Sunday, August 23, 2015

Celebrate: Teacher Reflection.

Dear Friends, Every week Ruth Ayres hosts a link-up to celebrate all that is good!  That link is here.
Join us!

 Yesterday, I had the chance to read a lot of your posts as I was going throughout my day.  Saturday turned into a "bucket list" day for us.  The Farmer's Market for me, and the State Fair for my family.  Along with dessert at a friend's house.  A perfect August day indeed.  

My brain has been on overload since I've started a new school year.  Yesterday, as I was reading lots of your posts, I was pondering the idea of reflection.  

I celebrate teachers who take the time to reflect when possible.  

I celebrate principals and leaders who grab onto the importance of time to reflect.  

Reflection that doesn't take place behind closed doors.  The kind where the doors are wide open and the wandering in and out with questions and ideas takes place.  

Reflection that happens in the early hours of the morning before anyone else is there to see the open door.  

Reflection that happens at night when you just need to plan out "one more thing."  

I have been given ample time to reflect in all settings in the past week.  With my staff, with teachers, with myself.  It's been amazing and has allowed me to feel prepared as I go into this week.

How important and helpful it's been to just have time to reflect on all things before school starts.  A few of mine have been:  room arrangement, time and how to spend it best, literacy practices and sharing those with new teachers.  I'm also in a Faith-based school now, and I'm thinking a lot about how to best share Faith with young students in a joyful, authentic way.  Right now, I'm reflecting a lot on the use of music and how that can play a part in the teaching of this piece.  

Happy August Friends!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

SOL: Late Night Slicing. Thoughts on Learning Something New.

Link up at  We are so grateful for this community.

Oh Man, it's the end of day one.

My head is spinning.

I'm new.  I've taught before.  But I'm definitely in a new place.  I understood all the requirements.  I know what I'm supposed to do.  I can tell you.  But am I really ready to do this?  I feel like I'm standing on the edge of a cliff, and I'm not ready to jump.

Tonight,  I've been thinking about our precious learners.

They can tell us what they are supposed to do.  They understand.  Are we helping them feel ready to show us what they know?  No matter what that is:  reading, writing, speaking, "mathing"...

I'm in a heightened place.  I've been asked to do things I do know if I'm ready to do.  Dear Precious Learners, I know what it's like to step out and show what you think you know.  I'm staring at the edge of that cliff right now.  I promise you, I'm writing this slice because I don't want to forget this state of being a little uncomfortable.

I can't wait to meet you Precious Learners.  We'll stand at the edge of this cliff together.  We won't jump until you are ready.  But I promise you, whatever it is that you need to learn, we'll "Jump" together.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Celebrate: A Full Bucket.

Dear Friends, every weekend you can link up at  for a celebration!  Head on over there to check it out!  And join us!

Yesterday, I went to an early childhood conference for the first time in ** years.  :)  

I can't even tell you how at peace I am with being a teacher right now.  The theme of the conference was "WONDERful."  The idea being we stop and see the wonder in what we are being called to do everyday in our work with kids.  

So, I have a few ideas and thoughts I'm celebrating this morning.  

From our keynote speaker, Drew Gerdes, on celebrating the Wonder of Each Child: (@ddgerdes on Twitter.)  

"Hug First; then Teach."

"Don't teach the class; teach the kids."

"Get to know your kids so well, they feel you are teaching just to them."

"Less is more!  Be intentional."  

"Social Emotional Intelligence trumps Academics."  

"Jesus isn't just for Jesus Time; He's for All the Time."   (This quote I'm going to fancy up and display in our classroom somewhere.  As I'm new to a faith-based setting, this was just what I needed at that time. ) 

I hope some of these little pieces of his keynote that jumped out at me can bring you some inspiration as you start the year.  

After attending 3 sessions, here are some take-away ideas that I wanted to celebrate and share with you today.  

Exploring the Wonder of Nature:   Create a culture of play and exploration.  Creativity comes from being outside.  So many ideas from this session, but tomorrow we could start with this:  Go outside, pick a sit spot in the field.  If you have them, bring along magnifying glasses, binoculars, etc.  If not, just go and sit, let the kids watch, listen, dig, bring you things.  Then, have each student share a story of the day.  "What did you see?  Tell us about it!"  It was interesting to note, the naturalist really encouraged story telling here, and not necessarily journaling at this time.  Let the kids just tell their stories. 

