Thursday, August 9, 2012

Connected Educator - In Appreciation

I embarked on this journey
Early January of 2010
And I can't tell you what
A life changer it's been!

Educators were challenged
To start a blogging task
Was I ready for this? Could I commit?
Are some of the questions I asked.

Then I sent out a note
"What if I fail?" I really said it aloud
Then right away came a response
From a most amazing crowd!

"Try it for now...
There's no pressure you'll see"
That's how the Edubloggers
Thoroughly encouraged me!

I took their advice, their tips and suggestions
Then started to plan and started to write
Lo and behold Teaching is Elementary
Was born late that same night!

My very own blog
I was pleased and so thrilled.
Yet the thoughts remained
Did I have enough skill?

But as I continued
There was a new challenge to connect
With our novice fellow bloggers
Which left me feeling not sure what to expect.

But this is what happened
I tell you, it's true
My online friends and colleagues
Went to many from few!

Comments were left on his blog and hers
Good 'netiquette' had us respond
Conversations were started
In the process, a bond!

With many of those folks
I remain friendly to this day
We joined educators on Twitter
And we're here to stay!

We share our craft and our ideas
To make learning the best
Our students are the recipients
Of their teachers' quest

Being connected to one another
Means the world to us all
For expanding our knowledge
Surely flattens the classroom walls.

So if you think you might try it
Don't be afraid, just do
As you'll be surprised by the benefits
To your students and you!

A special thank you to:
  • Karen Janowski for putting the idea of blogging in my brain during a course at Simmons College
  • Cheryl Farley for inviting me to be a part of the Kick Start Your Blog Teacher Challenge
  • Sue Waters, Edublogger, and her partners who created the challenge. They created more than a challenge - it has become a wonderful family of people sharing and continuing conversations!
  • My #4thchat, #elemsci and Twitter PLN - so many wonderful people. I appreciate all your knowledge, kindness, openness and wisdom! You're the best!
My post: Bloggin' Kickin' Dreamin' explains further why I decided to try!

Hope you will too! Here is some advice to new bloggers from my PLN!

top photo credit: Jerrycharlotte via photo pin cc

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Schoolmares! Teachers are Nervous Too!

Last night I had my first "Schoolmare" of the season. Usually in late August before the start of school I begin having night mares about school, hence my term "schoolmare". Last night the dream was about going into my school to prepare my classroom. When I arrived in my room there was a mess everywhere. My desk was piled high with dust. After leaving my room I met my principal near his office. He shook hands with me and wouldn't let go until I sat down.

When I sat down he started telling me the 'new' rules, and how we couldn't possibly participate in the National Geographic Geography Bee because there could be no time spent on anything other than book learning. I of course flew out of the room upset and bumped into one of the bright, young, cheerful teachers with whom I work. She was wearing this cute little tie die sundress with a skinny yellow belt and was trying to console me.

I awoke with a start and realized three things:
1. The bright young teacher moved out of state last year & would NEVER wear tie die....
2. The principal in my dreams was older & our principal is quite YOUNG!
3. These SCHOOLMARES are starting earlier and earlier .

Usually my Schoolmares happen during the last week in August, but

I'm thinking they started earlier this year because we are getting a new principal. As exciting as this is I'm a teensy bit nervous. Much like I imagine the students might feel who are coming to me this year. So thinking along those lines I know I will do everything I can to make my new students feel comfortable. So too, I envision my new principal will do for his staff.

Just so you know....Teachers are nervous too! And not just because they are getting a new principal. Here are some reasons I get butterflies in my stomach when school starts:
  • I'm nervous the kids will be nervous.
  • I'm worried I haven't gotten everything ready - my room, student name pieces, work plans, etc.
  • I'm thinking about ALL the things that need to be accomplished (instead of breaking items into smaller more manageable chunks).
  • I'm hoping that the kids will like being in fourth grade, and that I'll be able to expose them to many wonderful learning experiences.
  • I'm trepidatious because I know families entrust their 'gold' to me, and I want to make sure they are treated respectfully and with kindness.
Often times the students come to school with mixed feelings of nervousness and excitement. They know that starting a new year brings different challenges. Usually after day one those feelings abate. These are some of the activities I will incorporate to help alleviate my students feel at ease.
  • Getting to know one another - we will be doing all kinds of activities to get to know one another. I take time on the first day of school playing a name game so students and teacher learn each others names. We will learn about little facts about each other through a scavenger hunt. There will be more "getting to know you" activities throughout the week.
  • Getting to know the classroom and school - Students will spend time doing a scavenger hunt around the room (and school)to become familiar with the layout. They will look for the class schedule, the pencil sharpener, their names in several places, the homework basket, the important paper file, the math manipulatives etc. Students will work together to create class rules and learn about Citizenship.
  • Read Aloud - I usually read Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, but this year I may want to read First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg which is about a teacher who is nervous and read Chrysanthemum on the second day. These will be used to introduce my Daily 5 reading mini-lessons. Yes, we start on the first day of school!
  • Modeling and Practicing Routines: Establishing routines through modeling and practice gives the students a sense of structure which makes them feel safe and sets the tone for the year. These will occur during the above activities as well as others during the day.
  • Start Learning Right Away: We will begin our lessons right away. The students will see that our class is a place of constant learning (which again sets the tone for the year).
My 'schoolmares' may not be over, but once I step foot in that classroom my attention and energy will be directed towards making my students feel comfortable which will re-direct my own anxious feelings. The first day of school is a new start for everyone!
First Day of School Resources:
Busy Bee Activity Page: This page contains activities and ideas for the first day and weeks of school.
I Love That Teaching Idea: Several activities to help with the start of school.
Lesson Plan Page: Back to school tips, lesson plans and resources (with grade levels)
AtoZTeacherStuff: A list of 33 sites that provide links to resources for the beginning of the school year.

top photo credit: bitzcelt via photo pin cc