Wednesday, March 20, 2024

New School Retreat

This school year brings changes for me as I'm transferring to a new school. It's a brand new school. It's still being built! Yesterday and today we are spending the days together for a staff retreat.
Change can be scary and hard. This change is exciting and new! We spent yesterday getting to know each other. The day began with our principal and the director of middle schools welcoming us. Next, we played "Bear Bingo", our school mascot is the bear, as we each introduced ourselves to the group.
Lunch together was relaxing. I don't know many people so it was an opportunity to get to know each other. We sat outside and enjoyed our sandwiches as we learned about each other.
After lunch, we came together to create our value statements. I love how we did this. It's a process that was completed with parents and then repeated with students. This time, it was our turn. I love the opportunity to hear what parents and students want our school to be.
Our brilliant admin team lead us in these discussions. We had conversations in our groups about what was important to us. We disagreed. We listened. We compromised. It was powerful!
The day ended watching, "Every kid needs a champion"...a TED Talk by Rita Pierson.
Our exit ticket consisted of answering this question: What inspired you today? I wrote and wrote and wrote as I was inspired by so much!
YES. This is all true. A day working with these people makes me hopeful for an amazing new school. I felt valued and important. I felt worthy and like my voice mattered. I felt like an integral part of a team. 
Leaders show what they value with actions. Leaders show their priorities with how they spend their time. I was reminded of these words by Eleanor Roosevelt, "To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart." Yesterday was planned with so much heart! I can't wait to see what today brings...
Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Taking Attendance

I never used to take attendance in class. Wait, that's not true. I never used to call out names and wait for "here". Never. Ever! It felt like a waste of precious time, so I skipped it. I'd check visually and move on to beginning class...until this year. Opening a new school, I promised myself that I'd make changes, grow, and try new things. Flexible seating was something I'm trying this year (and loving, by the way), but with flexible seating came a new problem. I couldn't do a quick visual check to see who's here and who's absent because they are changing seats every day. Attendance. UGH!  Then I thought, how can I make attendance valuable time in class? The Attendance Question was born! I am not the creator of this idea, but I must say I'm LOVING the daily attendance question. Why? First, it gives me the opportunity to learn names because I'm saying each name, every single class. Second, an unexpected bonus is that it builds community. We all answer the same question (and if you are in my classroom, you are expected to answer it too). The question often sparks some debate or discussion amongst students. Finally, it's an additional idea for our notebook journey that begins our instructional time together. I've seen many notebook entries that have been inspired by our attendance question.  My favorite part of this process is the unexpected answers that I get from my sixth-graders. I'm learning that I make assumptions about my students because I'm often surprised at the creativity and thoughtfulness of their answers to a simple question. Here's an example, last week our question was "If you could go anywhere, where would you like to go?" It was a student submitted question. As I was typing it into the slideshow, I felt disappointed because I thought it would be a round of the beach and Disney. Nope. Some of the answers included: my grandma's house, home, the stone age (hahaha), and even heaven.
I loved the answers so much, I asked them to jot down their answers on a chart. 
These students are thoughtful and creative and brave to reveal these answers. Yesterday's question instigated some arguments...chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter.
The conversations that were shared...the memories, the inspiration for writing. Attendance. It's become a favorite way to begin our time together.  Here's our question for today, what would your answer be? 
Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

#TeachWrite: Invitation to a New Twitter Chat

I am a writer.
It took me so long to be able to make that declaration without feeling like a phony. Once I did, it changed me and it changed my teaching! I've been having this discussion with teachers for years and we decided that this is a discussion that we wanted to share with a wider audience. I'm excited to share this invitation with you. Please join us! Please share!
Join us the first Monday of every month for #TeachWrite, a new Twitter chat dedicated to growing teachers as writers and teachers of writers.
Do you….
Believe that teaching writing is easier when teachers are writers themselves?
Believe that our own writing lives deserve to be nurtured?
Believe that all writers grow through dedicated writing time?
Believe that all writers need support and encouragement?
Believe that writing is a messy process and the best way to learn this is through our own practice?
Believe that when teachers write, they make writing a priority in their classrooms?
Our chat will support teachers not only in their quest to become better teachers of writers, but to become better writers ourselves.
In addition, each chat will end with an invitation to write!
Please join us!
Our first chat is Monday, August 7th at 7:30 PM EST on the topic of  “Writing for the JOY of It!”
Want a reminder for the new #TeachWrite Twitter chat? Sign up here at Remind