Exploring the Wonder of Kids' Health:  Here is a simple game I took away.  It it a version of "Drive the Car," a game I learned from watching a Responsive Classroom.  You will need hoola-hoops.  I was thinking enough for 1/2 my class to play at a time.  When the students wear the hoola-hoops around their waist, they are now in their car ready to drive.  Then the students simply move around the classroom, careful not to bump into each other.  An active way to promote body awareness in our young learners.  

I celebrate a full bucket.  I hope you do too.  


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Thoughts on a Sock Scamper.

This post really will reflect on how our 1st Annual Sock Scamper went.  But first a story.

I don't usually share a lot of stories on places where God is moving myself or my family to Do Something.  But this is a story about how God was messing with me (and my family) in a Big way. (For us.)  And in the spirit of learning, let's share and see what we've learned.  

About one year ago, a friend of mine invited my family to come and run a local 5K to benefit CISS.  Central Iowa Shelter and Services is a shelter for homeless adults with a goal to support self sufficiency.  What's special about CISS to us is they have a 14 bed transitional housing unit that supports Veterans.  

My family rolls downtown on a muggy July day.  We begin to run the 5K along the river.  My then-9 year old begins to see tents under the overpasses, and the questions begin.  I do my best, but I'm sure I messed it all up.  Afterward, he begins to ask, repeatedly if we can do a 5K for homeless veterans as well.  Honestly?  I was brushing him off for almost a year, because who can really organize a 5K and all that?  

But God kept messing with me, and I mentioned this idea on the side to just 2 people.  That is really how things started rolling.  From there, a community of people came together and this conviction from a now 10 year old's vision started becoming a reality.  And on July 25th, we held our First Annual Sock Scamper.  

What Was Noted that We Loved:
The Fellowship and Community.  People lingered.  Members of my church family sat on a trail and encouraged our Scampering folk with joyful words and water at the 1/2 way point.  These people provided joy and safety for our participants.  People stood and sat in the parking lot and just enjoyed each other before and after the race.  

It was great that I was able to walk with my Mother-In-Law at the end of the scamper.  We were able to see who was left on our trail, and met up with some of the team at the turn around point.  A good safety point.  We want to make sure no one is out there struggling without support available to them.  My favorite part here?  My Father-In-Law helped a tired mother who had been pulling kids on a tandem bicycle by taking the bicycle and riding them the rest of the way back to church.  

Gifts were being used.  There was a committee of people who worked to provide a lovely hospitality table for when the scamper was over.  Chocolate milk, Gatorade, granola bars, fresh fruit, lots of water!  Any leftovers were donated to CISS.  It was delightful and plentiful.  (On a side note, we used 100 pounds of ice to keep all our refreshments cool-we'll use some of that next year to keep the granola bars cool for everyone so they don't melt!)  We had a committee of people who organized registration and ordered backpacks for everyone.  

We collected approximately 260 pairs of socks for CISS.  Why socks?  Because when asked what was most needed, new socks and undergarments were at the top of the list.  Just let that sink in for a moment.  They asked for new socks.  It's just something I buy, and sometimes huff at the price because they seem so menial.  It was a whack over the head for me to be sharing and reaching out with what we have.    

What about Next Year?
It was the 10 year old who came up with these visions for next year:  How can we partner with Pastor Guerra and Iglesia Luterana El Pastor del Valle to promote more community?  Can we make signs for the members to take and hang up around the community to promote the Scamper?  Let's make flyers and pass them around the neighborhood.  :)  

Some other ideas that were mentioned to myself and my family:  Could registration and refreshments be on the south side of the building in the shade?  What if breakfast was served for people who just wanted to fellowship, but not scamper?  Could we have it in June, maybe close to Flag Day?  
A return sign coming off the trail would ensure people would turn left and not go straight when it was time to come back to church, and next year we will stake the signs into the ground.  

Who else can we Reach Out with to support CISS and get them basic needs for our community members who need them?  

If you were there, we would love to hear your thoughts below.  Any of them!  

