Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On to the Islands

Okay, my bags were packed...well, that and my car..and I was ready to go. It was August...a pretty hot time to go to the Virgin Islands, but still, I needed time to get to know what I was going to do and where I was going to live. My mom, bless her heart, traveled to the island with me while my dad had the red VW shipped from Philadelphia to St.Thomas. We were told to take everything out of the car as it would be stolen, so we did.

My parents were also instrumental in finding a family in PA who owned a condo in St.Thomas and allowed Mom and I to stay there for a week free of charge while i looked for an apartment.

Once we got there, and found Pineapple Beach, we started the process of checking into the school ( a two story school in Charlotte Amalie) The headmistress and priest were very nice and I was given all my books and curriculum. The car arrived unscathed, so we were able to stop using taxis to look for a place to live. I decided I didn't want to live in the mountains...I mean this was St. Thomas...beach..beach...beach. On a trip over to St.John we ran into a group of people who lived at Sapphire Beach. I looked at the studio apartments and it was perfect...furnished and overlooking the beach and tennis courts with pool steps away. Unfortunately, it won't be available until the beginning of September. The people from PA contacted another person at Pineapple and the guy allowed me to house sit for him in a very nice condo until my apartment was available.

Sadly, I sent Mom back to New Jersey. I felt so bad that she didn't get to have a relaxing time with me as she was helping me so much, but hoped that she'd be able to visit later in the year. My parents owned their own business so for both of them to be away at the same time was hardly ever possible. For the rest of the month, I got ready for school, got a great tan and got a job waitressing at the Green House.

In the meantime I met, Sue, who would become my BFF of all times...and is to this day (through marriages, kids, it's that type of friendship where we have to be friends because we know too much about each other)...she was teaching at the public schools and we met lots of other teachers, insurance agents, and had a great time at the beach each afternoon with all of these people. We'd go sailing on the weekends, have dinners at each other's apartments, and just enjoyed life. Teaching was just as much fun. My kids were wonderful, I was put in charge of the tennis team and drama, and I somehow found my way through my first year of teaching with much support from other teachers, parents, and even my students. St.Thomas was a magical place... a place to learn about others, myself, to fall in and out of love, and to realize just how much friends and family means...and the way to the airport every week to pick up friends who just had to visit.

I stayed in St.Thomas for a school year and most of that summer, crewing on a boat, serving drinks and food to people who would charter it. When I came back to NJ, I was lucky enough to be hired by the Medford School district.

But, my traveling/teaching days weren't over yet. Hands Across the Water reached out their long arms and dangled Australia in front of my eyes.

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Teaching Over the World

I have been so very lucky in my life. I have been able to travel to many places.

First, camp...which during the summer took me from NJ to PA and then to North Carolina where I was a tennis and horseback riding instructor for two years. While there I met so many great people who invited me into their homes in New Orleans, Tennessee, and other places.

After my "camping" summers, I was a nanny to a family who had three children; one of whom was in the movies in England. She was too young to go on the set by herself, and her Dad, a record producer was too busy. Mom (Pat) had an infant, so when Dave came back to NJ from London, he asked if I would like to be a nanny to Wendy and Patti. Not one to pass up that offer, I was whisked to England. Our home was on the outskirts, near Wimbledon (happily for my tennis playing hours), and I went on set with Wendy as she filmed Alice in Wonderland. Since it was summer, Dave had rented a villa in Forte de Marmi, on the Amafali coast, so Patti, Wendy, Dave and I drove the car from England while Patti and Dave Jr. flew to the villa to get it ready.

We drove from Dover (yes, the white cliffs) and then to Paris where we spent the night a the Geroge Cinq, saw the Effile Tower and did lots of sight seeing. The next morning we headed for Switzerland. I drove for the first time and what a mistake. I had been taught to drive on a manual...a stick shift, so when I saw the stick in the middle of the console, I thought, well I should be in gear. Nothing like being in third (never did find fourth) while zooming down the autoban. In fact, I liked the speed so much, I overshot the exit and we ended up not having enough money to pay the toll to get off the road. They had to send a helicopter to exchange the French/English money. This was the real reason Euros were invented...for silly people like me.

