Saturday, August 29, 2015

Parent Information Night

I can talk to and teach and guide little ones all day.

But their parents? That scares me a bit.

So, every year when "Parent Information Night" shows up, I start to get very nervous. 

Two groups of parents, sitting, looking at me, wondering what I have to say.

They are not scary, really, they are loving parents, just like me. But I am supposed to "know' stuff about their kids and teach their kids and I just want to do a good job. And by the end of many days I can't remember what we did or who learned what, and that is the part that is scary.

But this year was/is different. 

I've been keeping daily notes on my grid (see this post), and posting on a class blog about what we've been doing daily. So, I have stuff on the kids, and the parents already know what we did.


I was still scared at Parent Information Night. But when they lined up to talk to me after my "speech," I felt like I knew who their child was, how they learn, what struggles they have, how I've helped them become successful. All because of the notes I've taken, and reread many times in order to be a better teacher.

And they LOVE the class blog. Being able to read about something that we did during the day helps get the conversation started after school. No more "I don't know" or "nothing," because the parents have a word, activity, or something to remind their child.

Let's face it. Parents just want information. They are not criticizing, or telling us what to do. They just want to know that their child is safe and in a place where they are encouraged to make growth (social and academic) every day. 

I can almost look ahead to Parent/Teacher Conferences without a stomachache...

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Welcome Wednesday! I am super pleased to share a photo today. And link up with Miss DeCarbo.

And leave you with a question...

How do you get your students ready to be independent so that you can pull small groups and teach them?

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My Firsties

I think it is a good sign that I adore my students.

All of them.

Without exception.

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Letters on a Sunday Morning

What I'm thinking on this Sunday morning...

Dear Mrs. Jones,
I treasure our time together. Both now and the past. Thanks for teaching me what you are learning. I have your hula hoop in my van that I was supposed to give to you, but I was so involved in our conversation, that I forgot. It'll be waiting until our next lunch together...
Love always,
Mrs. Bartel

Dear Lesson Plan Book,
I will be waving a magic wand over you later this morning. I would appreciate it if you would fill yourself in... 
A Teacher Who Wants to be Prepared

Dear Magic Wand,
When you have completed the lesson plans, please do the vacuuming.
I've been busy with other stuff

Dear Donor's Choose,
Thank you so much for existing! The Hokki stools arrived this week. The kids are loving the wiggle ability and I love that they are red. Be on the look out for the "Thank You Package" soon, and another project...
A Very Grateful Teacher

Dear Big Time Literacy,
I love this linky! I love what I learn from you on all your blog posts. Thanks for reaching out to teachers in your district and all over the world. I wish you the very best school year ever!
Mrs. Bartel

Time to link up or hop over to Big Time Literacy to read more letters.

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Question

I thought I was ready for a full day today. But I'm almost falling asleep. Again.

As I drift off I have a question...

How in the world am I supposed to get "it" all in, and all the "stuff" that I think is first grade appropriate (supervised playing to name just one)? And teach procedures, routines, and that you MUST wash your hands after you use the toilet.

Maybe my dreamland will sort that out for me...

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Five for Friday

I woke up today with a goal.
That goal is: document five parts of my day and link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching.

Here goes:

1. A cold chai tea latte for my drive to work. Not as delicious as the drink yesterday. but a good morning tradition.

2. A beautiful flower from a fabulous firstie.

3. A painting party in first grade.

4. A 7th grade pool party. For my son. I am certainly glad I teach first grade and not middle school. They wore me out!

5. A couch. No picture. but I am certain that teachers the world over are enjoying some R&R this evening. Just. Like. Me.

What five things do you want to remember from today?

Hop on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching and read more Five for Fridays.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Special Drink, A Grid, and Wild Leggings

A special drink...

At "Meet the Teacher" I created the obligatory "All about me" sheet. I got to choose what to include. Because I am the teacher.

I was a little sneaky. You see, I added my favorite drink. Do you see where this is heading?

You know, just in case anyone ever wanted to bring me a drink, they would know that I like chai tea lattes.

Today was my lucky day!!! A very wonderful parent showed up at 2:00 with that special drink. Oh yes, I sipped it right in front of the kids and enjoyed it even after dismissal.

It was lovely.

A grid...

