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Discombobulated and covered in glitter

7 Mar

I woke at my regular time, that Tuesday morning, and went through my usual morning routine. Except it was a Tuesday. And I’d been watching the price of airline tickets. And  I had a feeling today was the day to place my order.

It was and I did. I felt relief and triumph, until I looked at the clock.

Oh, crap! I bolted to my feet and hurried through the rest of my pre-work ritual.

Lunch packed? Check.

Coffee pot unplugged? Check.

Teeth brushed? Check.

I got dressed, took Lucy out for a shorter-than-usual walk, then exited the house. By then, I was running 15 minutes late.

And, of course, there was frost and I had to scrape the car. Add five more minutes to my lateness. Could this day get anymore more discombobulated? I wondered.

Of course it could!

I gained five minutes on my drive and was, once more,  only running 15 minutes late. We had a PLT meeting. On my way I found and picked up a few sparkly Shamrocks that were hidden around the school, for prizes at our staff breakfast on Friday. Maybe my luck was changing.


Thank goodness. I had a first period plan. As I scrambled to get my morning together, I noticed little dark flecks on my papers. I blew them off unsure where they had come from. Just before the kids came in, I finally made a cup of tea and ate my banana. In my haste, I dropped a piece of banana. As I bent to pick it off the floor, I noticed sparkles on my top. Oh man, those sparkly shamrocks left a mess on me! I brushed off what I could see and got ready for the onslaught.

I felt shaky through my first class and warned them that I was off my game. They are a great group of kids and just rolled with my discombobulation. I laughed out loud when a student asked me why I was wearing glitter. I simply told them that today,  I was just “discombobulated and covered in glitter”.





5 Mar

Either/Or, the first book by Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard,  explains that human existence is marked by the contrast between a hedonistic/aesthetic life and an ethical life based in duty and commitment.

Sunday afternoon, I was faced by my own either/or,  existential dilemma: the hedonistic enjoyment of knitting or  the ethical grading of papers I promised my students I’d return next week.

Duty won, but I allowed myself a few breaks – not knitting breaks – to walk Lucy and enjoy the beautiful early March sunshine.

I gave myself permission to knit later Sunday evening, while I watched an episode of season two of  Victoria. It seemed like a reasonable payoff for doing my duty.

Dear {insert parent name}

3 Mar

Dear {insert parent name}

You signed up for a conference with me, but should have signed up with{insert teacher name}. I have deleted your appointment with me because you can’t sign up with more than 1 teacher. Sorry about the confusion. It has been a confusing process for many people, including teachers.

I sent this message to a number of parents yesterday. Up until this Spring, each teacher has scheduled their own conferences through SignUpGenius. We created our own schedule, had a unique link and sent it to our parents.

For the first time ever, we are scheduling centrally using PTCFast. One of our administrators created the schedule and classes for each teacher. When parents enter the site, they have to click on their child’s teacher. Because we are a middle school, students have multiple teachers and most teams aren’t conferencing with the same group of kids we saw in  the Fall.  You can see the confusion.

Slowly but surely, the corrections are happening. There are still 10 days before conferences, so I anticipate that all the wrinkles will be ironed out before the first conference.


The Pile

24 Oct

My teaching partner and I sit down towards the end of each month and plan out the next. We are amazing. Most of the time.

Sometimes, we make mistakes. Not in the planning or execution of the units or lessons. It is more an issue of timing the turning in of assignments.

Hence, the pile.

I don’t know how we didn’t see t when we first planned October, but somehow we had a final draft due in writing and a project due in reading. With a TCRWP trainer coming for two days,  we had the kids turn in an in-class assignment, and the pile grew.

Our first autumn storm rolled through this weekend. It was the perfect Saturday for cocoa on the sofa. Taking advantage of the bad weather, I got it all graded this weekend and entered their scores in my paper grade book and the electronic one. Yesterday, I returned the pile and felt free.



The Top 10 Novels in my Library

16 Jun

The classroom library inventory is complete. Books are still missing, but they continue to trickle in. With no more checking out going on, I’ve taken some time to look over what was checked out. Graphic novels led the way, and my next post will be about the top 10 graphic novels. Today I will announce the top 10 novels in ascending order.



#10 Nine, Ten by Nora Raleigh Baskin



#9 Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart



#8  Half Brother  by Kenneth Oppel



#7  The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan



#6 Wonder by R. J. Palacio



#5 Restart by Gordon Korman



#4 I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest



#3 The Crossover by Kwame Alexander



#2  Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills



#1 Cinder by Marissa Meyer






A conversation overheard, then understood

6 Jun

The buzz of conversation filled my classroom as the 5-minute break began. Sixth graders clustered in groups and their energy was palpable. Well, there are only three weeks of school left, I thought as I bustled about the room getting things ready for the second half of our 2-hour block.

I scanned the room, looking for trouble (there was non) and paid vague attention to their conversations, until I heard one that piqued my interest.

“Oh gosh!” exclaimed a popular girl. “I have learned SO much this year.More than I learned in all my years of elementary school.”

WOW!  I thought. These kids really recognize and appreciate how hard their teachers work. I felt really proud of myself and my team. We had taken this group of highly gifted young people and given them the educational challenge they needed. Yeah us!

And then I overheard the rest of the conversation.

“I am the most corrupt person in my family,” she went on, bragging, and I realized that she was not talking about the formal education we’d been providing for the last 8 months. She was talking about the informal learning she’d picked up from her peers about life and how it all works. My heart dropped.

And then I laughed at myself.


A tough weekend – #SOL17

30 May

I live in Portland, Oregon.

It was a tough weekend.

Bad news Friday night about racist comments and death on the Max.

Sunday, I woke up to the neighborhood next to me cordoned off because of police activity. Residents were to shelter in place and had to be escorted to and from their homes most of the day.

Monday dawned grey and gloomy, but, by late afternoon, the clouds had burned off and the sun was shining giving us perfect Memorial Day weather.

It is as though we hit bottom and were on the way up again.

Over the last few weeks, my team and I have had a series of meeting with a couple of families. One kid in particular had me very worried. He hit bottom about two weeks ago. Fortunately, school and family noticed and we have put some things in place to help him and he has seemed happier.

We’ve been having some troubles at school too, and each grade has had a presentation about empathy. As a follow-up, instead of doing what I’m supposed to do in my Enrichment class, I am teaching lessons from  The Educator Collaborative’s Global Kind Project.

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 5.39.04 AM

I will be honest and say that Enrichment is not my favorite part of my week. I teach it every other day and it is a mix of 6th graders from all halls and teams. And yet, doing the activities and reflective practices the project talks about has made it so that I am enjoying this class far more than I have over the last two years. I am now planning how I will use these activities to start Enrichment next year.


Both the student and my city have some work to do, but I think we are up to the challenge.



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