Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Do you do a room theme???

Each year I seem to spend more and more money coming up with a cute theme for my classroom. One yer I did frogs, another pirates, and yet another I did a movie/popcorn theme. Coming up with cutesy ideas each year is last year I just decided to go with bright colors and added some cute polka dot border.  

As I start my planning for the upcoming school year (yes I know it is still 7 weeks away but flying by....) I am starting to look as I go to Target, Hobby Lobby and Staples, for  ideas on how I will decorate my room. I am moving into a portable, so I have no idea about bulletin boards or walls, windows, etc.  I am thinking I will probably stick with the bright colors. I have already bought a few of these chairs in hot pink....but i am thinking about going back and getting one more in lime green. 
I love brightly colored accents like the colos in this bin

But I am also loving the whole chevron theme (has that been overdone???). I know I have seen some cool stuff on TpT and Pinterest for Chevrons.

HELP!!  I love this stuff too...and I just can;t decide......

One thing I do know....I am buying this giant clothespin...

and loading up on lots of Washi Tape....

And everything else will fall into place.....

So what about you....what theme do you do?

Monday, June 22, 2015

All time favorite read- alouds!

As of tomorrow we are officially only 2 weeks into summer but it already feels like it is flying by. Can you believe that next weekend is 4th of July?!?!?!?

So I have already begun planning for the upcoming school year.. I started mapping out my long range plans, I am making lists. and pinning so many cool ideas. As part of my planning, I am going to set a schedule for my read alouds. I have my favorites I read every year, but this year I want to add a few new ones. I am going to share my "staples" and I would love for you to share the read alouds you have done in the past that you love, in the comments below, as I am always looking to add new books to our rotation.

So here are the ones I pretty much do each year:

1. How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor-
I love this book for a number of reasons: first, it has a strong female character that struggles with making some tough decisions that young kids should not have to make. However, she has a lot of grit and is a likable character. This book is a great jumping off points for many discussions about whether or no it is okay to do something wrong even if you are doing it for the right reasons. It also deals with divorce, homelessness, and friendships. 

2. The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies-
I came across this book at a book fair a few years ago and grabbed it because it had great vocabulary and some connections to math. However, it also has a great story about relationships and responsibility, and family. It is the first in a series of great books about Evan and Jessie, brother and sister who start a battle to see who can sell the most lemonade and make the most money before school starts. 

3.  Wonder by R.J. Palacio-
A few years ago this book was on out SC Childrens Book Award/Battle of the Books list and all my students were reading it. I finally picked it up last summer and read it in one sitting. I fell in love with the main character August and figured that this book would be a great book to start the year out, and talk about how we are all different, and that is a good thing, and also to start one of many discussions about how we should treat each other.  It will be on my read aloud list for the coming school year too....

4. The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis-
One of my all time favorite read alouds. I use this book a little differently. We read this book as part shared reading, and part read aloud, and I even assign a chapter or two for students to read at home. We end with a viewing of the movie and then do a discussion and some type of reflection. I tie it in with our Civil Rights unit in Social Studies. My students love this book and most of my students have read Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis as well. 

5. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein-
I read this book a few summers ago and added it as a class  read aloud last year for the first time. A few of my students had already read it, but they were great not to share the surprises, and plot twists and turns with their classmates. This book reminds me of several others, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Gollywhopper Games, both books i have used for read alouds in the past. This is a fun, easy read that usually had them begging for "just one more page."

I typically get through a book a month (or at least that is my goal). So here are some of my standard read alouds. What are yours? Please share in the comments below. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

IN SEARCH OF.....a better way to teach spelling.....

I will be working on LRPs (Long Range Plans) next week. As I was doing a little reflecting the other day on what worked well last year, and what didn't, I kept thinking about Spelling. I teach 5th grade and our 5th graders seem to come to us without great spelling skills. I have debated the reasons with colleagues and  we think at least in part, this is due to the fact that we do not teach spelling like we  used to. Growing up I remember getting our new spelling lists on Monday and having spelling homework each night (one night it was write the words five time each, the next night we wrote sentences), and then of course there was the pre-test on Thursday and the big spelling test on Friday. Pretty standard!

