Poetry Fix

I like writing in prose-
Short lines echo
The staccato bursts of ideas in my mind.

Am I doing this right?
Are there rules?
Can I break them?
Does it matter?

My fingers fly across the screen,
Translating the images in my mind to words-

Classroom,
Kittens,
Television,
Basketball,
Recipes,
Memories,
Kids

Random and unrelated,
Yet somehow coherent
In the prose that I create.

Imperfect and unapologetic-
Mine.

The Songs in My Head

I wonder sometimes what to post on here.  Does it need to be deep and philosophical?  Does it need to impart the emotions and motivations necessary to make great educational changes?  Or does it sometimes just become a venue for fun?

Well, if you’re looking for something deep- this may not be the best blog post for you. If you want a dip into some fun and frivolity- well, read on.

Everyone has gotten a song stuck in their head, right?  It happens to me almost daily.  I’ve spent time trying to decide why some songs get caught- is it the catchy tune?  Is it some deep hidden meaning in the lyrics?  Is it an unconscious answer to some question?

The only thing I know for sure is that once it’s in there- it’s in there. There are several ways I deal with songs that get stuck- some are more successful than others.  My favorite, though, is singing around the kids in my class.  I must tell you, however, this often leads to hands clapped over ears and kids saying, “noooo!”  But you know what?  I do it anyway.  I believe in the power of music and that it should be shared. They may act scared or scarred for life because their teacher sometimes sings, but I see joy and laughter coming from them.  Who doesn’t need a moment of joy?

So here are the five songs that have been stuck in my head recently:

As you can see, there’s little rhyme or reason to the songs that lodge themselves in my mind.  There’s a lesson in faith, a couple of  songs that remind us to be who we are, a song for hopes and dreams,  and a song that reminds us to be there for our friends.

All I do know is that when a song gets locked in, I’m more than happy to sing it out.

What about you, readers?  What songs have been stuck in your head?  How do you get them out?

True Colors

They say that “to teach is to touch a life forever.”  Thinking back on my career to this point, I realized this phrase summed up the drive that led me to teach and keeps me going back each day.  I want to make a difference in a child’s life.  Whether it’s to be that teacher that finally “connects” with them, or the one who teaches them that there are eight planets in solar system- I want them to learn to be greater.  Greater than what they are at this moment, greater than what they dream they can be.  I’m pretty sure that’s what makes me an idealist.

There are so many things that interfere with my students’ hopes and  dreams- from daily realities to unforseen horrors. The one thing that I see consistently, though, is that they are often their own worst enemies.  Whether it comes from a sense of self-worth that has been tromped on at home, or whether their experiences at school have led them to believe they aren’t capable,they don’t believe they can achieve all that they are capable of.

It bothers me.  On very deep levels.  I was scrolling through music in my playlists and came across an updated version of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.”  There are some very meaningful lines in the lyrics that deal with remembering your own self worth.

“True Colors”

You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so smallBut I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbowShow me a smile then,
Don’t be unhappy, can’t remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there

And I’ll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

My goal this week is to really focus on reminding the kids that they are special. they are capable, and that they are beautiful.  Every child needs to hear it-

The Video

Fixing Mistakes

Today, I let myself dive back into my quilting. These afternoons are precious to me- I focus, close out the world, and create. It was wonderful, creating the next square in my color harmony quilt. I cut, sewed, pressed, arranged. And when I was finished…I realized I had made a mistake.

There was no way to simply move it around and fix it. I had sewn the pieces incorrectly. I would have to take many seams out to correct my mistake.

In that moment, I understood the frustrations of a particular student in my class.

He is working on his All About book. He is a confident reader and writer, who breezed through the research process. As we started completing the graphic organizers, he got off track. But he didn’t realize it until he had completed his task. Now he is faced with going back to fix his mistakes, and he is resistant.

Who knew that an afternoon of creation and frustration in my own life would remind me of the struggles my students face? Certainly not me. But when I see him Monday morning, I will be reminded to be kind with him.

Because fixing mistakes, whether great or small, is frustrating.

Swallowed

As I look at the computer screen, I realize that I have probably missed the posting deadline for Day 14’s slice. I wish I had a great reason…I really don’t, other than I got lost in the factions of the Divergence trilogy. I had a vision, when deciding what to post about the missed slice, of an excuse note. You know, the dog ate my homework type.