A night in the Alps, Swiss chocolate for dinner, playing in the snow...it was a wonderful night before we headed for the town of Forte. When we arrived (thankfully with the transmission still intact)...I was in utter amazement. It was huge. Each of us had our own room and bath and even had those little bowls filled with water in each of our rooms. There was a maid...and a butler...and a cook...and me??? I was always treated like one of the family... a friend who just happened to be watching out for the kids. The beach was right across the street, and we were there every day...except on the days I would take Wendy to Pisa (where I actually did drive correctly and around the Leaning Tower), or the day we took the bus to Florence, or the time Dave took all of us to Venice for an overnight. That was incredible. The gondalas, the walking through the streets of the town that had just been cleaned...and he paid...I mean for everything! I'm not sure I knew how lucky I had it while I was there (this little hick from Haddonfield) but boy, did I enjoy the entire experience.

And then it was back to college in Viriginia, where my summers were full of work...well, I taught tennis every summer so it wasn't that bad. During my senior year I was reading the New York Times and saw an ad, "Teach in the United States Virgin Islands" Well, why not? I applied for the job, found out it was for an Episcopalian Church school, contacted my priest (I happen to be that..even if I can't spell it), and had an inteview over the phone. By August, I had packed myself and my red Volkswagon and was ready to tackle another adventure.

I'm a Collector

Image hosted @ bighugelabs.com

I collect from all over...not things but ideas. I collect from teachers, from people on line, from books..I collect.
I learn so much from others that I don't want to lose what pearls of wisdom they might have
Example; Carol told me last night that if I got over 500 points in boxing in the six minute segment of Wii Fit, I'd get a good job....well, that motivated me last night to try it again...and I got it. I even got it again this morning. So now I'm on to the longer version. I'm a big worried about throwing my arm out for tennis, but I'm sure it will be a learn as I go...and then share what I've learned so others can collect.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Quotes for Teachers

I love collecting quotes. Each morning I have my students practice their handwriting by writing a quote a day.
The following quotes are from another web site by TJ...they are worth reading and rereading:
"This is the time of year when school begins. . . and my thoughts turn to some very special people. The teachers who were such an important part of my life. I think of the way their special attention helped open the gates of learning. They gave so much of themselves. . . with patience and tenderness. And not all the knowledge was of the textbook variety. I also learned about life. Those caring teachers helped me blossom as an individual. . . and gave me a sense of self-worth that. . . even today. . . sees me through trying times. I can't imagine a more precious gift that one individual can give to another."
— Unknown

"[Kids] don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are."
— Jim Henson (It's Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider)


“A college degree and a teaching certificate define a person as a teacher, but it takes hard work and dedication to be one.” Paul McClure

“A teacher’s constant task is to take a roomful of live wires and see to it that they’re grounded.” E.C. Mckenzie


“A college degree and a teaching certificate define a person as a teacher, but it takes hard work and dedication to be one.” Paul McClure

“A teacher’s constant task is to take a roomful of live wires and see to it that they’re grounded.” E.C. Mckenzie

"I was at a meeting recently when a colleague told a story of being in India, where an educator there asked her, somewhat skeptically, "In America, you test your students a lot, don't you?" She replied, "Well, indeed, the United States has a national policy that requires testing of all students in certain grades." The Indian educator said, "Here, when we want the elephant to grow, we feed the elephant. We don't weigh the elephant."
Source: www.edutopia.org/1814

Monday, August 18, 2008

This is from another teacher's blog:
35 Things I Love About the Beginning of School

I love summer. I especially love sleeping late, piddling on my computer, spending time with my family, and having time to think, play, and learn things I’ve put off all year. Today, it occurred to me that I also love starting school. Here are a few things that I relish every year about this time …

1. School floors that shine like glass.----we have carpet
2. The smell of crayons.
3. Sharing family reunion style hugs with staff after break.
4. The smell of new textbooks.
5. Meeting new staff members.
6. Hokey ice breakers at opening staff meeting.--- I don't like this
7. New desk calendar.---still have months left over from last year
8. Watching the neckties surface for Open House.
9. Helping a new student read his schedule.
10. Showing off new library books.
11. PTSA breakfast spread.
12. My tidy, beginning of the year, desk.---if I could FIND my desk
13. Seeing the horizon as a bright palette for new opportunities.
14. Helping a novice teacher set up her first classroom.---if I ever get mine done
15. Watching kids get excited about middle school.---or third grade
16. Showing a sixth grader how to work a combination lock.---NA
17. Putting new pictures on my desk
18. Eating lunch out with coworkers on teacher workdays.---there's time for this?
19. Setting up new book displays and bulletin boards.---yuck
20. A full jar of chocolate.---well, of course
21. New, fancy-shmancy school supplies they “didn’t have when I was little.”
22. The squeek of new shoes in the hallway.---the sound of flip flops
23. Watching kids riveted by their new teachers.---because they are almost their age
24. Checking out the new features of this year’s backpacks.
25. Noticing how tall the 7th and 8th graders look after two short months.
26. The return of tater tots.
27. Having an excuse to wear my “teacher jewelry.”
28. Chocolate milk!
29. The blinking lights of school buses at dawn.
30. Engaging training that’s filled with great ideas.
31. Watching peers get excited about changes and new opportunities.
32. Finding the perfect ink pen and flashdrive.
33. Orderly, “beginning of the year,” hall behavior.
34. A fresh start.
35. Hmm…. I’ll leave this one blank. Feel free to add your favorite in the comments as my #35.

