Mrs. Landry's Land of Learning

A place dedicated to learning for ALL students!

Monday Made It

Hey y’all!  I’m back!  I finally get to participate in the awesome Monday Made It linky by Tara at 4th Grade Frolics.  This is not school related but it was crafty.  So I’ll share.  I actually did this at the beginning of the summer the day before I had my son.  I knew I wanted to join up with this great linky that I even took pictures of how I did it.  Go me!  And here it is…

I wanted to find white letters, but Michaels didn’t have enough of what I needed.  So since I only needed the outer edges to be white I decided to go with the natural wood and paint them myself.  Plus I was able to get all the letters I need.  Lol!  Then I picked out some cute scrapbook paper, grabbed a bottle of Modge Podge, and some brushes.  I was all set!  So basically my process was as follows:

I turned the scrapbook paper to the back and flipped the letters backwards and traced them.  I set the paper aside and painted the edges white with acrylics I already had.  While the paint dried, I cut the letters out.  I then coated the front side of the letters with Modge Podge.  PLEASE NOTE: I had never used Modge Podge before this and yet figured it out!  I was always given the impression that it was tricky to use.  Well if it was then I got lucky!  Lol!  I then stuck the paper letter on top with the pattern face up.  After that I coated the top of that with more Modge Podge to seal it.  I made sure to over the edges too.  This way the paper will not come off at all.  Once all that dried I put 3M velcro strips on the back (I did have to cut them to make them fit the letters) and stuck them on the door.  That’s it!  Several hours after completing this I headed to the hospital for baby time.  Yay!

Now I have to say I’m not usually very crafty/creative.  I learned this from Pinterest or somewhere.  But I was proud of myself for doing it.  My mom was impressed!  <insert cheesy smile here!>  But if I can do this then ANYONE can!  Now click the button below to go check out other fabulous Monday Made Its!

Happy Teaching!

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Helloooooo? Anyone out there? Five for Friday

Howdy!  No your computer is not broken.  Yes you are seeing correctly.  I’m blogging.  Have you picked yourself up off the floor yet?  You have?  Good!  I wanted to kind of explain my absence and what I’ve been up to and decided to do that through Doodle Bugs Teaching’s weekly Five for Friday linky.  Warning- this will be a bunch of randomness.  But then again, that’s how my school year went so it seems appropriate… (click the title below to view other Five for Friday posts)


So my year was starting out pretty good.  Until it didn’t.  Family situation came up that put us in a bit of tailspin.  It was definitely interesting trying to get back on our feet and get school going.  But God is amazing and so is my family.  We pulled through.  So here I am holding Bert…

Yes Bert is a snake!  He lives with our reading specialist and he’s over 20 years old.  He’s a California King Snake, a type of constrictor and he came to visit to show us how snakes eat.  And I captured it on video.  Very interesting to watch.  But I won’t gross y’all out.  Needless to say the kiddos loved it!  We try to have him come every year.

Shortly after Bert came, my husband and I discovered something…

A new little Landry was on the way!  Thankfully, I was due at the end of the school year.  This being my second, I figured I had this handled.  But I had my first 5 years ago.  I forgot how exhausting pregnancy could be.  This little one quickly reminded me!  So I then had to drag myself to school despite bone-deep exhaustion and your other typical pregnancy symptoms.  But it was all worth it!

The year went on.  I felt as though I did not do as well with my stations like the year before.  I was on fire then!  This year, for some reason just seemed overwhelming.  But I managed to pull it together…

Here we have the 100th Day of School.  We had fun at our stations that day.  I truly did have stations going all year.  It just felt like harder work this time around.

I had to show this one off as it was my favorite bulletin board this year…

My team decided to do a theme for our whole hallway for Texas Public School Week- “Deep in the Heart of Texas”!  So we all had a verse from the song.  This was my line.  I was really pleased with how sharp this looked.  Thank goodness for my Cricut!

The school year continued without too much incident.  My kiddos and I, we took care of each other.  The last week of school was so hard physically.  You see, I was due the day AFTER school got out!  There was a lot of question as to whether or not I’d make it.  Well technically I did.  I ended up missing the last day due to a false alarm.  <insert really big sad face here> But I was already done.  Completely.  Including my room.  So it wasn’t too bad.  However, Baby Landry still took his time…

He came a week later!  Here is Mr. Landry along with our first holding the new addition.  Our little family is quite pleased with the new baby and we cannot get enough of him!  Needless to say, from that point on to right now, our lives have been a bit consumed by this tiny addition.  I’m only just now able to get a sort of routine down to attempt getting ready for this year.  And yes, I’m starting back with everyone else.  So I’m hoping that this next year is better in every way for me- personally and professionally.  I have truly missed working on this little blog of mine and I hope to give it lots more attention from now on.

