I Became a Teacher Because… #SOL18

db4de-slice-of-life_individualAs a brain drainer [ an activity for defocus to refocus!] last week I posed the question:

Why did you become a teacher?

At this point in the school year we all get so overwhelmed with all the tasks being thrown at us. I find it best to start at the beginning when I am feeling overwhelmed. I have been thinking about this question myself. When I first started, why did I become a teacher in the first place.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”

― Simon SinekStart with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

I often turn to this quote when I start to question if I am making a difference.

I loved school growing up. I played school at home. Later I wanted to be the teacher of reading and writing that I did not have when I was in school.

I believe in reading.

I believe it is the gateway to everything else.

The world makes more sense to a reader.

I want to help create lifelong learners – not because it sounds good in an interview, but because I truly believe it with everything I have.

Why did you become a teacher?

My teachers filled out their answers on a bright orange post-it note and they are all hanging proudly on an anchor chart in my office. I find myself wandering over there and rereading them a couple times a day. I continue to support them as a coach. Some days it is reminding them about the few sentences of writing on an orange post it. It can make all the difference.


Archery Friday


My wellness teacher teaches an archery unit to her 8th graders. It is a fantastic and motivating unit for the kids, but also fun for the adults in the building. She always blocks out time for the teachers to shoot.

She is very organized and has an 11 point list of actions for the shooters to follow. Safety is first always.

This morning first hour I was able to shoot a dozen arrows and remember what it feels like. I had to be reminded of the procedure since I hadn’t shot since last year. I am obsessed with bows and arrows though. Archery is an advantage to coaching in a middle school building.

It was the highlight of the morning!


An Idea: Coach Collective #SOL18


At the Fall In Love with Close Reading Workshop yesterday I had a brief conversation about support and the community of instructional coaches with several talented ladies which got me thinking on the almost 5-hour drive home.

The coaching community has been on my mind for a long while. I originally started my blog with the idea of connecting with other coaches. I had a need to connect with other coaches especially in my first year. At the time, I was a TAP Master teacher and although there are many master teachers spread out across the state and country, I had limited interaction with them. It was usually limited to face to face meetings twice a year. I had looked for blogs of other teacher coaches to see how they structured their PD and what connections they made. I had hoped to find a post on field testing at the time too,  but came up empty.

Luckily, there have been people and resources that have come into my circle of influence and I now know about The Art of Coaching, Elena Aguilar, and other coaching organizations.

I currently have a writing community and I have a reading community, but I really don’t have a solid coaching community. I’m wondering if there are coaches out there that would desire to have Coach Collective.

The Coach Collective in my mind works like the writers collective where you work independently but then you get to talk about coaching in between work time, but also could share resources and conversations online.

I am considering making a survey to get people’s thoughts so I can determine a plan to move forward. I will then be contacting some other coaches I have connected with through Twitter.

Here are my initial thoughts:

Is there interest for a Coach Collective?

Do you feel you have enough peer support?

Would you like to have a network of people across the United States to touch base with?

Would you like to have access to a bank of resources shared and created among coaches?

What framework of coaching do you operate from?

Which coaching frameworks are you aware exist?

What is your best coaching tip?

What are the areas of refinement you need to be a better coach?

Lately, I’ve been quietly reflective about my life and what I want to do moving forward in the next five years. At the end of the workshop yesterday Chris Lehmann said a few words that resonated with me. Hearing them jolted me to attention. To paraphrase, he said the work of teaching is hard,  but don’t give up. The kids need us. He had made several references to the less stressful environment to work at Starbucks and just worry about lattes – and only while you are at work.

But that wasn’t who the people are in that room. The educators there were not the people who just want to put in their time and then go home and not think about learning and students. We are the ones who make a difference in kids’ lives and believe in the mission.

Sometimes we need a little help and I think a Coach Collective might be a good step for additional support. Let me know your thoughts!

Storyboarding Exercise

Image result for storyboard

I learned about using the storyboard technique to teach writing from Linda Rief. I tried this technique immediately upon returning from the conference and am always amazed how great it works.

This technique is perfect for reluctant readers and/ or writers.

For Writing:

The first time I used the storyboard I used the prompt Linda Rief shared in her session – What is the silliest thing you have done?

The directions are for all the students to draw pictures in the boxes to tell their story from beginning to end. These are to be quick sketches with minimal or no words! I remind them they are not in art class. They are using the visual to help them tell the stories. After an alloted time (I use a visible timer to keep them and me on track) the students get in groups of 3. The triad then shares the stories one at a time using the storyboard. This solidifies the fact that prewriting is to be used when drafting. During the sharing time, the 2 listening students are allowed to share if there are questions or places where the story doesn’t make sense.  There is usually a lot of laughing during this sharing time. The authors make changes or notes to their drawings. It also allows the authors to do a “verbal draft”.  The next step is for everyone to independently write the story. Since the author has already told the story once, the writing comes much easier and more organized. This process also eliminates the excuse of “I don’t know what to write.”

For Reading:

During the reading of a story take the main events and draw a stick person drawing to capture the action. Use important vocabulary only. This technique is mostly about the drawing.

I have modeled this for students with a read aloud several times. I have done the storyboard during the reading of the book and also after. When I taught third grade I was required to have my students use Star Reader tests. The books we did the storyboard with resulted in 100% of the students getting a 100% on the quiz.



Happy New Year!

Today was the first day back for the new school year. I always think of the first day of school as the new year rather than January 1st. It is a new beginning and a fresh start. January 1st is the time for me to revisit the goals and aspirations I set in August.

The events and situations that I find myself in this year are dramatically different than last. Last year I was new to the corporation and knew no one. This year I had many familiar faces to greet me at the district meeting. Last year no one knew who I was when I walked in the building. This year I have already had meetings with my teachers to discuss the students and curriculum and more are scheduled for tomorrow and the rest of this week! The year is off to a booming start and I prefer it that way! As Thomas the Tank Engine would say: I felt like a very useful engine today.

I have many goals starting my 22nd year of education. Some are small like my own dress code for work to big frameworks I want to implement with my Workshop Wednesdays this year. I want to help my teachers with teaching reading to our middle school students. I want to focus on relationships with teachers and students. I want to write and read more personally and professionally. Rest assured, all these goals are written in a measurable way in my little black book I carry around with me everywhere!

The words I decided in January for 2017 were CREATE and INSPIRE. This is the time of year for me to check in with those words and continue the goals.

One of the best things about today was the laughter! I am blessed to work with some amazing people and I was reminded of that fact many times over today.

It is going to be a great year!