If you weren't there, why not?!?!?!  :)  Just kidding.  We would love to have you join us next year!  If you are interested, let me know and I'll start a list for next year to communicate the details with you.  


Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Two Minute Talk. :)

So I'm chatting with my Super Colleagues, Jillian and Annie.

Now that I'm across town from them, I know I will miss the opportunity to share ideas with them as they pop up.

So, the Two Minute Talk is born.  A one-take video on a variety of topics regarding school.

Here's the first one.  A video on a space in my new classroom involving tinkering, wondering, and creating.

Happy Saturday Friends!

Celebrating Enough Summer.

Dear Friends, Every week  Ruth Ayres provides a space at to link up and celebrate!  Join in and Celebrate with us.  

Ahem.  Once again, I'm blowing the dust off the blog, and reaching out to celebrate.  As I was typing this part, I was talking to myself like this:  "Ugh.  You didn't blog enough this summer.  You didn't connect enough this summer."  Always a reflection as we head into August and gear up for a school-year schedule.  

Isn't it so easy to feel like we didn't do Enough?  

So I'm celebrating what I accomplished this summer.  It was Enough.  And I'm working on settling back into a routine involving more writing and connecting. 

We survived the great Graduate School Work of 2015.  I still maintain my belief if you accomplish grad school and care for Any people, tiny or otherwise, you get a boost in your GPA.  

I'm setting up a new classroom.  One that hasn't been occupied fully for at least 2 years.  Lots of treasures to sort through and the time needed to make the space my own.  I'm going to try and post a video later for my friends to see if you are interested in this change.  

Running 30 miles a week.  I celebrate the health that is required to do that!  I'm still debating if racing is necessary; or if the miles are enough.  

Family and Friends.  We spent so much time eating lunches, driving to farms, lingering over coffee/tea/beer, it was simply glorious.  

We organized and held a 5K.  It was small, only about 60 participants.  But my 10 year old had this vision, and I adore a Church Community that worked together to make it happen.  We collected over 260 pairs of socks for our 1st Annual Sock Scamper.  Another post will be coming on this soon!

I celebrate that the blogging community is flexible and awesome!  I'm looking forward to reconnecting with you!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

#pb10for10 Books that are Helping Me Start Over. (AKA How Libraries Help...)

Thank you to Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for encouraging us and organizing us in this August celebration!  It's one of my favorite things to participate in!

First, a story about a girl who stepped out after 15 years in one place.  This summer I've been working on starting over in a new first grade classroom across town.  With that has come a wide range of emotions from, "Holy Sh*&! What have I done?!?!?"  to "This is going to be awesome; Watch Out World!"  Today I'm more on the Awesome end.  :)  We can chat more about that range of emotions next week.  ;)

My new position has taken me to a new neighborhood in town.  We've spent the summer lingering about, and we've found the most beautiful library.  Funny, it's that library that has been a tool for helping me transition to a new place.  I nearly squealed with delight when I saw the section that had new releases.  I squealed more when I saw books that my Teacher Librarian had read to my first graders over the years.  The library was the first place on this side of town that we felt at home.  Just yesterday my youngest and I were perched on a stool together looking at nonfiction together.  I could have sat there all day. (WE=myself and my 2 sons, who are also transitioning to Mama's new school.)  

Anyway, I've been reminded this summer how libraries are really the heart of a neighborhood.  If your community has one, be sure to support it!  

Here are 10 Picture books we've found at the library that will certainly show up in my new classroom.  Which is really helping me start over and bringing me that sense of Awesome.  

Really, I squealed a bit when I saw this one.  If that was you walking by, I'm sorry I startled you.  :)

Li'l T found this book wildly funny.  It would make a great read aloud!

Such a clever book!  

We are loving this series at home.  The new section of this library has a place for non-fiction too!

This alphabet book is a great way to show first graders how to play with words.  

Beautifully written.  

This wordless book has tremendous art work.  

An enjoyable book for reviewing manners.  

Not a new book, but one of my favorite books to hear as a read aloud.

More non-fiction.  Li'l T has spent a lot of time just lingering in this text.  We've enjoyed learning why animals do what they do!

As the summer has progressed, we are finding more restaurants, parks, trails, shops, etc.  But as we make our trek into our new space each day, we won't forget this library and how it was the first place we felt at home.