thoughts about my classroom

It’s rainy season now in South Florida where I’m spending time with my parents and friends. Apparently the rains came a few weeks early this year, and they won’t end any time soon–the season technically lasts for half the year. This is the most intense period: from now through July, it won’t rain all day, but it will probably rain every day at some point. Huge downpours and fierce thunderstorms will be the norm. The electricity will flicker and the cable will go out. The sky will go from light to dark and back again, quickly and repeatedly.

When I taught in Florida just a few short years ago, I remember getting so annoyed with the way the kids got sidetracked by the rain. “Guys. Stop staring out the window. Stop jumping and ooh-ing and ahh-ing each time the thunder cracks. There’s a storm every single day. Relax. Now who can show us how to solve 43×17?”

The kids would reluctantly shift their gazes from the glorious show of nature outside back to the multiplication problem on their papers. And having been sufficiently chastised, they’d concentrate, for the most part. They knew when I took them to lunch, they could take advantage of the outdoor hallways and skip through the puddles when I wasn’t looking, or stick their hands under the edge of rain gutters to feel the cool rush of the water, or shriek with laughter as the sideways rain escaped the protective barrier of the overhang and pounded across their feet.

I wish I had let them watch the rain more often. I wish I had stopped being so serious and instead smiled when their faces lit up in wonder as the lightning flashed through the sky. I wished I’d splashed in a few puddles myself. Those moments were precious: they are what I miss most about teaching. And the kids were right to notice the beauty that was all around us.

Just because we’ve seen something a million times doesn’t mean it’s not still majestic. The deep roll of the thunder, the glimpses of sunlight through the dark clouds, the juxtaposition of the green palm trees glistening with rain against the grayness of the skies…why should we stop being amazed?

I could use a little more wonder in my life. I could benefit from putting down my work for a few moments to look outside, gaze up at the sky, and take it all in. I could accomplish more during those periods of concentration if I paused for more moments of being still and reconnecting with a child-like sense of wonder. Could you?

Taken from a school parking lot at sunset after a storm.

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When leaders lack the background to…well, lead

ed news and trends

The clothing store The Gap is failing. Sales have been drastically down. In fact, the clothing chain recently had “the worst showing of all 23 major retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters.” The problem could be the products themselves. But experts are blaming the company’s CEO. Why? He has zero experience in the necessary field. Check […]

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What do test scores mean to employers?

floriduh

“Angela. Angela! Get over here! They’re having a JOB INTERVIEW in the middle of the store!” I blinked at my friend. Seriously? Her eyes were gigantic and she was gesturing furiously to my right while trying not to burst out laughing. “Yeah, you gotta come check this out.” I walked over to the other side […]

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My resignation is now official.

i heart my kids

I have a problem writing blog entries after something major happens in my life. Do I try to compose a heart-rending account that encompasses the wide range of emotions I’ve been feeling? Should I give a quick bulleted list to catch you up on all the main points at once? Or try to gather some […]

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Gingerbread house math

i heart my kids

Word on the streets is that if you’re assigned to Mrs. Watson’s third grade, you’re gonna get to make a gingerbread house in December. Most of my class has been driving me crazy about anticipating this event since August. Today was The Day. Measuring the perimeter of the houses to determine how many marshmallows are […]

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How I saved a child’s life (a true story)

i heart my kids

I am a teacher, and I saved the life of a child who was dying a thousand different deaths. He was drowning in a sea of technicalities and red tape, of bureaucratic limitations and endless uncompleted forms. This small child was tossed about in unrelenting waves of systemic failures that pulled him underwater again and […]

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Note to self

random craziness
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Gratitude

i heart my kids

Friends, family, God…I am grateful for all these things, too (except maybe the fish, although you gotta admit that was super cute). My husband and I are having a wonderful Thanksgiving at my parent’s house in Florida. Hope each of you are enjoying your time off to relax and reflect. Have some carbs for me.

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Call me Judge Judy Jr.

random craziness

Please? ‘Cuz I really am obsessed with her show. My husband and I watch it faithfully (4 pm in both New York and Fort Lauderdale!), and we’re convinced she is the solution to all the world’s problems related to personal responsibility and integrity. The show is of particular interest to me because being a judge […]

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What I'll miss when I leave classroom teaching

i heart my kids

In case you didn’t catch the news on my Facebook page a few weeks back, I WAS offered professional development work in New York! I’ve decided to continue teaching in Florida for the first half of this school year while my husband and I house hunt and take care of the other 3 million transitional […]

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Why ‘remain seated on the bus’ is a rule, not a suggestion

random craziness

Does it make me a bad teacher if I laughed uproariously?Hat tip to The [Fabulous] Bus Driver at Tales From the School Bus.

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I'm alive, and I'm not thinking about school.

random craziness

In case you were wondering. Our last day was June 8, and since then, I’ve filled my time with alternating bouts of relaxation and wedding planning. The Big Day is June 27. After that, you’ll be getting a full slideshow of wedding and honeymoon pics, followed by a return to our regular educational programming. (Which […]

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The fabled drawer of confiscation

random craziness

I was cleaning out my desk drawers today and had to laugh at the variety of kid stuff that got tossed in this year. My rule is: If I catch you with a toy, it must immediately go in your backpack. If I see the toy again, it’s mine until a parent writes a note […]

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Really deep thoughts on (almost) finishing the year

funny stuff

*How are so many of you on summer break ALREADY? Who the heck lets out before Memorial Day? Stop posting about all the free time you’ve got now. I’ll return the favor for late-enders after next Friday when our countdown is finally over. *Why can’t we use the abbreviation CR for Cumulative Records? Using the […]

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Note to self

random craziness
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Possibly the most apt description, ever.

grrr...

So it’s That Time of Year when your students get on each other’s nerves and YOURS to a greater degree than ever before. The behaviors that have irritated you nonstop for eight months have now become unbearable. Intolerable. Your eyes roll involuntarily at the very mention of a certain student’s name. I’ve been wanting to […]

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Newsflash: kids enjoy learning!

i heart my kids

My students haven’t seen a multiple choice question in 6 days. I think we’re all delirious with joy. Yes, state testing is over. I apologize once again for terrifying those who read My Worst Nightmare, but fortunately, the actual administration of the FCAT was relatively painless and full of amusing moments. The kids are so […]

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My worst nightmare

grrr...

So it’s finally the big week: we are administering the FCAT. This is the test: the stakes are high for fourth and fifth graders, and our poor third graders can’t get promoted without a passing score. Our funding, our reputation, and to an extent, our very employment are all resting on how well this group […]

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What is the purpose of school?

hot topics

This was the opening panel question at the EduCon 2.1 conference last month, as reported here by Assorted Stuff. And it’s certainly one worth asking. But can we really come up with a definitive answer? Seth Godin has a starter list with suggestions ranging from the tongue-in-cheek (“Teach future citizens how to conform”) to the […]

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I may be inducing a diabetic coma.

i heart my kids

What better way to celebrate Valentines Day, right? No, not for the kids, for ME. You really think I’d let my babies eat a whole bunch of sugar on MY watch? No way. My own blood sugar level is skyrocketing because I: 1. Devised a plan to get every child in the class to send […]

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