Friday, February 26, 2016

conflict & appreciation... a Move Your Bus book study

Hi everyone! Welcome back to BigTime Literacy for #D100BloggerPD's next post on Move Your Bus! The series is winding down now...getting close to the end. Today I'm here with a reflection on two chapters: 27 - Go right to the source when there is a problem and 28 - Show appreciation.

Chapter 27 is all about how when you have a problem with someone, you should go right to the source to hash it out, rather than burdening everyone around you with the problem. I'd like to take a different angle on the chapter:

During the past few years, I've learned this lesson over and over in my relationships - the relationship I had with my ex-boyfriend, the ones I have with my friends and family, and also with my colleagues.

What I mean by "accepting" something is this: let's say a situation happens that you do not like and would not want to happen again. Sometimes we just let it slide and hope it doesn't happen again, or accept it. While it's easier to deal with problems like this in the short term, this take on conflict can be problematic for a few reasons:

1. You have to carry around the stress of the situation, which might cause you to want to talk to another person about it (like Clark says, burden someone else on your staff with the problem).

2. By not confronting it, you send a message that the behavior or the situation or whatever happened is okay, which lets people believe that you don't have any boundaries as far as that is concerned, which makes it seem like it's okay to do...maybe even again.

I'm so lucky to have this great friend, one of my best, who taught me how to address conflict. Since meeting her, living with her, and teaching with her, I'm so much more direct with the things that bother me. And, I also prefer to address conflict in person, because via email, messages get confused and it may not be interpreted the way in which you mean.

So, I agree with Ron Clark - If you've got an issue with someone, go to them, talk to them. He suggests beginning with how it made you feel, and also leading with, "I respect you, and I wanted to come to you directly instead of mentioning this to anyone else" (p. 145).

And you know what the best part of this is? That once you've had the conversation, it's done. You feel relief (no matter how hard it was to initiate the conversation), there's no holding grudges, and no one has to wonder whether or not you're upset, because when you're a person who is direct with conflict, you let others know when there is an issue.

I am the kind of person who thinks about gratitude and appreciation naturally. It's always been important to me to tell my friends and family how thankful I am for them, and that has transferred to work as well. 

As Clark mentions in Move Your Bus, there are many ways that people feel appreciated. Have you ever read Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages? This chapter totally reminds me of that - how Ron Clark says that some staff would like a note or just a compliment on their work to feel appreciated, yet others might feel most appreciated by a gift of some sort. There are three other love languages, which have been adapted to a book called The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, but this is important information to have because we all feel most appreciated differently.

What I know for sure is this: While the salary a staff at a particular school district makes is important, people (myself included) will continue to work in a place that may not pay the highest wages if they feel appreciated by their colleagues and their supervisors. People like to come to work and feel good, and if that means $5K less than a district nearby, they will continue to come, because they know they are an important and valued member of the organization.

Well, that's all for me today. On Monday, be sure to check out my friend Annie's post over at her blog, Show Your Thinking. She'll wrap up the last two chapters, Enjoy the Ride, and the conclusion.

And be sure to come back next month, as the #D100BloggerPD group will be sharing about our new book: Hacking Education: 10 quick fixes for every school!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

the paczki did me in

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I'm off balance.

Ever since I went to a birthday party last Saturday, my food consumption has been waaaaay off balance.

It started Sunday morning with McDonald's for breakfast - I hadn't gone grocery shopping and needed something before I went to church. Then, Sunday night I had some pretzel bread and a cookie with the Turkey tacos I made. (Whyyyyy??)

Since I didn't go grocery shopping until Sunday night, I didn't have time to meal prep like I usually do on the weekend - making a week's worth of chicken salads. So to make my life "easier," I bought a bunch of soup from the grocery store and just divvied it up for the week.

So then yesterday at lunch I had some soup and more pretzel bread. Then, I met my stepmom for dinner at our favorite pizza place in the suburbs (Aurelio's). At least I ordered a salad to start with, but then had pizza.

And finally, as if all that weren't enough, my stepmom's sister (step-Aunt?) gave me a paczki. I should have taken a picture of it - but I was already deep with the guilt. It was so so good - filled with strawberries and fresh whip cream. Perfectly sweet and amazing.

And now I sit here weighed down (ha, literally) with food guilt. I usually stop before I get this guilty, but I didn't. Today though, today I'm going to clean my act up! Back to the egg whites and apple for breakfast, salad for lunch, and dinner...well, need to figure out something healthy!

Does this ever happen to you?
You know you shouldn't indulge, but you do anyways and then you feel so so bad about it? Leave me a comment so I feel better! :-)

Friday, February 19, 2016

tribute to primary

This month, the #compelledtribe is sharing posts in tribute to a teacher of our choice. This prompt came at the perfect time, as a week or so ago, I had to help out with sub coverage in a first grade classroom. Today, I'd like to give tribute to all the primary teachers out there, who do such wonderful work each day!

