Dear Little Girl,

Dear little girl,

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I want you to know that this world is full of triumphs and joys.
All you need to do is get out of bed each day, set your mind to it, and you can make things happen.
You can change the life of someone who’s hurting.
You can complete the soul of another.
You can be the sturdy oak that holds a family together.
The number of opportunities that await you can be endless.

But little one,
You must know that this can be a secret.
It is kept hidden away in the heart of your mother and the mothers before her.
At some point, they were told that our strength,
the power that rumbles within us, is not to be on stage.
Yes, we must be there to catch them when they fall
to take the blame when nobody else wants to,
but beyond that you are to stand in the shadows.

There will be days where no matter how hard you try,
No matter all the potential inside,
A boy will step in front of you.
Please do not blame him.
He hasn’t known better.
Just as we learned from our mothers, he has learned from his fathers.

Now, here is what matters,
Are you listening?
You must never accept the shadows as your home.
You belong center stage.
You will sing at the top of your lungs until they hear you.
You will prove them wrong time and time again until they start to believe you.
You will raise your sons to look for you in the light and find the woman that needs no man to lead her.

Little girl, this world is full of triumphs and joys that may be disguised as judgment and doubt.
You are too clever for their jests
You are too strong for their denials.
Go be the one who proves them all wrong.

 

Teaching Love: First Week Back

A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to all the teachers out there.  You have officially survived the first week back from winter vacation AND you are practically halfway through the school year.  It’s a tough week where teachers and students alike are getting used to being back in the school routine after nearly 2 weeks of sleeping in, binge-watching Netflix, and pretending you don’t have to go back to work.

Here are the highlights and SERIOUSLY?!? moments from the week.

-Our math lesson was on graphing.  We made a bar graph  of students’ favorite foods.  They were graphed by what food group they fit into.

Miss A – How many students’ favorite foods are a protein?

E – 20……..or 200.  Staring at me completely serious.

Miss A – So it is 20 or 200.  Just pick either one?

E – Yes.

It took everything in me to not completely laugh out loud.  One look at my aide had me almost lose it.

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-A group of second grade boys were arguing over a cell phone at recess.  One was claiming the owner was showing off pictures of girls on it.  It was confiscated by the teacher.

Boy #1 – You’re not going to look at what’s on it, are you?

My two students (not the owners of the cell phone) continued to be very angry.

N – If they are not nice to you, don’t talk to them.  They are not your friends.

Agh!  I love when they are so wise so young.

Frustrations continue as my two boys come into the classroom.  I over hear my student talking to N.

J – As soon as I get home I’m telling boy #1’s mom that he has pictures of naked girls on his cell phone.

SERIOUSLY?!?  There are so many things wrong with this situation.  I highly doubt that there were ANY pictures on the phone.  However, 7 year olds know what sexting is.  They know that it’s something to take pride in but keep hidden from certain people.  I have some faith in the response of my two students, but society, we should be ashamed with the world kids are being raised in.

 

-D was chewing on the bottom of his shoe while sitting on the carpet at Morning Meeting.  (Because I know you are wondering, his shoe was still on his foot and he managed to lift his heel up to his mouth while sitting criss-cross)

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-I was out for an afternoon for professional development.  My students were given plenty of warning about being with a substitute and the expectations.  Rather than a regular substitute, they had a reading specialist who is in my room every day for writing.  Despite this, at the end of the day, two of my brightest students decided to go to the back of the room and have fun with the foaming hand sanitizer.  By fun I mean, they thought it would be a good idea to try eating it.

At very least, perhaps they should have asked the student chewing on the bottom of his shoe to join in!! 

 

Teaching love <3

New Year’s Resolutions

If you make a New Year’s Resolution, but don’t post about it on social media, does it really exist?

