Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Brave Teacher Retreat Just Around The Corner

If you have been wondering if the Brave Teacher Fall Retreat, September 23 - 25, 2011, is for you, the answer is YES! YES! YES!

Claim your spot right now in this amazing experience HERE

I can't wait to spend time with you! It's going to be sooo good!

Check out the brochure HERE

  • Do you wish you just had some time to journal? Brave Teachers Fall Retreat is for you.
  • Do you like to spend time in peaceful setting by the water? Brave Teachers Fall Retreat is for you.
  • Do you wish you had time to create art projects that will inspire and encourage you? Brave Teachers Fall Retreat is for you.
  • Do you wish you could practice breathing and relaxing to reduce your stress? Brave Teachers Fall Retreat is for you.
  • Do you wish you could spend time with like minded teachers? Brave Teachers Fall Retreat is for you.
  • Do you enjoy delicious and nutritious meals? Brave Teachers Fall Retreat is for you.
  • Do you long for someone to speak with courage and strength just for you? Brave Teachers Fall Retreat is for you.

And here is a little special treat for everyone who has signed up by the end of the Labor Day Weekend. You will receive a copy of Visioning The Best Year Ever via email for FREE! Sign up NOW!

And one super lucky retreat participant will receive a No Magic Wand Coaching Package with Brave Teacher Mim to be used at the time of your choosing--a $300 value!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Self Care and Computer Sabbath

So I'm making some really intentional choices to care for myself this year. I want to offer the people I care about the best of myself. That is only possible if I take good care of myself and am at my best.

One thing I've decided to do is to take a "computer sabbath." From the time I leave school on Friday until Saturday late afternoon/evening I will not use my computer. I won't check emails. I won't blog. Nada.

This past Friday was my first break. It was kinda' tough. I just wanted to catch up on some of my favorite blogs that I had missed since school started. Instead I grouped my students based on little assessments they did this week for both Reading and Math, I read bedtime stories to my little cutie pie. I went out to breakfast, went to a farmer's market, and I went hiking with my little family. I took lots of gorgeous photos on the hike.

I can already feel the benefits, but it doesn't mean it's easy.

What are you doing to take care of yourself that you know is right, but it might not always feel good or easy?

Download a self care worksheet HERE
a little poster where you can add your 10 Self Care Tips HERE.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Watercolor Painting With Kids

I LOVE to watercolor paint. I've had so many happy surprises, despite the fact that my skills are limited. I also love to share painting with kids. My two year old "needs" to watercolor at frequent intervals.

Here are some of the things I think kids gain from painting:
  • patience with themselves and the paint
  • focus on a specific task
  • acceptance that things might not work out the way you expect
  • confidence in their creative abilities
  • appreciation for their work and improvement with practice
  • joy in something that is neither immediate nor action packed nor technological
I know, I know. . .it sounds like I'm pinning a lot on one little activity. That's just it. It doesn't have to be just one little activity. It can happen regularly and frequently. It does not require lots of fancy tools or space.

I painted with 24 4th graders on Friday, and it was the absolute delight of my week. They did a great job at taking care of the materials. It was a gift to witness the variety with which they approached this experience. I'm already plotting future Friday paint dates! Students chose one of their little paintings to hang on their lockers with their first writing sample of the year. (This is how I justify this experience within the context of stifling standards driven school life.)

What delights you at work?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Day Late and A Dollar Short

Over at Blog Hoppin' there's been an amazing week of all sorts of goodies, but if you're like me, you've been too busy, tired, and overwhelmed to read blogs and write blogs this week. So this is a day late, but I'd like to connect up to Freebie Friday. Here's what I have to offer:

Reading Street Focus Wall Labels--especially for 4th grade, but parts could be used in most grades. Stay tuned, as more will be added

and Labels for an Interactive Language Arts Notebook, based on Reading Street. I LOVED my students' Science Notebooks last year.

Over at my website, Brave Teachers, I have some free inspirational and affirming and planning printables, just for you, brave teacher. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page.)

Head on over to Blog Hoppin' for TONS more goodies for FREE!

P.S. It's not too late to sign up for the Brave Teachers Fall Retreat. It's going to be a time of renewal and hope. Just like Fall, it's going to be a short season of letting go of the old ways of seeing and doing so that we can share our most amazing self in our teaching and our life.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Marvels On Monday

During the school year, Monday turns out to be my least favorite day. I feel dread on Sunday night. I think it's wrapped up in expectations of what I thought I should be able to do as a crazy worker bee.

In my process of visioning the best year ever I thought this Monday thing needed to change. I decided that I would expect less work from myself on the weekend and look for "marvels on Monday." These will be unexpected inspiration that flutter through my life. Since this was the first Monday (with just meetings) I can tell you I'm exhausted, but I have a couple things that really stuck out.

