My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.



May 29, 2012

FOCUS

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Two Writing Teachers
FOCUS
It's the word
my youngest daughter
used to call
the f word.

FOCUS
is hard for
someone like me trying to keep
developing readers with lots of energy
reading and
writing and
thinking
as the classrooms around them
become
placed in boxes

FOCUS
is hard for students
when the weather turns
VERY warm
and the pool opened
during the three day weekend

FOCUS
for me
is hard
when I still want to teach
and the paperwork says
"Pay attention to ME"

while

on the counter
the papers
and books
and games
and book bags
and tape players
demand
to be put away


FOCUS
can I keep my brain on target
while the school year
w i n d s
d   o   w   n ?

May 15, 2012

Second Violin

Slice of Life Tuesdays hosted by Two Writing Teachers
If you asked my family and friends to describe my personality, they would tell you that I L-O-V-E to talk.  My grandmother even bought me a shirt when I was a teen that labeled me "The Babbler."  I love to generate ideas, get people excited, and I tend to think "outside the box."

At school, do I see myself as a leader?  Nope.  I see myself as a solid second violin.

Classical music composers tend to write thousands of showy, shiny, high-pitched notes for the first violins.  They carry most of the melodies.  In contrast, the second violins have hundreds of solid, smooth, middle-range notes that support the first violins.  The first violins (in my opinion) need the anchor of the second violins to help their melodies sound better.

In teaching (and in the real world), I work best as a second violin.  I don't worry about being the first to try a new strategy.  I'm not great at leading everyone to the next best thing.  I'm much better at supporting everyone around me, helping them to be their best.  I ask questions that help others make decisions.  I nod, smile and think of more questions to guide them to success.

Sometimes I wish I was the rock-star teacher, but I think those shoes are too big for me right now.  I'm happy standing in the wings cheering on my friends, wiping their tears when they get overwhelmed, and always being here to listen.

Harmony can be more powerful than melody.

May 8, 2012

Making connections


Slice of Life Tuesdays hosted at Two Writing Teachers

This year I had many families stop by my room during two days of portfolio sharing.  This shouldn't be a surprise, but in years past, I had maybe 3 or 4 of my students convince their parents to stop by my room once they had shared everything in their homeroom.

This year, I'm all about making connections.  Not the text-to-self and text-to-text connections.
Connections with students.  I want my little reading room to be a place of respite, a place to learn, a place to speak and be heard.

At one point during the portfolio sharing evening, I had a second grader and her parents come in and get comfortable at the table.  My student was taking them through her reading response journal, speaking like a proud tour guide, as her father tried to find answers to the many questions he has about her reading progress.

Meanwhile, one fourth grader lingered outside my room with his mom.  I stepped out and chatted with them, explaining in my halting Spanish (something to work on!) to his mom how polite and hardworking her son is with his peers.

I'm sorry to say that I missed seeing one family.  Another fourth grader walked past the room twice, trying to get my attention as I spoke with another family.  I called their house later that evening to apologize for missing them.

It's an important part of my job to build the decoding skills, comprehension and vocabulary of my students.  Most importantly, I'm here to help build the self-esteem and confidence of my students by giving them an opportunity to grow as learners.

May 1, 2012

Hair Therapy

I keep my hair long, so I splurge every now and then for a partial highlight and cut. When I get to the salon, I always tease my stylist, Laurie, "Time for hair therapy!" She laughs, I grab a chair and we dish. We share stories, both positive and challenging, especially lamenting the trials and tribulations of our 8th grade daughters. We laugh at my inability to choose how much length to take off my mop, and how she is proud that I haven't asked her to cut my bangs back in after growing them out a few years ago. (A big hurdle for me!)


My two hours at the salon is "me" time.  I chat with Laurie as she covers my hair with just the right formula of high and low lights.  While the color processes, I sit back and relax with the latest issue of Glamour or People.  

Then comes the shampoo.  This salon has reclining shampoo chairs!  Ahhhhh - they give a fantastic scalp massage, too!

When it's time to head over for a haircut, the conversation continues.  We even chat while the hairdryer is going!

As I head home, I'm relaxed and pleasantly distracted from anything that was bothering me before my appointment.  Hair therapy - you can't beat it!