Saturday, May 27, 2017


Summer = Homework!

I'm two weeks into my coursework and some is fun and some is less fun. ;-)

I think I've watch Rita Pierson's TEDtalk 4 times in the past couple of years. And today she inspired me to improve and be the difference I was born to make.

If you have never watched it, or if you want to watch it again, check it out!

Now that you've been refreshed with her message...

There are a couple of kids last year that I did not do my best with making a connection. I need to do better. The kids deserve my best. 

As I look to the future I ask my community: What do you do to build a human connection with your students? How do you build relationships? 

My go tos:
--hugs and smiles
--playing at recess (not often enough)
--telling stories about me as a kid, or my own kids, to make connections with their lives
--accepting and encouraging different ways to learn

I'm sure there are more. Would you please leave me a comment with what you do to build relationships with your students? I want to learn from YOU!!!


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Friday, May 19, 2017

The Last Day

It was a great year. A magnificent year.

I'm tired and the kids are tired, because we have learned and grown so much. We have put a lot of energy into learning.

And now it is summer vacation.

It started about 1:00 today. I was feeling angry and had to somehow stuff it down and make it to the end of the day. To dismissal.

After school I was irritated, but didn't really know why. And angry. Still trying to be a grown up and manage my upset. 

At dinner (eating pizza with my family) it dawned on me. My sadness of the year ending was showing in the form of irritation, anger and general upset.

168 days together means something. To me and to the littles. The routine and rituals we created together are gone. What is next? Who are we if we are not together?

When I think about how this end affects me (and supposedly I am a grown up and can handle these strong feelings) I can start to understand why my class was a complete MESS today.

Now, will I be able to remember this next year and create a classroom where there is ROOM for all of the feelings of the year ending?
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

No Big Deal

But it IS a big deal. To me, to the parents, to the people who monitor "data."

Background information:

First semester of kindergarten was full of letters-names, sounds, words.

Second semester was full of review, review, review. And practice, practice, practice. (Review and practice of reading and spelling.)


Two kinder friends asked to play CandyLand with me during reading intervention. (Do not worry, I altered the cards. ;-) I wrote nonsense words on them--cvc, ccvc, ccvcc, cvcc)

These two kids were reading and playing with ease. Almost made me cry. When they would read a word, they would say, hey--that is the beginning of ... Just add ___ and then it is a real word.

Here is the example that has stuck with me:

Student 1 reads muff and says, that is the beginning of muffin.

Student 2 says, just add 'in' and you would have muffin.

Teacher (me) says, how did you know to add 'in'?

Student 2 says "I listened to the sounds." (He was a bit perplexed that I asked him--why would I not know this??? This was NOT a big deal to the student, just another day in kindergarten.)

The Big Deal:

These kids are leaving me tomorrow and they are confident that they can listen for the sounds to read and spell. These kids do not need me to spell anything for them. If they get stuck, all I have to do is "unblend" the word WITH them, and then they do the rest. 

Did I mention that they are 5 an 6 years old?

I am one happy teacher! 

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017


Farley has retired the Currently linky, but I feel like writing a Currently tonight.

Listening to the Royals baseball game.

Thinking about my ELA block for next year (what went well--systematic, direct instruction in letters/names/sounds/and how to read; what needs to be improved--more kid talk time/Kagan/centers)

Loving my school buddies near and far. Also loving the progress of my wonderful Kinder Kids.

Wishing for a light table and a sensory table for my classroom.

Thankful for a job that I love.

What would be in your Currently?
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Monday, April 24, 2017

The Good Kind of Surprises

I had two good kind of surprises today that I want to remember.

1. Students were drawing/writing to go along with our story during our chapter book read aloud. (I find that it keeps their attention and allows the ones who want to be creative the space for it.) A cutie held this up for me to see.

I was surprised at how easily I could read it, so I asked--who helped you write that? The answer, "no one, I said the sounds." And a look of "duh!" But not disrespectful at all.

What I see every day is a group of 5 and 6 year olds who are not afraid to write a sentence (or a story). They compose the sentence, think about the sounds and go for it. And, by golly, I can read it!!! If they get stumped, some will ask me, and I say: say the word, say the sounds. And at about that time, they turn around and go write it. 

I love that writing is in their backpack, not mine. It is not up to me to tell them how to spell anything!

2. I am finishing up Aimsweb testing this week. Today I worked with one who I thought would struggle. Nope. Crushed it! We may need to party tomorrow...

So I want to remember today when the next difficult day comes around and surely it will come.
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Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Big Picture

Stuff comes to me just when I need it. Information comes at the most opportune times.


I am open to the stuff and information that comes my way.

Either way, I'll take it!!

School has been difficult the past three weeks. I have been challenged professionally in a way that has rocked me to my core. I have not slept. I worry. I cry.

In a moment of severe self-doubt my principal said to me (some version of this), "You are not used to not figuring it out, it is difficult for you to have to try many things, you will get this, you are already doing this."

She ''gets" me. I am used to things going my way. Things are good. I am successful. I feel good. If things are tough for an extended time I take it personally. Hard.

Last night, in a different training, totally unrelated (yet related) a wise man said, "Understanding helps us to not take it personally, it is larger than me."

That comment stopped me cold.

The stuff that has been difficult IS larger than me. I do not have to carry it in my backpack. 

My next hope is that I can be caring and compassionate, and work at the stuff, and see the big picture.

Wish me well!
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Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Struggle

How do I challenge the kids and create a culture that values growth and struggle and not just value the correct answer quickly?

This video is quick and full of ideas.

I am excited to use some new Feedback Stems this week to start valuing growth, not perfection.

--Look at how much progress you've made on... (be specific!)
--I noticed how... (be specific!)
--I admire how hard you have worked on... (be specific!)

