agnestirrito

"Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it, because action has magic, grace, and power in it." Goethe


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Friday’s Five

Signs and secrets. I guess that’s my theme this week. It’s been a good week, friends. Every day…challenges to make me remember I’m alive. Every day…blessings to be on the watch for. They come every single time. Here are five from the past few days:

My son is getting married in July!
What a sweet secret to know about…his fiancé Daniela is beautiful and smart and she laughs…the loveliest laugh. May they always find laughter in life.

I mailed my retirement packet and took it into the post office to ceremoniously mail it. It was a moment of pure relief…a hard but right decision. The camera clicked that moment. Thirty years of work on its way to Austin for final approval…

As I pack and give away and sort items from my classroom, memories come visiting. It’s been therapeutic and healing. Class photos, love notes from children, letters of thanks from parents…a real gift. Supplies and materials are finding their perfect homes. My son left with a cookie tin full of glitter today. Kids of all ages need glitter…trust me.

Texarkana Parent wants my next article–this one on positivity. It’s the sweetest thing to know that all that daily writing last year turns into good opportunities like this…

Carolyn brings enchiladas and chocolate cake for my family as a last minute surprise to end the week. Marissa stops by. An art friend Jen does, too. Friends come through daily.Thank God for them. It is “moments in time” we will remember.
I had very good ones this week. Some, you know; others I hold close to my heart. I am so grateful for the goodness of people.
Blessings…


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Teaching Tip: Celebrate You

Well, it is Teacher Appreciation Week.

Lately, it doesn’t seem like teachers are held in much esteem.
I could tell you some stories…true ones.
And one day, I surely will if that is meant to be.

Today, though, I do want to say something to new educators:

Join a teacher organization. ALWAYS.

Stay connected to many groups other than your campus or district. This will serve you well.

When you realize something is amiss, do something. Speak up. Document.

Never ever think that others have your best interest at heart. Never ever think that school boards are informed.
It is your responsibility to keep them informed.

The students in your care deserve your best. They won’t get it every year from everyone. Make sure they get it when they have you.

You probably won’t earn a lot of leave or money while you teach. Save as much as you can. It is mental freedom to know you are not indebted to anyone.

Many people will tell you what to do when they have no idea what you do every day. They will expect ridiculous and impossible things from you.
Ask yourself,
Will my students be better because of this?
If the answer is no, you have some thinking to do.

Know that a week dedicated to appreciation is not what teaching is about.

Teaching is emotionally draining and emotionally fulfilling at the same time.

The lessons you will learn in the classroom are every bit as important as the ones you’ll teach.

Test scores don’t matter as much as your bosses want you to think.

Your students will remember you. Make their memories matter.

Have a good week every week.
Every year.
Celebrate your decision to teach.


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Teaching Tip: Wait and See

Last September, I met a prekindergarten child in the cafeteria at dismissal time.
She was out of control.
She hit a teacher, called one a mother $)(&@”#%*, and was just generally out of control.
Yes, a prekindergarten student. Age 4.
Today, this same child came up to me at dismissal and smothered my face with kisses.
A colleague and I looked at each other and shook our heads.
Is this child rehabilitated? No.
She is in the office almost every day.
But she’s better than she was.
Miracles take time.
These children need love.
Don’t forget it.


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

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It’s colorful and crazy, our fourth graders’ version of Jolene’s crazy quilt from the book Mister and Me by Kimberly Willis Holt.
It’s a joyful explosion of color and texture and we agree that it puts us in a happy frame of mind as we pass by.


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Teaching Tip: Survive the Tests

If there is anything worse for a teacher than spending the day watching students test, I don’t know what it is.

Well, that is not exactly true. There are plenty of worse teacher issues, but watching testers is pretty painful.

The state of Texas calls what we do active monitoring. This means we perch, roam, glance, repeat. But not too long. Not too much.

I compare the four hours (maximum now, blessedly) in that room to solitary confinement.
I’ll be glad for Thursday when things get back to normal, or our closest version of it.
For now, Starbucks will have to save tomorrow. And when that last tester raises his hand, I’ll breathe a sigh of freedom. Get those tests out of the room ASAP. Get back to poetry.
A Child’s Garden of Verse awaits.


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Teaching Tip: Buy Velvet

My students and I are reading Mister and Me by Kimberly Willis Holt. It’s a wonderful book for students to read with the eyes of a writer, and that’s what we have been doing.
We talk about each chapter’s happenings, of course, but we dig deeper.
We look for onomatopoeia, similes, personification, ways italicized writing is used.
And, today, we held heavy shears and touched velvet.
My students don’t have the backgrounds and experiences that some children do, and I realized another opportunity to show them new things when we started reading about the Mother’s sewing with velvet.
I brought in my Gingher sewing shears, along with their sheath. Some deep blue velvet.
You should have heard the oohs and ahhs when I brought that velvet out.

I demonstrated cutting layers of fabric with school scissors and the real dressmaker’s scissors. The children nodded their approval.
We figured out how to cut enough pieces from 1/8 yard of fabric, and each child has enough velvet for the crazy quilt squares we’ll make soon.
We may tape a little piece into our journals and write where that blue velvet leads us.
Blue velvet. Just another way to get kids reading and writing.