Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow Day Club and Five for Friday

I'm joining the club!  I've been in the club for 3 days now!  This precious little button is from Tammy at Dots of Fun! This is the 2nd time this year that I've been snowed in for multiple days on end.  This week, we were out on Wednesday, but I really think we could have gone to school.  Snow didn't start until 2:00 that afternoon.

It's been awhile since I've linked up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday, but since I've had 3 snow days in a row, I have the time.  Although, not much was accomplished.

I had the honor to help present a $25,000 check to a new Milken Educator on Tuesday of this week.  This is one of the most exciting things I get to do and look forward to it each time.  This time it was very special because I knew the teacher receiving the award.  The Milken Educator Award is kept very secret - there's always an assembly for a reason such as improving test scores, Veteran's Day, etc.  No one knows who is receiving it, so the reaction is priceless.  

 Wednesday was our first of 3 snow days.  The snow did not start until late afternoon, but by midnight, we had about 5 inches on the ground.  Cheney and I took a midnight stroll with a cup of coffee.

 When we woke up on Thursday morning, we had 8 inches on the ground!  I never expected that! We had a great snowball fight with each other.  I couldn't catch my breath because I was laughing so hard.  It's always fun to remember what it is like to be kids again.



 My 3rd evaluation was scheduled for Wednesday, but due to snow, it has been postponed.  This is the 2nd time it has been pushed back due to snow.  I'm just ready to have it finished.  It's an announced one so I've prepped it twice.  Hopefully, I'll be able to get it in without too much tweaking.  It's in Science - ugh! The phases of the moon - double UGH!

I'm using fav7 for a resource during the lesson. If you want to know more, see this post.

 Today is Valentine's Day.  Hubby and I have never really made a big deal of it ever.  So, this year I'm counting my new Noonday necklace as a Valentine's Day treat.  He did help me pick it out.

Head on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to see what everyone else is up to this week!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

From the Heart...

When I had my own classroom last year, I had a poster hanging on the wall just like the one below.  I really wanted my students to think about the power of their words before they came out of their mouth. At the beginning of the year, we squeezed a tube of toothpaste and then tried to put the toothpaste back into the tube as an illustration that you can never take back words once they have been spoken.  We weren't successful 100% of the time, but I heard snippets of conversations from time to time where students would ask or tell each other, "Is that inspiring?" "Was that helpful?"  It made me proud to know that some of my students really took that to heart.

This year, since stepping out of the classroom into a leadership position, I've really thought about the words that come out of my own mouth and the power they have.  I haven't been perfect, not even close.  There have been days where I've said the wrong thing, but I've owned it.  There have been days where the words I spoke were taken out of context or misconstrued.  Only I know the intent behind those conversations.  But, I've really been pondering the way teachers speak.  Last year, I had the amazing opportunity to meet Ron Clark and he made a comment that jumped off of the stage and has stuck with me.  I know I won't get it exactly right, but he spoke about how teachers are the world's worst at tearing each other apart.  He gave several examples that I could really relate to…"Look at her working late.  She's doing it for recognition." or "Dressing up for costumes is just a way to get attention.  There's not time for that."  

I thought back to the many, many days I ate lunch in teachers' lounges, attended professional developments, etc. and heard those very same comments about teachers who are in the trenches in all out warfare for their students.  I thought about the teachers who made the comments and the teachers whom the comments were about.  It broke my heart and continues to break my heart.  Teachers should be bound together by a code, much like the Navy Seals.  They never leave a man behind, and never talk bad about one of the team.  They do everything they can to make sure everyone comes out of a mission successful.  

As teachers, we need to band together and lift each other up every where and in everything that we do. We should be knocking on the doors of teachers in our building and asking if there is any help that is needed and asking for help ourselves.  

We have a greater mission than of ourselves.  Those little guys, and big ones too, who sit in the desks in our classrooms deserve a "team" of professionals that value each other, learn from each other, encourage each other.  That positive energy feeds into our students, who then take it to each other.  If teachers model positivity, just think about what our students would do.

Being positive or negative is a choice.  One that we must make many times in a single day.  But we have the power to choose it ourselves.  So, if you choose to be positive, pull up a chair beside me at the lunch table and let's talk about how amazing your students are.  If you choose to be the negative nelly - about teachers or students - I'd really prefer that you sit somewhere else.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Called Out In Public!

There is nothing like being called out on Twitter, Facebook, and a blog to make you motivated to get back on the blog train.  Love you to pieces Patti!  My tech friend, Patti, from Tales from a 4th (and 5th) Grade Teacher has challenged me in public to grow my PLN.  She was challenged and so this is just a link in the chain reaction.  I'm taking the bait and fulfilling the quest.  I'll be challenging some of you as well!