Happy Teaching!


This week in the Land of Learning

Howdy, howdy!

Time has really slipped away from me.  I took lots of great pictures from our Dr. Seuss week and I WILL share with you!  It was too cute and fun not to!  Besides, we ended the week with Stick Horse Rodeo and that was so much fun!  Y’all need to see what you missed!  But in the mean time, here’s what we’re up to this week:

First up is math.  We are going to working on fractional parts- i.e. parts of a set and parts of a whole.  Since this will be a generally new concept (actually teaching it besides seeing it on Lone Star Math- more on that later) I’m not ready for this to be in my stations.  Stations need to be as independent as possible as I’m working with a small group.  So I keep the stations to all previously learned topics.  I’ll do a post about how math block is done in my room/school a little later.  Now, while we are doing fractional parts during learning time, math stations is going to be tricked out in St. Patrick’s Day!  This is like the first time I since I started teaching that remember being at school on this green day so I’m excited!  So here’s the line up:

In bucket number 1 I’ve got the following:

Now this has a math and a literacy station and I’m using both.  So happy about this!  The math station is matching up subtraction sentences that have the same difference.  This is great because my kiddos definitely need subtraction practice and we’re going to be doing another addition and subtraction unit after fractional parts.  I’ll explain the literacy station below.  Click the image to go get it yourself!  🙂

In bucket number 2 we have:

I love Heather!  She was one of the first blogs I ever started following and have loved reading her journey through teaching!  This is another combo math and literacy pack which is another win for me!  For math I’m doing the Lucky Math Sort where they sort number sentences by their answers- equal to 6, less than 6, greater than 6.  Love it!  And yes the literacy station will be featured below.  🙂  Click the image to go grab this great set and leave Heather some love!

Bucket number 3:

Who doesn’t love Ashley Hughes?!  I love all her work!  I love how this will help my kiddos keep on their graphing toes.  I laminated the dice and then folded them up.  Hopefully the kiddos will be gentle with them.  If they are, I’ll just remove the tape to store them flat.  Fingers crossed it works!  Click the image to snag this up!

Bucket number 4:

Just another great chance for my kiddos to practice their addition and subtraction skills.  I can tell some really need it.  Click the image to get this yourself!

Bucket number 5:

Now I was a very lucky girl with this one!  Michelle at Teach123 did a giveaway for this great new pack and I won!  Woohoo!  You can click the image to go this yourself.  You won’t be disappointed!  While it was created for older kiddos, I was able to use bits and pieces to take care of a bucket so I’m happy!  🙂

Bucket number 6:

Okay no this one isn’t St. Patrick’s Day.  I know.  But this activity is exactly what I wanted for my kiddos.  Money can never stop now that it’s learned.  Who agrees with me?  It was a concept that many had to work really hard to learn and I’m not about to let their hard work go away.  Some are still struggling with it.  And since the first day of spring comes this week (on my sister’s birthday no less!) I knew it was a perfect fit!  Click the image to go get it!

So that’s math.  What about reading?  Well we use HM Journeys, Texas edition.  We are on lesson 20.  We will be covering compound words, cause and effect, prepositional words and phrases (so hard too!), and continuing to improve our fluency rates.  We were blessed to get the flip chart stations that went with the program so that took care of 3 stations right there.  I will explain my reading block in another post as that is such a big animal by itself.  Again, I prefer to use my stations as a review to help with the independence.  But some do cover the skills we are currently learning.  That’s mainly the flip charts and spelling station.  But some of the other stations I will be using include the following:

Pocket Chart- Rainbow Antonyms out of the Lotsa Luck St. Patrick’s Day Centers pack mentioned above.  This is for review.

Word Work- Lucky Leprechaun Order out of the March Freebie Fun mentioned above.  They are putting March words in ABC order.  Another great review skill some of my kiddos need.

