Sunday, August 20, 2017

Collaboration: Analysis, Perspective, Celebration

Lucy & Miley

Dear Readers,

I am fortunate to be staying at a friend's house to watch their two precious pups while they are on their family vacation. Lucy, a sixth month old chocolate lab, happens to live next door to her sister, Miley. They truly are best friends. 


They play together, cause mischief together and just make me laugh out loud. I was watching them the other day as a ball fell into the pool. It reminded me of teams.

1. Analyzing the Situation: What Should We Do?

So many times we see a problem and want to jump in and solve it as quickly as possible. When we see that ball floating in the pool, sometimes it's better to sit back and patiently consider our options. Do we jump in after it? Do we wait for it to come to us? Do we walk away and forget it? It helps to look at the big picture when faced with decisions we must make. It can also be easy to make a decision without consulting others. A true collaborator sits beside his/her teammate(s) and waits. They approach the problem together. 

2. Change Your Perspective: Do We Need to Look at this From a Different Angle?

Sometimes it helps to look at different perspectives. Perhaps someone sees something that we do not. Looking at a problem from a different angle can provide many possibilities and opportunities! It doesn't mean we jump in just yet, we still patiently consider the options. If I look through a different lens can I see the solution coming closer? How do I communicate to my team that I see an answer to the problem? How do I gain trust and respect so my team will share in my discovery with me?

3. Come Together: Problem Solve as a Team and Share in the Celebration


When we have a plan, it is important to implement it as a team. Considering all the options, what would make the most sense? How can we all benefit? Does it propel us toward our vision, mission, goals, etc? Sometimes we have to listen, process and consider taking someone else's idea because it is the best one. One of the most important stages of the journey is celebrating! Celebrate small and big successes!

May you all have amazing collaborative teams to go back to this year!

Teresa (Lucy & Miley)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

I Was Never Told.........

"Well behaved Women Seldom Make History." ~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Dear Readers,

Yesterday I visited the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY. It was an incredibly powerful and moving experience that I have been reflecting on today.

These are just a few of the incredible women I found myself surrounded by.

From there, I went to Elizabeth Cady Stanton's home. 

After that, I went to the Wesleyan Church where the first demands for Women's Rights was held. It was a powerful experience to be in that room where so many gathered so long ago.

The Declaration of Sentiments was etched into a never ending waterfall outside.

One of my favorite moments was visiting the statue of the "chance encounter" between Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

I was able to see the newspaper when Susan B. Anthony was arrested in Rochester, NY for trying to vote.

I have been reflecting today on my experience. 

I was never told:
  • I had to get married.
  • I could not get divorced.
  • I could not own property.
  • I could not go to college.
  • I could not vote.
  • I could not be a lawyer.....a doctor......a astronaut......
  • I had to wear certain clothing.
  • I could not wear make-up.
  • I could not join the military.
  • I could not practice the religion of my choice.
  • I could not learn to read.....write.....speak.......
  • I could not be a nurse......a journalist......a politician.

This was a powerful display at the visitor center that caused me to stop and reflect.

I was never told:
  • I could not play with dolls.
  • I could not play with trucks.
  • I could not like pink.
  • I could not like blue.
  • I could not play with Barbies.
  • I could not play with action figures.

This display in a local store also moved me.

I was never told:
  • You cannot marry a man if that is who you love.
  • "I could not find an appropriate card for you and your husband to be."
  • People close to me would be victims of violence and prejudice based on who they love.
  • How lucky I was to be born into the "right body" and feel comfortable in my own skin.
  • That people close to me would be told they would not make "good parents" because of who they chose to spend their lives with.
  • People I love and care about would be judged because of who they love. 
  • I would be scared for people I love and care about. 

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." ~ Mya Angelou

"The best protection any woman can courage." ~ Elizabeth Cady Stanton


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

#LEADLAP Blog Challenge: 5 Commitments

I Commit To....

Dear Readers,

As I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, I stopped at a tweet by @burgess_shelley. 

I decided to take the challenge! I am looking at what I can implement as a classroom leader. I am committing to:

1. Dong the "Top Three" Activity: Making connections and building relationships is the heart of my classroom. I am always looking for new ways for students and I to get to know each other. I love the idea of using the "Top Three" activity throughout the year using ideas such as movies, books, characters, sports, music, games, etc. 
  • Example: Ms. Gross' Top Three Movies (The King's Speech, The Impossible, Eat Pray Love) Common Theme: Our Journey, Perseverance 
2. Using Social Media: I am always looking for ways to tell our classroom story. Last year, I created a classroom Twitter page. My students really enjoyed getting to know people around the world. However, I never really found my momentum with it. This year, I would like to utilize it more for the students to tell our story. I also would like to expand it to all my classes. 

