Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When is the "right" time?

I need to post this because it's been weighing heavily on my chest...

It's bothering me...

And something is telling me, "You NEED to do something, somethings got to change."

You ever just get that feeling?

Some people will be mad at me for this post...

Some will probably even unfollow me...

Whatever happens, I sure hope I get people to think...

I've recently been keeping up with a sad story about a teacher.  A teacher who was doing the right thing for his students.  This teacher was having some bullying issues in his classroom.  The bullying issued had to do with being "gay" and "acting like a girl."  This teacher did what any teacher would do.  He talked with the kids about it.  When that didn't work, he sought out a book that would teach children about differences and accepting them.  The lesson was tied in with fairy tales/ fables/ and being able to tell the moral of the story.  The book what given to him by his AP.  The book was "King and King."  This book is about a prince who's mother has told him he needs to marry and he is not happy about any of the princesses.  He only realized when a princess and her brother get introduced to him that he loved the prince instead.  The princes got married and his mom even shed a tear. The moral of the story: We need to accept people for who they are, no matter how they are different.

He did something I think any teacher would have done. Did his job to stop the bullying.  To help kids understand.  

Kids went home and told their parents what they learned in school and a few parents complained.  They said that they should have been notified about the read aloud... that their kids aren't "mature" enough to hear about something like this yet, that the students are not "the teachers children" and that "teachers have no right to decide what our students can hear in our school/classroom", that the teacher was just '"promoting his gay agenda", and that if we can't talk about God in school, they we sure as heck can't teach about being gay.

Well let me solve 1 of the issues right now.

Religion is a CHOICE.

Your sexual orientation is NOT.

Not everyone believes in God.  Not everyone believes in the same God.  When it comes to homosexuality, there's nothing to not believe.  Homosexuality, transgender, it's a part of our world, the world we live in - and whether you agree with it or not, it's there. 

So therefore, yes- it is completely appropriate and acceptable that we talk about people who are gay/transgender but not talk about God.  


When is the "right" time to talk to our kids about homosexuality?  And not just homosexuality- but other issues as well.  Racism, disabilities, transgender.  When is the "right time"?

The right time is NOW.  Children in this classroom were using words like "gay" and "woman" or phrases like"like a girl" in a hurtful and hateful way.  In order to stop them, challenge their thinking, and help them understand differences, they needed to learn about it.  It was the perfect time - I can't think of a better time.  And who better to teach them than their teacher?  The person they spend 7+ hours a day with.  The one who cares for them as if they are their own.  The one that hurts when they hurt, that cries when they cry, that worries for them when they are not with them, the one that believes in them more than they believe in themselves - the one that believes they are much better than the way they were acting. 

This book was absolutely necessary.  And it shouldn't just stopped there.  We need to be actively having conversations with our children - often.  We need them to understand the differences they will see in this world - and teach them how to open up their minds and heart to accept differences in this world.  We need them to understand that just because someone is different, doesn't mean they are wrong.  We need to build a culture of students that are open-minded and accepting - one that stands up for equal rights for everyone, because nobody should ever feel like they are wrong because of something like being homosexual, transgender, disabled, a different color.... nobody. 

The right time is now and we can't wait any longer.

Image result for support equal rights

*Side note: The school board reviewed this book and deemed it appropriate for 3rd grade.  The teacher, however, has been bullied/harassed and is now strongly considering resigning at the end of the year.  I have to commend him for his professionalism during this whole thing and want him to know that I stand by and support him every day.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Teacher Hero

I love Teachers!

Not cause I am one...

But because there are so many that have inspired and continue to inspire me to be the educator I am!

Today, some teachers are linking up with Jenny from LuckyFrog's Lilypad to share their teacher heroes with you!

I'm going to tell you about one of mine.

Unlike most people, I didn't know I wanted to be a teacher all my life.  I don't even remember much of elementary school, sadly. I even decided to go to school to become a Veterinarian.  Then I changed to study Music, and lastly, changed to education.  When I think about teachers who inspired me to make that last decision, there one particular one that comes to mind (who was actually the inspiration for wants to do something in music as well!).

His name is Mr. Craner.  

When I was in the 4th grade, I joined my elementary schools band.  I had just moved there and thought it would be fun, plus a good way to make friends!  I was just an average musician.  I played for fun, I enjoyed it.  

