On Accidents and Apologies

One of the biggest bones of contention in interactions between students in our school is apologizing, especially if someone does something by accident. Just Thursday at dismissal, a third grader was venting to me about a fight she had with a friend. Apparently it started when something got knocked off a desk, or something like that. “She said, ‘Are you going to apologize?’ and I said, ‘No, because it was an accident,'” the child told me.

“You can still apologize for an accident,” I told her. “In fact, a lot of the times you should. An apology just means you regret something, on purpose or not.”

Elementary students, at least at our school, have an idea that an apology is an admission of guilt. (And in some cultures, it is. But that’s congruent with the school culture we work towards.)

So I was actually impressed with this video that came up in my RSS feed reader. The little boy gets bopped, accidentally, in the face by Vice President Mike Pence. He politely persists in getting Mr. Pence to acknowledge the unintentional harm. And, when Mr. Pence does, he apologizes, adding an explanation (“I didn’t mean to bop you”) without minimizing the child’s concern.

This might be a good moment to share with students to demonstrate that:

  • asking for an apology is not the same as an accusation
  • giving an apology is not an admission of guilt
  • anyone might deserve an apology, or owe the apology to somebody else, regardless of other circumstances like status

A Little Wind Beneath My Wings

Almost nothing invigorates me more than when grown-ups outside our school take our kids seriously.

Our school district uses a vendor assessment system called i-Ready to track our students’ growth throughout the school year. Generally students spend about an hour on math lessons and an hour on reading lessons on i-Ready per week. We do a lot of incentives, like teachers giving raffle tickets for each lesson passed and then doing a drawing for a special lunch with the principal.

Even with incentives, many students hit a wall with i-Ready, motivationally speaking, in January and February. They just got burned out, and I can’t really blame them – it’s just how it feels. Teachers ramped up encouragement and incentives, but even they were getting frustrated with repeated issues running i-Ready in Google Chrome browsers.

So when students logged in this morning, they were thrilled to see new games had been added. It was a very different atmosphere in the computer lab! One student in particular named Zakhary was so excited, he said “thank you” to every adult in the room. I said to him, “Actually, we didn’t turn those games on. The people at the i-Ready company did. Want to say thank you to them?”

Of course he did! He was so excited!

He dictated the message and I wrote it down. He held his message and I took a picture. Then, I tweeted it.

Now, even just this much was invigorating for Zakhary. But then, at the very very end of our school day (we were lined up for dismissal), I got a Twitter notification.

Luckily, Zakhary’s homeroom is just across the hall, so right before buses were called I went to their doorway, laptop in hand. His entire class gathered around to see the photo and listen closely as I read out the message. (Having a class quietly listening at dismissal is nothing short of a small miracle, by the way.)

So now not only is Zakhary excited about new i-Ready games, his whole class is excited for him that he was acknowledged by professional adults who created the games. And as a teacher, I’m exhilarated that someone outside our community took my student seriously. I too have a renewed investment in this product.

It’s a little like the zoo project we did last year – it makes a huge difference to student engagement when others are also engaged with them as partners in their learning.

School Week Round-Up: Week Twenty-Four

February feels difficult. It is cold, lots of people get sick, and it’s still weirdly busy with extracurriculars.

Lessons: I got to play gym teacher this week. Turns out, that’s a pretty hard job! The gym teacher was sick for two days, and one of those days he didn’t have a sub. If this happens to another specialist, he usually doubles up on the classes and has a gym class twice as big. So I did the same for him, combining both our classes in the gym since I only have so many seats in the computer lab. Luckily, I had recently bought a megaphone (because it turns out I really like chanting); without it, I would have lost my voice by the end of the day, surely.

Support: My new favorite thing is to make Google Sites to serve as research hubs for student projects.

Things I Did Well:
 I’m going to give myself credit for not actually getting very sick this week. Felt like I came pretty close, though. 

