Monday, May 18, 2015

Authors are my Rock Stars!

Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, & Anna 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
This weekend I met a legend. He did not disappoint! Kwame Alexander, a Newbery Award winning author, was signing books at a local Barnes & Noble. Since The Crossover was one of our favorite read alouds this year, I shared the information with my classes. The signing was on a Saturday afternoon and many students told me that they had games or plans already. I told them that I would be there getting our classroom copy signed. Traffic was terrible. Sitting on Route 50, I was afraid I wouldn't get to see him. It was almost 11AM and the signing began at 11:00. I worried that the line would be too long and I would miss him. You see, authors are my rock stars. I'd much rather get to meet an author and talk with them than I would any other kind of celebrity. When I arrived at Barnes & Noble, there was plenty of time. I got into line and noticed the people in front of me. One was a teacher from the graduate class I taught, another was a close friend and colleague and the of my students!! 
I got a chance to watch one of my students meet an author they admire. Listening to him discuss the book, with the author...the AUTHOR...the NEWBERY AWARD WINNING AUTHOR...I was speechless. We got pictures. 
When it was my turn I was nervous! I shook his hand and asked him to sign my book. Classroom books always get signed to Ms. Haseltine's Students. I was spelling my name and he stopped and said, "Michelle?" I nodded. He smiled and said, "I know you from Twitter." WOO HOO!! I got so flustered that I forgot to tell him to add "Students" to the signature. 
I blabbered on like a crazy fan for a few minutes. I don't even remember what I said. 
Oh, how I made a complete fool of myself over meeting him. His book is so wonderful and it meant so much to me and my students this year. The story could end there, but it doesn't! I was in a bookstore, so of course, I shopped. As I was looking around, I heard, "Ms. Haseltine!" Another student ran up to me and said, "I just met him!! I'm still shaking." A kindred spirit, for sure. She brought her writer's notebook for him to sign. He signed her WRITER'S NOTEBOOK. 
An author, a Newbery Award winning author, signed her notebook! She told him that she didn't used to like reading, but now she loves it. He asked her to repeat it and he videotaped her. So cool!! As I left the store with my signed books, I drove home and I started to cry. This day will be a priceless memory for years to come. This is my evaluation. This is my report card. Not some state test! Not some meaningless number! NO! These two students got their parents to drive them to a bookstore to meet an author. They lit up when they met him and talked with him. He changed them. They are readers. They are writers. He is a ROCK STAR!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Celebrating the Ordinary...Which, it Turns Out, is Truly Extraordinary!

Thank you Ruth for inspiring me to always look for the celebrations in life! 
Join us and share your celebrations!
There are weeks when writing a celebration post is so hard and I just want to skip it...and then there are weeks like this! This week wasn't extraordinary, in fact it was very ordinary and routine...but it was like a light was shining through the ordinary, to make it glow extraordinary.
Monday: I celebrate NO COMPUTERS at school. Nothing worked. It was like rewinding ten or fifteen years. No email. No internet. No promethean board. No nothing. It pushed me to think creatively and I LOVE the result! (I even pretended computers were still broken after they were fixed in the afternoon.)
Wednesday: I celebrate the last day of the graduate class I taught. The teachers in that class grew so much and I watched them push themselves out of their comfort zone as writers and support each other. Being able to witness that is such an incredible gift. I'll miss seeing them Wednesday nights! (I also celebrate getting some time back as it's been a very busy year!)
Thursday: I celebrate miracles and friends who love me well and kindness and generosity! Wednesday started out with some frustrations at work. My friend, Jessica, reminded me to just hang on! When I saw her later that day, she handed me a card. It made me smile because getting cards and letters is just about my favorite thing in the world...but that isn't even the best part. When I opened the card, she'd bought tickets for both of us to meet our new favorite author, Glennon Doyle Melton! We are going to hear her speak AND get to MEET her!!! And we are going together!!! Don't you just LOVE friends who know you and get you?!?! I am so blessed!
Glennon is the author of the blog Momastery. This past Thursday she had a 24 hour LOVE FLASH MOB Day. She asked people to tell stories of their HER-Os or their SHEROs. This past Thursday she asked people to donate to help all of these amazing women. No donation over $25. In 24 hours her foundation raised $259,245. MIRACLE!! To get to be a part of this takes my breath away! Glennon is one of my HER-Os and I get to meet her in a few weeks!!
Friday: Today some of my students take "the test". UGH! I usually dread this day, but today I decided  to turn it around. We’ve been talking about genius hour and planning and slowing dipping our toes into this project, so I decided to give them a taste of it. I asked them to help with my genius hour project, redesigning the classroom. I wanted to observe them working together and problem solving and creating a comfortable environment.  
I thought of some committees: books, desks, supplies, decorating, and furniture. Desks had two sub-committees, design and labor. I asked for additional suggestions and someone suggested a cleaning committee. Students created their own committees, made a plan, and carried out their plan...all without me! They needed to work together. I needed to GET OUT OF THE WAY! I have never seen anything like this! Three different groups of students worked for almost an hour on re-creating our classroom. Everywhere you look, you see evidence of my students! 
Trying out their newly designed reading area!
It is really their classroom. My favorite comment of the day came from a boy who volunteered to be on the cleaning committee. 
Our cleaning committee is washing the windows!
He came up to me at the end of the block, clearly tired and said, “Ms. Haseltine, custodians have hard jobs. I mean, REALLY HARD. They do this everyday in every classroom. Can you believe that?!?!” What did he learn? Compassion.
My clock hasn’t worked for months. I do have another clock, but apparently the broken clock has really bothered some of them. One boy insisted that he be the Clock Committee. I said, “OK.” He couldn’t fix the clock. He asked me what to do, and I gave him permission to join another committee or figure out what to do here. Did he give up? NO! He stayed and look what he made…
At the end of each class, they looked around the room in wonder. (Some returned at the end of the day!) They adore their space. They have ownership. They ripped down “my stuff” and created their own and I loved every second of it. 
We are ready for genius hour! Bring it on!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Blasted from the Past into the Future!

Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, & Anna 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
I arrived to school yesterday to prepare for the day ahead. Walking down the hall, I was going over my To-Do list in my head when I heard, "Computers are down." A colleague informed me that all of the computers were not working. I furrowed my brow and then I burst out laughing, "Maybe we should all go home, like a snow day, " I joked.  Yesterday was an exercise in the "old days". I couldn't access any files. I couldn't make anything new. I couldn't even use the promethean board as a blackboard. No attendance online. No emails. Nothing...wait, this was getting better! I embraced the problem. I'd been wanting to read What Do You Do With An Idea? Brainstorming what I could use this read aloud for, I decided to take a leap into the unknown! I've been thinking about participating in Genius Hour with my students for a long time, but I let fear steer me away. There's so much about this that I don't know. Losing control and stepping back in a project-based learning environment like this is scary, so I kept pushing it to the bottom of the pile...until yesterday. I used the read aloud to leap into the unknown. 
Introducing the idea of Genius Hour was met with furrowed brows, scrunched up faces and lots and lots of questions... "What do you mean?" "I decide what I learn about?"  "Can I pick anything at all?"  "How will this work?"  "When will we work on this?" "Will it be graded?" "Can we work in groups?" "Where did this come from?" "Why haven't we been doing this before?" Oh the questions were confused and brilliant and unsure and we answered them together. I'd been reading Pure Genius by Don Wettrick, so I had some answers to their questions, but not all of them. I confessed that this was my first time doing this and if we decided to move ahead with Genius Hour, that I would do my homework too. I asked them if this is something they wanted to try. They wrote in their notebooks as I wandered around the room and tallied their answers. 93 students. And only 2 said NO. Everyone else said YES or maybe. Now, I am scrambling to finish reading Pure Genius and to research best practices for Genius Hour. This is a moment in time when I'm immensely grateful for my PLN. I have been collecting so many resources about this kind of learning and now I'm ready. As students left the classroom yesterday, I heard an excited buzz about the possibilities of this project. One student came up to me and said, "Ms. Haseltine, you should be a motivational speaker." I guess I sold it! My favorite comment is from a boy who was walking down the hall leaving class. He turned around and yelled back at me, "Hey? Genius Hour? We're geniuses?!?!" I yelled back, "YES!" He nodded, smiled and walked away a little bit taller. Yes. You are all geniuses!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Room for Grief & Joy!

Thank you Ruth for inspiring me to always look for the celebrations in life! 
Join us and share your celebrations!
This week has been filled with much celebration. Leading up to another day of celebration, Mother's Day. I have been blessed with so much in my life! My job brings me joy and allows me the privilege to educate amazing young minds! Friends who know me, really know me, and love me anyway! A church where I really understand the words, "Church Family"! My beautiful puppy who snuggles with me and takes me on long walks!  And even with all of those blessings, Mother's Day is a hard day for me. I felt like I was born to be a mother. I love kids! I want to be a mom...but I'm not. I'm 43. Single. Not a mom. That's my reality. It has taken lots of tears and lots of prayers to find peace with my life. My faith reminds me that God has a plan for me and even though I don't know what it is, I work on believing that every single day. This week was so busy at work, but I took some time to sit and write to my Pastor about my struggle with all of this. His words brought me so much comfort. He reminded me that in celebration, there's room for grief and tears, as well as joy and laughter. He heard my pain. He listened. That's all I wanted. On Sunday, celebrate mother's day! I will be celebrating with friends! Celebrate all of the wonderful moms that you know! Celebrate loud and joyously!! If I may ask, take a quiet moment and remember those who grieve. There's room for both.  I celebrate the amazing people who read my blog and support and love me! It's because of you, that I have the strength to write about this today. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Let's Get Real!