I think I am a pretty good speller, but occasionally even I have to look a words up when writing (thank goodness for spellcheck!).  I know the vowel patterns, and the special rules  and their exceptions. However, I find that my student do not know the patterns and rules and they are not really good spellers. I struggle to make it interesting, but in the grand scheme of things, namely my already packed, I can;t devote a ton of time each week to spelling instruction.

Let me give you a little background, then I will tell you what I found that changed my way of thinking about teaching Spelling. Our schools uses a program galled Words Their Way for spelling  instructions. I have a love-hate relationship with this program for several reasons. First let me say, it is a GREAT program, researched based, well written, etc. What drives me cray is the amount of prep-time I have to do to get my kids ready to START learning their new words each week. And oh yeah, the fact that because the program is differentiated (which is not BAD at all), it usually means I have 4-5 different groups of kids each week working off 4-5 different lists. So that means, yep, you guessed it, 4-5 tests every Friday! Now you see where the hate part comes in. I have found a few really cool ways to manage it (which I will share in a later post), but it is still a chore. 
Words Their Way is a Pearson product (no I am not getting any endorsement money here). If you are interested in reading out more about it click HERE

So anyway, last week I was looking for some resources on Pinterest to help me implement the WTW Spelling program and I cam across a blog called "The Measured Mom:Tools for Teaching". It is written by a homeschool mom, and she has some great posts about how to make spelling more relevant to students and you guessed it, she uses Words Their Way. On her website she has a great series on Word Study. There are 5 parts to the series, and she also has FREE downloadable lessons and resources. As I read each part of the Word Study series last week, I discovered many great ideas that I plan to implement this Fall when I teach spelling. She even has a Pinterest board filled with great ideas...check it out HERE

So if you are looking for something to help boost your spelling instruction, check out The Measured Mom's website and resources. If you already use Words Their Way and you are looking for some fun and exciting new word work ideas, check out my Pinterest board HERE

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Summer Bucket List 2015

I was visiting my friend The Teachers Loop over on her blog this morning and I cam across a post she did about her Summer Bucket List. She got the idea from two of my favorite bloggers --Natalie and Rachelle from  What the Teacher Wants! So I just had to link up and participate in this awesome Linky!

As teachers, summer is sacred. Despite what our non-teacher friend think, our summers are not spent lounging by the pool, drinking umbrella drinks and working on our tan. 

Summers are spent in professional development classes, and planning for the upcoming school year. We do manage to eek out some time for ourselves and our families but much of our time is spent working on things for the upcoming year.  

I love this linky because it really forced me to put the ideas that have been swirling in my head since school ended down on "paper" and we all know once it is written down we are obligated to follow through, lol!  So here is my Summer Bucket List....

I am lucky to work with some very creative teachers who come up with some create ideas for teaching without forcing our students to keep their head in the textbook. One of my fellow 5th grade teachers made and shared some great PowerPoints to go along with our Social Studies curriculum. I love my Promethean Board  and last summer I went to the class to become a Promethean Master Educator. During the class I started the time-consuming process of converting our Social Studies Powerpoints into Promethean flipcharts. Goal #1 this summer is to finally FINISH them so they are ready for our team to use this Fall. 

I also want to get a jump on the school year by writing my plans for the first few weeks. In September i start an internship for my MLIS program and I will be away form my classroom 2 days a week for 10 weeks to work in a Middle School library. During that time my class will have a long-term sub. I figure I can stay two weeks ahead of schedule if I get a jump on next years plan during the summer. 

Lastly, for my school list, I am working with 2 other teachers to write a proposal for our principal to do a big field trip to Washington, D.C. next year. We want to get it wrapped up so we can present it to the parents at Meet the Teacher in August. We also have to start writing grants and plan fundraisers, etc. It is going to be exciting because our school has not done a big trip like this in 10 years and our students rarely get an opportunity like this so we want to make sure we make it happen!