Things I Will Do Better: I was on an event committee this week and, despite being very passionate about the event, I did not take a lot of initiative to get things done. I followed directions just fine, but a lot of the work of these kinds of things is to actually come up with ideas and solutions, then delegate. I want to do better for the next event committee I’m a part of, I want to take more off of other teachers’ shoulders.

Cold Prickly: Just dragging, physically. Today is Saturday. I slept in. I went to breakfast with my in-laws. And already I want to go back to bed. I’m exhausted.

Warm FuzzyLast night, we had our Parkway Hearts Dance (the event I was on the committee for). I love to dance, and I love dancing with lots of kids. I mostly danced with first graders and students’ younger siblings. I think the second and third graders have started feeling self-conscious, or are just not that into dancing with their overly enthusiastic technology teacher. But gosh, it was fun.

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I really must learn how to juju on a particular beat.

School Week Round-Up: Week Twenty-Two

Three day week last week, five day week this week. My body feels the difference.

Lessons: We worked on our test prep lesson again this week. Four down, two to go, and then for third graders: the actual test. Reflecting on it, I realize that, yes, so much of what had to be done was to help kids with time management; composing paragraphs on a computer; typing; and so on. But there were emotional skills at work too, I realized. The task required a certain kind of endurance that we’ve had to build up over time. And it was a little hard to see the difference month by month, but easy to see the difference when you compared the first time with the fourth time. Students are just more able to work on a task for a long period of time. There are fewer complaints and requests for the restroom or water fountain. They just… got more used to it with practice. (And do not think for a second this is the computer lab alone. So much of the credit goes to third grade teachers, who have kids writing each and every day.)

I think about it like basketball practice. You start by practicing things that are not in and of themselves basketball, like running up and down the court, like passing and shooting and dribbling the ball, like pivoting in certain ways. Then you start putting those things together when they start to feel more automatic to you. You practice dribbling and running. You practice passing and shooting. Then, you actually start playing basketball. You scrimmage, you keep score. Finally, you’re ready for the game. And yes, it is nice to win the game. But I was never good enough at basketball to make a difference in the score. For me, the victory was that I was able to do something that I wasn’t able to do before – play basketball. It didn’t really matter how I did compared to my teammates or other teams, because I was able to do it, so I got to wear a uniform and be on the court for a few minutes.

Anyway, that’s also how I’ve been explaining it to students who ask, “Why are we doing this?” when we practice with prompts. So I’ve put a lot of thought into my metaphor.

Support: First, I appreciate when my colleagues come up with work-arounds for the problems that just continue to dog them. But, those often feel like an inconvenience or annoyance, especially over time. So it is extremely satisfying to find a better fix for that kind of issue. That happened on Wednesday. A first grade teacher had developed a work-around for the fact that a very specific program did not interact well with her Smart Board. Every other thing she did on the Smart Board worked as expected, but this one program with our reading curriculum would not respond to touch. It would still respond on the laptop, though. The issue was, the laptop and Smart Board are so far away from each other in her room, she had to have a student sit at her desk and click the right thing on cue. And it was workable, but she started to feel like the clicking student was missing lesson content, or at least wasn’t experiencing the lesson content the way the other students were. So in I came. We tried a couple different things like updating firmware before I actually read into the particular program’s running requirements. It mentioned which versions of Safari and Firefox you needed… we had been using Google Chrome. And, Google Chrome continues to be the most-often-used browser (we use G Suite for Education, after all). But, we tried everything all over again with Safari and it worked without a hitch.

Things I Did Well:
I had a couple of days where my schedule just… fell in together nicely. One task or commitment wrapped up just in time for another to begin. It happened so conveniently that I should probably not take credit for it. Unless I did something to curry the favor of the schedule gods. Please keep loving me, schedule gods.

Things I Will Do Better: I do not understand why I love my bed so much, and yet I procrastinate so much before going to it. More sleep please.

