bailey this week, and Teethee next week. We will also hear from Jessie next week after Teethee’s presentation. She will share with us some self-publishing knowledge she has gained. And the final class time in early May will be devoted to office hours style check-ins.

See you soon!

Dr. Zamora

Four Weeks Left…

So close to the end, so many things to do…

I’m stuck with chapters 9 & 10. I’m not sure how I want to end this; I know I want this memoir to be continued even after graduate school is over, but for the sake of this thesis, I have to figure out how I want to close it out. 

Since I’m stuck, I started working on the introduction. List of things I want to complete in the remaining four weeks:

  1.  Finish memoir (Chapters 9 +10)
  2. Finish Introduction 
  3. Include Content Page

Things I will do in the month before the summer writer’s retreat:

  1. Complete Literature Review
  2. Work on aesthetics (cover page, adding folktales, abstract, etc.)

Aah! My REAL Spring Break!

Wow. This week has been an absolute whirlwind! I hosted Easter this year, and preparing for a holiday was very stressful. My husband took a million overtimes, so I had no help all week. Saturday was spent cleaning my house like a banshee, and today, as after every party we throw, I’m looking around and wondering why I even bothered? The kids tore through their Easter baskets, leaving a trail of destruction behind them. The cat knocked over my plant on the windowsill, a baby lemon tree I’ve been growing for a year now, from a seed, and shattered the pot it was in. And while I was meaning to repot it, anyway, yesterday was not the day!

This week I was doing a lot of cooking, and cleaning, and planning, but not a whole lot of writing. Although I did go through the notes you all so graciously wrote from last week, and I’ve been dong some minor edits here and there. (Thanks, Sun, for the suggestion to feed Marie! She took a detour into the fridge, actually, so that suggestion yielded a nice paragraph.) But besides those minor edits and cleanups, I didn’t really generate any large, substantial swaths. (At least for my own project- once again, though, I did write a lot to help out my husband for an upcoming interview. And it’s annoying how much I can write for others, how much I can do for others in general, while back-burner-ing my own stuff…)

Nonetheless, my project was still at the forefront, conversationally. Two separate chats with my sister were about topics that she brought up, to which I replied, “It’s funny you mention that. I was actually just writing about that in my project.” And for the first time since I started this journey, my husband actually asked about my project. Like, in detail. He was genuinely interested, and asking questions and wanting to know about it. And that made me feel good. Like my work was relevant and interesting. (I mean, I think it’s relevant and interesting, and I know within the context of class it is, but it’s also something important to me to be acknowledged in the context of my family.)

But I have a whole week ahead of me with no work, and my focus is really going to be to make considerable progress on my thesis. Let’s see how far I can get…

I Think I Can…

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I think I am done with all of the writing and editing for my thesis project. I have all of my files saved, edited, color coded with notes for my designer, and I am ready to send them off to her for design.

It almost feels surreal to have this project at this stage. I am very excited. I spent the past week writing and rewriting and then finally using most of my original introduction for my project. I also wrote the glossary for the guide. I used a lot of the suggestions from the class, but some of the terms will have to be saved for the revision or publication of the actual guide.

I have attached the glossary below if anyone would like to take a peek. See y’all tomorrow.

The Other 175 Days of School 

The New Teacher’s Guide to Creating an Interpersonal Classroom’s Glossary

Teacher jargon and teaching acronyms are sometimes hard to keep track of. Below are just a few of the terms used in this guide. Be sure to keep a list of the words or phrases that you will need in the future. 

CP (college prep) – a course level of students who are mostly able to read and write at or below grade level and mostly behave Monday through Thursday.

CST (Child Study Team) – The child study team is a mysterious group of people that you will not encounter or learn about until you get an email or notification in your mailbox from them regarding a student that you probably didn’t know had a learning disability or other handicap. The child study team consists of a few important people including a school psychologist, a social worker, a learning disabilities teacher-consultant (LDTC), and any other professionals deemed appropriate by the school’s chief administrator or board of education.

Do Now – a task or writing prompt given to students at the beginning of the period to give students a preview of the days lesson. Also known as the five minutes you must get your teacher life together, take attendance, write passes, get your board to work, and give out papers.

Formative Assessment – classroom participation, quizzes, classwork, homework, etc. given in the middle of a teaching a unit.

Honors – a course level of students who are expected to be able to read and write at or above grade level and behave Monday through Friday. Occasionally, you will have a student outburst or a stowaway who was behaved their way into honors. 

ICS (In Class Support) – a mainstream classroom that has two teachers, one regular education and one special education teacher, that should teach all students equally while accommodating students’ particular needs according to their IEPs. Also, a course level of students where some students can read and write at or below grade level and occasionally behave Tuesday through Thursday, no promises.

IEP (Individualized Education Plan) – A student’s individualized education plan (IEP) is one that needs to be fulfilled by both the special education teacher and the regular education teacher. This plan has been created by the child study team and or other important members of the school staff to accommodate students with a disability who need specialized instruction and related services.

IB (international baccalaureate) – a course level of students who are expected to be able to read and write above grade level and behave Monday through Friday. However, this is an all-inclusive program, and any student can enter the IB program. Modifications and adaptations must be made by the IB teacher to accommodate all learners and get them to perform to IB standards on a variety of written and oral assessments.

