Sunday, October 2, 2011

Miles of Smiles

1.  Phases of a First-Year Teacher:

     This week has been one of those weeks where I’ve stayed at school until almost 8pm every night, so when I came upon this wonderful first-year teaching graph, it just made me burst out laughing.  I truly hope that I don’t hit the disillusionment stage.  Even feeling like I’m in “survival” mode, I still feel pretty positive about life.  I’m in love with my kids and couldn’t love my job more!  Not to say that there aren’t stressful times (because I’ve definitely had my share of those lately), but by looking at things sunny-side up, I know exciting things will occur.  I am so hopeful for a wonderful rest of the year.  I know I will face many challenges, but I am sure of one thing – I will persevere! 

2. A Girl with Many Names:

I always greet students with a friendly hello as I pass by, but being a new teacher in a big building, many students do not yet know my name.  So far, this is what I have been referred to by students (keeping in mind that I’m 5’10” with blonde hair): Mrs. Pretty Lady, Tall Pretty Lady, Big Giant Girl, Huge Teacher, Miss Nice Teacher, Mommy, Mom, and Mr. Smarty Brain (I’d have to say that last one is one of my favorites… said by a kindie of course J ). 

Recently I was walking down the hallway to my office when a 4th grader whispered to her friend, “That girl looks like a real-life Barbie.”  It definitely made me giggle.  A few days after that, I was conversing with a colleague when a first grade student passed and said “Hi Barbie Girl!”  Haha.  I couldn’t contain myself at that point.  I didn’t know what to say, other than just laugh.  Apparently I look like a Barbie… I’m just going to take it as a compliment.  J

3. The Wolf:

This adorable stuffed wolf has been passed around to different staff members in our building.  It is given to a staff member to recognize their efforts for making our school a great place for kids to grow and learn.  I was recently given this wolf to acknowledge the positivity I bring to the school and for the new ideas I share and the effort I put into the work that I do with kids.  J  I was really excited as a new staff member to be recognized!  Thank you to my wonderful staff for appreciating my efforts!  I couldn’t do it without you!!!! 

4.  Chatter Box:

I decided to implement this idea because I want to develop a deeper connection with my students.  Since I get to see my kiddos for such a short time each day, it’s difficult to get to know each of them really well.  In order to get to know them beyond the hour they spend in my class, I created what I call a “Chatter Box.”  Students can write notes to me before or after class, sharing anything they want to share, whether it’s good news, bad news, or just a note saying hi.  I want my students to know that I am a good listener and really care about them and what is going on in their lives.  I wasn’t sure what would happen when I decided to implement this idea, but was pleasantly surprised by the responses I got.  Here are a few of the notes I received:

(written after discussing the vocabulary word "content")

And this last one is from a student who has been giving me a particularly difficult time in class.  I wanted to cry when I read it…

Such a simple statement, yet so powerful! 

When I read the notes at the end of the day, I’m always left smiling and feeling like I am making a positive difference in my students’ lives.  I can’t wait to see what else will be left in the box! 

Here are a few more pictures of the Chatter Box:

This is the students' favorite thing - looking at the bird inside the box when they leave a message  :-) 

If you’d like to create your own Chatter Box, here’s what you’ll need:  an empty coffee can (or oatmeal container), some brightly-colored wrapping paper, some cute clip art animals, and some speech bubbles. Have fun chattin’ it up with your students!  J 



  1. I love that graph! I don't think the disillusionment stage has to drop so low though. I think we all have to adjust some of our ideas and expectations, and that's for all teachers-not just first year teachers.

    I may try the chatter box, because I never feel like I have enough time to just chat with my class.

  2. Hi Ashleigh,

    Thank you for your comment and added encouragement! :-) The chatter box has really helped me build a deeper connection to each of my students. They just love leaving me notes and it makes my whole day! You'll have to let me know if you try it out!