Monday, December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


So, I've been a bit busy.....

 (shopping at the Dollar Tree for new tubs!!!)
 (finding, cutting, laminating centers)
(Planning specifically for weak areas and daily lessons)

I'm enjoying my weeks off visiting with family, going to Mass, singing to Baby Jesus and being thankful. As a teacher, I know some of my students may not be so lucky. So as their teacher, this falls on me. I LOVE teaching. But that's pretty broad, isn't it? There are some specific things I love and I am thankful for. Here are my top 5:

1. Relationships with my students
This is probably one of my favorites. I love building these relationships. We have fun, work and play together. We grow as a community. Not just as learners, but very similar to a family. As with all relationships, you have good days and bad days. Investing in getting to know your students on a personal levels help so much. When those bad days come, and they do, your compassion and personal relationship can help a student tremendously. (and tough love) Not building a relationship can also seriously have negative effects if you don't know what makes a student tick. You don't have to befriend everyone, but make an effort to stop what you are doing, look a student in the eye and give them 100% of you. They will remember that, even if you don't. 

2. Reading together
Seriously, this is just so FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!! It's better than the movies because your peers, your teachers, your "mystery reader" reads you something, makes a memory and you don't forget. You remember the joy and the laughter and the silly willies. You remember the emotional stories where someone loses their pet, or when dwarves make fun of Bilbo. (we all related to Bilbo!) These get us started on the most fascinating conversations ever that lead to great writing, and great comprehension and constant connections through the year. It doesn't come from a textbook. It doesn't come from a worksheet. It comes from your time. You being in the moment. Create the experience and enjoy it. 

3. Station Time
I LOVE finding new things that will challenge and push my students to think beyond what they know. For stations, (math, reading and science) I try different things and change it out. This whole concept of "I don't want to change it out every 2 weeks" really irks me. It just sounds more egotistical than anything and less about a student need. I've been there. I've done it. Students don't grow like that. They need to be challenged. So that means, it's going to be challenging to get it together, isn't it? No one said it was easy. But no one said that kids learn when you take the easy road out. I'm casting no judgement, but don't give me excuses either. 


4. To Infinity....And Beyond! 
When you've taken the time to do alllll of the above, something wonderful happens. That mountain you thought you couldn't climb just got owned. Students are going above and beyond what you ever imagined. In reality, I've let my students steer the ship. It hasn't been easy, but it's a good balance. Students want to read more, work harder because HEY! They just OWNED a mountain!!! It's amazing to be on this ride and quite a privilege. 

5. Collaboration, Friends and Elevators
I LOVE collaborating with teachers!!!!!! I love bouncing ideas off and trying new things to help my students. In doing so, you will encounter 2 different kinds of people. Those who want to take you up and those who will try to take you down. Surround yourself with great people who want more for their students. Leave the lounge if you find yourself joining in negativity. Find people who look for solutions versus bemoaning their classrooms. I went through a dry spell. It was tough. I stayed out of the lounge and worked during lunch. It would have been too easy to complain.  It was tough for all of us, but finding someone who wanted more was hard. So I looked online. I found teachers who blogged, teachers who shared ideas and communicated their new ideas, organization and tips for teaching. It helped keep the fire burning until I found a small community of teachers who wanted more. Share what you have. If it gets you fired up, SHARE! Share with your colleagues, share with other grade levels, just SHARE. I have teachers who have shared back and have awesome ideas and I have teachers who will use what I have made/found, etc and share their feedback. What you will see are teachers emerging with new ideas and even better, a new community to collaborate with. Sure, you'll always have a Negative Nancy, but share with her too. Don't discriminate. Because in the end, your goal is to ultimately help those students in her class. Too many times I find teachers who won't share, who "hide" their plans, who do something on the "side". It's hard. I get it. Sometimes schools put teacher against teacher. But as "Catching Fire" stated, "Remember who the real enemy is". (Hint: the enemy is NOT the teachers on campus) P.S. This doesn't mean you are a workhorse either. So if you find yourself sharing allll the time, just share "enough". I'm no one's secretary, so there has to be a clear line of sharing and not being taken advantage of. =)

6. Honorable Mentions
So I said the top 5 of why I love teaching. Honorable mentions are Christmas parties, field trips and classroom parties. Students are so sweet, aren't they? One kid brought me a turtle from a pond one year after it rained really hard that year. Yep. 

Bottom line: Be thankful. Challenge yourself. Your students depend on you. 

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Teaching!

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