Saturday, November 5, 2016

Can Teaching Be Like Surgery?

One of my favorite shows is Grey's Anatomy. I don't really like watching the surgeries, but having the medical knowledge really helps me talk with my sister, the BSN! JK, she laughs at me when I try to talk medical and I call her all the time with questions about my family and our health. She is kind and answers all my questions patiently. I think she is the best nurse ever!

Anyway, this week on the show I was struck with the way they train residents. I usually watch the show for entertainment, but this week I found myself making connections to teaching student teachers, and even students.

Let me explain:

What if, instead of modeling how to teach (multiple times) the phonics lesson (that gets a little boring--and I have noticed the young teachers falling asleep), 

1. I model it once, 2. talk my student teacher through it once as she teaches it, and 3. then the student teacher teaches (talks through as another teaches) a student (or other student teacher). All the while I am nearby, ready to assist if someone snips an artery (or gives misinformation).

I'm pretty sure the level of proficiency will increase very quickly.

It's the medical model: See one, Do one, Teach one.

Exciting, huh???

I do not have a student teacher, but I did have a college student for a mini practicum for a couple of hours a week earlier this year. She is finished now, and I wish I could do it over. Sure, she learned, but did I help her get to a level of proficiency that would be most helpful to her in her teaching career? Probably not. And she could have had more fun if I had let her do more than SO MUCH OBSERVING and a tiny bit of teaching.

In my defense, I LOVE teaching. But, if I use the above model, I could continue to teach and shape and model the college student to do things "my way." 

Ok, I do not have a college student, and none on the horizon, so I will try this out with some of my Kindergarten students! I'll bet even more excitement in our class and just perhaps the level of proficiency will go up exponentially!

Good news! I just realized that I do this in one tiny part of our day! Our MVP (student leader of the day) leads the class in our alphabet chart (say the character, the sound and action, and the letter name).

So thankful for a weekend to work this plan out even more...
Pin It!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Mathematical Practices--What??

I know there are some. I've read them several times. They are in my math teacher manual. I have them in a flip chart. But do I really understand what they mean?

Nope, not really. Not until yesterday.

Chris Shore from The Math Projects Journal came to my state and gave the keynote at a math conference I went to. Here are some highlights of his talk...

1. Teachers have to have a Growth Mindset. I must believe that kids can do it and that I can get them there. Is this a moment when I keep saying it until I believe it? I've believed that kids can do it, but I have a tough time thinking that I can get them there. Better work on that.

Here's my new mantra: Kids are that SMART and I am that GOOD. (He made us say it out loud several times.)

2. Million dollar teachers do these three things:
--have a no-options engagement policy in class (yay, I do this)
--do boot camp numeracy (what prerequisite skills must I teach today-or review-so that today's lesson can be fully learned), fundamentals are KEY
--H.O.T.S (always a struggle, but now I have ideas), each day as I think about the content, also think about the math practice-post those along with the standards

This is where it got good. He broke down those mathematical practices so that I could finally understand what they meant. (Can't teach it if I don't understand it.) He did this in kid-friendly terms. And gave us anchor charts to reference and post. If you want to see the charts look HERE.

He ended the talk by reminding us (the teachers in the room) that we matter the most in student achievement. 

And at the top of the list are relationships. And a growth mindset. And flexible thinking. And knowledge of our content.

So glad that I live in a world (my district) that values continued learning opportunities and that I make the time to go to them.
Pin It!

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?

Pin It!

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!
Pin It!

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!
Pin It!

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.
Pin It!

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!!!
Pin It!

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
**Class builders
**Team builders
**Social skills

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!
Pin It!

Friday, June 10, 2016


 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.

Pin It!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer Break, Phase Two

You've been wondering, right?

What is Phase Two? I wrote about Phase One in May.

Phase Two is PD!

I wasn't really excited about the 4-day training that I signed up for, but now I am two days in and I am sooooo glad that I'm doing it.

What do I always worry about? Student engagement. Making learning fun. Covering standards.

These days have been chock full of all of that! And the added bonus is Social Skills!

I love the way the presenter helps our group of 30ish educators be comfortable in groups and the content, and ways to teach/incorporate social skills.

I've read the book before.

