Friday, November 27, 2015

Gratitude Lately

Recently my friend and I have started daily thankful lists. We text our lists to each other just before bed (or the next morning, if we fall asleep before we get it done).

What has this practice taught me? To reflect daily on what I'm thankful for. And to start the day looking for what to write that night. (That was my friend's comment, but I love it also.) 

Many of my lists go like this...

My Family.

My job.

My teacher support network. Both far and near. Those that I know in real life, and those that I wish I knew, but get ideas and inspiration from.

Cozy blankets, delicious drinks, soft lotion,

Often my list is something specific about each of  the above...

My sons who talk to each other, me and my husband and think that it is fun and normal. A student who showed love in a note. Lunch with a friend on a day off of school. A crazy class activity (making pumpkin pie) and coming out on the other side smiling.

There are more. Because when I start being thankful, the list goes on and on...

Michelle, thank you for a linky that gives me space to reflect on what I'm thankful for on this day.


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Thursday, November 5, 2015



Or maybe not. You can decide later, after you hear the story.

Is fear of something the same as not liking something a whole lot? I'm not sure.

I REALLY, really, REALLY do NOT like mice. But I do not think I am afraid of them. Just do not like them. Maybe it is fear. 

Nope. Just dislike.

Moving on... For 3.5 years I have been waiting for this day. Not eagerly, but knew it would happen. A dead mouse made it's presence in my classroom known to me this morning.

The story is long. And not very wonderful.

Except the part with me tearing apart my newly organized space trying to not touch anything and find the source of the smell. Here I was brave.

I was smart enough to document the activity...

And, as my new best friend constructed the removal devise, "I need a picture of this, you're going on the blog tonight." Brave again here.

But when it was time to actually get it, I was screaming, running, and made quite a big scene. Not brave.

Sorry kids who were trying to learn.

I wrote to my students that I was brave. They do not know the details, they were out of the room while the removal happened. 

The rest of the day is a blur. We did stuff. Talked. Learned? Had an extra recess. And I left my wonderful, peaceful, lovely room like this...

I hope to be brave tomorrow and put us (the room and me) back together again.

These monster cookie bars should help!

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Extra Hour

It came.

The email.

At the end of the day canceling the Staff Meeting.

I would have done the Happy Dance, but I was too busy getting stuff done!

See, I listened to Ashely on Periscope last night. (She is from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and really smart...) She was speaking to my heart.

It was all about organization. Sigh. Delightful. Her room is amazing.

So I had ideas about what I would do to make my room more organized, less chaotic.

And I got so much done. I was a work horse! Last one to leave.

I haven't had a teacher desk for 4 years, but still managed (until this year) to clutter up the Teaching Table. Since I'm not cluttering the Table, I am cluttering the bookcase behind the table. 

But this afternoon, the bookcase looks good. My plan book, two folders with important kid info, and the stack of Donor's Choose permission forms that need to be filed. Other papers were recycled or put away (which is her #1 Tip). 

I'd say that was a success.

How about a few photos from last week...

Front of the room...

Middle area...

Back of the room...

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fall Break Begins

Today and tomorrow I am on Fall Break. No schedules, no lesson plans. Just me and my quiet house.

That means that yesterday was a Halloween party in our first grade classroom. Sugar, costumes, a parade, and fun.

A very capable mom (who is a teacher, and a great one) ran the party. All I did was sit and marvel.

Why was I marveling?

Because they were quiet, engaged, and followed Every. Single. Direction that she gave. For 45 minutes she had their attention and admiration. It was like I wasn't even in the room.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not jealous. Seriously.

But this is what I was thinking. (I know, because I quickly jotted it down yesterday and shoved it into my pocket.)

"Do they always sit this quietly? If yes-that's awesome and I need to be ok with some noise when I teach, because it really isn't interfering with the instruction. There is so much engagement. I should video."

The video part--I should video ME teaching, so I can see what the kids are doing that I can't see while I am trying to wrangle some information into 23 wondering/wandering little minds.

I'm getting an idea... Maybe I can write ANOTHER Donor's Choose grant for a GoPro video camera. I have a feeling that watching me would be difficult and great. Both at the same time.

But first, rest, watch bad (and good) tv, drink chai tea, shop with my sister-in-law, and watch my son run at the State Cross Country meet. It's going to be a great 3 more days!

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Post-Conference High

Usually the end of parent-teacher conference days leave me feeling relieved that they are finally over. 

Today is different.

This year is different.

Parents are allies. I've joined them, invited them to join me, in being a daily part of the school experience. That is what is making the difference. It is hard work. It takes time, energy and persistence. But the payoff is amazing.

It's all about the connections. The connections made with the kids, with the parents, and with other teachers.

It's not about what happened last year. It's about this year and how to make it the best possible.

It's not about comparing with another teacher. It's about how to encourage each other, share ideas, and lift each other up.

Tonight I am thankful for all the teachers who have led me, collaborated with me and encouraged me. Tonight I am thankful for the parents who care about their child and work with me to educate their whole child. Tonight I am thankful for 23 first graders who know me very well and give me hugs. smiles and notes. Tonight I am thankful for a family that lets me be the teacher I want to be.

Tonight I am full of gratitude.

That is all.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Reimagining Classrooms

I've been waiting and waiting and waiting. So have my many Internet friends.

This summer I was cruising blogs, and found my way to someone new to me. Kayla Delzer (who blogs at Top Dog Teaching) is a friend of a friend. She seems to know about technology and alternative seating in a classroom (a new favorite of mine). She teaches second grade. She travels and shares ideas. 

And sometime during the summer she gave a Ted Talk. Talk about Big Time!!!

The Talk came out today. I watched it. You should too. It is 14 minutes long. Maybe you will find one idea, tip, or inspiration that will make it worth your time. 

Next time I watch it, I need to have paper handy to take notes. But what is in my head right now, is: we are 15 years into the 21st century, does my classroom and teaching reflect that time, or does it still look like it did when I was in school... 

What did you find in the Ted Talk?

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Letters

Ever think about how our lives shift and change and the things that are important shift and change also?

This morning I have done some of that thinking. I'll reflect a bit on it in some letters.

Dear Local Teacher Tribe,
Thanks for being a group of like-minded adults that can share, cry, pray, and be present for each other. The time we spend together is like a balm on my soul. My soul gets scratched and bruised and you understand. Having a group of people to validate my experience and confirm that it is normal is a big deal. I used to teach in my room and not know what is going on. Now, I have others to talk to, be inspired by, and care for. Teaching is a great profession, but finding a tribe has made a difference in my level of satisfaction of my profession. Take care and see you soon.

Dear Sister,
You make me smile. So glad we have phones and can talk and talk and talk. Hope you have a great week.
Your sister

Dear Autumn,
Thanks for coming back. I've missed you. The air feels wonderful and the sunshine is just perfect. Please stick around for a long time.

Dear Royals,
Please win today.
A Fan

Dear Michelle,
I hope you have a wonderful week. Wouldn't it be great if the Cubs and the Royals end up in the World Series? What a great series that would be.

Time to link up with Big Time Literacy and then enjoy a soccer game and a baseball game.

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