1. A teacher from another building gave me some brand new books to add to my class library--just because. That seemed pretty marvelous.

2. I received an amazing email of gratitude with a gift attached from a teacher, trainer, coach. I'll share more about this soon. This felt pretty marvelous.

What marvels are fluttering into your life?

P.S. I want to remind you it's not too late to sign up for the first ever Fall Brave Teachers Retreat.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ending Summer With A Little Heart Goodness

What could be better for the human heart than an art project with a two year old? Let me think about this for a moment. . . nothing! One of my favorite art activities with my two year old is watercolor painting. It's really one of my all time favorite personal art activities, too.

It's fun to see how his process is changing over time. With the school year beginning I hold onto these moments. He is becoming so much more conversational. He has lots of creative and imaginative play that is changing from day to day. He's a little ornery and a lot lovable.

He does my heart good. He reminds me to slow down, not take myself or anyone else too seriously, to live in the moment. to enjoy where I am and who I'm with. This is all good for me with school starting in just a few days. {sigh}

What's making your heart feel good today?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Slow Down Martha Stewart-ish Teachers

Yep. You know who you are. Everything in your room is color coordinated--right down to the tissue box holder and adorable little homemade seats for your library area. And are those handwoven book baskets on handcrafted bookshelves, stained to match everything else? All those adorable alphabets all cut out and hanging from banners of recycled hand made paper across your classroom.

Slow down! I'm trying to keep up, but I just laminated my homemade posters for my focus wall--in all different colors of construction paper. My bulletin board trim has adorable polka dots, except for the stuff with frogs, and the other stuff with lizards, and the plain blue corrugated stuff.

Seriously I'm proud that today I put up locker tags and desk tags and lunch choice. The truth is no matter how fast I run, I will never catch up. There aren't enough hours in a day for me to catch up. I applaud your effort and investment. I look at the pictures on your blog and sigh longingly. It's just not me. I am preparing for the BEST YEAR EVER behind that great green door, but my room is not super cute.

I guess that's a really good thing to figure out. I have invested time in doing long range lesson planning for the year, creating an interactive notebook and focus wall for language arts. I'm still in the process of revamping my family handbook and creating a new powerpoint for the family meeting I'm hosting the night before kids begin. I'm doing all of this, and I'm trying to make peace with myself about it all being enough.

I suspect all of you might be feeling the same way--even if you have been making super cute goodness. You are enough, brave teacher. And if you are the Martha Stewartish type, I'll take any baked goods or cute projects you want to send my way!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

4th Grade Reading Street Focus Wall and Language Arts Noteook

I've finally added a new page to this little blog. If you look to your right you will see it says 4th Grade Reading Street Focus Wall and Notebook. So I'm trying 2 things to increase learning and variety in my classroom. Okay, I'm really trying dozens of new things, but these are the 2 related to Reading Street:

I'm going to have a focus wall close to my small group instructional area and the "front" of our room. I'm hoping that students will look at A LOT and start to internalize the language and what it means. I've seen these used lots in younger grades.

I'm going to have Language Arts Interactive Notebooks. I used these notebooks with lots of success last year in Science. I'm hoping for the same level of success in Reading and Language Arts.

So EVERYTHING I create for these 2 purposes I will be sending to the Google Cloud and make available for anyone who wants to grab them. It's probably going to be a couple weeks before I add more than is there right now. I hope someone out there will be as excited to try this as I am.

As soon as I have my focus wall up, I'll be uploading photos, so stay tuned!

What are you trying this year that has you excited?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Super Excited For Brave Teacher Retreat!

I am head over heals with excitement! I'm so pleased to announce the first EVER Brave Teacher Fall Retreat.
It's going to be SOOOOOOO amazing!

Picture this with me:

~Charming cottage just blocks away from Lake Erie in Lakeside, Ohio.


~Creating artsy projects as tools for your heart

~Yoga practices to take home and use for relaxation and stress reduction

~Delicious and nutritious meals and snacks

~2 nights accommodations

~Intimate group of brave teacher women (sorry guys)

~Effective, caring, and courageous facilitator in Brave Teacher Mim

~Time to walk around, watch the lake, nap, or just BE

I know, I know--it almost sounds too good to be true. It's for real, and if it's calling to you I'm inviting you to join us for this AMAZING weekend.

September 23-25, 2011
Beginning with dinner on Friday evening and ending around noon on Sunday.
All of this and more for $150.

Space is very limited, so if it's calling to you, make this investment in yourself HERE.
Download the brochure HERE.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tip For Classroom Jobs Quick Fix With VIP

OK, so I find some of the really small things in a classroom that drive me absolutely insane. One of those is classroom jobs. I don't like to move the little cards every week or two. I've had kids apply for jobs, but there is always something important that goes undone.