I am currently take an intense 4 week class for grad school that requires a ton of reading. That limits how much reading for fun I can do. However I love to read and I jut cant abandon it while I take this class. I have a huge pile of books I want to read, plus more on my Kindle. So I have set a goal for myself to read one book a week. It is a lofty goals and so far I have done most of my reading late at night (which means more than likely I fall asleep with a book in my hands), but it is worth it as I read some fun new books I can share with my class this Fall, and learn new and exciting things I can implement in my classroom, not to mention, read a few just for fun!!

Summer is a great time to get my eating and exercise routines back on track. I have packed on more than a few unwanted pounds and if I don;t set a goal, I may pack on even more. So as part of my bucket list, I want to lose 20 pounds this summer before I go back. I would love to lose more, and I need to but I figure if I can take the first 20 off this summer, I can work on continuing the healthy eating and exercise once school starts again. Fingers crossed....

Lastly, for my personal list, we have a 2 year old Dell laptop that we share as a family. About a week ago, we found a really good deal at Best Buy on another laptop which we purchased for our son who is starting HS this fall. The first thing I did was move all his Minecraft and music files onto his new laptop. In the process, I decided to go ahead and clean up unwanted files and such off the Dell that my husband and I would share. We want to purchase a MAC by the end of the year but for now, ol' Bessie (my husband's nickname for the laptop---long story) will have to suffice so I want to clean up this one and back-up files and pictures (we have thousands of the latter, and I bought a special storage flash rive for those). 

Due to grad school, my husband recent surgery and some other unexpected situations, we are not doing a big vacation this summer. Instead, I want to do some day trips once my husband is strong enough. We love Asheville and the mountains and we have some great lakes around here so beginning in July I want to do 2-3 day trips. We have even talked about doing a day trip to Atlanta to go to a Braves game or visit the Georgia Aquarium.

Since I will be headed back to school August 11th, and my husband will return to work at the end of August, I want to plan a surprise trip the first week of August to the outer Banks and Virginia so we can visit friends and family. OBX holds special memories for our family and we have not been in a few years (it is a LONG drive from where we live).  My husband has several close friends in Virginia that he rarely sees. AS he has been recuperating form his open-heart surgery, they have called and checked in on him. I think this trip will be just what he needs before returning to work. Hope fully I can pull it off without him finding out about it until right before we leave. 

Finally, my son, who loves the water, has been wanting to go to the U.S. National Whitewater Center in N.C. for several years. He is going to be fairly busy this summer with Scouts and church but I think he will love a day trip up there to kayak, zip line and raft. They even offer paddle board lessons which I know he would really enjoy.

SO there you have Summer Bucket List for 2015. This has planted a seed that maybe I will host a Back to School Bucket List linky in August. I'll keep you posted. In the mean time, if you want to create your own Summer Bucket List, head on over to What the Teacher Wants and grab the template and go......just don't forget to link up back on their blog when you re done. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

More about Class Dojo....

How I use Class Dojo

Well after yesterday's post, several followers asked me to share a little about how I use Class Dojo in the classroom. I will be completely honest, each year I have done things a little differently. However, I can honestly say that this past year, I felt I was the most successful in using it than I had ever been. I am going t credit that success to two things: my involvement in the Class Dojo Mentor Communicant on Facebook AND my students. 

I have learned so much being a part of the Class Dojo Mentor is a safe place for sharing ideas, asking question and talking freely about what works and what doesn't work. There is a true sense of community too and it is not just among the mentors. The creators and developers at Class Dojo regularly ask for our advice on things and share potential new mods. 

My students also played a part in the success of Class Dojo in my classroom. Each yer the group of students who walk though are door in the Fall are different, and using Dojo to its fullest really depends on whether you have buy in from the students and also how you find ways to make it meaningful to them. Do not expect to roll it out on Day 1 and everyone to be on board. Ease into it, give them an over view of what it is and how you would like to use it, and also share the WHY. Give them an opportunity to ask questions and be receptive to their feedback. Also be may take some tweaking to get it fully up an running. 