Cold Prickly: I have a chronic illness. It is one that is extremely manageable, to the point of being almost forgotten about. But, my body will remind me when I start to stretch myself a little thin. Outside of school, I made a lot of commitments over the past ten or so days. I traveled out of state, marched in D.C., slept on a floor during my stay; I also hosted extra trivia nights to cover for other local hosts who couldn’t. So I was dragging a little bit this week. I still haven’t had to take more than one-half day of unplanned absences this year. (Yes, I’ve taken some time for appointments, and a personal day, but those were all planned ahead of time so I could make sure I rolled out the red carpet for my sub.) So I’m going to recharge my batteries this weekend and hopefully keep anything creeping up at bay.

Warm FuzzyA kid farted in class the other day, and her classmates laughed, but more importantly, she laughed to. “It happens a lot,” she explained. “She does this all the time!” one classmate said. I felt such a kinship with all of them in that moment, because deep down, we were celebrating one of the fundamental truths of life:

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Why Elementary Teachers Need to Be Intersectional Feminists

I am not the best at this kind of thing, that I will state off the bat. I am trying to be better. Please do not be afraid to confront me.

Feminism is simply the idea that people of different sexes are equal. Intersectionality is an overlapping, or intersecting, of social identities, creating a whole person (or community) different from its components. Someone’s experience is shaped by many things, such as:

  • race
  • gender
  • social class
  • nationality
  • sexual orientation
  • religion
  • age
  • mental disability
  • physical disability
  • mental illness
  • physical illness
  • incarceration
  • immigrant status

And probably more that I am not aware of yet.

So, my experience as a white woman has definitely shaped me. There have been times in my life where my gender has made me feel like a target, where I felt vulnerable or even scared. But, there have been other times when I have consciously used my white femininity as a shield in ways that I don’t think a black, Latina, or Asian female could have. So on one hand, I am part of a historically oppressed group, but on the other, I am also a member of a historically privileged group. This is completely by accident of birth, and not something I can change about myself; the least I can do is acknowledge it.


Having privilege has allowed me to “not see” some of the things that other people go through. It’s not that I’m completely blind, it’s just that I take for granted how different others experiences are. For example, I am a white person who was raised in a large Christian family. People demonstrated curiosity or confusion towards us sometimes, but I wouldn’t characterize that as negative. It didn’t occur to me until high school or college that my family would probably be perceived and treated very differently if you changed just one variable about us. What if we’d been a large black family? Or a large Muslim family? I can only imagine some of the things people might say, only because I have heard some of the things people say about black people and Muslims. What I can’t imagine is how it must feel to live through that every single day of my life.

My career — specifically, where I work now — has challenged me to be more observant of others’ lived experiences, especially in regards to children.

Children occupy a strange place in our society and culture. They are disenfranchised: they have no right to vote, and minimal other rights compared to adults. They are often ignored, forgotten, even dehumanized by many of the moving parts in our various systems. When they come up in discussions, we always want to do what’s best for them, but seldom consult them ourselves. There are reasons for that, sure, but I think it’s wrong for us to talk about them and over them with little talking with them (with genuine, actual listening).

My students are living a different experience than I am, day in and day out. Part of that is generational context; just thinking about the differences in technology makes my head spin. But it comes from other areas, as well. I have students who speak a different language at home than they do at school. I have students who live with a disability, or have family members with disabilities. I have students who are different races and nationalities. The teachers in my district used to be among some of the lowest paid teachers in the county, and yet our salaries as teachers were above the median income for families in our city. I have students who are affected by the incarceration of a parent, which is sometimes an extended or repeated experience. Some of my students challenge ideas about gender. I have had former students come out outside of the classroom, identifying as LGBTQ.