Word Wall- now this one I’m really struggling with this one for some reason.  Right now I pick one of the words and just give them the letters.  They have to figure out my “mystery word” and turn in their guess.  Those that guess right get a ticket (more on that later).  They are also finding all the 6-lettered words and writing them down.  I want more for this station but I’ll just have to continue brainstorming and looking through the resources I’ve got.  I’ll get there eventually!  🙂

Read the Room- I found this great activity from Stephany Dillon on TPT and I’m changing it to be read the room.  Instead of them just sorting the cards in one spot, they will travel the room and write their sort on the recording sheet.  This is a review from our last Journeys lesson.  They really need this.  Click the image below to go get it!

I’ve pulled a couple other activities for my small groups to work on as well.  Since this post is already so so long, I’ll wait and share what I’m using where in a day or two.  I’ll try to make those visual plans next time around.  So there’s my week!  Hope your week is good if you are not on spring break!  And if you are on spring break- enjoy!!

Happy Teaching!

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This week in the Land of Learning

Okay so let’s pretend it’s still Sunday!  I meant to have this post up then but I got too busy doing all my planning for this awesome week that it was AFTER midnight before I knew it and so yeah…  Needed to sleep.  Lol!  So here’s my preview to my week…a day late.  🙂

Sunday was a special day.  Dr. Seuss’s birthday!  Happy Birthday Cat in the Hat!  So my team has decided to deviate from our normal reading program (insert Psycho screeching here!).  We are doing…Drum roll please!  Dr. Seuss all week long!!!!  Yay!!!!  We love it because it’s not the ordinary same old same old.  The kids love it because it’s Dr. Seuss!  We really get to do some fun activities and just go hog-wild!  So here’s what we are up to:


  • Book- The Cat in the Hat
  • Main activity- learn/relearn some Dr. Seuss facts (one of our reading series stories is about Dr. Seuss); make list of high-frequency words he used to write that first book; learn how Dr. Seuss changed reading from Dick and Jane to something much different; start reader’s notebook.


  • Book- There’s a Wocket in My Pocket
  • Main activity- figure out meanings to his nonsense words; discuss why he made the nonsense words; add more to the word list; reader’s notebook


  • Book- The ABC Book
  • Main activity- read tongue twisters; make own tongue twisters for neat activity (will show pictures!); add more to the word list; reader’s notebook


  • Book- Horton Hears a Who
  • Main activity- discuss what theme is; figure out theme of book; writing activity- What would you tell Horton if you were a Who?; word list; reader’s notebook


  • Book- Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
  • Main activity- hot air balloon telling what they want to be when they grow up; word list; reader’s notebook

Now I know.  This looks rather boring.  No pictures.  But I’m taking lots of pictures to share the results at the end of the week.  This is my first time to actually post about this.  I’m also going to be using some great stations provided by Kathy Law over at First Grade a la Carte that are just made this for this!  In math we are finishing up our topic on comparing and ordering numbers to 100.  We had a first grade program last week and between rehearsals and a bad video causing us to retape the whole show, we got behind.  So rather than cram, we are just going to take our time and finish it this week.  Which works perfectly as next week is spring break!  Woohoo!  Since we can either do science or social studies on a given day, this week is for science.  We are learning plants and seeds, with a concentration on seeds this week.  We are going to look at different seeds and really get to know them before we get to the actual plants.  I know my scientists are ready!

Now what would a week of school be like without a couple of extras in there?  Let’s see… Tonight was Open House- success!  All this week is Texas Public School’s Week so we have special breakfasts each day now- Muffins for Mom, Donuts for Dad, Sausage and Biscuits with Grandparents.  And because we are in East Texas and it’s rodeo season, Friday is Stick Horse Rodeo.  All I’ve gotta say is this…  BRING IT ON!  🙂

So again, please excuse the lack of prettiness of this post.  One of these days I’ll figure out how the other great bloggers create those totally cool visual plans.  And I’m working to post this stuff on time.  Haha!  So that will help too.  But don’t worry!  I’m clicking pictures left and right of what my kiddos are doing so I can share later.  I will say it feels good to be blogging again!  I’ve missed y’all!

Happy Teaching!

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Currently March

I’m baaack!  Yes I know.  I hinted that back in January.  So moving on!  I’m linking up with Farley for another monthly Currently.  She’s had a blog makeover and it looks awesome!  Go check her out!

