Sunday, August 31, 2014

Really Going This Time

Remember last Sunday? When I was shy about going to a party?

Well, I got all dressed up (aka wrote a blog post) and waited around all day to go in (aka link up) and... I was a week early!!!!!

That's ok. I still had fun. But today, I really am going to this party.

Michelle @ Big Time Literacy is our lovely hostess. Be sure to check out her letters and the others' as well.

Dear Jillian Michaels,
I know it's been a while. And I've got reasons (aka excuses), but now I'm back. This morning was hard, but I feel better for it. See you tomorrow!
Sincerely, Time to get in shape (again)

Dear Sister,
Glad we are closer together and can talk more frequently. I'm eager to do stuff with you during Christmas vacation, make you laugh in person and watch our favorite movies.
Love, Your Sister

Dear Blooming Stuff,
It's time for you to go away. I'm done with a runny, stuffy nose and not feeling the best. I know a lot of people at my school feel the same way. We do not love what you do to us. Please go away, do not pester other people, and do not come back.
Sincerely, A Wishful Thinker

Dear Sons,
It makes me happy to see you participate in fall sports. Good luck this season!!
Love, Your Mom

Dear Husband,
Thank you so much for making lunch and supper yesterday while I waded through a HUGE list of blogs to read and worked on school plans. I loved the ribs and steaks.
Love, Wife

Dear Week Ahead,
Let's rock this!
--An Excited Teacher
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Friday, August 29, 2014

Five for Friday (8-29-14)

Anyone else tired?

Haven't read your favorite blogs in two weeks?

Are sleep deprived (even after a big weekend of sleeping)?

Good, glad I am not alone!!

How about a game of catch-up? 

Also known as...What did we do this week?

1. Monday

Mrs. Jones helped both first grade classes plant part of our fall garden. They planted turnips and radishes (we--and by that I mean, Mrs. Jones and the kids did it--planted peas the week before), and I read a wonderful book called What's in the Garden? We also talked about pollinators. It was amazing!!

2. Tuesday

Parent Information Night. I used to stress out about this night. But now, I'm like, "I'll say some stuff, then give them a chance to look around the room." They mostly want to see the space the kids are calling "home" from 8-3 Monday - Friday.

3. Wednesday

I started a new read aloud. The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl. I love this book. And I am good at reading it with great expression, fluency and strategic pauses. I had the kids eating out of my hand while I was almost whisper reading. The quieter I got, the quieter they got. It was MAGIC!! I read half on Wednesday, and then finished it on Thursday. It's a short and quick read. And today we watched a video of the book. The video version went fast, so having read it first really helped.

4. Thursday

A fun lion landed in my room. The teacher I student taught with (21 years ago) sent the little guy to me via her daughter who is a teacher in my school. How sweet and thoughtful. (The giver of the lion came to my school for a tour today--I forgot to say thank you. No matter how old I am, I am always the student around her, I get nervous around her...)

5. Friday

It rained this morning, which made our playground/sand area wet. Good thing all the kids have boots in their lockers. They wore them to recess, no wet or sandy shoes. Fantastic.

Next up is to link with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her five for friday linky party. See you next week. (Unless I find more energy before then.)

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Morning Letters

Sometimes I'm shy. Sometimes I am not.

Today I am going to a party and will mingle with some people, instead of standing by the wall and waiting for someone to talk to me.

I already know some people that will be there... My good friend Michelle at Big Time Literacy (don't you just love her blog name?) is the hostess. And my friend Em from Curious Firsties is already there.

So, here goes...

Dear First Graders,
This week I will do a better job of practicing the "stuff" that drove me crazy last week. Your smiles and hugs are fantastic and I already feel like we are in this together. Hopefully you will get over your fevers and be up to full speed soon. Can't wait for tomorrow!!
Your Teacher

Dear Mrs. Jones,
Thank you for working up the garden so that the kids can plant the fall garden seeds tomorrow. I love that you do the hard work while I get to sit around and find lessons on the Maryland Agriculture Education Foundation website to use this week.
Thankfully yours,
Mrs. Bartel

Dear Sons,
I am so lucky that you are old enough to take care of yourselves. It's not easy to have a mom that crashes on the couch at 7 pm, and I thank you that you let me sleep off my exhaustion. This week will be better????
Your Mom

Dear Guitar,
I have neglected you. I'm sorry. We need to find someone who will work with us, someone who can differentiate the instruction so that we can be successful. 
A Music Wan-a-be

Do you have letters to write this morning?????

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Monday, August 18, 2014


I love my drive to work!

My school is about 13 miles away. Just about a 16 minute drive. Enough time to "Get my head in the game."

This morning's drive was fabulous! I was jamming to my favorite Mamma Mia! song (When all is said and done), singing my heart out, and knowing that this was going to be a GREAT Monday.

Three miles out--BAMM! A bird crashed into my windshield wiper.

Accckkkkkk. Iiiiiiiiccccccck. Aaaaaaaaaaa!

It would not leave. Oh no--is this my day now?

How in the world am I going to get this bird off my windshield, and by me I mean -- who else will do it for me?

Remember--I have a flaw. I do not like mice. Or other normal farm animals that move rapidly or unexpectedly. This bird was unexpected.

