____ Days Until School

In my neck of the woods there is about a month until teachers and students return to the traditional classroom. One month. 30 days on the shot clock.

What will you do with these next 30 days? How will you prepare YOU?

Here are the three things I plan to do.

The beginning of the school year is not the time to prepare. In between classroom set up, syllabus printing, roster reorganization, team meetings and other PD, all I have time for is coffee.

One month before school starts I am still relaxed enough to really think about who I am, what I accomplished last year, who I want to be and what I want to accomplish this year.

To do this, I ask myself focus forward questions. These are questions that help me think about the future. So, I might ask, “Am I purposefully pursuing my passion? How will I continue my pursuit this year?”

I reflect for a few minutes, but the majority of my time is spent thinking about next steps.

Next steps, for me, always involve finding inspiration and encouragement.

Reading books, taking walks, watching movies, talking with friends, taking an art class or a dance class. I can gather inspiration from most places when I am open to receiving it.

Over the years I have found that living an inspired life in the best lesson I can teach my students.

From the inspiration I gather, I can begin to create my first Power Up space. This is a place where I can continue to be inspired throughout the school year.

For tips on how to create your own Power Up space, check out this blog post.

The last thing I do 30 days before the school year is …. pick my poison.

Stay with me. I promise it makes sense.

One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. In that movie there is a battle of wits; the old poison in the cup schtick. The challenger actually places poison in both cups. So, how does he escape death? He deliberately chose this poison and then injested small amounts of it each day. This built up an immunity in his body.

What does this have to do with the 30 day prep for school? Well, there is always something that we dislike doing, but we know it will make us stronger. This is the poison.

Poison – anything done or consumed in excess.

So, during my 30 day prep time I choose something that I don’t particularly like doing, but I know it will make me a better person. I do this thing in small doses.

For example, I love a clean, organized house, but with 4 young kids, cleaning is not a task I enjoy. In order to have what I want, I put myself on a small dose cleaning schedule.

  • Mondays – strip all the beds, remake them, and wash all the dirty sheets.
  • Tuesday – Clean the bathrooms
  • Wednesday – Wash kids’ clothes

In this way, I am not overwhelmed trying to clean everything at once.

Well, that’s all folks!

Cheers to the 30 day prep!


It’s time to “Power Up”!

Blog - Power UpAt the beginning of each school year teachers take the time to hang up posters, add eye-catching borders to bulletin boards, strategically place attention-focusing instruments around the classroom, and much more. All these elements are designed to create an atmosphere, an ambiance if you will. These elements help to set the tone. Throughout the year, teachers add anchor charts, rotate leveled books, change posters, put up student work, and design fun bulletin boards to encourage, support, and educate the students as they gaze around the room.

A+ for creating this space for your students to thrive.

But what about you? The teacher. What motivates, encourages, and informs you?

One key element you should consider adding to your classroom wall is a display just for you. It is your classroom after all. “Oooops! Did I just type that in real life?” I know there are other bloggers, administrators, and coaches saying to minimize the teacher footprint in the classroom. I get it, and I agree for the most part. Get rid of your huge desk and shelves filled with professional texts. Do not, however, erase your identity from the classroom.

Find a space on the wall near your desk or podium and encourage, support, or educate yourself.  This little addition is what I like to call my Professional Power Up space. It is an area filled with little reminders of greatness, tokens of strength, and dollops of wisdom to keep me going through my day.

Creating a classroom culture where students thrive begins with the teacher. YOU are the leader in the classroom. You set the tone from the moment the students walk through your classroom door until the bell rings. So, make sure the atmosphere nurtures you as well.

Keep in mind that just like every other display in your classroom, the Professional Power Up space needs to change from time to time. You may want to refresh your power up pieces based on the academic, sports, or calendar seasons. You don’t want this to be stressful.

Here are some examples of Professional Power Up spaces I have created.


Remember, these are just examples. This is the type of display that inspires me. Maybe you love a painting. Hang that. Maybe you have a rocking chair that was your grandmother’s. She inspired you and sitting in that chair while doing a read aloud energizes you.

Two things I love about the Professional Power Up space is 1) it allows your students and colleagues a chance to know you a little better. When your students know about you, they begin to trust you. They see that you are a person who needs encouragement and motivation, a person who is seeking to be inspired. 2) The Professional Power Up space is a conversation starter. Your students will want to know why you added something to your space. What a great way to start a conversation that is appropriate, but not purely academic. It is often these types of conversations that inspire students to do more and be more.

If you really want to take it to the next level, have your students create their own Power Up space. This could be a small area of their desk or binder. It should be located somewhere they can see it every day. This is a great idea for a beginning of the school year activity. Then, students can refresh it at the beginning of every quarter.

What I’ve found is that students liked my space so much they started to either create one on their own, or ask if it could be a class project. It gave them a sense of ownership in the class and provided an opportuity for self reflection and growth.

Taking time to think about who we are and what makes us happy is so important. One of the first steps in creating a classroom where students thrive is making sure you, their teacher, their cheerleader, their facilitator, their guide are able to find joy. The students can sense when you are running low. So… “Power Up”!

Cheers to creating a little slice of motivation!


Back to School? Back to Blogging!

Blogging 1

Have you started back to school already?  Are you in the middle of the school year, or are you preparing to head back into the classroom? Either way, I hear the school bells ringing because this blog is back in session!

So, whether you’re knee deep in a novel study, or just arranging your flexible seating I’ve got a few topics I think you’ll find interesting and helpful moving forward.

Blog - Back to School

One of the most important characteristics of a successful classroom is the environment. Inside the space that is room (insert # here), the dynamic should be noticeably different. It is more than just the smell or the colors on the wall. More than the flexible seating or neatly lined desks. The atmosphere in your classroom sets the mood, the tone, and the pace. The atmosphere energizes the neurons or zaps the curiosity.

No matter how great the lesson plan, your students will not have a growth experience that transcends your classroom and this one grade level unless you consider a few key elements.

Ready to energize?!

Great! Over the next few weeks we will discuss all things atmosphere.  Transforming the atmosphere to transcend all expectations. Hmmmnnn… I like that. Transforming to transcend. What do you think? Will you join me?

Tune in next week. Same day, same site.

Cheers to transformation!