Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Freakish Handwriting Opinion

I'm a bit of an oddity when it comes to handwriting. It's typical to hear, "Did you type that?" "No," I reply. "That's my handwriting. I'm kind of a freak of nature." So as one can imagine, there's a place for handwriting in my classroom, and I happen to have some opinions about it (go figure) which is why this post exists.

I've argued with myself about whether to share my point of view for some time now. My issue is something so many teachers do, maybe even you. I hate for anyone to think I'm critically watching and judging and noting. I'm not. Honestly, maybe the point I'm about to make is one only I would consider, because remember, I'm a freak of handwriting nature. And truthfully, in the big scheme of things, my opinion here is really not all that earth shatteringly important, but I'm still going to share it. :)

So without further ado...

I don't believe in asking my students to write on paper with more than the single, bottom line unless I'm expecting them to use all the lines appropriately. Those extra lines serve a purpose. If not used appropriately, they're simply in the way and possibly even complicating the writing process, especially for our struggling writers. Expecting students to write with all lines but allowing them to ignore them, also provides students opportunities to form bad habits. What then happens when it really is time to use those lines correctly? I believe this could create some confusion for students as to purpose and teacher expectations. What are these lines really for? When do I pay attention to them and when don't I?  

Most of the time when my writers write, I'm much more interested in their ideas than how they use the lines on the paper, so I only provide them with the bottom line only. (See picture below.) Why muddy the waters? 




There is a time and place to know how to write with more than one line, and then and only then, will my kids see extra lines on their papers and be required to use them and use them correctly. (As you see below.) Otherwise, I'm a one-line teacher and my kids are one-line writers.





Agree or disagree, the question goes back to this: Why do we do what we do? Even the little things require intentionality. 

Thank you for letting me share my freakish handwriting opinions with you today. I hope they were worth your while.

P.S. If you're interested in my recently published book for teachers, look here for information about how to purchase it. I'd love to share it with you!







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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Saturday Sayings: The Face of Education




If there's a fear of returning merchandise, I have it. 

This week I reluctantly returned my car to a local bodyshop where it had been worked on earlier in the summer. There was a small, overlooked issue that if left as is had the potential to create a problem. 

I took a friend, an advocate who understands cars and was the one who noticed the issue in the first place, and meekly entered the bodyshop office. About 30 minutes later, I exited with an appointment to fix the issue and a fair amount of guilt and frustration. All it takes is a defensive and argumentative employee to remind me why returning merchandise is downright painful. 

My teacher inclinations have been highly sensitive since that experience. I want to help this employee learn, not pay. I wish he knew that he is the face of the bodyshop the minute a customer walks through the doors of the office. He has the power to affect the customer's opinion of the business for good or bad without hardly trying. That is a huge responsibility, and the bodyshop is counting on him to help convince people like me that I should come back for more and encourage my friends to do the same. Yet I'm not so sure I want to. 

Oh but how many times has something similar happened in our schools and classrooms? When patrons, parents, and students walk through the doors of my school, I am the face of education. I have the same power to affect customer opinion as does the employee who belittled my concerns. 

As I'm looking forward to a new year in the classroom, I feel responsible to keep the memory of this experience close to my heart and mind. I have a huge responsibility to represent my profession with excellence in all interactions with my "customers" but especially when they approach me with concerns. Whether they do so with meekness or agitation is immaterial. Regardless, I'm the face of education, and the way I react and treat them will shape their views of school, maybe forever. I'd better do all I can to convince them to come back for more. 


P.S. If you're interested in my recently published book for teachers, look here for information about how to purchase it. I'd love to share it with you!

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

May and June

My lower back is not an advocate for the way I prefer to spend my summer. Around 5:00 a.m. it typically lets me know that spending the previous day reading on the couch was maybe not the best idea. I tend not to listen.

May
4 stars

2 stars

4 stars
This is a series. I enjoyed the first book but lost interest after reading the second.

5 stars
Have you read Everything, Everything? If not, do. Then read this one by the same author!

