About Me

I am a second-career teacher. In my other life, I crunched numbers as an accountant. Probably would have made a great math teacher had the thought occurred to me. No matter, I'm where I'm supposed to be; teaching third grade. Before that, 2nd grade and before that kindergarten. I have 2 grown daughters, 2 poodles, and 1 hubby. I live and work on Long Island.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

With Gratitude

Thank you for…

The opportunity to allow me to spread my wings

The kindness of writers who notice and connect

The hosts who foster this experience and make possible something that for me would not have ever been

The inspiring words, creative ideas, heartfelt

Slices of Life
March 2015



Monday, March 30, 2015

Ralph and Leo

Leo
Ralph


Like children
Or rather
One like a child
The other a grumpy old man

Lovable
In different ways
Leo nuzzles
Ralph cuddles

But never with each other
Leo wants to play
But Ralph wants no part of his baby brother

Side by side
They tolerate each other

The one thing they share

Is how much they love their humans.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Down the Toilet

I went to see “Skylight” with Carrie Mulligan and Bill Nighy on Broadway yesterday. I highly recommend you catch it if you have the chance.

But it isn’t the play that I’m thinking about right now. It’s the theater and the frustrating business of needing to pee.

Any woman worth her weight in salt has felt the inequity of how long we must wait in line for the loo while the men breezily walk in and out of their assigned areas with nary a moment’s delay in taking a leak.

Entertainingly, the women’s bathrooms in many old theaters on Broadway were built purposely smaller than the men’s. Hugh Hardy, an architect figured out the reason why. Back in the day of corsets and bustles, women simply couldn’t use the powder room and be in their seats in time for the performance. There was simply too much to undo. So they remained in their seats in all probability quite undone. I wonder if they suffered from bladder infections and UTIs?

The cause of my annoyance in the theater yesterday was that while the men’s facilities were mostly underutilized and the line for the can was a 15 minute wait for us gals, I decided to use the men’s room. Another woman of a certain age kept watch while I heeded nature’s call. Well! The backlash of our fellow comrades was quite a surprise. Amid the clucking of their dismay, one lady declared that perhaps it would be ok “to do such a thing at a Wednesday matinee, but my goodness never on a Saturday!” Ha! If I wasn’t so outraged at her lack of feminine solidarity, I may have even chuckled.


I wonder if in my lifetime, I will experience co-ed toilets? You must think it would solve the problem of the exceedingly longer lines for us women, no?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Pretty girl in pink

A father and daughter boarded my train headed for home. They sat in front, she with headphones in her ears and an iPod in her hand. Wearing a pink jacket and carrying a pink backpack, her hair was plaited in one long side braid with a pink headband on top. Her eyes, large and brown looked around the train, distant. The dad dressed smartly in beige. The girl sang, not words but throaty guttural tones. She rocked from side to side. Turning her head, she looked at me. I smiled and she returned mine, still humming. Dad opened his eyes, briefly. "Shhhh," he cautioned. Closing his eyes, he went back to his nap.

Still she hummed, quieted now.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Children Forgive

Today I make amends. I call them to the meeting area. I tell them I’m sorry for making things ugly in our classroom these last few days. I ask if they’ve noticed. They politely and somewhat reluctantly say “Yeah, kind of.” I explain that an apology should never have a but attached to it and so I won’t say but. I explain that I feel sorry for taking out my stress and frustration on them. I tell them that I know they always do their best and I am so grateful for that. I promise to do better and give my best to them.

I ask their forgiveness and they overwhelmingly give it.


The beauty of teaching…..

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I'm Ugly, Ugly, Ugly!

Lately, in my classroom I feel like Marcia Brady. But it’s not braces making me ugly….it’s the NYS ELA and Math assessments that are looming over me like a ghost haunting my dreams or the braces that took over Marcia’s self esteem.

I know the state tests are way above grade level expectations. I know that I’ve done my best to prepare them. I know that they are working as hard as they can and they are only 8 freakin’ years old. I know that the tests are NOT a true reflection of what I’ve taught them. I know that I don’t believe in these tests as any worthwhile measure of anything they’ve learned.

But yet, I am frustrated beyond belief. I can’t believe they are not restating the question when they answer it. I can’t believe that they don’t GET IT. Don’t they realize what is at stake here?

Of course they don’t and why should they?
There is so much wrong with our system that it’s completely irrational that I feel this way, yet I DO.

I’ve mostly taught primary grades and this is only my second year in a “testing grade.” Teaching to the test is making me an ugly teacher.

I want to be a beautiful teacher in the faces of my students who are finally grasping math concepts. I want to be beautiful in the eyes that light up when they are acknowledged for thinking something smart. I want to be beautiful when they know that they are doing their very best and that their best is awesome.


