A Mother's Lap and a Picture Book

 "Auntie Gloria's girls wake up to the smell of book pages." This is a comment my younger cousin
Tony made when we were just kids. This statement has stuck with me over the years. I recently attended a Professional Development Training on Explicit Reading Instruction. All participants were asked to share their reading development experience. Prior to this training, I had never really given  this topic a lot of thought. After reflecting I realized that my school teachers were not at all responsible for my development as a reader. My ability to read, and my love for books was established early on in my life. My mother read to me, and instilled a love of learning, and reading in me, way before I entered the public education system. My continued reflection led me to the realization that my  mother 's parents were also avid readers. I loved visiting my grandparents' house. They had all kinds of books, cook books, books on medicine, books on diet and exercise, self help books, spiritual books, and more. In addition, having a grandfather who was a preacher also meant being surrounded with Bibles of several different versions, and commentaries. Speaking of the Bible, my church played a huge role in my development as well. My childhood church was family oriented. All of the adults felt obligated to the success of all of the children. They saw the importance of developing scholars in addition to developing young people with high moral standards.

Baring all of this in mind I realized that my village developed my reading skills. My cousin, Tony's, statement is proof that our family valued reading so much so that others could see it. I think that the majority of today's families have relinquished their power, and handed the responsibility of education over to an educational system that leaves a lot to be desired. The best teachers with the best strategies, dull in comparison to the influential power of a mother/family. Schools are spending millions of dollars on curriculums, textbooks, computer programs, and professional development trainings hoping to find the answer to the educational epidemic that has swept our country. The answer is a mother's lap and a good picture book. Yes it is that simple. Mothers, mama figures, families you have the power to develop readers that have an insatiable desire to learn. Use your power! I am beyond grateful for my mother, she fostered a love for learning and books.  She made sure to surround me with other adults who would aid her in her mission to make me a reader! It worked! Families take time to read books, and make reading a big deal in your home. Buy books to grow your child's personal home library, take frequent visits to the library and to the bookstore. If your child see's that you love reading, they will love it too!

I Almost Quit Teaching!

Warning: This is a long  post, but I hope you'll read all of it.

Last week, was the toughest week of my teaching career, I almost quit! Anyone who knows me, knows I'm tough, quitting is not my thing, so for me to even contemplate giving up, is serious.

I'll get right to it, last week our school had an awards ceremony, to celebrate student achievement. I'm a firm believer that children should be celebrated for their hard work, however this ceremony was like nothing I'd witnessed before. Days prior to the ceremony, teachers were to submit the names of students who were to be honored. My grade level submitted 12 names. The afternoon before the ceremony, some parents were upset that their child would not be getting an award. They argued that in former years, a different set of criteria was used to determine who would be awarded, and had this criteria been used currently, their child would be on the list to receive an award. After parents made phone calls to leadership at different levels, including calls to the local school board members, the decision was made to honor the past criteria. I, along with two other staff members stayed at our school until about 7 pm to recalculate all 76 students' GPAs, add names to the awards list, type certificates, print certificates, and sign them. Lowering the standard made me cringe, staying at work until 7 pm made me exhausted, but what I realized about the additional  students who would be awarded, made me sick to my stomach. 
I teach 4th Grade Reading for the entire grade level, and as I calculated GPAs, I became devastated, students who are reading at a 3rd, 2nd, and 1st grade level would be receiving awards. How could this be? Well, one reason is that the standard was lowered, the other reason I'll share in a later post. At any rate, we sent the wrong message to our students. We gave high fives and certificates to low performing students. What does that say to our kids? We confused them, we took away the value of a strong work ethic, and completely squandered the concept of hard work. Instead we promoted "just trying", and we celebrated mediocrity. 
Of the 34 4th graders who received awards, only 13 of them are reading on grade level. Some of those students scored at the lowest achievement level on the state test, yet we gave them a pat on the back and said keep it up! In my book, this is an injustice!
In addition, Perfect Attendance Awards were given. I could have fell out, right in the middle of the ceremony. Every teacher knows the students with the worst behaviors never miss a day. Students who display disrespect, and defiance walked proudly across the stage as we cheered them on. Again, what message did we send those students? We literally said, you can behave poorly, and still get a pat on the back all because you showed up. This is an outrage, we are setting our kids up for failure. 
I spoke with my administrator to let her know I just could not teach in a school like this. If certain stakeholders have the clout to dictate the standard I must teach by, then I'm doomed. I would not be able to sleep at night if I carried on in this way. I simply can't do that to children, they deserve better. 
By the end of the ceremony I was sick and already drafting my resignation letter. Due to an incredible support system, when the following Monday rolled around I had made the decision to remain for the sake of my 76 students. While I do not see a future for myself in this particular school district unless major changes are made, I will finish this year for my students.

 One of my favorite authors and educators, Ron Clark, brilliantly sums up my thoughts on this topic. I'll end this long post with an excerpt from his book, "The End of Molasses Classes". Chapter 2 is titled, Not Every Child Deserves a Cookie, in this chapter he says this, "Last year one of our new fifth graders was really struggling. He entered RCA below grade level in every subject and he was failing several courses. When I met with his mom she defended her son by saying, "Well, he made all A's at his other school." When I told her that was shocking, she explained that he had done so well because he had a really great teacher. Urgh! 
There is a misconception in our country that teachers whose students make good grades are providing them with a good education. Parents, administrators, and the general community shouldn't assume good grades equal high academic mastery. In fact, in many cases those teachers could be giving good grades to avoid conflict with the parents and administration. It's easier to fly under the radar and give high grades that to give a student what he or she truly deserves and face the scrutiny of the administration and the wrath of an angry parent. 
I have attended numerous award ceremonies where practically every child in the class received an honor roll certificate. Parents always cheer, take pictures, and look so proud. I just sit there and think, Ignorance is bliss. Are these kids really being challenged, or are they only achieving mediocre standards set forth by a mediocre teacher in an educational system that is struggling to challenge even our average students? Yet, all of the parents look so proud and content.
We must hold every child accountable for high standards and do all we can to push the child to that level. If we continue to dumb down education and to give students A's and B's because they "tried," we are doing them a disservice and failing to prepare them to be successful in the real world. 
We all need to teach our young people that not everyone deserves a pat on the back just because we are attempting to make everyone feel good.  Giving praise that isn't earned only sets up our students for more failure in the long run."

If there are any teachers who encounter this same frustration, I beg you to keep your standards high. Any stakeholder that argues against high standards, makes a strong statement about what they want for our children. I'm maintaining high standards, and that makes a statement as well. It simply means I want the absolute best for our children!

Here's a huge thank you for reading this lengthy post! 

How to be a legit teacher: Teacher tip # 5

Today's teacher tip is brought to you by Jason! Jason describes himself as funny, and smart. He loves playing games and Reading is his favorite subject. Jason is also one of the recipients of this year's Young Authors Award. He's a real scholar! 

Jason's teacher tip is this: "Never give up!"

This is the perfect teacher tip for this time of year. This wonderful profession brings its own set of challenges with it. Teaching can be tough! It certainly isn't the profession for the weak! It takes a strong person with great patience to teach and mold young minds. Whenever I have those moments where I'm just exhausted and ready to throw in the towel. I remember why I chose this profession in the first place. I think of all my students, and how they are counting on me, and I remind myself of Jason's tip to never give up!

 Now check out this all around LEGIT kid, he snowboards, plays baseball, and writes amazing essays!

 Thanks for the tip Jason!


How to be a legit teacher: teacher tip # 4

Today's teacher tip is brought to you by Jayden! Jayden describes himself as active, intelligent, and creative.  He loves sports and enjoys playing football and basketball. He is quite the All-Star Athlete.

Jayden's tip for teachers is this: "Treat students with respect."

 Jayden is on to something with this excellent piece of advice. As teachers we must remember that our students are human, and have hearts. They have a keen sense of authenticity, and can tell when they are not respected by others. I know every teacher out there pushes for students to show respect to you, and to each other, but let's not forget that our students deserve our respect too! Now I know there may be some who feel that respect is "earned and not given", but I respectfully disagree. I admonish you to take Jayden's advice and make sure that you treat each of your students with the highest level of respect possible.
Aretha sang it best, R-E-S-P-E-C-T!  
(click the link to enjoy her tune)


Now check out this LEGIT athlete and scholar!

Thanks for the tip Jayden!

Five for Friday!

Okay, so I'm tardy for the party, but I'm still excited about the week I had!

My sister sent me this picture of my nephews at the library!!! I'm so in love with this picture. I hope this becomes one of their favorite places.

These are our Mother's Day Note Cards. I love the way they turned out. I hope all the moms enjoy their sweet notes! By the way if you're reading this and you're a mom, Happy  Mother's Day! 
It was Teacher Appreciation Week, and boy did my students spoil me. Here are some of my gifts.

I am so blessed to have such sweet students and parents!
One of my favorite parts of this week, was showering other teachers with a little bit of love. Each student got to choose one teacher, other than me, to show appreciation to. They wrote little notes, that I typed for them, and delivered their notes with an apple. This will definitely be an annual event!!

I am beyond excited about my new Cricut Gold Edition, I named her Goldie!!! I may or may  not be an addict. Here is my very first Cricut creation. If you like this shirt hop over to my little shop and order one, or place an order for a customized shirt. Please click Clad in Love to shop!

Don't I look cute in my "less bitter more glitter" shirt!!!

Well that's all for now, and hopefully I'll be on time to the party next week! I hope your Friday was as fabulous as mine, and if it wasn't, look on the bright side, it could have been Monday!!! Thanks for checking out my blog! Check out Doodle Bugs Teaching for other great Five for Friday blog posts!


Five for friday!

I'm excited to join in on the linky party fun, and do my first ever five for Friday!

I made my very first TPT sale, how exciting is that! Its amazing how excited I am over a $2 sale. This $2 will be a milestone in my life forever. It is such a great feeling to create something that other teachers desire to use in their classroom with their students! YAY!

Speaking of TPT, I created my first resource that includes QR codes. My students gave them a test run, and it was a hit! I am so excited about this resource. You can check it out here

I added the Bloglovin' app today! I can follow my favorite blogs on the go!

Our class started and finished "The Lemonade War" this week! Of course I bought the whole series, we are completely hooked. Check out my LEGIT LIT blog post about this book here! There is a hilarious video of my students demanding more of "The Lemonade War"! We ended our day today by reading the first two chapters of the next book in the series, "The Lemonade Crime".

During our Lemonade War read aloud times, students were inspired to create paper lemonade stand models. How cute and creative are these.

Well I hope your Friday was as fabulous as mine, and if it wasn't, look on the bright side, it could be Monday!!! Thanks for checking out my blog! Check out Doodle Bugs Teaching for other great Five for Friday blog posts!


LEGIT LIT- The Lemonade War

This has been an incredible week for me and my students. With standardized testing behind us, we can now shift gears, and do things that make school memorable! We read Jacqueline Davies' book, The Lemonade War. I love this book and so do my students! Some students have even been inspired to create mini lemonade stand models.

Our read aloud time, is one of my absolute favorite times of the day. In most cases read alouds are done consistently in the primary grades, but it is just as important as students get older. My kids love getting comfortable on the carpet, and listening to me read. Teachers don't forget to read to your class. It models great fluency, and creates a special time for bonding. Our kids today are growing up too fast. Our days are going by too fast. Take some time, slow down, and read to your kids.
If you are looking for a great read aloud, this is the prefect book. Your students are bound to get into it.

I normally read a chapter at a time, but they are so hooked, that they demanded more. Click the video to see them demanding more of The LE-MON-ADE WAR!


How to be a legit teacher: Teacher Tip # 3

Today's teacher tip is brought to you by Kiana!
Kiana is athletic and smart. Her favorite subject is writing (that may or may not be my favorite subject too). She loves playing soccer, and is developing into an amazing soccer player, I know this because I've watched her since last year. She's got game!

Kiana's tip for teachers is this: "Keep kids papers' in their individual mailboxes."

It's no surprise that Kiana chose to share this tip with teachers. She is quite the organized 4th grader!
 Kiana's tip is all about organization and efficiency. As teachers, we handle lots of papers within the course of a day. It is important to have a system in place to ensure every paper reaches its proper destination. In our class we use individual mailboxes. Do yourself a favor, and just buy these. Don't think twice about it, just do it! You will be happy that you did. I ordered mine from Office Depot (love that place).

I have a student that puts papers in mailboxes, and each student checks their mailbox at the end of the day. Once your students get accustomed to having a mailbox, this little system will run itself like clock work! I have had these mailboxes since the start of my career, and they are still in pretty decent shape so the investment is well worth it.

Now check out Kiana in action. Her soccer skills are LEGIT!

Thanks for the tip Kiana!


Parting is such sweet sorrow!

This time of year can be bittersweet, but I'd rather not focus on the bitter. I try my level best to make the end of the year as fun and memorable as possible. We only have 30 more days to make awesome memories, and I plan to do just that! I like the idea of finishing strong, and with a ton of positive vibes. This little 12 page resource is the perfect activity to add to your end of the year festivities. This End of the Year Reflection Task Card Set will give your students a chance to reflect on the accomplishments they made, and the good times they had. Click here to check out this resource.



How to be a legit teacher: Teacher Tip # 2

Today's teacher tip is brought to you by Chloe. 

Chloe's friends describe her as helpful, grateful, and smart. Math and Reading are her favorite subjects. She couldn't pick just one!! When Chloe isn't busy solving Math problems and reading books, she enjoys music!

Chloe's tip for teachers is this: "Make your kids happy."

I absolutely love this tip. If kids are happy they are in the perfect position to learn new things. Classroom environment directly impacts the learning process. If you want your students to learn, you must make sure they are happy, and excited about being in your class.
Teachers, we are responsible for setting the tone, and establishing a positive class culture. Happiness, excitement, positive vibes, love and laughter are key components to a successful learning experience.
The academic payoff is well worth the investment in our students' emotions.
I stand in agreement with Chloe, and encourage all teachers to make your students' happiness a priority every single day!

Now click the video to check out Chloe's LEGIT music skills!

Thanks for the tip Chloe!


Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Okay, in teacher land, this statement really isn't true. If you are anything like me, and you love teaching, missing a day of school is no fun. However; an absence is bound to happen every now and then.
Well, I have something for you, an editable substitute packet. Yay! I have it all laid out for you, minus the actual lesson plans, because I don't know what grade you teach, or what curriculum you use, or what your schedule is. Trust me if I knew all of that I would totally have your back lol!
What I do have is a 16 page editable substitute packet, that will come in handy on the days you have to be away from your students. This packet has everything you need from a greeting letter, to dismissal procedures, an activity page for students, and my favorite, the positive post-it page, because students could use a little encouragement post-it note style!

I'm done babbling on, click here to check out this resource!


First Freebie! Weekly Behavior Form

I am excited about my first freebie! This weekly behavior form is great for keeping parents abreast of their child's behavior. To keep report card surprises at bay, I attach a weekly grade report to this form. Please click here to download this freebie! Be sure to read the implementation idea page for other great ways to utilize this form.