Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Versatile Blogger


What a fantastic way to start a gloomy Tuesday!  I began the morning like I do every Tuesday--going to my blog to begin my slice for the week.  And that's where I found that Linda from TeacherDance had named me a Versatile Blogger.  I had never heard of this, so of course I HAD to google it (what did we do before Google?) I still didn't find much out about how this award got started, but I still liked the idea of recognizing blogs that inspire you.

I started blogging early this year and began reading lots of blogs. Some good, some not-so-good.  The good ones provided LOTS of inspiration and I am not ashamed to say that I "stole" some ideas for my posts.  This is a great way for me to say "thank-you" to my new friends in the blogging world.

Here's the "rules" for the award:

  • Thank the person who nominated me and provide a link back to their blog
  • Share seven bits of information about myself
  • Pass the award along to 15 other blogs that I have discovered


First of all, thank-you Linda for the award.  I feel like we would be great friends and colleagues if we lived at least in the same state!  Your comments on my blog EVERY DAY are sometimes what keeps me going. It's also nice to know that I am not alone in my beliefs about teaching reading and writing. If you hadn't nominated me for this, I would have nominated you!

7 Bits of Information About Me

  1. If my husband and I had the room or lived on an acreage, we would have LOTS of dogs. We would either board them or raise them. I'm afraid if we tried to breed dogs though, we'd never sell any of them. As it is, we will have to be content with Chloe.
  2. I didn't begin my teaching career until I was out of college for about 10 years.  I was an assistant manager at a country club, I subbed in many different schools and stayed home with my boys during that time span. When I finally began my career, I KNEW for sure it was what I wanted to do.
  3. I love technology and what it can do.  I am exploring the idea of a "flipped classroom" for my creative writing class.  More on that in future blog posts.
  4. My two sons and their wives have all gone back to school and three of the four of them have blogs of their own.  I like to think I'm a part of that.
  5. Six grandkids--how did that happen?  (I know HOW it happened, but how did I get old enough to be a grandparent?)
  6. I can count on one hand the number of students I can honestly say I didn't like.  Not bad for 20 years of teaching.
  7. I procrastinate too much. Right now I have tests to correct and it isn't going to happen.

My 15 Blogs of Inspiration
  1. Two Writing Teachers: Poor Ruth and Stacey have been mentioned in almost every blog I've read, but they are true inspirations to many of us. They teach, they write, they keep other blogs. But if it wasn't for their March Slice of Life challenge, I'm not sure I'd still be blogging.
  2. Ruth Ayers: Ruth's personal blog about her writing life is a constant source of inspiration for both my personal writing and my creative writing class.
  3. Stacey Shubitz: Stacey's blog about her life outside of the classroom.
  4. Diana at onelitcoach: I began reading Diana during the slice challenge. She had wonderful stories and pictures about her childhood. Now I am following her stories about working with teachers in classrooms. Another person I am sure I'd be friends with if only we lived in the same town.
  5. Christy at Living: One of those young teachers who keep me on my toes. Christy is always sharing wonderful ideas from her classroom and her life.
  6. Tam at Clay Fragments: She is showing us all how to retire from the classroom but not from being a lifelong learner.
  7. Donna at Mainly Write: A great blog of personal and professional writing.
  8. Storykeeper at Windows 2 My Life:  Beautiful stories and poetry.
  9. Chuck at 2000 Hours: An Iowa teacher who is documenting the hours he spends on school work or professional development outside of his school day.  
  10. Allen at Living Life Twice: I respect his teaching and writing so much that when I get a comment from him (or he LINKS to me from his blog) I feel like I have one the Nobel Prize for writing!
  11. Mardie at Mardie's Muse: A kindred spirit.
  12. Libby at Fountain: My (ex) roomie.  Her posts always make me laugh or cry--sometimes both!
  13. Tanya at Blue House Studio: Another teacher friend. She shares her beautiful photography.
  14. Jana at Thinking Out Loud: She shares great things!
  15. Kasey Buick: My guilty pleasure blog. She and her family have pulled up roots and moved to Hawaii. The stories and pictures she shares are marvelous!

Whew!  This is a long one!  Thanks to all of you for being an inspiration to me!









Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chloe Teaches Teaching

As with most mornings, Chloe is trying to get my attention and I am trying to accomplish something. She is much like my teenagers at school!

When Chloe and my kids whine about things, they need a little attention for whatever reason.  They need a little stroking. They need to know I care.  If they don't get the attention, they will do something that gets my attention.  Usually, not something good....

Repetition of routines until everyone gets it down--yep, even high schoolers need repetition of routines. They need the "this is how we do things in Mrs. Day's room" modeling. So does Chloe---then she knows what to expect.

Along with repetition, they need consistency.  They need to know if they do something well, this happens. If they are "naughty", this happens. The rules don't change from one day to the next.

They get bored, though. If you don't mix it up a little. If you don't have a new "toy" to throw out there, a new way to get their attention, they get bored. And when they get bored, they get into trouble. Then we all get grumpy.

And we all need a little fun. Sometimes, we just have to put the books away and enjoy each other. We talk, we play, we laugh.  This is the lesson I need to remember!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

You Matter Sundays


Lately I've been thinking about this blog a lot and the format for it. I knew it would be easier to come up with topics to write about if I designated certain days to certain topics. Now I don't want to be limited to writing about Chloe only on Tuesdays or my classroom only on Fridays. But themes might help me write through some writer's block. And then this morning I watched this video from Angela Maiers



Now, Angela gave this talk in June and the video has been roaming around on the internet for awhile--especially around my area because Angela works with our school district periodically. I love her. She inspires me to be a better person. She matters.

But lots of others in my life matter also--family, students, friends, co-workers, fellow bloggers...well, you get the picture. So after watching this video, I decided I would make Sundays my "You Matter" day. A day to write a post telling my world why they matter to me.

This week I'd like to tell you about my new principal and why he matters--

Tim Felderman is young--heck, I think I have dust bunnies under my bed older than he is. But he is a keeper. He tries to visit classrooms EVERY day. Imagine that. A high school principal who comes into your classroom just to see what you are doing. He's enforcing rules that have been around awhile but were not always followed.

He laughs. Even when the jokes on him.

He listens. Even when you don't say things out loud....

He notices. Even when you are trying not to be noticed.

He treats his teachers as professionals. Something some of us haven't felt in awhile.

So Mr. Felderman, this one's for you. You matter.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Rant: Let's Just Take 'Em Out and Shoot 'Em

I know that teachers get tired of student behavior. I understand there needs to be consequences for "bad behavior". I believe consequences should make sense for the offense. But honestly--sometimes I believe all some think of is "How can I get this kid." As my (ex) roomie tweeted, "When did we forget we're here to help not hurt?"

side note:  I have found that tweeting my thoughts during inservice keeps me from going crazy.


Our new principal asked a simple question this afternoon.

(By the way--I love my new principal. He is doing good things in our building!) 

What did we think was an appropriate length of time for both in-school and out-of-school suspensions?  Talk about opening up a can of worms! The conversation led to what about the work that these students miss while they're not in class. Given? Not given? Graded? Not graded?

"People!"  I wanted to scream.  "We. Are. Educators."

But I didn't and I should have.  I let the loud ones believe they are right and that I agree with them. I won't do that again.  I hope.

Seriously.


(my first hour students would laugh at that word--they think I use it too much!)


Most of the students we are talking about (my wonderful SSB's, for the most part) need to be in school. They are having trouble in classes anyway!  So the best consequence we can come up with is to take them OUT of class??????  Arrrrggghhhhh! And in the "worst case", out of school altogether?????   Double Arrrrggghhh!

What does that accomplish?  We give them a "vacation"--one that deep down most don't want. We take them away from those people who do care about them. We put them further behind in their classes if they get to do the work. And if they don't get to do the work, we punish them twice.

Great.

Way to let students know we care.

And if we really don't know what to do about them--let's send them to the alternative school. At least we won't have to deal with them.

Excuse the rant, but blogging really does make me feel better!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Random Acts

Two random acts prompt this post--one positive, one negative.  Both have me thinking about how my actions affect others. My mind is a jumble of thoughts and ideas about this, so I hope this post makes sense.

