Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Good Teacher

We've reached the mid-point of the year and it's time of reflection for many of us in education.  We think about the first few months and what went well, what didn't go so well and what we hope we never see again.

For me, personally, it makes me reflect on what makes a good teacher...

A good teacher knows your name...
"I have indelibly printed you on the palm of each of my hands." Isaiah 49:16, Amplified Bible

A good teacher plans...
"For I know the plans for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and future." Jeremiah 29:11

A good teacher is gentle…
"A bruised reed He will not break, a smoldering wick he will not put out." Isaiah 42:3
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."  Psalm 147:3

A good teacher challenges…
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” John 8:7 

A good teacher sees the potential…
"I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19

A good teacher knows when you need a break...
"Come away with a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6:31

A good teacher sacrifices…
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."  John 3:16-17

But the best part of this Teacher is He is not just a teacher...
“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Professional Conduct

One of these

will be going to work with me tomorrow. 

Know which one?

I thought so.

Happy last week-hope you and yours have a great holiday and break!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lies I've Told To Maintain My Sanity

The holiday season is upon us and I am offering you, dear reader, something better than a freebie. 

My district has seven more days until the winter break so here are various lies I've uttered to help maintain order and decorum in my room.  As a bonus, I've sorted them into degree of difficulty.  If this is your first year teaching, do not attempt the last few whoppers.  Hopefully these will get you through the last few days before break.

And yes, these are actual statements that just may have left my mouth.  (Don't judge-sometimes a girl gets desperate.)

For the New Teacher:
  • I've got your mom/dad/granny on speed dial. (Okay, so there's a 90% chance this may be true.)
  • I know Santa's number. 

For the Seasoned Teacher:
  • I've got Santa on speed dial.
  • You don't have to finish your work now. Sugar, you can stay after school and finish it. I'm here until 8 o'clock. Some nights I don't even go home I just flip my desk upside down sleep inside of it. 
  • (Piggybacking off the above lie)  Yes, I do sleep in my desk!  The jackets y'all leave behind are my blankets.
For the Experienced Teacher (Preferably with a Colleague Who Will Corroborate Collaborate):
  • Santa is my BFF. If he wasn't taking a nap right now I'd Face Time him and tell him about how you're acting.  (This is actually a dual purpose fib-you can use these exact words as a compliment to those doing the right thing and watch everyone to get their act together.) 
  • I am so proud of the progress you've made since the beginning of school!  I'm so proud I went to the principal and told him about how hard you've worked.  I told him you've worked so hard he needs to give you more than two days off!
  • Good news! The principal said that if you work hard for the next eight days he will give you 10 school days off.
  • Even better news! The principal said if you worked super hard for the next eight days he will let the entire school out for 10 days. Don't believe me? Ask Ms. Crumbie-she was there!  (This is where you get the most no non-sense teacher in the school to look at them and say, "Yes. He. Did."  Who doesn't love collaboration done right?)
So all jokes aside, I do wish you and yours a joyous and peaceful holiday season.  May the next few school days pass quickly and give us much to smile at!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Word Matters

Like all good nerds, I have a massive book pile adjacent to my bed.

In the midst of those books is a book or two on vocabulary instruction, but I'm not certain either could have prepared me for the "teachable moment" dropped at my feet today.

As far as technology and I go, it's a love/hate relationship.  I love it; it hates me-with a passion.

So when the the Smartboard in my room is uncooperative, I simply shrug and tell the kids, "Look at that.  It's being sassy."  I've said it so many times that while some of them are still learning to spell their names, they are crystal clear on the definition of the word "sassy".  They've even been known to say that word on occasion.

But imagine my surprise when the board started acting up today and one sweet little girl shook her head and said, "Look at that.  The Smartboard's being sexy."

Saturday, November 22, 2014

On Gratitude

Because next week is Thanksgiving, I've been spending a lot of time thinking.  Only this year, instead of thinking solely about dishes to be served and errands to be run, I've been thinking about the Pilgrims.

I've been thinking about how their response to a year of hardship is unlike what we'd do today.

I know after a hard day I like to sit by myself, with an ice cold Coke and play Candy Crush.  Or eat chocolate.  Or (on really bad days) both.

After a year of bitter cold, losing loved ones and realizing you were in way over your head, planning a three day feast is not my first priority.  We had 13 snow days last year and I lamented the dent it put in my summer.  Gratitude was not anywhere near my mind.

Which amazes me that for the Pilgrims, the response to a year of struggle was not to blame but to bless.

