I won’t be going into work on Monday or Tuesday of this week. My dad had a pretty bad fall down the basement stairs yesterday and today he is in surgery for repairs to tendons in both legs. They have to be reattached to his kneecaps. It’s important that I am here for my mom and dad.

It’s a no brainer, but it’s a big deal. I will be missing school for two days. We just had parent/teaching conferences. We are turning the bend. The last semester has started and my students are in the middle of researching for their first paper of the quarter. I want them to stay on schedule and to get it done.

I am lucky because I have a great substitute coming in. She can take up where I let off. She will take my plans, and go. She will adapt and work with the kids to make them feel secure enough so they can continue with the assignments. This is so important. Sometimes teachers have to miss, even the most well-meaning teachers. Situations come up and there are times you just can’t be there. Because we have limited time with our students, every minute of instruction counts. I don’t feel comfortable giving busy work. I need them to keep moving, keep developing as learners, keep expanding their skills. No day of school is an “off” day.

I won’t be in Monday and Tuesday, but I still expect learning to continue. I am so grateful that I have a guest teacher that will push my students. Thank you.

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Busy Days Ahead

This is the dry spell in education. This is when the days go by slowly with little breaks. This is good in a way because we finally have consistency in schedules. The students know they will be in school each and every day and for our children, routine is good. This is the time when your relationships with your students matter most. This is when calm is needed, when motivation is necessary, and when patience is a virtue.

If you saw Amy and my latest video, you heard us talk about allowing the students to get up and move around. If there’s a chance for extra gym, take it. If you can think of a fun activity in the classroom that gets the kids out of their seats, do it. They are as closed in and claustrophobic as you are this time of year. The overcast days and cold temps are wearing on them also. Let them MOVE!

Amy and I talk about relationship building a lot. We are not the only ones. If you read educational literature then you will notice the educational theorists and gurus spouting the importance of relationship building. Most children in today’s world have a different outlook on the meaning of respect. I am sure you have noticed. They don’t walk into our classrooms, sit down in rows, silence themselves when the teacher walks in, then take out their completed homework. Nope, it’s a new world. Now children believe that they are the center of the universe. The “I” culture has taken root in our little ones. We are to gear our instruction around their interests, around their talents, and around their schedules. It may be frustrating, but none-the-less, it’s true.

So do it. To make your life easier and your jobs more successful, teach to the students. Discover their interests, their passions, and their talents. Know what motivates them and use that knowledge to make their school days productive and wonderful. It’s okay that they think that the world revolves around them because in our classrooms they do. As educators we have to find interesting ways to make the curriculum make sense in their world. We can also use their passions to help them realize through research that the world in fact does not revolve around them. That it is now and will be their jobs to take control and care for their world in order to make it a better place.

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I had an interesting discussion with one of my students the other day as we were waiting for the last bus to arrive. She was asking about a teacher and she couldn’t remember her name. She said, “You know, the one who was a cheerleader.” Huh, that actually didn’t narrow the choices much.

As we stood there discussing the possibilities I realized something; a lot of our female teachers were cheerleaders in their past life. Not only the teachers, but our principal too. Amy and I were both cheerleaders. I started to think….this could only mean trouble.

Why so many? What characteristics apply to both cheerleading and teaching. Why do so many of us have the same backgrounds? And then it hit me. Teaching is not only about spouting out information. At least, not anymore. In the old days many teachers had everyone in rows, gave lectures, round-robin read, then passed out dittos. The students were expected to sit silently and fill in the blanks. Well, not so much today.

Cheerleaders are known to be peppy, happy girls (and boys) that are confident in their own skin and want to share their enthusiasm with everyone around them. And isn’t this what teaching is? I mean, every day we walk into our rooms and many of us are ready to perform miracles. We thought and rethought our lessons, we are excited about our subject matter, and we want to pass on our love of learning to our students. We want them to be excited about learning. We want them to jump into projects, presentations, and research with enthusiasm and joy. We want our students to leave the school building with more knowledge and self-confidence than what they walked in with.

It’s funny. I never really saw the connection. But now I do. Now I will be looking at cheerleaders with different eyes. Now I will be scoping out the next great teacher.