Random Act #1
The volleyball team and their supporters proudly wore their new t-shirts yesterday. They were cute. A team builder phrase on front. Unfortunately, one with a double meaning. My second thought when I saw them was, "Oh, this could be trouble."

And it was.

As I walked through the office, a young man wearing the shirt was standing there waiting to see our new principal to see if the shirt was school appropriate.  Why only this young man?  He's a former SSB!  He's made bad choices in the past, but this year seems to be trying to correct himself. But where are the 20 others wearing this shirt? Nowhere to be seen. No one sent them to the office...

Unfair to pick on one. Totally. Unfair.

And demoralizing to the young man. I'm sure he thinks, "What's the point?"

We need to think about how our actions and words affect a person before we single them out.

(on the bright side, the team stuck up for this young man. Good girls!)

Random Act #2
Through Slice of Life I found a great post about a random act of kindness. A barista at Starbucks offered to make her a new cup of coffee after she spilled hers on the way out the door (You really need to read the post!). The Barista said to her, "I want to make your day better."

How awesome would this be if we all thought that in dealing with the people around us.

I wish I was that kind of person. Sometimes I am. But many times I am not.  I had a chance after school yesterday to make someone's day better and instead opted for for making them do something they should do, but if I had done it, it would have made their day better. I wish I felt bad about it, but I don't.   Sometimes people need to do things for themselves.  But it would have been easier for me to do it and it would have made their day nicer....

So here's to thinking about how we affect others and making their day better.



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Dog

Ears flapping, fur flying, she races in a crazy figure eight pattern in the backyard.

Freedom.

You see, we fenced in part of our yard for Chloe.  We never did that for our other dog. Jake just always had a very long cable and never got to just roam the yard. But Chloe is the dog of our "golden years" and we spoil her just a bit.

She generally walks the yard with me and sticks close to my side. But every once in awhile, that crazy puppy energy takes over and she races around to get rid of it.  Before the fence she stayed in the yard for the most part, but sometimes the energy propelled her across the street and into neighbor's yards.

She never ran away from me, she just raced to release all the energy.

She raced for fun.

I swear, she smiles as she runs.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?



"A plane crashed into a building in New York City."

A seventh grader said those words to me. He had heard that from another teacher. It was all we knew early that morning.

But the news became grim.

I made a decision to continue on with as normal routine as possible until we knew for sure what was happening. We turned on the TV the last ten minutes of class to watch the news of the event. I didn't think any of us, but especially twelve-year-olds, needed to watch the horrific news all day. To this day, I'm not sure it was the right decision.

I went home and sat glued to the TV. Tears fell often. The image seared in my mind is of a reporter giving her report when a piece of the Towers went down and then she was covered in ash.

I remember the deaths of JFK and his brother, Robert. Martin Luther King, Jr and John Lennon. I can tell you where I was when I heard the news. But this was different. I could see it happening. My kids and my students could see it happening. And this wasn't famous people killed by a crazy one.

This attacked us all.



Other reflections on 9/11


Reading Zone

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

When I Grow Little....


I love listening to how kids learn language. They use unique expressions to get their point across. They mix up letters in words--baseghetti, anyone.  Or they say things like, "Can I flush the toaster?" (Really. Think about it.)

So conversations with my grandkids are always delightful.  

Me: So Tony, how is preschool? Are you having fun?
Tony:  Yep. I learned "Going on a Bear Hunt."

I recited the first line and asked if that was the right one.  He assured me it was and proceeded to recite the whole thing (with actions, of course). 

"I like that, Tony!  Will you teach it to me?"

"Well, Gramma, when you grow little, maybe you will learn it at school."

When I Grow Little

When I grow little
I will sing with passion
Even if
I don't sing very well.

I will draw lots and lots
of pictures
And not care
that no one
Knows what I drew.

When I grow little
I will skip down the sidewalk, and
Wear my favorite clothes
(Even if they don't match).

I won't care what I look like
in a bathing suit.
I will take naps when I need them
(With my favorite toy).

When I grow little
I'll eat cold hotdogs for breakfast and 
Warm cookies and milk for lunch.
I'll lick the frosting off my cupcake.

