Thinking about the morning #sol18


I sat at my desk this morning, but the words wouldn’t come.  I love writing during the time before school starts when everything is quiet.  But I struggled to write this morning.  I stared out the window at Mr. Charles’s garden in the courtyard.  I moved my phone so I wouldn’t be distracted by it.  I listened to the hum of the air conditioner and tapped my foot.  Then, when it was almost time for students to arrive,  I tabled my slice.   I hoped that giving myself some distance would help me find something to write about.  The morning passed by quickly and soon it was time for lunch.  In between bites of salad, I tried again.  Instead of giving up, I decided to write about the morning and identify all of the good things that happened.

My new first grader, M, reminds me (today and every day) why I became a reading specialist.  He’s made tremendous growth in the first five weeks of school and I love seeing his smile when he’s conquered something new.  I look forward to our lessons together because he realizes that he is a reader.  His confidence has grown so much in the past few weeks.  “Can’t” has definitely turned into “can” for M.

One of my fifth graders, who has been with me for a while, has really been taking off.  We’ve worked hard over the years and everything seems to be coming together for him.  I’ve noticed a quiet confidence in him that I’ve never seen before and that confidence is carrying over into everything that he does.

Confidence seems to be the word of the day, now that I think about it, and that’s a good word for me to consider as I work on composing a slice.  I was not feeling all that confident earlier this morning when I struggled to write.  My kids don’t always feel confident in what they’re doing as readers and writers, but with encouragement and support, I see what they are able to accomplish.  I know that I have the encouragement and support of my fellow slicers, and that helps me on days like today.  That sense of community gives me the confidence I need to find the words to put on paper.  I think the same holds true for my students.  They realize that they are a part of a community here at school and that sense of community develops confidence.



When In Doubt, Check The Plug #sol18


Last night, I escaped my home office and set up my laptop at the kitchen table.  I needed a change of scene and I can sit at the table and also see the television in the living room. I spread out some papers from school and started working.

Eventually, I needed Internet access, so I flipped the switch to turn on the wifi.  I returned to my spot at the table and waited. Normally, this process doesn’t take require a lot of time.  However, I waited and waited and waited. I clicked on the wifi icon at the top of my screen and didn’t see my network listed.  Several more moments passed. Still nothing. I reminded myself not to panic, even though I really needed to get online. I clicked the wifi icon again, even though .  Nothing.

I decided to check the router, which is in my office.  When I glanced down, I didn’t see any lights blinking. Oh, no! What was going on? Then, I noticed something that made me burst into laughter.  The router wasn’t even plugged in! No wonder I didn’t have Internet access! I quickly plugged in the router and lights began blinking as the router came to life.  I slipped back to my spot at the kitchen table and within minutes, I was online. Whew!

Audiobooks: Better Than A Gym Membership #sol18


For the past several months, I’ve been working on losing some weight and improving my A1c number.  In addition to considering my dietary choices, my doctor also encouraged me to prioritize exercise, which I really hadn’t done for a while.  I have a treadmill and an exercise bike in the basement, but they only gathered dust. I knew that I needed to make a concerted effort, but the thought of spending time on the treadmill just wasn’t all that appealing.  I needed something to motivate me to exercise.

When I used to walk on the treadmill on a regular basis, I often listened to audiobooks from the library to make the time pass.  The one problem involved the due dates, particularly if I’d selected a popular book that couldn’t be immediately renewed. I knew that I had to find something to keep me on the treadmill for more than five minutes and I still liked the idea of listening to audiobooks.  I thought about the cost of a gym membership and determined that I could invest in audiobooks for approximately the same cost.

So, I started to work on my audiobook library, content with my justification that this was my “gym membership fee.” I pulled on my shoes, hopped on the treadmill, and started the first book.  I quickly became immersed in the story and the time seemed to fly by. Not only did my efforts on the treadmill become more regular, they lasted longer. Before I knew it, I was able to walk for a good thirty minutes straight.  My blood sugar numbers were good and I’ve lost about twenty pounds. As I reflected on the past couple of months, I concluded that audiobooks really are better than a gym membership!

Ten Things Tuesday #sol18


I couldn’t decide on what to write about today, so I decided to create a list of ten things that I hope will serve as a springboard for future posts.

