Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

I can not believe 2013 is over and that I had to report back to school today.  Luckily the kids do not return until Monday so I have some time to get back into my routine and prepare.  New Year's brings with it all kids of resolutions (my gym was packed today- can't wait until February!) This year I have a couple of resolutions that I hope I can stick with longer than all those newbie gym goers.   I want to share a couple with you.

1. Be more positive- We all know that things do not always go the way we plan or wish. My goal is to accept these with grace and try and find the bright side.  Or in some cases make a bright side if I have to!

2. Be more thoughtful- I want to plan carefully and make sure I am really addressing the standards I need to teach my kids and not focus simply on the textbook I am provided.  Another part of this is being more thoughtful with my words, nonverbal communication, and actions with regards to my students.

3. Being open to God's plan- You may not know this about me but I am 28 and single.  Now in the South this can be considered a tragedy.  I have spent so much time on the wrong guys, talking about the wrong and right guys, and worrying about these guys too.  My prayer is to accept God's plan for my life even when it doesn't look like what I imagined.

4. Enjoy my students- Take the time to listen to them, laugh with them, and let myself be amazed by their little minds.

Maybe some of my resolutions will inspire you.  Or just make you smile.  Good luck to you and your resolutions this year!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Discouragement and Hope

Wow! It has been over a year since I have written.  I could go into all the reasons why I haven't (new Common Core/reading program, difficult kids, classroom makeover-yet again, life in general) but I am sure you all know the reasons.

Before reading the rest of this post I do want to say three things:
1. I do love my job
2. My kiddos can be amazing
3. All days are not bad and I know that

I am writing after one of those incredibly long it is almost Christmas break and it is full moon and my kids have gone ape shit days.  You know the ones.  The days where no one can get along or even look at each other without trouble starting and if one more kid says my name or blurts out I may lose it.  The kind of day when you look at the kids and where they are and the possibility of where they are going and think it just keeps getting worse.  And by it, I mean society in general.  I would have never dreamed of talking to my teacher or parent the way kids at my school do.  I would have been mortified if my teachers had seen me act the way my kids can act sometimes.   It just makes me question a lot of things.  My main question tonight is how can I get through to these kids?

So instead of completely letting myself get completely hopeless I asked myself another question.  What is it that I really want for these kids (these annoying, drive me crazy but I love them terribly kids)?  Here are my answers:

1.  I want my kids to be responsible.  Yes, I do want them to be responsible for their homework and grades but I want them to be responsible for themselves.  That includes their well being, their attitudes, their reactions to life.  I want them to understand that no matter what is happening that is out of their control- they always have control of themselves.

2.  I want my kids to WANT to learn.  I will admit that I have a really curious bunch this year that is capable of asking insightful questions.  They are getting pretty good at researching as well.  My goal is for them to always keep the desire for more knowledge.  For them to never stop asking why or what if.

3.  I want my kids to love to read.  If you know me at all or have read any of my posts you may know that I am an avid reader.  Reading has been my comfort, my escape, a source of laughter and tears.  Sharing books with friends has deepened relationships, helped me communicate, and in some cases started friendships.  I want that for my kids.

4. I want them to have something to be proud of.  And no not just an XBOX One or whatever that game was that one of my kids was telling me about today.  I want them to take pride in their knowledge, their gifts, and their life.

5. I want them to be kind.  We all know kids (esp. little girls) can be hurtful and make mistakes.  They have great models for that every where they look.  But so many times I catch my kids helping each other out, saying thank you, sharing, or cheering each other on.  I want my kids first instant to be kindness.

I could go on a lot longer but I am going to stick to my top five.  Maybe this is my list for Santa or my prayer tonight.  Over Christmas break I plan on doing a lot of reelecting on my actions and words and making sure I am doing my best to be a good model for this.  I plan to read as many encouraging teacher books as I can and plan meaningful activities for my little ones.  (I also plan to sneak in some sleep and family time too).

I would love to hear your wish list for your kids, any suggestions for inspiring kids (and exhausted teachers), or any book titles I may want to check out.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Drawing Conclusions and Night Letters

Our Reading Street story last week was Night Letters.  The kids really got into this story! For one of their stations, they thought about an object such as a plant or animal that they might find in their back yard.  Then they wrote a letter to themselves from that objects point of view- just like the little girl in the story.  I did model by writing my own night letter from the point of view of garden snake.  After stations, they came up and shared their night letters with the class.  I tied in our skill of the week which was drawing conclusions by having the students guess who each night letter was from.  The students had to explain their thinking by using details from the text and their prior knowledge.  My kiddos really enjoyed this activity and it was great practice!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Time Is Here!

