A New Definition of Woman

He starts the conversation with
“You’re just such a strong woman and feminist”
And I almost can’t help but smile.
Because no matter what he says to follow that sentence,
I am not offended.

Strength.
A characteristic that our country and society has always held in high regard.
Strong in muscle
Strong in character
No matter, we do not praise others for being weak.

Feminist.
To me, that’s indicative of equality.
It is fighting for equal rights every day
It is searching out a voice for equal representation in government
It is knowing that my work is as valued as a man and shouldn’t be given a penny less.
It is wanting to walk hand and hand
Equal in status with every man.

He called me strong and feminist
And it proves my very point.
Never would you critique a man for being strong and manly.
It appears you simply need to learn a new definition of woman.
Bold. Outspoken. And willing to fight.

 

Image result for women hand in hand

Thank you to all the strong women in my life and the role models in the world.  Our fight is not yet over but this is surely not a defeat.  We will continue working towards a brighter future.  Stand strong and proud.

To the parent wondering WHY SO MANY PENCILS?

School office supplies on board.

School office supplies on board.

While standing in the school supply section of Target this afternoon I overheard two parents shopping with their elementary aged daughter.  Item 1 on the list was 4 dozen pencils.  (I’ll agree this is on the higher end but bear with it).  The father says, “Why do you need so many pencils?  I could use the same pencil for a year.”  When the list asked for one standard eraser, he seemed slightly perturbed that they were only sold in pack of two.

While I do not intend to judge this man for his reaction, I think he deserves a response on behalf of all teachers

 

To the parent wondering WHY SO MANY PENCILS?

At the beginning of each school year teachers are given a set of school supplies from their office.  Typically this is about one of each item per kid (24 boxes of crayons, 2 sets of pencils, 24 whiteboard markers, etc.).  These are the bright and shiny supplies that we so tirelessly stack on each student’s desk so that the classroom looks warm and inviting on that first day of school.  The remainder of our supplies come from donations from students or our own pockets.

The number of supplies we go through each year is more than you can imagine!  Even as a teacher, I often wonder if there are small trolls that come out at night stealing the pencils and losing the glue sticks.  Trust me, we do everything we can to keep track of those precious school supplies.  We color code them by table to hold kids responsible.  We write tiny student numbers on each pencil.  We do one less craft because the glue simply won’t last till June.  Just think about yourself as an adult.  How many times a year do you put a new pen in your purse because despite your plan to always leave it in there so it’s available, it mysteriously disappears?

 

Ok, okay.  Let’s say the average teacher requests 2 dozen pencils.  Let’s pretend there are only 20 kids in the average class.bbr4r

24 pencils x 20 kids = 480 pencils!

That is a lot of pencils!  The lives of these pencils are often short or rough.  Pencils may be chewed on by students and the erasers shamelessly ripped off.  Pencils are taken from one room to the next (or home) and left behind.  When sharpening pencils, they quickly shrink down to nothing despite the tip never actually getting sharp.  Another reality is not every student will send in school supplies.  I understand it may be frustrating to take money from your own hard-earned paycheck to support another family’s child, however there is one thing I have learned time and time again in education.  It takes a village.  Today you may be providing a pencil to a child whose family didn’t send one in.  Tomorrow that same child may be the only student in the whole class who agrees to lend your child a pencil when theirs has mysteriously disappeared for the fourth time that day.  Tomorrow they may offer to play with the lonely child at recess.  Tomorrow they may be best friends working together on the reading centers.

Sir, I know that sometimes the requests of teachers seem like a lot to ask or annoyingly specific.  Please know we are all working hard with one end  result in mind – raising our next generation of children to be productive, kind, and generous adults. If you are a family whose able to grab that extra pack of pencils, please know that your child’s teacher will be so grateful.  If you are not able to send even the requested supplies, please know that we will take care of your child and see the many characteristics your child contributes to our classroom.

Happy School Year to all the teachers, families, and students out there!  May the odds ever be in your favor🙂

Our Brand Story: Starting from Bras and Panties

When you hear the brand VICTORIA’S SECRET many of you probably think of this.

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If you’re like me, that’s not exactly the greatest picture to come to mind.  It reminds me of a highly sexualized culture for women in which we are valued more for our physical appearance than actual substance.  It sets an unrealistic standard for beauty that we are raising our daughters in.  Generally, not the image of a company that  I would look to as a professional organization that sets an example in the teaching world.

