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 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 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 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 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 I reread the prompt....hmmmm again. I sat there thinking about ways that I might have been a good friend...the thing 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 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 became more clear to me that we need to really focus on the craft of 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!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Making Mud Pies

I have a favorite professional friend (I'll call her mudpies)...she inspires me, challenges me...and really makes me think.  I love that.  We have powerful discussions and much needed vents. We laugh A LOT!   The thing I love most about her, is that she pushes my thinking constantly. I never get too comfortable with where I am in my learning.  I call her for advice, to ground myself if I feel like I am getting ahead of myself and when I want someone to just listen to my frustrations.  I would call her a mentor, but she goes farther than that.  I am so lucky to learn from her.

My son has entered 1st grade...wide eyed and ready to learn.  I feel so lucky that his first grade teacher (and blessed that his Kindergarten teacher) make him feel the same way mudpies makes me feel.  Aren't we lucky when we get a teacher that inspires us and pushes our thinking?  I wish that for everyone.

My friend, mudpies once said, "Like making mudpies, the joy of trying something new comes from the process--not from the final product."

Thanks to all the mud pie makers out there!!!  Let's keep creating and pushing each other!! 

Monday, October 12, 2009 I go again

OK...I admit has been too long since I have blogged. I guess I could use the age old...I got so busy...but we all are busy. Teachers are constantly going from thing to thing maintaining the balance. But I'll be honest, I just got a bit uninspired...but now, I am back. I am going to tweak the blog a bit and change it into more of a learning focus...broaden my horizons if you will.

I want to start the conversations around teaching and learning...I am relearning the power of having meaningful discussions professionally. I laugh because I spent a few years right before leaving the classroom as a reading consultant really working on students having meaningful discussions about literature. So, it is kind of funny that I am now switching the focus....or more like a ...duh...why didn't I connect that before? But isn't that what happens?

I had the opportunity to listen to Katie Wood Ray speak at a conference and she was discussing the importance of exposing kids to the kinds of writing we expected them to do. If we want them to write a magazine feature article...they should know what one is and have time to explore reading several. I then thought...ah ha...if we are teaching the kinds of writing we are in the classroom, shouldn't we as adults be doing that kind of writing too???'s to the conversations...if anyone is out there reading...what do you think? What do you want to talk about? Reading? Writing? Assessment? Web 2.0? Let's push ourselves through conversation to hold each other accountable for doing things better and better each year.

I'll be back!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Digging Out

As our city is nearing 100 inches of snowfall so far this year, I feel like the past few months I have been snowed in with my blog!! Time to spring ahead with this for sure!!

I have been really grappling with the sense of urgency over the past few months. My husband is in manufacturing. Things have gone from bad to worse but the underlying question (or maybe it is fear) is will it get even worse? As he was driving out to another city about an hour away, he called me to tell me what he was doing. A customer needed a problem fixed with some parts. My husband said, "I need to do whatever it takes to get this done." Wow....whatever it takes...there is such an urgency these days in the manufacturing world and when people talk economics.

So, I got to there that sense of urgency in our schools? What about those kids that need that extra boost, a modified lesson, extra time to practice. Do we have that sense of urgency to "do whatever it takes"? Do we look closely at what we are doing and measuring it to how it impacts kids and learning? Are we starting to think...what kinds of interventions could we do...even if we haven't done them before? How urgent is our call?

It sure gives us something to think about...I know I am thinking about it...A LOT! My next step is to make sure that I am doing whatever it takes!!