March 28, 2019

As we enter the season of Spring we also enter the season of State Testing. Included in this post is a friendly reminder to all stakeholders that you matter so much more than the scores on the tests. Let’s not forget what our focus really is…creating creative thinkers. That is the point of education; to foster caring, creative thinkers instead of supporting cookie cutter learners.

Below is a brief note to each stakeholder to help you refocus on what truly is important in your role. I would first like to address our most important stakeholders, the kids…

Dear Students,

You are more than the score. Standardized State tests are one way to measure your academic progress at school. They are a snapshot picture of where you may be at according to specific tests that measure specific goals. They are not summative of what you know, how smart you really are, or your character. The tests do not measure your compassion, your work ethic, your creativity or your leadership skills. Of course you want to...

November 24, 2018

What is your why? Why are you an educator? If I could take a wild guess I will assume your answer deals directly with wanting to help kids and believing in a positive future. Over the last two years I have interviewed hundreds of teachers, administrators, and policy makers. I wanted to get to the bottom of some of our discord in schools. I asked many questions about challenges and successes. My favorite question I asked is: What is your why? Guess what every single one of participants responses was…. the kids. Students were at the core of each why. No matter what their role in education was, everyone answered that question basically with the same answer.

If we are all on the same mission, why do we have so much flame throwing in the field? Teachers blame problems in the classroom on lack of support from administration. Administration blames lack of autonomy on policy makers. Policy makers blame lack of academic growth on teachers and administrators not following processes. The truth is...

November 1, 2018

There were many ignitors that fanned my flames of burnout while I was a classroom teacher, but if I were to pick the greatest source of fuel to my fire it would be my lack of self-care while I was teaching. Taking care of everyone else’s needs before my own was like pouring gasoline on an already growing flame. When working in a high-stress job such as teaching, guilt about taking care of YOU should not be something that you add to your already full plate. Self-care is not selfish. You absolutely cannot serve effectively as a teacher if you are not prioritizing taking care of yourself along with meeting the needs of your students and family.  

Self-care is hugely important for any teacher. But because it is so near and dear to my heart and own personal experience (and because there are so many of you out there), I want to take a moment to talk specifically to you, Teacher Mama….

Mamas…I see you. I see you taking care of other people’s children. I see you missing the first day of school f...

August 28, 2018

Dear Principal, 

First things first…thank you for all that you do! Your job is hard. You wear many hats and determine much of the building climate by the type of leadership role you choose to take. You are a decider in which course the ship will sail. You are often overworked and under thanked. While you may continually look for new ways to build up your team…who is the one helping to build up you? Being an effective, fair, and positive leader is a humongous undertaking, but it is what your job requires.

For the last six months I have been asking your teachers what they need from YOU. I have engaged with Ts through focus groups, twitter chats, private message boards, and PD sessions. Through their responses I found 10 common themes of what they want from you. Below are 10 factors that teachers believe make good leaders. Can you check off most from the list? Do you have areas left for growth?

1.       Good principals take care of themselves. Often leadership posit...

July 29, 2018

Dear Teacher,

Summer is almost over and back to school is nipping at our heals. I am both excited and nervous to send my babies back. If I am being totally honest…I’m excited because I’m exhausted. I am out of tricks. We have done all the things. We are even tired of the pool. I am GRATEFUL for this time home with my kiddos but being home 24/7 with four young kids requires a different type of energy that needs to come in a bottle (and it’s not in a wine bottle, believe me…I’ve looked).

The reason I’m writing you, Teacher, is because of the nervous part. Every year I get a little pit in my stomach of nervousness for my most precious gifts. I worry they won’t make friends. I worry they will make the wrong kind of friends. I worry they will have people be unkind to them. I worry they will be unkind to people. I worry I haven’t done enough to get them ready (summer reading was a little lacking at my house). I worry they won’t like school.  I worry. I worry. I worry. So instead of all of this...

