I have been taking this summer easy. I am lucky enough to only tutor once a week and take care of teenage boys who ignore me, so pretty easy. I have been taking time to reflect and gathering ideas for the up coming year. I am always looking for new ideas or perfecting old ones, especially during the summer.

I was able to help a close friend’s daughter move out of state and set up her very first classroom. My van was packed to the top with all of her things. We moved her into an upstairs apartment, helped her hang pictures, went furniture shopping, and bought groceries. Then we went to her classroom and set it up.

We left her on her own to start the school year as a brand new teacher. She’s prepared. She attended an excellent university with a phenomenal education program. She had a well-trained experienced mentor teacher who helped her through her student teaching, and she is a naturally compassionate person who loves children. Piece of cake, right?

Ask any teacher if they remember their first year and they will tell you like it was yesterday. It is quite a challenging experience that can shake the most confident person to the core.  I have had several  first year experiences. I know that sounds crazy but there was the real first year, where I moved away from family and friends and had no idea what I was doing.  I had my second first year when I went back to work after staying home to raise my own children, and then when I finally felt like I was getting the hang of it, I got moved to the dreaded “middle-school” and had to figure it all out again!

Teaching is a tough job that requires resilience. Teachers need to remember those self doubting times with the fear and uncertainty because that is exactly how many students feel too. Viewing a student at surface level is not enough, there are so many back stories that might be plaguing that child, yes, that child who is obstinate or even the class clown. Education is about lifelong teaching and understanding. It is about seeing beyond today and building lives. That is why it is so scary.

In these tumultuous times we need to be especially prepared to be open and honest with our students. The world can be a scary place and I know every teacher has felt that same anxiety the night before. Will I be enough? Will I connect with these students? Will I know what to say and do when dealing with tough issues?

I email and text my friend’s daughter daily to encourage her to keep on moving forward, reflect, re-plan, and start over every day because that is what great teachers do.

To all educators heading back to school, good luck and be proud! You got this! You will be enough!


read more

Lighten Up and Laugh

Last night I participated in a Twitter chat. I still do not fully understand how it all works, but I comment and retweet. The chat was an educational one, go figure, and the entire set of questions were about engaging students and getting them to love literary as much as teachers do. The discussion focused on the connection between enjoying reading and the desire to want to write; yes, the dreaded writing issue.

There were many great ideas but as I added my 2 cents worth I realized it all comes down to this. It depends on how the teacher is able to motivate, inspire, connect, and build relationships with their students. (We may have blogged on this before, like 68 times).

I currently go with my gut instinct. This approach works much better for me. I never make a reluctant reader read aloud unless he/she volunteers, I never make a student read their writing in front of the class unless he/she wants to, (unless we are grading on a speaking and presenting standard and they are well aware ahead of time).  I do not compare a struggling student to a high performing student because these things hurt and demoralize, not motivate.

Now, most of my current students love to read and want to write. There are a few that really need me to get them started and stay close during the process. They are still independent but they get stuck. They need some reassurance and I give it to them. These are usually the students who cause class disruptions and fight me on everything, but they come around with patience and those small academic wins. This is not that difficult to do. I just do it, it is not rocket science, as my friend Vicki Petrella likes to say.

My former students, who were not native English speakers, struggled with writing. It was so confusing and frustrating to them. Every time they thought they had the grammar or spelling correct the rule changed. We ended up with some great pieces of writing from these amazing students. They put in the effort because they knew we were all learning together. It was safe to try.

Lori and I always wonder if we are doing enough, if we are in the right place, if we are making a difference; I think all of us in education tend to reflect this way, or should. I feel pretty good when I start to reflect. I get Facebook messages from students I taught years ago. Some actually tell me about how school is going. Lori and  I also get emails and the occasional comment on this webpage from students. They think it is a hoot that we have a webpage and always want us to write about them. Ironically, we always write about them. They are all we think about.

