Saturday, March 27, 2021

Head, Shoulders, No Knees and Toes. Teaching Virtually.

I miss my class. :( 

I miss being with my class. 

I see them every day, cameras, on, cameras off. A glimpse here, a glimpse there.

I saw them once, some of them, when they met me at the school to pick up their "gifts" I got from DonorsChoose. 

We saw each other in "real life!" So exciting!

I miss getting up and going out the door, fighting traffic, road raging at those who wish to make me late.

I miss rushing to get ready because I am not the teacher who is there an hour before school starts.

I miss chatting with my colleagues.

I miss high-fiving my students and teaching them that saying "Good Morning" when someone says it to you is normal.

I miss my planning time that moves at twice the speed of light.

I miss small group at the kidney table. Small group in class vs. Breakout rooms? Small group wins every. time.

I miss moving between and around  desks.

I miss my gorgeous carpet, along with all the flexible seating you could ask for!

I miss students at desks, on the couch, at the standing desk, the rocking chair,...

I miss the snow falling while we are still at school, and everyone, including me, being distracted.

I miss my name called one thousand, two thousand times a day.

I miss having my students actually complete their work because I am there. I am present. 

I miss the dropping off, and the picking up of my students, constantly, throughout the day.

I miss the secretary's smile and cheerful greeting.

Once I get back, I will probably yearn for the time I was home.

I know it is what is best. I know I am fortunate that I have the opportunity to teach from home.

But still, I miss my class.

I miss being with my class.:(

Monday, February 15, 2021

"Outside the Topic" Student Connections in a Virtual World.

It's funny how students take things you say every day and turn it into "a thing."

Every morning I share the Morning Meeting slide with my class. (I tweaked someone else's template).I always try to connect the topic to the National Day or things that are going on in the world.  In order to give my class a chance to talk about what they want to talk about, I would say,"Who has something to share outside of the topic?

Well, one day, I forgot to say this."Ummm, Mrs.Mims, we didn't share outside the topic!" 

And thus, "Outside the Topic" was born.

Student voice. Student Choice.

In this virtual world, we have to give them something. 

Give them a chance to talk about anything, and (almost)everything, they want.
From the heartwrenching share about a mom's battle with thyroid cancer, watching the basement renovation unfold with daily updates, as well as listening to the devastation caused by fallng into lava and losing everything!  (Minecraft,people😀). He cried that night,but then he got over it by playing a different game.

It's just a way, every day, for my kids to be themselves.

A way we can connect, outside the topic.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

We Are Not Superheroes, We Are Teachers.(Poem dedicated to teachers everywhere!)

I tell you, Amanda Gorman, really inspired me. I haven't written a poem in years!

We are not  Superheroes.

We cannot leap 

Tall buildings in a single bound.

But, we can leap over obstacles

placed in the way

Of us "being best".

We cannot run at the speed of light.

But, watch how quickly we can


Virtual, Hybrid, Face to Face.

We do not have laser beams that shoot from our eyes.


These eyes. 

Can shoot



Smiles, you can't see behind a mask.

They can convey

"Excuse me?" 

In any language.

We don't have super hearing.

But, we could hear our teaching career calling from far, far away.

These ears always hear what was said, even if it's muttered.

We can't lift a car.

But we can lift our students,

so that they meet our



highest expectations.

Lift them out of whatever they may be feeling, 

that has them down.

If even for a moment.

Our body is not impervious to weapons.

But, foolishness from




And those who know absolutely nothing about teaching?

We let it bounce off and come back stronger.

We are not SuperHeroes. 

We don't wear, or need, a cape.

We can suffer... emotionally and physically,

Just like you.

We are not your SuperHeroes.


Written by Lisa Mims


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Should We Let Go of EXPECTATIONS?

There was a post on Twitter about a mother who sent her kid to school knowing they had tested positive for COVID.

As I am wont to do, I dived into the comments.

 A constant stream ran through the thread, noone should be upset with the adult. Instead we should blame society, the school, etc...., anyone but this adult who made the choice to send a kid to school with COVID.

Have we gone too far with expecting very little, or nothing at all, from our students and parents?

Was it too much to expect this parent to keep her child home when he had COVID? A disease that could be fatal to his classmates, their family, the teacher, and his/her family?

And this "not expecting much",didn't start during the pandemic, this "low or no" expectations, started years ago. 

Why can't I expect my students to be on time? 

To complete their work and do it to the best of their ability?

To ask for help if they need it? 

To not lie on their beds while they are learning?

Why can't I expect my parents to read the notices I send home and respond?

To attend parent-teacher conferences?

To support their child to the best of their ability?

To ask for help if they need it?

And I know, we have to be flexible, especially now. I know everyone has a different situation, especially now. But this didn't start with COVID.

How many times have teachers found themselves blamed by a parent for their child's lack of progress, after not meeting any of the classroom expectations? And this, after the teacher has bent over backwards for the student and the parent?

What happens to our students later in life, when they have flowed through a world where noone expected anything of them? How do they adapt to a world where suddenly there are expectations that they are required to meet?

I have expectations for ALL of my students. Sometimes they are all able to meet them, and sometimes they are not.But the expectation is there. 

Here's an example. I start class at 8:45 a.m. I open my Waiting Room at 8:40 a.m. which has a timer counting off the minutes. I expect my students to be on at 8:45 a.m. because that is when I start Morning Meeting. In the beginning, they would wander in whenever. By the 2nd month, most, if not all, are there at 8:45 a.m. every day. (5th graders)

If they're late, I don't fuss, I greet them. I don't know the circumstance that made them late. If it becomes constant, we have a conversation. (That's why building relationships are so important.)

I will ADJUST where necessary, especially now. 

I will BE FLEXIBLE, especially now.

 I'm just not letting go.

Image provided by unDraw

Sunday, December 13, 2020

"12 days of Christmas" Mini Math Project - Christmas Price Index (CPI)

Christmas is here! Or the holidays, the break, or whatever you wish to call it.

But one thing is for sure, whatever you call it, the kids are excited, and you still have to teach!

So I figured, why not use something that goes with the theme? Something the kids could get excited about? Something that involved Math, but not endless computation or word problems?

The PNC Christmas Price Index was perfect for what I wanted to do.
They have a site for educators complete with lesson plans.
It's geared toward middle and high school students, so I modified it for my 5th graders.

I used the information they provided on the Price Index and created a table  for the students to fill out using the information in the Price Index.

We  sang the "12 Days of Christmas" before we began. (See video below).

They really enjoyed  creating their own "12 Days of Christmas" chart  I revised the chart again a little this year. Most of them shopped online. .
The holidays are always hectic. This is a great way to maintain structure, but also allow the kids to have fun!