Kids’ Table

We sat in the booth, enjoying a rare dinner out together.  But Troy kept looking over to his left.

After a while, Troy voiced his confusion.  “The kids are sitting at a different table?”

I turned to look.  He was correct – there was a large group sitting at two tables, one full of adults and the other kids.

As I turned back to him, I could see he didn’t understand.  “Some people do that – have a kids’ table.  At holidays at my grandparents’ house we always had a kids’ table in a separate room from the adults,”  I said trying to explain away his confusion.

It didn’t seem to make a difference.  He still stared at the divided group.  Eventually saying, “I don’t understand.  Why wouldn’t they want to sit together?”

I looked over at the two tables, then back to my beautiful son.  “I don’t know, Troy.  I don’t know.”

And she loved a little boy very much even more than she loved herself.- The Giving Tree

Dear First Year Teachers,

Dear First Year Teachers,

I have never been able to complete a letter to you newbies.   I have tried, but never got past drafting.  This is how my letter started last summer (it was still in my unpublished posts):

Dear First-Year Teacher,

Congratulations!  Your first year of being a teacher will be upon you very soon.  I am sure you are full of emotions.  If your emotions are anything like in Inside Out (which I suggest you see before the start of the year), I am pretty sure that Fear is at the control panel most of the time.  Don’t worry, it won’t always be that way.  Joy will be upfront quite often.

Be sure to ask questions.

And that is as far as I got before I couldn’t decide what to else to say.  Everything in that first draft is true.  And there is sooooo much more…I will try to keep it short and sweet.  I know that there is a lot that you need to know, but I also know that you won’t remember most of what people tell you!

Ask questions.Do the best youcan until you knowbetter. Then whenyou know better,do better.- Maya Angelou copy

Ask for help.

Listen to your students.

Save resources and advice somewhere because you aren’t going to remember it once the school year starts.  But, later after things settle down, you will know where to look to find it and you will be better ready to decide if it is useful to you.

When people start telling you more than you can handle, tune them out.  Smile, nod, and say “Thank you.”  You aren’t ready for what they are saying, and that is perfectly fine.

Good Luck and Have Fun!

Jennie B.

Gratitude

#btbc16

I have so much to be thankful for, including Michelle’s Big Time Literacy Blogging Challenge and today’s “Gratitude Lately” prompt.

“Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices.”    –  Robert Braathe 

20160725_175720

I am grateful to the very special group of third graders I had this past year.  With all of the hate and violence across our country and the world this summer, thinking about these children that are the future of our country gives me hope.

On a similar note, I am grateful for the opportunity to listen to our First Lady’s speech tonight at the DNC.  The intro video brought tears to my eyes.  One young woman said, “She’s not just a woman standing next to a man.”  And a young man says, “She is making her own place in history.”  And then Michelle Obama gave an incredible speech that you just need to hear if you haven’t already.  Thank you, Michelle Obama!

I am thankful that the project I wrote about last July, my son’s Minecraft room, is almost complete.  I procrastinated for too long, but tonight I wrapped up that wall and will never again make a promise to stencil anything!  However, the painting is done and the new carpet comes tomorrow.  Thank goodness!

Last, but not least, I am thankful for my amazing family and every second I get to spend with my son.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”  –  Robert Brault

 

 

Teacher Balance

I don’t think it exists.  Nope.  It is a dream that we are always chasing, like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

I realize this sounds very pessimistic, but I believe teacher balance does not exist.   (Stick with me here, this isn’t a totally negative post…)

Balance doesn’t and can’t exist if you are dedicated to both your life outside of education and your role as an educator.  There is no way to balance two things that require so much passion, so much of you.

At different points in the year, even within a week or a day, the scale tips one way or the other.  Tips to School.   Noooo, I have not been listening enough to my son.  I haven’t seen my sister in weeks.  Tips to Home.  I haven’t done enough prep work for this unit and now I’m floundering, I need to spend time on this over the weekend.   Tips back to School.

Balance doesn’t exist, not the balance we strive to reach.  If we accept this reality, if we pay attention to the tipping scale and if we recognize when it has gone too far one way, maybe then we can find happiness, health and everything else we need…

A few tips I have found helpful…

  • Don’t be afraid to say “I’m flattered that you asked, but no thank-you.  I just can’t add anything else to my plate right now.”  (It goes back to paying attention to the tipping scale.)
  • Don’t set up your phone to get work emails automatically.  If you have a smart phone, you can access your email through the internet, if you need to, when you are ready.  Trust me it helps!

#btbc16

Save

Closet Cleaning…Sort of…

Crash!  Crumble. Crumble.

“What are you doing?”

“Just looking.”

He was looking, just looking.  Of course, he was also making an even bigger mess out the already disastrous closet.

So, I had to leave the comfortable couch where I was reading in order to clean a closet I have putting off cleaning all summer.  And, if you have kids or have tried cleaning with kids around, you know that cleaning means you cleaning while your kid plays with long lost treasures…

But, the closet did get organized, so I guess it turned out to be a productive day!

P.S.  If you have young kids or plan to have kids one day, NEVER let them take out garbage that you have cleaned out of a closet.  Don’t even let them look in the direction of the garbage.  I made that rookie mistake and ended up with a hole in a bag because of a bouncy ball…rookie mistake…

 

Text to Speech in Writing Workshop

In a 1:1 district, where every kid has a device, technology is always present and used every Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 11.46.47 AMday.  However, sometimes looking for all of the newest ways to integrate technology causes you not see the most obvious ones.  This is how I felt when I read the chapter in Use Your Words about Technology Tools. Specifically, the section about “Text to Speech.”

My students have used “Text to Speech” before – to listen to text that is beyond their independent reading level, especially for research.   However, Deveny says that she uses it daily in order to listen to her writing.  Not in place of reading your text aloud, but in addition to what we ask the kids to do – you know the thing you are constantly reminding them of during conferring, but they never actually do?

Deveny suggests using the “Text to Speech” that is already part of your device to listen to your writing and revise/edit.  Of course!   This will be huge in writing workshop this year!  It will become part of my writing checklist and I have a feeling kids will enjoy it (especially because you can change the accent of the voice), so they will actually use it!

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 9.45.34 PM

Just one of the many insights I have gained from this book, useful in my writing life and in my writing workshop for my students.

 

Classroom DIY

20160703_114739 copy

So exited to be moving to fifth grade!  I know there will be a lot that will be different, however there are a few things I make every year that should still be useful:

20160717_115141.jpg

This is what I use for students to order their lunch choice.  Each student has a magnet with his/her name on it and it starts on the circle pan in the morning.  As students arrive and enter the classroom, they move their magnet to their lunch choice.  (The A, B, C, Home are also magnets so that I can remove them if there are less lunch options for a day.)   It also doubles for attendance.  If a student’s magnet is left on the circle, I know they are absent.

20160717_115218

These are Popsicle sticks that will have the kids name on it.  They are two colors so that after picking one student, it can be turned upside-down and I will know which have been picked already.  This summer I made two:  one for morning meeting sharing and one the rest of the day.

I’ve also repainted a few chairs that I found at Goodwill to add to my new classroom.  And I have another one waiting in the garage that I just found last night!

One last thing!  Not a craft, but a great find from the Target Dollar Spot.

20160717_115207

I’m thinking I might use them to label book bins in my library?  Not sure yet, but I couldn’t pass them up!