book · Education · family · life · reviews

Grit- part 1 — seeing grit in yourself and children

Grit BookI have been reading the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. I haven’t finished reading it just yet, but I wanted to share some of my insights to this point.

Grit is a term that was starting to be tossed around in education before I left teaching. Grit is the stick-to-it-ness of people. This book dives into how grit comes about and how it effects each person in their lives.

I have always felt that I am rather gritty in life. I know that I am in my career path. I am a make a goal, stick to the goal type of person. I know that life isn’t perfect. I know that I am not perfect. I also know that I need to stick to the things that I want to accomplish and that both the successes and failures will assist me in growing in my career. I look at each academic year, each new class of children, as an opportunity to grow and develop as a teacher.

I have over the years seen the difference between a child who has grit and those who do not. So much of education and assumed to be based on ability. While having a high ability often makes school easier, it is not the only factor in a child’s success in school. Over the years the children who have made the biggest impact on me are the ones who work hard and overcome the deficits they come to me with. The kindergartners who did not go to preK and hardly know how to write their name and leave writing sentences. The children who come into the classroom not speaking English and leave as fluent readers and writers. The children who do not recognize their numbers and leave understanding addition and subtraction.

But it isn’t only the students who go from below grade level to on grade level who have grit. Some of the children who I worked with that had the most grit were my special needs children. The ones who fight through the pain, both physical and educational pains. The children who struggle to speak in complete sentences who want nothing more than for you to listen to their story.

What I have seen, in my own sons, as well as many gifted children, is that the gifted children often develop grit later than others. Children who learning come easy to do not have to push themselves to gain academic knowledge. They do not have to work to learn, it just happens. So what do we do for these students? How do we help them gain the passion and perseverance to grow in life? How do we help them learn to overcome adversity and move on with life? This in itself is a form of learned helplessness. They feel that they can do anything so when things do not go smoothly they do not know what to do next.

For Blake, he hit this struggle this year. In math this year he actually had to work. He needed to practice the skills worked on in class. He struggled to complete homework assignments and needed to learn to ask for help. He needed to see that even if he got things wrong the first time he could go back and try again. He is learning that life isn’t simple. That all learning isn’t just a matter of showing up and then knowing how to do everything. One of the big things that Richard and I did was let him struggle. He needed to fail. He needed to see that even after he failed he could do it.

As parents we want our children to be successful. We want our children to feel pride. But, are we giving them true pride by using empty praise? When we do things for our children what are we telling them? What happens when you praise a child for their ability and not their practice? What happens when everything easy? How do we push children without hurting them? Is it bad for them to feel hurt from time to time, or will that actually encourage them to step up and try again harder next time?

How do you find that fine line between helping and hurting. If you do too much you are inviting a feeling of learned helplessness. If you do not help enough at certain times are you also bringing on those same feelings? Where is that fine line? Do gritty parents raise gritty kids? Can you increase your level of grittiness in yourself? In your child? The answer is yes, but is isn’t easy and there are many things that must fall into place. Finding something that you are passionate about and finding the perseverance to stick to the thing you are passionate about no matter what is thrown in your way… that is grit.




Quick Question to Ponder!

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So as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I have to write an essay for the teacher application. I’m almost done with it! I have to write the closing paragraph and then go back and edit. Richard started editing it for me last night too. I love getting another’s perspective on what I write, especially in formal situations.

Image result for outstanding educatorAnyway… the topic is the qualities of an outstanding teacher. I dropped my former principal an e-mail and asked her suggestion on which topic to address and we agreed this was a good one.

So, it has got me thinking. I know what I believe makes an outstanding teacher/educator, but what do others think? What do other teachers think? What do people who are not in the profession thing? Does it differ once you have kids? Does it reflect the teachers who impacted you or is it based on some stereotype of educators?

So… help me out. What qualities do you feel an outstanding educator should possess??

Education · family · life

Next step….?

My mind is swimming today. I finally got my teacher certification here in PA. I guess it’s time to dust off my resume and figure out what the next step will be for me. In looking at districts nearby, I learned that the application process is different here than I’m used to from my other times applying for positions. PA has a mandatory application process which includes an essay. I also have to get all my background checks done ahead of time. Ugh! Ok I can do this.

I already contacted my former principal to see which of the essay topics she felt I should base my essay on, At least it can be typed! So now I need to figure out how to write an essay that will grab the principals’ attention for the right reasons. At least I’ve been blogging a lot lately so the whole putting thoughts on paper (well the screen) is not going to be the hard part.

