April 19, 2016

Mother's Day in the Classroom

I remember my first big “event” as an early teacher.  It was Mother’s Day, and I was brand new to a school in a low-income district.  I remember eagerly planning a super-crafty project, with glue and glitter and a beautiful card titled “Why I love my Mom” or something of the like. 

I waltzed in before Mother’s Day, and gathered up the kids to introduce the project, expecting them to be as excited as I was.  However, instead of unbridled excitement, I was met with questions and comments like:

“What about my Stepmom, can I make something for her?”

“I only have a Foster mom, what do I do?”

“I live with my auntie.”

“I don’t have a mom, she died last year.”

What a sobering moment.

Needless to say, that was a pretty big disaster.   In my rush to prepare a “cute and fun” craft project, I had completely forgotten to plan for all of the reasons why Mother’s Day can be such a hard day for so many students. 

But I let it be a “teachable moment” for myself. I learned from my mistake, and made sure to think through possible difficult situations before I planned another lesson. 

Our easy Mother's Day Flip Books

We are drawing our Mom, writing adjectives to describe her, filling in the blanks about her favourite things (fingers crossed that it ends up being something cute or memorable!) and writing her a short letter.

But this project won’t just be for Moms.  In an effort to avoid one of my worst “flops” ever, I’ve made it specifically for Stepmom’s…

And another version that is great for any special friend.  I know that some of my little ones don’t have a Mom, but they do have a mentor, an aunt, or even a family friend who would love to receive something on Mother’s Day.

How do you make sure that you are accounting for all types of families on days like Mothers or Father’s Day?  Do you do anything special in your classroom to honour different types of men and women?

I’d love to hear your ideas!

- Rachel

April 12, 2016

Four Ways to Recharge as a Teacher

Being a teacher can be one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet.  I get to watch students learn to fall in love with learning.  I love the moment when the ‘light bulb’ goes on, and they understand something for the very first time.  I love seeing wonder and excitement in almost every moment.

However, teaching can also be completely and totally draining.  While I have the privilege of hearing about every happy moment, I also enter into each of their hard times as well.  Even in third grade, there are so many tough moments to walk through.  I consider it such a privilege to come alongside students and their families in both seasons of joy and sorrow, but, at times, they can leave me feeling so physically and emotionally exhausted.

When I first began teaching, I used to give 110% all of the time until I had absolutely nothing left to give.  I think I felt that if I wasn’t always going, always moving, always trying to do more, it wasn’t enough.  What is it about our culture that seems to see stillness as synonymous with laziness??  I learned pretty quickly that this is just not sustainable.  I cannot be the teacher I want to be if I have nothing to give. 

Slowly, I have been learning that taking time to rest, relax, recharge, and spend time away from school, teaching, and little people actually makes me a better teacher.  I don’t have to feel guilty for stepping away for a moment, because recharging my own ‘batteries’ gives me life to invest into those around.

I have found a few ways to be particularly life-giving in this past season. 

spending time in the word

Each night, before bed, whether I’m “ready” for the next day or not.  I stop at 9:30, and the day is done.   Then I cozy into bed with my NIV Study Bible and start reading.  I am loving this tradition of ending the day in The Word.  I used to feel bad that I couldn’t find time to read my Bible each morning.  However, I am learning to give myself grace, and appreciate that finding my own routines and rhythms can be just as rewarding.  I tend to sleep more soundly if I can focus on God (and not my never ending to-do list) at the end of each day.  

netflix (no chill, no guilt)

I love Netflix.  In a deep, I should-feel-guilty-about-it, kind of way.  I don’t watch shows casually. I am a binge-watch-only kind of girl.   Royal Pains?  Yep!  Prison Break?  Of Course!  Law and Order, Greys Anatomy, Scandal, and White Collar… Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes.  All Seasons. 

I used to feel bad (slash guilty) when people asked: “Have you seen X show on Netflix?”  And my answer was always yes.  I do watch a lot of binge-able TV… because it is such an escape. I can turn off the rest of my life and immerse myself in the characters and the drama of a storyline that has nothing to do with my own. 

I’ve noticed that the amount of Netflix I watch directly correlates to the stress in my life: the more stressful the situation, the more I gravitate to cuddling-up with a show when I get home from work.

the beach

My soul feels best when it is outside, near the water.  I love the ocean, but I can make due with a lake in a pinch! I live on the west coast, mere minutes from so many amazing beaches.

When I stand next to the ocean I feel small. My problems seem to shrink in comparison to the immensity of the body of water next to me.    I tend to stand next to the water and just breathe.  There is something about salty ocean air that is good for the soul. 

getting out of the city

Sometimes a quick trip to the beach, or an afternoon of Netflix just isn’t enough to recharge.  I am learning how vitally important it can be for my mental health, and my marriage, to take the time to stop, rest, and focus on something other than the day-to-day in the classroom. 

This past weekend my husband and I headed to Kelowna to take advantage of some amazing beautiful weather in BC (20 degrees Celsius, 68 Fahrenheit).  We spent the weekend at a small B&B, toured wineries, and just spent time together. 

It’s amazing how time away can prepare you for getting back to regular life. 

I’m not sure that I always realize just how exhausted and empty I am until I remember to take the time to rest and recharge. 

I’d encourage you to do the same, rest, relax, take time to recharge. You cannot be the teacher your students need when you are running on empty. 

Trust me, you deserve it. 

- rachel

April 05, 2016

10 Cutest Things Students Have Said


If you've been around children for any period of time at all, you know that they have little (or no) filter.  For better or for worse, the things that they are thinking just come bubbling out.  As teachers, we get to be privy to some of the most hilarious spoken, and written comments.  The cutest things truly are from the mouths of babes.  

For this weeks' post, I asked around the blogosphere for stories, photos, and quotes of teachers' favourite things students have said or written that made them laugh out loud.  I got so many great responses!  

In no particular order, here are the first 10 in my new series... Oh Deer... What did you Just Say?? 

#1 - underwear issue

"Can I go to the bathroom real quick? I have a really bad wedgie and mom told me not to pick it around everyone."

#2 - a lesser known miracle

One of Lindsey Paulson's students writes about how "Jesus Rows Again."  

#3 - dinner table conversations

I remember asking a kindergarten student whether he'd told his parents what I'd said to him the day before. 

His response: "It's not like we sit around the dinner table talking about you." 

Um ok, I didn't realize five-year-olds had more important things going on than their day at school!

#4 - math logic