Monday, November 30, 2020

Strange Gifts

 Principal ponderings...

I continue to struggle during this time with writer's block.  I have been writing a blog post for almost 10 years every week.  COVID hit and writer's block seemed to settle in.  But I am trying to break out of the hold this block has on me and get back to my writing routine that I know and love.  This week, when I finished reading Poisoned, one of the last lines inspired me to write a little or at least share the line from the story with you and some thoughts about it.

As I was folding laundry and listening to the last chapter of the book, I had to stop and replay this line to hear it a second time:

"...just another of pain's strange gifts.  From sadness, came empathy.  From grief, came compassion.  From anger, came resolve.  From loss, came love.  These are the things that make us get up when we fall.  Try again when we fail.  These are the most valuable jewels."

In the book, Fear and Pain are personified as a brother and sister.  And Pain continually says in the book, "sometimes I help."  I was thinking throughout the book about that idea...sometimes pain is helpful?  And then this line, brought it all together.  

As we finally bring 2020 to an end over the next few weeks, I am going to let this line sink in more.  This year has certainly brought pain, sadness, grief, anger and a lot of loss...on many different levels.  But as a school community, I have witnessed empathy, compassion, resolve, and especially love.  Pain can be helpful if we think of it the way the author spelled it out for us.  

People who are not in education might say that learning has been limited during 2020.  I would argue that I have learned a great deal more this year.  Certainly lessons that I would have never learned if it was just another "normal" school year.  And I am pretty sure that educators, students, and parents have learned these valuable lessons as well this year.

As we enter into the giving season, I am grateful for the strange gifts that we have received together this year.  What other strange gifts will we receive? 

Currently reading:

I enjoyed having some time over the break to actually just sit and read.  Hasn't happened in a while.  Usually I need to schedule some reading time in and then I feel like I should be working on other things instead of reading.  I finished Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly.  Loved her other book Stepsister.  Definitely two female empowerment books!  I have also been enjoying reading Blended by Sharon Draper, the author of Out of My Mind.  And as soon as I finished Poisoned, I jumped into listening to Making Bombs for Hitler.  Also excited to start a new book club this week with female leaders across the country, reading and discussing the book Leading While Female.

Events this week:

Monday - Welcome back, hope you had a relaxing and rejuvenating Thanksgiving Break!

Thursday - CST Meeting @ 8:00am

Friday - Optional Staff Meeting @ 8:00am

Staff Check In:

Feel free to fill out this optional Monday morning staff check-in form.

Check it out:

Interesting collection of stories/tips for remote learning:

And to make you laugh...

Monday, October 26, 2020

We're All In This...

 Principal ponderings...

My brother came across this chalk message on a sidewalk in CA and shared it with the rest of the family.  He said, "obviously the word together washed away but I actually think what's left is a more appropriate encapsulation of the time we are in."

The 'together' part may have washed away, but it was there at one point.  You may feel like the together part has washed away for you, but I promise you it was there and it is still there.  Our minds still automatically fill in that chalk message.  You are not alone.

As we prepare to make another change, and as you are still navigating and adjusting to remote teaching, remember that the together part may not be visible, but it's still there.  We need to support each other.  We need to lift each other up.  We need to remember that everyone is experiencing that same struggles, the same frustrations, the same anxiety.  

I am enjoying co-facilitating a book study with the book Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain.  Our Sunday night discussion focused on the chapter about the anatomy of the brain and some culturally responsive brain rules.  The first one and the most important one is: "The brain seeks to minimize social threats and maximize opportunities to connect with others in community."  And the book went on to say "The brain's two prime directives are to stay safe and be happy."  Ha, wow, did that sentence jump off the page and slap me in the face during this crazy time we are living in?!  But see...we are hard-wired to fill in that chalk message.  We need to fill in the message.  And our brains fill in that message even if we don't want to in the moment.

Heard this beautiful song and thought it was appropriate to include and share with all of you...

Yep, we are all in this...


Currently reading:

I was excited to get a new book in the mail called Just Look Up by Joe Beckman.  A prefect, quick read to inspire me right now...

