Saturday, January 20, 2018

Saturday Sayings: I Can Do Better



Here I am writing the post that's been written a million times over in a million different ways. My own hand has contributed a handful of versions. Yet it won't leave me alone, like a tiny but persistent first-grade finger poking me in the backside. Though I might reply to that six-year-old with, "I talk to boys who don't poke me," I'm surrendering completely to my relentless thoughts and giving them my full attention and mindful energy. 

I can do better. 

These are the words playing on repeat in my mind while walking the halls of my school. They communicate with me on my drive home after a long day. They greet me the following morning. It's a constant refrain, like the song in my head that's playing even when I don't recognize its presence. 

Is my classroom a place where mistakes are safe to make?
I can do better. 

Are my students allowed to have bad days?
I can do better. 

How do I react to those behaviors that make me vibrate?

I can do better.

Why are some students struggling to find joy in writing? 
I can do better. 

Are all readers willingly engaging with books? 
I can do better. 

I feel inspired and challenged, a dichotomy of simultaneously feeling energized and overwhelmed. I'm energized by the realization that I'm on an upward trajectory of developing the art of teaching. It's simply impossible to flatline on this path I've chosen. Yet the cognitive work involved can at times feel so daunting. My list of I-can-do-better items is longer than I'd like to admit. 

As I sit here with tears in my eyes, I resist the urge to wallow  and instead challenge myself to accept the hard parts of this job because of my "why." Why did I sign up for not simply this job but for this lifestyle? Because I believe what I do makes a difference in the lives of a young generation who deserves better than the world at times gives them. So...

I can do better.


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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Caution: Our Social Media Stories

Some might tell me to "lighten up," but out of concern for my profession, I'm going to ignore that thought and throw out a challenge for all educators who dabble in social media. Considering you're reading a blog about teaching, you're likely to be part of this audience I hope to reach. So without further ado. 



Ahh, teacher memes. These are two I've seen recently. First off, I recognize they're meant to be humorous and light-hearted. Secondly, I enjoy my breaks as much as the next teacher and admit I'm not quite ready to set that alarm and ignore my stack of fiction. But teacher memes, like the two above, shared amongst teachers and shared on social media to a wide and varied audience are two very different things.

What message do these two memes send to our patrons? What about parents? Students even? I think we can all agree it's not the one we want them to hear.

Let's also remember that unfortunately we have not won over our entire audience. Social media is mottled with tax payers who don't have to think very long or hard about the many reasons we're not doing our jobs well. Their angst is real, and they're rarely bashful about voicing their opinions. I can only imagine how memes like the ones above fuel their fires. 

I'm not saying we must now put on our pretty faces and pretend that teaching is all unicorns and rainbows. We all know its challenges, more so than anyone outside the educational world could ever imagine. We also know about the amazing and inspiring things going on in our schools and classrooms. Which is most important for our patrons to hear? We have a responsibility to tell our stories. If we don't, someone else will and they'll likely get it wrong. So please share. Tell your story, but use caution when it comes to social media. 

You never know who's listening.



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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Gratitude

I spent the day with Idaho Coaching Network teachers last Tuesday. Our coaches started the day by asking each of us to write a letter to our class. How brilliant is that? There simply will never be too many ways to celebrate our students.  Period.

I found myself making a connection to the G Journals that I use during the month of November and decided to begin each G Journal session with my own gratitude for my students. So each day I'm going to write and share with the class my gratitude for two different kiddos. Day one happened today.



It's really a small thing but kind of huge all at the same time. Celebrate!

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Gatekeepers: Let's Talk About Teaching

You might have heard that I wrote a book for teachers this last June called Gatekeepers: Let's Talk About Teaching. If I were good at promoting myself, I'd offer the following reasons why you should read this book:

1. Even though it's written from an early elementary perspective, it spans the K-12 grade levels. I happen to know of a group of high school teachers who are currently doing a book study with it.

2. Teachers are busy, and this book is easily digestible. There might be 50 chapters, but they're teeny tiny. The average chapter is around 300 words.  

3. When I read a professional book, I want three things. I want to be challenged, inspired, and validated. I think my book offers this. 

4. According to my cousin Laurie, it's a book for humans, not just for teachers. I've heard from many people outside of the educational world who have read my book with their own lens and have found it worth their time. 

You can buy Gatekeepers on Amazon, but you can also send me a message and I'll hook you up.

If you want to know more about Gatekeepers or have already read it and are connected to the Twitter World, join #IDedchat this Wednesday, November 1st at 8:00 MDT. We'll be chatting about it and would love your company.




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Friday, October 27, 2017

Kitty Cat Growth Mindset

We made these cute black cats today. They weren't that difficult to make, but it did take a certain amount of growth mindset. We practiced both optimism and persistence. All in all, well worth our time.

Go here to find the directions from Art Projects for Kids. She's got great ideas to share! 








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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Project Celebrate


From the books I've read, to the book club conversations I've had, to the time I've spent in the Boise State Writing Project and Idaho Coaching Network, I'm consistently reminded that it's time to celebrate. It's time to notice. It's time to encourage and thank. Celebration is pivotal to a healthy culture.



With permission and encouragement from my principal, I created this bulletin board for my school's workroom and invited my colleagues to join me in Project Celebrate. The challenge is to write a note to each staff member before the end of the trimester (and repeat that two more times during the remainder of the year). There's a basket of colorful and inviting paper and cards on the workroom countertop, and each staff member received a list of names just in case they want to check names off as they write. 

This is the kind of place I want to work at.



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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Parents as Teachers


I have twenty-four students so far this year, and I wouldn't be surprised if I gain a few more by May. This teacher to student ratio is not ideal. There's literally not enough of me to go around, which is why I cherish my parent volunteers and choose not to send them off to the teacher workroom to make copies, use the paper cutter, or do myriad other menial tasks. My parent volunteers work one on one with children. 

I understand, as well as any other teacher, the amount of prep work that's required to do this job, and it adds to the daily stress and strain. But the children in my care are my first priority. Their needs are more important than my long list of projects that need attention. I can manage to get those things done, but I honestly can't always manage the many needs represented in my room. 

So unless my children are at recess or a special, you won't find my parents in the workroom. You'll find them doing the most important thing that a parent at school can do. They'll be teaching.

What are your parents doing?


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