4 stars

June
2 stars

2 stars
This one has done really well, but I didn't love it.

3 stars

5 stars
Engaging and unexpected. Read it!

1 star

5 stars
Oh, how I loved Ove!

5 stars
Ralph Fletcher makes some very smart and easy-to-implement suggestions in this.

3 stars

5 stars
I've been thoroughly enjoying this series.

4 stars
This book is by the author of Girl on the Train!

3 stars
This series isn't necessarily exceptionally written, but the plot is very interesting.

4 stars

4 stars

3 stars

3 stars

3 stars
This book is part of a fun, light series.

4 stars

4 stars


My favorites:
  • The Sun is Also a Star
  • Echo
  • A Man Called Ove
  • Joy Write
  • Court of Wings and Ruin

Happy reading!

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Monday, July 10, 2017

2017 Reads

2017 hasn't been my best year of reading to date. I hate to say that I've been busy because that typically sounds like such a lame excuse, but I've been busy. Anyway, here are a few month's worth of what's been read from my shelf.

January
2 stars

5 stars
I've read all of Silva's books. I'm a sucker for European settings.

5 stars
I typically don't reread books. I could reread this one. It's amazing.

5 stars
Unexpectedly worth every star. I've recommended this one a lot!

February
4 stars

March
3 stars
I loved the first two in this series though.

3 stars

5 stars
This is a short but poignant read. I'd highly recommend it.

3 stars

4 stars

April
5 stars


3 stars


My absolute favorites:
  • Inside Out & Back Again
  • The Girl With All the Gifts
  • Embracing a Culture of Joy


I'll be back soon with May and June. In the meantime, happy reading.

P.S. And if you're looking for a teacher book, I've recently published Gatekeepers: Let's Talk About Teaching. You can buy it through me or on Amazon!








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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

200 Gatekeepers! (and how to get your own copy)

Look what showed up on my doorstep today! 200 copies of my newly published book that I would love to share with anyone and everyone who's interested in knowing what being a gatekeeper has to do with teaching. 




It's available here on Amazon.

Find it here on Barnes and Noble.

You can also purchase it from me. (It's a better deal on my end if you do, but I won't complain if you go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble.) I can take credit card using my Square One account. I'll simply need your email so I can send you an invoice.

P.S. I already have two reviews that I'm so very thankful for. I hope you can read the small print. I just had to share.






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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday Sayings: #imonyourside



#imonyourside

It’s more than just a hashtag. It’s a mantra. It’s the capital letter and the exclamation point, the alpha and omega, the intro and conclusion to all that my cousin Laurie says and does with her students. Inserted at the end of most every classroom tweet, framed on the wall in her class, and repeatedly spoken face-to-face, her mantra says to students that that no matter the situation, both in school and in life, she’s approachable, available, and in their corner.  

I believe Laurie would agree with me that classroom mantras are not frivolous add-ons. On the contrary, they're valuable and foundational to the health and culture of the class. Dare I even say, they're life changing. I regret to admit that it was several years into my career before I discovered mine: 

You're full of greatness.
Listen to your heart.
Kindness is more important than getting your own way.
It's not always easy, but it's important.

These mantras are applicable to six-year-olds but also have lasting power. Their 45-year-old selves will benefit from these words too, which is why I wish I had found my mantras long ago. I'd like to apologize to those many students who missed out on these messages. If only I could return to those early years, sit the children down, who are actually no longer children, and make a few more worthwhile deposits into their lives.

What are your mantras? Don't wait too long before you know what they are. If need be, borrow from a teacher you trust until they become your own. I believe you'll find them to be powerful and worth repeating and will most likely return to you on the lips of those students in your care, which I believe is one of the highest compliments possible. "I'm on your side, Miss Roberts." I know Laurie's heard that a time or two. 

Be intentional and then consistent. Find your mantras.

P.S. But the way, here's a link to my newly published book for teachers. I'd love to share it with you. Click on the graphic to find out more.






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