I am no good to my students if I cannot see past myself and empathize with their lives, however different from mine they might be. Children do not choose the circumstances of their birth, the color of their skin, the language they first learn, how much money their parents make, and on and on and on. There is so much out of their control. It is unfair for me to force them to pivot to me. And I have to accept that, while I am an authority in the context of my classroom, I am not the authority. There are things I do not know and will get wrong, and it is my responsibility to educate myself and do better. I have the maturity and the experience and the duty and obligation to pivot myself to students.

In the bridge of the song “Cold War,” Janelle Monáe sings, “Bring wings to the weak and bring grace to the strong.” As a teacher, I am a strong person in the educational setting; I have authority, and I have responsibility. I need the grace to supporrt my students through their challenges, wherever those challenges come from. I also need grace to accept and act on the criticism I need to be a better person. More importantly, I need to bring wings to my students, children. I need to empower them by sharing knowledge, developing their skills, and building them up. Once they have their wings, they will be able to fly on their own.

Little Grownups

They aren’t, but sometimes it helps me to think of my students as little grownups. Specifically, I think of them as coworkers.

It has nothing to do with them, themselves, and everything to do with how I perceive and treat them.

I wouldn’t want my coworkers to ask me if they needed a tissue.

I wouldn’t force my coworkers to sit still for twenty minute stretches (or longer!).

I wouldn’t want my coworkers to be accustomed to my policing their bathroom use.

I would have a hard time justifying a task to another adult if they didn’t want to do it and I didn’t see the point in doing it myself.

Kids aren’t adults. But they will be one day. So, yes, they need basic social skills, and they have to go through motions like waiting in lines because those things won’t go away when they grow up. But there are some things I can justify to students: “We walk this way in the hall because another group of students is going the opposite direction, and we don’t want to have a traffic jam.” And there are some things that I can’t: “You don’t have to ask me if you need a tissue” is probably the biggest of those. (I did once have a coworker say to me, “That student just got up and got a tissue without asking? Who does she think she is?!” and I was just like, “Uh, someone with a runny nose?”)

I have fallen into the trap before, where I get so used to dealing with so many kids that I stop treating them with mutual humanity, and the relationship becomes more like one between a border collie and a flock of sheep instead. Have you ever watched a border collie in action? I don’t have that kind of energy! I prefer to remind myself that I am human, and so are my students. They can sometimes be little grownups in my eyes, and I can be a giant kid in theirs; it doesn’t mean we have any less to learn from each other. And if I really need to bend them to my will, I don’t need to force it. I can treat them as equals, and ask.

(No) School Week Round-Up

This week was a break, that lovely end of the year confluence of major winter holidays. Hooray, hooray, hooray! It has been incredibly relaxing. Obviously, I can’t write my normal weekly round-up, because we had no school. No lessons, no tech support issues. Wins and losses, perhaps, but of a distinctly more personal nature. For example, I took charge of the matching family pajamas this year. I began conspiring with my mother and sister-in-law in November to order t-shirts and jammie pants from a vendor local to me, printed with our family crest on the shirts and our name down one pant leg.

I have a large immediate family, so rather than everyone buying gifts for everyone else (which would devolve into an expensive, time-consuming hassle), we do a family Secret Santa facilitated by DrawNames.com.  This year, I got my youngest sister, who participated for the first time. I got her a sweatshirt of the university she currently has her sights set on (Tulane, but she’s got three years left of high school so who knows if she actually ends up there); plus some of those pickle-flavored candy canes. (She loves pickles.) My brother’s wife, Brittany, got me. She got me a few years ago, too, and she knocked it out of the ballpark with pencils engraved with my last name that I still have in my classroom. Pencils with the teacher’s name are like boomerangs, because no matter how far away they go, they still end up coming back to you. This year she outdid herself, though: she conspired with my spouse to send and set up a child’s wading pool filled with potato chips. CHAAAAPS!

