Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Half Way There and Half Filled Up

We are officially half way through winter despite what verdict comes from Phil on Ground Hogs Day. Up north here, half way through winter is a matter of time on the calendar and but necessarily reflected in the weather.

But by ending the semester and nearing spring (come on spring...you can do it), it signifies we are half way through another year of teaching and learning. I love this time of year (at school...let me tell you that I have very different feelings about the weather) because it allows us the time to really look at how far we have come and to map out where we still need to go. As teachers, we have the chance to really reflect on what our kids need for the next half of the year and to be very intentional about how to go about meeting those needs. We are full of expectations that our kids, regardless of their struggle or higher achievement status, will take it to the next level and grow.

I've tried to embrace the "half full" philosophy as I journey through life. Sometimes I need my glass to be half full of something stronger than coffee...sometimes I've realized I might be half full of something else too. But by remaining optimistic about what is coming next, it keeps me growing.

So, as we charge on to the finish line...here's to reflecting,intentional planning and growing. And yes, hoping spring is right around the corner too!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Gift of Time

Time. There is never enough of it and sometimes it seems to drag on slowly but it is always an issue wherever I am. At school, I hurry up and rush or don't have enough time. At the doctor's office, it seems like I am waiting FOREVER! Time off for vacation is my favorite use of time!

So, this holiday season, I decided to give my fellow teachers the gift of time...30 minutes to do whatever they need to do while I go in and have time with their students. It works out great both ways...they have a break and I get my "teaching kids" fix.

As I was crafting this idea in my head, I can across a poem by Michelle Hyde about time.

There is...
A time to write,
A time to listen,
A time to learn,
A time to play.

A time to read,
A time to see,
A time to lead,
A time to sleep.

A time to be happy,
A time to be mad,
A time to be silly,
A time to be sad.

A time to wake,
A time to stay,
A time to talk,
A time to walk.

A time for help,
A time for hurt,
A time to scheme,
A time to dream.

A time to make a difference,
A time to love,
A time to try,
A time to die.

A time to wonder,
A time to want,
A time to live,
A time to do something.

There is always going to be a time,
But will you do something when that time comes?

Monday, November 16, 2009


As Thanksgiving approaches, I like to take some time to consider the things for which I am thankful...

A husband who is truly my other half and supportive in ways he doesn't even know
My children...who wonder, think, laugh, play and have kind generous hearts at such a young age
Colleagues who smile at work even when things get tough
My dad...who has shown me the importance of standing up for what I believe in...even if it isn't popular at the time
My sister...who always has my back...no matter what!
Teachers who love to have powerful conversations about learning and see the importance of still growing as teachers/learners
Friends who keep close even when life gets crazy
The promise a new day brings to see the good in the world

Above all, I am thankful that the work we do as teachers, can make a huge impact on the future.

For these things...and more, I am thankful!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Unexpected Advice

"Just slow it down, Ma'am."
Five words I heard loud and clear from the officer. I had been pulled over going 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. The thing of it was, I knew that I was speeding. When I got to the stop light, I had the thought that I was going too fast. I guess I was not alone in that opinion because the red and blue lights behind me confirmed that!

There were lots of things racing through my head...should I tell him I was late picking up my kids...should I mention I had a rough day at work...should I tell him my brother-in-law was a police officer and I knew better??? All these things were true, but I couldn't do it. I knew I was speeding and I needed to own up to it! After the usual stuff...licence and registration please...wait...wait. The kind officer said, "Just slow it down, Ma'am!" No ticket...that was such a relief.

His warning really struck me though...I keep hearing it over and over. Just slow it down...so I have been. I have been slowing down to enjoy the moments with my kids at home. I have been slowing down to talk to a great colleague about an exciting idea...I have been really intentional about slowing down to think about what I am doing. Life gets busy...for all of us. The thing is, we need to slow down and be intentional...at home and in the classroom. When we slow down enough, we see things differently. That's a good thing!

Now, I am slowing down and making sure I connect with fellow staff members, kids that can't wait to tell me about their dog and my own family. That way, I am hoping I am not missing a teachable moment.

So, thank you to the officer that gave me the warning...life is so much better now that I have slowed down to savor the moments!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


AH HAAAAA!! Talk about a moment of clarity! Last night, I was spending some time devoted to writing. I have been using The Writing Diner writing program with a few third grade classes this year and had made a commitment to myself that I would write whatever they were asked to write. Ideas for my stories came easily. As a mom of boys and someone who loves adventures, I have lots of potential stories that happen around me ALL the time. I worked on a piece using "binoculars" keying into my senses. I played with a piece about my 4 year old and his frogging using similes. Then...I got to a lesson that used a prompt. No problem, I thought.

The prompt, modeled to look like our state standardized test, went like this:

It is nice to have friends. It is also nice to be some body's friend.
Choose one of the following:
Write about a time when you were a good friend to somebody else
Write about a time when somebody was a good friend to you
Write about a time when you were not a good friend to somebody else
Write about friendship in your own way

Hmmmmm....so I reread the prompt....hmmmm again. I sat there thinking about ways that I might have been a good friend...the thing was...it was harder than I thought!! I had pages written about things I wanted to write about...things I was an expert about...and then...STUMPED!

As I sat there thinking about what I was going through...it hit me. This is what our kids are going through too...and maybe even worse. If it stumped me and really made me uncomfortable, then I could only imagine how it is for a 2nd or 3rd grader to try and do.

My life lesson that I took away was simple...we need to continue to write with our kids...model what we expect. Grapple with the same tasks to become better at teaching writing. I am walking away with more insight about writing to a prompt than the stack of professional articles I have read about prompts by this simple writing experience. WOW!!

After thinking about it for quite some time...I did manage to come up with an idea. Maybe I'll post it when I am done. I am very thankful for my ah ha moment though...I love that there is ALWAYS room to grow!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Is it tomorrow today???

Each morning, my sweet little four year old asks, "Is it tomorrow today?" as he rolls out of bed.  I always laugh...what a funny little question for one who is learning about the concept of time.  But it goes deeper than that.  He is always excited for what tomorrow's learning holds in store for him...whether it is preschool or a chance to create something or dress up as someone.  I hope we are planning our units of study and our daily plans so that each of our students will ask, "Is it tomorrow today?" with the same excitement  my four year old has. 

I know that as a Mom, I have been so lucky that my kids have teachers that cause them to wonder if it is tomorrow today!  I couldn't ask for anything better!! 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Writing Challenge of 2009

Ok...after a few ah ha moments in my last staff professional development and some conversations around how challenging teaching writing can be, our lagging writing scores and how to improve...a few people brought to my attention the need for teachers to BE writers if we are TEACHING writing.  I had made that connection long ago, I would try to write with the kids...and when I am teaching writing, I do write with the kids (side by side, in front, before...).  But that day...it became more clear to me that we need to really focus on the craft of writing...by writing.  More than just studying it...we need to become authentic writers.  We need to write as adult writers and grapple with the things that our student writers grapple with each day.

Now...I want to ramp it up...I want to try and write MORE.  Not just genres we are doing in class...but writing in my adult personal life.  I think I have a lot to say (my husband would agree...maybe even have too much to say at times)...and I want to start by trying to set some time aside each day to write.   I have always dreamed of writing children's books...and having 2 young boys lends itself to lots of story opportunities!  It's time for me to stop dreaming...and pick up my pen (or laptop). 

So my challenge is on...this blog is one way I'm going to try to write more (and I am finding that now that I am back blogging, it has theraputic qualities as well).  Next step...a writing club for my like minded friends who value the importance of pushing ourselves to get better and better.  Stay tuned!