Don’t Take It Personal

We have been in full swing of crazy here.  Anyone else feel like that?  These are the months that are full of activities, long days, early mornings, and busy weekends.  However, somehow we make it through.  I think the exciting holiday talk, decorations, days off with family and friends, and overall spirit takes over and gives us the strength.

This isn’t a lengthy blog, but me simply getting my feelings out about something on my mind right now.  There is one thing I always try to keep in mind when these months arrive each year, but I will admit that it is much easier said than done. Especially when we are extra tired and sensitive.

This quote right here:

In a recent tweet by an inspiring educator, David Geurin, he said “Reminder: A student’s behavior usually says far more about what they are going through than what they are trying to put you through.”

 I appreciated this little tweet more than he knew that day.  I believe this to my very core and I’m grateful for quotes to remind me to check in with myself.  Sometimes I take a behavior personally before pausing and asking myself if I am calming them or joining their chaos.  We are all human, right?Chances are, this has nothing to do with me and everything to do with what is going on in their little world – and in most teenager’s worlds at the moment the littlest thing is HUGE!  I get it. We were all there.
During these next few weeks (and every week) I plan to pause and check in with the things they are NOT saying that speak loudly.  Check in with the behaviors that are crying out in the not so obvious way.  I hope to do this not only with my students but with my family as well.  I hope to bring calm and not join in the chaos.

Checking In With Feelings Using Emojis

You hear teachers say all the time that they think of things spur of the moment or their best reflections and lesson ideas come while in the shower or driving in the car.  It’s true!  One morning I was sitting at the breakfast table thinking about how to integrate lessons about character and the social-emotional aspect into my lessons. This is when the comment a student made echoed in my head.

He asked, “Can we talk about our feelings again?”

I guess I was unintentionally checking in with their feelings before we started each lesson.  I know that if children come in hungry, sad, nervous, tired… not much learning will happen.  This is not much different with teenage children!  They want to share their feelings of heartbreak, feeling sick, frustration, who they are crushing on (you would be surprised!), nervous about a test, how tired they are, and so much more.  It made me think about what we had been doing. So like I try to do with everything, I asked them if they liked that. Overwhelmingly, the response was YES!

This is how the Emoji Check In was born in room 217.

It is nothing fancy, but they love it!  They sign in the attendance folder and then check in, using an expo marker, with how they are feeling at that moment.  While I pull up Skyward to log in and take the attendance we have a quick class discussion about how we are feeling.

They appreciate that I want to know if they are nervous or if they are not feeling well.  I told them that if I know these things then I can have a better understanding why they are not acting like they normally do.  I understand life is hard sometimes and I want to empathize, as well as celebrate when great things happen!  The kids LOVE celebrating each other’s celebrations in life, school, or just fun things that happen.  Not only does this model empathy, but it has built class community and trust amongst each other where each week more and more kids are comfortable sharing.  I continue to ask them if we need to change things, but so far this is not one of those things!  I have discovered they want to share all the happy, scary, and funny things that go on.  Getting these off our chests before we begin learning has made a big difference in our classroom.  They want to share.  We just need to ask and listen.

Literacy Feedback – ALL Learners Means ALL Learners

So often as teachers when we learn new information, create something, or have knowledge about a specific content area we think that everyone already knows this and we keep it to ourselves.  I mean, why would we share something everyone already knows? That would seem silly. Do you ever feel like that?  🙂  Well, DON’T!!  

Share those “Obvious To You” ideas!!  You never know when someone you think knows, actually doesn’t.  Or when something you say may resonate with someone in a different way because they were ready to hear it.  That being said, I am going to share (at random) a few really important thoughts from the recent literacy conference I attended.