A few years ago I read about this, and it has worked sooo well for me since then. Each day our class has one VIP. (I go in reverse number order.) That one person basically does ALL the jobs I need done, and some that kids just love to do. Some of these jobs include:

~Lunch count
~Paper passer
~Water plants
~Sign assignment books
~Pick up the floor
~Tidy classroom library
~Erase boards
~Turn off classroom computer

You get the idea. Sometimes they have a special spot where they sit, some years I don't do that. Students can always opt out. They choose someone to do part or all of those duties. We have a little board where most VIP duties are listed. Students can wear a name tag that says Today's Room 26 VIP. Most kids really look forward to their VIP day! Of course the quality of work done varies from day to day, but it all works out in the end.

What are some ways you've solved some little annoyances at your job?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Best Year Ever Checklist

I totally meant to include this on Friday with the Freebies. It's the kind of checklist that might feel impractical, but it might just save your sanity. What could be more practical????

So HERE is the Brave Teachers Best Year Ever Checklist. (Be patient. It might take a couple minutes to download!)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Art Show Opening

Can you believe my art is in a gallery? I can't. It feels weird. There was some fabulous art in the show. And I really liked the way it showcased Akron.

It's crazy how feelings of self doubt and unworthiness rise up in my heart. I felt like such a little fish in the big ocean. The big guy I love gave me some perspective on it. He said it was like marathoning for me. I completed my first of 4 marathons in May 2005 in Vancouver B. C. I trained for months. I walked. I finished in 6 hours and 24 minutes. That's more than 4 hours after the winners. I didn't do it to be the best. I did it to do it. I paint to have experiences, and because I love how I feel when I do it. In regard to marathoning the personal victory was crossing the finish line. And yesterday the personal victory was just seeing my stuff hanging on the wall. I'm trying to let that just soak in.

What are some of your personal victories?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Top Eleven Self Care List For Best Year Ever and FREEBIES

If I don't plan ahead I know I won't take very good care of myself this year. So I'm thinking what are the things I can do to take exceptionally good care of myself this year, so that I can have lots to give to my students and other brave teachers. As of today, this is my top 11 list (in no particular order!):

~Eat nutritious and delicious foods

~Use affirmations

~Less shame and blame on me and more acceptance

~Walks in nature--alone and with my little family

~Read for fun--even if it's just magazines

~Create art for fun

~Drink lots of water

~Go on solo adventures--even to the coffee shop

~Ask for help

~Avoid negativity

~Express more gratitude

And on the topic of self care, here are some Friday Freebies around this theme:

For Brave Teachers Poster

Affirmations to cut into cards

Blank Self Care Plan

Blank My Top 10 Self Care Tips

Enjoy! Please know I'm sending out lots of courage and strength with the hope that you are taking steps to make this your best year EVER!

Today is the last day of the SUPER SPECIAL OFFER of Both Visioning The Best Year Ever AND Heal Your Brave Teacher Heart With Affirmations for just $10. Grab it HERE!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Out With The Old And In With The New

I went to school yesterday, and my heart felt a great deal. The "big thing" I realized is it is going to take a real internal shift to stay true to myself and have the best year ever. And honestly, that shifting is never comfortable or easy. I do BELIEVE it is going to be soooooooooo WORTH IT!

I wanted to go back into my old habits and patterns, and just turn into a crazed worker bee. I mean everything in my heart was screaming that that it almost short circuited my thinking. I think it did for a few hours. This internal struggle also zapped lots of my energy for the rest of the day and evening.

So instead of jumping into that before school insanity with both feet, I'm making lists. I'm using the super cool To Do List. You can print it here. I'm still tempted to leave off self care items and beautiful affirmations for myself.

I'm making a list of rules for my new year. They're not the kind that are meant to guilt and shame. They are the ones that will help me feel fantastic when I reach my goals and end the year as my best school year ever! So here is my new list as of today:

1. I practice self care with kindness and acceptance of myself
2. I keep everything else as simple as I can.
3. I ask for help without fear or shame.
4. I recognize that the ONLY thing I can change is myself.
5. I am present and giving my best in every situation I encounter.

How is the new year feeling for you?

I have a super special offer over at Brave Teachers. It's only for a couple days, so check it out here.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Focus on Best Year Ever Classroom Set Up

At this time of year it's so easy to get distracted. I go into a store, and I'm drawn like a moth to a flame to the back to school supplies. I get online to blog, but I'm drawn to all the amazing blog posts of other people as they are planning their year. I go into school, and I think about projects I WANT to do, which is not often what I NEED to do. It's all very fun and exciting, but I need to be clear about what I'm doing.

This is not a recipe for THE BEST YEAR EVER! So I say to myself, keep your eye on the prize. For the next couple weeks my question every day is going to be, what do I need to do today to make this my best year ever??