I adore Christmas! As soon as I finished my last bite of Thanksgiving dinner, I was ready to start decorating.  I have decorated part of my classroom and put up our tree.  The kiddos will make their first ornament tomorrow thanks to a wonderful parent volunteer!  Just a tip: I buy a few packs on inexpensive thank you notes from Wal-Mart or Target and keep at school.  That way I can write the kids a note before I forget and they go home for the holidays.

I found these felt snowflake place mats at Wal-Mart and hung them up in our classroom.

This is in my bedroom.

My Christmas tree at home.

An ornament we will make this season!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I did it y'all! I passed National Boards!! I am officially a National Board Certified Teacher.  Wow was I shocked and so so so relieved.  In other great news, the day before I found that out- I was named Teacher of the Year for my school.  That is such a huge honor because my co-workers vote on it.  It was a good two days!

We all know that not a lot of work gets done the day before a holiday break.  So yesterday we did some Thanksgiving literacy activities and writing before doing a math worksheet.  Yes I gave a worksheet! It was a simple addition review which I thought the kids needed.  I am sharing this because of the challenge I gave my early finishers.  Students that finished early were given the challenge to circle the sums that were even numbers in green and the sums that were odd in red.  My kids liked this idea a lot.  We all have those kids that if they are not busy thinking than they are prone to getting into trouble so I am always looking for easy ways to challenge my kiddos.  If you have any easy tips please feel free to share!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Secret Throw Up

This is a funny.  The other day I was working with students at my reading table.  A little boy comes up to me and says, "Ms. Coleman, I threw up."  I asked him where since I had not seen him or heard of chorus of eight year olds saying "EWW! Yuck!"  He said in the classroom but I cleaned it up.  Now my classroom is tiny so I see and hear just about everything!  I asked him who saw him throw up (and so kindly clean it up).  He tells me no one saw it.  I said, "So you threw up, cleaned it up, and no one saw it?"  He said yes.  So I said ok, go to the nurse.  He, of course, was fine and spent the rest of the day at school.  Do they think I am that stupid or do they simply think they are that clever?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Recess Academy

Yes, I am alive.  This year has been really hard.  With a new grade level, a challenging group of kiddos, and a new math program (not to mention trying to have a life outside of school!) I have felt like I am barely keeping my head above water all year.  I am just now starting to feel on top of things even thought I have a million things I want to start with my kids.  My goal is to really think about what my kids can and cannot handle so I do not get frustrated.  For example, I really really really wanted to carve pumpkins with my kids but I know my kids just can't handle it so I am putting it off until next year.
   Anyways, this post is about Recess Academy.  I wish I could take credit for this idea but sadly I can't.  Those of you that have read my posts before know that I am a big fan of Setting Limits in the Classroom by Robert J. McKenzie and Lisa Stanzione. (Buy here).  This book is about how to eliminate power struggles, give students logical choices, and respectfully manage your classroom.  I read it after my first year of teaching and let me tell you- I went home a lot less frustrated every day.  When I led the committee to write out new school wide discipline plan, this is the book we based it on.  I HIGHLY recommend it.  Ok back to recess academy.  The idea is simple.  You take kids out of recess or specials for five to ten minutes and practice behaviors they are struggling to master.  I had my first recess academy two weeks ago and it was great.  I had several students that continual blurted out and I realized how frustrated that made me and how it was have a negative impact on our day.  So I pulled these four kids out of music (we do not get recess) to practice raising their hands.  We sat on the carpet and I read them a really fun picture book.  Whenever they had something to say or wanted to answer a question, they had to raise their hand.  Sometimes I called on them and sometimes I did not.   I have seen a real improvement in hand raising the past two weeks.  This was a positive experience for both me and the students instead of making them move their clip and everyone getting upset.  When we were finished, they went back to music class.  There are a lot of other situations you can use recess academy such as standing in line correctly, walking in the hall correctly, following classroom routines, and lots more!
  I would love to hear back from you if you decide to try this strategy!