So, if you are an educator who is struggling with burnout or lack of enthusiasm, change it up, do what feels right inside, laugh every single day with your students, don’t be a curmudgeon.  They will read, they will write, they will attempt those difficult math problems, if you enjoy teaching and authentically develop those relationships. Kids are hysterical, how fun to be surrounded by kids all day, what a great job we have! 


read more

Graduation Blues

I have worked with a variety of amazing students from three years to 8th grade. Some of these students got great grades, some struggled, some were defiant, some talked way too much, some had a fabulous sense of humor, and some had the biggest heart and bravest soul you ever saw. All of these children were brilliant, in their own special way. 

As a teacher, I have encouraged, motivated, pushed, and helped my students learn. Sometimes they got frustrated and sometimes I got frustrated. My job was to get right back up and try again and teach them to do the same. I have tried to instill the virtue of perseverance to all of my students. There are days when they are mad at me and days when they laughed at my uniquely ridiculous teaching strategies. It’s my job and it is my passion.

Tonight, my son needed me to be that nurturing teacher. I had to tell him that sometimes in life you do everything right, work hard, be responsible, and still someone else gets the recognition. It may not be your moment to shine, maybe it is that other student’s moment. Life does not stop at high school graduation. Life is not defined by your high school accomplishments. Life is so much more.

One day at a time, one challenge at a time, one victory at a time, it will all happen. Patience is a virtue, it is just not an easy one to understand sometimes. The teacher in me says, hang in there, you can be anything you want to be, the mom in me wants to hold him close and tell him everything will be alright. Life is a journey that you must make your own way through, but tonight I wish I could make that way a little easier for one special high school graduate, my brilliant son, Isaac.


read more

My class has just finished a huge biography project that produced some amazing essays, speeches, and posters. I was pleasantly surprised at how hard they worked, how much they learned about each other’s person, and how they kept making sure their information was accurate. It was a long, messy, and time consuming process; but well worth the effort. Many of the characters came to life, for example Betsy Ross, Rosa Parks, Bill Gates, and Jacqueline Kennedy to name a few. I am very proud of my students.

Being a teacher who likes project based learning, and might be slightly crazy, I thought it would be a great idea to introduce all of the components of graphic novels. So, for these two weeks before our spring break we are learning all about what it takes to create a great graphic novel. We are discovering the terminology, layouts, illustration techniques, and finally all of the elements of a novel.

We are now to the point where the students are creating their own. Wow, what a fabulous job they are doing. I was once again flabbergasted at their work. (Yes, I stuck that word in because they think it sounds funny).

I can’t wait to see the finished novels, I will post them on our TwoTeachersontheEdge Facebook page. This is what makes my job so much fun, the kids and watching their creativity come to life!


read more

We try to stay positive and upbeat. We take risks and put ourselves out there, so we expect challenges and some negative feedback occasionally. We are not tough as nails, but we are mature enough to know everyone has an opinion and sometimes things don’t work out as planned.

We have preached to our students to be persistent and to keep moving forward in tough times. We now find ourselves trying to follow our own advice. We are saddened to learn that things are not working out as well as we had hoped with our publisher. We are now in the middle of trying to get our books finished and are actively looking for a new publisher for our new books.

We still have our first ten books in the series for sale, just contact us at twoteachersontheedge@gmail.com if interested.


read more

Some Happy News

I have not felt compelled to write. I am not sure why. But today I got some good news about my former students who will be attending high school next year that I just had to write about.

See, every February I would spend the entire month trying to help my 8th grade students fix their applications, practice for interviews, pick out appropriate clothing, google directions, and edit essays. We would find out together who was accepted to the local Catholic high schools and who was turned down. We would then put the backup plan in place once we got the news we didn’t want to hear. February was full of emotions, sometimes happy, sometimes disappointing, and always nerve-wracking.

Well, today I heard almost every single student in my former class was accepted! I celebrate them and all of their hard work! I am not there with them, and it makes me sad. I would love to run up to them and jump up and down with them. I am so proud of them. I hope they know how truly proud I am of them and how much I love them.

Today, was a good day, it was a success. Thank you Lord.


read more