That’s what I thought.  I am going on my second summer working at Victoria’s Secret.  It started as simply a job.  I wanted a break from working with kids and the mall website said they were hiring.  I had very little knowledge of the brand besides knowing it was a world-wide lingerie company.  I will admit that my opinion has been completely changed and more often than not, I’m wondering if our schools might be able to learn something from the brand.

 

Where as I used to see Victoria’s Secret as this…

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…I now see it as this.

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I joke with my manager that I think I do more training with Victoria’s Secret than teaching.  While this could be a slight exaggeration, comparing the ratio of hours worked to training, Victoria’s Secret blows any teaching job I’ve ever had out of the water.  Employees are empowered through education.  The brand has high expectations of performance but provides the necessary support for associates to be successful.  What I find to be most powerful is almost every single training or staff meeting starts with THE BRAND STORY.  It’s approximately a 6 minute video that describes how Victoria’s Secret came to be, their viewpoint on the products, and who the company wishes to embody from the highest CEO to the newest associate.

You can’t help but feel a little inspired and feel a little more buy in after listening to the story.  They’ve figured out how to get thousands of employees invested through a single vision.

vision

This is where it relates to teaching

(thanks for bearing with me…)

Each of us has a story of why we want to teach, how we got started, or a student that keeps us moving forward.  This story is dynamic and likely shifts from time to time, but the core beliefs stay the same.  How often do we get to share our “Brand Story” as a teacher?  It’s usually the first question in an interview.  I may casually discuss it with colleagues.  But, I think we need to do more.

By sharing our BRAND STORY, we can create a sense of community within a school.

-First, we will understand each individual a little bit more.  Whether you agree with them personally or professionally, you can respect the lens that they use to view the teaching world.  We can be a little more forgiving of the differing points of view.

-Second, we can connect to colleagues.  No two stories will be identical but there is likely some similar feature between any two stories.

-Lastly, we remember our why.  Teaching is hard.  It chips away parts of ourselves each year.  We beat ourselves up over kids we cannot save and academics we can’t move.

 

Our Brand Story reminds us of the bigger picture and that at the end of each school year what we do matters.

 

I am soon to be moving into an instructional coaching position.  I am joining a school where I know very few of the staff and they do not know me.  I will be the outsider.  But maybe, if I can share my Brand Story and build trust to learn theirs, we can develop a relationship.  Maybe from the top down we can start to build a common mission and make the change we are all working so hard to create.

Tragedy

In the past few days there has been a lot of processing. I see faces on the news of the victims. There are arguments on social media over the best solution to the problem. And at the end of the day 50 innocent people lost their lives and we all go to bed a little less secure.

I am a 24 years old and yet in the past decade I need more than one hand to count the tragedies. Growing up, our parents could talk about Columbine as this horrible event.  But what will I talk about with my kids? A movie theater in Colorado? A marathon in Boston? A school called Sandy Hook? These are all within a decade alone. A staggering increase compared to decades before us where we heard of casualties on the battlefields of war. I do not mean to diminish the lives of soldiers who have died defending our freedom. They deserve our unending gratitude.  But at least then you went to bed safe at night knowing they gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect us.  What happens now? I may sleep at night but now fear what may happen each day as I move about this cruel and intolerant world.

My heart aches for my students that are growing up in this world.  To live in fear of tragedy and violence is no way to live, but to walk without concern is to be desensitized to the violence. This cannot be the norm.  This can never be just what happens. We must raise our children with more than tolerance.  We must create a culture of acceptance, trust, and the unwillingness to allow the status quo to go unchanged.  757f56d0c6fc091d97539ee9fcf1c9e9

Check out: Love, Teach Blog: Tolerance is Not Enough – A Letter to My Former Students

How do you explain these events to the little ones in desks across from us? How does a teacher cope with her own shock all while comforting a child?  In elementary school, I know students cannot fully process the seemingly endless tragedies that are occurring.  They do not know or understand the underlying issues of race, religion, and sexuality. They cannot quantify the loss of life.  But, I believe we are kidding ourselves to think that they will grow up a generation unaffected.  We are shaped by even those forces we cannot fully understand.

screenshot_2016-06-12_at_12-4

Tragedy has, once again, pulled us apart.  We must listen to the voices that offer sympathy and support. Reach out for the hands that fight to bring us together. March behind the leaders that will create the change we need to stop these senseless losses of life and acts of hate.  We are responsible for building a better tomorrow. It simply cannot wait.

Life’s Better When You’re Laughing

Laughing keeps you young. Perhaps the lack of laughing is the #1 cause of aging.  Hang out with a kid for an afternoon and stay conscious of how often they laugh. You may be surprised.

