Showing posts from August, 2015

I Wish Us More #SOL15

Last year, many of us chose I Wish You More, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheldas a final read aloud, sending our students off with beautiful wishes for their lives. This summer, I was a participant in the Summer Literacy Institute in Merrick, NY. On our last day, the teachers in the group all composed wishes for our students and we created a poem for our hopes for the new year.

Tomorrow is my first day of school and the students start on Wednesday. As I think about the year ahead and the challenges we teachers will face, I thought it would be nice to start the year with my own adapted version of I Wish You More. This one is for the teachers....
I Wish Us More
I wish us more "get up and go" than can't get out of bed.
I wish us more high fives than hurdles.
I wish us more empowerment than compliance.
I wish us more line-free times at the copy machine than long waits.
I wish us more balance than burnout.
I wish us more taking risks than playing it safe.
I wish us more hope…

Dear First Year Teacher

Thanks to Michelle Haseltine for the inspiration to write this letter!

Dear First Year Teacher,

When I walk into Superintendent's Conference Day this September, it will be my 14th year of teaching.  I was in your shoes in September 2001, just a few days before the world changed forever on September 11th.  I remember my first sixth grader waiting for me outside the door. I said, "Hello, I'm Kathleen" and saw her face fall with confusion before I realized my mistake and said, "Oh, I mean Miss Neagle (my maiden name)." The other students hadn't even gotten to the door and I made my first mistake. It was the first of many.  

When you are a new teacher, you are struggling mightily to stay afloat in the rough, stormy seas of education.  My friends, it was not smooth sailing for me at all, but I felt like I had to pretend it was.  I believed I needed to wear the mask of the seasoned captain in clear control, utterly calm and sure of each adjustment of the wheel. …

What I Did on My Summer Vacation: Inspiration from #cyberPD

What I Did on My Summer Vacation: Inspiration from #cyberPD  

This was originally posted on
“You’re a teacher- so you get summers off, right?”

Well- kind of.  While not technically working or teaching, my summers are a chance for me to reflect, learn, and prepare for the new year ahead.  This used to be a solitary endeavor, but now that I found Twitter and a PLN of passionate educators eager to learn, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate and share my understandings through reading, blogging, tweeting, and Voxing.  In Learn Like a Pirate, Paul Solarz says, “Two brains are better than one” and it is quickly becoming my favorite new saying.  What I can do on my own is nice; what I can do when I share my ideas with others and listen and learn from their ideas….that’s the game-changer.

The point of all my summer learning is to walk back into the classroom better tha…

A Lesson From Laundry #SOL15

Saturday morning: The laundry baskets of clean laundry have piled up and so no more excuses- time to put the laundry away.  My almost 5 year old son Alex and my 2 year old Megan are playing Hide and Go Seek as I start putting away Alex's clothes.  Until he stops me and asks if HE can put away the laundry.

"Mommy really wants to just get it done," I say as he grabs the neatly folded shirts, immediately unfolding them and making my blood pressure rise a notch or two.

"I want to help.  Where does this one go?" he asks. 

I sigh.  There are so many tasks I need to get done and it would be nice to just complete this one so I could tackle the next thing on the list.  I take a deep breath and tell him shirts go in the second drawer. He opens up the drawer and stuffs it in, not very neatly but with a lot of pride.  

"What's next?" he asks and I show him where the shorts go.  We continue like this, putting away underwear, bathing suits, pajamas.  I could have b…

Back to School Anxiety Dreams Gone Missing! #SOL15

Missing: Back to School Anxiety Dreams

Appearance: These dreams, really nightmares, usually look like boxes all over the place while students wander into the classroom, ignoring everything I say.  I am unprepared and unable to manage the class.  

Frequency: Every year, since I started teaching in 2001.  Normally they appear in August but they have been known to also come in July.  

If found: Feel free to send them away! They are not really missed at all. 

It dawned on me the other day that I haven't had any back to school anxiety dreams yet.  This is WAY late in the season for them to have not made their ugly arrival.  Most of the time, the dreams center around the classroom being a mess and then the students coming while I am not ready.  I can never find the papers I need and I search through boxes while they run around the room.  The only good thing about waking up from these dreams is realizing that didn't really happen and I can still get it right for the first day of school.


OLW for 2015-2016 #SOL15

One of my favorite things about being a teacher is the chance you get each year to start again.  We are blessed with two New Years celebrations! With school starting in a few weeks, this fresh start brings all the hopes and resolutions we usually reserve for January when we usher in a new calendar year. 
 I loved reading about other teachers' One Little Words (OLW) that would help them focus on their priorities and dreams for themselves and their students. I decided to make a OLW for the new school year and it was a hard decision because there were so many words that were important.  Some words I considered were Connections, Believe, Bridges, Community, and Expectations. All important, excellent words.  But in the end, I chose Relationships as my OLW for 2015-2016.
Last year was a year of many changes for me.  After 10 years of being a kindergarten teacher, I switched to third grade.  There was so much to learn and I think at times, I let the curriculum drive me instead of the stude…

The Beach #SOL15

"It's been so long since I've seen the ocean....guess I should." -"A Long December" (The Counting Crows)
Last week, feeling a little tired from my self-selected professional development activities, I dreamed of the beach.  The lyrics from "A Long December" by the Counting Crows kept playing in my mind: "It's been so long since I've seen the ocean...guess I should."  It's truly a sin that I haven't seen the ocean since last August. Until today.  I live on LONG ISLAND. In the same town as Jones Beach. The ocean is a 10 minute drive from my house.  And I haven't been there.  
Today, as I carried two heavy bags full of back-up bathing suits, suntan lotion, change of clothes, Goldfish, juice boxes, towels, pails and shovels, and my tantruming two year old, for a minute I dreamed of sitting in my professional development workshop, in the cool air conditioning, pen in hand, taking notes in my lovely notebook. I probably need …