And the more I think about that, the more I think I know why.

True gratitude comes out of brokenness.

When you've been hungry, you understand the worth of food.

When you've been unemployed, you understand the blessing of a job.  (I've known this first hand.)

When you've had health problems, you will never underestimate the joy of a "normal" day.  (My father suffered a stroke four years ago.  He had to re-learn many things, one of which was how to eat.  I will never forget watching him eat breakfast and him saying, "Look at me-I can chew!"  And all of us being thrilled over it.  But that's another post.)

I try really hard to make this blog humorous, sharing silly anecdotes from my classroom, but I've felt the need to write this post which has no humor at all.  I think it's because I want to remind those who are going through hard times (myself included) that while there will be hardships, there will also be a respite.

And that will make our thanksgivings even sweeter.

Monday, November 10, 2014


I don't know if it's the presence of Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, but my little girls are smitten with the notion of being famous.

(Okay, so when I was in kindergarten I wouldn't play Hannah Montana, but Aurora from Sleeping Beauty.  Guess my students get points for pretending to be a real, live human being instead of a 2D picture.)

So it was no shock to the assistant with whom I share a classroom when Precious looked her straight in the eye the other day and said, "Mrs. Genius!! I'm going to be a star when I grow up!"  (Yes, I refer to my para as a Genius because she is.  For real.)

Mrs. Genius is a kind, caring adult to she inquired, "Wow!  What kind of star are you going to be?"

Precious pauses for a moment, taking this question seriously.

Mrs. Genius has seen Precious turn the tears on like a faucet, sing incessantly, and dance around the room so she's wondering if Precious will parlay those acting, singing, and dancing skills into a triple threat or devote her time to pursuing one career path.

After a brief rest, Precious replies, "A purple one.  Or maybe orange.  Or maybe clear."


I cannot make this up.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Creating a Classroom You Love, Part III: Hello, Walls

If you’re just joining me, you can read Part I and Part II by clicking on the links. 

First of all, if you got the Faron Young reference in the title, you rock. 

Secondly, you know that part in the movie Steel Magnolias, where Julia Roberts says, "Pink is my sig-nuh-tcha color?" And anything that would stand still in the church got pink bunting wrapped around it?  And when the doors of the church are opened it looked like someone had poured Pepto Bismal everywhere?  You need a visual?  Okay, here’s the pic:

Yeah-don’t do that.  To your walls.  Please.  Pretty please.  With sugar on top.

Like Shelby, you may think it looks dahlin’ to have every square inch covered, but…it can be more of a hinderance than a help.

Walls are such a big deal.  Done right, they truly help maximize learning.  They can serve as a way to display celebrations, dismissal, calendar, word wall, question/concept board, outcomes, word walls, anchor charts, center info, number lines and even more.  Done properly, they give students tools that they can use to further their independence.

Done improperly?  Let’s just say I know someone very close to me (hint, hint) whose early classrooms resembled more this

Than this:

I’ve taught in Kentucky for 10 years and it took a good long while before I was ready to admit the walls just weren’t working.  And in those early years I had awesome neighbors-neighbors who were decent to a fault.  I say this because no one had the gumption to walk in my room, scan around, and say, “You poor thing!  You’ve suffered a natural disaster. Don’t you worry, I’ll call FEMA for you to save you the trouble.”

As a young teacher, I wanted my room to look exciting, so I could not slap enough posters and pocket charts on walls.  After a few years, I was able to objectively look around and say, “This has got to stop”.  I realized that my brain went into sensory overload when I walked in, so my poor kids must have been in the same state.

(And maybe, just maybe, having to take all that crap down and put it back up was wearing on me after a few years.  Who knows?) 

Since I’m not afraid to tell you what I’ve learned, let’s examine some common mistakes and then we can discuss how to fix ‘em.  And here, in no particular order, are some décor thoughts:

      Problem: Your Door.  By dressing up your door, you’re already giving people something to process.  I worked in a school a few years ago where every teacher was required to have a theme door.  One year the lady next door wanted to do the Gingerbread Man story and spread it over both our doors since our theme was Fairy Tales.  Her door was completely wrapped and showed the kids in pursuit on the road.  Mine showed the road and the Gingerbread Man.  It was phenomenal, but a lot to take in.                       Solution: I know people will think I’m crazy, but either decorate only the outside of your door or make something simple on the inside.  My weakness is wreaths.  I buy ‘em when they are on sale (after a holiday, for instance) and change them accordingly.  I have one for Back to School, one Halloween, one Harvest, One Christmas, One Valentine, and one March Madness.  Here’s my current one, which is the mantra I repeat when it’s 7:30 a.m. and I have a minimum of three crying kids:  