Another good thing of this season is that my first Donors Choose project got fully funded! The items I asked for will be arriving in January. I’m very excited. I asked for cords and charging stations, since our school received hand-me-down devices from other buildings but didn’t have enough cords and accessories to charge them. The new accessories will make it much easier for teachers to keep devices charged for use in classrooms, rather than remembering to unplug some devices in order to plug in others, and so on.

So not only is today the end of the week, it’s also the end of the year. I intend to go into 2017 with open eyes, clear head, and full heart. Let’s go!

School Week Round-Up: Week Twelve

Week 12, what a week of ups and downs.

Lessons: We tried our first HyperDoc in second grade. They understood pretty quickly how it worked, but their feelings on it are lukewarm. This is probably largely because it’s not the world’s most incredible HyperDoc; it’s very training-wheels-style. That says more about me than it does about them, I think. But since we have so many devices in our school now, I think other teachers could start to incorporate HyperDocs as a tool more and more in other subjects. Plus, it seems like a good idea to have a library of HyperDocs on a variety of topics, to pull out when needed. I might even make a couple to post on Google Classroom in case I have any unexpected absences; if kids understand HyperDocs pretty well on their own, then they can probably walk a tech-challenged substitute through it.

Support: “It’s like this week is the week where all my technology just decided to go crazy.” A first grade teacher made that remark to me as I was re-setting up her SmartBoard after she decided to switch from pairing it with a desktop to pairing it with her laptop. It was funny to me because technology does sometimes seem to have moods and issues that can’t be explained logically. Really, there probably are logical explanations, we just aren’t fully aware of them.

I’m also a little nervous about students taking the AIR test on Chromebooks next week. I hope we have few issues. I need to re-read a lot of the directions, to feel better about it.

Things I Did Well: This week the principal came and observed one of my classes. And… I got probably the best evaluation I’ve had in a long time, possibly the best since I’ve come to this district, possibly the best of my career. Did I do a perfect job? No. Not by a long shot. But my principal had reasonable, achievable feedback for bringing up the parts that were weaker for me. And, not that her feedback has to meet this particular metric, her ideas for improvement were ideas I got excited about.

Things I Will Do Better: Well, I’ll start with incorporating my principal’s ideas into my lessons and professional practice! She also had good ideas for better harnessing my strengths, too. For example, she acknowledged risks while agreeing that backchanneling can be a powerful tool, and had some ideas on how to sharpen students’ focus while using it.

Cold Prickly: I am having a difficult time dealing with election results, and the domino effect they have had. I am not referring only to the presidential election, I am referring to elections on my state and local level too. Out of every candidate, all the way down the ballot, only three I voted for won their race; out of those three, one ran unopposed, and one’s headed for a recount. I also had two issues on my ballot, and only one ended in the result I voted for. So, I definitely feel like I was on the losing team this time around. But I still have every intention of holding my elected officials accountable, whether or not I voted for them.

More than that, I feel heartbreak over reports of hate crimes. For example, my sister and her husband saw a swastika and “kill [slur]s” spray painted on the grass on the bike trail they used to get to their polling place. They contacted authorities immediately. They live in a community where that is less of a threat against a minority, and more of a call-to-action aimed at people who agree with the sentiment; so while I worry over who might have seen it, it’s not because I think someone’s feelings may have been hurt. It’s more because it emboldens people who think that idea is okay. 

I have also read stories shared by teachers on social media about assuaging students’ fears. My heart goes out to these school families.

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Additionally, I’m reading some of the president-elect’s actions as counter to some of the things he said on the campaign trail. For example, “drain the swamp” was a repeated chant at many of his rallies, symbolizing the removal of “insiders” from Washington, D.C. Yet his transition team seems filled with many such insiders. My concern there is for his supporters, who voted for him as the change candidate, believing that it was time for someone with an apolitical background to be in charge. What I see is someone who was not a politician very quickly becoming a politician. Obviously that was going to happen to some degree; but I wonder where the line is for supporters. We are all of us willing to forgive in our own candidate what we condemn in the other, but I wonder what will be the point where supporters do decide to hold their candidate accountable to things said while campaigning. For example, I am very skeptical of there ever being a physical wall on the Mexican border that Mexico pays for. If that wall does not materialize, what will the peoples’ reaction be?

