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


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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Wednesday, June 21, 2017


click on the graphic to go directly to Amazon

Check out the name of the author on this book. Yeah, that's me! I wrote a book, and I wrote it for you. I wrote it for teachers who want to talk about teaching - who want to be gatekeepers. (If you're curious about being a gatekeeper, you'll have to get yourself a copy.)

Lucky for you, it's finally published and ready for the world. You can either buy it on Amazon or wait a few weeks until I have copies to sell and buy it directly from me. (It's actually a better deal for me if you buy it from me, but seriously I'm just excited to share and won't be offended if you buy it now.)

It feels weird, but I'm thrilled to finally say, "I'm an author." Enjoy!

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Embracing a Culture of Joy

click on the graphic to go to Amazon

I felt the joy when the staff at my school created a human tunnel for students to walk through as they were leaving on the last day of school. (Read more about that experience here.) I believe this moment reflects the essence of Shareski's book, and I'm asking myself how can my school replicate more joyful moments like that in the future? How about in my own classroom? How can we embrace a culture of joy?

William Ferriter, in the foreword, says, "Can I ask you a tough question? How many students in your classrooms are fully satisfied with the learning spaces you have created for them? If your students reflect the national average, the answer is bound to be discouraging." The numbers he goes on to share are quite discouraging. We can do better. 

I'd love to share my favorite quotes from this book, and there are many, but I'd rather let you discover them yourself. So go buy the book. It won't consume your summer. In fact, you could read it in a day if you wanted to. Even though it's short, it's powerful and will most likely challenge you to consider how you are embracing a culture of joy in your classroom and in your school. According to Shareski, "Real learning always includes joy." 

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Joy Write

Click on the graphic and go directly to Amazon.

I just finished this book a few minutes ago. The fact that I'm ignoring my hungry belly to write this post and tell you all about it speaks to how much you need to read it too. 

Ralph Fletcher asks his readers to consider whether today's writing instruction is downloading into our writers a writing identity. 

  • Do they see themselves as writers? 
  • Do they write for their own purposes? 
  • Is it a joy and a privilege to pick up a pen and write to communicate, to think, to problem solve, to simply play?

When Fletcher describes the typical reluctant writer, I have to admit that I know this child, and he's in my classroom every year. He's likely in yours too.

So what do we do about this huge dilemma (because that's truly what it is). Fletcher challenges teachers to consider the benefits of low-stakes, informal writing. He refers to it as "greenbelt writing." (Buy his book and you'll find out why.) He's not asking us to abandon writing workshop, although in his ideal world, he'd challenge us to rethink what writing workshop looks like, but he is asking teachers to offer our students time throughout the day to simply play with writing, to make all the choices, with no strings attached.

Engagement, stamina, joy...these are just a few of the benefits Fletcher says our writers will receive from this kind of writing. Isn't this what we've been wanting for our writers all along? 

Buy this book and read it before the new year begins. Your writers will be glad you did!

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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Saturday Sayings: The Human Tunnel

I can't stop thinking about their eyes, wide, bright, and full of "I'm so special," as they walked under our uplifted arms, surrounded by our farewell cheers. The smiles, spread across their faces, were unforgettable, followed by generous hugs from random children. I chuckle at the thought of the boy who hugged his way through our human tunnel, one staff member after the other, zigzagging his way back and forth across the sidewalk. But really, the highlight of the whole experience came from a third grader who was in my class two years ago. Though withdrawn and quiet then, he's hardly made eye contact with me since. Yet as he walked through our staff-made human tunnel on the last day of school on his way to the bus, he stopped when he got to me and gave me a hug.

This moment left me thinking about the power of an emotional experience. All it took was a human tunnel on the last day of school to unlock an atypical response from this young boy, not to mention a slew of other rewarding reactions from every child who walked through our tunnel. It also unlocked new life within me, with my arms in the air and my heart overflowing. "This is the kind of school I want to be at."

How can our schools and classrooms create more moments like this? Our students will remember them. Our staff members will want to be part of them. We all need more of them. These memorable moments connect teachers and students in unique and powerful ways that will keep kids coming back for more, and some of our learners need all the reasons they can climb on to that bus every morning and show up for another day.

I feel challenged to create more emotional experiences for students that leave them believing they're part of something special and more importantly, thinking, "I'm so special."

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