Look At Their Heart

1 Samuel 16:7 The Lord does not see what man sees.  While man looks at the outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart.  Teaching is personal.  It has been a month since I have posted because I have been busy.  Teaching is tireless and endless.  We get the best gift a parent can give us, their child, and we are trusted to move them forward in their path on life.  There are standards and tests and demands and legislation and lack of funds and struggles and it often seems our energy is depleted on meaningless, trivial things.

I spent Thanksgiving break reflecting.  I am proud of my students.  They have grown so much this year in their communication and problem solving.  I have a needy dependent student who problems solves and tries new things on her own with prompting.  I have a shy quiet student who speaks up and shares ideas and thoughts.  I have a by the rules student who shocked me with a witty comment and made me laugh out loud at reading group.  I have an anxious child who asks for help when confused or stuck.  There is so much growth.  And all of these things are reflections of the people my children are becoming.  They are reflections of their hearts.

Teaching goes beyond the paperwork and hoop jumping into our children.  Reflect this Holiday season and LOVE your children.  Tell them each why they are important to you.  Leave them a note to tell them an amazing thing you have seen them do.  Model kindness and gratitude and watch that spread.  Look at their heart.


Thankful, Early

Today I had the opportunity to work with teachers in another district.  It is always an amazing experience to hear teachers talk about their classrooms, curriculum and kids.  We are doing things right here in Kansas and I am certain our children have excellent leaders along their path in education.  Take a moment this month as we move into Thanksgiving and thank a teacher.  I challenge you to thank someone who has impacted your life each day through Thanksgiving.  Gratitude is an amazing gift.

Look What I Did!

At the beginning of the year (well, let’s be honest, all year) it is easy to finish the day with a huge list of things left on your to do list.  Tonight as I was finishing up reading groups at 10:30 I began thinking…I didn’t do____ I didn’t do ____ and I did do ____.  What a sad habit to get into as an educator.  

The beginning of the year can be overwhelming with learning about your students.  You are reading IEPs, figuring out each individual, planning lessons, grading, assessing, finding/using/learning about technology and 1,000 other things.  You also have your personal life to balance into this equation.  It’s important to keep focused and positive to make it through the year.  SO, tonight I am shifting my thinking.  Look what I did today!

  • Laughed with my students
  • Collected papers to grade
  • Posted lesson plans
  • Finished reading group assignments
  • Found a cool new lesson
  • Taught
  • Inspired
  • Dreamed
  • Danced

When you begin to feel that to do list has gotten the better of you and you have a list of things you did NOT do as your head is ready to hit the pillow give yourself grace.  Think of all you did today.  You touched the future!  The other stuff can wait.

I Should Buy Stock

Well, it’s been awhile since I posted.  Anyone in education knows exactly why…school started.  I have 23 new creatures I have been getting to know and learning about.  I am so glad I work in an era when I get to see them as individuals and teach them as such.  It is, however, exhausting.  I forgot how tired August makes me.

To add to the excitement we have had our first outbreak of illness.  I should buy stock in Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer.  I’m not certain it always helps (since kids cough and sneeze right on me sometimes) but it has to have an impact.  In all of the illness school must go on though.  So, how do you handle kids being out of the classroom when they are absent?

Much of our learning is cooperative conversation in the classroom.  I use teachable moments and peer discussion to guide and push and illustrate points to teach standards.  When students are gone they need something meaningful to learn at home.  I was amazed how many people commented, “Well, if you have 14 kids gone you just survive for the week.  Why would you teach?”  I would have to say there are still 7 students there who deserve my best.  Why would I NOT teach?  

My blog has been a life saver.  I was able to share the video clips we watched and send home what I could for homework.  I was able to find games that practice the skills we were discussing in class.  It is important to keep student moving and learning.  www.riceclassroom.blogspot.com is where it all happened this last week.  A handful of us had fun in class, but for others, they were still learning at home. 

So, being on a teacher’s salary I will not buy stock in Clorox, sanitizer or anything else for that matter.  I will, however, stock up on Kleenex and keep teaching.  When your illness season hits remember to keep learning!  And for those kids who do not have the support and do not complete the work at home, treat them with grace when they return.  They need you more now than ever.

Happy Tired

The  beginning of the year is always exhausting as an educator.  I am excited to meet my new room of parents and students so sleep is often evasive.  I am working to set up the learning space and gather materials.  There are last minute changes (yep, just got a students switched out of my room and a new students put into my room) and things that have to be redone.  Then we have meetings and meetings and meetings to make sure everyone knows what they need to know to start the year strong.  The anticipation and preparation leading up to the first day of school take their toll and I am exhausted.

But like a kid the night before Christmas I am excited to see my students.  That’s the moment this year is real.  I am looking forward to Open House tomorrow night and the blood, sweat and tears will all have been worth it.  So I shall pour another diet coke, look through the new assessment kit, and go to bed tired to wake up tomorrow for the big day.


They Should Know This By Now

According to Merriam Webster behavior is defined as anything that an organism does involving action and response to stimulation or the response of an individual, group, or species to its environment.  Across America students will enter schools and classrooms over the next few weeks and have to adjust their behavior to a new environment: your classroom.  But we need to think about what we are asking students to do.

I know with my alarm clock going off at 6AM this week I have not been jumping out of bed rejoicing the fact I get to go back to work. I miss my sleep in, stay in jammies, have a late breakfast start to the day.  I miss going to the bathroom and eating whenever my body desires.  I miss putting down an activity and switching to something else for fun.  I miss non-structure.

We are asking our students to do the same.  Many of them have been on a long summer vacation from routine and getting back into the school setting takes patience and time.  I know in our need to get curriculum started we jump into things at school thinking, “Well, they have been in a classroom so they should know this by now” in regards to behavior.  That is simply not true.

I am going to a wedding this weekend.  In deciding how myself and three children (one a teen, ugh) need to be dressed I am going on experience.  I should now this by now.  I have been to weddings.  BUT, each wedding has small variances.  Each bride decides a venue and theme and time of day.   This has an impact on how we will end up being dressed.  Environment and personality affect behavior.

This is true as your students come into your classroom.  They have been in a classroom before (with the exception of some kinders, that is a different story all together).  They do know some basic behavior expectations.  But they don’t know YOURS.  Remember to clearly state your expectations and review them.  Remember to give your students grace.  Remember to smile and learn and have fun.  You should know that by now!


In This Classroom…

I just decided what I want to do for my locker tags this year, so at 9:00 at night I am ready to go up to school and work.  I need to use the die-cut machine or I would just start working away at home.  Setting up for a new school year is always exciting for me.

As a teacher my philosophy, personality, and personal flavor become part of my classroom.  As the students are learning about each other they are also learning about me.  It is always fun to set up the physical space and think about the new students who will fill the space with learning.

Check out my article this week about setting up the learning space.  What do you do to make your classroom your own? What is the best theme you have used?  How do you introduce yourself to students?