Literacy teachers spend so much time getting students to read.  Pushing students to read faster and faster to meet that Holy Grail number of words per minute so they can report they are “On Level” that year.  Am I right?  This must stop.  We must turn our attention and efforts to what really matters in literacy instruction.  Building a love of reading, for one.  Second on the list, Comprehension!  Do you not agree that we read things to learn something and understand?  I understand that reading rate does have an effect on comprehension, but how many times do you see a kid that can read pretty fast and not understand a thing they just read? When I was listening to Dr. Jan Hasbrouck preach about this, I wanted to shout, “Amen!” I have asked over and over, “Does it really matter?  As long as they can comprehend what they are reading, does it really matter if they are 10 words short of meeting that little designated number?”  At this particular session she shared something that stuck out to me:
“When using the Oral Reading Fluency norms, there is little evidence that reading faster is better for a reader’s comprehension.  In fact, there is significant evidence that we need to help readers read fluently AT or NEAR the 50th percentile to support comprehension and motivation.”

WOW! So, Average is the Sweet Spot! You can search “Reading Fast or Reading Well Jan Hasbrouck” and read more about this idea.

We all know in order to understand what we are reading we must actually read the words correctly! Did you know what we are looking for in Reasonably Accurate reading accuracy is based on a study that shows comprehension WILL be impaired if reader does not read at this specific accuracy?

The average reader should not read below 95% accuracy independently on unpracticed text.

Emergent readers must not read below 97-98% accuracy!!  Do you know why? Readers who are learning to read should never become frustrated or walk away feeling defeated in anything they are reading.  They need to have a positive mindset about reading for one, but don’t we also want them to practice reading those words correctly!? Here is my biggest takeaway from her session.

Do you find it ironic that I listed Accuracy as second on my list, when it comes First?! Like I mentioned earlier, these are not in order of importance but in order of how my mind is flowing. 

So you might have gathered that Fluent Reading DOES NOT mean faster. Something to remember about fluency is that it really should sound like talking. It should sound like speech – our everyday conversational talking.  There are many other important components to being a fluent reader, but the biggest one I find a need for in many of my students is PROSODY!  

Prosody is the intonation, the expression used, phrasing, and pitch that mirrors spoken language and conveys meaning.   So, wait a minute….you mean, it is not okay for the reader to sound like a “robot” when reading?  😉 Not so much, and let me share a big   A-HA that supports this statement.  It does effect comprehension, and isn’t that what the whole point of reading is?!

This last idea might be my biggest takeaway and is also my biggest soap box and so I am not sure why I saved it for last, but I want to say this and say it LOUDLY!!!

Feedback on a child’s reading is important for ALL READERS!  If we are going to meet the needs of every learner/reader, then we must listen to every reader read.  More importantly, we must give them feedback on their reading. What does this mean exactly?  How do we accomplish this? I know what you are thinking…We have deadlines & expectations to meet with limited time and an overwhelming number of students in classroom.  Not to mention all of the other important needs crying out to be met. Listening to every child read daily/weekly is “ideal” and really is our best intention, but is quickly pushed aside when we run out of time after working with three groups of struggling readers.  If we are able to listen to every single child read every single week, how many times are we giving authentic feedback?  Let me share what I heard restated by Dr. Jan Hasbrouck this week. This is why we must listen to ALL readers read aloud AND give Feedback.  

It improves Fluency, which is critical for Comprehension. 

Sure, we get the 1st bullet. No problem.  That makes sense. The 2nd bullet hits a little harder. – Silent Reading NOT sufficient.  (Let me add the word ENOUGH.) It does not mean stop having children read silently.  It means that we must not only have our average and above average readers read alone or with peer groups without any feedback. Humor me, and let me say this again a little louder.

Why? Because ALL LEARNERS means ALL LEARNERS.  Everyone deserves an opportunity to be heard.  How else will your average and above average readers acquire new vocabulary and skills? What fluent role model are they hearing read to help them learn expression, phrasing, and such?  ALL READERS need to hear fluent reading, new vocabulary words, and practice oral reading.  Maybe my next post should be on how to manage this in the classroom, what it looks like, and how easy it really is to achieve?! 🙂 One last reminder – Literacy is not just reading, but writing as well.  I LOVED that Dr. Hasbrouck said this and shared this amazing quote that I will end with.  Let’s not forget all of the important research on the role our brain plays in learning!

