Celebrate This Week-February 18 Edition

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It’s Saturday and that means it is time to reflect on the week and celebrate things both big and small. Join our community and celebrate this week by linking up or just stopping by the host Ruth Ayres’ blog to read others’ celebrations.

At School

    My days at school are tough. I have a group that just does not let up. There are many kiddos in my class who have trauma and psychological issues. My energy is depleted every day dealing with trying to keep an even keel in the classroom. But, every day we do get through the day and we get some learning done along the way. I have been successful in making sure that no one is getting hurt. That is something to celebrate!

     I am super proud of how far the refugee newcomer students have come this school year. They did not speak any English when they got to my classroom in September. They did not ever attend school in Malaysia. They are like sponges soaking in all the learning. In the last few weeks, all of a sudden, one of the girls turned into a little chatterbox. And she has taken to writing stories. We were working out a social problem last week and she wanted to communicate with me, so she wrote a whole page to tell me about it. As you can see in the photo, she is doing a phenomenal job at phonetic spelling in English!

 

     

At Home

     We are celebrating a new canine addition to the family. We got Kiko from the Humane Society and the two dogs are absolutely loving each other and all the play time (24/7 if they got to decide it). It is a bit stressful right now, until we train Kiko better, but it is fun to have two wagging tails greeting us at the door! 

What do you have to celebrate this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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Celebrate This Week-12/11

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It’s Saturday and that means it is time to reflect on the week and celebrate things both big and small. Join our community and celebrate this week by linking up or just stopping by the host Ruth Ayres’ blog to read others’ celebrations.

At School

    Last year, I decided that I had to share the magic of Harry Potter with my fourth grade class. We had such a reading community and I just needed to do this. They absolutely LOVED the book. Fast forward to this week. I was talking with a colleague at school. Her son was in my class last year. She was telling me how he is obsessed with the Harry Potter books. YES! That is exactly what I had hoped when sharing the first one last year. Even better, I had the entire set of books at home in a pile, waiting for a home to be donated to. I brought the books to school on Friday. About ten minutes into the school day, my former student came into my classroom to thank me profusely for the books. When I spoke with my colleague, she said that she had told him to wait until after school and not interrupt my class, but that he told her he couldn’t wait to come thank me. I love that my books are finding an amazing home with this kid. Harry Potter is magical. 

At Home

     Scores for National Board came out yesterday. The process is different now and candidates can do a component at a time. Last year, life got in the way so the only thing I did was the Assessment center component. I passed this part of the process! One down, three to go! 

What do you have to celebrate this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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Celebrate This Week-11/19

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It’s Saturday and that means it is time to reflect on the week and celebrate things both big and small. Join our community and celebrate this week by linking up or just stopping by the host Ruth Ayres’ blog to read others’ celebrations.

My Classroom

    I am celebrating the fact that we have teacher work days this coming Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It is a much needed time to organize our space and get ahead on some planning. 

At Home

     At the local coffee shop, yesterday morning, I ran into two different mothers of former students. I loved hearing from each of them about how their children are doing. I loved the fact that each of them took the time to pause in what they were doing to say hi and chat with me. Both kiddos graduated last June and are on to higher education now. It is so wonderful to know that students are doing well and that their families still hold me in high regard. These connections are the reason that I do what I do. 

What do you have to celebrate this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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Celebrate This Week-11/12

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It’s Saturday and that means it is time to reflect on the week and celebrate things both big and small. Join our community and celebrate this week by linking up or just stopping by the host Ruth Ayres’ blog to read others’ celebrations.

My Classroom

This was the first week in the school year that we made it through the whole week without anyone storming out of the classroom or having a meltdown and needing to be removed. In fact, a couple days this week we actually got through all of the learning that I had planned. This is huge! I have been slowly and calmly working to earn the trust of my most needy students. I am working to chip away at their knee-jerk reactions and impulse to talk back and argue about everything. I am coaxing them to give things a try and work to develop a growth mindset. And we are making progress. It is slow progress, but it is happening. 

There is never a day in my classroom in which we achieve full silence. There are just too many kids that can’t do it. Someone somewhere in the room is wiggling or making noise at all times. So it isn’t surprising that when kids are starting to gain confidence with something, they loudly call it out. Our math lessons this week were joyfully noisy, because those impulsive kiddos were starting to understand the area model that we have been working on and then loudly proclaiming their success. I worked hard to patiently admonish them for their outbursts, while at the same time celebrating with them those successful moments that are much-needed boosts to their confidence. 

