Wednesday, December 28, 2016

No Two Are Alike

"We Are Like a Snowflake, All Different In Our Own Beautiful Way"

Dear Readers,

It was the week before break and I had my 7th grade class seated in front of my computer screen (which was turned around on my desk) because the projector bulb blew. I was sitting at a table in the back, with two students on either side of me.

We were watching A Muppet's Christmas Carol, as we had just finished the play, and I was getting a little bored. (I had just watched this the weekend before for planning purposes.) The basket of "fidget" toys, which included stress balls, was on the bookcase next to me.

While the entire class was looking forward, I took one of the balls and launched it really high into the air so when it fell it would seem like it was coming from the sky. 

Sure enough, when it landed, everyone turned around. However, I was sitting, sipping my peppermint tea with a face that said, "You better turn around and watch the movie." They looked at me kind of stunned for a moment and then turned back around.

I waited a few more minutes (the girls on either side of me were trying not to laugh) and launched another ball into the air. Same as before, everyone turned around to look at me. 

I kept a straight face for a few minutes while they were accusing me of throwing the balls. I finally had to admit defeat when one of the boys said, "The basket is by your feet!"

We took a moment to get some energy out and I tossed balls to each of them. It's not something that I do on a regular basis, allow things to be thrown in my room, but it was a much needed "movement" and building relationships break.


Would everyone feel comfortable doing this in their classroom? Of course not. I am very much a "live in the moment" type of person and love to be a "goofball" with my students. My comfort level of spontaneously throwing balls does not make me a good or bad teacher. It makes me ME. 

Also what makes me ME is my love of projects and painting and getting messy. (I will never forget rolling my "project" cart into a 4th grade classroom and watching the color drain from the teacher's face.) Is this everyone's cup of tea? Absolutely not. Again, it does not have to be.

Prior to break, a group of students and I were discussing what we should do with an empty display case next to our classroom. We were brainstorming about New Year's goals. Then it extended into writing favorite quotes. We thought about possibly making it interactive, but decided that was not possible because our idea would be a safety issue in the hall. My students have AMAZING ideas.

I knew in my head I wanted it to be winter themed. I promised to get some materials over break.

Resolutions, Goals, Words, Drums......Oh MY!

I have been reflecting on that display case all weekend.

#OneWord 2017: My favorite word is believe. It never changes. When thinking about one word for a new year it is difficult for me. It always comes back to believe. I live by my personal mission statement.

(Tip: A resource I would highly recommend for creating your one word with your students is by teacher @RunnerGirl13_1. Marilyn was kind enough to share her lesson plan. You can find it here: #OneWord2017 )

"Play Your Drum"

While thinking about words and New Year and goals, this past week on #tlap I was introduced to a new concept! I learned about a blog @burgessdave wrote and his message of playing your drum. The following stuck out to me:

"The wonderful intersection of something you love doing, you are amazing at, and that makes a powerful impact on the world. I call it your drum." Dave Burgess

(Tip: to read Dave's inspirational post, go to: Play Your Drum

While out and about I had collected materials to create a winter display. I was thinking about......... 
New Year
.....and then snowflakes. 

I went searching and found the perfect quote.

I had my theme. Snowflakes. Here is the current state of my living room as I throw myself into prepping the materials for the display case. (Yes, my students will use this to create the final "product.)

Be Your True Snowflake

I have snow flakes for the students to write on. I am going to give them creative freedom to choose a word, a hashtag, a picture, a quote......anything that represents them and their amazing "uniqueness". 

It can be difficult for students to truly recognize their "drum" or what makes them a "snowflake". They often look at what others offer, but not what they personally offer.

I think the same can be applied to educators. It can be easy to look at how many awards people have won, books they have written, presentations they have given, etc. It can be easy to look at people's strengths and what they bring to their classrooms and think, "I could never do that." Or, "I need to step up my game." Or, "I feel like I have so much to learn." It can be easy to compare ourselves to others and not acknowledge our own strengths and gifts.

One of my strengths as a literacy teacher is teaching writing. I embrace it, love it and live it. I also am pretty knowledgeable about books and have a knack for matching students with texts I think will interest them. 

I have been recognized in different ways, but it doesn't matter to me as much as the recognition I get from my students. My ability to build relationships and make connections is everything to me. 

My classroom is seen as a nurturing, bright, colorful, safe learning environment. Students like to be in my classes, as well as just hang out in there. No award or certificate can ever match that. The feeling of being that safe place.....emotionally, environmentally, a student.

No matter who you are, what grade you teach, or what role you have in education, you are making a difference. You have ideas that other people wish they thought of. You are a person who inspires others. You will never know where your influence stops.  

Choose your one word or play your drum or be a snowflake.

Wishing you all the best in 2017.