So let’s do this!Listening- So I’m way behind the times and finally read the series this last summer.  Being a sucker for a good love story I got hooked.  Then my wonderful husband decided to aid my new addiction and bought me the complete series on Blu-Ray.  It’s taking me forever to do this post because I’m watching so intently.  Try to focus…try to focus…

Loving- I think spring weather is coming to East Texas and I’m loving it!  While we didn’t have the snow that most teachers I follow got (or my parents for that matter) but we did get ice.  Let me tell you.  East Texans and ice do not mix.  At all.  Simple as that.  So needless to say that this warm weather is a welcomed thing!

Thinking- I need to file papers.  Both at school and at home.  It’s getting bad.  In both places.  Hoping to get a good jump on it during spring break.  We shall see…

Wanting- How many of us just want one day?  One day.  Sigh…

Needing- If I can feel it on my neck, it’s time to cut.  Loving my short hair!????- Why this number?

Well that’s it.  I’m getting things prepped for next week and I’m going to share.  I know!  Shocking!  But I promise.  I’ll share.  🙂  So anyways go click Farley’s button above and read some other great blogs!  See y’all soon!

Happy Teaching!


Currently January

Yep.  It’s January.  And I’ve been MIA for a while.  Let’s just say life took some unexpected turns both great and challenging and so several things normally on my list (like blogging) had to take a back seat for a while.  But I’m back (hopefully!) and starting the year out with Farley’s Currently!  Sooooo…

So let’s see…  Listening is pretty self-explanatory.  I’m up late and everyone else is sleeping.  Thankfully the husband doesn’t snore.  The dog on the other hand can really saw some logs!  Although tonight is a quiet night.  🙂

Loving- My husband has been working on his masters for the past 2 years and just before Christmas he finished everything completely.  Yay!!!!!  And he did it with excellent grades throughout while we dealt with some super challenges (i.e. our house- read here).  Double Yay!!!!!  Now my daughter and I can enjoy him again as a normal person and he can relax.  Triple Yay!!!!

Thinking- So I’ve got a lot of goals I want to accomplish this year.  Like most people at the start of the new year.  So I guess I need to start a list to help me out.  No problem there.  I like lists.  And crossing things off my lists as they get done.  🙂

Wanting- Need I say anything more?

Needing- Yeah…

Memory and/or Tradition- So my child asked Santa for a guitar.  So Santa got one that was pretty cheap from Toys R Us.  That’s when Santa discovered how cheap it was.  So what did Santa do?  Santa decided that a better one was needed.  Only problem, it was DAYS AWAY FROM CHRISTMAS!!!!  YIKES!!!!! So after much searching and thinking and questioning, Santa found a real ukelele that fit the bill and the child.  The look on her face when she opened that special gift told us that Santa hit the nail on the head.  Nice job Santa!!

Well there you have it!  You can go visit Farley to see other great Currently posts.  I’m hoping to be sticking around more and sharing all the ideas swimming in my head (that never really stopped) as well as just what’s been happening in the Land of Learning.  Until next time!

Happy Teaching!


This week…Very quickly!

So everyone is doing these fancy visual plans and I love seeing them.  But making them?!  Well…Not yet.  I’ll get there.  But I did want to share with you what we’re doing this week.  I do love seeing what learning is going on in the other classrooms of the blogs I stalk read.  It really refreshes me, gives me new ideas, and reassures me that I’m not alone in the trenches.  But I’m straying from the point!

Okay so I’ll share what’s going on in each subject as well as any stations I’m doing…

Math- we are learning plane shapes and organized lists.  My kiddos are really enjoying this as they know shapes pretty well already.  So they think it’s easy peezy!  But the organized lists are throwing them for a loop!  We will be reviewing this later this week.

Reading- We use Houghton Mifflin Journeys and we are on Unit 1 Lesson 5.  This covers short u, Gus Takes the Train, elements of a story, and adjectives- color and number words.  Last week we learned size and shape words.