But being taught the content, processing the content with a group, and doing the structures is bringing the book alive!!!

Yep, I'm pretty excited to see how this will transform my classroom next year.

But more importantly. It's about the relationships. The interactions. These days have taught me (again) about the importance of relationships. 

Not only do I need to have good relationships with my students, I need to create an environment that fosters good relationships between the students. And now my toolbox is FILLING up with ideas on how to do this.

And the very best part?

The presenter is absolutely modeling the GREAT teaching behaviors, strategies, and structures that she is teaching us. So, not only am I learning them, I see her using them which makes a huge impression on me. I see what it could look like, and then think about how I could do it.

It's wonderful!!!!!

So, how do you create an environment that supports good relationships between students? I'd love to hear your ideas and add them to my new notebook! 
Pin It!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

My Tribe

Your vibe attracts your tribe.

My tribe is local and global. I am one lucky teacher! I love that summer months lend themselves to spending time filling up my "bucket" with my tribe. 

Today's Tribe outing was to a local teacher store.

And then lunch at Panera. (I hardly talked--I was so busy eating a delicious salad, and no photos!)

Next we tried out the new drive through coffee shop.

It was a great day. We share about our personal lives. Our teacher lives. Share ideas and give counsel.

I cannot WAIT for our next outing!!!
Pin It!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

New versus Update

I thought I wanted a new blog design to go with my new job. But as I started talking to my blog designer friend Barb (find her website HERE), I realized that I was not quite ready to let go of the old blog design. 

I love the colors, and the fonts. How in the world am I going to find something else that I love?

So, instead of working at trying to get an idea for a new blog design, and looking at pre-made designs, I was grateful when Barb said, "I can do that update." And she was soooo quick!

I love it!

Similar to the old, but ready for the new.

Need a blog design? I highly recommend Barb! Thanks Barb!!! You have made me very happy today. 

Grade Onederful Designs

Pin It!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

My Big News

I'm moving schools and grades.

I couldn't be happier! Don't get me wrong...I love my old school. I grew up there. I had my undergrad teacher training there (I was there for 5 years). That school, the families, the teachers and staff, the community will always be my home.

Change is good. It challenges me. Change allows me to grow in ways that I didn't see coming. I'm looking forward to this change. 

Change is also scary. A new building, new families, new teachers and staff. Lots of new to learn.

Yesterday I visited my new room. A KINDERGARTEN classroom, in a school that is closer to my home. It is lovely! And HUGE. And the teacher is retiring, so she is basically leaving me everything. Including the mandated rocking chair. She is so sweet.

Today I finished packing my old room and moved most of it home or to my new room.

Then I went back to my old school. Looked through my closet one more time, grabbed my fish and plants, turned off the lights, locked the door, and left. 

Tomorrow I will turn in my key.

It will be a couple of months until I can get into my new space, so in the meantime, I have gathered some books and I'm ready to make some Kindergarten plans.

Pin It!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Summer Break, Phase One

I'm not on Summer Break. But Phase One is in full swing.

It is time for me to let go. But it is so hard.

These kids. My kids. We have learned together, laughed together, and cried together.

I look at each one and remember a time, a note, or a lesson. My eyes fill with tears. Soon these first graders will be second graders and have a different teacher. I will no longer be the one to accept their hugs and smiles.

I think about all the things I would want the next teacher to know: this one needs lots of hugs; this one is quiet, be patient and consistent, soon you will see her shine; this one does not want to try unless he knows he is correct, again, be patient, he will soon trust you to try, to make mistakes, to thrive; this one wants to know that you are close; this one is a true multi-tasker, watch and see; this one is insecure, water the seeds that were planted and watch out.

But I also know that next year is a new year and the next teacher will discover all this and more. 

So what is Phase One? It is me being really quiet. Soaking in every last bit of firstie goodness that I can. And trusting that everyone (the little ones and I) will be ok.

Pin It!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Final CURRENTLY, May 2016

I know I'm late to this party. I've been late before. Nobody minds if you are late. They accept you as you are.

This linky party is a special one to me. It was one of the first I joined. I made so many friends here. They have taught me so much!!! That is why I am making sure to join. One. Last. Time.

