Wednesday, November 1, 2017


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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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Brain Growers: Persistence

Have you read A Mindset for Learning by Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz? It's a brilliant growth mindset resource for elementary students. I'd highly recommend it.  

I've been sharing brain growers here on my blog for several weeks now. Last week we learned about persistence.

Day one: We read Almost by Richard Torrey. It helped us learn about and define persistence. We also told stories of persistence from our lives.

Day two: We read Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems. We looked for persistence in the story before practicing the brain grower with some extreme sour Warheads. If that doesn't take persistence, I don't know what will. (I learned this trick from a blogging friend.)

Day three: We read Flight School by Lita Judge and then used persistence to build houses of cards.

Day four: We can You Can Do It Bert by Ole K├Ânnecke. We also made a crown to celebrate moments of persistence.

These brain growers are lifetime skills. I'm honored to teach them to some of our youngest learners.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Saturday Sayings: Heart and Soul

" me the colors of your eyes. You've got to hear the poem Noah just wrote. 'Sharks are like a man-eating beast with razor-sharp teeth that tear fish apart. Duh duh duh duuuuuh.' Don't you just love how he used words like 'man-eating beast' and 'razor-sharp teeth?' Oh, and the end. 'Duh duh duh duuuuuh.' It gives me chills! I'm sure you want to be just like Noah and make smart decisions about the words you choose in your poems, too. I know you can. Go for it!"

Regie is right. I do my best teaching when I celebrate students, and Noah's story is one of my favorite celebratory moments to tell. (And I wish you could hear me share it in person. Though it sounds flat on the page, it's actually special to hear what it sounded like to a first grader's ears.) As you can imagine, Noah was on cloud nine when I interrupted writing workshop to share his poem, and the rest of the students were motivated to pick up their pens and try out some of Noah's awesomeness. That kind of celebration can change a writer...forever.

"Celebrate. Celebrate. Celebrate." These are the words typed into the first few weeks of my lesson plans this year. As the Idaho Coaching Network has taught me, there is something special about consistent corporate celebrations, and my goal is to infiltrate my days with more of them.

I'm challenged to "make them all feel famous," as Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome suggest in Kids Deserve It! The mathematician who taught us a more efficient drawing strategy, the non-writer who demonstrated how to brilliantly think through the pictures in his story, the writer who showed us how much more powerful she is when she uses her new reading skills in her writing, the reluctant reader who told me he could read a book all by himself and then showcased his reading for the whole class. They were famous this last week. I can't help but believe the trajectory of their learning paths was positively affected without much effort on my part. All it took was celebration — my best teaching.

P.S. Have you heard of Gatekeepers: Let's Talk About Teaching? It's my new book. I'd love to share it with you. It's on Amazon.

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