Part I: Looking at the Whole Child reflections

I expected to gain new insight on Literacy and Dyslexia.  I expected to tie this all to what I am most passionate about – The Whole Child!  I expected to learn new things, but I did not expect the information to be so closely tied to the other topics I am so passionate about: the brain, positive mindsets, ADHD, and Executive Functioning! Boy, was I in for a treat!
I know that when we learn things we need to “unpack them” and put them in their spots to be able to mentally hold on to the information. So, this post is just Part I of my reflecting about the Whole Child part.  Part II about specific reading skills is coming!! I am going to use the idea that was recently shared on Twitter by Jon Gordon.
L – What LEFT an impression on you?
E – What ENERGIZED you?
A – What do you want to ASK more about?
D – What will you do DIFFERENTLY as a result of what you heard?
L – I was surprised at how the keynote speakers shared how important having a positive, growth mindset is not only for the reluctant readers, but for the teachers who teach these readers.  Personally, I have been preaching this for years and understand the benefit, but I haven’t heard it much in the world of literacy and dyslexia instruction, so it was incredibly refreshing and exciting to know that we are all getting there. 
E – Anytime you go to a learning conference or event in the summer where it is the choice of the educator to be there, you will find educators who are passionate about what they do.  Passionate People – that is what energizes me!  
Learning about how ADHD and Executive Function Deficits link with Dyslexia is incredibly insightful!  I could sit for two days and listen to people speak about these topics and the Whole Child and be completely inspired!  Oh wait…that is what I did!  🙂 
It ENERGIZED me to learn new insight about how these connect and what we can do as educators to help our students.  ALL STUDENTS…whether they are students with dyslexia, reluctant readers, strong readers, or students with active bodies and minds that need a little more guidance. 
A – You know, I am always asking questions.  About everything.  Let me share a quick story of Serendipity from yesterday.  I like to hand write my notes on paper because I believe in the connection between memory and writing by hand.   As I write notes, I star questions I have to come back to later or ask. Then, I go back and reread my notes between sessions to make connections and reflect.  
As I reflecting during a break I saw a question I wrote during the ADHD and Executive Function Deficit session: “HOW? Where do we find ideas of how to directly teach these things?”  This had been sitting on my mind for awhile at that point. 

Humor me for a minute, I promise you will learn something: Here is an example of a minute in my ADHD brain. I decided to google some info on this, but as I went to open a tab to search I clicked on the Tweetdeck that I had open from the day and started reading my feed.  I saw a post from someone I follow responding to someone else. 
Her response made me curious (about what, I don’t know!) and I clicked to see what she was responding to (because that was so on task), which led me to a tweet of a lady talking about a blog. Maybe it was the phrase she tweeted that drew me in? Do you see why I end up learning about the most amazing things, yet I cannot explain how I got there?!  
I ended up clicking on the blog by @StuartShanker and reading this incredible post! Here is the crazy thing…..WAIT FOR IT.…… It was about Self -Regulation!  He gave a few resources to read, which sent me to Amazon, which offered other books that are helpful! The crazy thing is that I already owned 3 of these at home!  
I would just like to document that for once, my internet searching/ open tab ADHD came in quite handy!  The exact question I was searching for fell into my lap because I was led astray!  LOL!
This was MY QUESTION! Where to get info on HOW to directly teach these executive functioning skills that our children need in order to get to the point of Self-Regulation and do this themselves. 
The BEST resource on this is this book!  I LOVE it and refer back to it often!
Here are a few more I have that they suggested that are great reads as well!
D – What will I do Differently? As a Literacy Specialist who serves children with Dyslexia and children who require a little more direct instruction in reading skills, I do not have as much freedom in my time spent with students to focus as much as I would like on teaching these skills.  I will do what I do best, and share all of the information I learn with my friends and do what I can.  Little by little.
However, as I reflect I also know that I will be even more mindful of my actions on how I respond when a child comes to me already shut down or with a negative mindset.   Learning how this originates, why it happens, where in the brain it starts, and how even when we think the child “knows” and “should be able to control this”….there is so much research that shows they truly don’t.   EVERY little interaction we have with a child can be the ONE thing that outlines their path of success.  
If you have never considered the role Executive Function Deficits plays in a child’s learning, I strongly urge –  no, I BEG you to research this a little more! 🙂


I Won’t Give Up

It is no secret that I am a HUGE advocate for children who need more than the traditional teaching. In the past 5 years, my passion has grown bigger for advocating for the Whole Child, children with ADD/ADHD, children with characteristics of Dyslexia, Whole Brain Teaching, integrating curriculum and teaching those important soft skills for life.  This quote most definitely sums up my mission!