Not much else to say. Thanks Farley for a great party to start all kinds of collaboration and professional growth!

Oh Boy It's Farley

Pin It!

Thursday, April 28, 2016


As a student, teacher, or user of math a person can either love it or tolerate it.

I loved it when I was in school, because I was good at memorizing algorithms and spitting that back out on a test.

But then in college it got more real life and I had to solve problems and this thing called a Venn Diagram nearly gave me a panic attack. Thank goodness for a friend who taught me about those circles and what they meant, and how to figure interest (compounded, because that is apparently what interest can do).

As a teacher I tolerated math. Tried to figure out how to get kids to memorize those math facts and spit them out quickly again. Tried to teach how to solve kid sized problems (that might have seemed like interest to them). And tried. 

But it could be going better.

I've had the good fortune to attend some PD this year related to math.

Clearly I am part of a "shift" generation. We are teaching for understanding, not algorithms. But how? Why? With what?

It sort of seems that I need to go back. I need to understand how and why of the most basic concepts.

Today I sat in on four math PD sessions. The first two were all about number sense. Right up a primary teacher's alley.

My favorite quote of the day: "What teachers know impacts what they teach."

Here are a few more ideas that I want to remember from today:

1. 80% of math class is "getting to the answer." Even at first grade, I have to make this happen.

2. Ask how/why all the time. Get the kids used to defending their answer, so that they do not think the question means they are wrong.

3. A spiral curriculum means that it builds on what was previously taught. Not that the kids have another time to master. Must master first, then we will move deeper into the understanding.

4. As a homework or warm up activity, provide two problems. Have the kids work the first until I say move to the next. For each problem, solve in as many ways as possible. Probably after I have taught several. LOVE THIS SO MUCH and it will sooooooo work in first grade.

This year my good friend has taught me a phrase. She says it all the time, especially when I get down on myself for not doing something "right."

"When I knew better, I did better." (The credit for this saying is from a local administrator, next time I see her I will tell her thank you.)

So, for the last of this year I will do better and I am pumped to do better next year!

Coming up: more math PD tomorrow, and a good, long look at the 8 mathematical practices during the summer. 

Looks like I'm gonna need a new notebook.

Pin It!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


I've never doubted that consistency is important.

For me.

For my students.

Our class schedule hangs prominently on the wall. Updated daily and referred to frequently.

But today I was given a gentle reminder of how important consistency really is...

I, like many teachers do not like to be absent from school. Not just because of the sub planning and laying out of materials, but also--I LOVE my job and the students and want to be with them. Every day.

Sometimes meetings happen and I have to be gone. That was today. I needed to leave in the middle of the day. About 15 minutes before I left I started to prepare the children for this transition. (In my head not a big deal--the sub is a regular worker in our room, she knows them and they know her. And I know she will do great, the kids will do great.)

Pretty quick I had a friend standing next to me. For ten minutes he was holing onto my jacket, moving as I moved. Then he left. wrote something on a paper and brought it back to me.

It was a picture of him.

He really filled my bucket by letting me know that I am important to him.

I hope he also knows how important he is to me.

Pin It!

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Things They Say

Not sure of the context, or what lead up to it. But it sure made me smile on a Monday morning.

Student to grown up who was working with the student: "Maybe next time you could go with me, if the Great Bartel approves."

So, even grown ups (me) will live into the words they hear.

Today I want to be Great for my students. 

Pin It!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Spring break started on Friday at 4 pm. And I stayed away from "teaching stuff" until about 30 minutes ago.

The first three days were awesome. Full of sleep and family.

But today I became bored. Until NOW.

At 7:20 pm I opened up my notebook (full of notes since last June) and another notebook, and looked at Amazon and Lakeshore.

I'm home.

If you need me, I will be looking, planning, reading, and thinking all things first grade for the next five days.

Pin It!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sunday Scoop

As my school enters into our final quarter of the year, I am eager to make this a great week. 

Here is my plan for the day. 

Thanks to Teaching Trio for a Sunday Scoop party.

Pin It!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Special Days

Oh, the Special Days.

I super love my quiet, peaceful mornings at school before everyone arrives. It allows me to get centered and breathe.