A resource I’ve enjoyed is this NPR critique of Donald Trump’s plan for his first 100 days in office. It’s a helpful reminder of the limits of presidential power. Some of these things cannot and will not get done unless others go along with them; the suggestion of congressional term limits stands out as an example.

Warm Fuzzy: This week I am thankful for my supportive husband. For example, this week a local church group provided dinner for teachers at our parent-teacher conferences. But, by the time I got to eat, the options were rather limited. I remarked to another teacher that I was okay with it, because I could simply text my husband and he would have dinosaur-shaped macaroni and cheese waiting for me when I got home. Well, I forgot to text him… but he still had dinosaur-shaped macaroni and cheese waiting for me when I got home! That was just one of several examples of why I love him this week. He is such a great helpmate and I love him so very, very much. </mushy stuff>

School Week Round-Up: Week Nine

Week Nine! You know what that means, right? End of the first nine weeks, or — end of the first quarter! Report cards!

LessonsI think my feedback issue is improving. I used Alice Keeler’s Epic Rubric script to deliver our rubrics to all third graders’ email addresses so they could see for themselves how they did. The first two classes, I tried to have them leave comments on Google Classroom with new, focused goals. For reasons relating to time management and scaffolding, that wasn’t working; so I made a Google Forms exit slip  for the last three classes that worked a little better for me.

I also had my first “substitute” of the year. It was actually only for one whole class, plus two half classes, so that I could attend meetings. And, my class was covered by a colleague, so not a true sub experience. (I have missed half a day so far this school year for a dentist appointment, but it managed to get done during my lunch and prep period so I didn’t actually miss any classes.) Anyway, I am sometimes a little skittish about subs; I have had a gamut of experience with them. But I told my colleague, “They all know how to get to Google Classroom, and if they don’t know, they all have directions by their seat. The directions for their activity is on Google Classroom. They should get their on their own, they should read and follow directions on their own, basically you’re just there to facilitate.” It went really well for second grade! It was a slightly bumpier experience for third grade, because there were more steps and expectations (that’s actually why I changed the lesson mid-week). But things got done, so I call it a success!

Support: My spreadsheet went over really well with my colleagues. So that was a plus. But, I felt like this week, I used up all my brain cells and energy during the first few days. By the time Friday arrived, I was running on empty. And that stunk, because that was the half-day set aside for us to work on report cards. There were some elements that weren’t showing up as they should have, and I couldn’t wrap my tired mind around troubleshooting. At least once, it was a simple drop-down box messing with me that I just wasn’t seeing.

Things I Did Well: I’m going with the spreadsheet on this one.

Things I Will Do Better: Self-care. Part of the reason I burned out midweek is that I over-scheduled myself outside of school hours. I need to be protective of my “me” time, sometimes. I am the kind of person who needs seven or eight hours of decent sleep a night and good food in my belly, and the way I stretched myself this past week, I didn’t always get everything I needed to keep my energy up.

Cold Prickly: 

We have gnats.

I think due to unseasonably warm weather. I guess our custodians were hunting for food being left in places it shouldn’t be, but I was noticing gnats everywhere. In fact, my mom recommended this gnat trap when I went to her house and realized she was struggling with gnats too. It’s apple cider vinegar with a dash of dish soap, and you create a paper funnel from the mouth of the jar or cup down to the liquid. Tempted by the apple smell, gnats venture down. But, wet, they can’t fly back up. They can’t crawl back up either because the dish soap on them makes them slippery. Not all gnats were trapped this way; others were flying around the top of the jar but their escape route was still blocked by paper. The above photos were “before” and “after” just one eight hour period. After a couple of days I had dozens and dozens of dead gnats in my jar. And now, luckily, the weather has taken a turn, so hopefully the gnats will go away for a while.