Science- We learned today about what a scientist is.  I wanted to bring my husband’s lab coat, dress a kiddo up with all the “tools of the trade” a scientist might have, and slowly take items away.  All the while asking if the kiddo was still a scientist.  But alas…I forgot the lab coat.  Ugh.  So instead, I had them tell me what they think a scientist is.  See chart below:

A couple of them said scientists make potions and one said they make them explode!  Love it!  I pretty much told them that they were right.  Scientists do these things.  Then I asked if they were scientists.  They said no, but they could grow up to become one.  I asked if I was a scientist.  Lots of nos on this one but one kiddo popped up and said that I know a lot of stuff to teach them so yes I was.  Cutie!  I then informed them that ALL of them were scientists and showed them what a scientist does while making this chart:

Please ignore the writing mistakes and horrible art work!  I’m not either of my sisters…who can both draw…sigh…anyways…They loved it!  Tomorrow we’ll start observing some properties of matter and be introduced to our science notebooks.  Yay!  Wednesday is an early release day so we will be teaching this kind of fast.  We’ll also look at the 3 states of matter- solids, liquids, gases.  They will even get to EAT one!  Surprise for them!  😀

So there you have it!  It’s not detailed at all.  But at least you know what’s going on in this Land of Learning.  Next post…Stations!  See y’all soon!

Happy Teaching!

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Wait…Mrs. who?!

I have missed this sooooo much!  So why haven’t I done anything about it until now?  Because life has been that way.  You know what way I mean.  When it just puts other things in front of you that you have no choice to deal with.  Fortunately, my family and I, we are tough.  After our house stuff (read about that here), there’s nothing we can’t tackle!  But unfortunately, it meant some things had to be set aside.  While it meant this, I really did think about it almost every free second I had.  I just could never get my hands on my computer to do it.  But on to what I’ve been up to…

SCHOOL!!  I’ve been at this with my kiddos for the last 4 1/2 weeks!  Whew!  In that amount of time, I have gained 20 little darlings, gotten just about ALL of my reading benchmark testing done (that will be finished tomorrow!), and ALL of my math benchmark testing.  I’ve also gotten my room finished in the last few days (it was mainly little things by this point, but that’s how bad it was).  I’ll post pictures of that for your grand tour soon.  I’m knee-deep in reading and math stations and I, frankly, don’t always know which end is up!  😛

But I’m so happy to be back in my classroom and working with my kiddos.  I’ve got a lot of plans I want to accomplish this year and a lot of that includes creating things myself.  I scared!  I look at everyone’s awesome creations and just tremble at the level of awesomeness they are and what I would love to do.  But I know I’ll get there eventually.  I have a new doormate as my former one went back to her true love in teaching, Kindergarten.  But don’t worry, she’s only in the next hall so I’m sure she’ll pop up on here again!  My new one is a dear friend of mine who is new to first grade so I’m giving (hopefully) a helping hand when needed.

Now I really didn’t have much to share.  But I had the opportunity to post something so I took it.  One thing I do want to share that is totally classroom stuff is iPad rules.  Last year, every teacher got an iPad.  Yay!  Now I have a personal iPad (my hubby so rocks!) that I had already been bringing to use for testing and in my small groups.  It’s not in the most protective of cases so I didn’t want to turn my kiddos loose on it and have the horrible thought (which I won’t say/type just to be sure!) happen.  So I waited for our classroom iPad to come.  And it did!  And it came with an Otter Box!  Hello!  iPad station is on the way!  But we needed rules.  Just like we do for everything else.  So then I consulted one of my best friends…Pinterest.

After looking at various different versions of rules and such, I compiled my favorites and came up with this:

This was last year’s poster btw.  Now I added the last rule.  And let me tell you.  It works.  I told my kiddos that if they fight, the iPad goes away.  For a while.  Period.  Now they didn’t get their hands on it until the last couple of months of school.  So it wasn’t until the last couple of weeks that the squabbles started:

Kiddo: Mrs. Landry!  So-and-so won’t let me have my turn!  It’s my turn to have the iPad!

Me: Gee, do I hear fight over the iPad?  Are y’all fighting? (Yes I knew full well they were!)

Kiddo: NOPE!!

The complainer would then rush back as the offender readily handed the treasured tablet over.  🙂  I never had to take it.  Now I reviewed the rules a lot with them.  That helped.  And when certain situations got too close to me needing to take it, I reminded them what would happen.  Thankfully, that’s all I had to do.

