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As always, I hope you are happy, healthy, and loved. Today is a great day to share a few kind words with someone in your life. Perhaps it’s your boss who brings treats to brighten the staff’s day, your colleague who inspires you to be better, or a student who rarely hears a kind word from anyone.

Self-talk is the most important thing we can focus on for our students and ourselves.

I constantly monitor the words I speak aloud and the internal dialogue inside my head. For years, I would instantly wake up in the morning and berate myself for not waking up earlier, not going to the gym, and not meditating, ultimately leading to a negative day. Listening to negative self-talk is a miserable way of being.

We can be our own worst enemies.

I now make a conscious effort to stay aware of my thoughts. It can almost always be traced back to negative self-talk if I am in a bad mood. My negative self-talk will also, unfortunately, affect those I encounter that day. Self-talk matters to us. It also matters to those around us.

Even when students, bosses, or colleagues challenge us, we can be mindful of the self-talk behind the behavior.

Book of the Week

The Year We Learned To Fly
Jacqueline Woodson

Growing up, my brother and I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s house. There was one television in the family room that was usually dominated by the news or something too boring to watch. There also were not a lot of kids in the neighborhood, which meant when my brother and I got sick of each other, which was often, I had to use my mind for entertainment.

This book by Jacqueline Woodson is a reminder of those days at Grandma’s house. Although we may be firmly planted on the living room sofa, our minds have the power to take us anywhere we choose to go.

English Language Arts

How do the characters feel?
How do the characters show their emotions?

Read like a storyteller. Read with emotion.
I’m bored. Or I’m B-O-R-E-D!

Analyze and compare how the characters’ emotions or actions change throughout the story.

What is the author’s purpose for writing this story?
What does the author hope we learn or try from reading this story?


If the brother and sister have to divide the chores equally, how many do each of the kids have to complete?

What if the brother and sister share cookies that Grandmother has baked? How many cookies will each child get? (whole numbers or fractions)

How much money might they earn from each chore they complete? (decimals)

Create a model and compare the square footage of their apartment in the city to their new house in the suburbs. 

Recognize your Power

As I was covering a fifth-grade class on Friday, one student, “Mark,” sat in his seat with a sullen expression, refusing to do work. He asked if he could go and work in the resource teachers’ room. I said, “Of course.” but she was not in her room. I then had to convince him to come back into the room. Could you imagine a kid going missing on my watch?

I promised ‘Mark” he could sit where he wanted as long as the people at the table could remain focused.
I promised him he would not have to do any math work (I know).
I asked him if he would please reconsider joining us.

He decided to sit by himself. He did not do any work, but about 10 minutes in, after watching the other kids joyfully working, he asked if he could join a group of students. I responded, “Of course!” He then asked if he could work on what they were working on. I said, “Of course!”
He then willingly completed two out of twenty problems. (We are deep into fluency practice at this point in the year).
I then encouraged him to try five more problems. He willingly did. He made some mistakes; I helped him correct them.
I praised him for his efforts. His face transformed. He has the most beautiful smile.

This sullen child, who felt out of place and would not participate, had a moment of hope and joy.
This child has had a long history of being unsuccessful in the mathematics classroom and feels powerless. He, therefore, engages in negative behaviors to empower himself and gain some control over his life. He needs to feel empowered.

I knew he would feel safe enough to try if I gave him options and space. I knew that if I encouraged even the tiniest of efforts, he would develop more confidence and be willing to try again.

We are not just here to teach reading, writing, and math. We can be here to instill confidence, model patience, and give students a little faith in themselves.

We are the influencers.

I was leading professional development training at a school last week. During the break, the principal shared his experience that morning at a different local school. The only thing he said was this:
“I was in a classroom at ____ school. I was talking to a student who was solving a problem, and she said, “I can’t do it. I’m just not good at math.”
Before the principal went any further, I said,” I know whose classroom you were visiting.” I named the grade level and the teacher correctly.
The principal was shocked that I could identify the teacher based on a student’s comment and the school’s name.

I could do so because teachers are the ones who create the culture of the classroom. Teachers are the ultimate influencers.
I have been in classrooms where almost all students raise their hands to participate, help themselves with tools to help themselves solve problems, and willingly ask for help when needed. Students in these classrooms see themselves as confident and capable.

I am also in classrooms where I see just the opposite. Only a few students raise their hands to participate, they must rely on memorizing procedures to solve all problems (using tools is seen as a weakness), they are afraid to ask their teachers for help or make mistakes, and students laugh when their peers make mistakes. These students see themselves as incapable and say things like, “I’m not good at math.”

We create the culture of our classrooms. We are the influencers. Our students pick up on the energy, language, and behaviors we display in the classroom. What we do speaks volumes and has a lasting impact even when not in their presence.

Be nice, forgiving, and patient because we may need the same one day.