Events this week:

Tuesday - Prodigy Parent Session 7:00 PM, Hybrid/Remote survey due

Wednesday - Half day, Staff Meeting 12:30-1:00, Liz and Laura in a 504 training @ 1:30, 30 minute eSpark optional PD call @ 2:00, SIMCO Meeting @ 3:00

Thursday - Halloween read alouds by High School Student Council Members, schedule coming

Friday - Halloween read alouds by High School Student Council Members, schedule coming

Staff Check In:

Feel free to fill out this optional Monday morning staff check-in form.

Check it out:

So this might hit a little too close to home, but we all need to be able to laugh about all of this...

And if you have not seen this brilliant kid, take time to listen to his #YouCanBeABCs!!

Thank you Kate for sharing this video tutorial about virtual parent conferences...

Monday, October 19, 2020

Rise Above the Mess

 Principal ponderings...

I recently read the We Are Teachers post titled, "Are Teachers OK? No, and Toxic Positivity Isn't Helping." You may have seen it floating around on social media last week. And there were many points that resonated with me. When the author talked about the phrase "it could be worse," it made me think of one of my favorite books growing up called...Could Be Worse. Yes, one of my Reading Rainbow favorites!

I totally get the idea of toxic positivity.  No one wants to hear that it will all be ok, things could be worse, let's only focus on the positive.  If you know me, then you know that I have tried to be realistic and honest during this pandemic mess.  I have agreed with parents...this is a terrible situation we are in.  I have shared with all of you...there is no good answer, this is hard, and the joy of teaching is getting harder and harder to find each day.  

You have heard from me that we all need to stop saying when we are available and start saying when we are unavailable.  It's ok to be unavailable, to not respond to emails late into the night or super early in the morning.  You already don't make the money you deserve, let's stop working 24/7 and bringing the hourly rate down for yourself more and more.  (At this point, are we actually in the negative with our pay with the hours worked?!). 

Yes, will I still try to share inspirational videos with you about how this job is a calling?  Yep.  But at the end of the actually is a job.  Do your students and families know you care about them even if you closed the laptop and went to bed early instead of commenting late into the night on Seesaw or Google Classroom.  Yep.  Do I wish I could take away the stress and the anxiety and the pressure that educators naturally put on themselves.  Yep.  Does the world know you love teaching even though you might not be able to be in your classroom right now?  I love the end line from the author of the post: "You can care about your kids and love teaching and still leave school when school ends."  

There is no award for working the longest school day.  There is no bonus being given out for fastest email response.  Who am I kidding...there is no bonus.  Period. Ever.  That's pretty much the opposite of positive thinking.  But it is realistic thinking.  I certainly don't mean to bring anyone down.  I feel like as a leader I am learning how to walk a very fine line.  How do I lead people through a pandemic?  How do I support everyone and appreciate all of you while also not sugar coating the situation?  How do I remain transparent about a fairly bleak picture of the school year while also trying to calm anxieties and reassure everyone that we will get through it?

I love my Sirius Radio and the other day I was listening to my 90s on 9.  Hootie and the Blowfish came on with the song "Hold My Hand."  The beginning lines of that song have been on repeat in my head...

"With a little love and some tenderness,

We'll walk above the water,

We'll rise above the mess.

With a little peace and some harmony,

We'll take the world together,

We'll take them by the hand.

'Cause I've got a hand for you..."

I will continue to offer you all love and support, along with a regular dose of reality.  I will continue to remind you about self care while also recognizing that none of us can meditate our way out of this current situation and not answering an email tonight really just means it will need to be answered tomorrow.  

I've got a hand for you, please reach out if you need to grab on.  Please keep sharing the text message memes that show how not fun any of this is.  And I promise to continue to answer you honestly in emails or over the phone when you call me in tears and say you don't think you can do this anymore.  I will give you real talk and not tell you it will get better.  You know that I will do what I can to lighten the load, to relieve the stress, to shield you, to reduce the work, to advocate for you.  

This year is a mess. But we will rise above the mess.  You might not feel that way or see it happening, but it will happen.

We will rise above the mess.

Currently reading:

I started reading the book Blended by Sharon Draper. This is the same author who wrote the amazing book Out of My Mind. This book is about a girl who is the daughter of a biracial couple who end up going through a divorce. The book is about how Isabella deals with divorce and racial identity.

