Monthly Archives: July 2012

Getting Your Room Together – Keeping Teacher Happy! :-)

At the time of this blog entry, there are about thirty-two days until the next school year begins for me.  Teachers take a great deal of time to prepare our rooms/environments for learning.  I make my classroom feel like home since I spend so many hours there.  I keep a microwave, mini refrigerator, and rocking chair in my room and use them fairly often.  Here are a few items you may deem necessary for your classroom.

1.  Lamp – this softens the lighting at my workstation and desk and is a design of my own choosing.  I use the environmentally-friendly bulbs as requested.  I call them the “twisty-wait-until-Gabriel-blows-his-horn-to-light” bulbs when I feel impatient.  I turn them off when I’m out of the room for a long period of time.  The kids seem to like the ambiance.

2.  Rocking chair – this is used during reading time with my students during class since I am a language arts teacher; no one but admins and fellow teachers are allowed to sit in the chair since it is of sentimental value to me.  Mama stained it for me to use with my son as an infant; he is now fourteen and entering high school this fall.  I placed a burgundy cushion in the seat that matches my Texas A&M University decor.

3.  Stuffed animals/bric-a-brac – this lends my room a homey air, and I love seeing my different pieces.  It helps me connect with kids since I have a giant dog named Fido, a bouquet of artificial flowers, a replica of a Spanish mission, a baseball, a guitar I don’t play, a rather startling scarecrow who adorns my bookshelf,  and some pompoms among other things.

4.  Microwave/refrigerator/coffee maker – this keeps me fed with a hot lunch during my break, hydrated with cold water or soda, and human in that order of appliance.  My first class of the day knows not to approach if the coffee mug is full.  They must wait until I have at least sipped some of the elixir of life in order to avoid Mama Grizzly’s untimely appearance.

5.  Windbreaker/light jacket – this keeps me from freezing when the air conditioning is too efficient and I am wearing a short-sleeved or sleeveless dress that day.

6.  Houseshoes – these keep my feet warm and comfortable after school when I finally sit down to rest and grade papers or help a student with homework.  I keep a pair of inexpensive flipflops in the warmer season and a pair of fuzzy slippers in the cooler season.

7.  CDs of your favorite music – these help me to energize after school when I am hanging up student work or am cleaning up my whiteboards.  I play classical music from composers like Bach, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Gershwin, etc. for the students during writing time as a reward.  I tell them that I own the radio station in my room, and it plays whatever I want to hear that day.  One of my all-time favorite pieces is “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin. I am a huge U2 fan, but that is for my commute or on my own time.

I am pretty sure that I will add more items as I go along, and yes, you will hear more about Mama Grizzly one day.  Take care, and God bless!


Distant Rumblings

I opened the Sunday paper and found a plethora of advertisements for back-to-school/college dorm supplies at local office supply stores.  There are some great deals for those of us who have learned that you sometimes have to stock your own supply closet.  It’s nice to have a few extra pencils, pens, notebook paper, glue, and colored pencils for the projects and activities done in the classroom.  I have started putting school-related items into my tote bag I carry for work. It has a couple of cute decorations I plan to utilize to personalize my room when I return to work next month.

At times, even I feel a little overwhelmed by the daunting task of educating young people when I consider my own personal preparation of my classroom, working with my teammates/colleagues, getting the learning targets implemented properly into my lesson plans, etc. There is a great deal to consider, and I don’t teach to “have two or three months off” as some would say. I teach because it is my ministry. I am called to do it. Teaching is a part of my life and who I am. In the next blogs, I plan to discuss room preparation and personal preparation as I count down to the first day of school.  Take care, and God bless!


Professional Development Protocol

In my previous blog, I mentioned professional development–non-contract hours and sometimes contract hours spent learning about some new approach to education, whether it be technology, classroom management, curriculum-related, or the like.  I have modified the rules I use in my own classroom to fit professional development protocol.  Consider them gentle suggestions and principles to follow.

1.  Be prompt.  Be on time wherever your class is located.  Determine ahead of time how long it will take to arrive on time or a little early.  Allow time to walk from the parking lot to the main lobby.

2.  Be prepared.  Attend any prerequisites if necessary.  Bring a couple of pens, a highlighter or two, and some paper to take notes on.  I’ve recently started writing my notes in a composition notebook I decorated with some scrapbook paper to make it pretty and unique.  You also want to carry a bottle of water to keep you hydrated and perhaps a lightweight sweater if the air conditioning is too efficient.

3.  Be polite.  Respect the opinions of other participants even if you don’t completely agree with them.  We are all there for the ultimate goal–student success through the improvement of our craft of teaching.  We are in an electronic age, so exercise cell phone etiquette and silence the ringer and alert noises to minimize distraction.  If you must take the call, please quietly excuse yourself, and step out into the hall.

4.  Be positive.  Attend with the willingness to learn something new, review something old, or find yourself somewhere in between.  If you enter snarling, it will spread and cause “snarl-itis,” a horrible disorder of negativity that makes faces appear mean and unfriendly.  Victims of “snarl-itis” spread the bad mood in workshops, on the drive home, and with their families at home.  This means that even more people are walking about snarling instead of saying, “Hello.”  Don’t spread “snarl-itis!”  Give a smile instead.  Your presenter and fellow participants will appreciate it.  Offer to help distribute handouts or fill up a water bottle.  Kindness counts!

[Sidenote—No one expects you to paste a phony smile on your face if you’ve just received some terrible news.  Just take it one step at a time and sometimes one minute at a time to find some kernel of goodness in whatever workshop you attend.  I find I always learn something new that peaks my “little grey cells*” to work even more diligently.]

5.  Be a participant.  This is a principle that I will be adding to my rules this fall.  Take notes, listen actively, and be a part of the discussion.  Even natural introverts have something valuable to say.

*My favorite sleuth is M. Hercule Poirot, a character created by Dame Agatha Christie.  I just love to read his stories and use my mind to unravel the puzzles created. This is one of his expressions that I use with my students and fairly often in my daily life.