As each year goes by I see more and more need for the Whole Child, Brain-Based background in teaching.  When we stop and think, it really is just great teaching.  Knowing your students.  Knowing their needs.  Knowing how to meet each one where they are and help them be successful by using strategies that work for them.  Knowing that every child learns differently and taking action to differentiate for their needs.  Seems simple, right?

We just cannot forget that these needs include MOVEMENT. (I wrote all about this in another post here.)  I am not just talking about brain break movement, but movement with learning concepts.

Here is something I often see: Children who have struggled for years to learn how to read or write.  Their self esteem is low.  They do not speak up on how they learn best.  Is it because they are afraid?  Maybe they have never been shown how to do this appropriately?  Is it because they have never been given the opportunity?  I don’t know.

Here is what I do know.  THESE are the children who cannot learn to the best of their ability when forced to sit all day without moving, discussing, singing, making those important connections.  Yet sadly, there are still classrooms where this is happening.  It crushes my heart and has me upset as to why it still goes on.

Why, when we know what the research says about this? Why do we continue putting our children through this? Little AND big children!

I write this not to criticize anyone, but because I want SHARE some really great research and resources on these topics.  My hope is that this reaches one person that may have never considered how this all plays into learning and they try one of these strategies!  Our children deserve it!

Have we ever considered that our students are not intentionally tuning us out? They are not intentionally losing focus.  They want to remember what we are teaching them.  They want to do well.  There are just so many other factors that play a part in this Whole Child’s learning experience. What we need to ask ourselves is this:

What are WE doing to help them?

Here is a fantastic Edutopia article on brain research written by a neurologist suggesting educators have a neuroscience class that updates them on current educational research on the brain.  That would be amazing! (In my opinion!)

Here is article from the Integrated Learning Strategies website on Brain-Based Learning Crossing Midline activities that help all children.  It puts the brain research into action!

Here is a great Whole Brain Teaching article on how it is used from Kinder-College with great results.

Here are some of my Pinterest Boards where I house information I find.

Follow Bridget’s board ADD/ADHD on Pinterest.

Follow Bridget’s board Brain Research on Pinterest.

Follow Bridget’s board Dyslexia on Pinterest.

I am teaching Summer Enrichment classes that revolve around brain-based learning and movement, wellness and stress management for kids (think yoga) and dancing!  I will be posting resources I am using when the time is closer.

Advocating for the WHOLE CHILD is my passion! Like the quote above says, there was that moment I realized, I won’t give up!  Our Kids Deserve It!!!!

Differentiated Instruction and The Whole Child

If you know me, you know I am the biggest advocate for Differentiated Instruction.  I am also a huge advocate for The Whole Child.  Recently, The Whole Child Blog posted on DI. It was like educational Christmas for me! 🙂  If you have a chance, it is worth your time to explore this site.

They mention how and why it is important to differentiate, and how it can be done through content, process, product, and learning environment.  I think the ones we are most familiar seeing in classrooms are content and product.  

For example: We are comfortable pre-assessing to determine where a child is and meeting them where they are to challenge them. (Content)  We are comfortable giving choice and allowing students to show their learning in multiple ways. (Product) 

That got me really evaluating, are we this comfortable in the Process in which we are presenting the information?  Are we this comfortable in the area of Learning Environment? I think this is where it gets a little muddy.  When we think about the definition of Process, ASCD defines it:

Process. Process is how the learner comes to make sense of, understand, and “own” the key facts, concepts, generalizations, and skills of the subject.  A teacher can differentiate an activity or process by, for example, providing varied options at differing levels of difficulty or based on differing student interests.

