Tag Archives: Something Positive!

Hopeful to be Adopted Kid-1, RLT -0

In class I was telling my kids that I was weary of finding backpacks, pencils, lunch bags, etc. I expressed myself vehemently. One student raised his hand as I finished my rant. I loudly proclaimed, “I’m not adopting you!” with mock rage. His head dropped in feigned sadness and his seat mate comforted him. “It’s okay.”

I relented and deigned to inquire, “Okay, hon, what was your question?”

“Have you found my water bottle?” I stared at him for a beat. My class burst into laughter as I covered my head and ears with my hands in a gesture of defeat. I didn’t answer him. He won. Today.


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Part of the Ship, Part of the Crew

This was taken on Monday after school for no good reason. I had their older siblings two years ago, and we have a connection. I can tell this duo has a great sense of humor already.

Somehow on the first day of school last Thursday, I spoke to one of them about sprouting wings. During our icebreaker we had a discussion about taking off (standing up), and I told them they could not flap their arms when they took off. That was it. They are in different classes for me, but I see them together after school like two peas in a pod. Meet the Wingmen!


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Hashtag Time

I had a great first day with my new students. When I left school, my tiredness was the kind that let me know I was on the road to a good year. Here are a couple of photos for my first day before and after school.

# Year24Teacher


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Be: A to Z

I wrote this as I was finishing out a tough school year for me. I wanted to say something positive and give them food for thought. This will be an annual tradition on the last day of school.


Amazing and artistic


Courteous, caring, and content

Dreamy, daring, and dressed for success

Engaged and exploring

Friendly, festive, and forgiving

Goal-oriented and generous

Hopeful and honorable




Listening and learning

Marvelous and musical


On time and of good reputation


Quiet when writing

Respectful and reverent

Still and surprised by what life offers

Truthful and trustworthy



Well-mannered and willing to try or help out

Xtra careful with others’ feelings, property, and reputation.



-Mrs. Johnson

May 20, 2018


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Really? (Or I Regain My Joy)

One of my colleagues organized a thank you note writing campaign through our ILA (integrated language arts) department. Students wrote to two teachers. I received notes from some unexpected sources: current students who I am hard on about turning in work on a regular basis, former students who appreciated my humor, former students who recalled my words, and current students who brighten my day. I received my stack of notes during second period and put them into my bag later on. I took them out, sat in my recliner, and cried like a baby after reading some of their words. It was God telling me that my living, my striving to push the students I have, and my speaking the truth about life truly is not in vain. I was in sore need of those good words and sentiments after another long week. My troubled students’ ongoing behavioral and/or academic struggles, the normal toil of grading papers, attending meetings, and preparing for two subjects, and my concern about having my room “perfect” for state testing on Monday and Tuesday drained my energy.

Reading those notes about how I, a little middle school social studies and ILA teacher, affected some young people just blew me away. I had forgotten my prior actions and words. I just did not remember everything. But these children, these lovely, perfect souls, have restored the joy I felt I had lost. I had finally admitted it to myself two days ago and went about with a dark cloud trailing me. I had lost my smile and just felt adrift. Now, my joy is renewed, and my heart is light. I may actually shed a tear on the last day this year. I wasn’t sure that I’d feel like that, but now the bittersweetness of the end of the school year is settling in. Thank you for restoring my joy and reawakening the upbeat vibe I had let go to sleep.


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A Little Respite

I saw a couple of former students this past week. One was at the volleyball game last night. He is now a senior in high school. I marveled at his height and how grown up he looked. He was one of my Footies, a group of boys and one girl who were mad about football (their word for soccer). I kept up with Manchester United, Barcelona, and Real Madrid’s stats that year just to connect with them. I am no soccer expert, but catching their enthusiasm was fun.

I asked Papi to come see me after he finished up some work for math after school. I will be monitoring him as much as possible from my little corner of the world. I miss our daily battles, but now I can treat him with the frank affection reserved for a son (being embarrassing by showing up in his hallway without warning) and no one will be jealously saying, “He’s your favorite!” He was my favorite sixth grader last year; this year he is my favorite seventh grader. Period. Papi had that funny little smile when he saw that I had written my birthday in his planner. A son should always remember his mom’s birthday even if she’s his school mom and just there for a season.


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Setting Up

Before I added words to show that I am in the best of both worlds.