I also want to celebrate the exuberant noise of our board game time. It gets loud. Very loud. But, through the noise, we learn to play with each other without conflict. We learn to have fun with classmates that may not be the people we play with outside for recess. We spend time enjoying our community. 

I added a gratitude box to our daily reflection sheet and I loved some responses this week. 

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Last, but certainly not least, I want to celebrate the love that I am showered with every day. I must’ve received at least 20 pieces of student artwork this week. I can’t remember the last time I had a class with so many students so eager to draw me pictures and write me notes and cards.  It is a reminder about the fact that sometimes the most difficult students are the ones that need the most love. 

At Home

I am just celebrating a nice weekend with nothing special planned. I enjoy the time to relax and rejuvenate. 

What do you have to celebrate this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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Celebrate This Week-11/6

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It’s Saturday and that means it is time to reflect on the week and celebrate things both big and small. Join our community and celebrate this week by linking up or just stopping by the host Ruth Ayres’ blog to read others’ celebrations.

My Classroom

There are so many things that happen every day that cause me to step back and celebrate. My favorite thing this week was the time we took to learn about student stories on ClassDojo. I am looking forward to using this feature to help kiddos to make a digital portfolio of their learning. The students enjoyed taking selfies and posting them. 

I also want to celebrate the chance I got this week to organize part of my shelves. It is something that really drives me nuts each day, so getting my organization on made me very joyful. 

The last thing I want to celebrate in the classroom is the fact that I have hit upon a diffuser blend that seems to be working for us. I am diffusing a mix of Balance, Serenity, and Cheer. All three of these oil blends are specifically formulated for aromatherapy to act as the names say. I really think we have more peace and less toxic negativity when this combination is in our air.

At Home

I had a very successful meeting on Saturday morning and I am excited about where things will go from here. I now have some great prospects for ways to share doTERRA with others and I am looking forward to it.

I made a Paleo pumpkin bread recipe that tastes amazing! I love that I am eating something healthier for me than the traditional recipes while also getting to enjoy pumpkin spice and the yumminess of that.  I need to experiment more with baking gluten free goodies for myself. 

What do you have to celebrate this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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Celebrate This Week-Building Trust and Relationships

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This week’s celebration is all about trust.

It’s Saturday and that means it is time to reflect on the week and celebrate things both big and small. Join our community and celebrate this week by linking up or just stopping by the host Ruth Ayres’ blog to read others’ celebrations.

Patience

This week I am celebrating the fact that I am able to have patience. It is so crucial when dealing with children who have emotional health issues and are needy. I am so glad that I am able to grab hold of my temper and keep it in check. 

Relationships and Apologies

This week, one of my students brought me a small care package. He wrote an apology note and was asking forgiveness for having destroyed part of the classroom. What was amazing was this student’s thoughtfulness. His apology gift included small stuffed animals, a number of sharpened pencils to replace the ones he broke, and a handful of cough drops because he knew I had been sick. I was so touched by his thoughtfulness. 

I am thankful for the heartfelt apologies that I get from all of my needy students. I love being able to give them hugs and to remind them that they are loved even though they have made mistakes in their behavior. 

I am also celebrating a new connection made this week with the mother of one of my more challenging students. I think that this family connection will help the student to do better with self-control. 

What do you have to celebrate this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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Celebrate This Week 10/8

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It’s Saturday and that means it is time to reflect on the week and celebrate things both big and small. Join our community and celebrate this week by linking up or just stopping by the host Ruth Ayres’ blog to read others’ celebrations.

Digging Deep

For a moment this morning, I paused and thought about not writing this post. This week was tough. I found myself really struggling to maintain the positivity that I try to always have at the forefront. I didn’t even quite feel like myself. I thought that I would need to dig deep and work really hard to come up with celebrations. But then, I started to think about what I might have to celebrate, and the list started coming. I may have been less mindful of the celebrations throughout the week, but when I search for them, there they are.