Richard and I both feel that if I get a job.. .I get a job. If I don’t, I don’t. I have way too many other things in life to put a ton of stress on this whole process. Now don’t get me wrong… I’m taking this very seriously and I want to get a public school teaching job. I’ve just learned throughout life that you can’t stress what you can’t control. I can not control if I get a job or not. I can do my best, show up and show them who I am and then hope that I move forward.

For most of my life if you asked me to tell you who I am the first words out of my mouth was “I’m a teacher”. But, my life is so much more than that. I’m a wife and a mother, and nothing could be more important to me than those jobs.

So we will see where this process takes me, but for now… I guess I’ll start working on an essay.


blogger laziness and a bit of rambles

Yesterday I was a slacker blogger. You may have noticed that I just popped off a quick post at the end of the day yesterday. I was at the school from 7:20 until 2:00 helping out with the Science Olympiad. It was a lot of fun and the kids had a blast. Colby came home from school exhausted as I’m sure most of the kids did. This was their last school day before testing starts, so that was a fun way to prep for state testing. Blake has testing the next 2 weeks and Colby has testing the next 3 weeks.

I also didn’t read anyone else’s blog yesterday, that is normally a morning time thing for me, so I tried to plow through a lot of them today. I try to keep up with most of the bloggers who leave comments on my blog. I always feel this is the start of a conversation/ a kinship/ a something and when I know that you are reading and commenting on my blog, then I’m more drawn into reading yours on a regular basis. Others, I tend to read if they peek my interest. Am I the only one who blogs this way?

This week has been a revisiting of winter for us. We had some type of snow every day and woke up to a little over an inch of accumulated snow today again. Ok… I’m done with winter now. Can we move onto spring?

This weekend will be a slow keep life simple weekend. We will try to stay on our normal routines and get the kids to bed at a reasonable time. I really hate state testing, yes I know I’m a teacher, yes I know there is a need for accountability, but this still doesn’t feel like it is it. At least here in this school district (or at least this school) they don’t stress the kids out as much over the whole thing. My sons don’t feel the pressure as much as they did in FL.

This coming week also finds me finally going and taking the PA teacher tests. I am not stressing out over this… it is what it is. I am not going to study. I’m not going to do anything but show up and take the test. I’m totally in the mode of if it is meant to be I’ll be fine.  If not… Oh well. (part of me know that I’ll be totally ticked with myself if I don’t pass… I don’t do failure well!)

Well… time to get ready to head to the gym. I wonder what the boys will do this week in their little lifters class? I’m dragging and my throat is scratchy so we will see how much energy I have for working out today. But… I’m going and that is a start.

Happy Saturday!


book · Education · life

Reading is a journey

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This picture came up on my Facebook On This Day today. As a mother of avid readers and a person trained in the art of educating children who are in the process of becoming readers, I can’t agree with this statement more.

So often, people put emphasis on how children read. My son read at a Lexile level of xxx. My daughter needs to be reading this level of book. I taught in schools were reading was pushed to take tests, not just reading tests in class, but also AR (accelerated reader) or other programs similar to this. They were forced to read books within a certain reading level.

I don’t believe this is the right approach… (gasp!)

Learning to read is not always a natural process for all children, but learning to love stories should be. Children should already have a love of books before they step one foot into school. Learning to love stories starts by sitting in the lap of a loved one and hearing a story read aloud. It is fostered by hearing the same stories over and over and over. When children get to pick the books they hear read to them, they learn what they like and what they don’t like from books.

Parents do not always know, but just because your child has learned to read doesn’t mean you should stop reading aloud to them. Choose books your child cannot read independently, but would love to hear. I believe that children should be exposed to chapter books around the age of 4 or 5. This is an age where they have excellent imaginations and can learn to start to see the pictures in their head. They can start to retain the story from one day to the next.

When children are motivated to move forward and see that the world open up in books, they will want to read. Even struggling readers want to read. I never told my students what they had to read. There were children who would pick up books way beyond their level, but they were motivated by the story. They would fight through he book just so they could say they read it. I also know children, including my own, who will pick out picture books when they were reading much longer chapter books. Who are we to say what they should or should not read.

Read to Me

Read to me riddles and read to me rhymes
Read to me stories of magical times
Read to me tales about castles and kings
Read to me stories of fabulous things
Read to me pirates and read to me knights
Read to me dragons and dragon-book fights
Read to me spaceships and cowboys and then
When you are finished- please read them again.