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  1. Live the life of a teacher, don’t make teaching my life.  It is too easy to become consumed by teaching.  It is a job that requires countless hours outside the work day and tugs on my heartstrings each and every day.  It is also something I am good at and feel in control of.  Therefore, often times I let teaching just take over.  I am going to work on continuing to find that balance – to know that I alone cannot save the world and sometimes it is ok to just turn everything off.
  2. Embrace the NOW. Age is just a number.  We are much more defined by where we are in the moment than the number of years we have been on Earth.  Have you found your life’s love?  Are you living with your parents? Have you found a career, not just a job?  Are you pregnant??  Social media sucks.  Everyone’s lives look more together.  We don’t post about the hardships and struggles.  Afterall, who would like the status saying “Alone (state of being) –  crying at the car dealership because you have nobody to pick you up.”  Despite the privacy, we are not alone and the grass will ALWAYS seem greener on the other side.  So, I will embrace where I am, the joys, the struggles, and the utterly ridiculous.
  3. Apologize. Apologizing is hard.  It is not easy to admit you were wrong or selfish and just saying sorry isn’t enough.  Being truly sorry means you are completely sincere and are willing to let go of the hard feelings.  I will work to apologize more fully and more genuinely, the first time.
  4. Live Unapologetically.  Apologizing is important and has its time and place.  However, it is not a way to live your life.  I make no apologies for the person I have become, thorns, cracks, and all.  I make no apologies for knowing what I want, going after it, and not being afraid to push or walk away when I am not getting it.   I will embrace myself.

    I find this video extremely touching.  What she says about anxiety is enlightening.  Beyond that, she makes no apologies or excuses for who she is.  She simply puts it out there for the world to choose to accept.

  5. Exercise and Eat Healthy.  I do believe these are required when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions.

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The World in Which I Teach

The world in which I teach,

seems to be miles from the schools I grew up in,

seems to be miles from the college lectures,

seems to be miles from the public perception,

miles from the dreams I dream.

In my world, the children come first, forever and always

their bellies are full and their minds well-rested,

their bodies are warm beneath mittens and layers,

their minds know no monsters beyond those under the bed

love and joy encompasses them daily.

Within my classroom walls learning is abuzz

the walls hold the steady hum of active minds and eager mouths

the walls are filled with posters hung in a bright array of colors

the walls mean safety, security, and comfort

my room is a second home.

But in the world I teach, children are forgotten.

Bubbles replace brains because you can’t fit a diorama on the front page of the paper.

Dire phone calls are left undialed because nothing ever changes for the kid with nothing to show but being broken and bruised in the home.

Our money is used to offset the daily expenses, because what good could one more body in a classroom do

Teachers go home in tears wondering where to stop sacrificing the lives of their own kids for a roomful of others.

In the world I teach, children are placed second

The parents will the loudest roar dictate the way a school will run and the choices made

It is more important to read faster and better then with a deeper passion and love

A building must look the part, even if the kids’ heads endlessly spin with no sign of stopping

It is easier to medicate and sedate a child then learn to help them cope.

The world in which I teach is lightyears from the hopes I had

I work tirelessly each day to teach one more lesson

share one more laugh

change one more life.

This world in which I teach threatens to break me with each passing day and year

but it’s the world I cannot stop loving

Because when the storms come and the raging winds whip past

we will stand together and strong to pick up the broken souls, mend our wounds, and stand to fight another day.

A Cause Worth Considering

A vehicle, food, clothing, and a home.

This is not what is supposed to be on a kid’s Christmas list.

During the holidays, there are no shortages of charities looking for donations.  It seems almost everywhere you go someone is asking for a donation.  We each have to make our own choices of where we are able to give.

I am asking you to consider donating to this cause very near and dear to my heart.  Please watch this short 4 minute clip put together by Carlisle Cares. 

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One of the students in the video is in my class this year.  My student has the kindest heart and an incredible work ethic.  A young spirit like this can easily be broken.  Sleeping on a church floor is far from anything most of us can imagine, but if it were not for organizations like Carlisle Cares, the circumstances could be much worse.  If you are looking for a worthy charitable cause this season, please consider this one.  Thank you.

$15,000 in 15 Days Fundraising Campaign

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“Created by an 8 year old staying in our shelter. This drawing shows what Christmas means to him. It is his family sleeping by a tree on the floor of a church.” Continue reading

Teaching Love: Text to Bug

Teaching can really get you down these days.  It is hard not to get swallowed up in the stress and struggles that everyone is facing.  There are so many articles on the internet of amazing teachers who are leaving the profession because it is just too much.   Reading these articles is a strange sort of comfort.  At least we are all fighting the same battle, feeling the same frustrations.  After all, misery loves company.

However, at the end of the day, teaching is still the one thing I can see myself doing day in and out.  This was a good post explaining it –  I Wish I Didn’t Want to be a Teacher.  So we teachers continue through the struggle and the hardships of each day.  We take each challenge as it comes and just keep moving forward.