But knowing that our school would be filled with Dads and their kids for the special breakfast 45 minutes before school started left me a little frustrated.

And then I heard them in the hall (through my closed door), disturbing my peace. And then, some came into my room (before the bell rang).

Next came something beautiful.

Smiling dads. Smiling children.

All I could do was sit back and open myself to the experience.

The dads just wanted to see where their children spend 7 hours a day. The children just wanted to let the dads look around (too shy to show them anything). The tender way the dads started helping the children pass out Valentines (I did not tell them to do that, but what a great idea!!!). The way the dads wanted to see inside the desks. To explore the room. Visit with other dads. Smiling.

My heart grew ten times in those 40 minutes.

I guess that "centering" can happen in unexpected ways. If I am open to it.

Pin It!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

In the Quiet of the Weekend...

I find myself reflecting on a quote I saw on Instagram last night.

No matter how many years we have been teaching, we should feel like a ROOKIE every year by trying something new and not being afraid to fail. --Heidi Pauer, educator

Dreaming about the classroom I want to create.

Sipping a chai tea.

Pinteresting--finding tools and ideas that would be awesome in my dream classroom.

Pulling that all together...

I often feel like I am trying something new that I saw on IG, FB, or a blog. I love to incorporate someone's great idea or teacher trick. These have helped my classroom be fun and exciting for me (and hopefully the students). 

And I often wonder--when will it be good enough? Will my classroom, my instruction ever meet my expectations?

Probably not. 

That used to stress me out, but not any more. Because each change, each idea is adding to the instruction and hopefully the success of the students who pass through my classroom. 

So--off to incorporate the something new for next week!

Pin It!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Things Kids Say

You know that "kids say the darndest things"...

1. At recess Friday afternoon--

Student: "Mrs. Bartel, can I go get an ice pack for my hand?"
Me: "What happened to your hand?"
Student: "I bit it."

Really? You bit your hand? I really wanted to say all that, but his hand hurt, so I decided to be nice and let him get an ice pack.

2. After school on Friday--

Student: While patting the messy bun on my head, "Mrs. Bartel, you finally did your hair, it's beautiful."

She thinks that my normal hair (which isn't fancy, but works for me) needs a pony or something... And has told me that before.

Moving on...

Yesterday was Kansas Day and we celebrated semi-big in first grade. Some pioneer learning and dressing up.

Now I leave you with a few pictures of our fun...

Pin It!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Magic #2

Yesterday was The Day.

The Day.

The day that I dreamed of when I was little, and in the summer and all the days in between.

The day that the stars aligned. Everyone had enough water, breakfast, chai tea and sleep. The little minds assimilated all of the information that grown ups have been patiently, eagerly giving them. And they read.

Read words. Fluently. With confidence. 

Tears dripped from my eyes. Smiles across all the faces. And I witnessed a six and seven year old realize they could do it. Without me.

More magic in first grade. Pure magic.

Pin It!

Friday, January 1, 2016

January 2016 CURRENTLY


Thanks to Farley and her monthly party.

Today is such a great day. For reflecting. For dreaming. But before I get to all that--how about some explanations...

Listening--My house is quiet. Everyone has an electronic devise and are plugged in (not proud of it, but it is what it is).

Loving--On the Saturday of the start of this break, I created a list. (Thanks to Alison at A Teacher's Best Friend for a wonderful post on thinking and being intentional.) Mostly the list gave me permission to rest, and fill my soul with good things that get depleted during the throes of the school week/year. So, as I come to the end of my Break, I am loving how I feel: rested, refreshed, and grateful.

Thinking--Nothing more needs to be said. I planned on doing it sooner, but some other stuff took priority (rest, refresh, gratitude).

Needing--Sometimes I just need my BTPSM (best teaching partner soul mate). Hoping that can happen soon. Check out this article... Teacher BFF or BTPSM in my case for a smile.

One Little Word-- I think this year will take some courage. Good things are happening, and hard things are happening. So, I will fill up my courage cup and do the best I can in every situation.

Do you have a word for the new year? I think this is the first time I've had a word. My wish is that my word can guide me and keep me grounded. 

Here's to a great 2016!!!

Hop on over to Farley's place and read some more Currentlys.

Pin It!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...