I was excited to get two new books in the mail.  One was a recommendation from a principal friend in Illinois.  It's called Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators.  And it comes with a workbook that should be arriving in the mail this week.  Hoping to be able to share some nuggets from this book with all of you.

Another book that came in the mail is called 180 Days of Self Care for Busy Educators.  I am looking forward to working my way through this book and sharing self care tips with all of you.

Events this week:

Wednesday - Half day, STAR Math and ELA self-directed training, 2:00 Prodigy PD, October birthday books available in the lobby

Friday - Parent survey due for remote vs hybrid decision and transportation plans

Staff Check In:

Feel free to fill out this optional Monday morning staff check-in form.

Check it out: 
A video of Colby Sharp sharing some read aloud titles for upper elementary of you are looking for new read aloud options: 

Monday, October 5, 2020

World Teachers' Day!

 Principal ponderings...

So apparently it is World Teachers' Day today.  I feel like it should be World Teachers' Day every day.  Sorry I can't be in school to appreciate all of you, but I will share this statement that was posted today in honor of all of you.  Here is a snippet from the statement and you can go to the link to read the whole statement.

"In this crisis, teachers have shown, as they have done so often, great leadership and innovation in ensuring that #LearningNeverStops, that no learner is left behind. Around the world, they have worked individually and collectively to find solutions and create new learning environments for their students to allow education to continue. Their role advising on school reopening plans and supporting students with the return to school is just as important.”

Thank you all for the leadership, compassion, dedication, innovation, and love you have shown for all of our students. I appreciate you. And I honor you today and every other day. You are truly difference makers, and our students continue to grow into amazing human beings because of you!

It is also the kick-off day for Global Read Aloud. Sadly, think this is the last year that Pernille Ripp is doing GRA. But if you want to do anything related to it with your students, here is the link:

Happy reading!

Currently reading:

Looks like I will have a lot of time this week to do some reading!  I plan on listening to a book called Kids These Days: A Game Plan for (Re)Connecting with Those we Teach, Lead, and Love.  A recommendation from a friend and seems like a good time to read this one. 

I also have book lined up in my Audible account that a friend recommended, Making Bombs for Hitler.  Will be diving into that one too. 

Events this week:

Monday - World Teachers' Day!

Wednesday - Half day, teacher directed afternoon time

Friday - Parent survey due for remote vs hybrid decision and transportation plans

Staff Check In:

Feel free to fill out this optional Monday morning staff check-in form.

Check it out: 
Here is a cool newsletter I came across:, He shares 3 ideas, 2 quotes and 1 question.
Here is a resource a parent shared with me from the Worcester Public Library:

And to make you laugh...

Monday, September 28, 2020

Office Hours Reinvented

 Principal ponderings...

In the spring, we suddenly had the added schedule item of "office hours."  We tried to make ourselves available for our students and parents.  And now, this year, as we begin the year remote, our "office hours" can at times feel like they are taking over our lives.  I know I have spoken to some of you and you are making calls to parents late at night or you are answering tech questions and brainstorming over the phone throughout the day or you are up early responding to the never ending emails.  During this new way of teaching, our jobs can easily become 24/7.

But that is not sustainable.  That is certainly not an expectation, being available at every hour of the day.  And it has the potential to very quickly burn us all out.  

So I propose a new requirement.  I am calling this new expectation "family hours."  I expect that we all set aside some time each day designated to "family hours."  During this part of our schedule, we cannot answer emails, we cannot call parents, we cannot plan lessons.  This is a time to do something for yourself unrelated to work.  This is a time to spend with your family.  This is a time for you to fill your emotional cup back up.  

I need to be the example.  I need to model "family hours" for all of you.  I recognize that I will have a mental breakdown if I continue to physically leave work, but mentally keep bringing it home with me.  I plan on scheduling this time on my calendar so that I have a visual reminder to focus on self care every single day.  I am thinking I may even add it to my email signature so everyone knows.  I propose that you all do the same thing.  Give yourself the time.  I need you and our students need you this whole year, through the good, the bad and the ugly.  Set some limits.  Do not work 24/7.  Schedule in "family hours."  

You are the best staff around.  I expect the best and want the best.  You don't want or deserve what's left of me.  So I don't want what's left of you.  Time to reinvent our office hours.  Family hours.  Pencil it in.  Schedule it into Google calendar.  Turn off your notifications.  Take care of you.