Problem: Your Word Wall.  I can’t tell you how many classrooms I’ve seen where teachers put up a year’s worth of words before the 1st day of school.  Please understand: I love word walls.  However, they are like any other educational tool-they must be intentional and kids need to be instructed in how to use them.  The neat thing about the brain is it wants to make sense of things.  However, for young students, seeing all the words (especially if they can’t read) is overwhelming.  (1st day have kids’ names, share good books for word wall activities, keep personal word wall in folder, journal).  Another reason to wait to put up your words-if you’ve already assembled your wall, chances are you will be less likely to refer to it.  My students enjoyed watching our word wall grow.  (Plus, this wall is a fantastic way to help students understand graphing and comparing sets when you get to it in math.)                                                                 Solution: For Open House/Back to School Night, simply display only the headers or the headers with the students’ names on the wall.  I like having just the headers up, and that way we can discuss how to use the Word Wall once school begins.  I would also like to point out that this year I broke my mold and only displayed the uppercase letters.  I’ve been reading some professional lit on teaching letter identification and put the info into practice.  The book suggested only displaying the uppercase letters because they are the easiest to discriminate (for example an uppercase P and Q look very different than their lowercase counterparts, so kids can learn the letters more easily).  I like having names up at Open House because I think it helps the kids see they really do have a place in our learning community.  I have sentence strips that I use sometimes for names.  Or I simply use this amazing FONT and print them out.  Also, when your students are ready, give them a personal word wall and show them how to use it.  And if you need some quick books to help you beef up your word wall, try 
.  Tons of practical, great ideas. 

Problem: You Paid For Cute Décor and, By Golly, You’re Going to Use It.  So you’ve visited the parent teacher store, dollar store, or online and found the most adorable class décor kit.  And since you’ve paid an arm and leg out of your pocket, you’re going to get your money’s worth.  Which means displaying charts and images all over your walls.  You’ve created a custom wall paper job.  And the wall paper is…busy.                                                                                                                                                            Solution: Again, ask yourself what’s really necessary.  Take, for instance, Daily 5.  At the beginning of the year they kids may need to go and physically place their meme on the Daily 5 choice.  But I know that my students don’t truly need a pocket chart the whole year for Daily 5.  So after I’m certain they can handle removing the chart, it goes back in the box until next fall.  And be honest about what’s truly necessary-the good manner posters I used in August will (hopefully) not be needed in January.  Look at what your students need and plan your wall space accordingly.

Problem: Not Changing Things.  So at the beginning of the year your class couldn’t spell ok.  (Side note, last year the most entertaining convo in my room was when we were writing using M&Ms.  Half the class couldn’t spell it-seriously-and the other half were annoyed because they kept saying, “M AND M!!”)  But now they’ve got the first 25 words down.  Take down what you don’t need.  Think about an airport terminal-how confusing would it be if they kept the flights that were completed up all the time?  How helpful would it be to see the flights from four months ago?  It’s the same principle here.  (And if you worry that your class will need the info later, do like Nancy does and take a picture of the chart or wall and display in an album. Her post about this can be read here-on her incredible blog.) That way when new kids arrive you can still refer to a chart needed.                                                                                                      Solution: Unlike the Buckingham Palace Guard, my wall displays don’t get changed daily.  I mentioned earlier I switch out my wreaths with some regularity.  This is also the time I look around and see if anything needs to be added or removed from my wall space.  So basically, once a month.  Or every nine weeks with report cards.

Problem: Disorder.  You have addition facts next to a behavior chart, lunch menu next to Daily 5 Chart, science vocab next to the pre-writing poster.  There is no rhyme or reason to your charts and when students need help, they have to stop and scan two or three walls before arriving at the correct poster.             Solution: I don’t know how many times I can say it, but don’t use it unless you must.  And then plan accordingly.  Just this year my plan is to have 1 literacy wall (which will house reading strategies and anchor charts word wall, convention posters, etc), one procedural wall (with behavior, outcomes, calendar), one math wall, and one science/social studies wall.  This is a win-win for everybody, because you’re not wondering where you’re going to display a rubric and should the kids need a reminder they will know which wall to consult.  So that’s my plan, but I am cognizant it may need to be tweaked.

Hope you and yours have a wonderful, relaxing three day weekend!  I have just two more tidbits to share before wrapping up this series-glad you've shared this journey with me!