Differing student interests – this one stuck with me.  Unless you are completely new to the world of education or have been in hiding, you have heard about Genius Hour and Passion Projects! You have probably done these in your classroom to some degree.  So many times we think this concept is taught in isolation from our core subjects.  We allow one hour to let our kids create in school.  Imagine if this is the only “hour” they feel in charge of their learning and passionate about what they are learning.   

What if we looked at integrating this concept of Genius Hour/Passion Project into our everyday teaching?   Are you crazy…you might be thinking, but think about it.   If WE are interested in what we are learning, we will do anything!  Right?  Our students will rise to meet the expectations we have for them.  I truly believe that we can collaborate with other creative teachers and find ways to teach the content we are required to cover in a way our students will feel in charge of their learning and passionate about it!  We want them leaving us each day inspired to do more and craving to come back for more!  This will happen when we differentiate around the needs of the whole child.

Differentiating the Learning Environment is one that I never really listed with differentiation, but was always something I considered. So much of this goes hand in hand with knowing your students. Knowing their interests, their goals, and knowing who they are as individuals. When we stop and really consider the whole child, we will see it is very clear what learning environment they need in order to thrive.  And sometimes… just asking the student will give you insight you might never have imagined!  🙂

When I think about my own classroom, sure…I had the varied seating, lighting, and choices to work at the solo desk or group tables.  The students were always allowed to choose where they sat depending on their need for that day.  I didn’t always do this.  I first started it when I asked myself, “What would I want if I was my student?” I would want to have choice.  

Yes, it is hard to give up the control.  We have a list of excuses as why it wouldn’t work for us and it can work for someone else.  I’m not even saying it was the best thing for each class I had each year.  This is where we come full circle to asking ourselves, “What is Best for THIS learner at THIS time?”  

I am writing this to share my huge passion for The Whole Child and Differentiated Instruction, not to say this one way is the best way. I hope that I will always think about The Whole Child and Differentiate the Learning Environment just as much as I do Content, Process, and Product.  

I will leave adding this great list from ASCD of how to differentiate in response to the learner profile.  Do you….

  • Allow students to choose to work alone or with a friend?
  • Balance perspectives and acknowledge the ones less popular?
  • Build a strong class community?
  • Provide opportunities for authentic learning around talents and interests?
  • Focus on teaching Character Education?
  • Present information through kinesthetic, auditory & visual modes?

Be The Reason Someone Smiles Today

I love Ted Talks, and I love a great story in education that makes me cry.  So, naturally when I came across this Ted Talk it simply melted my heart.  I really felt the need to share. Please watch and share this. It is worth all 5 minutes and 24 seconds of your time!

The author shares how lunch ladies are heroes. I could not agree more.  I love listening to my daughter tell me sweet stories about the lunch ladies in her life.  She always seems to find her way in their hearts and loves talking with them every day.  
Here are just a few reasons I love our lunch ladies:
1. They always have smiles on their faces when they are serving others.
2. They treat every child with respect.
3. They treat every adult with respect.
4. They like to laugh and have fun.
5. They are so generous with compliments.
6. They never complain.
7. They genuinely have interest in the kids.
I could mention how great their cooking is, and it really is…BUT, the things I adore about them is that they adore these students.  They are sweet ladies who want these kids to succeed. Amazing students succeed because of all of the amazing people making a difference in their lives. Children need to have their little hearts and bellies full before they can fill their minds with knowledge.  
What an amazing reminder of how one little thing we do can make a difference in someone else’s world! This is the time of year when everything is so busy.  The days just fly by, and before we know it a new year is here!!  My goal each day is to remember this one little thing.

Connect & Empower – Reflection on Part II

What a great weekend of reading and reflecting I have been able to enjoy!  Reading through Part 2 of The Innovator’s Mindset, I felt like in my mind I kept saying, “Amen.  Exactly. That’s right!”