After I finished adding the word welcome in several languages and showing the elements of language arts.


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Remember Why You Are Here

When I was asked to complete a PLC or professional learning community with my academic team, I decided that at this time of the year, encouragement was the item most needed. We all have tests, projects, and new technological tools to try. We have students who break our hearts and challenge us to be better teachers. We are here daily for many different reasons. What are those reasons? They vary as the educator varies. Some work out of necessity. Some teach because it is their passion. Working to bring new ideas and concepts to young people makes their feet hit the floor in a happy dance. Some hope to move on to other aspects of the educational umbrella. Their current assignment is one of the steps in their pathway of life. Some hope to survive until retirement comes. Some teach because it’s all they desire to do. They have joy.

Synonyms for joy include delight or exuberance. Joy comes from within the heart and is not fleeting like happiness. Joy radiates in the face despite a tired smile and body with achy feet. Joy is not a mood but a mindset. I want to focus on why we became teachers. I want us to remember our first love of teaching and reminisce enough to regain a bit of that joy.

I picked up a book from my personal library at school titled Apples & Chalkdust: Inspirational Stories and Encouragement for Teachers. It was published in 1998, the same year my son was born. I was nowhere near a classroom at that point in my life and was perfectly content to stay at home raising my son. When August 1998 rolled around, that internal timer screamed, “It’s time for back to school!” That must explain why I bought the book. Periodically, I’ve stumbled through the pages, but today I was struck by the hope offered. I wanted to share a meaningful vignette from Ms. Caruana’s timely inspirational book.

“Love Your Job”

Ellen knew she wanted to be a teacher since the first grade. She could remember setting her bedroom up like a classroom and making her four siblings be the students.

Her first grade teacher, Mrs. Robinson, loved her students. They in turn loved her and loved to learn. Ellen wanted to instill that same love in others, so she became a teacher.

All agree that teachers don’t get paid enough. You have to be in it for more than money. You have to love to teach.

Ellen always felt on fire when she was teaching. When a lesson clicked, it was an exhilarating feeling.

Once in a while she’d give students a chance to teach the class. They knew the material well enough to make a presentation. Those who volunteered did so out of desire, not out of outside pressure. She could see future teachers among her students. She could see their love for learning.

So when the union couldn’t negotiate a higher raise or the budget was cut again and her materials were meager, she was still happy.

Ellen was doing what she loved, and she did it well.

Remember to teach from your heart, not from duty.

Takeaway: When you do what you love, you do it well, no matter the circumstances.¹

¹Caruana, Vicki. Apples & Chalkdust.Tulsa: Honor Books, 1998. Print.

Discussion Questions to Ponder:

  • Can you pinpoint what motivated you to be on the other side of the desk?
  • Who inspired you to take that step into the classroom?
  • What brings you joy in the classroom?
  • What brings you joy as a teacher?
  • What can you do to bring joy to yourself and others?
  • Why are you here? (Personal reflection)


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Still on Break


This was the scene on my morning walk. The eleven year old tomboy wanted to slide across the ice and yell, “Whee!” at the top of her lungs. The rational, twenty-year teaching veteran said, “Yep, imagine telling that story to my young daredevils about how I managed to crack some bones.” No thanks.

The tomboy says, “Chicken.” My reply is “Ba-kawk!”

There are still days left to measure the remainder of my Christmas and New Year’s holiday break. I have no intention of rushing through these precious, restorative hours, minutes, and seconds and wish away my life. No, I am quite content to maintain my own schedule for chores, meals, and fun. On Thursday, I plan to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens with my husband and son for a New Year’s Eve treat. I anticipate it just like we did when Revenge of the Sith debuted ten years ago. Don’t spoil it for me.


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A Day Away

I often counsel young teachers to take a day for themselves and never follow my own advice. Today I am listening to myself. Although the underlying reason is the imminent delivery of a new refrigerator/freezer unit, the time without a regulated schedule is necessary. Sitting in comfortable, shabby clothes with my hair in the “icky bun” style is just perfect. I ate a leisurely breakfast, drank my coffee, and enjoyed time talking to my high school senior son before he drove off to school. When he returns this afternoon, I hope to show him the new appliance’s bells and whistles. I left enough work for my students to stay occupied, so I have no concerns about them today. They will be in good hands. It’s time for me.


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