Connections
  • A hug and heartfelt, almost tearful, apology from a kid who was testing his limits this week
  • The laughter and fun to be had on the days that the kid with Oppositional Defiant Disorder takes his medicine and his smart math brain that impresses us all
  • Hugs and a bracelet made for me by one of my Burmese students and the amount of language that the two of them are using already
  • 22 students who kept reading and focusing on their books as 3 students chose to be defiant and were making noise and trying to get our attention
  • The excitement over library time and a step toward many more readers being engaged with their reading
  • Evidence of books being talked about and shared, especially by the student who loves Raina Telgemeier who got her copy of Ghosts this week. There are now three girls reading Smile.
  • Reading aloud Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola and now seeing all the rest of my collection of his picture books in many of the students’ book bins
  • Our shared reading and thinking about The Tiger Rising–I just absolutely love this book!
  • Our beautiful heart maps that we will be able to get ideas from throughout the school year
  • A patient and supportive grade-level partner who will take students for a time-out without complaint and will offer to have those students come in for recess with him
  • Singing along to the song I use for transitions, “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars. The class knows the lyrics now and we all end up singing.
  • GoNoodle–I love that this class is loving the brain breaks on this program. Our afternoons are LONG! The breaks help us to maintain our focus and our learning all afternoon.
  • Our Friday game time when we all have fun together. In many ways, I think this is the most important time in our classroom all week. These students need so much work with learning empathy and treating each other well. This game time each week supports their growth as a community of learners that is learning to cooperate with each other and communicate effectively. Everyone played a game this week. No one refused to join in our game time. This was the first week that this happened.

What do you have to celebrate this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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Celebrate This Week: In Which I Pull a Firetruck

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It’s Saturday and time to reflect on the week and celebrate. Join our community and celebrate this week by linking up or just stopping by the host Ruth Ayres’ blog to read others’ celebrations.

Today, my husband and I participated in a Firetruck Pull. Yes, that’s right. We pulled the fire truck. We were on the team with other women from the Barre gym I go to (and a couple more husbands). It was a charity event to raise money to get winter coats for children in need. It is the kind of event I usually think looks fun. It is the kind of event I usually don’t sign up for. But this time, I did sign up, which meant I had to show up. I couldn’t let my social anxiety keep me from this one. We had a team counting on us.

14435156_10101355326052724_810356637543691946_oWe had so much fun! I would not have had this fun if I had stayed in my comfort zone and let it pass me by. I am proud of myself for stepping up and deciding to do something this time.    

 

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What else in my week could compare to this? What a rush! We pulled the truck seventy-five feet in 23 seconds the first run and 22 seconds the second run. We came in 5th out of 9 teams, but the 4 top teams were all really muscular men. Two of the teams were firefighter teams.

 

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It was most fun to watch how teams collaborated and strategized to try to beat their times. We all watched the model firefighter teams. Every team came out the second time and beat their first time. I couldn’t help but think about how much we all learned about pulling a truck. And about how applicable this story will be to my conversations in the classroom about growth mindset. In particular, I am thinking about some of the traits Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz talk about in A Mindset for Learning.

Optimism: Firetrucks are really heavy, yet no one said they weren’t going to be able to do it.

Persistence: Some teams were a lot slower the first time, yet none of them gave up.

Flexibility: Almost all of the teams adjusted their strategy the second time around.

I can’t wait to share with my students. I think they will get a kick out of the videos of the truck being pulled by my team. And I am excited to share with them about the way I applied the traits to get my mind ready for learning.

What do you have to celebrate this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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Celebrate This Week 9/17 Challenges and Flexibility

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It’s Saturday and that means it is time to reflect on the week and celebrate things both big and small. Join our community and celebrate this week by linking up or just stopping by the host Ruth Ayres’ blog to read others’ celebrations.

Lifestyle Challenge

 

Today I start my third round of the Whole Life Challenge. This challenge asks participants to score themselves daily on 7 different health habits: nutrition, drinking water, exercise, stretching, sleep, daily reflection, and a weekly lifestyle habit.  I loved the challenge the first time and it really helped me to change the way I was eating and to think about all my habits. I did not do as well the second time around. But I still loved the fact that I was actively thinking about my health habits every day. This time around, I am doing a more challenging level for nutrition. I will need to cut out more things, but I know that the way I was eating helped me lose weight last time, so I am motivated to do it. I love that this challenge is not at all about winning anything. It is purely about working to change your habits. It is with flexibility to adapt these habits that I will be successful.

Language Challenge

Another challenge this week was welcoming three new students into my classroom and getting them acclimated to our routines and procedures. Two of these students are refugees and neither of them speaks English. One of the girls can sometimes understand quite simple directions but the other girl does not understand any English. They both do an excellent job of watching and following the other students. The challenge for me will be to differentiate my lessons to help these girls get as much out of school as they can get. The biggest celebration with this is the way my students have accepted these girls and are working hard to help them (almost to a fault). I will need to be very flexible in the designing of lessons to be able to accommodate for the needs of my learners.