Keeping my sense of humor with teaching helps to keep me sane and happy. Recently my students have said some laugh-worthy things that are worth quoting.
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-D: What does the +10 on the Pokemon card stand for?
-Me: I’m not sure.
D: Miss A, I have another question.
(Of course, I’m fully anticipating more questions about the Pokemon card in his hand.)
D: What’s sex?

Set the scene: I have just come back to the classroom at noon after a half day in-service. During this time my students had a sub.  Within seconds of crossing through the threshold, at least 5 students have come up to me and are talking simultaneously.
Boy: Can I go to the nurse? I think I had a stroke. I haven’t been able to move my arm for a few days (arm hanging limply by his side for dramatic effect, obviously).
Girl: My leg hurts.
Me: Girl, how did I know there would be something wrong with you??
Girl: Actually there’s a list-I can’t jump, walk, skip…
LiKA68eia
The PTO had a spirit day for our groovy book fair theme.  Students dressed up for Hippie day. 8 year olds do not know what hippie’s are…..unless you’re E who went around informing the class as if they were so ignorant for not knowing.
-E: Don’t you know what a drum circle is??? That’s a hippie.

Last, but not least, second grade spellings. If you can read these words, you’re definitely a teacher.
Holupaynos
The Wolf did not blow down the 3 Little Pigs house omperpus.
In the original one the Wolf alckchuly meant to blow it down.
Not unuff room.

life-is-better-when-youre-laughing-quote-3

The Unexpected Poets

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Writing has become very therapeutic. It has also become a thief of my sleep. When strong emotions hit, good or bad, they flow out of me through the tip of a pen, the click of a keyboard.  I can never just sit down and write. If I try, my mind goes blank. It’s when I don’t intend it that my best work comes out. (Usually this is well after bed time on a school night when I should be fast asleep.). In fact, I often write without knowing exactly how I’m feeling or where I’m going. It is only once I look back at what I’ve produced that I understand the inner workings of my mind.

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I’ve been inspired by many writers. I am amazed by the work of Sarah Kay and other spoken word poets on the internet. I click on teacher blog after blog devouring the lives of complete strangers that seem to be so similar to my own.

There are days I think I would have liked to have taught creative writing with older students.  My own students are great and truly making incredible developments for 7 and 8 year olds, but no matter what, they will always be 7 and 8. Perhaps one day I will get my chance to try my talents with older students.

For now, I’m enjoying developing my own skills and voice as a writer. I share what’s relevant in the classroom and with coworkers. And every so often those little brains truly amaze me.

Sad is black.

It sounds like a puppy crying.

It smells like dead bugs.

It tastes like smoke.

It looks like rain.

Sad feels like I am a ghost.

Sadness is white.

It sounds like a crying baby.

It tastes like rotten cheese.

It looks like a sad dog.

It smells like old food.

Sadness feels like a belly ache.

Believe it or not, these beautiful, profound works were written by my second grade poets. They were taught sensory poems from the formatting attached here.

Sensory Poem Outline

 

Pretty incredible after all❤

10-great-quotes-to-inspire-great-writing-Ms4IEv-quote

 

Teaching in May

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My supply closet grows bare.

I can count the weeks left in one hand, but the hours seem endless.

I’ve grown weary of the same behaviors

and mountains of grading still stand before me.

 

It is May.

A teacher’s favorite and least favorite time of the year.

To an outsider, it’s all fun and field trips from here on out.

To us on the inside, it’s inappropriate behaviors and tired brains.

 

A coworker described it best saying she wished the end was a surprise.

One week we would come in and find out it was time to close up shop.

Perhaps then we could fully enjoy it

instead of the countdown.

 

When the days get long

and my mind heavy there is one thing in my to lift my spirits.

Testing.

 

Any other time of year, this will make a teacher shutter and kids groan.

But in May, it’s special.

Finally, after months of hard work

sweat, tears, and maybe even a little blood

we get to see it pay off.

No longer are we warning kids that this test is on information they’ve never been taught.

Finally, finally, I tell them they are ready,

“Show off all the amazing accomplishments you’ve made.”

 

The results are never less than extraordinary.

They may near bring you to tears

as your heart threatens to burst from pride.

The student who’s been stuck all year actually doubled how many words she read.

The boy who may always struggle has read over fifty words.

The boy who didn’t even know he could read now does so with ease.

 

This is a time to celebrate.

Hundreds of hours on a little brain is hard and they can finally rest.

Read that extra story, take ten more minutes of recess, for goodness sake break out the paint!

We all deserve it!