In an effort to combat the negativity, I’m going to start posting when I have those little moments that make you smile and say, “That’s it.  That’s why I’m here each day.”  I shall call these Teaching Love.

Teaching Love #1

My students have been SUPER into making connections recently.  It has not been the focus of my instruction for over a month, but they are really into it.  And hey!  It makes me feel great when they raise their hand to share a connection.  During social studies, a small group of students and I were reading an article about the bald eagle.  We learned it’s our national symbol and was once endangered.

John says, “Miss A, I can make a text to text connection.”

He pauses and thinks.  I have been helping my kids understand that it is only “text to text” when it is between two books.  Not every connection fits this classification.  After a few seconds he continues.

“No, a text to bug connection.  It’s like the praying mantis that you couldn’t kill.”

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D’aww.  Not only did he make a fabulous connection, but TEXT to BUG.  Only in elementary do you get such things.  Thanks for the smile John :)

 

 

(Disclaimer: All student names have been changed)

Kool-Aid of a Different Flavor

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In the teaching world, we LOVE to drink the Kool-Aid.  Depending on the week and school, you can get it in all sorts of flavors.

Cherry – Response to Intervention

Grape – Conscious Discipline

Fruit Punch – Backwards Planning

Orange – Learning Focused Schools

No matter what the school or flavor, I believe schools are coming from a good place.  We all go into education with the belief that all students can learn and want to help them to achieve this.  The Kool-Aid has been tested in factories (ie. schools) and the ingredients (ie. training, curriculum, etc.) are all listed.  So we drink it.  Rarely do we just have a cup.  We dive head in and guzzle the whole pitcher without really thinking.

Yes, each practice is research-based.  Yes, it is at least working in some schools.  What we forget is that EVERY school is different.  We are different in terms of our student populations, available resources, teacher strength/weakness, administration, and so much more!  Teacher are constantly told to assess students and make changes when we do not see our expected results, but sometimes this is forgotten when we work on a larger scale.

One of the most popular flavors right now in teaching in Response to Intervention.  Of course, this practice is research-based.  The idea is to find out where students are lacking and target those specific skills.  By doing this you are able to fill in the deficit before it becomes too big of a problem that is simply never addressed or requires support outside of the general education classroom.

Unfortunately, in the two schools that I have been in I have seen few results from RTI.  While I’m sure there are some good things that come of it, here are some of its downfalls.

-Once again we point out who the smart kids and dumb kids.  We don’t have to say it.  The smart kids get to do some fun activity while the dumb kids are stuck with a boring activity about short vowels.

-We say it is all about “skill and drill.”  Well here’s the thing, even if students progress, if they end up hating reading, haven’t we actually made a much bigger, much WORSE problem?

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-We want kids to read faster and faster and faster.  I’ll be honest.  For most of my life, I have been a fairly slow reader.  If I am reading a textbook, I take forever making sure I am comprehending what I am reading.  Only when I read for pleasure where the text isn’t so taxing do I speed up.  Reading is about comprehension.  In the real world, that is ALL that matters.

-Lastly, so much time is wasted transitioning kids from one place to the next and back.  Time that we could be using for instruction.

I have a proposal!  After all it does no good to complain on and on without having a solution in mind.  At my school we do RTI for 30 minutes every other day.  I’d ideally like to designate a room in the building as the play room.  Of course, we will call it something more academic.  We could have centers set up just like a preschool or kindergarten classroom.  There would be a drama center, building center, book center, arts center, the possibilities are endless.  We can sculpt children’s learning by what materials we provide and what amount of choice they are given.  Kids would be learning and wouldn’t even know it.  With little effort we can embed literacy, math, science, and social studies into the centers.  They could develop much needed social and oral language skills.  Students of all strengths would be mixed together and could learn from one another.  The child struggling with academics can be the King of the Legos and feel pride when others OOOH and AHH at his tower.  Students could finally experience how learning can be fun and goes far beyond 1 minute fluency checks and completing graphic organizers.

We need to begin evaluating our practices and seeing which are truly helping our students and which simply aren’t working.  It is OK when you try something and it doesn’t work.  It happens on the classroom level ALL THE TIME.  It is not a flaw in one’s teaching ability or a district’s quality, it is the reality of the job.

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What’s this year’s Flavor of the Year at you school?