Saturday, October 26, 2013

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” -Albert Camus

I grew up in the Chicago area and loved this time of year particularly.  Trees took a long time to change color (the way I remember it) and the season lingered all the way until Thanksgiving.  Sometimes longer.

In the 50's our families could still burn leaves in the street, although there must have been lots of rules and restrictions about doing it.  What did I care?  I loved watching the curls of smoke in the air and smelling the smells.

Each autumn my favorite cartoon  appeared on the cover of the Sunday Chicago Tribune magazine: "Injun Summer" by John T. McCutcheon.    A classic!  And, of course, classically politically incorrect by today's standards.  Still, I loved that picture.  I savored the comfort and peacefulness of it.

The very best teachers capture moments and  memories like these for their kids everyday in the classroom!  Teachers exhilarate learning - making each new skill or concept a discovery worth having.  They do it by their delivery, their follow up, their activities for practice.......and not by dangling a test score as reward for learning.  not ever.

Click here to see John McCutcheon's cartoon and story!  Maybe it'll help you think of a story or picture you loved growing up; something you could use next week in teaching a new concept or skill.   Your enthusiasm for it will be contagious - trust me on that!

Be well today and always,

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The child is in me still . . .and sometimes not so still. -Fred Rogers

Mr. Rogers could talk to a television camera and make it feel completely personal....words just to me and me alone!   Such a gentle teacher - and gentleman.  He made complications seem simple again.

And I don't think keeping the "child" inside means losing our grip on reality.  It's just seeing the wonder in things:  full moon; autumn color; early morning stillness.  Or maybe it's  letting go of worries in order to find the wonders in the first place.

Whatever it means to you personally, being in touch with your "child inside" as a teacher is what helps you guide and motivate your kids each and everyday. You see first hand the looks on their faces when they've learned a new concept or skill.  (You see it - you don't have to rely on data or test scores to know it happened), and it really is a "wonder-filled" thing!  It's why we became teachers in the first place.

So, keep your "child inside" - at the very center of your good teaching!  And in your life away from teaching, too.

Be well today and always,

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I'm sorry for kids who don't have a rock for a friend. - Byrd Baylor

Everybody Needs a Rock  is a beautiful story for all ages, and a lesson about finding contentment and joy in the smallest things -  in simplicity.  Just reading it makes you feel peaceful and calm....and then, if you're like me, you get going with the rest of the day and completely lose sight of it.  In the midst of all the stuff in our lives, getting to "simple" is - well - complicated! 

Since I'm usually on the edge of frantic when it comes to getting stuff done I won't waste your time with words of wisdom from my side of the computer, but I do think it's always always worth our while to keep this goal in mind.  Contentment and simplicity are all around us, even in a rock, if we just remember to look.

I've added a new free product on Thanks You's and Thanksgiving for 2nd or 3rd graders.  Click here for your copy or go to my tpt store. 

In fact, go to for tons of stuff - free and paid - download and be done. Then take a few minutes (or hours) to go find your rock.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Halfway down the stairs is a stair where I sit. There isn't any other stair quite like it. A.A.Milne

Personal, private spaces and places are important to all of us.  We have lots of nooks and crannies to hide away at home.......quiet places to come back to  every now and then when we need to refuel.  But what about the classroom?  Most classrooms are crammed with furniture, books, desks, shelves, and way way too much stuff on the walls. 

Is there a place in the corner of your classroom where you can create a safe getaway place for a student who needs some peace and quiet?  You could put A.A. Milne's poem ("Halfway Down" from When We Were Very Young) on a shelf nearby where "all sorts of funny thoughts can run round your head!"   Better yet, put nothing at all nearby.  Quiet time for quiet reflection.

Find your quiet time and place today and let go of some of your worries.  If you need to take some time off in coming weeks, check out my full day plans for sub teachers.   With all the products now available on, you no longer need to spend long hours planning for a sub.

Be well today and always,