Starting with these three, then I will add some more!

Also, we NEED to make a class matra...

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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Important Ideas

I love learning. And applying the learning to my life and my classroom. 

That being said, I wasn't too excited to see an assignment pop up for my online class to watch a 47 minute long video. I didn't even get my notebook out for notes. 

That changed at 4 minutes in! I was scrambling for my notebook and was quick to pause and write my thoughts and ideas from the video. And 2 hours later I have finished the video (and my wings and pizza--Super Bowl, you know!).

Mostly I am thinking about how to apply this knowledge in my classroom and with my own sons.

Some thoughts:

1. Teach the love of learning, the thrill of improvement (like that one science class in college where I got a D on my first big test and worked my way into an A for the final grade--that's improvement), and to love the challenges

2. Be aware the skills and talents are malleable--time and effort may be needed

3. Look at errors, analyze them, learn from them

4. "What is my greatest failure, and how has it changed me?"

5. The power of Yet (I heard this from Ginger years ago, and now it makes even more sense, thanks Ginger!)

6. Developing a Growth Mindset is a life-long journey, monitor triggers that put me in a fixed mindset, learn from challenges (this is particularly important as I take the big classes)

7. Instead of telling my students "how smart they are," focus on effort, improvement, perseverance, and strategies used

And the ending, which is the most scary for me: Environment is totally a HUGE factor in whether a student develops more of a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. I set the stage.

So, here is my challenge for me: accept the kids, value who they are, teach rigorously (yes, even in kindergarten), understand how trauma influences learning (yes, more to learn), and be willing to share my learning journey with them.

Remember to send my your thoughts and resources for teaching kinders about Growth Mindset! 

Thanks in advance!

Just in case you want to see the whole video...

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Professional Journey

I'm taking the plunge. Growing my knowledge and not being afraid.

For years (maybe even since I completed my undergrad) I have avoided the thought of a Masters Degree. Well, not avoided, I have thought about it a lot. But have deemed myself unable to do the work. However, recently several interactions have propelled me into this journey, and I will officially start course work in the summer for a Masters Degree. 

I could have waited to write about it until then, but a portion of the degree is taking "workshops" that directly relate to classrooms right now, with skills and strategies and everything that I love. And I am taking 3 workshops this spring.

The first one is one week in. And I LOVE it.

We are using the book The Growth Mindset Coach, by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley. 

I can now see that by saying I could not do this Masters work was a fixed mindset and I am SOOOOOO glad to have gotten past that and decided that I could be brave and do this. If all students can learn (and I do believe this with all of my heart), then, I too, can learn and do this.

Our current reading is chapters 1 and 2 and these are my responses to do I have a fixed or growth mindset, and what is the difference between the two:

I feel like I have been working on my growth mindset for decades (even before I knew the term). When I am in a good place I find that I flip most things to be positive, and that has helped me a lot. In the quiz I did not mark any "fixed" statements (but see that they could creep into my mind on a bad day), and I marked 3 "growth" statements. In the educational setting, I can see that I do like to get out of my comfort zone and accept new challenges (so I could have marked those), but in my personal life that is not as prevalent. 

As I reflect on my circle of teacher friends, I see that many (all) have a growth mindset and we absolutely love to share and inspire and build each other up. I used to call it teacher magic. Now I know that it is living and growing our minds.

The difference between a Fixed Mindset and a Growth Mindset is both simple and complex. It is simple, because fixed is doing the same thing, and growth is being willing to learn and grow and do things in a different way. A Growth Mindset reminds me of thinking outside the box. The difference is also complex because of a subtle difference. In a fixed mindset, a person wants to win (I like to win or be the best), but in a growth mindset a person can win, but not to the exclusion of others. I LOVE it when I can work with my fellow teachers on skills and strategies and then all of the students benefit, no matter who their teacher is. I find that I would rather talk and write about Growth Mindsets, it is where I feel relaxed and good about me.

I am hoping that my bloggy friends will point me in the direction for resources and lessons for teaching the little 5 an 6 year olds in my classroom about growth mindset. It is a process and I am eager to learn with my classmates, bloggy friends and my students.
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Friday, January 6, 2017

Friday Pep Talk to Myself in Early January 2017

8:45 am: I can do this, breathe, focus on what I want.

9:15 am: Golly, when is lunch? Ok, smile, love, do what is right.

10:30 am: Ack, the lesson went quicker than I thought, now what? Pull out that sticker story paper, teach it, smile.

10:50 am: Well done, the stories are great

11:20 am: Already 5 minutes into lunch? It is going so fast!!

11:50 am: We need to count, but they need to move. Jack Hartman!

12:30 pm: The outside temp is 10 degrees F. Another inside recess, breathe, focus on sharing and kind words

1:15 pm: YES! Today a kiddo blended a cvc word without my help!

1:45 pm: So much to do.

2:35 pm: Almost there--keep smiling, use kind words

3:00 pm: Use kind words, smile

5:00 pm (At home reflecting on the day): it was a great day, maybe the parents will bring the kids back for an evening session, I have so many ideas...

Being a kindergarten teacher reminds me a lot of the time I was a parent of young children. My sister and I said this to each other a lot:

The days drag on, but the years are flying by.

All day long with my kinders I find myself thinking--how much longer til the aide/para/parent volunteer comes in? I just want to use the restroom. Please, someone bring me a hot drink. This lesson is not going where I expected. (The days drag on. I feel isolated in my classroom.)

And then the kinders go home. 

And I miss them. I think of what I want to do the same the next day, or different the next day. How I want to do an interaction over, better, with more love. Smile more. Sing more. Teach with more purpose. 

And I see that the year is flying by. 

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