I don't want to take anything away from intermediate, middle, and high school teachers - all of us work very hard to study and teach our content, build relationships with students, plan amazing lessons, and provide feedback to help our students grow. But have you ever spent a whole day in a primary classroom? More particularly, a kinder or a first grade classroom? Primary teaching isn't just singing songs and playing in centers. It's hard work that takes loads of planning, organization, and structure!

Primary teachers, you are a special bunch! Your students show up with a range of abilities in kinder and all grow in their learning in different ways. They are so small and can't really be independent for much time at all, so I'd like to recognize all the work that goes into planning engaging instruction for them.

Kinder and first grade teachers are the first official teachers (parents are first, #amIright?) of reading... very important work going on with this age range! In our literacy block, you teach your students to be independent with authentic activities so that you can be freed up to provide guided reading that meets each child's needs. You study and prepare lessons that are differentiated and really hit exactly what each child needs. You prepare word study within guided reading, and for explicit instruction of sight words. All of this is after you've  worked with books, and taken anecdotal notes on what the children can do. And all of that happens while the rest of your class works independently for 10-20 minutes at a time. Seriously, it's amazing work that you do!

Our Kinders are writing personal narratives, complete with pictures and labels, and making their way to sentences. Firsties are writing Teaching Books about all kinds of topics, books that are planned out in advance and polished beautifully. While their final drafts aren't perfect, each one is each child's best work, which will be added to a portfolio for reflection later. And don't forget about celebrations! Our writers always get to share their work with their peers, which really amps up their engagement!

And don't even get me started on math. I have no idea how you teach math conceptually children who are five and six, but you all know exactly how and deliver instruction to them in a meaningful way. Jamie Duncan, your passion and knowledge inspires me so much!

Not only all of this, but our Dual Language and Bilingual teachers do so in two languages as well! I know it takes time to plan and prepare for both languages, but building two languages is so important in recognizing the gifts that our students bring to our classrooms. Thank you for studying best practices and trying out new and modified ways of delivering instruction that will best support our learners. 

And academics aside, you do so much to support their social and emotional needs at this age - give them band-aids, wipe their tears, and tie their shoes. You use class pets for classroom management and give them a hug when they miss their parents. You help them learn the importance of taking turns, and sharing, and listening. You read them stories that they can "live through" so they can learn from them about compassion, empathy, and self-control. You build them up when they're down and also teach them important life lessons when they're not being their best selves. It's a short 9 months that you spend with your students, but your lessons and impressions are lasting.

It's February, a month celebrating love and friendship, and I simply adore the work you do each day. Thank you for your tireless dedication to our students...they are so lucky to have you!

Have you sent some love to a colleague lately? It's the perfect time to do so! Hit them up (I sound so middle school, don't I?) on Twitter, with a note in their mailbox, or a hug when you pass them in the hall. Lift others up, and your heart will be full along with them!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


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Friends, I've been missing my blog but haven't exactly felt like writing lately. I don't know why - what's up with this slump? I checked my stats in January - only 4 posts. What is that? I think about writing all the time - and for my One Little Word, I even set my February goal to write a little bit every day. THe little card is on my fridge, so there's no reason why I wouldn't see it. (Hello, food? I see it like 25 times a day!) So what's my deal? 

Has it ever happened to you that you end up in the company of people who love the same things as you? Like, let's say you love Golden Doodles, and then you run into someone or a few people who have them? Like at a street fest? And then you get so happy and excited because here's another person who loves what you love? That's what happened to me today. Except with my teacher writer friends. My Writing Tribe, if you will :-)

It was in my first edcamp session, (teacher institute day today) I went to a session called Writing Collaboration. Wasn't sure what we were going to do, but that sounds awesome, right? I went with my little writing posse from my building (the three of us) and then we met up with about five other teachers and another Literacy Coach, Leah. And it was great to sit and talk writing for 30 minutes. We even came up with a hashtag for our district for us teacher writers:

And then, I met with the #D100BloggerCrew to plan our next jigsaw book study on our blogs. I finally put faces to names of all the bloggers I've been collaborating with on Twitter and our blogs, and it was so awesome. Loved meeting you Ginny, Theresa, and Angela...finally! :-)

And now I'm sitting in Starbucks. Mocha at my side, snow falling down outside, soft music and the whirl of the milk foaming machine behind me, and I couldn't be happier. I'm back.

So thank you - Thank you to Mary who tagged me on her Words Their Way post last night, and the Hiawatha Teacher Writers, and to the #D100BloggerCrew, and to Amanda and Bonnie who said yes to the Slice of Life challenge next month. (You too, Mary... Holding you to that!) Thank you all for brining me back to my writing life!

Any Tiger Bloggers writing tonight?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Move your bus!

Hi everyone! So I'm really excited today to share about Move Your Bus by Ron Clark. Our district is an amazing place to be: we're very into social media and even have a #D100bloggerPD group - a bunch of teacher - bloggers sharing with our PLNs. Today I bring you chapters 8 - 10 of Move Your Bus!