I know one of the challenges I faced int he beginning was remembering to open the app up in the morning. Sometimes it was not until lunch time that I remembered i had not given any points out. My solution to this was 1) make it part of my morning routine. As soon as I logged onto my computer each morning, I opened my email and I opened Class Dojo.  And 2) I appointed a student as my Dojo Assistant. If  I had not given out any points by the time we came back from Related Arts (my students soon became familiar with the "ding" of positive points) this student would go take one of the Dojo Monsters I had laminated an turned into magnets that I keep on my board, and place it on my computer. After a while all I needed to do was see that student get up and head to the board and that was all it took to remind me to get Class Dojo running and give some points. 

Variety if the spice of life...or so they say. This is really true for Class Dojo. I 
tried to keep it new and exciting for my students by adding new rewards each 9 weeks, changing up the way we tracked points and also to set the goals a little higher each 9 weeks.
So let me break those down a bit:
Rewards: start small and give them choices. In the beginning it was a new bookmark, a  homework pass or a new pencil with a cool eraser. As the year went on, I increased the value of the prizes as out goal increased. I let me students suggests things for Dojo prizes sometime, and sometimes I used cool things I had found at the Dollar Store, or Target Dollar Spot or cheap books I bought from Scholastic.
Tracking Points: In the beginning, I used a punch card like the one here. Students would get a punch for each day they met their goal. Then once the punch card was full, they got to choose a reward. In the beginning the goal was low so it was easier to attain. I used a bar graph tracker another 9 weeks, and the last 9 weeks, we ran weekly competitions so I did not reset the points all week in the program. Whether you use the program to track points, or give the students that responsibility, change it up so it doesn't get boring.
Setting Goals: I did this with my students each 9 weeks. At the beginning of the year when you are introducing it, allow students to give input on what they think our initial goal should be. Each 9 weeks, have a discussion with students and share data with them from the previous 9 weeks. Help them to come up with a class goal based on their ideas and the data. This coming school year I am goign to guide students to set personal goals in Class Dojo. I think this will help them have more ownership i their behavior.

Some other things I think are important to share are the behaviors I track (and give both positive and negative points for, using Class Dojo to communicate with parents, data and privacy.
Behaviors: If you are familiar with Class Dojo, you know you have the capability to give positive an negative points. Some teacher choose to give only positive points. I give both. Some of the things I give positive points for are: Agenda signed, Great Hallway Behavior, Great Morning Routine, On Task, Paying Attention, Raising Hand, helping others, etc. During a period of the year when we were having a lot of non-illness related absences, I started giving a point to everyone if we had 100% attendance. I also gave positive points for having homework turned in. I love that I can add behaviors as the year goes on, and remove ones that I am not using or that I do not use. As far as the things I give negative points for: blurting out, talking during instruction or in the hallway, not turning in homework or incomplete homework (I did not do this until I had talked to the student and determined if there was a valid reason for homework not being complete), being off task, out of their chair without permission, lying and disrespect.
Using Dojo to improve home-to-school communication:  First of all, I love the Dojo Messenger feature. I had a fair amount of parents sign up for it last year. But this year, I am going to push it even harder from day 1. Since I get my roster before our school wide "Meet the Teacher" event. I am going to set my class up and print out the parent invites, along with a letter explaining how to sign up for Messenger. I considered using Remind 101 app too but I think what Messenger offers is way more effective for communicating with parents. I can send individual messages, broadcast messages, share photos, etc. I love it. And let's face it, any way you can get to easily communicate with parents, go for it!
Data: The Class Dojo program give you so much data that is useful in behavior interventions, IEP meetings, and parent teacher conferences. If I have a student that I am referring to our school Behavior Intervention team, I run a report for the past several weeks and bring it to the meeting. This is a tangible documentation about specific issues we are addressing. It is so valuable to those making decisions about what interventions to try. In our district we hold parent-teacher conferences in mid-October. That is about 6-7 weeks into the school year. If there are patterns of behavior that I am concerned about and want to discuss with the parent I print out reports for the time period leading up to the conference and share that with the parent. Most of the time if they have not signed up to monitor form home, I make a second attempt to get them signed up. I do the same for conferences later in the year. This makes it easier to present the issues to the parent and discuss when you have tangible data to share with them. Your administrator will love the data also! At least mine does!!
Privacy: This has been a hot button topic in my school and even in the CD mentor community. Here is my take on it...our job as educators is to help encourage our students to be better learners and people. I do not see a problem with showing point totals to the whole class. I don;t keep it up on my Promethean Board all day, but I do put it up right before lunch (mid-point of our day) and at the end of the day. I have never had a student get embarrassed that others can see their points. Although Class Dojo has the option of displaying both positive and negative points together, I only show their overall total. Let's face it, kids know who is getting negative points because they see their classmates doing things they should not be doing and they know what it sounds like when I give out a negative point.  I do not discuss a students points with anyone but them (and their parents). Students can log on form home and see only their points (same for parents--they only see their students point totals).

