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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Friday, October 2, 2015

Think, Speak, Celebrate

I think a lot.

Sometimes I think too much. Sometimes I should think a little bit more.

Today I was wondering if I became a teacher so I could talk all the time. Because I really talk too much.

Next week my goal is to talk LESS and let the first graders talk more. It's a great goal. Sometimes I talk to fill the space so that the kids can't talk. Yikes, totally need to find a better way.

As I visited with a wise teacher before school today, she reminded me that every improvement (more words read, more time on task, etc) should be celebrated. So this is what I celebrate tonight...

Some tough to love kids and I have started to play at recess. Like tag and hide and seek and laughing and hugging. It started as just a little thing between me and one student. Now it has spread to more.

Most days I feel like Maria von Trapp, skipping around, leading the children, about to burst into song. Other days I feel like the Pied Piper. The kids just follow. I have not asked them to follow, they just do. I feel kinda famous--they want to play with ME. And I am nothing special, just a teacher who wants to create relationships so that teaching is easier.

It may be that I love recess as much as the students do. I look forward to recess. Our game. The laughter. The time when my only agenda is to run and smile and create a space that is contagious.

Tonight I celebrate the kid in me that is connecting to the kid in my students.
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