Thank you to Holly for this amazing opportunity to explore my Spiritual Journey every week!
Authenticity. Real. Ugly. Truth. We cover this up on social media. We show pictures of success and clean houses and smiling kids and cute dogs on social media. I do this. Some people complain about that. I don't think there's anything wrong with posting about our joy and our success, but the unavoidable consequence of that is believing that as the whole truth, when it's not. I will not post a picture of my sink filled with dirty dishes (but know that it's there). Authenticity. Real. Ugly. Truth.
God loves us. God loves me...just as I am. God loves you...just as you are. What powerful words!! We all have the ugly moments. That's a time when I turn to God. That's when I let it go (or try to) and believe that God will work it out...or God will work ME out.
That's where life really is. I love that Holly picked this topic! It's as if she read my mind, since I've been thinking about this a lot lately! Being authentic is hard. People put on their best faces and for a long time I was gullible enough to believe that was their entire reality. I know now, it's not. We all have the ugly. The messy house. The temper tantrums. The failures. I think I needed permission to be human, messy, ugly, and to fail sometimes.
I feel like every single book I'm reading lately is giving me permission to do real and authentic and know that I will still be loved!  I am going to share some book recommendations to help with this.
Two women that I admire for showing their hearts to the world are Jen Hatmaker and Glennon Doyle Melton. Their books show what it's like to be flawed and to love deeply, to fail and know that God loves them. When I laugh reading their words, it's usually because I'm thinking, "ME TOO!" or "I thought I was the only one!" Being authentic connects us and reminds us that we are all messy humans doing our best. The book I am reading now is all about LOVE. Bob Goff wrote this powerful book called Love Does. He writes about life in such a real and honest way and all of his words are filled with love!
The best part of being these messy, ugly, real people is we are LOVED and we love the best we can. Reading books about these amazingly authentic people show me that we are all doing the best we can and if we see through eyes of love, the world looks to be a beautiful place!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Kindred Spirits, Strawberry Shortcake and Frozen Lemonade

Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, & Anna 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
I left school today to meet a friend for a "grandma dinner".  It's the 4:30 know, when grandmas eat. I totally splurged on a yummy steak for dinner and an even yummier strawberry shortcake for dessert! (By the way, strawberry shortcake is the only acceptable dessert with a fruit in it!) 
This friend and I talked and talked and talked. We shared stories about family and work and teaching. There's something about getting to know a new friend over good food. Making new friends can be hard...being vulnerable, feeling insecure, wondering if I'm talking too much, not enough. It can be nerve-wracking. I felt very little, no I felt NONE, of that tonight! Feeling trust like that is such a gift! I thought I'd get home for a bit before my next friend meet...but our dinner took hours!
Back in the car to Panera to meet another friend. TWO friends "dates" on a school night?!?! (I'm living on the edge.) Yummy frozen lemonade and sitting outside in the warm spring air made this visit...perfect. Do you know those people who make you feel happy? Those people who seem to have sunshine radiating from their smiles? That's this friend. We got a long, overdue chance to catch up. This moment in our lives, we are...Content. Happy. Grateful. Joy-filled. We shared about our lives. This friend knows how to ask good questions. And oh, how she listens!
As we were leaving, my friend asked about FLY, my word of the year. I confess that I've been struggling with my explanation for my word this year, but tonight the words came flowing out of me... FLY...I want to stop making decisions from fear. (I am working through an extreme fear of anything that flies.) FLY...when a bird is about to FLY, it has to let go of the branch and go. I am also working on letting go of control...working on believing that there's something BIGGER that controls my life and by FLYing, I will believe that my "wings" will carry me there.
Friends. I am grateful for friends. I feel so FULL grate-FULL for these amazing women I call my friends.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

#LCPSEdchat: Students & Authentic Problem Solving!

Our next #LCPSedChat will be May 7th at 8 pm.  Dr. Eric Williams will be guest moderating this month so be sure to join us.  Below is the topic and questions we will cover.  We hope you can join us.
Guest Moderator: Dr. Eric Williams @ewilliams65

When: May 7, 2015 at 8pm
Where: Twitter (use or to follow the conversation more easily)
Hashtag: #lcpsedchat
Who: EVERYONE! Looking for LCPS teachers...ALL are welcome!

Topic: Students and authentic problem solving
1) Why did you go into education? 2) What does an ideal graduate look like? 3) What are examples of authentic problems that students have addressed in your class, school or district? 4) What advice do you have for teachers who engage students in solving authentic problems? 5) How can engaging students in solving authentic problems help recapture the joy of teaching and learning? 6) How does engaging students in solving authentic problems develop the attributes of ideal graduates?


  1. Sign into either or to follow the conversation. Sign
    in USING your twitter username & password. Type in #lcpsedchat. Now, the sites will automatically put the #lcpsedchat into every tweet for you.
  2. EVERY tweet must include the #lcpsedchat to be seen by the group.
  3. Introduce yourself and jump into the chat. Ask questions, answer questions. This chat is for you! Tip: Address someone directly by using their username if you are answering/asking them a question.
  4. This chat is moderated by @mhaseltine, @jbreynoldsTRT and @mikespeidel. Follow the moderators!
  5. The chat will be archived when it’s done and the archive will be shared on twitter and the blogs. You can read the entire chat after it’s over, if you want.
  6. Remember: Chats can move fast. It’s ok! Take a deep breath and get ready!

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...