Monday, Monday 3 things

February 28, 2022 – I am grateful that today I felt energized after work for, probably, the first time in 2022. I have been sick or just run down all of 2022 so far. So, today was a good day – serene – and the weather was nice enough, too for a long silent walk. Ahhhh; I am grateful today for God knowing who to put in my path and exactly when to do it. Blessed are the angels; I am grateful for the excitement on the faces of former students when they see me unexpectedly out in the world. It’s fun. Thank you for this day.

#choosejoy #3things #gratitude

Winning the gift of gab – and all it takes is a kiss!

Kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland

June 20, 2015 – Day 5 of the Britannia with Education First Tours.

Blarney Castle: The grounds were gorgeous and green and views from the top, well, gorgeous.

We climbed to the top of the castle and had to lie down and hang out backwards over an opening with quite a drop.  For this gal terrified of heights – the climb alone could have prevented the experience, but I prevailed.  Then this nonsense.  I did it, though – and that would be another item to mark off of the bucket list.

The day was warm and sunny as we strolled through the park.  Of course, the best part of the day was that I got to share it with my son…  Too much?  Yea – that was rather corny – or was it Blarney?

As the day ended and we rode the bus to our next destination, I gathered all of the maps and brochures and my colored pens and recorded the event in my trip SMASH Book.

Off to the Rock of Cashel!

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Book Club

Thanks, Kelly Gallagher, for the Book Club!

Year after year I have struggled with reluctant readers in my classroom.  I try and try to support outside reading and despise the read a book take a test option.  I want so badly to ignite a love of reading in each and every student.  I think I finally figured it out.

My students this year participated in a weekly book club (held in class).  They had to prepare for each meeting by doing the following:

  1. Reading the set number of pages – decided on by their own group on the first day.
  2. Annotating or take notes in some way in preparation for the weekly discussion.
  3. Writing down at least 4 discussion questions in their writer’s notebooks.
  4. Completing the weekly video recap- using the RECAP app – a great tool for formative assessment.
  5. Completing some sort of connection assignment (literary devices, vocabulary, context, artwork).

After the meeting they had to write a half page reflection about the discussions.  I love using the Writer’s Notebook for all of these assignments.

book-club-4book-club-1book-club-2book-club-5
Some groups were clearly more excited about reading than others – but they all did the reading.  This was just one of four classes and they were all begging me to do the project again.  They kept up with assignments, came prepared for discussions, and spoke passionately about their opinions.  They annotated their reading and were ready with evidence when they had to explain themselves.  Did some skip out on the work and only pretend – I am sure they did (I could probably tell you names) but I definitely had more meaningful reading than I have ever had before.

One of the hardest assignments for them was the artistic rendering – create something from nothing – inspired by the book.  They could take any component of the story to find inspiration to create ANYTHING.  They just did not know what to do with this kind of freedom.  I said art and most of them heard pencil drawing.

But then, some of them were very original – from dressing in costume as one of the characters, to baking a fresh rhubarb pie!

We are getting ready to embark on another round of Book Club.  I learned a lot from the last go ’round that I will implement.  I will let you know how it goes, so check back!

And remember – smart people read!

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God Bless Mr. Gale Wendell Marshall

Last Sunday I read the obituary of a man that changed my life – dead at 68 years old after over 40 years of teaching.  His words and kindness supported me through my toughest times as I always remembered the way he made me feel as though I mattered, as though I had value.  He taught me compassion and how to listen.  More importantly, he taught me how to be, well, me.

1985  We get used to the way things are sometimes and just don’t realize that there may be a better way – especially when we are young.  Children and teenagers often do not know of hope and future due to lack of life experiences – or, unfortunately, due to dreadful life experiences.

My parents loved me and had no idea what was happening to me and I was always too scared to tell them – so typical.  I did not want to hurt them. I began high school much like I completed junior high and elementary school – by blindly walking through the motions –  being driven by the choices made around me, about me, to me – rather than by my own choices. This is what I thought life was. I was soft spoken and painfully shy and always trying to make someone else happy. I believed I had no control, no voice.  I felt worthless, lost, and invisible.  I was suicidal. Enter Mr. Gale Marshall.

1987  As he taught me to value myself,  I began to realize that I do have a future.  I began to find my voice and test it out.  As I tried to decide what I wanted to do with my life, I continued to struggle; I barely graduated high school due to attendance issues.  I did not have adults in my personal life that knew how to get to college and my parents could not afford to send me, anyway.  Unfortunately, the guidance counselors only spoke to those that knew what to ask.  Through the years Mr. Marshall greeted me with care and concern and always took a moment to check in – always willing to listen.  His genuine compassion reminded me daily that I mattered and that I could do whatever I set out to do.  I graduated and decided that I wanted to be the one to find the invisible child.  I wanted to be a teacher.

