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  This is how my letter started last summer (it was still in my unpublished posts):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.

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Gratitude

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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 

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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

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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…

 

Classroom DIY

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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:

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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.
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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.

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

Dear Cleaning Supplies,

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Dear Cleaning Supplies,

Why do I have to clean you when you are supposed to help me clean?  I remember how disappointed and frustrated I was when I realized I would have to clean everything that I use to clean.  And to be honest, at almost thirty, I still hate the idea. Being a grown up….Ick!

Sincerely,

A Reluctant Adult

 

 

Evaluate and Judge

“the ability to evaluate and judge is not a school skill, it is a life skill.”

– Kelly Gallagher

I’m working through the different real world writing purposes in Write Like This.  In the chapter on Evaluate and Judge, Gallagher gives many examples of evaluation in life:  print ads, YouTube videos, commercials, websites, and presidential candidates.

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Express and Reflect √

Inform and Explain √

Evaluate and Judge – ↓

Inquire and Explore √

Analyze and Interpret√

Take a Stand/Propose a Solution√

Gallagher states in this book, and repeats, “it is valuable for students to watch their teacher produce a crummy first draft; it gives them an honest look at how writing is produced.  In fact, modeling on days when I don’t write very well may actually be more valuable than modeling on a day when my writing is flowing.”  Therefore, I will continue to share my writing for each of these purposes, even though these first drafts aren’t spectacular writing.

With the upcoming election, this year will be a great opportunity to teach students how to evaluate and judge candidates.  And then hopefully these skills will transfer to literature as well.  So,  today I am going to Evaluate and Judge a YouTube video – kids (including my own) do spend a lot of time there.

I found this series by Kid President:  Awesome Girls!  And I thought it was the perfect thing to write about.  Especially after the amazing essay by Jennifer Aniston.  Here are the links.  You need to watch them!

Kid President Talks to A Girl: Rachel Platten! #AwesomeGirls

The purpose of this campaign is to make sure that girls know how amazing they are and to remind everyone that girls should be cheered on.   The audience being twofold:  the girls that need to be encouraged and the people who need to encourage them.

The first video linked above is Kid President introducing the idea of Awesome Girls and explaining his (and his brother’s) purpose for this campaign.  He also asks for help, for people to share examples of awesome girls using the hashtag #KPAwesomegirls.

In the second video, Kid President shares his struggle being a boy and doing this campaign about girls.  There are two videos of Robby (KP) juxtaposed, one being the inner voice supporting girls, and the other being a “typical boy” inner voice.  He asks, “What about awesome boys?”  And then he explains to himself that supporting girls isn’t saying that he doesn’t support boys, it is just that girls don’t have all of the opportunities that boys have.  (Sound familiar to something else that has been all over the news?)  The two “voices” side by side is very effective in bringing up counterarguments in order to argue against them.  Way to go KP team!

The final video linked above, is Kid President talking to Rachel Platten.  She encourages him to not feel awkward against girls and gives great advice to girls across the world.  This one is a great message from a successful girl and would be even more focused on a female audience.  She tells KP that as a young girl she was very hard on herself and never felt like enough.  Which one of us haven’t felt that way?  It is so important for kids to hear they are not alone in the way they are feeling.

And the video concludes with Rachel Platten finishing the sentence that KP always asks, “The world would be a better place if…”

“…if we understood how similar we are to each other.  […] if we were all a little kinder to each other.  […]”

Awesome Girls!

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