Sitton Spelling Units



Saturday, August 16, 2008


The people on plurk are so great. I have learned so much from them. It's addicting, though. It's like being part of a conversation and you don't want to leave it.

Last night I got the entire month of math planned out. Don't know how well I'll be able to keep to the plan, but it does include whole class and group instruction. Now I have to finesse it and have my centers really planned out. Right now I have two independent and two teacher led. Once I get some parent volunteers I'll be able to add more computer based things.

Lori is going to send me Sitton worksheets. That would be such a help. I'm still going to start on my own and then hope hers get to me. So tonight is math/reading. Spelling is pretty easy and language done. Just need to add a subject a day so I don't go too fast with these kids. Also need lots of "I'm Done" worksheets as I have a feeling some are going to be really fast.

Weather warming up. I don't have any money left to do anything so no air fixing for me.

Julie's mom (on teacher connection) died and I am in charge of sending flowers. Hope people send me their checks.

Off to get dressed and go to the bank. At least I can put the check in today and hope for Monday.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday and Learning More

Okay, here's a tip I didn't know:
type a line of text
highlight it
shift and F3 to toggle between capital and not
Do I want to take another course at Wilkes? It's an easy three credits (I think) and the cost is pretty good. I need to look into this a bit.

excellent explanation of voice thread

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'm Going to Do It

Okay, with Meg Griffin's help (I hope) I'm going to try a blog with my kids. It will be in class as a center. We'll see how it goes.

Did Wii Fit for 35 minutes this morning, concentrating on aerobics and balance. Now time for lunch. Not doing much as I am saving $ for a week in Ocean City. I'm so excited that Dottie asked me to come and I'm staying for a few days. Next week I'll work on my classroom after a workshop with Beth Asbury.

Finished my first day of school list, now on to day two. Wish I could have the entire year set out. I'll work on math tonight.

I got a e-mail from Tom who MIGHT consider letting me have my wiki back. At least it's a maybe.

Got all the postcards written; now have to mail them. One student put in my class, one out. Guess I wasn't "motherly" enough for him.

off to work on math for the week.

Eating popcorn...not good...the popcorn is good, but I should be having something with protein.

things to do this week

From Teacher Magazine:

You can start communication with parents before the first day of school. Teachers can call home to welcome students and talk to the parents before school starts. I like to send postcards to new students introducing myself. Other teachers hold special class events such as class picnics in the park or an ice cream social before the first day. An opening letter from you on the first day of school is a wonderful way to introduce yourself to the families you will work with. Along with the letter, I also send home a family survey. The data gathered provides insight and invaluable information about my students and families right from the start. Here are some things I include in my family survey:

• What languages are spoken at home?
• Is there someone to help your child with homework?
• Emergency phone numbers, emails, updated address
• Food allergies/Health issues/Diet
• Celebrations and Cultural Awareness
• Child’s Strengths
• Special Needs
• Interests and Talents (parents love this)
• Areas of Concerns, if any
• Expectations for the year
• Questions

From a fourth grade teacher on blog:
Welcome to Room 408!
Hello and Welcome to the 2008-2009 School Year! I hope you are as excited about the new year as I am.

Our classroom blog is a place for you to share your thoughts about anything we are doing in our classroom. People will be able to comment on what you write, and you can comment on what other students write.

NEW STUDENTS AND PARENTS--please leave a note to say hi! You can do this by clicking where it says "comment." Don't worry when your comment doesn't show up right away--I have to approve everything before it appears online. (This is for internet safety!)

