Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Holiday Weekend

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Wishing you all a fun-filled weekend of celebrations, family, memories, and sunshine!  Be safe and enjoy yourself.  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hashtag Goals

It's only a few days before I begin my FOURTH year teaching! I can't believe 3 have already flown by.  We begin our teacher work week on the 6th and the kids start on the 13th.  Oh.Em.Gee.

Since I only have a few days left of summer I thought I would share my goals for the year.  Someone tweeted a picture that I think perfectly sums these us....

I've always taken risks in the classroom but this year I want to go even farther.  I want to build a student led classroom that thrives on learning, collaboration, and love of school.  I want students to seek out knowledge, to be able to solve problems on their own, and to take CHARGE of their learning. I want to teach kids how to connect globally, how to use their ideas to change the world, how to make a difference, and to always Choose King.  This is a big leap, to sort of "give up" control, but thanks to Paul Solarz, Dave Burgess, Teach Like a Pirate, and Learn like a Pirate - I think I'm pretty well planned to take the risk and give it a shot.  

Cheers to the new year! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My {Summer}

When you teach at a year round school, you don't really get too much of a summer.  We got out on June 5th and are back on July 6th, just 1 week after summer has truly begun. This is why I so look forward to that September intersession.  Getting ready for a new year is tough, but to do it in 4 weeks is even tougher. 

This past school year I found out that I would be moving from 2nd grade to 3rd grade.  That makes enjoying summer even more difficult.  Changing rooms...changing curriculum...changing mindset. However, I did find some time to enjoy myself this summer. Enjoy a "tour of my summer" through pictures :)

I moved classrooms.  I had to move from my ginormous, wonderful,painted classroom...

to a much smaller, not so welcoming, plain ole boring room... No worries, I'll make it mine :)

I spent some time with the wonderful staff I work with.  Said "see ya later" to my awesome, amazing teammate who gets rids of spiders in my classroom when I'm too scared to. And took one last "Team Pic" with this AMAZING 2nd grade team! I don't know what I'm going to do without my teaching BFF across the hall.

I said "farewell" to a friend who was moving away. Sadsville.

I dropped this fella off at his Grammy and Grampys, and took his Grammy with me to NY.

Where I enjoyed my incredible bridal shower thrown by my mom, my maids of honor/sisters, my mother-in-law to be, and my beautiful flower girls.

Went jet-skiing on the lake and even tipped Justin and I off into the warm lake water!

Saved a turtle...

Spend some time with family...

Soaked up some sun by the pool...

And started getting ready for the year ahead. Teachers start back officially on July 6th and the kids start 1 week later, on the 13th.  Now I'm in full on school year mode!

Green Screen!

Hope you've enjoyed taking a peek at my summer and I hope you enjoy the rest of yours! :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Being Real...

A lot of times, people read teacher blogs (I'm totally guilty of this) and it seems all puppies and rainbows in the world of teaching... like everything is just wonderful..and you think, "Why in the world didn't I think of that?" or "Why can't I control my class like that?" or "So jealous of him/her..." They seem like they've got this teaching thing all figured out, and you wish you could be more like them...

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Well I'm here to be a little real with you.. (sorry if I'm long winded today) I promise you, even though it may seem like it....It's not ALL puppies and rainbows for us bloggers anymore than it is for you! 

I don't have many followers and I'm not sure if anyone's noticed but I really haven't posted much of anything this past school year - Want to know why?

Because this was the most incredibly challenging, trying, exhausting year EVER - (In my entire 3 years that's sooo many, right? :))  

Without saying too much, this group had A LOT of energy, many struggled to get along, they argued about anything and everything - (I mean really....The sky is Carolina Blue! NO, it's just blue! NO! YES! NO! NO!! MS G!!! ugh) .  I had students who showed their feelings in ways I've never had to deal with in my classroom before. Students who said they hated me. Students who couldn't control their impulsiveness no matter what I did to help them. Students who I thought I was failing.  Students that I spent less time with than others because I had serious behavior issues to deal with. Students that I wish I could have helped grown more but didn't because I struggled to keep up.  There were so many days that I felt like just giving up - thought that this wasn't for me (3 year burnout anyone?). I felt like I was sinking...drowning with an anchor strapped to my ankle. I felt like a horrible teacher and felt bad for my students, no matter how many times parents, teachers, admin, my students told me how wonderful I was, I just didn't believe them.  Now, this does not mean that I tried less - I still put my whole heart into everything I did - it just felt like everything I did was a failure.  But no matter how hard things got, I never gave up (And I have so many people to thank for that!).

I'm so glad I didn't.  Because by the end of the year, even though it was still difficult, I could see that so many of my efforts were beginning to pay off.  Arguments grew in fairly smaller numbers. Impulsive students were finding ways to be in control of themselves. We had fewer angry outbursts that ruined entire days. Those students who refused to even look at eachother could sit in closer proximity with fewer issues.  Students who came to me as shy, timid writers, grew into fluent, vivacious writers that took risks.  Students who would sit and watch us dancing like crazy people to KooKooKangaroo were up dancing and laughing with us.  That student that started at a reading level H? She grew to an N! And that student that said he hated me? That one came up to me and said "Ms. G, I hope I get you next year for third grade."

If that doesn't tell you why we do what we do...Honestly, I'm not sure what does.  While this year was far from perfect - I learned so many valuable things to take to my future classrooms, and I know there are so many teachers that have been in similar situations.

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Teaching is hard.  Some years are harder than others - but no matter what, we are ALL important. We  ALL make a difference.  We ALL change lives. We ALL matter.  Blogger or not.

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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.

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*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