Warm Fuzzy: We had our Spirit Week this week, where we dressed up according to different themes each day, culminating in some high school athletes visiting us Friday morning for a pep rally. Though I loved Superhero Day (because, really, any excuse to wear my Captain America outfit), I think my favorite was actually Sports Day. If you know how non-athletic I am, you would be shocked, but my sister Rose — err, I mean Youngstown Tune-Up — started playing for Burning River Roller Derby this past summer, and I became a super-fan. I figured most folks would be representing football, baseball, soccer… so I decided to represent roller derby! I didn’t wear skates (that seemed distracting and dangerous) but I did borrow padding from my sister’s teammate Sophonda Drama. (I also borrowed a rainbow tutu my sister wore for a pride parade, because really, who can resist a rainbow tutu?). Kids asked about my sport all day, and I got to teach them about jammers and blockers and pivots. At one point a student asked me, “What’s roller derby?” just as our custodian Mr. Barber walked by. “IT’S AWESOME!” he cheered without breaking his stride. He misses the banked track, though.

So my thanks to Youngstown Tune-Up and Sophonda Drama for helping me become my roller derby alter-ego, Drisco Inferno. (A joke that most kids don’t get, but they still think it sounds cool.)

School Week Round-Up: Week Five

We’ve already had twenty-three days of school already?! Whaaaat!? Time really flies!

LessonsThe single hardest thing is only seeing kids only once a week. They get routines just fine, but it’s making it hard to get feedback back to students in a meaningful span of time. Even if I assess quickly, I might not get it back to them until the next week, because I can’t get back to twenty-odd kids in fifty minutes. And by then, it might not be relevant or memorable to them, depending on the context. I have got to figure something out here. And, this is a sort of “good” problem to have, because it means so many other things are going well enough that I can focus on this.

Support: We got progress reports sent out! And I only had to fix and reprint some of them! Amazing! (We switched to a new online gradebook last year. It was a steep learning curve. We’re getting better.)

Things I Did Well: I used to look at photos proud teachers posted of their beautiful classroom spaces with narrowed eyes. I devalued their hard work decorating, imagining to myself that they were focusing on the more frivolous parts of the job. Now, I think I was just jealous. Interior decoration is not my forte, professionally or personally. But instead of seeing those wonderful spaces and feeling jealous, now I look at those same spaces and think, “I can do that.” Or, at the very least, “I can try to do that, in my own way.” I obviously have limits in terms of the space I get to work within. But I’m actually trying now, and not just making excuses. My birthday calendar takes up an entire (huge) wall, and I recently got rugs to help with first grade dismissal. (It’s a process. Trust me that this makes sense.) I’m slowly working towards creating a space that I want to keep working in, and I hope students feel the same way about it.

Things I Will Do Better: I must find a better way to give meaningful feedback to students more immediately. I must, I must, I must.

Cold Prickly: One of the school buses was so late one day due to mechanical problems that a group of students who particularly like computers missed most of technology lab time. Luckily, we were able to schedule some make-up time later.
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Warm Fuzzy: Raider Buddies. That’s an old article, and also about a different school in our district. But the person who started the program at that school works at our building now, and brought the program with her. So this week, our school was extra filled with college football players, coming to eat lunch and enjoy recess with kids. One football player couldn’t find his second grade buddy, so I helped track him down in the nurse’s clinic. Turns out the kid had a terrible tummy ache because the kid who sat next to him at lunch had sour cream on his elbow. Elementary schoolchildren very are prone to mysterious ailments. Luckily, the cure was having a Raider Buddy. He made a miraculous recovery and was able to enjoy recess after all! The kids really like having Raider Buddies, because even if they don’t find a lot of common ground with them, it’s really amazing for them to be the focus of someone else’s attention in a completely positive light, even for a short time just once or twice a week.