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Slow Start

I HAVE FOUR MORE DAYS OF SUMMER

Yep. Four more days. What a Summer it has been. We have had some serious changes this Summer in my family, some super sad and some exciting. It always seems to happen that way that the Summer is so seldom a slow burn. I can’t decide which way I like more. But I am ready to head back.

The crazyiness will begin soon, as I step into a new school. After my babies left for High School I’ve decided to take the leap and start a new adventure. As sad as I am to say goodbye to my old school, I am really excited to get my hands into a new place, new population, and forge new friendships. I get so much inspiration from the people around me, sometimes I think they get fatigued from my harassment! So now it’s time to give someone else a turn.

To prep for returning, I started reading The Balanced Teacher Path which has really helped me get into the mood to set my mind right, and remember to support the teachers on my hallway. It’s such an easy read, contains personal stories, and suggestions for the classroom and home. I seriously recommend it, and think it would be an amazing all-school read.

I also got to spend today in training with all of the secondary counseling peeps in VB. It was tough to wake up early, but it was so perfect to get me reignited and ready for the year. I am itching to get in, take care of scheduling conflicts, and get the year rolling. It feels so good to be in a profession that excites me enough to get my tail out of yoga pants and into business.

Student Transitions

I have had the most exceptional, fun, laid-back, good kids for the last three years. I cannot even begin to imagine what work will be like after this year as I tearfully drag my feet and throw a fit the size of adolescent attitude move forward and usher in a new group. We rotate at my Middle School, so I will also be back with the littles. It takes adjustment, but it is really exciting to meet a whole new group and start the puzzle all over again.

The 6th graders are so crazy different from 8th graders. It is hard for me to remember my students being those little minis only a couple of years ago. A handful of them cried at the mere expanse of the school, some of those quiet mouths have blossomed, and others walk taller every day. I have also had plenty of time to think about things that may have helped them transition to Middle School and be more successful while there.

One of the things that I would love to know in advance is who will be my frequent fliers from the beginning. How can I help them? I look at plenty of data to get ideas, but who can I keep from flying under the radar for a year causing me to lose essential support time. So I got an idea to send some SOS packets to Elementary counselors. They know them best, they have lived with them for the last 5 years and they have all the dish I need to know who to approach and how. Imagine the time saved in rapport building to already have an in!

I gave each of our feeder schools’ counselors a couple of SOS envelopes, and asked them to write their frequent flyer students a letter that might help them when the hormones hit the fan in Middle School. I can pull them out and have a link for the kid to an easier, more familiar time. I also included some CLMS swag so that they can give some away and also have Middle School stuff around their offices. I figured this might subliminally add some face-time for us.

When I’m not wagging my finger speaking with my 8th graders, I start to imagine students in 5th grade and what they are doing. They have no idea how different their life will be, and I can’t wait to see another group grow and experience.

Curiosity Does Not Kill the Career?

I attended a really great local literacy conference and was delighted to get to hear Harvey "Smokey" Daniels speak. He was a-ma-zing and super inspiring. I promptly bought his book, The Curious Classroom and can already recommend it. It's so good and so applicable to all kinds of subjects and grade levels.

And it really got me thinking about curiosity and signs of content engagement, that maybe go beyond just the student.

We all hear grumbles and gripes from even our favorite colleagues. As I thought about curiosity, and how to model curiosity for students, I started to realize that this is a quality that I've seen less and less of in my disenchanted peers. I'm wondering if this might be the key to helping our burnt-out brethren get back on the energy train.

My favorite and most loved teachers definitely still have that curious streak about them. They get excited about everything, they are constantly looking around and observing, they ask question after question and can't wait to figure things out. They are not only curious, they are active learners in their own lives. They are engaged in education and engaged with their students every day.

I'm throwing the idea around of doing some professional learning about this. How can we get those down-trodden educators to tap into their lost source of curiosity? How can we remind them how good it feels to be obsessed with something and not get enough of it? How can we re-engage them with the petri dishes that we show up to everyday to remember how fascinating human development and neural connections are?

How My Principal Made Me Socially Awkward

@SteffSchoolCoun is where it all started.

When I am speaking with you in line or while we are drinking coffee (even though I do not like coffee), I just might have a compulsion to tweet things like: Cereal is my favorite food and Serial is my favorite podcast. Weird.

And I am sorry for that.  But it’s my principal’s fault.

I do try to keep my Twitter feed content school-related, but if it’s the night of a Project Runway finale, or I spot some poorly-timed irony around me I may need to scratch that itch while we are supposed to be working on a worksheet’s formatting or planning a meeting, and tweet that tweet.

And I am sorry for that.  But it’s my principal’s fault.

During in-service week, we were encouraged to start a Twitter account in order to share photos, events, ideas, etc. of things we are doing in our schools and in our career. As you can imagine, there were many, many scowls received in the cafeteria that day.  I would venture to say that Twitter received at least 30 new accounts that have been inactive since that very day.  Really, I was nervous myself.  I can hardly keep up with Facebook and Pinterest, let alone this new-fango-young people social media.

But as I was instructed, I created an account a posted a few things. I’m not really sure if “posted” is the right terminology, because that’s how dorky I still am with this tool. Either way, very quickly, I was hooked. I love the small post format- I clearly like talking, so this has helped me communicate in a less dramatized fashion. I also like the networking aspect. I have followed, been followed by, joined chats, been retweeted and commented by people in the school-system and education community I would have never crossed paths with had it not been suggested that I join Twitter.

But I am learning (as I do often) that I am needing to listen to my own advice for students and my own kids regarding technology, respect, and finding a balance of not letting these great tools take over, while still being brave enough to completely submerge into them for professional development and personal growth.  They do offer a lot, but I am learning how to not be socially awkward as a result.

I am so glad I was twittered!