I came to know Ron Clark like 10 years ago when The Essential 55 came out. I loved it - his ideas about teaching and learning and teaching kids to be good people were very inspiring. Now he's out with another equally amazing book that is more focused on the organization 
as a whole. He talks about how all the people in our schools operate under different personas: The Runners, Joggers, Walkers, Riders, and Drivers and how by knowing all of your people, you can accelerate your school (bus) towards success rapidly!

This post is going to cover:
Chapter 8: Say Hello
Chapter 9: Sit with the Runners
Chapter 10: Ask for Help

Let's get to it!

Say Hello

You know, it seems like a little thing, but saying hello makes such a big difference. To me, this is all about, as Ron Clark mentions, seeing the other people in the room. Everyone wants to know that they're seen, everyone wants to know that they're important. Saying hello when you first run into someone is such an easy and meaningful way to do so!

Starts with Hello!

Sit with the Runners
Have you ever thought that you are starting to look like your best friend or your significant other? Have you ever wondered that you were turning into the people you spend the most time with? Well that's the point in chapter 9 - Sit with the Runners. The Runners are identified as passionate, happy, driven people, so it only makes sense that we would want to sit with them. While being in their presence, we are naturally uplifted. The people we sit with, hang out with, spend our time with - those are the people who have influence over us!

This chapter reminds me of a blog post I read early in the school year - Find Your Marigolds. Colleen, that was you who shared that, or was it Miss G? Anyways, It's all about how when gardening, its helpful to plant Marigolds next to your other crops because they ward off pests and other harmful weeds. The same can be true in teaching - we have to find our Marigolds, those Runners, those teachers who inspire, motivate, and problem solve with us, rather than spend our time with others who might complain, resist change, and focus too much time and energy on the negative. Who is a runner in your life that uplifts you?

Ask for Help

"Sometimes it's great to ask for direction, for help, or for clarity. It's not seen as a weakness. Instead, it makes it clear that you care enough about a project or a task to be sure you get it right." Chew on those words a makes it clear that you care enough about a project or task to be sure you get it right. In chapter 10, Clark discusses how asking for help is actually a sign of strength, rather than weakness, which is what many people think.

When I began as a Literacy Coach a few years ago, I was new to elementary and primary reading. I could tell you tons of stuff about intermediate and middle school readers, but primary? No clue. I always went to our primary experts, and I still do when I want to bounce ideas or get feedback, or ask for clarification. Let it be known that doing this takes so much vulnerability, which makes it a strength, not a weakness.

So, what can we take away from these three chapters? Say hello to your colleagues. Sit with the Runners and naturally be uplifted! Ask for help when you need it - we all do our best when work together!

Be sure to stop by Theresa's blog, Learn Teach, Grow on Wednesday for our next post - she'll be sharing about chapters 11 and 12!

Monday, February 1, 2016

currently february

Friends, it's February! I'm so happy to say sianara to January. The weather was sucky, I got in a car accident, and some other things that were not my fave. But February is here and it's time to start fresh and look forward!

Thanks to Farley for bringing us all together again! Hop over there and check out her new blog design, so so cute! Here's what's up on my end:

Listening to....the news - It's Iowa Caucus day!
This isn't too much, is it?

Seriously I'm totally #FeelinTheBern over here. I think he really needs to get Iowa tonight if he's got any chance at taking the whole thing, so hopefully all those people are out doing the Caucus. Also: idk exactly what caucusing is....anyone? Buellar? job, Literacy Coaching!
Few things: 1. Annie, another coach in our district, tagged a few of us in an article on Twitter and it was really good. It talks about how coaching happens one conversation at a time. Then, 2. today, I had a conversation like that and it was awesome. It makes me so happy to feel like I can help make a difference!

Thinking about...The Chicago Marathon...?
I recently started going to Old St. Pat's Church downtown Chicago and I just love it. In addition to feeling so uplifted at Mass, and learning so much through RCIA, they have all these awesome programs, including one to train runners for the marathon. I think yes! Any marathon runners out there? Thoughts?

Wanting... New shoes!
So I got a gift card for Tieks for Christmas (thanks sister!) and still haven't bought them because of some unforeseen expenses, but soon, very soon. I will be getting myself some ballet pink Tieks and I also want some new running shoes. I'm going to give Asics a try this time, after a lifetime of running Nike Free. Anyone run in Ascis? Do you love them?

Life is good. The days are getting longer, it hasn't been terribly cold, and I'm not digging my car out of snow! And speaking of my car...

Swooning...New Car!
So my car accident - made a crappy car a hopeless mess, so I took a payout on the damages (accident not my fault!), sold my car to CarMax and then my amazing parents chipped in a little bit of money to their poor teacher daughter (ok, I'm not poor, but I'm not sitting on a huge savings, either!) Anyways, now mine is a beautiful, smells-like-new-car, all electronic and high-tech, shiny, sleek, 2016 Civic:

I've driven all of the 53 miles this car has gone (except 6) and I just love it. Feeling very grateful for family that continues to support their grown daughter. I only hope one day I can do the same half as good as they have! Love you, family!

So that's where I'm at right now. What's new with you? Be sure to check out Farley's blog and link your Currently up, too!
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