The reality is I can agree with these ideas all day, but my learning cannot stop there. After all, we all know that reflecting is necessary for true learning.  After agreeing with every page and holding back from going on Amazon to purchase sets of this book to share with everyone I know, I asked myself what I always do when I reflect and learn.

“So what? What does this mean for me?  How can I take this to make what I do for my students better? What is my action going to be?”

Overall Thoughts:

“We have to make a connection to the heart before we can make a connection to the mind.” This statement from the book has always been at the heart of what I do every day.  It does matter.

The 8 Things To Look For In Today’s Classroom sums it all up!

1. Empower students to use their VOICE effectively.  Teach them how or they will struggle with this.
2. Give students CHOICE in how & what they learn.
3. Even in our busy world, time for REFLECTION is necessary to truly learn. Make time.
4. Create opportunities for INNOVATION through passion work chosen by students. Make it something that is the norm, not just a one-time event.
5. Teach students to be CRITICAL THINKERS and question ideas to move forward.  So much info is out there, we must teach them how to sift through what is needed.
6. Empower students to make an impact on the world and be PROBLEM FINDERS/SOLVERS.  Look for ways to make our world better.
7. Teach students to understand how to SELF-ASSESS and reflect on their growth and learning.
8. CONNECT! CONNECT! CONNECT LEARNING! Connecting with experts in the field of content you are teaching will hands-down create a deeper understanding with your students.  Imagine the possibilities!

If we start thinking of how our classrooms can have these things going on, we will see our students feel empowered and start to see themselves as learners in a world where they create their own learning and it is not done for them.

My Action: 
Always connect with the hearts of my students at the beginning of our lessons, even if I only have 30 quick minutes with them.  It will be worth every minute in the long run.

Always make sure what I am doing with them is relevant by making sure the above 8 things are happening in my classroom through self-evaluations and reflections.

Keep my focus on empowering my students! This is so much more important than having a compliant student.

Continue leading by example.  Be the change. 🙂

Putting Kids FIRST

Confession time….I have not blogged in a few weeks because I was hit with a case of overloaded brain block!  Yes, it’s a real thing my friends. 🙂 My head is full of so much new learning that I didn’t even know where to begin processing it all.  As I start thinking of all the things I have been taking in and try to piece together connections, I come up with one thing that runs through my head over and over.

If we are not asking this question when there is a fork in the road, or even on a DAILY BASIS, we are off track!
Recently, I have observed literacy instruction in elementary school, middle school, and high school!  I feel like I have been given a treasure that not many teachers are given unfortunately – time to observe great teaching!  I am always amazed at the awesome ideas I walk away with.  The interesting thing is that at all three levels, there were identical strategies being used that worked with ALL kids, yet they did not look exactly the same! That got me thinking.
There are all these buzzwords out there.  All the new initiatives starting up.  All the ideas of how things “should be done” by people other than the educators.  But really, when we really look closely by taking a step back, we know it comes down to best practices for all kids.  We know what is best for kids and we do it.  
If you know me, you know that I am a firm believer in differentiation in every area!  Y’all, it doesn’t have to look the same for everyone.   We are not the same.  Our kids are not the same. 🙂  We can differentiate our teaching strategies like we differentiate student learning. It is responsive teaching.  But PLEASE….hear this loud and clear – what matters is that we are consistent in these best practices and do what is best for the kids we have in front of us now…not last year. 
Whether you are conferencing with a student about their writing at a table, on the floor, through a Google doc or Google classroom, at a desk, through a blog response, on a beanbag, or a bouncy exercise ball…you are still conferencing about writing!  It is about the consistent best practice action and the child!  I will add, having a variety keeps it interesting for all involved. 🙂
I really feel in my heart that there is no way you can go “wrong” if you are looking at the situation through the lens of what is best for the child, not just compliance of teaching a certain way because everyone will think this is awesome even though it really doesn’t seem to be working for this child.    
My hope is for people out there to stop thinking one way or approach is the “right way” and the only way teachers should be teaching reading or writing (or any other thing for that matter) and start asking, “Is this BEST for THIS CHILD right now?” because that is what it is all about.  I could really get going about my passion for the Whole Child, but I will save that for another time. 🙂
Let me close by saying this: 

I am not saying break rules and do not teach what you are supposed to according to TEKS and district common instructional expectations!  
I am saying while adhering to these mandates, think differently. Ask the question: what is best for children?  Be brave and take that chance and try something new!  It might feel different and uncomfortable at first, but how will you ever know if you never try? 🙂 Oh, the possibilities and the awesome things we will see in our children when we put them first! Always. 