We Know About Labor

Today, I had a surprise walk-through observation.

At 2:00 p.m.

On a Friday.

And because we had just finished a math assessment, we were watching Reading Rainbow.

And eating Fruit Loops.

But please don't mistake us for slacking off.

One of my students was fast asleep-with her pencil still in her hand, poised in the writing position.

Should you more evidence that kindergarten is rigorous, check out the photo below.  Upon discussion of what a good citizen looks like, the sweetest child in my class had us scribe this:

And with that pic, I wish you and yours a very happy Three Day Weekend! Labor Day!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Creating a Classroom You Love, Part II: Pruning

For me personally, when I tackle the thought of setting up (or taking down) a classroom, it’s déjà vu all over again.  Words just cannot express this emotion accurately.  However, music speaks when the heart has no words.  This song accurately summarizes my feelings:

Can you relate? 

So this post is all about evaluating the state of your classroom.  It all begins by having an honest convo with yourself.  Ask yourself, “When was the last time I used it?  Will it benefit me this year?  Or it be more beneficial to someone else?”

Then act accordingly.  If you aren’t going to use it, lend it, store it (only if you're absolutely certain you will use it again-not can use it again) or trash it.

And believe you me, I know how agonizing that can be.

To prove I that statement, here's my career trajectory: kindergarten, 5th grade, 4th grade, 4th grade, 1st grade, 2nd grade, K-1 split (a multi-grade classroom with both Ks and 1s), 3rd grade, 1-2 split (another multi-grade), kindergarten, and 1st*  And this year I’m headed back to kinder. *

*Okay, just trying to remember all that made me lose brain cells.  Regarding grade level placement, I’m pretty easy going-I try not to be a complainer (I’m more of a whiner), and I don’t tell administrators no.  My family instilled the “be glad you’re working” mindset from before I could speak.

Since I had taught everything (and had a new grade almost every year) I had quite a stash, too: chapter books, big books, posters, writing process posters, addition posters, multiplication posters, fiction and non-fiction.  As I had spent a lot of time acquiring them, I was sure no one else would treat them the way I did.  

And so my stash grew.  And grew.  And grew. 

I was a handful of items away from becoming another teacher statistic on the TV show “Hoarders”.  You know the ones- loads of crap in their home and stubbornly held onto items like a single pipe cleaner that was missing 90% of its fuzz.  Because those hairless pipe cleaners are just so very useful.

(On a side note, I find it interesting that when I typed TV a second ago, spell check politely informed me I was wrong.  Seriously.  And how does one misspell a word with only a pair of letters?  One that only relies on the recognition of two graphophonemic symbols. They claim you spell it TV, not tv.  And now headed back to the original purpose of this post.)

So I was nearly that teacher. And what’s worse, I didn’t care that I was being selfish. 

And then one Sunday at church the pastor was preaching his sermon.  He was preaching on John 15 which is a gardening metaphor.  In that passage there is a specific verse that talks about how the Lord prunes his followers.  During the sermon he talked about the apple trees he and his wife were raising.  He talked about his pruning shears and how he used them.

Then he said something that stuck with me.  He was talking about the true purpose of pruning.  I do not possess a green thumb, so I’d assumed it was simply removing the dead parts from the plant so it wouldn’t look tacky.   

And boy, was I wrong. 

He said that pruning is something that you do to help the tree realize its maximum potential.  It’s not something that’s spontaneous, but an act that requires truly assessing what will make the tree most bountiful and productive.  He said sometimes you may have to prune branches that are living.  Good branches, they’ve developed the way they should.  But in order to get the most out of the tree, it needed to be removed so that it would be ready for something better.

And that has stuck with me. 

I look around my room and see so many things I’ve got-lots of things.  (True story: last summer when I first started setting up my classroom, I drove a 14’ U-Haul 80 miles roundtrip so I could get all my things in one trip.)  They are in nice shape, the kids love ‘em. 

But if I removed them, it would make way for something better.  And I have to keep the big picture in mind, so as much as it pains me to take my mini-sofa and chairs out of the room, I know I can use that space more effectively without it. 

Over the last 3 years I’ve begun the task of pruning my educational products.  Some are books I give to other teachers.  Some I lend.  Some I simply donate or trash.  Even though I don’t enjoy the process of pruning, I am delighted with its results. 

So next time you’re in your classroom alone, take a good look around and remember this pic:

This stop sign is one block from my school.  They fixed it over the summer which has made the drive home way less fun.

Pay heed-grab your shears and get busy. I’d hate for us to wind up on “Hoarders”.

