Our Scars

It continues to amaze me how scars remain.  Not the physical ones, but the emotional.

While attending a conference I bumped in to someone from my past.  This person was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  As a relatively new teacher I was naive and confided in her about my fears and shortcomings.  I later found she was undermining me and reporting all this to the principal.  While that was many years ago and I had forgotten about many of the details, seeing this person again created an influx of emotions.

It made me think about the scars we leave as teachers.  What things do we say or do that cause students to be scarred?  How do we minimize, or eliminate, those scars?  We need to think about how the small things we say and do affect our students.  I recently tweeted “When you say “it doesn’t matter” – does it really not matter or does it not matter to you? #perspective.”

I have pondered this thought for a while, and my encounter yesterday brought it up again.   Let’s minimize those scars we create!

My Students

Did I read that correctly? Yes, it was one of my students. Well, a former student. At what point do they stop being my student? Is it the day they walked out the door of my sixth grade classroom for the last time? I still see them as sixth graders, even when I see them at a restaurant or store with their own children.

I enjoy seeing them as adults. Facebook has allowed me to peek into their lives and share their joys. I see weddings, births, graduations, and new jobs. I shed tears often. Many of them are tears of joy.

But sometimes they are not. I see their struggles – breakups, divorce, job loss. I feel a sadness that cannot be fully explained when one of my “kids” is hurting. I see their names in police blotters and in news articles. I wonder how I can help them. What could I have done differently?

As a teacher, we have students for a short time – just 180 days. But in that time, a relationship is built. I have 180 days to shape a small part of their lives. And they have shaped mine. I hope that something I did as their teacher has helped them to be a better person.

So I pull out my photo album to look upon the smiling face of that sixth grader. Next to it is written that the best thing about sixth grade was having me for a teacher. It makes me smile, as I shed another tear.

Learning, DENSI Style!

The Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute is an amazing event.  I returned from Burlington, VT, the site of DENSI2013, five days ago, and I am still sorting out my thoughts of all I learned, and catching up on some sleep.  While the planned sessions take place from 8-5, the learning continues all day, and I didn’t want to miss a minute.

My mornings began with the DENSI Fit Club.  I was joined by many educators who wanted to get in some exercise to begin the long days of learning.  My fellow Fitters were the reason I woke up so early.  I am so thankful for Kate, who taught me how to workout with a hula hoop.  Karen, Lea Anne, Kyle, and Steve helped me chart the course for our culminating event, a DENSI Fit Club 5K.

After breakfast, the learning began.  I attended Selena’s session on Evernote and learned all the ways it could be used in a classroom.  Connie and DENnis taught me how to use green screen with an iPad.  Kelly helped us connect to other teachers.  Dave and Dave shared a lot of iPad apps for education and Tim educated us on ways to take and edit photos on an iOS device.  Tracy taught me about Pecha kucha and Dean added to it with Pecha Flickr.  Steve shared just a few of the things he did write about.  I am excited to read the book!  This list could go on.

The evening activities were just as educational.  Working with Kelly, Jake, and Pete, I learned that I didn’t know how to work their GPS system in our DENmazing Race.  And, I might mention, we did finish 3rd.  Porter and Dean had us play music trivia, remembering the awesome songs that represent North America and pulling tv show theme songs from the recesses of my memory.  Hall allowed us to try out his google glass, which was really cool!!

The best part of the DEN Summer Institute is connections I made with other educators from around North America.  It didn’t matter where we were, we continually discussed education and how we can make it better.  Whether hunting Champ, the Lake Monster, milking cows at Shelburne Farms, dancing to “Gangnam Style,” or donning a costume representing our home, student learning was at the center of our conversations.  The educators I met are inspiring, and DENSI allowed me to learn more than I can express in this blog post.

Dean put it best in his closing when he shared five rules.  In this, he told us to be silly and laugh everyday.  This week definitely allowed us to laugh, a lot!  My favorite rule is to show gratitude.  So, I want to end with my thanks.

I am thankful for the opportunity that Discovery Education gave us.  I was able to connect with educators that I have only seen virtually, through blogs, webinars, and tweets.  A really big thanks to my road trip crew, Kelly, Kate, and Judy.  The journey was so much fun.  I cannot say thank you enough times to the Discovery Educator Network team!  Porter, Lance, Steve, Kyle, Jannita, Dean, Chad, and Hall created an event that allowed us to connect and be celebrated for being educators.  I am so grateful for being given the opportunity to learn from these amazing educators.  Thank you to all my new friends!

NCTIES ’13 – Game On!

Conferences allow educators to learn from the experts!  I am excited to attend this year’s North Carolina Technology in Education Conference.  With the theme of “Game On”, I am hoping to learn new ways to engage students and improve student learning.  Stay tuned for all the great things I learn!


I am always looking for new and exciting resources to share with teachers.  Over the past few years, I have created several lists for certain teachers, but I didn’t have a central location for my lists.  SOOO — Today I sat down and began to compile a list of my favorite resources.  Please check out my list on my Technology Resources page.  If you know of other great resources that are your favorites, please let me know.  I enjoy finding new and exciting ones.

“Why School?”

I just read an extended essay (short book), by Will Richardson entitled, “Why School?” that has left me pondering our jobs as educators.  While so much of how teachers are evaluated is linked to antiquated, high-stakes testing, the true value of teachers is not.  We have all suffered through that class.  The one that has a very knowledgeable teacher.  The one that gets the high test scores.  The one that told us the important information, so we too could perform.  This was also the class where we worked on other homework, wrote notes to our friends, and doodled – a lot!  The teacher was going to spoon-feed us the relevant information so we could pass the test and make him (or her) look good!  But what did we learn?  I can tell you very little about the content in these classes, because I didn’t learn.  I absorbed the tested information long enough to pass the test. 

How many of our teachers do the same thing today?  With the stress and importance linked to “passing the test,” how can we blame them?  Where do we go from here?  How to we initiate a change in a system that has been around for so many years?

While I do not have many answers, I do have a few.  I am going to share this book with my colleagues, administrators, and politicians!  Policy changes need to take place, but teachers can institute changes in their classrooms and schools.  As my child will graduate this year, I am thinking about what schools will look like for my grandchildren.  We must stand up and push for change in the way students and teachers are educated and evaluated!

The New School Year

I remember many “first days” throughout my life!  There is an anticipation that comes when school is about to begin.  I have always been excited about the first day of school.  That feeling of putting on brand new clothes, carrying a new lunch box, and a new trapper keeper to help with my organization (we didn’t have bookbags when I was a kid!).  It is a feeling that I wish we could bottle, and reopen in, say, February!

This year holds a different feeling.  While I am still so excited, I am a little anxious.  I have spent the past 16 years anticipating not only my first day, but that of my sons as well.  This year my youngest begins his last, first day of school.  His senior year!  Wow!  While I know he will go on to college and have other beginnings, this is the last one that I will be there to witness.

So whether you are beginning, or beginning to see the end – I hope your new school year is better than you could dream!  I hope you believe in your colleagues, your administration, the parents, but mostly, your students!  They too are looking forward to a new beginning.  They are full of excitement and anxiety, hope and fear.  Remember how you feel on that first morning, take some notes, enjoy each moment, and remember that you only have 180 days to touch these students until they move on to the next grade, or until graduation. 

Good luck to all of you this year and a special wish goes out to the Class of 2013!


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