Flexible Seating Challenge

The last celebration that I have this week is the arrival of the supplies that were on my DonorsChoose project. They got here very fast! I was able to introduce the wobble chairs and balance boards in my classroom. The lessons I am learning from implementing flexible seating in my classroom are material for another post, but suffice it to say that there is a steep learning curve here and it is full of challenges. The biggest issue this week for me as a teacher was the discovery that these new chairs and a couple of the balance boards can spin. Having furniture in the classroom that allows for movement is not for the faint of heart. I went over safety with my students and they are following safety rules, but I am constantly coming up with more as we go. For instance, “Don’t spin while you are trying to read” will be introduced this week. It drove me crazy to see a girl read a page, spin a 360, read a page, spin a 360 over and over again during independent reading. It was not distracting to her or any of her classmates, but it distracted me big time. We are happy to have the new furniture and I am happy to allow the students to work where they are most productive, but we will need a little bit of time to get used to it. Here’s the celebration of flexibility on my part. I am learning to let go and let this new experience teach me.

 

What do you have to celebrate this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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Celebrate This Week 9/10

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It’s Saturday and that means it is time to reflect on the week and celebrate things both big and small. Join our community and celebrate this week by linking up or just stopping by the host Ruth Ayres’ blog to read others’ celebrations.

The start of a new school year is such a whirlwind of activity and, amidst the stress and headaches of getting going, there is so much to celebrate.

We were blessed last week with weather that was cooler for the first two days of school. Then, this week was hot and humid and gross in the classroom. On Tuesday, the temperature soared into the high 90s and we all melted. But we also plugged away at learning routines and starting to learn content. The rest of the week was only in the high 80s so we survived and only partly melted and kept learning. I am celebrating the fact that we survived this heat!

I have a few students that were big behavioral challenges last year. One in particular was with the Social worker or Psychologist almost every day having some sort of fit in which he refused to enter the classroom. I am so blessed so far this year that this student came into the school year with the idea that he wants to “be good” this year. I have already done a lot of teaching about how the brain can grow and we can get smarter. I think this will be a year of helping this particular boy to really get that. I have a feeling that he is told quite often that he is stupid by other adults in his life. This attitude of starting fresh with a new identity of being good is such a celebration. I am able to get to know this friendly young man and form a relationship with him without an antagonistic twist to it. I know that will help us later in the year if he does have days that he slips up or brings upset with him to school.

In the week we have been at school, we have been able to create a friendly space. There is room for improvement and we will get there, but I have been happy to see my students being kind to each other for the most part. This was not so much the case last year for some of these students, so we are going to continue to work on building our community and working to be kind.

I am looking forward (with a few nervous butterflies) to welcoming two students who are Burmese refugees with very little English to our classroom. There was a glitch with busing so they were not at school for the first week. It will be a new challenge for me to have ESL students who are not Spanish speakers. I know we will be able to figure something out, but I am nervous about communication and helping these girls to find a place in our classroom community. I am celebrating a new opportunity to grow.

In Reading Workshop:

We made Reading Salads (idea comes from Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor) to show how real reading includes both text and thinking. This is the third year I have used this simple concrete way to show this concept and every year the 4th graders love doing it and beg to do it again. We also worked on Stamina and got up to 13 minutes.

In Math:

We used the Week of Inspirational Math curriculum for the beginning of the school year. I love how the team at Stanford has put together videos about mindsets for learning mathematics. I love the videos because they help students learn about their brain. The challenge activities then reinforce the concepts that students learned and give them a math challenge.

Last, but certainly not least, I have implemented flexible seating in my classroom. It has been an interesting start to the school year, but I think it will be great. We have bean bags and a few end tables for floor seating, we have 4 yoga balls for seats, we have some standing tables, and we have a table with some benches (at some point, I might like to make some crate seats as seen in many articles about flexible seating, but d-i-y is not my strong suit). The rest of the desks have regular chairs.

My biggest celebration this week was the surprise funding of my Donors Choose project which will give us more seating/ desk options. The Herb Kohl Foundation funded ALL of the projects that were up and posted by Wisconsin teachers on Donors Choose. This was a huge surprise to all of us that received the funds. Another teacher in my school had 5 projects posted and every single one of them was funded!!! I am getting 6 wiggle chairs and 4 balance boards for my classroom from this project! I can’t wait to have more options for these kiddos.

What do you have to celebrate this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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