Maybe I could get Mrs. Jones or Mrs. Roux to get it off for me...

But as soon as I set a foot into the school I promptly forgot about the bird. I didn't even remember it when I went out to dismiss the kids at the end of the day.

Until I was headed out at 5 pm. Walking toward the van I started thinking about what it might look like (if I was brave and looked), what it might smell like (it was 95 degrees today--enough to cook that bird), and how was I going to get rid of it.

It was there, I glanced. Left it. Drove home.

Called the menfolk to meet me in the driveway.

Convinced one of them to remove the bird. He got it as far as under the front wheel and left it.

Got a different menfolk to move it to underneath some trees.

Now, who will wash the fluid streak that is on my windshield?

Anyone, anyone???
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Last PD day before the start of school today.

Just imagine two hundred educators crowding into a cafeteria, some by choice, others by administrator's choice and learning the first parts of Responsibility-Centered Discipline (RCD).

Classrooms still need to be set up. Lesson plans need to be created. Phone calls and meetings with other stake holders need to be made and kept.

So--who has time for this?

Our presenter suggested that (in not so many words) we have to make time for this. I'm glad I did.

As teachers, if we struggle with knowing curriculum we get support and help. Yes!

If we struggle with assessment and instruction we get support and help. Yes!

But what about real support and help for classroom management? I know I have been talking about it for 20 years.

About 9 years ago I happened on to CD. It shifted my way of thinking. It was hard. I had to own my own "stuff." No more blaming my kids (or my) behavior somewhere else.

Like I said--HARD! Truly a brain shift that continues to evolve for me.

So my background knowledge was crucial for me today. It allowed me to HEAR what the presenter was saying. Process parts of it. Practice parts of it and not feel goofy, because honestly, I've been practicing this for 9 years. Not using his terms, but it's such a similar idea to CD that it is [insert the Oprah voice here] AWESOME!!

I'm amazed (but not really) about how smoothly Conscious Discipline (CD) fits into RCD. 

Many concepts were repeats of what I heard last Friday (and the numerous other CD trainings I have been to). How cool is that?!?!

**I need techniques that stop behaviors and increase the students' effort.

**In all that I do, do not damage the student/teacher relationship. 

**Mirror neurons

**When the brain is under attack, it rallies support and shuts down learning. 

**As a situation gets bigger, I must get smaller. 

**I want to become a Master of Challenging Moments. 

**I am so glad that my student teacher could be there today. (How might this impact her student teaching experience or future jobs?)

And--I've never said this before about ANYTHING--I'm excited about the prospect of being coached in RCD this year.

I'll let you know how that turns out for me...

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Feeling Refreshed

Like many friends I headed to "work" today. 

We've been "working" all summer, but today was Paid Work.

I was in four different large group meetings today. (And that was all we had time for. If there had been more time, there would have been more meetings...)

These are some notes that I jotted down...

1. I miss Billy and Allison. (I wondered what they were doing today and when I would see them again...)

2. How cool that we are teachers. Kids WANT to come see us. (What other profession has kids wanting to see them? Orthodontist? Doctor?)

And I will leave you with three... Three things that I am looking forward to tomorrow...

1. Finishing my word wall and alphabet board.

2. Lunch with my teacher friends.

3. Putting away a counter full of STUFF.

Hope you have something to look forward to tomorrow...

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Five for Friday (August 8, 2014)

Hello weekend!! I started this week by ending my vacation to Indiana and Michigan and jumping head-long into classroom preparation with a mix of doctor appointments for my sons. Busy!

Today was a fantabulous day. My last unpaid day of the summer and I spent it in a training, not getting paid. But it was oh, so worth it.

I bonded with the teaching staff at my school. I reviewed some things and learned some others. I made commitments for my classroom.

This is just a snap shot of the day... Five for Friday style.


My school has decided to get started with conscious discipline. Today all the classroom teachers, our sped teacher, counselor and principal were trained in Skill #1--Composure. It was fantastic!

2. Our presenter started the day by showing us How to Make a Bully From Scratch. It is ten minutes long--but so worth it. Go watch it now.

3. I was reminded that connection with children (and grown ups) will lead to cooperation. When someone isn't doing what I want, I need to ask, have I connected with them lately?

4. As the school year approaches--teach routines. What routines do I need to teach? I kinda do this, but could improve A LOT. 

Model (the routine--using the restroom), Map it, Practice it (daily)

What? I should model, map and practice daily? Even after the first couple of days? Yep, I am so going to do this. :)

5. Music. I love how our presenter showed us (by teaching and modeling) how to use songs. For uniting, giving us a break, and energizing us. I have 3 CDs that I use for this, but I don't have Kindness Counts and I really want it. Perhaps Santa will bring it to me...

We are lucky that we will have ongoing training this year (happy dance). This is the first time EVER that someone else is paying for my CD training and that makes me (and my husband) happy. 

Hop on over to Doodle Bugs and read other Five for Fridays--it's fun!

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Saturday, August 2, 2014


August has swept in on me.

It is time for a CURRENTLY from Farley and time to get ready to go back to school.

Good luck to all my friends who have gone back or are getting ready to head back to school.

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