It took me nine years to earn my degree – that’s a post for another day.  When I won District Teacher of the Year in 2015, the speech I gave to the auditorium full of teachers described the impact Gale Marshal had on my life.  It was not one intervention or a specific act, but rather who he was every day that saved this little girl.  He had no idea the impact he made. No idea.

Thank you, Mr. Marshall.  May you rest in peace knowing that every day I try to continue your work and continue to seek out the invisible children in my classroom and lift them up with love. God bless you.

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Please Pull Up To The Cone.

Orange coneEach day on my morning drive I encounter three schools – elementary, middle, and high.  My commute spans four to twelve minutes, depending on the parents in the other cars.  The days of dropping off at the elementary school ended a few years ago.  I will save those days for another post.  Now, my youngest of three attends middle school.  I drive her to school mostly because of her large Baritone Saxophone that she carries back and forth to band and home.  Sometimes, it is so she can get there early to practice in the band room.

In the car circle at the middle school there is a very large, bright orange cone.  The simple, well established rule that we all learn during the first weeks of the sixth grade – pull up to the cone.  This very simple rule allows for the maximum number of cars to safely unload the precious little cherubs and keeps the line flowing at a tolerable pace. In the early part of the school year the administrator remains dutifully in the area, waving his arm, ensuring all parents learn the rule and all cars pull up to the cone.  This complex pull to the orange cone system has been in play for years at the elementary school, as Orange conewell.  So this concept should not be a shocker to anyone.

As the school year progresses the arm waver begins to disappear, leaving parents on their own to follow the rule.  Inevitably, parents fail to pull up to the orange cone in order to drop their own child off at the optimal point.  To be honest – the arm waver never really deterred the determined parents.  He served more as a reminder to those that try to do the right thing.  Clearly, not pulling up to the orange cone slows down the line, backing it up into the street, forcing unsafe traffic maneuvers by those not dropping off, and, quite frankly, takes a little more time off my life.  Rather than five or six cars unloading at once, only one or two let out their cargo before the line moves again.  This is not a new phenomena – parents thinking that their kids are too special to have to walk the ten to fifteen more paces than a less deserving child (see the aforementioned orange cone at the elementary school).

So why do we have rules?  Let’s go back to the basic of common courtesy.  Rules allow a society to function and exist.  At every school I see parents breaking the simple drop off rules for their particular school – and don’t even get me started on the chaos of daily pick up.  These are likely the same parents that get the email or phone call home that their entitled child cheated or cut class or hurt another child or was insubordinate….and they immediately take the side of the child, failing to even consider the ideas of integrity or honesty or true consequence.  Not only do these parents have the “not my child” attitude because they sit with blinders on, they also have the “my child is special and does not have to follow the rules attitude”.  After all, the rules are for the “lessers”.  Why should my child have to follow the rules?  They see me break the rules for them daily.  The rules clearly do not apply to us.

Orange cone

Similarly, why have rules in the house?  So kids know how to function within the parameters of the rules of society.  Life is not a free-for-all.  By not setting reasonable boundaries for kids and leading by good example – parents are setting their kids up for failure (or to be jerks).  True, there are successful liars and cheaters and jerks all over the world.  Everything in life is a trade off and I suppose, once again, it depends on perspective…what it means to be successful.  I want my kids to follow the rules, be considerate, have compassion.  I want my children to show empathy, help others, and be courteous.  I want my family to know love, security, and pride.  I do not want my children to think that the world owes them something.  I do not want my children to be entitled buttholes.

The demise of  our society begins at not pulling up to the orange cone. We teach our children through our actions.   We teach them humility and fairness, or we teach them entitlement. So I choose to pull up to the orange cone – every time – giant instrument and all.  She will survive walking the extra fifteen paces carrying that thing.  I promise.  This is why I pull up to the orange cone, every time – because it is such a simple and courteous rule to follow, to model for my daughter.  How could I expect my kids to follow the hard rules, if I can’t even follow such a simple one?  Pulling up to the cone shows my daughter that she is not the center of the universe; she is not entitled to any special treatment. Choose to pull up to the orange cone  – both literally and metaphorically – and teach children accountability, consideration, and humility.

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