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The Value of Play-

This “play” idea has been a hot topic for many parents and educators for years. I have been in both roles and have seen the “play” word used positively and almost as a bad word.

I have taught children from the ages of three to now fourteen years old. I am a parent of three boys; they are twenty, seventeen, and thirteen. I am not saying I know everything; I am just using my years of experience along with research based findings to set up a series of blogs on this topic.

I would love some feedback and comments of what you think. The whole idea of this series of posts is to incite interest, opinion, and additional experiences on this topic of the value of play. Please take the risk and add your thoughts.

I used to teach at a local well respected preschool for over eight years. My boys all went there and still have fond memories of their time there. My youngest son still says he misses “the good old days” when he could play and have fun at school without so much pressure. This particular preschool used a play-based educational model. There was circle time, discovery learning stations, and free choice. We had indoor and outdoor recess daily to offer discovery in different venues so the children learned how to work out problems in different situations. Yes, we had to monitor but we observed conflict resolution, decision-making, and leadership all in children from the ages of three to five. These kids were lucky enough to have a quality school to attend; many children do not have this option. The latter have to learn these critical skills along with academic skills on their own, so they already start their school career behind.

Even if children attended preschools that were amazing, creative, inventive, and enriching, this doesn’t automatically ensure success, but it sure does give them an edge. The problem that many educators see is that once children enter, “real school” or elementary school they are no longer given free time to explore, discover, and make social or intellectual connections with other students. It is often a teacher who tells them what to do and how to do it.

In the same vein often these children have been used to having “play-dates” not just going outside to play. There are many parents around to stop conflicts and take control of the entire situation. The child never learn to figure it out. Wow, that is an issue, not just for the child on that day, but for that child for the rest of his/her life.

These children may also be on structured sports teams. This too is not free play. There are rules, a coach, yelling parents from the sidelines, and a time and place for this event to take place. This generation of children has not learned how to shine without someone telling them exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. No wonder they have such a hard time making decisions. Do you see how this affects our children clear into their adult lives?

This is what I want to discuss and explore in the next few weeks. Please, help me with your own experiences. This world has definitely changed but are we as parents and educators adding yet another layer to this changing world that is enabling our children to become too stressed, less dependent, less social, and less able to make good decisions due to hovering too close? Weigh in.


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Three Day Weekend

It’s crazy really, but we are so happy we have a three day weekend. Strange considering we just returned after break and we had a snow day. So why do we need a break, or rather, why are we so happy we get to sleep in one extra day? Education is taxing. I know so many people don’t believe it. After all, we work with kids for goodness sake. Let me just say for myself, Amy, and for many, that working with kids is taxing.

I’m starting to see more articles and blogs about how difficult my chosen profession is. Most are pleading for understanding from the outside population. The truth is, it doesn’t really matter who believes us. If you haven’t walked in our shoes then the point is moot because there is no understanding what we do unless you do it, or unless you have that special someone who listens with an open heart and mind and absorbs an educator’s pain, triumph, exhaustion, and pride.

Just so you know, I have dreamed about my job for the last three nights straight. I have been working in my mind for four straight days. I was so tired at a new administration meeting that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. It was humiliating. I was wiggling around constantly. I would hide my eyes just to close them for 10 blissful seconds. The strength it took to lift my lids was a workout in itself. I actually texted Amy that I just wanted to crawl under the table and take a nap. It was ridiculous.

I guess I need the three day break too. Not to get away from my kids and school responsibilities, but to separate my worlds a little. To embrace my other roles in life. So I’ll take the day off and try not to live my job in my dreams. I’ll try tonight since I didn’t do so well last night.

So…Amy and I posted a video on our YouTube channel, . In the video we are laughing hysterically at ourselves because we have realized that we are honestly clueless in so many ways. Our video received some hits and a couple people remarked that they thought our channel was supposed to be about education. Well it is. BUT, Amy and I are just two women making it through. And both of us agree that without a lot of laughter and humor there is no way we could do all that we do. So, yes everyone, our channel is about our daily struggle in our job, but it’s also about us, two women surviving a hard occupation, teachers, mothers, wives, authors, motivational speakers, bloggers, vloggers, and human beings. So laugh with us. If we only talked about our hard days wouldn’t you just want to crawl under the covers and go to sleep? Laugh with us and do!!

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