Teaching Tuesdays

Teaching Tuesdays – An Elixir…

…for this teacher heart.

Spring Break, in my opinion, is the best of all breaks.   In the past I might have said it was the unexpected snow day.  But nine of them in one month?  Well, that is just wrong and has entirely ruined their reputation.

There is something about Spring Break that is magical and restorative.   It is an elixir.

This may sound strange, but I like to stay home over my breaks.  Travel is nice and all, but when I do this over break, I never feel like I have had a break when it is time to return.

So here is my recipe for the perfect Spring Break Elixir.

  1.  Select a good book.  This year I selected And Still She Laughs by Kate Merrick.
  2.  Find some new podcasts…and listen to your regulars.  I recommend:
    • The Learning Leader Show With Ryan Hawk
    • TED Radio Hour
    • The Wired Educator Podcast
    • Life in 22 Minutes
    • Instructional Coaching Corner
    • The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey
    • Confessions of a Farm Wife
    • Tch Talks
    • Mormon Channel Daily
    • Disney Story Central Podcast
    • Half Size Me
    • Talks with Teachers
    • The Cult of Pedagogy
  3.  Make a chore chart and listen to those podcasts while you are working away.  IMG_0961 Don’t forget to schedule in some me time.
  4.  Take a walk in the evening.
  5.  Take some photos. 
  6.   Spend LOTS of time with your family. 
  7.   REPEAT

I hope your Spring Break is an elixir for your teacher heart.

via Daily Prompt: Elixir

Teaching Tuesdays

Teacher Tuesday – Minimal Pairs

Well let’s just change that to Teacher Tuesday on a Wednesday Morning.   Sorry, I just had a headache yesterday.

However, I was pondering the word of the day Minimal and came up with very little to write about.  Ha ha..but true.    While seeking inspiration, I happened upon the definition for minimal pairs  which are words that differ by only one sound.  These pairs of words can cause pronunciation problems for our ELL students as well as others.

True story:  I did not learn/hear the difference between sit and set until my first year teaching.  Imagine my embarrassment when a whole study hall asked “Do you mean sit down?”  after I had asked them to set down.

It turns out I have a problem hearing/pronouncing the difference in minimal pairs.  I still struggle to pronounce the long e sound in words.  For example,  deal is pronounced dill,  feel is pronounced fill, etc.

And there was the time I was wrote about perspective teachers throughout one of my Master’s papers.  Yup, another embarrassment.  I still struggle with pre, pro, and por…and rely on spell check heavily to help me with this.

I always thought one had a sick sense…and people believe in old wise tales.

So it turns out that these pairs play a not so minimal part in my life.  But I am surprised I am just now learning about them.  (Keep in mind, I am a math major though…so that likely explains it.)

I have not had time to explore this further, but I will be checking out minimal pairs pronunciation activities and thinking about ways to incorporate them into my teaching and learning.    I also want to explore the connections to this morning’s late-start meeting where we discussed language development.   (Related side note:  Today was the first time I realized {yes, I pronounce this rilizedlistening is a component of language.)  My favorite quote from today’s meeting.

Language is a tool we use to ACT in the world.

I want to act fully in the world and I want my students to act fully as well.  I would hate to think that minimal pairs limit students’ or my own participation in the action, but I have a hunch that sometimes it might.

Please share if you know of strategies that work.


Teaching Tuesdays

Teacher Tuesday – More Than Words


List 5 words you believe are important in education.

This was the instruction given by Steve Wyborney at our last late start meeting. If you are an educator or parent, I highly recommend his blog.  If you are lucky enough to work in the Ontario School District, seize every opportunity to interact with him.  I guarantee you will walk away inspired.

So back to our late start meeting.  We were asked to list the five most important words in education.  Take a second to list your’s and invite a nearby person to play along.

Now rank the top 3 and share out with the person you invited to join you.   Then share in the comments.

Here are my notes:


As you can see my words changed and so did my ranking.   Did your words or ranking change after your discussed them?   Do you think your day to day experience mirrors your list?

I have continued this assignment into the week that followed.  However, instead of listing words I think are important, I listed the five words that best described my day.

March 9, 2017:   Flexibility,  compassion,  patience, listening, observation

March 10, 2017:  Meetings, celebrations, problem solving, solutions, surprises

March 13, 2017:  Shifts, professional development, analysis, dictagloss, dialogue

March 14, 2017:  Misbehavior, discipline, phone calls, frustration, routines (or lack of).

As I reflect on these days, I can see that while some of them (today) were not ideal.  At the heart of my practice are the important words and I can make a connection from my daily words to my ideals.   I really like this practice and hope to continue using it as a reflection tool.  Thank you Steve for getting me started.

Have a great night everyone.  And, if you haven’t already, go enjoy some pie!!!

Teaching Tuesdays

Teaching Tuesdays

The default setting for each new blog post is TITLE.  I love it.  It is the perfect place to begin.

My current title is RTI Specialist. Yup…I am the Response to Intervention Specialist at a small elementary school on the Oregon/Idaho border.  And this title scares me to death.  It sounds so formal.  It sounds like I have it all figured out. It seems to over promise my place in the education realm.  At the same time, it fails to describe the path that led me to and qualifies me (for the most part) for this position.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job!   It puts me in the thick of teaching and learning.  It exposes me to all aspects of education and broadens my perspective.  It allows me to look at the practice of others.  It provides me with opportunities to reflect on my own practice.  It forces me to consider best practices.  It encourages me to grow professionally and calls on me to contribute to the professional development of my colleagues.  But most importantly, it allows me to witness student learning and growth.

So I ask, what is your title?   Does it adequately describe your place in the education realm?  What do you love about your role?  What are your challenges?

It is my hope, that by examining and reflecting on teaching and learning, these Tuesdays will help us better define and magnify our roles as teachers and learners.   So if you are out there reading…please, Please, PLEASE…comment and join in the discussion.