Finally, if you decide to implement Class Dojo, one of the first things you will want to do is sign up for Dojo of course, and check out all the great teacher resources Class Dojo has to offer from parent letters to videos on getting started to awesome classroom decorations.  Then head over to Teacher Pay Teachers and check out all the great resources there (some of them are completely FREE!). Just enter Class Dojo in the search bar and voila...last time I checked there were over 500 resources dedicated to Class Dojo. There are also some great tutorials and videos on YouTube.

Let me tell are going to love it! And soon you will be convincing your fellow teachers to jump on the Class Dojo bandwagon!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Do you DOJO?

Several years ago I stumbled across  a blog post about Class Dojo. I was intrigued so I did my research and three years ago I introduced it in my 5th grade classroom. It was a hit! My students loved the little avatars, and they really loved earning points. They were like Pavlovian dogs, reacting to the "ding" of positive points being awards. They would quickly glance around the room to see what their classmates were doing so they could replicate the behavior in hopes of earning points. 

My students loved the instant feedback on their behavior and I found it was much more effective than the classroom management tools, like the cards or clip chart, that I had used in the past. We had competitions between boys and girls, contests for highest point scorers, and rewards that were earned and seemed to mean more to the students than the treasure box I had used in the past. 

I even used it to motivate students during particularly tough stretches throughout the year (weeks before Christmas/Spring Break and after testing). I also like that i could track behavior and use that data for parent conferences, A-Team meetings and during IEP meetings. 

Each year I use it a little differently, and last year, I would have to say was my best year yet. Class Dojo added a messenger option an I have about 1/3 of my parents sign up. It is a great tool for communicating with parents. I could even share photos from field trips, send out class-wide broadcasts (such as reminders for field trips/upcoming tests, etc)  and see when my parents had read a message I had sent. My students also know that their parents could see how they were doing each day and overall, it even helped with non-behavior things like turning in homework, etc. 

I had one parent that would communicate with me daily and only  through the Dojo Messenger App. Whether it was to ask a question about homework, or to let me know why her son was absent that day, she used it as it was designed, to be a great communication tool between home and school. 

Another benefit from using Class Dojo is  connecting with other teachers around the world that are also using it, and sharing ideas. I am a part of the Class Dojo Mentor community and have met hundreds of teachers around the world. We have a Facebook group and other users are constantly sharing ideas, asking questions and encouraging each other. The developers of Class Dojo also send us updates on new features, and we are often the first to test it out and provide them with feedback. 

I am hooked on Class Dojo and I can't imagine using anythings else. If you are interested in finding out more about how I use it, or taking a look at some of the resources I have found to use with it, feel free to comment below or sen me an email at I would be happy to share my experiences with it. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Did someone say READING????- Another great LINKY party!