Currently reading:

I am almost done with the book Roll With It.  There are a lot of topics that it deals with like physical disabilities, poverty, divorce, and the main topic, Alzheimer's.  I didn't realize how close to home this book would hit.  

I am also listening to an interesting book that a friend recommended to me: The BookWoman of Troublesome Creek.  It was inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse Library Service of the 1930s.

Events this week:

Tuesday - Liz G will be a panelist for an MASCD Webinar on Educator Self Care - you can register if you are interested at, School Committee Meeting @ 6:30

Wednesday - Half day of school, Staff meeting @ 12:30, TpT training @ 2:00

Thursday - We made it to October!

Staff Check In:

Feel free to fill out this optional Monday morning staff check-in form.

Check it out:

This was an interesting article that I read in August and meant to share with all of you:

Monday, September 21, 2020

You Don't Need Inspiration

 Principal Ponderings...

I was trying to find something inspirational to kick off my blog posts for the year.  What a year it's going to be.  But after I watched this video clip from another principal in a totally different state, I thought...she is so right.  You all have no idea how inspiring you are.  You might not feel it today or tomorrow or at all.  But I am telling you...You don't need inspiration.  You ARE the inspiration.  

I am blown away with your dedication, your perseverance, and your love for our students.  Is remote teaching fun?  No.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it challenging?  Yes.  Are you exhausted at the end of the day?  Yes.  But are you all giving it your all and rocking it?  Yes!

I will certainly keep trying to inspire you and remind you to take care of yourselves and be a support for all of you.  But for now, stop reading this, sit for a minute, breathe, and really believe that you are inspiring.  Need more convincing?  Watch this video clip...

Currently reading:

I just finished listening to Dear Martin by Nic Stone.  I love this book!  It is certainly not for our young readers, but for those of us who want to keep educating ourselves about racism and racial inequities, this is a good fiction book that mirrors reality.  Looking forward to reading the sequel, Dear Justyce.

I have started the book Roll With It, about a girl in a wheelchair who tells it like it is.  I am enjoying this book, but this week...go figure...I just did not have much energy to keep reading.  Will try to get into it more this week. 

I am also reading Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain.  Kris Dorogi and I are going to be running a book club with this book for the Wachusett Area Social Justice Alliance.  I will be sending out a sign up for educators in the district if you are interested. 

Events this week:

Monday - First full week of remote learning - You Got This!  Take it one day at a time.

Wednesday - Half day, quick 15 minute staff meeting check in at 1:00, Working with Teachers Pay Teachers and it should be available starting today.  I have an optional training set up for the following Wednesday for any teachers that want to learn more. 

Friday - Birthday Book Distribution Day - Liz will be giving out birthday books to the September birthdays!

Staff Check In:

Feel free to fill out this optional Monday morning staff check-in form.

Check it out:

You may have already discovered this teacher's site; she goes by FirstGradeCreative.  What I loved was she has about 15 already created Bitmoji classrooms focused on brain breaks.  Check her site out!

Quick 2 minute listen, mindful message: Busy People...

And this seems about right...

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Hiking a New Trail

Principal ponderings...

We spent the weekend camping out in our backyard in a tent, after being forced to "camp in" in our house for so many weeks.  And then on Monday I decided that we needed to get away.  We need to leave our house, leave our yard, find somewhere else to just be for a little bit.  So we loaded the van up with kids and dogs and snacks and masks.  And we just drove west.  I didn't really have a plan other than to drive and be somewhere else.  We ended up in the Berkshires.  A place that Dave and I used to go to a lot before kids.

I put my husband in charge of directions to find us a trail that was open and allowed dogs.  Most of the drive was great.  Kids were reading and doing wipe off activity books.  Dogs were sleeping in the way back.  I was driving and mentally escaping from our current reality.  And my husband was singing along to the top 100 Beatles countdown on Sirius radio.  Then when it appeared we were getting close to the "trail," the dogs were anxiously peering out the back windows and my kids were thinking we were going on a rollercoaster ride because we were suddenly on a narrow, gravel road that was winding up and up.  And I kept thinking I saw private property signs out of the corner of my eye.  Plus, you know it's never a good sign with when the navigation system on your phone just sort of ends without an X marks the spot or a "you've arrived" notification.  When I finally stopped driving, we were sitting in front an old farmhouse where two Golden Retrievers were in the front yard...or should I say field...staring at us.  I explained to my husband that yes we were sort of on a trail through woods and yes there were dogs there, but I am pretty sure this is someone's property!  So I managed to somehow turn us around while my kids were saying, "I think those dogs are lost and need us to take them home with us."  My thoughts: oh there are some dogs that are lost, but it's not those dogs!  When I asked my husband what destination he typed in, he could not really give me an answer.  So back to the main road we went.