Bowtie Guy was pretty encouraging this past Sunday. He got me excited to keep info on my kids. That I am the expert on these 23 and I need to know it. And let's face it, that is just too much for me to remember in my head. Thankfully he showed and talked about the grid he created to keep track. I whipped one up and started on Monday.

So far I have 4 days of notes. About math. About reading. About behaviors and skills. On all the kids.

I pretty much love looking at the days I've already completed, because there is so much "data." I keep the clipboard with me all the time (with a great pen, of course) and the kids already get that sometimes I just have to stop and write a note. 

It is helpful.

Wild leggings...

I admire the little girls at my school that wear beautiful leggings. It is fun. I want to be fun.

Today I surprised a few folks. And the same girls that I admired told me today that they Love my leggings.

It made me smile, and we all need a smile on a Thursday.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Real Talk

As some of my Periscope friends will say...

this is going to be Real. The straight truth, as I see it.

I've been having trouble getting excited about the new school year. Yes, eager, but excited has not been my most common feeling. And as I reflect on today, the range of emotions is exhausting.

Delighted in the morning to get the last few items crossed off my list to be ready for Meet the Teacher.

Nervous in the afternoon about whether I forgot something.

Panicked later on that I did not have a solid plan for Friday (first day with students).

Tearful throughout the day that my TBFF (Mrs. Jones) was not at school to help me stay centered. 

Relieved at 6:30 pm after meeting every child that will be in my class this year.

And as I was driving home I just started naming the kids, and I felt a smile creep across my face. Then, my smile grew bigger as I realized what that meant. I was already loving my students. And by the end of the day tomorrow, I have a feeling that I will be the Momma Bear teaching and protecting my fabulous firsties. 

Now I am relieved. 

Because there is Love. And where there is Love, there is Peace.

Welcome back to school, my friends. 

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Night Before Contract Starts

And all through the house... I am eager, full of anticipation and uncommonly calm.

As I perused Instagram today I was amazed at how many teachers are starting back tomorrow. So for all of us that start tomorrow, I offer the same words as One Fab Teacher and Sheila Jane Teaching...

Teach Happy, Live Happy, Be Happy

How will I teach happy? I'm pleased that I started a new blog--just for chronicling our days. Originally, this blog was that, but it morphed into something else (and that makes me super happy), so this new blog will be daily (I hope) communication for the parents, with photos and captions. Parents just want to know what is going on, or have a way to jump start a conversation. That is my goal to give timely information.

Now, for living happy... I happened across an article on Twitter about Drama. What I've learned this summer is that there is a lot of drama, all over the place. I want to live a life of Compassion--check out this article... Living and leading a compassionate life will help me have a happy year.

Periscope has been HUGE to me this summer. And by summer I mean, I learned about it in July. Periscope has brought me joy, hope and made my favorite bloggers real. I hear their voices, see them struggle for words as they speak their truth, and am very encouraged by them. So, I will continue to be encouraged, and work to encourage others as well. That is my plan to Be Happy.

I cannot wait to make this my best year yet!

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Books, Books, I Love Books!

Am I a life-long reader? Are you?

Today is the day that Lit Loving Gals is starting the book study on the cool book I have (The Reading Strategies Book), but I just can't start that one until I finish another...

I've had The Book Whisperer on my table, in my bag, in my hands since June 1 and still have a chapter to go. Each time I read some of it I get ALL FIRED UP AGAIN.

Today I feel confused. I want life-long readers to leave my class, but I have to create them, they are not born. I have to create the environment and space for the reading, get rid of the stuff that inhibits the love of reading, and still do all that is expected of me, as a teacher.

Life-long readers do not take an assessment at the end of each chapter or book. They do not read for minuscule details that will be on the test. They read for fun. They recommend books to their friends. If they miss a detail, they can read the book again, or not, it's their choice. 

But how will I know they are reading and comprehending if I do not give a test?

1. Talk with them about the books they read. And keep notes.
2. Give time to read DAILY in class.
3. Make reading an expectation.
4. Teach how to read, build stamina, share books, read aloud, talk about books they will love, be infectious.

So as I begin this last week of summer vacation I have but one wish for the school year. Please, oh please, let reading be reading, and do not ever let "school" get in the way of becoming a life-long reader. 

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