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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

All the Feels

Four events today.

These events are happening all over the world in many classrooms. And they are why so many teachers love their jobs. 

Today as each event happened I paused, breathed and was thankful.

Event One: A sweet girl snuck over to me during the math lesson and whispered to me "I like being with you." My response? "I like being with you, too."

Event Two: A compassionate girl accidentally called me Mom, fixed it and went on. This has happened before, but NEVER this early in the year.

Event Three: As we were saying good-bye, a boy hugged me and said "I love you Mrs. Bartel." "I love you, too."

Event Four: A good-bye kiss on my cheek from another awesome Kinder while his mother looked on and smiled. 

It is good to know that our kids are cared for, and loved while in someone else's charge.

Teaching is tough. Standards. Data. Protocols. 

When the days start wearing me down, I will remember today. I will remember that teaching is more than standards. Teaching is a work of heart. Mine and theirs.

How do you stay positive on your tough days?

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Am I Doing It Wrong?

I have been asking myself this question a lot these last 6 days.

This is why...
1. I have left school by 4 (or 4:30 when I had a staff meeting) all week long.
2. I'm not falling asleep at 6:30 each night.
3. I do not feel panicked about school.

Sure, there is more that I could do.

Sure, I'm tired, but I can still watch some tv and talk to my family after supper.

Sure, I think about school a lot.

But, I'm not wearing "freak out" pants this year. I feel calm on the inside, which is a good thing. 

And as I left today, I saw my student. We smiled, we waved, I said "see you tomorrow" and kept walking. Three seconds later I heard the sweet voice (and I knew who the voice belonged to!!!) "bye Mrs. Bartel." So wonderful. We have been together for a mere 7 half days and I already feel like I know the kids (just a tiny bit about the academics, but so much more).

I think this is going to be my Best Year Yet!
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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My 17th First Day

The excitement was the same. But the nerves were different.

So many good things happened today. I am thankful for so much.


1. 21 wonderful Kinder Kids (I finally have a name for them!!!)


2. A donated mini trampoline for my classroom.

3. $25 gift card for my classroom.


4. Nobody cried today (me included).

5, Leaves for my tree from a good friend.

6. Smiles and support from my tribe, BTPSM (best teaching partner soul mate), and my school.

7. Kinder Kids Parents that are kind, friendly and eager to know me.

This is going to be the best year yet!
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Saturday, August 13, 2016

And My Journey Continues

My journey began at my birth, I was living it.

My journey shifted when I started college, and again when I had my first child.

My journey is mine. I love every peak and valley, because I learn there. And each bit I learn gets me ready for the next part.

Conscious Discipline has been an influencer in the way I see my own children (and the ones I see at school). I'm thankful for the friends that have been a guide and showed me a different way.

Background knowledge is critical in learning something new. Because I have these rungs of information and years of practice I am able to grasp on to other, maybe "out there" ways of thinking.

School is an academic environment. Obvious, right? But what if the students can't learn the way I teach? That's when I employ "differentiation." But what if the student still struggles, and it goes deeper? What if the struggle is related to stress in his life. Can I differentiate for that as well?

Stress. I have to recognize my own stress, and deal with it (appropriately, thanks Conscious Discipline). And then I can begin to recognize it in my students and teach them ways to deal with it (thanks Conscious Discipline). 

But what if the stress is bigger than that. Toxic Stress? How will I help? How will I even understand it?

As part of professional development yesterday, we watched Paper Tigers. Sure, it was a documentary of a high school in Washington state, but there are so many applications for me (in kindergarten in the middle of Kansas).

*constant stress=inability to learn because of continued fight/flight response of living in the brain stem
*drugs and behaviors are possibly used to cover up the feelings, because feelings are scary and difficult to process
*look deeper, not at the behavior, but the something that is causing the behavior
*avoid judging the outward behavior, show compassion, show a different way to express feelings

I am so excited to continue this journey, my journey, to be the teacher for others that I would wish for my own children.
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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

On Being Enough

--What will other's think?

--Was it (whatever it may be: a lesson, a meal, a conversation) good enough?

--I want my classroom to be "just right." (AKA perfect in my mind.)

These are thoughts that I sometimes have. Not always, but sometimes. 

Summer is a season of time. So much time to see other teacher's accomplishments, projects, ideas and work (Facebook groups are good for this). It is easy to compare my life to what I see in others'. And feel not good enough.

I'm going to stop. It's going to be a journey. But I will be courageous and do my best. What I really want is connection.

And truthfully, of all the teachers that I know (near and far) no one is out to "be better than someone else." They all want to do their best, be connected with others, and maybe share/collaborate.

Here is my new goal for the year: When I start to feel "not enough" or that I am comparing, I will stop and find a way to make a connection. 

It's going to be a fantastic year!!!
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Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Content

Here it is...

The Content from my amazing 4 days last week. I could spend time talking about what I learned:

**Kagan Cooperative Learning versus Group Work
**PIES
**Class builders
**Team builders
**Structures
**Social skills
**Management
**Teams

I'm sure I will have plenty to say after I "experiment" on my next class. 

For now I want to read more. Talk it over with my Teammates and BTPSM (best teaching partner soul mate). And start my planning.

But I want to share a fantastic resource. Vickie @ Primary Press has several amazing blog posts about using Kagan Cooperative Learning in her kindergarten classroom. When I go to her blog I get swept away. Hopping from post to post. Be sure to find the posts with "Kagan" or "Cooperative Learning."

And maybe someday, when there is more money, my district will send me to a training in Florida. I would love to attend Kagan Structures for Little Ones, but I would also love to attend a a week-long institute

It may be summer, but I am off to learn and make some lists!
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Friday, June 10, 2016

Evolving

 I learn. I grow. I learn more, I grow again.

I am a life-long learner. I am a year-long learner.

My brain craves new knowledge.

I could write about the content from the last week (and I will get to that in a future post), but I can't even process that until I process how I feel about the week of training.

It was a 4-day training. After day 2, I felt the relationship with the presenter (and at that point, I was ready and eager to do whatever she asked), and I was ok with the other "students." If the year would have progressed like that, I would have considered it a success.

But what happened the next two days was even more amazing.

The presenter didn't let it stop there.

She kept teaching the content (which she knew very well) and she continued to have class building and team building activities. Some were for fun, and some were to review or process the content or analyze our own thinking.

And because of the class and team building I found myself changing. I have friends now that I didn't before. Friends that I will support and stand with. I have a new understanding for how different learners may experience an activity or classroom, because while I was learning the content, I was also observing the teacher and other students. Fascinating.

When I left yesterday I was sad. I will miss the 30 people in the room. Some I may not see in the future, others occasionally. Some I will work with closely, other not as much. I'm not as sad now.

Now, I'm happy that it happened. 

Those 4 days changed me. I will continue to evolve. I'm eager to see the path as it unfolds.

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