Dear Readers,

Please forgive my forgotten post. I was swallowed. I was unable to write because I was deep in the headquarters of Candor, waiting to see how Tris and Tobias would fare, and what would become of the Dauntless. While I forgot my sense of Abnegation, I implore yours to forgive me. I will post again tomorrow, to show my Amity. By then, I hope to know what becomes of Erudite.

Please excuse my missing post, as I was swallowed.

B.

The Gift of Change

For the past couple of hours, I’ve been watching the snow pile up outside my window.  Earlier in the month, I was able to put a positive spin on the snow in this never-ending winter.  Today, it’s more difficult.  I’m tired of it.  I try to remember that the promise of spring is just around the corner.  Surely it must be….right?

Rather than further lamenting on the plight of the Vitamin-D deprived, I think I’ll focus on something good- the gift of change.

I’d been feeling like my teaching had hit a patch of “blah.”  I wasn’t happy with the way I was teaching, and felt like I had morphed into the kind of teacher I didn’t want to be– a basal-driven skill n’ drill Sally.  My teaching felt disjointed and uncomfortable. I dove back into the training I’d had over the years- most of it in bits and pieces- and came out realizing that what was missing was DEPTH.  It was when I went back to my learning as teacher of kids with high abilities that I reconnected with my “friends” Wiggins and McTighe and their work in Understanding by Design.

I decided the overarching concept of “Change” would be what guided our learning for at least the next nine weeks.  After Christmas, we started.  We explored the changes in the life cycles of plants and animals, how we as readers change over time.  I personally have changed the way I’m teaching reading (with the help of my literacy coach) and writing, and am watching this change- this WONDER- come out in all of my learners, from the strugglers to the shiny stars.

More than anything, change has refreshed me. It’s taken me back to something that I really believe in as a teacher.  Kids should know things well, not necessarily know a lot of things.  For those of you who may be reading this and thinking in shock and horror, “WHAT ABOUT THE STANDARDS?!?!”  I am covering them.  But in a way that’s meaningful to my students.

If you need proof, stop in my classroom sometime.  Ask the kids to tell you about the animals we’re studying, or how their plants are growing.  Have them show you with their magnifying glasses and plant journals how their plants have grown, changed, and sometimes even died.  Look at our reasearch on animals and the beginnings of our All About books. Listen to the conversation as we read about animals, the connections and curiosities are awe-inspiring.  And yes, often very, very silly.

It’s a happy classroom, where we learn, observe, we read, we write, we do math, and embrace our gift of change.

The Greatest Love of All

A friend of mine has done several posts this month based around songs.  Tonight, I draw my inspiration from her.

I can remember being a middle schooler and attending a leadership conference of some sort in Northwest Indiana.  At that conference, one of the closing songs was Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All.”  It spoke to my heart then– and it does now.

The opening lines sum up why I became a teacher:

“Greatest Love Of All”

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

Everybody’s searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs
A lonely place to be
And so I learned to depend on me

[Chorus:]
I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

[Chorus]

And if, by chance, that special place
That you’ve been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love

I think every teacher can use a reminder of why they got into teaching– especially with the pressures we face today.

Reading these words again reminds my why I got into the business of education.  I want to make a difference in the world.

There’s A Cat on My Keyboard

It seems like in life, there’s always a distraction.  I can find a million reasons to procrastinate. In fact, my reason for not typing this sooner tonight is that there was a 16 pound cat on my keyboard.

The 16 pound feline in question...
The 16 pound feline in question…

Enough about my distraction of the moment…

Today I feel distracted.

Today my thoughts flit in and out.

Today, I lose focus on what  am supposed to do.

Today, I focus on many things in rapid succession.

Today, I am the moment-

The cat on the keyboard,

The Facebook updates,

The chatter of a second grader,

Exhausted.

Today I was distracted.

 

You Are More Than A Test Score

Dear Indiana Teachers,

It’s that week again- ISTEP+ week. As an early grades teacher, it’s something I don’t have to anticipate. What I do endure, though, is the pain and stress I see on my friends’ faces as our children, -yes, I said CHILDREN-take a flawed test that has an enormous impact on the teacher’s “supposed” credibility and effectiveness.

I don’t buy it. You are more than your students’ test scores.

You are the love, the support, and the humor that you bring to your kids each day. You are the wonder, the excitement, and the thirst for knowledge you give your students. You are amazing.

In a week of testing, be sure that just as you remind your students how good they are and how well they can do, you remind yourself of your value as well. You are more than their test score.

B.