I'll make someone else kill the bugs and 
take  fish off the hook
(Even if they don't like them either).

I will say
"I love you"
a million times a day
(Just to make sure
they know I mean it) 
And I will always start my day with
Morning Hugs
When I grow little.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Change of Seasons

As I sit in my swing, wrapped in a blanket drinking coffee, Chloe at my feet barking for the neighbor kids to come and play, I realize it's not just the calendar turning to September that signals a change in seasons. There's a chill in the air this morning. Fall seems to be peeking in the door and wanting to join the party here at the lake.  Today the sun won't chase me from my comfy place to look for shade. Today it will be a welcome companion.

I love fall at the lake. There's just a different atmosphere during our weekend visits. After Labor Day the regulars come less and less.  Especially those with kids in school. Just too many activities going on and not enough time to make it to the lake.  The cabins aren't as full either with kids in school. It will be mostly fishermen coming on the weekends now. At times there will be more geese on the beach than people and more wood ducks swimming than kids. The sunsets have moved down the lake and we know that soon it will be time to close for the season.

I'll trade shorts and tank tops for sweatshirts and pants. The beach towels get packed away and the extra blankets come out. Life jackets also will find their winter home and warm jackets get used more and more.

Our group changes too. There are less visitors coming to stay (who wants to go to the lake in the fall?), so there is more time for us all to get together. We're just not in such a hurry after Labor Day. We still golf, but many times now we'll play best ball in very large groups just so everyone can be together. There won't be as many trips to Barefoot and the concerts at the park are finished for the year. Instead, we'll gather at the store to watch football games, play cards and eat.  We'll grill less and have soup in the crockpot more. Summer salads and sweet corn will be a thing of the past.  In their place we'll have "must-go" nights and we'll eat those things in the freezer that we just don't want to have to take home at the end of the season.

There are lazy mornings in pajama pants and sweatshirts with large mugs of coffee. We'll visit about how fast the summer went and make plans for get togethers during the winter. We start sorting through belongings and make decisions about what to leave over the winter and what needs to go home.

And we dream of the summers to come....

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Slacker

Not the boy in the blog, but this is what he looks like
Usually in the hall he looks full of energy. He greets most people with high fives or the boy shove that is so popular. I get a "Hey, Mrs. Day." as he strolls into my room. There, he slumps in his desk in the front of the room (his choice) and waits for me to start class. Sometimes I swear his eyes glaze over as I speak. He will participate some days and when he does, he obviously knows what is going on. Some would say he should know what's going on--he's been through this part of speech before.

Head on his desk, eyes semi-closed. It's time to work on an assignment and his book isn't even open. 


I've know this young man since he was a seventh grader, back when I taught junior high. Always a slacker, this is the third time he has been enrolled in speech. Oh, he's never failed it. He just never completes the semester. He moved one year and dropped out the next. So here he sits in my class. A senior, who must pass speech in order to graduate. How will that ever happen?  Many would give up on him now. It's his problem if he doesn't pass.

But

Here's what I learned from a speech last week.  He's working a forty hour week at a local factory. Goes in at 4:00pm and most nights gets off at 2:30am. He does his homework (when he does it) when he gets home because he can't go to sleep right away. He goes to bed about 4:00am. School starts at 8:15am. He usually gets up at 7:30am, quickly showers and dresses and races to school from a small town about eight miles away. No breakfast. 

That's why his eyes glaze over and he wants to sleep in class. 

We talked about him at lunch the other day. One teacher didn't think it was legal for him to work those hours, even if he is 18, since he is still in school. We could probably call and report him to the factory or report the factory, but that won't help anything.  

I think he needs the job and the money. I don't believe there is much support from home. 

But, he also needs to graduate.

So, I've done the best I could. The guidance counselor and I decided that moving him to another class and moving his study hall to first hour might help. With a study hall first hour he could get homework done then. And if he would fall asleep, at least it's study hall and not a class.

They didn't teach me about this in methods class....

Update
I wrote this piece this morning before school. I've since learned that the GO talked to him yesterday and the young man refused to change classes. He thinks it is better to have a morning class because it gets him moving for the day.  Of course, he didn't show up for class this morning...