End of Year Reflections

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 11.48.53 AMBest Memories

Many of the memories that stand out turned into blog posts.  One conversation with a very special girl.  Mentoring conversations with new teachersAnd a beautiful smile from a sweet child at exactly the right momentAnd major writing success!

Our class was filled with talented, intelligent, energetic students this year.  One student in particular, let’s call him Jake, was a very big joker and prided himself on being the class clown. So when he found out we would be giving out awards on the last day of school, he assumed he would be receiving the Class Clown award.  We couldn’t resist, we had to pull his leg…

“And the Class Comic award goes to….” (Student started to stand up, expecting it to be him.)  “Mrs. Stalter!” (My co-teacher began to bow and cheer.)

The student was shocked and appalled.  The class booed.  I let it go for a little bit and then….”Oh…wait….I made a mistake…It says Jake!”  The class cheered!  Jake came jogging up, arms raised, smile big.  We got him!

Missed Opportunities

Science…I spent a lot of time working on creating Science units based on NGSS, but then I didn’t get to finish.  I saved the Forces/Motion for the end, because it had the most opportunities for students creating experiments.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to finish it.  😦

Game Changers

Standards Based Grading.


A lot of my energy was directed at classroom management and teaching social skills.  Although teaching the whole child is always part of my day, a lot of our Social Studies time was spent teaching about bullying and empathy.    It was necessary.  Although the group has a long way to go, I think they are on the path to becoming kind, empathetic children.


At the beginning of the year, students created hopes and dreams for the year.  By mid-year, most had accomplished their original hopes and dreams.  I had planned on students reflecting and revising, but it never happened…



Next year I will have more patience.  Focus more on using positive language.  Continue to work on my math instruction.

This year was my most challenging and difficult year both professionally and personally.  I was at my breaking point more times than I can count.  Now that the year is over, I can say I made it and am stronger because of it.  Now it is time to recharge, relax, read, spend time with my son, and take time for me.   Summer…I’m here!

One smile…


Day one of PARCC. (Although I do believe that the reverse of the acronym is more accurate…)

I went in to this trying not to stress about things I can’t  control.

I know that a standardized test can’t  show everything these kids have learned already this year.  While I can opt out my son, I have to administer this to my students.

I can just repeat, “Try your best.”  Hoping that taking this test will not reverse all of the confidence building  we have done this year.

Twenty minutes trying to sign in and all of the computers, with the exception of two, are still loading…I can only think, “I must have done something  wrong.  What did I miss?!”  But my mind is blank.

The kids are silently waiting.  “What did I do wrong?” I remember nothing… I can feel everything  crumbling.  The tears are coming. Then, I look at the blond cutie to my left…

She gave me this goofy smile and I couldn’t  help but smile back. 🙂 The tears didn’t  come.  My brain started working.  I went into problem solving  mode and found a solution.

I think she knew I was loosing it…but I don’t  think she could possibly  know how much that goofy smile changed my day?  Sometimes the students become the teacher.  She reminded me of everything I know.

I know that I come to work everyday because of these amazing, intelligent, creative children.

I know that a standardized test can’t  show everything these kids have learned already this year.

“Someday you will learn to ride a bike!”

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI wasn’t ready to write yet.  There are a million things to do in the morning once I get to school:   the morning message, daily schedule, grading, organizing, approving blog posts and comments for our third grade slicers, and the list goes on.  As I sat at my computer, approving posts and comments from yesterday I got to a comment that made my day!

Last month one of the students wrote a post including a list of things she likes to do.  I commented on her post, including a mention of the fact that I can not ride a bike (one of the things on her list.)  This was a hot topic in our class after that.  How could Ms. Bless not know how to ride a bike?!  It led to a bazillion questions and comments in person and a few on the blog.

This morning I approved this comment…She just made my day… and it is only 7:00!

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Cognitive Coaching…Day 1

Contrary to popular belief, teachers don’t spend their summers doing absolutely nothing.  Today I spent the day in a professional development for cognitive coaching.  What is cognitive coaching you ask?  Well, it is “coaching” people to be self-directed.  People ebing other teachers, students, parents, and even spouses.  Hard to explain exactly just yet, still have one more day tomorrow.  As a way to reflect on my learning today, I’d like to share three things I learned today and how it will apply to my teaching and learning.

1.  5 States of Mind:  Consciousness, Craftsmanship, Efficacy, Flexibility, and Interdependence

These are five states of mind that Cognitive Coaching says exist. The strongest, most self-directed people will have a balance of all of these qualities and as a coach it is our job to develop all of these in our coachees.  (not a word?) Sound at all familiar?  As soon as she started talking about it, I totally thought of Divergent.  So I keep thinking:  My goal is to make everyone Divergent.

Application: I really have no idea how to encourage these states of mind in other people yet, but hopefully I will have an idea after tomorrow.  I hope to be a mentor this year to a new teacher and will be able to encourage “divergence” in my mentee.

2.  Repairing Broken Trust:  4 As of Absolution

Admit it, Apologize, Ask Forgiveness, Amend your Ways

Application:  Although this seems like common sense, I think this is a social skill that our third graders need taught and modeled.  I think that these four steps will help our students build and repair trust with their peers.  This will become part of our first six weeks of school.

3.  Mirror Neurons

Ever wonder why people get so involved in sports and start yelling at the TV? I definitely have!  Turns out it is because of mirror neurons, also known as “monkey see, monkey do neurons.”  Basically these neurons in our brain make watching someone do something the same as us doing it ourselves.  These neurons tie our actions to feelings, therefore resulting in empathy.  (Please forgive me if you know about this and my explanation isn’t completely clear.)  So, this leads a teacher to wonder if these have to do with why kids with autism have trouble with empathy.  According to the video we watched, it may be because people with Autism have broken mirror neurons?  This is interesting and I will be doing more research regarding this topic.

Application:  Culture is a result of imitation.  Our classroom culture will be a result of not just what we teach, but also what the students see.  Therefore, it is another reason that I must be aware of my actions because I am always being watched by young, growing eyes.


More learning to come tomorrow…



Day 2 of Summer break and one book checked off my Someday list.  This only happened so fast because my son is still in school so I have had yesterday and today all to myself. 

I have been meaning to read this book for years, but it never happened until yesterday.  What an amazing book!  A boy, who looks different from other people, begins middle school and has to deal with the struggles every 10-11 year old has to deal with plus more.  The story is written from multiple points of view, but never flipping around too much to make it difficult to understand.  It addresses the themes of empathy, friendship, bravery, and courage in a realistic and heartfelt story.  A wonderful read for all ages. 

My favorite line/idea was from the main character, August.

“Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life.”