Eventually, we found a trail that was open and that allowed dogs and that was not actually someone's private property!  As a family, dogs and all, we hiked.  We explored an unknown place.  There were signs leading us different ways and each time we came to one, we made a choice to go a certain direction.  It was hot and my knee is still not the best, but it was so nice to be somewhere else exploring.  And of course, while we were hiking, my mind wandered to thoughts of school and the virus and next year.  I keep thinking about how we are all now hiking a new trail.

Only this trail is not like any other.  In fact, it's more like what my Emerson wanted to do.  We were following the path when she came to a spot where it was clear that an animal had maybe ventured off the trail.  Some branches were broken, the grass was slightly matted down, but it was not an extension of the trail we were on.  But that did not stop Emerson from saying..."let's take this trail!" She was ready to dive into the overgrown trees and bushes.  There was no trail marker, no guidance, no visible path.  Yes she was ready to forge ahead into the unknown.

While we did not let our daughter wander off into the wilderness, as I watched that moment when she started to try to venture down her own path, I thought about next year.  We are all standing on the trail that was been mapped out long ago.  But now we are are going to have to step off the familiar, well-worn path.  There will not be trail markers.  There won't be much guidance.  Sometimes there won't really be a visible path at all.  But we won't have the chance to step back and stay on the comfortable path that we have hiked before.

Next year, we will be hiking a new trail.  Actually, we will be creating the trail.  I won't be the one walking in the front cutting down the overgrowth.  And I won't be the one walking behind shouting out directions to 'stop' or 'watch out!'  I will be hiking right along side of you.  We will all need to make suggestions for what the new trail will look like.  We will all need to be looking after each other and shouting out encouragement to each other and words of caution.  I was tired and sore after our family hike.  This new hike, this trail creation is not going to be easy.  It's going to be exhausting.  It's going to feel like we can't do it or we need to turn back.  We won't be able to retrace our steps and go back to that comfortable trail.  You definitely need to take time over the next several months to think about if you can go on this journey with us.  Are you ready for this challenge?  Do you want to venture into the unknown with us?

Yes, this will be hard, but it will also be full of new surprises.  New learning.  New connections.  New opportunities. We can choose to think that we have to change our trail.  Or we can choose to think we get to change our trail.

Are you ready to hike a new trail with me?

Currently reading:
While it took me longer than normal, I finally finished Song for a Whale.  I also finished reading The Benefits of Being an Octopus, such a good book about students and families dealing with living in poverty and the inequities that are present in schools and life.  I am now listening to Untamed by Glennon Doyle on Audible and loving it.
I picked up another graphic novel to quickly work my way through, Nat Enough.  This is a story of a middle schooler who feels like she is never enough.  She is struggling with her best friend, and she is trying to learn about her true self and her natural abilities while focusing on who she is instead of who she is not.
I love that my Mother's Day gift was a new bookshelf.  I promptly began filling it up, still working on the bottom shelf.  Wondering where all those books were before?!  I know where they bags and piles all over my house!  As I put the books on the shelf I rediscovered so many that I either had not read yet or want to reread or recommend to friends and students.  Have you taken a look at your book collection at home?  Maybe there are some old friends you can revisit during this time or some that you forgot to read? 

