Thursday, September 6, 2012

It's officially Fall!

It has been a while since I have been here.  Alas, I am attempting to finish my PhD.  I SWEAR I am finishing this year!  My research is actually what brought me back here today.  One aspect of my research is around student resiliency and success in school. Today I was looking at an update I received from ASCD, and it happened to be a blog post written by Bryan Harris about student resiliency. 

After reading the post about student resiliency, there was one item in particular (#7) which spoke to me both from a student perspective and a teacher perspective.

"Resilience isn’t constant in any of our lives. Resilience tends to ebb and flow throughout our lives based on current situations and challenges. We all have times in our lives where things are going well and times when things are tough. The resilient person is the one who can bounce back, learn, and thrive through the tough times. (Bernard, 2004)"

Then I went on to read Bryan Harris' post about  Teacher Resiliency.  I thought it would be perfect for the teacher KaiZen page.  The article isn't anything mind-blowing, but it is a reminder of the things we need to do as teachers to keep our heads screwed on straight.  I am desperately in need of some help keeping my head screwed on right now, as the first couple of weeks of school have been a bit crazy this year.  As a side note, most of my craziness has been as a result of things happening in my personal life, not my professional life.  But as you know-all of these things are interrelated and interdependent.  When things in your personal life are falling apart, your professional life suffers (and vice versa).  So teacher friends, take a few moments and read this blog post about teacher resiliency, and hopefully it reminds you of the things you must do to keep it together during the school year!

PS-  Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back.  It is officially fall... 

Welcome Back!

ASCD blog post on Teacher Resiliency (click Here)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Asking Students for Feedback

When was the last time you checked with your students to see how things were going? I really feel a connection to the ideas presented by Ron Ferguson about how teachers can make a difference in the learning environment for students. So here are my thoughts on The Seven C's of Effective Teaching. As I walk through classrooms in the coming weeks, I want to see how frequently teachers are using the Seven Cs in their classrooms, and I want to see what these Cs might look like in practice. I am thinking I would like to come up with a few descriptors or behaviors of teachers that define the Cs.
Caring about students (nurturing productive relationships);
Controlling behavior (promoting cooperation and peer support);
Clarifying ideas and lessons (making success seem feasible);
Challenging students to work hard and think hard (pressing for effort and rigor);
Captivating students (making learning interesting and relevant);
Conferring (eliciting students’ feedback and respecting their ideas);
Consolidating (connecting and integrating ideas to support learning).

So, here goes. I will keep you posted as I see some of these Cs play out in classrooms.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's been a long time....

So, it has been a while since I have gotten on here and posted anything....but my recent time at AUTHORSPEAK has given me new energy to start blogging again. I thought I was busy?? You should meet the high energy, forward thinking, creative, passionate people I have been hanging out with for 3 days!!

Initially I wanted to attend Authorspeak because there were going to be 99 AMAZING authors/educators in one place. What I didn't know or expect, was to actually learn MORE from the other educators/participants I met. Seriously, these are people who, even while having a cocktail at the bar, are talking about teaching, learning, students, data, assessment, leadership, name it, they are talking about it. I am in "nerdy teacher" heaven.

So, here is the take-away. This blog is supposed to be about teachers finding balance. FOR ME, finding balance means making sure I am happy and satisfied in every aspect of my life. The last three days have affirmed a few things for me. I LOVE what I do. I love teaching, I love learning, and I love getting to meet people who share those same passions. I LOVE, and miss, my family. It is hard to leave my kids and my husband, for what ends up being most of a week, to leave town for a conference. But it provides a time for me to focus on my professional goals and passions without interruption, while being reminded of how lucky I am for all of the things I get to come home to. What was the last thing that YOU did to affirm "all is well" in your life?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


It seems the concept of an "EdCamp" is popping up in every blog, newsletter, and tweet I see! I am intrigued, and trying to think about how I might be able to facilitate an EdCamp conference in my school, or even in my district. The concept is not a new one, as a matter of fact wikipedia lists examples of "unconferences" as early as 2005. After several years, it seems the trend might finally be catching on. I recently found a few others in Denver (on twitter) who are thinking the same thing....I'll keep you posted. Anyone interested in attending?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Discovering Hope: Grading and Mindset in a Differentiated Classroom - Houston, TX, United States, ASCD EDge Blog post

Discovering Hope: Grading and Mindset in a Differentiated Classroom - Houston, TX, United States, ASCD EDge Blog post

I was reading this today and pondering my feelings about the concept of redos, retakes and do-overs. I think I have always been one who believed that learning took place with redos and do-overs, but this article pushed me to think a little differently. Do we learn more from our failures? ABSOLUTELY! But I never thought about assignments in that way.

I LOVE the concept of a growth mindset, not only for students but for teachers as well. I am going to take some time this weekend to watch Rick Wormeli's utube reaction coming soon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Clean-up!

So, as a follow-up to the post about the Spring "melt-down"I'd like to talk about a little tidbit I borrowed from Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project. I started reading her book a month or so ago, and have since asked my book club to read it. I hope they are finding a few usable tips here and there like I am. In one of the first chapters of the book she offers a couple of suggestions that I have applied in my personal AND professional life. I am going to call this post the "Spring Clean-up!"

1- If there is a task that needs to be done, and it will take me less than 1 minute to do it....DO IT NOW. In other words, I am typically a procrastinator. Even tiny little tasks tend to get "put off" until later. I am making an effort at home and at school, to just DO those tiny tasks when I think of them instead of putting them off (and possibly forgetting about them). Responding to email comes to mind. Often I look at an email and think,"oh, I'll get back to them later." I am working on just responding right then. It makes me feel "lighter" to know I don't have a bunch of tiny tasks to complete when I return to work the next day.

2-The "evening" tidy-up. In The Happiness Project Gretchen (I feel like we are on a first name basis) suggests to spend a few minutes before you go to bed to clean up the kitchen or do a quick pick-up around the house. It makes a HUGE difference when you wake up to an uncluttered house. I am trying to do the same thing in my office/classroom. Before I leave, I spend 5 minutes, tidying up my desk and my classroom. It makes me feel organized when I walk into a clean room in the morning. Not to mention, it makes getting ready for "class" a whole lot easier.

Give these two things a try this week....see if it makes a difference in how you feel. I know these two simple changes have made an enormous difference for me!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring melt-down?

"If I'm not effective in my own personal life, how can I possibly be effective for my students?"

I just read this in a blog on ASCD about spring break. It is the week we have waited for, it seems like, a long, long, long time. SPRING BREAK! For any or all of my teacher followers out there, I want to give you permission to take the the week.....YES the WHOLE week and take care of yourselves. Enjoy friends, family, "free time" and a morning lounging at Starbucks with a paper. I overheard a colleague saying yesterday that she was going to be by herself during spring break. Her kids were headed out of town, her brothers and sisters gone. "I don't quite know what I'll do with myself" she exclaims. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Read a book. One that has NOTHING to do with teaching or working. Go for a walk. Go get coffee....and not at the drive thru. Sit down and read the paper. SLEEP IN! Like my blogger friend said, "If I'm not effective in my own personal life, how can I possibly be effective for my students?" Your students will thank you for it!