Wednesday, December 14, 2016


I've firmly planted JOY in the center of my classroom world this year. Making learning joyful has always been important to me, but amid the crazy stressful education world we live in today, it seems more necessary than ever.

Lucky for me, I have a partner in crime in this endeavor. Maria Vallejo teaches across the hall from me and has become one of my greatest sources of inspiration. She has fully embraced the idea of infusing joy into everything we do. Our conversations leave me richer, happier, smarter.

Together, we are going back to basics, if you will. We are making sure each and every day offers plenty of time for choice reading and writing. We are focusing on depth not breadth with our lesson plans. We are drinking from the waterfall that is Twitter and coming to school ready to try something new on a whim. We are pushing kids to dig deeper and think more.

Reading this article from the Moving Writers blog has reminded me that I enjoy being a risk-taker, a trailblazer. I also thought it was a telling sign when I grabbed a Dove chocolate from my cabinet and was given the message, "Why not?" Why not, indeed.

Of course, there are moments when I falter. There are days when I have my doubts. But then Maria comes along with another mind-blowing suggestion, and I'm back. My Twitter people are also such a great source of inspiration for keeping me grounded and nudging me to do more. Scott Fillner, Aliza Werner, Jess Lifshitz and Stacey Reidmiller move me daily. I can't (or maybe won't?) tell you how many times they've posted a lesson, idea, or chart on Twitter... and I've promptly stolen it for an upcoming lesson.

Going back to my summer professional reading is something that's also kept me moving forward. UpStanders by Sarah Ahmed and Smokey Daniels has catapulted me into doing more with how we treat each other and infusing social issues into our learning. DIY Literacy by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts brought back my dedication to anchor charts.

My 4th graders remind me to make the most of every moment and to embrace the fun in every situation. They've given me so much to ponder as we've redesigned our learning space to include more flexible seating options. This year especially, they've shown me what happens when I step out of their way and let them soar.

In this season of giving and a time when we see "joy" written everywhere, I have to give thanks to the people and ideas by which I am inspired. And a special thanks goes out to Peter Kupfer for asking me yesterday why I wasn't writing on my blog any more - it was just the nudge I needed to finally publish this post!