*I'm not finished yet...come back Monday for Part III.  If you'd like to read Part I, you can here.*

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Creating a Classroom You Love, Part I: Back to the Drawing Board

Here’s something you didn't know about me: I love Tina Fey.

I had more than my fill of doctors’ offices, emergency rooms (in the Harrodsburg ER I asked them to change the waiting room channel to the UK game as I  paced around massaging my kidney infection), and diagnostic offices  last year, which correlates to lots of waiting times.  And lots of magazines.  One of them featured a Tina Fey interview.

She was talking about her apartment in New York and she said her boss had told her she needed to decorate her home lavishly.  She explained, “He told me when I open my front door I need to be like, ‘Wow…whose house is this? Somebody important must live here because look at all this.  Having a home like that reminds you why you work.” (Okay, so it’s not an exact quote.  Probably not even in the ball park but you get the idea.)

That sentiment of “Wow…this is mine?” has struck a chord with me.  I’m moving classrooms which means everything had to be taken down-which was a lot.  (I told our lead custodian when he saw the pile in my room he could call me everything but a white woman.  He didn’t, because he’s super nice, but I felt some serious guilt about having to move all that.)  Moving classrooms also means that I’ve been carefully and consciously trying to make a classroom that kids will enter and be so excited they get to learn there.  And I’d like to share with you how I created my classroom with those parameters in mind.

Before I go any further I’d like to point out the most obvious disclaimer: I’m not a pro.  I search HGTV’s website in hopes they will do a classroom makeover, but alas and alack, no such luck.  This is my first attempt at creating a cohesive, intentionally designed classroom.  There are other people who sketch, decorate and plan and their rooms could be on the cover of Good Housekeeping. I know teachers who choose a new theme each summer and then decorate their rooms accordingly.  I don’t have the budget nor the brain power to do that. 

Before making any purchases (or even stepping foot in your room), first gather yourself some paper (I used loose leaf because it was easy to manipulate and put in my binder), writing instruments, and the internet.  Or, if you prefer technology, create a Word document.  Make a wish list-those things that in your wildest dreams you would like to have in your room.  (Much to my shock, I realized I’m fine without a writing center, listening center, and computers-I’d rather have iPads.) Make sure you leave out some extra paper because when you do your research you’ll be jotting ideas and rabbit trails (I added five books to my Amazon wish list when researching and kept writing new ideas).

Once you’ve written down your wish list, get a new sheet and write down: Floors, Walls, Cubbies, Book Cases and Cabinets.  Then go through your wish list and write where each wish list item would go-calendar is on the wall, Reading Corner would be on the rug, manipulatives on the cabinets. 
After this, I was able to better distinguish what items were essential and which were not.  Knowing my essentials helped me plan my wall space in my room (rules by smart board, calendar on bulletin board).  I kinda looked at this like a rubric:

Classroom Environment Rubric

0-No ideas, no direction, don’t care.

1-Essentials only-desks, chairs, and computers.  You’re begging for cast offs from your colleagues and are on a first name basis with the Goodwill and Salvation Army employees.  Though you have no idea what you will do with anything you get from them.

2-A few accents and/or plan.  You know you want something cute or have an idea in mind, but need more direction.  You’re open to any hand me downs-you know exactly what you can use them for.

3-You’re tackling each area one task at a time.  You’ve got a plan and just need time and/or resources to complete it.   You only accept donations if it fits your current theme and/or color scheme.

4-You’ve achieved the nirvana of a cohesive classroom.  The accent colors of your IKEA rug match the colors of the table caddies that match the color of your stapler and mouse pad that match the curtains.  In short, you’re colleagues hate you because your room reminds them of everything theirs is not.  There’s a place for everything and everything is in its place.  You are not above accepting donations, but you squirrel it away until your next great idea.

And going into the new room with some possibilities in mind helped ease my anxiety-I knew things may change, but at least I knew to what I was aiming.

Come back tomorrow to see the next step in creating a classroom you love. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Young Love

If you celebrate a secular Christmas, then you’re acutely aware that Santa has a list.  And he’s checking it twice. 
Look out, Santa, my girls are coming at you. 

The last week of school,  I noticed some of my girls were passing around a notebook.  Of course I took it from them to see what was so important. 

It was this:

If you’re not fluent in 1st grade scribble, let me break it down for you:

1. It has to be cute 
2. And Bad 
3. And Sexy 
4. Hot

(I show the note to my friend Tabi who was, quite frankly, shocked.  “Robin!” she said, “Why did you have to go and find my list?”)