3. Story Telling: People connect through stories. I frequently use stories to building relationships or to complement my instruction. Last year I attempted to implement daily writing for the first 5 minutes of class. Students were supposed to write about something that happened in their lives. I want to be more cognizant of sharing our stories and building our writing lives together.

4. Rest like a PIRATE: Middle school students have so much going on in their lives developmentally, socially, academically, etc. They are going through so many changes at lightening speed. In conversations I have had with them in the past, I have found very few of them actually take time for themselves to rest, relax and recharge. This year I would like to make a more conscious effort to not only talk about what stresses them out, but how to handle that stress and take time to rest. We have to give students skills and strategies to handle "life" as well as academics.

5. ANCHOR Conversations: The ANCHORS are probably my favorite take-away from the book. I have been implementing them for a couple of years now. However, I have thought about new ways to incorporate them into our classroom. Last year, I started allowing students to teach the class. I would like to continue that practice heading into this year. After students taught, I asked the rest of the class to write ANCHORS to them telling them what they did well. Here are a few initial thoughts:
  • A=Appreciation (we have been using these on a regular basis)
  • N=Notice (student teachers, group work)
  • C=Collaborative Discussions (prompts for working together)
  • H=Honor Voice and Choice (class, group, partner decisions)
  • O=Offer Support (peer and teacher conferencing)
  • R=Reflection (this is my professional goal for the year)
My plan is to make an anchor chart of the ANCHORS and integrate them into our classroom routines and instruction.

Final Thoughts:

I highly recommend this book to anyone who considers themselves a leader whether in a district, building or classroom. Shelley and Beth are transparent and authentic. They share their journey with you.....the highs and lows.....the ups and downs.....the triumphs and learning. They sincerely look at leadership in an innovative way. Thank you both for sharing your journey with us!


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

An Ocean of Possibilities

Live, Laugh, Love

Dear Readers,

I have always loved being by water. Whether it be an ocean, a lake or just the Erie Canal, there is something calming about it. I recently had the opportunity to spend some time in St. Augustine with a dear PLN member and friend, Valerie. I thank her from the bottom of my heart for an amazing weekend filled with laughter, friendship and fun. 

I love words. I also love alliteration. One of my favorite phrases is "Live, Laugh, Love". It is a reminder that we cannot change the past, we do not know what the future holds, but today is a present, a gift that we must embrace and live to the fullest.


Sitting on the beach, feeling the soft breeze and the warmth of the sun, while listening to the crash of the waves was amazing. I was truly living in the moment. I was not thinking about anything, but how wonderful it felt to be on the beach at that particular moment in time.

We must live the life we are meant to live. Regardless of what others think or say. As I sat here in paradise it made me reflect on my life. I may not have always made the choices or gone down the "traditional" path as others, but I own my choices and am happier today because of them.

I have been told I am quirky and beat to my own drum and I am proud of that. I embrace my uniqueness and independence. While it may not be for others, it is for me. Walking on the beach made me think of life. I can take the same path to the ocean each time of I can choose a different one. Each wave comes in at a different height and speed. Sometimes the tide is in or out. 

Life is like the ocean, sometimes it is calm and other times it is rough. Some days it is predictable and other times it is not. I have learned to embrace both the good and the bad, the positive and negative, the highs and lows.


Valerie was kind enough to purchase an umbrella and chairs for our excursions to the beach. One of the funniest moments was when we tried to figure out how to comfortably sit in chairs made with cloth. We laughed hysterically as we kept getting folded up in the chairs until we figured out we had to open them just the right amount so when we sat, they did not fold up completely.

I have often been told my laugh is loud and contagious. In fact, sometimes people laugh at my laugh and not the story that caused it. My students frequently start laughing just because I am, they are not even sure what they are laughing about!

Sometimes we just need to let loose and laugh. Just be ourselves and have fun. The picture above is not one I would normally post, however when I took it I felt so carefree. No make-up, completely natural curls, a hat (which I never wear) and a sincere smile. In fact when I texted it to a few people the first thing they said was, "You look so happy."

We have to remember to laugh, a lot. It not only makes us feel good, but those around us as well. 


Love can mean so many different things to different people. Who defines what love is? We do! It does not have to be the same from person to person. The important thing is to love and embrace life itself and all that it entails.

Love is a happy place.

I adored being in the middle of a large space just sitting in the water, listening to the waves around me. I loved looking out at the openness of the ocean and seeing nothing. It was like looking at endless possibilities. I loved being in this moment.

Love is coffee in the morning with an incredible view.

I never, ever get tired of looking at the ocean whether I am on the beach or inside. I thoroughly enjoyed my morning coffee while looking out on this gorgeous view. 

Love is spending time with friends and pets.

While in Florida I was able to meet long time PLN member and friend Sean and his dog Pete. I was even luckier when we went for a walk, all four of us. 

May you all live life to the fullest, laugh until your side hurts and love with all your heart.