I&RS (Intervention and Referral Services) – Intervention and Referral Services, commonly referred to as I&RS, is a program that many schools have to help teachers with students who are struggling with behavioral or academic issues.

Medical 504 – A 504 Plan ensures that a child with an identifiable disability will receive accommodations that will allow them to achieve academic success and access to the learning environment of their peers.

RTI (Response to Intervention) – This is a program to support students in the regular education classroom. This program is used to address issues that students have in terms of behaviors or academics. The program starts with an experienced teacher, intervention strategies within the classroom by the teacher, and then leads to building a support system for the student with additional staff members. 

Pre-assessment – a task given before a period of instruction to gauge student abilities.

PLEP (Present Level(s) of Educational Performance) – a form that will need to be filled out by staff members to monitor student progress prior to a student evaluation.

Pull-Out – when a teacher or coach pulls one or several students out of the classroom to support students academically or emotionally.

Push-In – when a teacher or coach pushes into a classroom to support students academically or emotionally

RACE Response or RACE(CE) (Restate Answer Cite Explain [Cite Explain]) – a response method for students responding to short answer questions. Once students can master this method of response, they can write longer responses and essays. Students will restate the question, answer the question, cite evidence from the text or paraphrase, and then explain their evidence.

Rubric – a document used to assess student performance on tasks that should be reviewed with students before, during, and after an assignment.

SGO (Student Growth Objective) – an intimidating acronym that really means a pre, formative, and summative assessment of student performance on a set of student learning standards. You will select two skills, reading and writing, to assess students on before, during, and after a period of learning. ore, during, and after a period of learning. You will document this data on an excel spreadsheet or other data collection platform to report to your administration.

Summative Assessment – project, essay, oral presentation, etc. given at the end of a teaching unit.

Think Aloud – a task where the student or teacher explains their thinking process on a particular assignment and others listen to the thought process.

Tracked – various levels of the same course (IB, honors, college prep, ICS, resource)

WALT (We are learning to) – an acronym used to create student friendly objectives. Ex.) We are learning to write RACE paragraphs by completing the RACE outline with textual evidence.


Not much to report these days, as my thesis journey has come to an end. No more editing, and the website is up and running. However, I’m still looking into making a book. I’ve been watching more bookbinding tutorials and even put together a sample book, and I’m happy with the way it looks. I ordered all the materials I need from Paper Source and Etsy, and hopefully they will come in by early next week, so I can get started on the real thing as soon as possible. 

I know the next two weeks will be very busy and stressful for those of you who are still working. I’m sending out encouraging vibes and wishing you luck as you near the finish line.

Black and White

This week, my blog will be focusing on Diana’s thesis-in-progress presentation. I really enjoyed it and thought she did a wonderful job at bringing the characters to life. The way she writes is very similar to my preference, in terms of being descriptive and allowing the reader to envision what she imagines as a writer. I am looking forward to reading her thesis and hopes that she decides to publish it once she’s ready. The images she starts each chapter with is my favorite part of what she shared with us, and I start realizing more and more the power and impact a black and image can have. Its simplicity has so much to say.

Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com

I am also glad that I have been given the responsibility to share with my peers my experience of self-publishing on Amazon. I intend to do that on our “last” class after all the presentations are done, and I hope that my understanding of it will help the writers in our graduating Class of 2022 to publish and have their work out there for people to purchase and enjoy. In the meantime, I encourage my classmates to write down any specific questions they have in the two weeks so that I can make sure I can help everyone to the best of my ability. Also, my personal copy of my novel finally came in on Saturday, and I got the hardcover version for myself and my family. My mom has started reading the book, with the foreword completed. She just entered Chapter 1, since she already read the short story and skipped it. I also used black and white images. I wanted to use color, but just like Diana’s work, maybe sometimes color can create confusion and divert the reader form what you really want them to see. The images I felt looked best without color were the ones I kept in the book. And maybe, just maybe, the beauty will show in something as straightforward, obvious and unambiguous as black and white.

A Month to Go

I feel like I have not blogged in forever! This is due to me being sick the past few weeks. I did not attend class on March 28, 2022, and class was canceled on April 4, 2022. I am glad that I am now feeling better. I am not sure what I had as every other day, I took a COVID-19 test (rapid and PCR), and they all came out negative. I was thankful for this, but also very confused. For roughly two weeks straight, I was sick with a stuffy and runny nose, congestion, cough, and a loss of voice. I thought I could play doctor and concoct a variety of medicines, but nothing was working between Mucinex, Alka Seltzer, TheraFlu, and DayQuil! I had to give in and go to doctors, and it wasn’t until they put me on antibiotics. Fortunately, whatever “cold” I had went away after taking antibiotics.

Being that I did not spend too much time on my thesis while sick, it put me back. May 9, 2022, is right around the corner. Truthfully, I am at the point where I need to eat, breathe, and sleep my thesis! This week I really want to hone in on the intersectional feminist perspective of work-life balance. This is the section of my thesis that needs the most work. Next week, I would like to edit and finalize my literature review with the addition of finalizing my personal narrative, which should not be as bad or painful, should I say.

I do not plan on reading anything from my thesis for my presentation. Hearing everyone else present and do well is great, but I get nervous that I am not where I should be, so I would like to avoid all possible feelings of anxiety. So instead, I would like feedback on some of the ideas that I have in place for finalizing my thesis.