One of the things I love about blogging is the great ideas other bloggers come up with as a way for each of us to connect and learn from one another. Today in my feed I came across a blogger who was doing a Summer Reading Linky. What fun! I love summer and reading is #1 on my list of things to catch up on over the summer (in addition to sleep and working on my tan, lol!).

So thanks Lucky to Be in First for this great Linky opportunity!

I literally start my Summer Reading list at the end of Spring Break. Like all of us teachers, breaks form school are sacred and I really try to devote them to "me time." Summer is a little different but I definitely devote time to catching up on my reading! 

Here are some of the books on my "To Read List" for this summer.....several all are from the SC Junior Book Award nominee list. I am starting my second year of  Masters in Library and Information Science in preparation to become a School Media Specialist. This Fall I will be interning at a Middle School Library so I figured I had better brush up on the nominees. The others are books friend shave suggested or I came across on GoodReads.  There really are so many more on my these are really just a few.

The President Has Been Shot!: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson

Prisoner B-3087 by Ruth Gruener

Here are a few books that I have read (and re-read) that I think you might enjoy! Feel free to drop back by here after you have read them and let me know what you think!

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume- 1st book I read this summer. It is AWESOME!!

The Essential 55 by Ron Clark- Who DOESN'T LOVE RON CLARK!!! This is my classroom management BIBLE!

Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess- One of my favorite books on teaching. Such great ideas and inspiration. My dog-eared copy is always on my desk!

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell- Yeah its Teen Lit but it is a great love story set in the 80s so if you grew up in that decade, you will appreciate the pop culture references!

How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor- I have been reading this book to my 5th graders for the last 4 years..they love it and so do I. Check it out!

So what is on your Summer Reading List, and what have you read lately that you think other teachers would enjoy reading this summer. Go to Lucky to Be in First!'s blog and grab the blank images and create your own list. And don't forget to link up so others can see your summer reading suggestions!

Happy Reading!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Five for Friday

Well today's blog post is a no brainer! Linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching with her 5 for Friday Linky.   So I have to post 5 things about my week.....this should be fun!!

I am back on track with blogging as of this week! I have really neglected it for the past year, but I am hoping that I will be able to reconnect with some old blogging pals and learn some new things to implement in my classroom in the Fall.

I found out this week that I will be moving into a portable classroom in the Fall.  I know the portable I will be in will not be as nice as the one pictured above but a girl can dream can't she?!?!?  I am actually excited about this little adventure because my BTF (Best Teacher Friend) will be moving to a portable too!

I am so excited that I found these heavy duty plastic chairs for my classroom reading area today for $145 each. I am going to try and find pillows like the ones in this picture too (hoping to find them at the end of summer sales before school starts).  Correction 6/14: The Chairs were $15 not $145 a piece. Now you all can stop thinking I have LOST...MY...MIND (like my husband did when he read that!)

OITNB is BACK!! I tried to re-watch the first 2 seasons but gave up as soon as I head they were releasing season 3 early! I had plans to binge watch it today with friends but I couldn't help myself and I started watching episode 1 last night. I got half way through it before I fell asleep. We ended up having a blast this afternoon with a little watch party including pizza pie & berry pie (in honor of Crazy Eyes " I threw my pie for you!") and prison selfies.

One of the best things about summer vacation is NO ALARMS. I love waking up whenever I want to in the makes up for all the mornings when my 1st alarm went off at 4:45am. So not looking forward to that again. In the mean time I am staying up late, watching bad TV, reading books and enjoying some much needed, well earned freedom!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

I will choose to be kind....

I came across this  article in my Twitter feed this afternoon, and although I already had today's blog topic all outlined in my mind, after reading this article, I decided to go in a totally different direction.