It's often much more simple than I make it. Today I'm thinking of the only 2 questions I need to ask myself about setting up the instructional space for a great year. Only 2 questions?? Why, there have been whole books written on the subject. I know, but I also know that I am a brave teacher, and I will keep it simple. I made this little video so that you can know my 2 questions.

What are you doing to keep things simple this year? Today? At this moment?

You can purchase or learning more about Visioning The Best Year Ever.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Free Printables For Fourth Grade Teachers

OK, there are some free printables here today for EVERYONE, but I want to give some props to 4th grade teachers.

I don't know what it's like where you are, but 4th grade is the fulcrum point between being a little kid and a big kid. It's the place between dependence and independence. I know all the grades before build to this point. (I have taught, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.) But there is something about 4th grade.

Where I am 5th graders physically move to a middle school building. And for all those 5th grade teachers who think that kids are still so small and dependent and needy when they arrive to you, imagine what they were like a year earlier.

So here is my little pep rally for 4th grade teachers:

Dear Amazing Teacher,

It is the dawning of a new school year, and you have a daunting task before you. You are so up for the challenge! You bring you life experience, your incredible work ethic, your idealism about education, teaching, and learning, and you're going to use them all this year. You're going to make lots of changes. You're going to keep learning and growing.

There will be days when you feel overwhelming discouragement. There will be days that you feel like you're on top of the mountain. Neither of those will be where you spend most of your days.

You're going to change some corner of the world this year. It might be so small or maybe remarkably large. But someone's life is going to be changed because you rose to the challenge of this year.

Go forth and be your best, amazing 4th grade teacher, and everything else will follow!

Here are some goodies for you

Words To Affirm Brave Teachers Poster

To Do List

August Calendar

Stop back to visit and pick up more freebies. I think I'll call them Fourth Grade Friday Freebies.

You might also want to visit my school website where I've collected lots of resources from other teachers! Click it in the sidebar!

You might want to visit my website for more tools on how to take care of yourself this year!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Perhaps the VERY BEST part of summer has been spending time with my little family. And perhaps the best part of spending time with the big guy and little guy is watching the little guy get SOO tall and hearing everything he is saying and asking! (He is SO literal!) I couldn't resist sharing a few of my favorite examples:

"Somebody bwoke my camewa." (Said in the backseat of the car after mommy put the little picture disk in backwards, and the souvenir viewfinder camera his aunt brought him from Germany wouldn't move.)

"I need more kale chips and bwoc-a-lee" (Who says kids won't eat vegetables?? He could not get enough of these from our CSA farmer.)

"I was thinking about the snakes." (Said when I asked what he was thinking when he got to pet a chinchilla at an exotic animal show.)

"Grandma is my mother." (He asked what was a mother, and I told him he had a mother. Then I asked if he knew who is mother was.)

"I need my garbage truck/pizza shop/castle." (Translation: I need to get on my parents' bed, pile up all the pillows and play pretend--often heard at this point, "The garbage sinks (stinks)."

"I sorry guys, I not see the river," (Said to the people, formerly known as mommy and daddy, when we were driving on a bridge over the Cuyahoga River.)

"No, how 'bout a cookie?" (Response to the questions, "Would you like more cucumbers or rice?")

"I help you." (Which might be helpful--or not.)

So I hear stuff like this EVERY day. I'm so grateful that this is such a big part of my summer.

What are you grateful for this summer?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Watch A Sneak Peak Video

Here is a sneak peak video of Visioning The Best Year Ever. It shows you some of the pages, and I talk to you about ways to use this amazing toy box and tool box to support yourself in having an AMAZING year!

HERE is where to get more information about this great "play book and plan book for teachers."

HERE is where to order Visioning The Best Year Ever

I hope your brave heart is inspired!

Are you going to make some time to play and plan for YOURSELF today?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Want The Best Year Ever

I want to have my best school year ever. I want balance and focus and fun! I want to enjoy getting up and going to work EVERY day! I want that to be contagious for my students and my co workers and people I meet along the way!

How am I going to enact this monumental task?

I've created a super cool calendar for myself, a vision board project, some journal writing, a self care action plans, affirmations and more. I'm beginning to work my way through them. It's colorful. It's inspirational. It's thoughtful. I've included lots of favorite quotes, original artwork and photography. It's creative and unlike anything I've ever seen for teachers, and it's FUN!

Now I'm making all this available to you! Yep, I was thinking of you when I made it! I thought wouldn't it be fun to have a huge party all around the world--with teachers inspiring and encouraging each other and envisioning the best year ever.

That's what I called this amazing little tool box and toy box:

VISIONING THE BEST SCHOOL YEAR EVER: A Play Book and Plan Book For Teachers.

You can watch a little video I made about it here.

It's a 63 page full color PDF. You can find out more about it here.

If you want the playing and planning to begin right away, you can purchase it here.

I hope you'll join me in visioning the best year ever!