Category Archives: Teaching

Inspiration via Caribou Coffee

Inspiration and coffee -an odd coupling for sure.  A great cup of coffee makes me happy, but it hasn’t quite reached the status of inspiration!  However, I recently was moved by a cup of Caribou coffee.  As I drank the cup of steaming coffee and tried valiantly to keep from spilling it, I was struck by the Espresso Truths imprinted on the cardboard sleeve intended to keep me from burning my fingers. 

     You are holding our pride and joy.

Though the statement was intended to reveal the hand-crafted nature of the beverage, it caused me to think about the children in our care.  Imagine if every morning as we opened the car door to let youngsters out the parent sitting behind the wheel announced, “You are holding our pride and joy.”  Though the words aren’t audible, the sentiment certainly holds true for each and every parent. 

I am awed and honored to hold your pride and joy.  As a parent, I am grateful for those who hold my own pride and joy.

Spell Chek!

I can’t go anywhere or read anything without coming across a misspelled word.  Is it the English teacher in me that seems to have an eagle eye for errors?  I never won a spelling bee or made perfect grades on spelling tests every week as a child, but the misspelled words present themselves at every turn.  Every day, I drive by a fast food restaurant that wants me to indulge in its burritos.  But the sign outside of their establishment reads Chessy burritos.   I laugh every morning.  I know that I am odd.  I take pictures of spelling errors on state park signs.  I clip plastic wrappers from baked chicken that misspell its as it’s.  My eyes are immediately drawn to these egregious errors.  

I wish the attraction was as strong in my own writing.  Unfortunately, I fail to notice my own errors, which I find so irritating.  Why is it so easy to find errors in others’ writing and miss my own?   What is a flagrant error in others’ writing becomes invisible when I pen my own work.  

I wonder if people in other professions have similar issues?  Do decorators walk into someone’s home and think, “How could they put those colors together?”  I’m not sure.  But what I can say is that I am grateful to those who have proofed my progress reports, articles, term papers, and the like.  They have helped me see what I could not.

Now, let’s hope this post has no errors!  That would be irony at its best!

Fresh Starts

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Maria Robinson

I shared this quote with my sixth grade study skills class yesterday.  We talked about the times we wish we could have a “do over” after we make mistakes in our lives whether by our actions or our inactions.  But life is not like a four square game in which we simply call a “do over” and we get to try again.  Instead, we have a choice to make.  Will we ignore our mistake or wallow in guilt?  Or will we choose to take action and make something positive from our mistakes? 

The new year gives us a reason to create a new ending and a time to make new choices about our decisions and directions.  Sometimes our choices have to do with behaviors and other times it is about making different choices in our thinking.  During study skills, students took 30 minutes to organize bookbags, notebooks, lockers, and tablets depending on the choice they made.  Others contemplated ways with me to change negative thinking that increased stress. 

Thirty minutes later, sixth graders reported that they felt a weight had been lifted off their shoulders.  They were pleased with the ability to “start today and create a new ending.”  I am glad that they gained something from the lesson.  I certainly learned from them.  It sometimes takes so little to bring about renewal.  A little time and a little focus on what is positive.

Remembering the Past

I traveled to Syracuse, New York, last week to to share some workshops with a group of lower school faculty. I attended this school from third grade through 12th grade.  Stepping back on this campus, my mind, emotions, and senses were in high gear!  This independent school made learning fun and taught me that I mattered as a learner and as a person.  The school has changed since I attended in the Dark Ages.  The faculty are new, buildings have been built, and classrooms have moved,  but the memories of my time there were crystal clear. 

I looked in the music room that used to be my third grade classroom.  I remembered Mrs. Johnson’s candy jar and the purple desk for the VIP student.  In that room, I learned to have fun with learning.  I walked in the art room and the smells transported me back to the days in which I tried rather unsuccessfully to form clay into something recognizable.  I learned that art was not my gift, but I marveled at those whose gift it was.  The soccer fields seemed so much smaller than I recalled, but the teamwork that occurred on those fields taught me that though you don’t always win, what you do in practice and a game matters.  Though I knew that I loved the school, my visit reminded me of the power of one little school on a young girl so many years ago.  Manlius Pebble Hill School shaped who I would become.

Our graduates frequently return to Trinity School and search for familiar faces of friends and of beloved teachers.  Though changes are inevitable, the heart and soul remain the same.  They talk about the interactive activities, the teachers they adore, and the funny stories of their past.  Remembering the past, they will smile.  I know I did.