Holding Tight to the Things that Matter?

I am writing this for two reasons:
1.  My own purpose of expressing gratitude to my sweet families who have sent me texts, tweets, facebook posts, emails, called, pictures, and awesome notes of gratitude for being their child’s favorite teacher they will always remember and sharing why.
2.  Holding us accountable to hanging tight to those important things!

I write this not boastfully, but in humble appreciation.  These words/pics of kindness meant more to me these past 3 weeks than anyone will ever know.  (I actually wondered, did they conspire to do this because I literally got one every single day from someone different over the past 5 years!! I even got an email from a parent from 10 years ago! Little did they know the perfect timing!)

I think they knew this would be a tough start for me not seeing these babies.  I think they knew that my heart was thinking of their babies and hoping they had a great first few weeks of school. We all know once they are yours…they are yours!  I think they knew, just like I do, that when we take the time to express words of kindness it makes the world a better place.

It is just more evidence that teachers may never know how much they influence the life of a child, but if they are gifted the blessing to hear it years later….it still brings tears to their eyes and makes their day brighter!

Thank you, my loving families, for being so kind and showering me with love all the time. My job is to pay that forward. 🙂

I want to share a few pictures of these precious, loving kids that show what is important in my heart every year as I think about the gifts from above that I have been trusted with to keep safe and love all year!

3 Important Things:

1. Develop a safe, loving environment where my kids bond and feel safe taking risks.

Our 2 classes after Tug of War Truck Pull. No one argued or cried! They had fun and won/lost together. There was authentic encouragement, help, and good sportsmanship!
Just hanging out playing a simple hand-clap game.  They enjoy being together because they trust each other to be a friend and use our only rule – The Golden Rule.
This sweet bunch kicked off my first year digitally teaching years back!  Wow…was there ever safety and risk taking involved with them.  🙂 There are some special kids in my heart in this picture!

2. Develop relationships with my students and parents! Let them know and see my heart and for me to know and see theirs.

At Fall Festival hanging out with my babies, and finding them TOGETHER because they WANTED to be!

Found my precious Joker, whom I hold so dear in my heart, still and forever will! 🙂

3.  Develop a true love of learning in each student and have it carry on beyond my walls.

After studying ladybugs, my plan was to take it no further. However, my precious littles organized a ladybug burial (on their own), and even prepared speeches so that our little friends could have a proper ceremony.  Above and Beyond….but the lessons really stuck.
One of my families so close to me, because I had 3 of their 4 kids, saw this at a family trip and had to stand by it and send to me.  It melted my heart!  It’s those moments!  🙂

Then there are the moments of the MANY sweet notes, cards, pictures, etc. you get as a teacher – which we all know mean more to us than any monetary gift you can think of!!  This one, on a simple sticky note, is the one that says it all to me.  It says how important teachers are and how we need to be the voice for our kids.  Be the one who believes in them, so they can believe in themselves.

I mean come on, if she doesn’t get to be the Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Coach after this….then, I don’t know what!  I’m not quite sure what being like me means.  Hope she gets that coaching job!  🙂  Honestly, I can bank on it now.  This child WILL be that coach and I will have GREAT seats to a game that I love!!

So, as I reflect after 3 weeks of school on those 3 things that are key in my heart…I ask you to see if you are holding strong to the things that matter?  Are you taking the time to build the relationships with not only your kids, but their parents?  Are you taking the time to make sure each child has a friend and feels safe?  All of that must come first before any learning begins.  Now that I have expressed all my gratitude…..let’s go and Be THE champion in the lives of these children!