Staff Shout Outs:
  • A giant shout out to Gayle MacKoul!  Angela Greene shared how much time Gayle devotes to connecting with students virtually each day.  Angela truly supports how much time you have devoted to making sure students feel connected to the class and to the remote learning happening in 4G.
  • A really big shout out to Liz Hilton and Shoshana Green from the 4th grade team!  Here's what they said about you: "Both of these ladies join our weekly grade-level meetings and create tools to support our lessons. They have been a blessing to the fourth grade team during this time. We have learned so much from them about making our lessons accessible to all students."
  • Thank you Julie Rondinelli for sending in a shout out to Kristin Baird. "She received a new student during closure and has done an amazing job welcoming her into her classroom and making her feel apart of the class.  Every meeting I join, Natalia is there and participating."
  • Shout out to Dan Wilde for being willing to listen to our crazy idea for a virtual field day and running with it!  And for collaborating with the other PE teachers.  Thanks for all the work you are putting into the plans.  Can't wait to see pictures and videos of smiling, happy kids!
Check it out:
So our very own Laurie Coe has caught the blogging bug!  I love that she has found writing as a way to share her thoughts before this closure and during.  Check out her blog:

I am actually playing around with the idea of starting a podcast with a few fellow MA principals so I have been researching podcasts, talking to others about podcasts.
Lots of great podcasts out there to listen to...
The Zen Teacher Experience
The TeacherFit Podcast
Punk Rock Classrooms
Teach Better Talk!
And for something unrelated to education (or actually totally related!)....I have not listened to this one but plan to start! How To Fail

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

To Teach or To Tech? That is the Question.

Principal ponderings...

Last year, I shared tech tips throughout the year, even offered some tech tutorials before school on some days.  Fast forward to today, we are stuck at home, trying to teach remotely, and relying on technology to keep us connected.  Now so many of us have had to up our tech game about 1,000%.

I have been compiling some tech tip videos, posts, info to share with all of you.  My advice?  Don't let yourself get overwhelmed.  Pick one thing to learn more about and then be brave and try it out.  And share your learning with your students.  What better way to engage with them than to show them how you are trying, making mistakes, persevering, and learning!

Matt Mille, the author of Ditch That Textbook, has created a free online course called Remote Learning 101.  Click here to register and get all kinds of practical tips, videos, resources, templates and more!

Here's a video with 7 tips for remote teaching from a teacher who is re-learning how to teach like all of you:

Have you ever tried ChatterPix?!  Such a fun way to make pictures or objects talk.  This could be something you could use to share things with your students or it could be something you could introduce to them to try to use and create on their own.

Pocket Full of Primary is a great resource; she's a 4th grade teacher in Maryland.  Here's a video clip where she walks you through creating Google slides to teach with.  You have seen that I use Google slides, it's a great way to present and share with students or colleagues.

And here she is again with several of the best websites and apps for remote learning.  She simply shares these resources.  You can then go and search info videos about the websites or apps she mentions.  I was going to share a separate video about Screencastify which is one she mentions, but you can find lots of video tutorials on it.  She shares links for everyone in the description of her video.

You are all teachers.  And now, thanks to COVID, you are all "tech-ers." Thank you for pushing yourselves out of your comfort zone and trying different ways to connect and teach through technology.

I would love to hear what you have been learning about or trying.  I'd also love to help, so reach out if you want to learn more about something or need some support with anything tech related.

To teach or to tech? That is the question. The answer today is both!  To teach AND to tech.

Currently reading:
I was excited to get a surprise book mail package the other day.  Thanks Caitlin Palazzo for sending me the book Joyful.  It was such a beautiful day on Saturday so I spent lots of time outside.  Definitely enjoyed reading this book in my hammock!

Staff Shout Outs:
  • A big thank you to Deb H and Amy C for helping with data entry as we work to transition from esped to PowerSchool with our IEP documentation.
  • Thank you to Jess Atkins for always willing to help out with projects!
  • Sending a shout out to Lisa Cotting.  She has been persevering and trying new tech tools.  Sometimes she has had challenges, but she doesn't give up and models this for her students.
Check it Out:
Teacher Appreciation Deals -

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

What Will You Remember?

Principal Ponderings...
When this is all over what will you remember?  I know we will remember the weird experience of going to the grocery store wearing a mask, following the direction arrows, and standing 6 feet apart in line.  I know you will remember craving time with friends and family that did not involve logging in on the computer.  I am guessing you will remember sitting through Google Meets and Zoom meetings in your pajama pants. 

But what else will you remember?  Will you remember the small moments that happen?  The ones that in our pre-quarantine life we would have been to busy to notice?