But I’m not. I’m ugly, ugly, ugly.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ten Entertaining Things About Me


This is an offshoot of others’ slices….

1.  I sing along with the radio and if I don’t know the lyrics, I fake it.
2.  When my sister was a newborn at 5 years old, I climbed into her crib and bit her finger.
3.  When there are no distractions, I can swim for hours doing laps in my backyard pool.
4.  I had the lead role in My Fair Lady in the 6th grade but no significant theatric role thereafter.
5.  I cannot multitask while on the phone and that’s why I don’t like talking on it much.
6.  I’ve had a past life regression analysis and believe what I learned about myself.
7.  I once faked being hypnotized on stage in college and did a really good job!
8.  I’m a very skilled bargain hunter.
9.  I save up conversation for dinnertime when I’m alone with my husband.
10.My favorite type of entertainment is a very funny comedian.






Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Vulnerability Makes Us Beautiful

Being recently enlightened by Brené Brown’s Ted Talk: The Power of Vulnerability makes me wonder where I’ve been for the last five years---under a rock?

Here are a few snippets I gleaned from the Talk:

stories are data with a soul
telling the story of who you are 
with your whole heart

life’s messy; clean it up
knock discomfort upside the head

with a sense of courage
let go of who you think you are
embrace who you ARE

say i love you first
do something with no guarantee
be willing to invest in relationships
stop controlling and predicting

live vulnerably




Monday, March 23, 2015

This Was One of Those Days!

Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s One of Those Days is one of those books that I love to use in the classroom. The illustrations are so funny and the kids laugh out loud at the bad days in the book.
My favorite one of those days from the book is “Everything Is No Day” and “Itchy Sweater Day.” Sometimes we just read the book and enjoy it and sometimes we create our own One of Those Days class books.


I had my own One Of Those Days today. It went something like this…

Pressed Snooze and Overslept Day

Took Out Garbage With a Hole in The Bottom of the Bag Day

Got to School Late and Forgot About My Meeting Day

Math Lesson Did Not Go as Planned Day

Forgot My Lunch at Home and Had to Eat Cafeteria Food Day

Left My Phone In the Classroom Had to Go Back To Get It Day

Burnt the Hamburgers and Sweet Potato Fries for Dinner Day

Luckily, there’s a brand new day waiting for all of us tomorrow!


Ate Pretzels


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Immeasurable


As many of us are painfully aware, Governor Andrew Cuomo has initiated a vendetta against New York’s public education system and us teachers. Facing threats of termination should we fall below his ludicrous system of linking 50% of our students’ test scores to our evaluations, many of us are attending rallies, participating in Opt-Out movements and letter writing campaigns to effect change.

In the meantime, I have invited the governor into my classroom to witness the everyday teaching and learning that can’t be measured by a test score. He has not responded to my invitation. In fact, I understand he has not visited any public school classroom in our state EVER.

I say this to the governor…..MEASURE THIS:

ð    Hours spent talking to parents about the emotional health of their children and how it affects their learning
ð    Conferences with parents in preparation of report grades that fall below grade level expectations according to the CCSS
ð    Mornings before school devoted to helping students write their “books” since the school day’s ELA block is devoted singularly to test prep
ð    Money spent on supplies, snacks, water, and clothing for students who are not able to bring them from home
ð    Creation of blogs as a place for my students to share their passion for reading and responding to quality literature of their choosing
ð    Mentoring the 6 students in my class who suffer from a little too much excitability and creating plans to improve their focus and reduce their distractibility (without medication or intervention of any building level support staff)
ð    Encouraging the gender-questioning student that to be himself is ok and creating a safe environment for him to do so
ð    Conferring with the girls during lunchtime about the importance of including all classmates in recess activities and making follow up calls to each of their parents
ð    Providing lessons that differentiate for all types of learners using different modalities that the Pearson math program and the Expeditionary ELA modules are simply lacking
ð    Instilling love for learning,  developing my students’ natural curiosity, helping them feel successful and capable in even the smallest way

Measureable, Governor Cuomo? Perhaps not on the state exams but certainly on the faces of my students who enter our classrooms each and every morning with a smile on their face, a hug for their teacher and prepared to do their very best every day to meet the ridiculously unobtainable goals you are setting for them.






Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sharing is Caring...Even if it's Tears

I just went to see Still Alice with my sister. I'd watched a bootleg copy alone in my den already and was gutted by the performances and the story.

Before we left for the movie theater, we were discussing how seeing a movie alone vs with a companion can be so uniquely different an experience. Movies, plays, concerts are so much richer when your companion is appreciating it. You catch it from each other; the experience becomes contagious.

Still Alice is not an enjoyable topic...it's downright terrifying. But the appreciation for the artform that was the movie was for me, enhanced with my sister beside me. Crying together, I felt the rawness of the emotions onscreen so differently the second time around.

The sharing heightened my senses.

Julianne Moore's acting was flawless.... both times.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Staying Connected With the Past and Present

My mother had a saying when the phone would ring “A heart feels a heart,” she’d tell the caller.

I have adopted it as my own when my own friends call. “My mother would say, a heart feels a heart,” I tell them.

It’s my little way of keeping my mom’s spirit alive; by commemorating something that was uniquely her.

My heart felt the heart of a friend today. We hadn’t been in touch for ages.


I think it’s my mom’s way of staying connected.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Weekend Plans

I’m going to visit my sister….

She lives in Albany.
I’ll take the afternoon off from school.
I’ll take two trains to get there.
I’ll read The Goldfinch and I’ll nap.

She'll pick me up from the station.
She’s got the weekend all planned out.
She will share the news of her job search.
Her friends will come over for dinner; she will cook a delicious meal.

Maybe we’ll go to the movies.
Maybe go for a run together.

We’re going to catch up on the TV shows we both watch.
We will remember our mom and dad.
We’ll laugh about the silly things and cry about the terrible ones.

And all the while, our parents will be smiling.






Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Super Powers of Blogging


We are reading The One and Only Ivan in our third grade classroom. The kids love it and for me, it’s a journey of new discoveries with each read.

With the help of Erika Victor whose third graders are also enjoying this story, I have begun a class blog.

My students are learning how to write a blog post and to comment on each other’s posts.

What’s happening is incredible!


Take a peek:



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Elizabeth in the Rain

Sometimes, a stranger enters your world, if only for minutes and makes an impact on your thoughts, your outlook, your mood, your whole day.

My morning began with such an encounter.....

          Elizabeth in the Rain


I drive toward her in the rain

Her hands want me to stop

I slow down roll down the window

“Is this the way to the station?”

“It is ….. but far from here.”

In a split second I decide
“I’ll take you there.”

“Bless your soul.”

We chat
She’s just what I need today, thanks God

To show me what’s good in the world

Elizabeth in the rain
She already knows





Monday, March 16, 2015

It's All About the Attitude

I spent yesterday and the early part of this morning prepping for a colonoscopy. I realize this isn’t the stuff slices are typically made of but I find myself bemused by my reaction to the circumstances.

Although this one isn’t the first one, and thank goodness it’s only routine,to say I absolutely HATE it is a serious understatement.
I hate the way the stuff tastes even when mixed with my choice of a clear glass of something. 
I hate the feeling of being hungry even though eating is that last thing I want to do when I’m getting ready for this thing.
I hate the anxiety it causes.
I hate having to rely upon my husband to get me to the doc’s office and wait to take me home.
I hate the way I feel as the anesthesia is wearing off.
I hate losing two days.
I hate talking about it.

But yet, I whine. I complain. I pity myself. I want my mommy.

I realize things could be oh-so-much worse. I’m relieved and grateful that I passed the test.

But as I reflect upon my attitude, I am baffled. No matter how much mental armor I don, my efforts at being able to go with the flow are thwarted even before I take the first sip of the revolting potion.

I’m sorry for bellyaching. But did I mention how much I hate it?


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Cheers to a new beginning

My daughter is starting a new job this week.  I'm so proud of her accomplishments and can't wait to hear all the details!

New Beginnings - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires


I dedicate this haiku deck to my daughter.

What I'm Reading Now

So many books, so little time (especially during the month of March :)
Here is a snapshot of my reading life.....

On my kindle: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
On my night stand: Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair (March issues)
On my computer: Two Writing Teachers SOLS, Tumblr
On my tablet: Reviews of the fourth and final Fashion Week in Paris and Goodreads

In my classroom: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Peter Pan retold from the original by J.M. Barrie
The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns

At the nail salon: current issues of People Magazine

In hardcover: Ivan, the Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate

Re-reading: The Red Leather Diary by Lily Koppel

Just finished reading: The Long Goodbye by Meghan O'RourkeDear Hope, Love Grandma by Hilda Abramson Hurwitz, House of Special Purpose by John Boyne

Can’t wait to read: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, Notice and Note by Beers and Probst

Can’t wait to re-read: Wonder by R.J. Palacio, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

What I never tire of reading: anything by Ezra Jack Keats, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber, the Iris and Walter series by Elissa Haden Guest, The Phantom Tollbooth by Jules Feiffer, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

What I’m trying not to read: Facebook, Instagram

This post was inspired by The Reading Teacher Blogs.