Author: Jane Yolen


Education · family · life

How much sleep do I need?

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Sleep is one of those issues that people do not want anyone telling them what is best. I’ve learned this over the years of teaching. I’ve had so many children tell me that they only need 8 hours of sleep…. ummmm nope that’s not enough. Quite often when children do not get enough sleep on a regular basis they don’t act tired, they act wired! Sleep issues is a question that is often brought up when people are considering ADD/ADHD.

I’m one of those mean parents. My sons who are 11 and 9 go to bed at 8pm. This is lights out go to sleep time. They head upstairs around 7:30 to read. My sons’ alarm clocks go off a 6am. That means if they fell right to sleep they’d get 10 hour of sleep. Which if you look at the chart above is the minimum needed for their age range.  (Richard and I sleep from 9:30/10:00pm-6am)

While I know they wish they had a later bedtime, and they will over the summer time, I do it because it is what they need.

Sleep is such a vital part of human development. Children grow physically and mentally while they sleep. This is the body’s opportunity to slow down and process the effects of the day.

Sleep is important in a healthy lifestyle. It is just as important as diet and exercise, but it is so often overlooked. Instead of letting your child drink caffeine to keep awake (yes more and more people are doing this younger and younger) or even yourself for that matter. Instead of saying his isn’t tired he just keeps going. Or hitting that 3pm wall… look at your sleep schedule. What time do you need to wake up? What time does your child have to get out of bed? Take that time and work backwards. Yes the first few nights of going to bed earlier will be hard. Do it in small increments, keep adding a few more minutes of sleep each night until you get yourself/your child into the ideal sleep range. (know that the range is a suggestion and some will need more and some will need less, but this is a guideline).

If you are switching your child’s sleep schedule explain why. Show them research or at least the graphics they show how much sleep they need. Talk about how long it takes them to fall asleep. Talk about healthy sleep routines that will help. Stop using electronics 1 hour before going to bed.

Get a good night sleep… your body will thank you!

book · Education · family · life

Time to Read

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It’s Saturday! Sorry I have been off in my posts lately. Thursdays’ post was really late. Yesterdays… well it never happened.

Yesterday I was up and going to the boys’ school. Did you notice a trend this week?? I went to help out with the last day of the book fair. I wasn’t actually working in the book fair. I was helping with the money they collected to donate money to Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh. Each day they collected coins and the PTO counted the coins and let the classes know how much was collected. They held a contest between the grades. The class in each grade to raise the most money won a prize. The prize was just a little whatever item. Each child got putty, a pencil and then some other little item (one class got folders, one class got sunglasses and the one in first place for the whole school got sunglasses and a bookmark). When they set up this fundraiser they had no clue how much money they would collect. When I arrived at school and the Friday buckets were starting to pour in… and let me tell you they were FULL. We had a bucket that had over $200 in coins… in one bucket! The school raised over $3400.

The job I had planned to accomplish when I got to school on Friday was to pull the books from the All for Books donation money to send off to Children’s Hospital.  But, we did not have a final tally of how much until around 2pm. So, we didn’t even start. This means more work on Monday. Monday I will go in and help pull the books for this. Add up the books for the teachers. The PTO donates $50 in books to each teacher. Then we have to clean up and close down everything for the cases to be taken away.

Lot of work, but lots of books getting into the hands of those who need them. My own boys purchased a total of 7 books. Works for me!

As a person who loves books. Who guides children in the process of learning to read. Who is raising two avid readers. I feel that book fairs are a fun way for children to see the joy of books. Since this book fair came on the tail of Read Across America week, where the school made it fun for the students. They celebrated books in so many different way, I’m sure this also motivated the students to want to buy more.

In terms of me and books right now… I’m almost done reading Lilac Girls. I’m also about 1/3 of the way through The Identicals. When I finish Lilac Girls, I need to pre-read a book for Blake. Richard is also pre-reading a book for Blake. It is hard when your children are reading at a level that is way beyond their years. We have struggled with this before. When Blake started into chapter books I would read them before he could, then he got to an age where I trusted most of the books he would encounter/ he reads a lot faster than me. Now we are getting to a point where he is reading books that could contain sexual/ violent/ or other content that we need to check for maturity. He isn’t happy when we say, yes but… but he also knows we are doing it for his own good.