October 9, 2017

Recently, I have been participating in an awesome book study group for “The Innovator’s Mindset” by George Couros. The IMMOOC community is stretching me to think about education in different ways and has reassured me that there are so many influential educators who are looking for something more for our kids! I highly recommend that ALL educators and adminstrators read George’s book. I can feel the pendulum starting to swing with current trends in education and this book is the force we have been waiting for. We must move to get things moving! We must do better.

For week 2 we were offered the challenge of designing our ideal or dream school. I LOVE this challenge. Dreaming and imagining are two things I am good at. When I began brainstorming for what I would want at my DREAM school I realized it all boiled down to building joy in three main groups: Happy Teachers, Happy Kids, Happy Parents.

My Dream School

1. Happy Teachers. Duh, right? At my Dream School the teachers are happy. They...

August 4, 2017

OMG. I love Bobby P (Officially known as Robert Pianta and one of the creators of The Classroom Assessment Scoring System). The Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) is a research based tool that measures teacher-child interactions in Pre-K through 12 classrooms and settings that serve infants and toddlers. I may be one of the biggest cheerleaders of this tool in town! The reason for all of this rah rah cheer is that I believe if I would have had this professional development tool used in my classroom while I was a classroom teacher it would have impacted my teaching implementations and therefore effected my students’ learning outcomes.

I taught kindergarten for eight years. I received at least one observation/year by an administrator. The observations I received provided minimal feedback or ways to grow as an educator. Basically, my principal or vice principal would walk into my classroom with a checklist or rubric developed by the district. We would then (sometimes) discuss the...

July 27, 2017

Back to school is quickly approaching. I have seen many blogs, articles, pins on Pinterest, and Instagram posts with suggestions on must do behavior management strategies for the first month of school. Yes! Behavior management is a key part of having a successful school year. It is the backbone of your classroom. Without this backbone, your entire school year would fall apart. BUT before we start focusing only on behavior management implementation we need to talk about what is going to help you become a successful teacher in the classroom-developing authentic and genuine relationships with your students. If behavior management is the backbone of your classroom then relationships are the heart. You MUST MUST MUST dedicate time to developing authentic and genuine relationships with your students. Below are 5 easy ways to help build positive interactions that you may want to start with on day 1.

1. Home visits and phone calls

Before school begins or during the first month I would highly su...

November 16, 2016

You down with DAP? (Yeah you know me.) You down with DAP? (Yeah you know me.) Who’s down with DAP? (Everybody at NAEYC.) Who knew that Naughty by Nature lyrics could help accurately sum up my experience at the 2016 NAEYC Conference?!  Do you think Naughty by Nature know that DAP stands for Developmentally Appropriate Practices? Probably.

This was my first time as an attendee at an NAEYC conference.  I am no longer a classroom teacher but I still work in the field of education as a program evaluator at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  I was pleasantly surprised that there were so many quality sessions at the NAEYC 2016 conference that applied to my current role in education.  In fact, there were so many sessions I wanted to attend that I had a hard time finding space in my daily itinerary.  I would like to highlight and share some of my big take aways from the conference and highly encourage ALL that work in the field of early childhood education to attend this conference at s...

May 11, 2016

Many of you may have seen the popular anchor chart that is trending now on teaching sites in the land of social media.  It says something along these lines…When is it okay to INTERRUPT my teaching? The chart shows rebus pictures of: aliens invading, a tornado, a fire, and then a variation of either Ryan Gosling, Peyton Manning, President Obama, or Justin Timberlake entering the classroom. It is meant to be a funny way to prevent students from interrupting the teacher while he/she is teaching.  Thousands of educators are going gaga over this anchor chart. They find it hilarious. “I can’t wait to make this for next school year!” “I so need this with my group this year.”  “Maybe I should post this chart outside of my classroom and shut the door!” The popularity of the chart not only scares me but makes me feel angry as both a mom and a teacher. 


Here is my main beef with using this type of anchor’s insensitive. It’s also sarcastic. Young children don't...

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