Thursday, February 19, 2015

Love That Boy

Like many other people, I became familiar with this poem because of the book Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. It's a popular fourth grade read. I recently came across it again in another cool book someone sent me called Brown Angels, a neat collection of Walter Dean Myers' poetry paired with turn of the century photographs of black children.

This poem especially speaks to me now because on February 2nd I gave birth to Allen Royce, my own little brown angel, and gosh how do I love that boy!!


Love That Boy by Walter Dean Myers

Love that boy,
like a rabbit loves to run
I said I love that boy
like a rabbit loves to run
Love to call him in the morning
love to call him
"Hey there, son!"

He walk like his Grandpa,
Grins like his Uncle Ben.
I said he walk like his Grandpa,
And grins like his Uncle Ben.
Grins when he’s happy,
When he sad, he grins again.

His mama like to hold him,
Like to feed him cherry pie.
I said his mama like to hold him.
Like to feed him that cherry pie.
She can have him now,
I’ll get him by and by

He got long roads to walk down
Before the setting sun.
I said he got a long, long road to walk down
Before the setting sun.
He’ll be a long stride walker,
And a good man before he done.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

On Mastery

This Ted- Ed talk by Sarah Lewis ( was tweeted out recently. There are some real gems that spoke to me at this point in my teaching career:

- mastery is knowing that it means nothing if you can't do it again and again. 

- mastery is not a commitment to a goal
 but to a constant pursuit.

- mastery is about sacrificing for your craft and not for the sake of crafting your career.

- we thrive when we stay at our own leading edge. 

- success motivates us, but a near win can propel us in an ongoing quest. 

I feel acutely right now the need to stay on "my leading edge". I've had a few near wins that are pushing me to seek that which truly hits the mark.  And having had some moments of actual success, I do know what it feels like to stand back from a lesson or experience and say, "Yes!"  But Ms. Lewis is right. That success was for but a moment. To have mastered something would mean I had accomplished more. 

Lately, I have been making some decisions that I hope are propelled by my interest in mastery and not just success.  I say they are. I think they are. But this talk reminded me to be really sure I am making certain moves for the right reasons. Mastery is a lofty and noble goal. It begs the question: to what end do I try and achieve mastery in any aspect of my teaching? It's certainly not the money or the fame.  I like the approval of my colleagues, but I don't dance for them.  I believe there is only one good answer: my students. I should strive for mastery because it will benefit my students. Simply because they deserve it. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015


I used to play soccer when I was younger - AYSO style, all day at the town soccer field.  My dad was a ref.  My favorite part was buying candy from the snack bar.  I quit in 8th grade because some of the girls were a touch too competitive for my tastes and they kept yelling at me to run.  Which I wasn't good at and didn't want to do.  Our goals were not aligned and there was tension.  So I quit.  I've since decided team sports aren't really my thing anyways and I would have been better at something like tennis or swimming.  Oh well.  Now I have Zumba.

Luckily teaching is my thing and I do have goals that are deeply aligned with the needs of my students and my practice.  Here they are in no particular order.  I have included the ones from last year as well. Our principal has us do this at the beginning of each year.  As I prepare for maternity leave, we are supposed to check in.  I am pleased to say I have remained committed to these goals and to taking steps to improve in each and every one.  Feels like a big step up from that quitting 8th grader I used to be.

2014 - 2015

1)  Assessment:  In math, I want to implement a system of regular assessment to use in designing differentiated lessons.  I plan to use a “show what you know” model for pre and post assessment.  I did this some last year, but not regularly.  I will continue to select activities and problems that allow me to assess during instruction, but find a more systematic way to document the work done by students and to more regularly group and regroup students according to what they need.  

2) Differentiation:  This goal continues from last year, but will focus on math.  I found last year that most of our writing and social studies activities were open ended enough to allow a variety of students to be successful.  Our method of conferencing is improving and I was able to give better feedback, so I will continue working on that.  Using improved assessment I hope to provide a more individualized math experience.  Last year I found a way to discreetly provide students with activities at their level using math folders and I plan to start this earlier.    

3) Essential Questions:  Last year I began a project to determine the essential questions available in each of our units of study.  I am continuing that work, fine tuning the questions, and this year I plan to explicitly present them to students and use them to guide our work.  We are now regularly asking students to reflect either in discussion groups or writing and I would like to use the essential questions during that process to better assess student learning throughout the projects.  


1) Developing a more comprehensive system of portfolio assessment for each child.   I would like to successfully implement student blogs as a logistical tool for doing this.  

2) Improving instructional and assignment differentiation across subjects to reach students at varying levels of remediation, practice, and extension.   This will involve more effectively utilizing the team teaching model and classroom space to organize lessons and activities.  I would also like to be more deliberate in determining which skills students are working on and keeping track of their progression. 

3) Offering more consistent and useful feedback to individual students.  I currently find this task overwhelming and do not have an organized system for giving meaningful commentary after an assignment is completed, beyond verbal compliments and questions.  Again, I am hoping compiling work via the blogs and being able to comment digitally will assist with this task.