I will remember sitting together as a family for dinner, no electronics, talking and laughing.  And my husband always thanking me for making dinner.  I will also remember when my kids starting thanking me before he had a chance to say it.  (They are learning!)

I will remember snuggling with my daughter at bedtime.  Feeling her bury her head in my neck.  I will especially remember the sensation of her little fingers intertwining with mine, falling asleep while holding on.

I will remember listening to tunes while solving a 1,000 piece puzzle with my husband late into the night.

There are a lot of other moments that I don't want to remember, the ones that made me cry, the ones where I was frustrated with my kids and my husband and myself.  But I am going to really try to hold onto the small moment memories that are getting me through this crazy time.  The time when the whole world hit the pause moment.  Slightly ironic that "pause" was my one word for 2020.

What will you choose to remember?

Currently reading:
I am still working my way through Song for a Whale.  I have about 5 more chapters to go.  Still struggling to find time to sit and read, but I know I need to keep trying to do that.  I miss my reading life before COVID-19. 
I find myself reading a lot more articles and blog posts as opposed to actual books.  And I am surrounded in my house by actual books.  I need to try to schedule a regular reading time into my day because I have bookshelves full of books that I need to read and want to read!

Staff Shout Outs!
Just a reminder that you can use this form to submit staff shout outs.

  • Liz Bercume wanted to give a shout out to Darryl V: Darryl has been a lifeline through this whole process. She has taken initiative and spent hours creating assignments and helping her team. Plus, she is really, really funny.
  • Liz Bercume also wanted to give a shout out to Liz H: Liz H is an actual angel. She is the most kind and positive person. She gives so much of herself and truly has a passion for teaching. Our staff and students are so lucky to have her!
  • Big shout out to Meredith Greco.  Julie R shared that Meredith has been so helpful with researching tech tips/videos and sharing resources with how best to support our students on IEPs.
  • Big shout out to Gayle M, Jess A, Deb H, and Sarah S for being brave and recording themselves reading stories so we could share more read alouds with our families.
  • Big shout out to Lynn Wood for connecting with students and families who are struggling and offering support and assistance.  Families are very appreciative! 

Check it out:

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

All the Feels

Principal Ponderings...

I am upset with myself that my weekly blogging, something I have done for years, came to a screeching halt when schools closed down mid-March.  Each week I kept saying, I am going to write a post.  And then it never happened.  I have had the idea for my comeback post for a while.  Feels.  All the feels. 

The picture posted above is the mural that my talented brother painted this past summer.  It is on display on the side of an oceanfront business.  I love the colors.  I love the texture in it.  I love that this is an image that people saw as they drove down 17th Street towards the beach.  And today, while I am writing and thinking about having "all the feels," this image came to mind.

Before the Governor's announcement today, I have gone through a rollercoaster of emotions.  And then as soon as I heard the words "schools will be closed for the remainder of the year," it felt like the rollercoaster came to a complete stop, one that jerked us all forward and then slammed us back, halting us in our tracks, shaking us, rattling us to the core.  I was driving back from dropping the mail at school, listening to the press conference.  And even though I knew what he was going to say before he said it, as soon as it was out there in the world, I cried.  I drove away from school and I cried.  And then I put on my brave face so that my own children would not see my tears.

All the feels.  Been feeling all of the emotions.  Some days I am feeling anxious.  Some days I feel pumped up and ready to take on this challenge.  Some days I am so sad that I cry into my husband's shoulder.  Some days I am angry that people think we should just go back to business as usual while people are sick and dying in hospitals.  Some days I am worried about my parents and my in-laws.  Some days I am accepting of what is happening.  Some days I feel like I want to quit.  All the feels.  Been feeling all of the emotions.

I think it's ok to experience all of these emotions, to ride the rollercoaster that none of us signed up for.  You have to let yourself feel all the feels.  Recognize the feeling, let yourself experience and then move on.  Sometimes you come to a place on the ride like I did the other night.  I was playing a Disney princess matching game with Emerson while the Disney sing-a-long was on in the background.  Cayce was in the other room reading a book on the phone to his mom.  Dave was giving a remote piano lesson in the music room.  Emerson had just helped me set up the game and told me she wasn't that good at matching games.  And then on the first turn, she found a match! Chip from Beauty and the Beast.  She looked up at me with a look of surprise and joy.  In that moment, I of course teared up, but I was so happy.  In life before COVID 19, this moment might not have happened.  Or if it did, it would not have meant as much I think.  For a little bit, I enjoyed riding the emotional rollercoaster and feeling all the feels.