Colby is also a strong reader, he actually reads at a higher level than Blake did at that age. At this point, the books Colby typically chooses would not have the violent type content that Blake’s does. Blake is into history and therefore into wars and teen age war books can be very graphic. Colby enjoys reading stories about human nature (Wonder, Ugly, Finding Gobi, and more) the type of books that touch your heart strings. Those who know my sons would not be surprised at the difference in the types of books they choose. So, we know at some point we will have to read Colby’s books too, but right now we don’t. I guess when that day comes we will either have moved on from reading Blake’s or I’ll only be reading their books!

**This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for checking them out. Please read my disclosure statement. thanks again!**

Education · family

Trips to school and car ride conversations

Today found me at the boys’ school twice. I headed in this morning to help out at the book fair. They are collecting coins for “All for books”. The school is using this money to donate books Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital. I spent a good chunk of time today rolling dimes (each day they are collecting a different type of coin).

My own sons have brought in their own money each day. I asked them Sunday night  if they were going to donate quarters. I expected them to bring in $1 or $2… nope both brought in over $5 in quarters and then more money today. They said it was a good cause and that all kids deserve books. This makes my heart sing. I love that they are willing to donate their own money to children who have less. Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh is the hospital that we had to bring Colby to when he crashed his bike.

Then tonight we headed back to the school for Colby’s open house. This open house different from what we called open house in Florida. When we had open house it was the time for the teacher to talk about how we teach and what the children will learn. This was an opportunity for the children to come show off their classrooms and learning spaces. There was an art show where they displayed a piece of art from each child in the school. The hallways were covered in work from the different classes. In Colby’s math/science room they had all kinds of experiments set up. In his reading/social studies room they had their reading journals and samples of their writing on display. He was so proud to show off his work. We visited his art room, world language room and the media center as well. Tomorrow we head back to the school to go to Blake’s open house.

I love when I get to drive in the car with the boys. It gives us a chance to have some unique conversations. Tonight we started talking about small pox and other diseases that are eradicated or at least slowed down due to vaccines. We talked about the fact that many parents have been choosing to opt out of vaccines and even that there was concern that they vaccines caused autism. We talked about what autism is and the varying levels of autism. Sometimes I never know where a conversation will go and in what direction things will travel. Richard and I believe that honesty is best, within the reason of developmental understanding. We talk to our sons the same way you would talk to an adult, and have since they were young. I truly believe this has helped then in school. They have highly developed vocabularies and can hold a conversation with adults with little issue. I believe that these car ride conversations are part of this development.

I hope you had a great Tuesday and the weather in your area is cooperating. We are watching the weather as rain and possible snow is coming again. Where is the warm weather we had in February??


book · Education · Uncategorized

Thank You, Mr. Falker– book review

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Today and tomorrow, I’m heading to the boys school for Read Across America Week. I’m reading to their classes. I decided to read a picture book or two. I picked Thank You, Mr. Falker since Blake’s class is reading Fish in a Tree. Both books are about dealing with reading issues. Colby’s class recently read about dyslexia as well. I’m taking a few other books with me as well. I was originally going to bring a chapter book, but it seemed strange to read a part of a chapter book, but not the whole one.

I can only hope that the kids enjoy this book. I don’t want them to think it’s young because it is a picture book. These books are written kids in 3rd-5th grade. The main character is a 5th grader. So often we forget that there are picture books made for older children. Patricia Pollacco writes many books that are geared towards an older child audience. The story of Thank You, Mr. Falker is her story. the story of how she learned to read in the 5th grade. How she learned she has dyslexia and how to live with it instead of letting it decide how she lives.

Thursday, I’m back at the boys school to help set up their book fair. I love that I can go help out at the boys school and especially when I can do something to help out the teachers.

** contains links, please read my disclosure statement**



I have/ Who has verbs

I created another kit for my Teacher Pay Teacher site. They are running a two day sale  starting tomorrow, so I wanted to get a few new kits up and ready for the sale time. Everything in my store will be on sale for an additional 20% off on top of the 5% everything on TPT!  This is a great opportunity to support these teachers.

AJ at A Petite Slice of Life suggested making an I have/Who has game with verbs. I wanted to make it with just regular verbs to focus on that skill. She also suggested that I add numbers to the cards to help the teacher check to make sure all the cards are back and available.

You will find that all the cards are numbered, but not in the order needed to play the game. This way the teacher can put them back in order and pass them out that way without passing the cards out in the order the game will be played.

So here you have it:  I have/Who has Regular Verbs. 

I Have/ Who Has Regular Verbs GameI Have/ Who Has Regular Verbs Game