Tag Archives: Teachers

Behind the Scenes

I know many teachers across the country have already returned to their classrooms and some may not start up until after Labor Day. In our district we begin this coming week-at least our students begin. Many teachers have already put in dozens and dozens of hours of work to make their classrooms an inviting and engaging environment for their students.

Social media and sites like Pinterest can offer lots of ideas for classroom design and creative decoration-but they can also be discouraging if we have a tendency to compare ourselves and our work to others. What those sites can never show is the passion and commitment that go into preparing for a new school year.

Many in the public assume teachers are paid for their work to set up their classrooms, prepare curriculum and lessons, and create materials for all of their children. Many don’t realize that teachers spend so much of their own money for the supplies that these children will use-and we aren’t talking a few dollars here and there. Teachers spend hundreds of dollars every year for books and materials to teach our nation’s children. That’s money that doesn’t go into their retirement, their family savings, or their own child’s college fund.

But even more amazing, is how willingly and enthusiastically they do all of this. Teachers in my district have been excited about preparing their classrooms and building up their libraries with great books. They come to unpaid professional development trainings to learn about new curriculum and share ideas. I have been doing this teaching thing for over thirty years and I am still in awe of the dedication and passion that teachers have for their students and their profession. We have teachers in their last year of teaching who give up days in their summer to continue their learning! As I write this, there are teachers giving up their Saturday morning to distribute school supplies to children in our community.

I know I am singing to the choir with this blog, but I wish those who bemoan the easy life of a teacher or like to comment, “Well at least you had the whole summer off,” could see what summer is really like for a teacher.  There is so much going on behind the scenes in the world of a teacher that often goes unnoticed and unappreciated. My post this week is my THANK YOU CARD to teachers across the country (and world) who pour their hearts and souls into this profession.  I hope you enjoy this last weekend, that you sleep well (without those stressful teacher dreams), and that you feel appreciated. For those who have already started their school year, I hope that your expectations and dreams are being realized with your students and that you feel a deep satisfaction from all of your hard work.  Here’s to another amazing school year!

One More Off My TBR Stack!

Screen Shot 2018-08-25 at 8.55.01 AMBOB  by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

Got time for one last summer read? Try this quick and enjoyable tale.

Five years ago Livy left her friend, Bob, in a closet at her grandmother’s house in Australia when she went back to Boston. She told him to wait there, she’d be back soon. When Livy returns for a visit, she has no memory of Bob, who has been patiently marking time. Slowly Livy recovers her memory and she sets out on a quest to find Bob’s home. Told in alternating chapters from Bob and Livy’s perspective, we fall in love with both of these vulnerable characters. Intriguing subplots make this story even more engaging. Just what is Bob? Where did he come from? Where does he need to go? Some twists in this text will more than satisfy your curiosity. From two of my favorite middle grade authors: Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead- a great combo!

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Don’t “Should” All Over Yourself

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As we wind up another school year we often think back on the year that was, and dive into the summer that is.  These transitions are are an opportune time for reflection and planning.  But too often I hear teachers focusing so much thought and energy on what they should have done, (I should have done more with fractions, I should have had the kids write letters to next years class, I should have….)and what they should do this summer, (I should take that class, I should read more professional books, I should…)  These are all great ideas to be sure, but when approached with a should mindset, they seem more like a duty than a choice.

When we find ourselves using this verb we need to give it some thought.  Some of the synonyms for should include: be one’s duty, be compelled to, be forced to, must, and even suffer! Should often implies you’d rather be doing something else! Sometimes should is appropriate, but if we spend so much energy “shoulding on ourselves” we might be missing out on opportunities that truly feed us in more positive ways.

When we hear ourselves saying, “I really should…”, let’s ask ourselves:

  • Why? 
  • Who is this really for? 
  • How will this really make my life or my teaching better? 
  • Are there other options?
  • What would happen if I didn’t?

That might lead to other questions to help us reflect and plan ahead:

  • What worked well this year that I’d like to continue?
  • What could I try next year that would make teaching and learning more rewarding or effective?
  • What would make my summer better for me, for my family, for my community?
  • What would I enjoy doing this summer that would benefit my students?
  • What would feed my personal or professional growth?

We can’t do it all.  We are often very unforgiving of ourselves when we feel we need to do more.  We spend far too little time appreciating what do well. This leads to a shouldy attitude! The best gift we can give our students is a teacher who embraces life as well as learning.  A happy, healthy teacher can offer so much more than a tired, shouldy teacher.

So take time this summer to LIVE! Listen to the birds in the morning, watch your kids splash in the cool water, get lost in a book, stay up too late at a drive-in, roast marshmallows, drive to someplace you’ve never been, write a story, look for sea glass, watch for shooting stars, pick up a frog,  join in a twitter chat, go for walks with your loved one, buy some lemonade at a stand, unplug for awhile, close your eyes and see what you notice, try something you’ve never done before…

Not because you should, just because you can.  Life is full of choices, choose wisely.

What’s on My Book Radar?

51JGg4dJ12L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Every once in awhile a book comes out and you think, “What a great idea!”  This definitely falls into that category! Kids will LOVE following these steps for how to read stories, and I can just see the wheels spinning in their heads for creating their own steps!  Kate Messner has such a great range in her writing: professional books for teachers, chapter books for older readers, and picture books for younger readers.  If you aren’t a fan of hers yet, you should be. (Haaa, just kidding…you’ll want to be!!)

Join Kate and some amazing authors this summer for the 4th annual TEACHERS WRITE. As Kate’s site says, “Teachers Write is a free online summer writing camp, especially for teachers and librarians. It’s a chance to practice your own writing in a warm, supportive environment so that you can go back to your students with new ideas and (in many cases) a new sense of empathy for the courage involved in writing and sharing one’s work. We offer daily inspiration and assignments, including mini-lessons, writing prompts, and Q and A sessions with authors whose books you and your students love.

Teachers don’t join this group because they should-they join because they want to connect with some amazing authors and walk the talk!

Happy Reading (and writing)!