Now this year I’m using the same rules.  But I very much believe that anchor charts should be created with the kiddos.  So I set it up like so:

Then the next school day, I went through each rule and what they looked like as I filled it out with them.  I would write it first and then explain it.  You should have heard the sounds as I wrote rule number 7!  Too funny!  But anyways…Here’s this year’s finished rules:

(Please excuse the feeble attempt at prettiness…I’m not very good at drawing or writing fancy but I do have fun with colorful markers!)  And so far, so good!  Well that’s it for me!  I am GOING to be back real soon to share what I’m doing in my room and what I’m using.  I’ll also be working on a picture tour of my room (and those pictures will be used for my sub binder I want to create) so you can see this year’s Land of Learning.  If you are a follower, thanks so much for sticking it out with me!  I love you soooo much!

Happy Teaching!

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I wanna talk about…ME!

Yeah I know. I’ve been MIA for a while. The time moved too fast for me. But that just means that this is the perfect time to get on this Teacher Week 13 bandwagon and get back in the swing of things! So here’s the first one: (WARNING: Facts may be a bit random…correction…they WILL be random!)

1. I helped make a movie with Melanie Griffith and Michael Douglas. No joke. It’s called “Shining Through” and it was made in the early 90’s in Germany while we were stationed in Berlin. I was a stand-in for one of the characters. So I wasn’t in the movie. But my sister was! I know where she is but you wouldn’t know it’s her. Only brief glimpses but still cool!

2. I sing. Classically. I used to be quite the high screeching soprano. Time, lack of training, and acid reflux have cut down my range. But I can still sing. Classically. Love it too. Only really do it at church but I also have fun singing lullabies to my little one. 🙂

3. Going along with that, I played flute in high school. Yes I was a band geek as well as a choir geek. Proud family lineage too! I went on to march in my college marching band. “The Boldest Sound from the Oldest Town” of Texas! GO JACKS!

4. Another tie-in. I love my college. It was some of the best 4 years of my life. I met some great friends there, my husband, and got to become a teacher. Totally awesome all around!

5. I’m the oldest of 5 children. 3 girls, 2 boys. Yes my mother needs continued prayers for her sanity. She really is a saint! Love you Mom!! 😉

6. I was of legal age to drink alcohol for 3 days before I could even drive a car. Why do you ask? I turned 16 while stationed in Germany. So what? Well, the drinking age there is 16 and the driving age is 18. Yep. You read that right. They take their driving VERY seriously so that’s why. I turned 16 three days before we moved back to the States for good. So what did my family and I do on my birthday? We went to a local gast haus (restaurant) and my dad…bought me a beer!

7. I used to live just minutes and hours from the different places that “Sound of Music” was filmed in. The German Alps were my backyard view.

8. I learned to ski in those Alps. Haven’t done it since though. :/

9. I hiked around 80 miles in 10 days at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. I was a Venture Scout through the BSA and an opportunity came up for me to go with one sister and my mom. I’m so glad I went! It was a truly awesome experience! We saw bears, I almost sat on a rattlesnake (seriously), and I hiked the tallest peak faster than the rest of my crew. With a knee brace and trekking poles. Granted by the last day, I was in 2 knee braces (one on each knee). But again. Totally. Worth. It.

10. Chocolate is my lifeline. Without it, I can’t survive the school year. Or the summer. Or any time for that matter. It’s a separate food group for me. But funny thing? I don’t like dark chocolate. At all. Yuck. I give it to my husband every time. Luckily he loves it. So it all works out. 🙂

Well there you have it! Go check out other great fun facts about other great teachers!

Happy Teaching!


Teach Like a Pirate Chapter 3-Rapport

So once again I’m back with the book study of Dave Burgess’ book Teach Like a Pirate!  So…  Aaaargh you ready?

So chapter three is r in pirate- rapport.  I will say, that reading this chapter reaffirmed what I do in my classroom in this area of teaching.  Let me explain.  Burgess starts out talking about how his class is so different and the reasons he doesn’t have behavioral issues that other teachers do- engagement.  His students are engaged in what they are doing in his classroom.  But you can’t get to that stage until your students feel comfortable with you.  That’s where rapport comes in.

You need to find out their interests and use those to create lessons that grab their attention and hold it.  When it comes to rapport, we need to remember that our kiddos are people, just like us.  I think we forget that when we get too buried in what’s happening in our room.  Our kiddos are people.  We need to get to know them as people if we really want to reach them and teach them.