Monday, July 17, 2017

Grandma Dinners

Dinner out during a busy school year is a difficult thing to do. Lots of days there are meetings after school and for many of my friends, there are kids and husbands waiting at I came up with a solution. Grandma Dinners.
I always thought the name was self-explanatory until a friend's husband mistakenly thought that Grandma Dinners meant we were dining with my grandma. Nope. Grandma Dinners are early bird specials. We go out to dinner at 5:00, sometimes 4:30. It sounds ridiculous until you consider that many teachers eat lunch at 11:00 in the morning.
It started with one friend. We'd plan Grandma Dinners and meet every month or so and catch up. It didn't take long for it to catch on and now I enjoy many Grandma Dinners during the school year. Spending time with friends is essential for sanity, so this time is sacred.
Some of you reading this may be thinking that this is silly. You are missing out! Grandma Dinners mean we get excellent service as many restaurants are empty. Sometimes we start with dessert. There are no rules! We are considering wearing silly hats next time. (You may notice that there aren't any pictures. I never take pictures. We are all in during Grandma devices, no distractions!)
We get to enjoy each other's company and relax. Strong friendships are vital to a happy life. I take my friendships seriously. Being a good friend and having good friends makes life so much better. If you've ever seen the tv show, Parks & Rec, this may remind you of Galentine's Day.
I suggest you try it. Call a friend. Call a few. Schedule a Grandma Dinner. Dedicated to my two amazing grandmothers, Josie and Lauretta! They are both heroes to me...
Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Reflecting on the Path of My Life

Life is a series of choices. Each choice brings us down a path and leaves another abandoned. Many choices are small and we don't pay much attention to them and others alter the course of our lives. 
July is a time of reflection for me. A long time ago, I made a decision, in July, that changed the entire course of my life. It brought me to a place that I never expected. Each July brings me back to that decision and I spend some time wondering, "What if?" I have no regrets about that life changing decision, but I do wonder how things might be different.
Today I celebrate exactly where I am in my life. I'm grateful for my family and friends. I'm grateful for my home and my job. I love my sweet dog, Bella. I wouldn't trade my path for any other. It's messy and quiet and unusual and it's all mine.
Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space for sharing our celebrations. Please join us and share your own!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Presenting on Notebook-ing!

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Monday, June 26, 2017

The Magic of Musicals

I love musicals! What is it about musicals that I love? Musicals tell a story with music and dancing. It's how I wish life would be...I'm going through my day, something frustrating happens, and I turn and belt out a song about it. Wouldn't that be great? 
This past weekend I saw Rent at the National Theatre in Washington D.C. with two friends. I first saw this show, before it's debut on Broadway, in Boston twenty years ago. I loved it more this time, and I didn't think that was possible! This story is timeless and powerful. The music touched me all over again and the performances were incredible...goosebump-inducing singing and dancing! I've always loved musicals. My family picked one musical a year to go and see. It all started with Cats. Since then I've seen Les Miserable, Miss Saigon, Ragtime, Annie Get Your Gun, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Crazy for You, Kiss of a Spider Woman, and Phantom of the Opera. When I listen to musical soundtracks, I always pick which character I'd be, if I were in this story. Empathy. I sing (only when I'm alone because I have a terrible singing voice) with gusto and I feel the story! Musicals allow me windows into different lives, cultures, and experiences. Musicals are magic.
Next week I'm going to see "The Sound of Music" at the Kennedy Center. I've never seen the stage show and I can't wait! My wish list of shows I'd like to see include: Wicked, The Secret Garden, Aspects of Love, Dear Evan Hansen, and of course Hamilton!
Do you have a favorite musical?
Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

New School Retreat

This school year brings changes for me as I'm transferring to a new school. It's a brand new school. It's still being buil...