Putting the “It” Back in Teaching...

Sep 5, 2012 by

In my area of the country it is “Back to School” week.  I know that my colleagues in other parts of the country have been in session one, two or more weeks already.  Whether we are in our first week or finishing our first month, this new school year stretches before us with plans and possibilities. This summer I had the privilege of hearing a talented BER colleague, Lynn Stenroos, present a keynote address at a summer conference.  She titled the keynote “The IT Factor” based on Mark Wiskup’s book The It Factor: Be the One People Like, Listen to, and Remember.  My comments here are adapted from her ideas.  Wiskup defines the “IT” factor as “the remarkable ability to instantly create honest and powerful connections, in every meeting and every social interaction, every...

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The Answer Machine

Jul 25, 2011 by

I recently presented at a First and Second Grade Conference in Kansas City and Dallas.  One of my colleagues, Diane Murphy, gave the keynote at the beginning of each conference.  Throughout the presentation she shared various poems—some funny, some inspiring, some touching.  There was one I liked so much (from a collection called Rainbows, Head Lice, and Pea-Green Tile:  Poems in the Voice of the Classroom Teacher that I immediately ordered the book.  When this book arrived today, I was really surprised to see that the poems were written by Brod Bagert.  Before this, I only knew Bagert as the kind of poet who wrote poems like “Stinky Boys” and “Booger Love” from his book Giant Children.  But this poem is different.  This one reminds us why we became teachers.  I was able to...

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Your Hard Work Makes a Difference!...

Jul 15, 2011 by

Well, it has been five months since I lasted posted anything on my website.  I’ve had a few of you ask if everything is okay.  Yes, everything is fine—just busy.  I have spent the past few months in many schools working with children, observing teachers, or presenting workshops.  (In my spare time I taxi three busy children to their various activities).  This has left little time for working on my website.  As more time has passed, the harder it has been to get started on it again.  Last week I was feeling so overwhelmed that I decided maybe I should shut down the website so that it wasn’t always this unfinished task on my “to-do” list.  This week, however, I changed my mind thanks to a certain 2nd/3rd grade teacher (you know who you...

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Treasures in the Attic

Aug 26, 2010 by

A couple of weeks ago my family and I were visiting some relatives in northern Michigan or “up North” as Michiganders would say.  As part of our visit we toured an old farmhouse that my husband’s cousin is renovating.  On our way out of the house I noticed this barn on the property and asked what was in it. Cousin Justain proceeded to tell me about the previous owner of the farmhouse, an old schoolteacher name Mabel Martin.  The mention of a schoolteacher piqued my interest, but I became even more interested when he said, “Yeah, and all of her old files are still in the barn.”  I knew that I couldn’t leave until I got a peek at those files.  So he led me into the barn, up this ladder… into the attic…...

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Better Than Sliced Bread!

Aug 18, 2010 by

When I find things that will make a teacher’s life easier, more productive, or more fulfilling, I just can’t help but share.  This is a product that I was introduced to by a friend 2 years ago and now I tell all my friends about it.  It is the FlyLady Stainless Steel Water Bottle.  This product is better than sliced bread!  It is the only water bottle that I have found that keeps water cold all day and does not sweat even one drop!  And I can throw it in my school bag without risk of dripping water all over its contents.  Last summer I spent four weeks in Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico in over-100-degree weather.  I would fill my bottle with icy water each morning, hike in the hot sun all...

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The Power to Teach

Aug 5, 2010 by

Yesterday I wrote about the power that we hold as teachers—the power to affect our students’ lives in amazing ways.  That reminded me of a poem I haven’t looked at in several years, so I dug it out to share with you.  I hope it is as inspiring to you as it is to me! The Power to Teach I feel sometimes powerless and small overwhelmed and inadequate engulfed in thoughts and feelings that perhaps what I am doing is insignificant, that my life’s pursuit, that my teaching, is futile. And I say, “Who am I to change the world?” “Who am I to think that I can make a difference?” And then I reflect on the young people under my charge, and I think about my role and about what power, if any,...

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