  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • List 11 bloggers.  They should be bloggers you believe deserve a little recognition and a little blogging love! (I chose 7 people who inspire me)
  • Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated.  (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you).
  • This is a challenge but you do not have accept.
My Random Facts
  1. I started out as a nursing major, not an education major. I attended the top nursing school in my state and had to spend 2 years on the waiting list for clinicals.  So, I started picking up education classes in order to keep my scholarship.  At some point, I realized that blood and I didn't mix, so I jumped ship and landed in Education.
  2. I got married 2 weeks after college graduation to Cheney (we only had one date) and moved to Alaska.
  3. After moving to Alaska, I spent 2 years substituting in 2 elementary schools.  I was the only certified elementary teacher in the district.  Needless to say, I stayed very busy.
  4. We moved to Seattle, WA where I finally landed a teaching job as a 2nd/3rd grade teacher in a teeny private school in Tacoma, WA.
  5. One day when I was leaving school, I was sitting at a red light right outside of our parking lot and unmarked police cars came out of nowhere.  Police jumped out of cars with their guns drawn at the gas station on the corner.  I ran the red light.
  6. That little private school would give us our paychecks and then send all of the teachers to the bank to cash them because the money was there.  If we waited until the next day, they couldn't guarantee it.
  7. I've taught grades 2-5 in 3 different states for the last 13 years.  Currently living in Tennessee where I'm a Master Teacher.
  8. I have a passion for technology and take every opportunity I can find to learn more.  Since moving to TN, those opportunities aren't as readily available and I feel like I'm slipping.
  9. I LOVE social media!  I spend a lot of my time in front of my computer screen, iPad, and iPhone just staying connected. I love getting emails saying I have comments on my blog, notifications, or comments on instagram.
  10. Over the last 5 days (4 of them were snow days) I drank the equivalent of 8 pots of coffee.  It's a wonder I've been able to sleep.
  11. I've spent the last few weeks trying to track down Lone Survivor in book format.  Yes, I could have downloaded it to my iPad, but I wanted the book.  Every bookstore in town was out and I didn't want to wait on it to arrive.  Found it at the library today.
Now, to answer Patti's questions for me:
What is the most important thing you have learned as an educator?
Change is inevitable.  I can choose to embrace it and learn everything I can from whatever change is coming my way or I can complain about it and have to do it anyway.  I choose to embrace it as a tool for growth.

What do you think you would be doing if you had not become an educator?
It's hard to imagine not being an educator, so this is really difficult.  I think that I would love to work with a technology company, but that would not have come unless I was in education.  I would like to be a travel writer or reviewer so I can see the beautiful places on this Earth.

What is your happiest childhood memory of school? 
Field Trips!  There weren't many that I can remember - probably because we didn't take many, but I loved them. One of my first was to McDonald's.  We went into the freezer and I remember stacks of eggs everywhere.  We went to Krispy Kreme one year and to the Sunbeam bread factory.  Some of the best were just the days that we went to the park.  When I was teaching my own class, I loved the distance trips - New Orleans, Washington, DC, Williamsburg, Georgia Aquarium.  They were A LOT of work, but so worth it!

What is your happiest memory as a professional educator? 
I don't talk about it often because I don't want sound braggart, but winning the Milken Educator Award for the state of South Carolina.

How would you want to be remembered by your students at your funeral?
I want my students to remember me first as someone who loved them above all else, as someone who believed they were capable of achieving greatness when they didn't believe in themselves, as someone who did whatever it took to help her students be successful.

What is the one book you remember reading as a child?
The Sweet Pickle Gang
What is your biggest frustration with the current education system?
That no one is sitting down with teachers and getting the whole story about what we do and endure.  Decisions are made without taking the people in the trenches into consideration or even realizing that we are people too.  There are days where it's hard to go into a classroom and give it all you've got because those making the decisions are showing support to the ones who have to implement the changes.

What word would you use to describe how you feel on the first day of school?  On the last?
First Day of School: Anticipation
Last Day of School: Brokenhearted

What celebrity do you think would make a great teacher?
Mayim Blalik
What made you decide to start a blog?
I'm a writer by nature and it just seemed like it would be an online journal to capture my thoughts about this crazy, difficult job!
What book are you currently reading for fun? For work?
Lone Survivor by marcus luttrell
Teaching the Critical Vocabulary of the Common Core:  55 words that make or break student understanding by Marilee Sprenger

My Questions for those I'm inviting:
1. What do you do to relieve teaching stress?
2. What book are you currently reading for fun? For work?
3. What is your biggest challenge with Common Core?
4. What is your favorite way to use technology in your classroom?
5. What would your advice for new teachers be?
6. Favorite TV series?
7. What is keeping you in the classroom?
8. If you could pick anywhere to travel to, where would it be and why?

I'm Inviting: (Remember, you are not obligated!)
Lacie Sullivan
Ginger Watkins
Rachel Lamb
Amanda Madden

I Don't Have the Answers...

It's taken me all weekend to begin to process what happened in Parkland, Florida.  I put it aside and compartmentalized it until I...