In Jr high, my band conductor was diagnosed with cancer.  After I think 2 years having her on and off, my high school hired a new director (I was now in 9th grade).  I thought Mr. Craner was CRAZY.  The music that he gave me to play - I wondered how the heck he ever thought I was going to be able to play it. I gave him the "you are crazy" looks- (I'm pretty sure he would confirm this haha!)  Even though I gave him those crazy looks and had no faith in myself- Mr. Craner had faith in me.  

He worked with me, practiced with me, pushed me.  Before I knew it, My grade of 85 (because I was not so good about making it to lessons) had changed to a 100. I went from 2nd flute, last chair to 1st flute 2nd chair - and eventually first chair. I even started playing Piccolo too!  But I didn't stop there.  I soooo badly wanted to play in the Jazz Ensemble that Mr. Craner started at my high school.  So he loaned me the schools Bari Sax and he taught me how to play.  I made the Jazz Ensemble which I played in for 2 of the best years of highschool!  My last year of high school, I was even in Mr. Craner's music theory class. My friends and I, we spent every possible moment we could in the music room. If I wasn't playing field hockey, you knew exactly where to look. It wasn't just a place for music.  It was a place for studying, for laughing, for popping popcorn, for learning, for taking risks, for being comfortable - it was a place that I felt I belonged - and Mr. Craner created that for me.

I want to create this same learning environment for my students.  If it wasn't for Mr. Craner, I might not even know what that learning environment looks like, feels like.  But, I do...and I can think about that to help me create a welcoming classroom that my students *beg* to be in everyday...and for that, I am thankful.

To say "Thanks" to teachers for being Heroes everyday, TPT is having a sale this Wednesday-Thursday!  My store is 20% off and you can get an extra 10% off by putting in the code "heroes".  Thanks for being a hero for kids everyday!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Teachers don't "get" snow days

So this morning, as I was perusing through my Social Media, I found this silly article that was posted online over at Philadelphia News and Opinion.  If you want to read it, and you are a teacher - I'm warning you.... it might infuriate you, but here it is ---> Silly Article 

Gene - I have an answer to your question that titles your article. "Why do Teachers Get Snow Days?"

I'll put it simply....

First of all, I must start by telling you that teachers are only paid for 180 days, those 180 days spread out over 10 months of the year (Or 12 if you teach at a year-round like me).  So anybody who wants to argue that teachers "get summers off" - you are woefully incorrect.  Just like any salaried employee, teachers make a salary.  For many teachers, that salary is split up over 10 months.  For others, 12.  And the 5 snow days that my district has had this winter, will be made up- on our break - or our precious Saturdays. For others, those snow days were built into their schedule - so children had 190 days in their schedule instead of 180 - in preparation for those snow days.  Obviously and quite clearly, teachers don't "get" snow days.  So that settles that....

Second, in your article, you've bulleted 10 things that teachers COULD do on a snow day. Well, let me tell you what teachers ARE DOING EVERYDAY, not just on snow days.

  • Looking at/grading papers 
  • Dreaming up new and innovative ideas to educate the kids
  • Cleaning/rearranging our classroom to make it the best environment for learning (I've probably changed mine 10 times this year)
  • Meeting with Professional Learning Communities, Special Education teachers, support staff, specials teachers, and others to discuss the kids, plan, & determine long range objectives.
  • Talking to other educators online to discuss best practice (Want proof? Just check the #ncsnowchat archives, #weirded #totallyrossome #whatisschool)
  • E-mailing/Calling parents
  • Crafting new engaging lessons
  • Teaching- making themselves available to their students outside of school hours through twitter, edmodo, blogs, and other online means.
  • Researching ways to reach "Johnny" who's been acting out the last 3 weeks
  • Creating a new Project-based unit so kids can discover, rather than just be told
  • Putting together resources for the next big unit they're teaching
  • Figuring out how to differentiate the current math unit to reach EVERY child in the class
  • Worrying about the children who don't have food, heat, a bed to keep them warm
  • Helping neighbors shovel their driveway
  • Going to the teacher store to buy new manipulatives or learning games.
  • Buying snacks to make sure that that child that comes to school every day without one, has something to eat. 
  • Spending last months paycheck on markers, scissors, glue, paper, technology etc because "I can live on Ramen Soup for another week."
  • Trying to figure out how to get that little sweetie that just came 20 weeks into the school year to talk to you.
  • Wondering how to handle that bullying situation that's been going on and handle it with care.
  • Preparing kids for a BS test that measures nothing except the ability to sit for 3 hours and read meaningless questions - without stressing them out.
  • Preaching everyday, that no matter what anybody else tells them... that they MATTER.
  • Working a 2nd job and missing out on precious with their own children, in order to support their family.
and more

So it it quite clear that all those thing you said we COULD be doing on Snow days... well, we do all that and more.  