  1. Planning for the 2019 Virginia State Reading Association annual conference is rolling right along.  Currently, I am working on developing an author “speed dating” activity and I’m really excited about providing this opportunity for attendees.
  2. My desk at school looks out into the courtyard and I love the view.  Yesterday after school, I sat at my desk for a little while and just enjoyed the sights.  We revamped this space last spring and created a garden in honor of our late custodian, Mr. Charles, and it’s such a peaceful, wonderful space.  I’d love to go out and sit in the swing with a good book!
  3. It’s hard to believe that this is the third week of school! The days have flown by!  I have a nice mix of students who’ve been with me for a while and new students.  We’ve had a great start!
  4. I confess to being a pack rat.  I keep everything and have a difficult time throwing anything away, particularly if it has to do with school.  At the end of the last school year, I finally tossed running records from my first year of teaching.  However, one good thing about being a pack rat is that I can show students how they’ve grown and changed as learners because I can pull out old pieces of their work.  Today, I had a conversation along those lines with my fifth graders, several of whom I’ve worked with for multiple years.  I promised them that I would pull out some old pieces so that they could see their growth.  They seemed pretty excited about this!
  5. One of my students randomly asked what I was excited about today.  I considered her question for a moment.  The first thing that popped in my mind was that two of my favorite authors, Josh Funk and Jess Keating, have books coming out today.  I am so excited that these books will be a part of our classroom library!
  6. I’ve been trying to lose some weight and watch my carb consumption after being diagnosed with diabetes.  I’ve been able to lose about twenty pounds and my blood sugars are doing pretty well.  However, I’ve hit a plateau with the weight loss, which has been frustrating.  Today, though, one of my friends as school stopped by my room during my planning period to tell me what a great job I was doing with the weight loss.  Her words of encouragement meant so much, especially since I have felt as though I’m faltering in this quest.
  7. My principal and I submitted a proposal to the Blue Ribbon schools conference and we were accepted! This conference is at Disney World in November and we’ve been making plans and working on our presentation.  We’ve also made several dinner reservations for Disney restaurants and my principal is a seasoned Disney traveler, so I know that we’re going to have fun in the evenings after the sessions are finished!
  8. I love the Chromebook that I received at the beginning of the school year, but I am not fond of the trackpad.  The ITRT recommended trying to use the trackpad before adding a wireless mouse.  I tried using the trackpad, but ended up giving in an grabbing a wireless mouse to use.  I don’t know why the trackpad bothered me so much.
  9. We finally have high-speed internet at my school! This sounds like a little thing, but in the past, when we tried to do anything that required the internet, we often were unable to do so.  The work to upgrade our internet was completed over the summer and fast internet has been such a treat!
  10. I didn’t realize just how many things that I did have to write about until doing this! When I started, I could decide what to write about, but now I have so many topics to explore.  I’m anticipating some good writing days ahead!

I have faith in you #sol18


“I have faith in you.” Five powerful words when combined into a sentence.  This was a sentence that I heard one of my students say to one of her classmates this morning during word study.  They were building words and one student, T, was not feeling confident about his efforts. Before I could intervene to see what he was uncertain about, another student in the group picked up on his lack of confidence and said, “I have faith in you.” T persevered and kept working.  He didn’t give up, even though he uncertain, and I think that hearing one of his peers say that she believed in him made the difference. It’s one thing to hear that from your teacher and we always work hard to let our students know that we have faith in them, but to hear such a message from a classmate is a powerful thing.  I’m so proud of C for noticing how T was feeling and doing something to make him feel better!

Starting a New Year #sol18


The first day of school was yesterday:) We had a great start to the year and I’m excited about all of the opportunities and possibilities that stretch out ahead of us.  I love watching the kindergarten students enter the school for the first time.  I love reconnecting with  the kids and welcoming the new students.  I love how fresh everything is-from school supplies to hopes and expectations for the new year.

The one disappointing part of the new year was the absence of one student.  I’d worked with K in second, third, and fourth grades and working with her was such a delight.  K is one of the hardest working students that I’ve ever had the privilege of having in my classroom, so the news that she had moved saddened me.  That feeling was amplified today when one of K’s classmates, M, told me, “She really liked your class. I bet she misses being here.” We had been chatting about choosing books and I commented on how this group of kids did such a great job of recommending books to each other.  M chimed in, saying that they all knew how K loved any book with horses, which led to the above conversation.

One of the joys of my job is being able to work with students for multiple years.  However, that makes it harder to say goodbye.  I hope that K’s new teachers and classmates embrace her and recognize all of the qualities that made her such a valued member of our school family.



Currently, I am…

Listening to…The Morning Drive on Sirius XM NASCAR Channel 90.  I love listening to these guys in the morning and they always seem to make me laugh.

Eating…There are cupcakes in the office and I am trying to forget that there are cupcakes in the office.  My classroom is across from the office. Just a few steps…willpower, don’t fail me now!

Drinking…my “half-cut” iced tea.  I’m trying to reduce the amount of sugar that I consume and to do that, I had to examine my sweet tea habit.  My nutritionist suggested drinking half-and-half. When I order a tea like this, the folks at McDonald’s call it “half-cut.” So far, it’s been an okay alternative.

Thinking about…what I need to accomplish during this workday.  My room is nearly ready, but I have some odds-and-ends to take care of and paperwork is calling my name.  However, I’m feeling pretty good about my readiness for the new year!

Reading…Actually re-reading Preventing Misguided Reading by Jan Burkins and Melody Croft.  I love the messages in this text and with a new school year, wanted a refresher.

Wearing…my tennis shoes that are ready to be replaced by a new pair.  However, I’m picky about shoes and dread having to go shoe shopping.

Thankful for…my principal and how she always makes our beginning-of-the-year faculty meeting such a positive, invigorating experience.  This time together always gets our year off to a great start!