Garden Goods

Our School Garden is full of goodness this time of year! How could you NOT want to eat your vegetables with a harvest like this? The colors are vibrant and inviting!


Not ME!!!

So I am the Awards and recognition chairperson for our school. Basically this means I put out nominations for various Teaching and Staff Awards, conduct a vote and announce the winner(s). I also assist teachers and staff in completing their nomination packets. Each year teachers and staff almost duck and cover at this time as they simply don’t want to be recognized.


I have to ask myself why? They do an outstanding job, they go above and beyond. Many of the applications for such awards come with a hefty nomination packet. Written papers reflecting their best Teaching Practices, Video Tapes, Letters of Recommendation, Evidence that they are worthy of such awards.

I get that the application process is lengthy (been there…done that), I know teacher’s plates are overflowing with TONS of other stuff but, I also know deep down we NEED recognition, it certainly does NOT come in the Pay! I hope we get to the point where teachers can stand up and be PROUD for a job well done… Instead of the NOT me mentality!

❤ Michelle


Islands in a Vast Sea

So in a school many people think of the faculty as a unit. I the BEST case scenario that is true. Strong Leadership brings people together. Today feeling like we are each just islands in a big sea. venturing out of our small island oasis (the classroom) when we have to. Otherwise beating to our own drum within our classrooms with our own tribe (the kiddos).

❤ Michelle


Taking ALL Precautions

Nope it is NOT happening here! For the past two school years, this is year three I have been using Essential Oils in my classroom BIG TIME!! I have to tell you I have NOT been sick once. Well it is that time of year that the CRUD is going around again! Last year it was bronchitis, strep throat and pneumonia! These kids are germ factories and since it is SOOOO hard for teachers to miss a day. (Writing lesson plans is a three hour affair… Really!) So even teachers come to school sick. Now it is sinus infections and the flu! I am bringing out all my big guns! Thieves cleaner on the desks, doorknobs, tables. Thieves Spray twice a day in the back of my throat, Thieves hand santizer, and Thieves oil in my diffuser. I REFUSE to get the germies! You can smell me a mile away! I am the teacher who smells like walking cinnamon bark but I prefer that over the one hacking, shivering and sneezing! ❤ Michelle


One Family

So yesterday I was working with a group and the theme of our book was that it doesn’t matter what color, size, shape you are WE (people) are all the same. One no better than another.

As I was drawing this out of my students one boy from Haiti hit the nail on the head! He said, “we are all just human”.  So I asked them to put thier hands on mine. We got this snapshot. When I showed them the picture, one girl FINALLY got it! I asked her what she saw in the picture?  She replied with “hands”. “Ok… whose hands?” She finally came out with “people’s hands, just regular people.” That is it we are all just regular people! Not one any better than another! Success! ❤ Michelle


Looking Up – Eye Spy Challenge

My school is situated on 135 of undeveloped Pinewood Flats. The Pine trees are a focal point of our school. Through observation and study of nature the kids learn more about the world around them.

I wanted to show them the unique perspective that ground animals and birds see when they are looking up at a tree. Perspectives are everything and each person sees things differently. Just cause you “see” something one way does not mean others do. So many lessons spawned from this idea!


“Faking It”

So I start at the beginning of the year with my third graders discussing “Fake Reading”. Needless to say I get them all to admit to doing this! What they don’t usually admit is that they have done it OFTEN… Like for the past 3 years! This is a classic trait of struggling readers! We avoid doing what is most difficult! Kids are the same as adults. If it hurts then, Don’t do it. If I am not good at it, Don’t do it!


SO we talk about this a lot and how this is the year “To kick Fake Reading to the Curb!” Continuing to do something that is not benefiting is what “little kids” do. Third grade is the BIG time!

One of the things I hear most from parents is that they “READ” every night for 30 minutes but they are not improving in school. I always encourage parents to either read WITH their kids or preread the text and discuss it with them after. This is a way to discern whether the child is understanding what they read. I have many “fabulous word callers” but ask them to tell what they read and many are telling me information from cloud nine, left field and planet Xenon all rolled into one. The discussion of the ACTUAL text is CRITICAL! Guiding them back to parts of the book to support their ideas, thinking about the characters, information and tying it to real life are all skills struggling readers tend to lack. Modeling is crucial!

Think reading at home is not important? And remember that is REAL reading.

Think again!


Eyeliner and Gold Teeth

What do these two things have in common? Yep!!! They were both worn to school today by third graders. 8 and 9 year old CHILDREN! (OK admittedly I took out my extra exclamation points)

A “little” girl came to school with blue dyed hair and eye liner! How in the world can we combat the lack of focus on learning when this is the focus of the families? Clearly she did not dye her hair alone…

In reading groups today a boy was hesitant to share his ideas. He kept rolling something around in his mouth. When asked what he had, he replied, “My momma gave me gold teeth.” I did ask him to take them out so we could talk about the book as “the grill” was not allowing him to speak, or speak clearly. As a reading specialist I need to here the students articulate themselves…clearly.

With this I say these are two very struggling kids in a year of mandatory retention. Clearly their focus is NOT on improving their reading. The “BIG GUYS” keep saying teachers are failing children, but I really don’t think they know exactly what teachers are up against on a daily basis…

Where are the days of Lip Smackers and pony tails?



Behind Every Famous Person…

A few years ago Scholastic and the NEA did a series of posters titled, “Behind Every Famous Person is a Fabulous Teacher”. Each poster pictured a famous person with a teacher that influenced them through their educational career. It highlighted the teacher and gave a quick story about the teachers from the words of the “famous” person.


I hung several of them in the hallways and encouraged students to read the snippets. Children could then see that 1. We are REAL people (they don’t get that). 2. They will grow up into adults (they don’t quite get that either). 3. Your dreams push you to where you want to go. 4. Teachers are on YOUR side!

Within a few weeks I heard from kids, “I did not know so and so went to school!” “So and so was a kid?” Which confirmed the fact that kids don’t always make that connection that they too will grow up, and that grown ups were once children. AND they WILL go on to do GREAT things!

These posters encouraged me to recall some of my most influential teachers. Who were those teachers that impacted me the most? One common theme kept popping in my mind as they came up. “Connection”, the more connected I felt to the teacher the more influential they were to me. The more human they were the closer I felt.

So think back to your early days… Who influenced you? Why do you think they caused a change or shift in you? If you are a teacher how do you influence your students. I would love to hear your stories! I like to think “Behind every fabulous person is a fabulous teacher!”

❤ Michelle


Serenity Among Chaos

My school is located on 135 acres of pine forest. Backing up to the pine forest and having this view gives me such peace!

My classroom is a tranquil place for children to focus on improving their most difficult subject -Reading! I don’t use the florescent overhead lights but use small lamps throughout the classroom. (The florescent lights give me migraines and mess with my fibromyalgia) Lucky enough our school was built with big windows that let in plenty of natural light.

I keep my diffuser going most of the time whether it is lavender for calming, peppermint for a pick me up or germ killing oils, my room smells great!

So with dim lights, aromatic smells and small groups my classroom is a place of serenity among chaos. It is not a surprise that the kids love coming to my room for a break from the activity that happens in larger groups.

If you are a teacher, try turning the lights down, (use just one light, use small lamps, or just use natural lighting) and see what a difference it can make in your students! You too may have serenity among chaos!

❤ Michelle