Let me start out by making a HUGE my 8 years of teaching I have treated more than one student unkindly. Looking back, I can even say in some cases I might have been downright mean. There, I said it. And I will also admit I was wrong to do it in some of those cases, but in some I was not. And before I go any further I think I have been far kinder than I have been unkind. I know some of those on the outside looking in may not agree with me, and even the student who was the subject of my unkindness may not agree. What I do know is that I am human, which means I am not perfect, and in many cases I was dealing with a student in the manner I thought (at the time) was best for the situation and the child and for the benefit of the rest of my class.I am not excusing my behavior, because is most cases I definitely would change my words and reactions if given the chance at a "do-over."

Something I do know (and sometimes forget) is that I am dealing with a 10 or 11 year old CHILD, and that child is someone's baby and as my favorite principal always said...these parents are sending us their BEST, their child and we have to treat them as such.

As I read this article today it brought up a wound that I have buried deep inside my heart over the last several months. It is a wound that hurts because I know it is true, mostly. Someone in my building was talking to a friend of mine and referred to me as "harsh" with my students. I will admit, it stings to hear an adult say that about me because if a grown up thinks that, than imagine what the kids think. I went through a range of emotions as I processed that one.  I know I have used a harsh tone, harsh words and even have been harsh when doing our consequences. I am not that "touchy-feely/all awrm and fuzzy teacher." However, I love my students. There is not one I can not say that about. They know I love them and they understand for the most part that my reactions to their behaviors come from my wanting the best for them. I am not mean jsut to be mean. But I have an Irish temper, and a short fuse, and sometimes that gets the better of me. When I let those things get the better of me in reacting to a student, I always go back and apologize, and let them know my behavior was wrong as much as their was. I know students learn how to be adults from the behaviors they see adults displaying. Believe me, 8 years of teaching in a high-poverty school has taught me that!

As with all experiences in life, both in and out of the classroom, we must learn from them. In this case, I will stop and think more before I deal with student behavior. I will consider the child, and their circumstances, and I will think about the impact my words and actions are going to have on this child and how they may/may not impact the memories of their time in my classroom.

I am not going to justify my actions by listing off the great things I have done for my students, my achievements as a teacher or parade out the stories of great relationships I have had with my students. They really don't matter in this case.  What does matter is that from this point on...for however long I have in the classroom I will CHOOSE TO BE KIND.

Here are a few points that the article made that really struck a nerve with  me, because I know I have been guilty of not "choosing to be kind" in similar situations in the past:

1. "When I look back over my notebooks and journals from the past 21 years there are plenty of things I regret. What I do not regret were the times we educators chose to be kind to a kid.  The times when we gave a child a second–and then third and fourth chance.  The times we decided to let a kid go on a field trip, ignoring some misdeed that might have excluded him from the trip so that a child who had never been further than the county line could see the world writ large.  You know the drill."

2. "There is no benefit to this toughness.  Getting tough on kids will not make them tougher or any smarter.  Forcing educators to act like their hands are tied at the most important moments in a child’s life only teaches children that the adults in their lives are powerless. "

3. "Being kind is not always easy.  It’s easier to declare that a child earned the punishment he or she is receiving, and that they need to learn a lesson.  Unfortunately, the only lesson that child will learn is that sometimes adults are more interested in rules and punishments that they are in children."

4. "We can teach our children a better lesson.  We can teach them, as I’ve seen hundreds of children learn at my school, that when the chips are down teachers come through.  We can teach them that when it seems like there is no way out of the hole that they have dug, a member of the school staff will show up with a shovel.  We can teach them that no matter what silly, dumb, or downright ignorant thing he or she has said or done in the past, caring adults have short memories for minor mistakes and longer memories for serious work and accomplishment."

As I write this, I am reminded of the book "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio. It is the story of a horribly disfigured boy who navigates school and the people around him. It reminded me that we are all disfigured like August, the main character is, in one way or another. Some of us just wear our battle scars inwardly instead of outwardly.

So to wrap this up (it went a little longer than I intended), as I prepare my classroom for the next school year, I will also prepare my heart, and even when faced with a difficult situation, or difficult child, I will try my hardest, to take a step back, not react before thinking and give as many second (and third) changes as I can. I promise to do my best to always CHOOSE TO BE KIND, no matter how hard it is.