You gotta love these girls because they:

a) Made an excellent list.  It is titled, organized and concise.
b) Showed girls can do group work without drama.
c) Have totally got their priorities straight. 
d) All of the above.

And they say tax payer money is wasted on schools.    

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Because I Like You

Since I'm trying not to be a supplies hoarder to be generous, I will share with you my treasures discovered.

Since the nearest IKEA is over 2 hours away from my house, I'm forced to look elsewhere.

Which can sometimes get me in trouble because I get sidetracked upon entering stores.  For example, last night I went to Lowe's for exactly one bucket of paint.  

Exhibit A: My shopping cart after running out for exactly 1 bucket of paint.  

I decided a month ago that the color scheme for my classroom would be Electric Pink and Lime (because that sounds way more sophisticated than pink and green).  

Imagine the squeals when I discovered the plastic containers.  They're slightly larger than shoe boxes and they totally match the Electric Pink theme.  I'm psyched because since they have lids I can stack them.  

And here's the best part:  they're 5 for $5!  

And that makes me happy because this has pretty much been my sentiment as I'm setting up my room:

How about you?  Any good finds?  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

For My Granny

A year ago today, on a hot, humid mountain day, we laid to rest my maternal grandmother.

I've thought a lot about her and that day today. Last summer I missed the first day of Kentucky Reading Project due to her burial.  KRP required me to write a final paper at the end of class.  To honor my grandmother, I'd like to share the introduction and conclusion from that paper.

For me, Kentucky Reading Project started long before June 12, 2013.

It began in a small Harlan County, Kentucky hospital room on September 7.  It was there my parents welcomed me and had plans that included a life that would be different than their own.
They were supported in this endeavor by their surrounding family.  From an early age, I was sang to, talked to, and, most importantly, read to.  Though both my parents had only a high school education, though my grandmother across the road had only an eighth grade education, they knew the importance of words.  Thus, they made sure to enrich my life with words-nursery rhymes, books on cassettes (when I was two I had multiple books memorized and would “read” them without the cassette to the elementary aged children in my neighborhood, who sincerely thought I was a child prodigy), Bible stories, fairy tales.  They taught me songs, words that rhyme.  And they demonstrated the utter magnitude of words-they had the power to make one laugh, cry, or soothe.  And as I still love words to this day, and want others to find them just as endearing.
But I’ve learned cycles are not just in reading instruction.  Over a long period of time, my grandmother (the one who sang, played hand rhymes and read fairy tales to me) developed dementia.  It was a difficult few years, but even in the midst of her failing memory and ceasing mobility, I knew we needed to keep her brain active as best we could.  So I did what I know-listened, questioned, and had dialogues with her.  When she could barely speak, I got picture books and read to her side by side. Her gnarled, stiff fingers always traced the pictures, so bright and vibrant.  And we would talk about those stories.  The experiences I had as a child helped tell me what to do-I would talk, sing with her and go sit on the edge of her bed and speak to her when she could only blink and gurgle.  Upon leaving her house one time, I leaned over, kissed her and said, “”Bye, Granny! I love you!”  Her eyes met mine and she gurgled distinctly, “I love you, too.”  Those were the last words she spoke to me.  And those words, like the ones I heard when I was small, left a distinct impression on me.  In the ensuing two years until her death, I clung to those words.  And since her death, I treasure them all the more.
I will forever associate my granny with Kentucky Reading Project as she was one of the people instrumental in helping me learn to love reading.  We also buried her on the first day of class.  She would have pitched a fit if she knew I missed the first day due to her burial-she was so proud education is my profession.  She used to tell me that she wanted me to go and “learn ’em good”. 
And now, thanks to Kentucky Reading Project, I surely can. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Baker's Dozen

I'm not ashamed to tell you: since Panera does a baker's dozen bagel special on Tuesdays, I've brought my team breakfast a time.  Or two.

(And don't even get me started on the fact they're experimenting with this whole getting-rid-of-chocolate-chip-to-see-what-else-sells debacle.  I may have responded with weeping and gnashing of teeth.  And considered a tantrum.  But that's a tangent.)

I have now lived to see a Baker's Dozen I thought I'd never I'd witness: 13 snow days.  In 10 weeks. 

Enough said.

(Want more? Okay, if you insist: I got the greatest text ever from my friend Adam who lives in Northern Kentucky.  It read, "Happy Snow Day! If you need suggestions on how to spend it, let me know.  This is my 21st snow day." Y-I-K-E-S.)