Maybe you should do a little more research next time you want to pass judgement on a profession that you clearly know very little about.

Upon further investigation, I see that another smart educator wrong a reply to the article.  You can read that here

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ending the day on time and in style

If your students are like mine, packing up and cleaning up at the end of the day could seriously take 30 minutes if they wanted it do.  You are watching your little ones dottle along thinking "What in the world are you doing? It's been the same routine for 100 days!"  
Unfortunately, we just don't have all that time.  I leave about 10 minutes each day for our end of the day routine. I recently wrote about our afternoon meeting that takes us about 5 minutes, so that means we have to pack up and clean up in FIVE minutes!  At the beginning of the year that would have been next to impossible but thanks to a little song to motivate them and lots of practice, 5 minutes is plenty of time!

What is our song, you ask?  Well it's our 2014-2015 theme song: Brave!

I absolutely love this song and I love watching them jam out to it at the end of the day.  It's a great way to end our day and no matter what happened throughout the rest of the day- they get to hear this everyday before they go home!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

P is for Pirate.....arrrrrrr

I don't know how in the world I have been so lucky and fortunate to be a part of so many wonderful things in education lately... Incredibly blessed, truly.

I wanted to share this incredible book with you written by Dave and Shelley Burgess.  The book is called P is for Pirate: Inspirational ABCs for Educators. It is exactly what the title says - A book that inspires you to make your learning fun, engaging, and unforgettable! 
Before they finished up, Dave and Shelley took to twitter to ask #TLAP (Teach Like a Pirate - Also an awesome book!! Seriously- if you don't have it you NEED to get it) educators what words they'd use to describe the classroom.  

Of course, I participated because I <3 TLAP and connecting.  I'm not sure how long it was after but I got a message from Dave asking if they could use one of my words in the book.


I cannot believe I am a part of this amazing book and am so thankful for the opportunity.

Definitely go grab it now - it's a great, quick read - (& there's also a treasure hunt in it!! Who doesn't  love a treasure hunt??)

Thanks to Dave and Shelley Burgess for letting me be a part of this!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pushing the Edge Podcast

I was so very fortunate to be able to take part in a podcast by Greg Curran who is pushing teachers to become effective change agents.  The Podcast is called Pushing the Edge.  In each episode, Greg (Who is seriously awesome- by the way), talks to educators about how they are thriving in even the toughest of times in education.  Each episode brings new, amazing ideas and thoughts from even more amazing, inspirational educators. 

I can't even begin to explain how nervous I was.  I've never done anything like this before...but I was thrilled that Greg asked me to be a part of it.  And being the crazy risk-taker I am - I couldn't say no!  I hope this episode helps educators remember that we are Change Agents, even when we feel that we can't seem to do anything right.... and encourages teachers to stay true to themselves, be confident in their teaching, connect, and take risks in the classroom.

Head on over to listen! 

Oh, you can also Listen on ITunes!

If you like it, please leave a comment and share a link with friends, colleagues, followers! 

Thanks again, Greg, for letting me be a part of this amazing Podcast!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Don't Bite the Hook!

My students this year are HUGE tattlers & teasers...Anyone else?  I mean, they are 7 & 8 so I expect it- but boy I didn't expect this much.  We've spent a lot of time this year talking about respect-  but ya know- sometimes you just gotta tell em to ignore the annoying behaviors.  When our school counselor suggested the book Simon's Hook - I was so excited! She even came in to read it and did a lesson with them.  Have you ever read it?

This is definitely a book you need to add to your teacher collection.  It's about Simon, who is having a bad hair day and his friends tease him.   When he goes to his grandma, she teaches him how to deal with these teases and put downs by telling the story of a fish who learned not to bite the fisherman's hook!

After listening to the story, we sorted "Hooked" and "Free" fish responses to the tease"You're a Little Shrimp!"  

Last, we though about some thing that our friends might say to tease us.   They decided on "You're bad at math!" and "I'm stronger than you!" They then set off with a partner to come up with a FREE FISH response to either of these teases/put downs!...

"Yea, I am!"

"Hey, what's that over there?"

"I'm just going to go play!"

Now, whenever someone comes to tattle, I remind them.. "How can you be a FREE fish?"  It works almost every time! Now I call that winning!