What feelings will you feel on your rollercoaster ride this week?

Currently Reading:
I don't know about you but my reading life has taken a beating during this pandemic.  I am finding it hard to set time aside to simply read.  So I picked up some graphic novels which I knew would be easy to sit and read in one sitting and get that feeling of completing a book.  I read two this past weekend.  The first was Lunch Lady and League of Librarians.  A very funny book, I can see why kids love this series...the play on words with food items is awesome!  And hopefully we can bring the author, Jarrett Krosoczka, to Mayo next year!
I also enjoyed spending a morning sipping my tea and reading Smile.  As a child who had a lot of dental work, way more than normal, I could appreciate the struggles Raina went through! I am excited to read Guts next.
I was very excited to get a new professional development book in the mail, The Interactive Class.  This book is packed with ways to engage students using technology.  Will be sharing what I learn from it with all of you!
Staff Shout Outs!
Normally I have a section on here where I share all the great things I see happening in our school.  I add pictures and celebrate the amazing things you are all doing in your classrooms.  Clearly that's a little tough to do now.  But we can celebrate each other and lift each other up during this tough time.  Click on this survey to submit a staff shout out.
  • For this week, I wanted to give a shout out to the 5th grade team.  I was on a planning call with them yesterday, right after hearing the news from the Governor.  And they managed to make me laugh so hard that I had tears in my eyes. Which was so needed after tearing up for a whole different reason.
  • I also want to give a shout out to Patty Hurley.  She is always willing to get on the phone with a family, reach out and connect, and let them know we are here to help.  It is comforting to know that she is doing this every day.  
Check it Out:
Here is an article about remote learning and the importance of keeping it simple.
Some of us went to the Get Your Teach On Conference in the fall.  That group is offering ELA lessons online everyday.  Here is the calendar to check it out.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Seuss-inspired Snippets

Principal ponderings...
Since it's Dr. Seuss's birthday, Read Across America Day, Book Fair Week, and Community Reader Day this week....I thought I would simply do a Seuss-inspired post full of motivational quotes:

Currently reading:
I have loved reading The Good Egg and The Bad Seed to classes so I went and bought The Cool Bean.  Will be reading during Wednesday evening's Book Fair event!
Since I was confined to my couch for much of the weekend, I enjoyed diving into Lila and Hadley.  This book is available at the book fair.  It's about a young girl who has to go live with her older sister because her mom has to go to jail.  The girl has a condition where she is gradually going blind.  She meets a dog from a rescue shelter and the two of them were clearly meant to be in each other's lives.  As I was reading more about the author, I discovered an interesting organization that she co-founded called Disability in Kidlit.

Events this week:
** Scholastic Book Fair in the library all week!
Monday - CST Meeting @ 8:00am, SIMCO meeting @ 4:00, English class for adults 5:30-7:30 in the conference room
Tuesday - Fit Club K-2 @ 8am, Liz out of the building all day
Wednesday - Staff Meeting @ 8am, Girls Who Code 3:30 in the purple pod, Scratch/Programming 3:30 in the green pod, Family Evening Event Book Fair/Bedtime Stories w/Principal Garden 4:00-7:00
Thursday - Fit Club K-2 @ 8am, Liz at Curriculum Meeting 7:45-10:00
Friday - CST Meeting 8:00 and 8:30, Community Reader Day! PTA BINGO Night @ 5:30 in the cafeteria

Great things I noticed last week:

  • Thanks to the PTA for a smooth Bagel Breakfast for our families.  Thank you to the teachers that stepped in and helped out with directing traffic and serving food! 
  • Loved seeing kids sneaking a peek into the Book Fair once it was set up.  So many excited kids ready to shop for books this week! 
  • I was invited to a wonderful book tasting at Cotting's Cafe!  Students had a chance to sample different genres and nibble on different books. 

  • I also was invited to visit 5OC while they shared some of their colony projects.  Loved that some students did actual models and some students created virtual colonies using SketchUp. 

Check it out:
I am going to send this resource out to parents, but wanted to share it with all of you as well: