Friday, February 21, 2014


I had a student ‘sneak-read’ today… 

And I’m celebrating!  This is a student that came into my classroom at the beginning of the year and stared at the floor.   When I wanted to be sure he was listening I would get down on the floor and look up at him.  This student not only was uninterested in reading, I was having a difficult time trying to find books to appeal to him because of his unresponsiveness.  I had never seen anything like it!  And today….  Today I actually had to tell him to close his book for a moment so he could participate in our mini lesson on making inferences.  Then I promised him he could continue to read and use his book to practice inferring.  He agreed, albeit begrudgingly.  Truth be told, I would have loved to have just let him continue reading.  I had been waiting a long time for this day and I just want to revel it.  The site of this student so engrossed in a book that he was able shut out all distractions around him, made me feel like I had just won the lottery!

It seems hard to believe but last week I had another student make a profound revelation that set my heart racing as well.  After our mini lesson in workshop, the student looked up at me, smiled and commented, “I used to just read to be ‘done’.  Now I get it.”  I think I stared at him in what I can only image was shock and asked him to repeat his statement. I had to be sure I had heard him right.  He repeated it.  I had him heard correctly.  I wanted to jump up and down and clap my hand and dance around the classroom.  I had made a difference! 

This is what we reading teachers dream of, students that “get reading”. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.  I could use a dose of this every day but feel so lucky to have experienced it two weeks in a row.  I can only hope we have started a trend.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Power of "Believe"

This year our principal challenged all of us to choose our “word” for the year.  A word to inspire us not only as we start the year, but to provide a focus for ourselves and our students as we move though the challenges of the coming school year.  Without hesitation I chose the word “believe”.  This has been my unofficial “word” for many years.  When I’ve had challenges in life, whether as a teen, a college student, a mom, a teacher, I’ve focused on the power of believe, believing everything would be all right. Believing I could do what others told me was impossible.  Believing I could achieve my dreams.  Believing my children could achieve their dreams.   So it was natural that I chose “believe” as the word for my classroom.

         I didn’t do anything special.  I simply wrote the word in red marker across a sheet of typing paper and posted it on the chalkboard in the front of the classroom.  I told the students that it was our “word” for the year.  In our classroom there would be no giving up, no “it’s too hard”, no excuses.  This became our classroom policy.  If a student complains that something is too hard, I simply walk to the chalkboard and point to “believe”.  If that doesn’t do the trick, we all remind the student to believe.  It has almost become a chat for us, “Believe.  You can do it. PMA (positive mental attitude)! Believe!” Corny as it may sound, it works.  The student sees that I believe, classmates believe, finally the student begins to believe. 

Is it the power of the word at work? Is it the power of realizing that the teacher and classmates believe?  Is it the positive energy generated?  Whatever the reason, the energy created is palpable and students are changing.  They believe in themselves.


When you enter this classroom…
Believe you’re a reader
Believe you’re a writer
Believe in the power of books
Believe in the power of words
Believe that you’re smart
Believe you deserve respect
Believe others deserve respect
Believe we all matter, always
Believe that you’ll try your hardest
Believe that “OK” is not enough
Believe in doing your best
Believe the best in others
Believe honesty is the only way
Believe in the possible
Believe in the impossible

Most of all
When you enter this classroom…
Believe you’ll never stop believing in yourself!