Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Gratitude Continues

Life has been so full of things for which to feel grateful that I haven't taken time to write about my gratitude. 
For the moment I'll start with my students who make my day regularly. We start each morning when I greet each student at the door. We shake hands and say good morning. Usually it's pretty quick as my goal is to get all 20 of them in and going on our day. But sometimes, especially at the beginning of the week, they have much to share with me. Yesterday was totally awesome:
  • One girl shook my hand and sighed deeply. Very deeply. When I asked what was wrong, I was told, "Well, first of all, I couldn't get to sleep last night. It was like 11:30 before I could finally go to sleep! But even worse! I have a zit on my head!" and off she headed into our room. 
  • Another girl held up a pink toothbrush (looked like a pretty normal pink toothbrush to me) and told me with great excitement that she was going to share it at morning meeting. She did.
  • One more girl walked in holding Smile. She couldn't wait to show me the author picture in the back, saying, "See? She looks just like you!"
Image of Raina Telgemeier
Raina Telgemeier, author of Smile.
More gratitude coming soon!

Cross-posted from jenorr.com.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

More Gratitude

Tonight I am exceptionally grateful for a husband who makes sure dinner is ready when we get home often. Especially on days like today. Walking in and sitting down to eat when the girls and I are exhausted is immensely helpful. Otherwise, we would most certainly have grabbed something on the go tonight and this is more relaxing and healthy!
I'm also grateful for my public library. There are so many reasons I love our library system - I can put books on hold, even postponing the hold for however long I want, I can renew books online, I can even pick books up at a drive through window at one branch. At any given time I have around a dozen books at home and about as many on hold. My girls and I are currently listening to a book on CD from the library. Our next family read is from the library. I'm reading my next book club book from the library. It is fabulous.

Cross-posted from jenorr.com

Lots of Gratitude

I'm a firm believer in the power of mindset so when Glennon Doyle Melton (a former coworker who has since gone on to write a New York Times bestseller and hugely popular blog) suggested that we use Lent to give up ingratitude I totally bought it. I have so much to be grateful for and it's worth my time to focus on it.
So, for today, I am so grateful for my daughters and their absolute love and adoration for books. As soon as we get in the car they are ready for me to turn on the CD (currently The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan, an Enola Holmes mystery by Nancy Springer). The older one was upset because she thought we would be eating dinner on the run tonight but we ate in the restaurant. She was upset because she had left her book in the car. The youngest couldn't wait to read me her new guided reading book (Tomie de Paola's The Cloud Book) because, as she said, "It's not really nonfiction. It's more like nonfiction and fiction together."
I'm also grateful for my amazing first grade team. One suggested we have a pajama day on Friday because she realized we haven't done a whole lot of things just for fun lately and we missed Dr. Seuss day to the snow this week. These teachers have high expectations for their students, give their all to help them meet those expectations, and see them as kiddos who should get time to be a kid.
I'm grateful for my folks too. My daughters checked their email this afternoon (something they clearly don't do too often) to find ecards for Valentine's Day from my folks (I'm guessing mostly from my mom). They called me over to share because they were so excited by them. My daughters spent so many years seeing my parents about once a week, on average. That will not be so true now but my parents are doing all they can to make up for that. They send postcards, facetime/skype, email, and call my girls.
I'm very, very lucky for so many different reasons.

Cross-posted from jenorr.com.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Teacher Leaders

This post was started in my drafts about a month ago. Since then I attended Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2). Lots of discussion there about teacher leaders and teacher leadership.
Before the conference my thoughts about teacher leaders, in draft form here, were:
- open their classrooms in as many ways as possible
- how is this different at different levels - hard for elementary teachers to have time out of the classroom compared to middle/high school teachers
Clearly I intended to flesh that out a little. The big idea in my thinking was that one thing teacher leaders do is to teach as transparently as possible, they open their classroom to as many people as they can. This requires time to make it happen as well as, hopefully, some time to discuss what others are seeing. Because middle school and high school schedules are set up in periods, it is possible to have teachers teach one or more fewer periods in order to offer them time. It makes it easier to teach some and do other things. At the elementary level, without scheduled periods, it's more challenging to be partly in and partly out of the classroom.
My time at ECET2 reinforced my thoughts here. ECET2 is a conference hosted by the Gates Foundation to, not surprisingly, elevate and celebrate teachers and teaching. One of the most exciting things about the conference was being in a room with more than 200 teachers. Not administrators, not central office folks, not consultants, but teachers.  Everyone of them is in a classroom. These were my people.
Many of these teachers are in the classroom full time and managing to do amazing things. Some, however, spend part of their time in the classroom and part of their time leading in other awesome ways. From purely anecdotal data, the middle and high school teachers are doing that with more ease than the elementary teachers. I heard from several elementary teachers how stressful it was. They were still responsible for many of the little things for their class of students (attendance, forms/paperwork, parent communication, documentation, etc.) but someone else teaches their kids for a period (typically an hour or so) each day. I think, also, that elementary teachers aren't accustomed to giving up their kiddos for some of the day. Middle and high school teachers don't have to do anything significantly different to have more time away from students. They're used to having kids come and go.
This is a bit rambling and not nearly as well said as I had hoped. The demands of teaching are not small, no matter the grade level. Balancing those demands with time for other professional activities and leadership will help elevate our profession and help teachers grow. How do we make that happen? Especially for elementary teachers?
Or, just to expand the question, what does teacher leadership look like to you?
Cross-posted from jenorr.com.