“Kids can tell the difference between teachers who only seem to care about them when they are sitting in the classroom, and those who see past the ‘student’ to the unique person who resides inside.”  (pg. 21)

Now I will say that getting to know my kiddos takes time for me.  I will be working this year to do more activities in the first week of school that gives me more direct information.  But I will say this- I know a lot of teachers who follow the rule of no smiling before Christmas.  Rule with an iron fist until then.  I don’t follow that.  I smile.  I laugh.  If I make a mistake or something goes wrong I say, “Oops!” and we move on.  I work to get to know my students through our small group work and just watching and observing.  While that has worked for me, I realize from this chapter that I need to do more direct investigations.  So I’ll be combing TPT and Pinterest for great ideas.  🙂

Burgess then talks about how he runs his first three days of class.  But before he does, he starts out with this statement:

“No content standard matters to me until I have established the safe, supportive, and positive classroom environment I need to successfully teach my students.”  (pg. 22)

I’m going to say wow.  I wish I could take luxury like that.  This past year, I had to have my kiddos already functioning in math stations of some sort so I could start my beginning of the year math benchmarks on the third day of school!  Yes you read that right.  Now fortunately I had a great class that made that possible.  So it was no big deal.  But I’ve had other groups where that was not going to happen on this universe at all!  But I did get to exercise this thought this past year with a student and I really want to share that with you (I have full permission from the parents to do so).

I had a new student coming to me after we got back from Christmas.  This was at the end of January beginning of February time.  While a new student is no big deal, I’ve had them before, her circumstances were definitely different.  She had only been home schooled.  She had never been to a public school at all.  So the counselor and I thought it best to tell my kiddos ahead of time so that they would not swarm her or anything.  So I did and the kiddos promised to give her space and help her as needed.  Well the new girl came the following week and we got started.  First week was good.  I thought.

She was doing okay and seemed to be meshing well with my class.  Then the weekend came and then Monday.  No new girl.  Okay.  Tuesday.  Absent again.  Then when she did start coming, she was late and it was all they could do to get her to come. It had started.  She panicked.  While I tried hard to be diligent about her needs and remember that she was not used to school, I still, somehow, missed something.  The mom was ready to pull her out as my poor kiddo was getting sick every morning and just would not come at all.  The parents wanted to stay the course but worried if it was the right thing.  I promptly got on the phone with them asked what they ultimately wanted for her.  They said to go to school.  I said then let’s find a way to make that happen.  I told them my only priority for their child for the rest of this year was to get her at school every day, all day.  Academics would come second.

So I sent them to the principal to see about reducing her hours.  I got a visual schedule from the counselor for her and we started.  She also could have a security toy in her backpack and I had 2 reliable kiddos be ready to help her as needed.  Well it was a bumpy start and she was constantly coming up and asking me when she was going home (which was at our lunch time) and that she missed her mom or felt sick.  I stayed patient and kept redirecting her to her schedule, her toy, or to get a trash can if she felt bad.  Bottom line, we made her stay for her shortened time.  Now I will say that just as we got this started, I was moving back into my house after our renovations were done (read about why here) and she did not take that real well.  The school ended up calling me so I could talk to her (while on my knees scrubbing my floor) and reassure her I would be back as soon as I took care of my family.  It worked.  She stayed.

After a couple of weeks, she was ready to stay longer.  So we slowly increased her time.  After a month, we had her in all day and no longer being sick.  Yes!  Her grades were just fine (like we already predicted) but I wasn’t concerned about that.  I made sure the counselor knew my plans and she was good with that. By the last day of school, the girl was a pro!  I’m so proud of her and I know she’ll nail second grade.  But bottom line, she would not have gotten there if I had not built up that rapport with her.  Now she calls me her best friend and is nervous about the future.  But I know she’ll be fine.  Besides, her mom has my number if they need me.  😉

What Burgess describes for his first 3 days were his techniques of building rapport with his students and getting them engaged with him.  After that, he was ready to teach.  Just like my special girl, we all need that with our kiddos.  Burgess says it best with this:

“I’m selling education…a life-altering product that can transform the human spirit and literally change the world one student at a time.  Surely, such a product is worthy of any and all efforts, techniques, and methods required to successfully persuade.”  (pg. 32)

I agree Mr. Burgess.  I agree.  So what do you do?  How do you establish rapport with your kiddos?  Have you had a special situation like mine that required a different approach?  Please share!  Oh and check out these other great posts and this chapter (just click the buttons)!

Thinking Out Loud

Happy Teaching!

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