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Well,once again, influenced by others, I bought something..the Wii and Wii Fit. I have no idea what I am going to do with it, although I know it's something I've wanted. I actually stood in LINE for 45 minutes to buy it. I'm hoping it will help in my fitness program. Now I don't know whether to put it in my bedroom or downstairs so others can use it.
Impulsive buy? Yes, but wanted to get it set up while I had time and while it was in stock.
So...it's raining today and will give me something to work on.
So I put it together...I think I did it correctly, and have bowled and played tennis. Now I want to put the Fit together, but I know when I get on the balance board and it weighs me...yuck..but I probably need...no definitely need this.

Tennis tomorrow night, lunch on Wednesday...beach one day. I could get used to this life.

Okay, time to bit the fit board.
Okay...so I did it. I figured the whole thing out and exercised on it. I did the tennis, boxing, bowing, and then set up the fit part. Did the dance mat part and the running (jogging in place). I am so out of shape. I hope to keep to this for a bit so it pays for itself after a few months.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Getting Started

I've started hanging around a bad crowd. Bad meaning they are keeping me on the computer to find all sorts of different things about my profession. So not really, bad, but very inspiring. I was finding that I was plurking all my good ideas and then losing them, so I decided to take my own advice to my student teacher and start a blog for the school year. This way I'll be able to orgnize many of the things I need to keep in my brain..before it explodes.

The first thing I want to share is
In The Vast, Unstatable Importance of a Positive Attitude, Leo Babuata, head writer of Zen Habits, writes about having a positive attitude. He states,

“It changes how you interact with people, and that in itself is huge. If people perceive you as a negative person, they tend to get tired of dealing with you after awhile. But if you’re a positive person, you come off in a more positive light, and you’re a joy to talk to and work with and be with.”

1. “Squash negative thoughts.” Too many times I have heard teachers say on Sunday night that they hate the thought of Monday arriving or groan when Monday arrived. I have always tried to see Mondays as looking forward to seeing my students and hear how their weekend went. I also tried to see the new week as a way to make a fresh start and be a better teacher this week then I was last week by learning from my mistakes or trying new techniques.

2. “Mantras.” My husband is my true hero in all of this. For the past 30 years, he would wake up and say “I feel great! It is so great to be alive!” You would never know that he was not feeling well or grumpy. He felt that by saying that, he even felt better and it changed the way he saw the day. As a teacher, as soon as I arrived in my classroom, I would say, “I’m so glad to be here and I’m going to make a difference today!”

3. “See the good in any situation.” Remember that old saying, “when you are given lemons, make lemonade?” Try to find something good when things get rough in your classroom. If there is a student who misbehaves, think of it as an opportunity to try a new behavior modification technique or think of a way to redirect the behavior.

4. “Enjoy small pleasures.” Look for the little things that give you pleasure. I remember noticing that a student who normally doesn’t do well on work, was trying harder today. Or maybe I had a few moments of free time and needed to just sit down and relax without feeling guilty about it.

5. “See the good in yourself.” Sometimes I would think I was not a good enough teacher or not effective. That was the time I tried to focus on what I was good at doing and how it affected my students. This helped me see my weaknesses in a better light so they were manageable instead of overwhelming.

6. “See the good in others.” I heard or read somewhere that there was something good about every person. We all know that there is that one student that you just can’t stand to teach. I would try to find something I liked about that student and when I did that, it changed the way I interacted with that student. I’m not saying we had a mutual like for each other, but we were able to get along better so that I could be effective in teaching this student.

7. “Positive imaging.” I hate to be observed and evaluated! I don’t care how much experience or how good I was, I just felt scared to death. One way I got through this was to picture a positive image of myself teaching. I would be teaching with confidence, and know my material. When I would hold that image in my mind, it made it much easier when I was observed and evaluated.

8. “Anticipate fun.” Have fun teaching! If you enjoy your job, you will do much better. I loved teaching and all the unexpected things that will happen comes with it. Every day was different and was never boring. If I was having fun, I know the students were usually enjoying the lesson too. I tried to teach as if I was the student so if I was bored with the lesson, so were the students. I also tried to tell the students at the beginning, “This is going to be a fun lesson today!” That usually put them in a receptive frame of mind and the lesson went well.

I feel that having a positive attitude was important as a role model for students. Sometimes they are surrounded with people who do not have this kind of attitude so showing and teaching this can really make a difference in a student’s life. With a positive attitude, success is sure to happen!