Angie Olson over at Mrs. Olson's Lucky Little Learners was kind enough to nominate me last week, and after sharing a little bit about myself in today's post, it will be my turn to "pay it forward" to some fellow bloggers who continue to be so helpful, humble, encouraging, inspiring, and often just plain funny!
Even though Angie was already nominated as a Sunshine Blogger, I would be remiss if I didn't take the time to give her a special shout out! Both the products she creates and the ideas/classroom photos she writes about and posts to her blog are some of my absolute favorites! She also understands my addiction to all things primary-colored and chevron-striped! I will be sharing more about her creativity in the classroom during the Trade and Grade Blog Hop on March 20th! Wait until you see the wonderful camp theme and activities she and her students enjoyed for Read Across America Week!
Thank you in advance for reading through my answers to Angie's list of 11 questions (aka the True Confessions of a Baby Blogger)! As always, your interest, support, and feedback are appreciated! ENJOY!
1. What is your favorite quote?
I have always been a questioner, a creative spirit, a writer, and a thinker. Those qualities influence my teaching every day. I believe in being a guide to learning for my students. I introduce them to books, new words, new strategies, new numbers, new concepts, new places....and then let them explore, wonder, discover, and investigate on their own or together. Their curiosity and stream of thoughtful questions drives me and inspires me.
Please note the orthopedic saddle shoes, the plaid bookbag, and the patent vinyl lunch box. The pixie haircut is also "to die for!" Such a first grade fashionista! HA!
2. What grade do you teach? How many students do you have?
I currently teach 2nd grade, and have 19 children in my class this year. For the past two years I had 25+, so I am cherishing every second with this small group! I have taught K, 1, 3, 5, and 6 over my twenty-two year career, but am happiest when immersed in the land of the little people! Those with special needs hold a soft spot in my heart, and have taught both me and their peers the type of life lessons about tolerance, acceptance, and celebrating diversity that cannot be learned from textbooks.
3. What brings you happiness?
I am blessed to have raised a wonderful son and daughter who are kind, talented, smart, witty, and generous young adults. Together we have shared quite a family journey, but the joy we've experienced far outweighs the sorrow and the stress. Being their mother has been my "greatest work!"
4. What is your favorite vacation destination?
I have been to Disney World three times now, and would gladly return again for more fun in the House of the Mouse! I spent many a Sunday evening watching The Wonderful World of Disney, and many school day afternoons watching the The Mickey Mouse Club. And yes, I always wanted to be a Mouseketeer! Disney movies and stage musicals are my favorites, and Merida from BRAVE is my favorite princess. If you ask my children which Disney character I am most like though, they will undoubtedly say "Dory" from Finding Nemo. I mean well, but as I age, I get more and more forgetful! I also like to sometimes speak in a slow-motion "whale" voice to get my students attention. I often compare myself to Mary Poppins as well, using a "spoonful of verbal sugar" to "make the medicine go down" when dealing with an errant child, or breaking into song while walking out to recess. I've never had the opportunity to jump inside chalk pavement pictures, but should the opportunity arise I would most definitely do so!
5. What is your biggest accomplishment?
I am proud to have found my way through almost five-years of independence after divorce, and am at a "happy place" in my life now, both personally and professionally. I have my supportive family and circle of friends to thank for that, as well as a strong will instilled in me by my mother. She has been gone for fourteen years now, but I know her spirit travels with me during difficult times. The lyrics from Carousel's "You'll Never Walk Alone" often resonate on my hardest days of walking the "road less traveled," and my father's quiet comment of "We're with you, Jen..." reminds me often that I made the right decision.
When you walk through a storm
hold your head up high,
and don't be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm
is a golden sky,
and the sweet, silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind.
Walk on through the rain.
Though your dreams be tossed and thrown.
You'll never walk alone...
6. What is your beverage of choice?
Coffee...preferably with cream of the whipped variety. I often treat myself to a Super Caramel Marvel with skim and whip in the morning. The baristas at the drive-through window always tease me about how my order never varies, but why mess with the perfect mix of "candy in a cup" I say?!
7. What are your summer plans?
I spend a lot of time at a friend's backyard pool once summer vacation begins! We float, we laugh, we eat snacks, we sip fruity beverages, we decompress, and we soak up sun only after we've applied lots of sunscreen! This time with my gal pals, or "Tankini Girls" as we call ourselves, is much-needed after a hectic school year! Rest and relaxation is the name of the game!
8. What is your biggest fear?
I often worry about the direction education is taking, and hope that the "teach to the test" mentality will eventually be reversed, and the belief that children should learn at a reasonable pace using developmentally appropriate practices will be reinstated. In the meantime, I will continue to do my part to insure that the learning styles and ability levels of the children in my care are acknowledged and respected.
9. What are your favorite subjects to teach?
I most enjoy developing Reading and Writing lessons based on mentor texts and focused on specific language arts skills. I have a vast collection of prized children's picture books, and use them in all subject areas. I tell my students that books are magical portals that can transport us to new and glorious places, and that my job is to help discover the author and illustrator locked inside of each one of them!
10. What is the "theme" in your classroom?
My colleagues often joke that I am the "Theme Queen" because my classroom decor theme varies from year-to-year and my boxes of bulletin board sets are many! This year's theme is a blend of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the Peanuts Gang "Happiness is......a great class!" Last year it was all things "dog" related and "paw-si-tive." No matter what hangs from my ceiling or is stapled to my bulletin boards, the theme that never changes--and is the most important-- is one of building a community of "bucket fillers" where kind words and actions create a school family of friends and learners.
Another theme that permeates my classroom environment is the power music has to soothe, to lift spirits, to reinforce rhyme, and to build memory. Every morning during our class meeting, we sing together either with my guitar or our favorite cassette tapes or CDs. Our "joyful noise" wakes up our brains and gets our wiggles out!
Christopher Canyon's beautifully illustrated books with lyrics and music CDs by John Denver are the most requested songs in Room 2!
The importance of loyalty, responsibility, and taking good care of each other are lessons my students learn from the stories I tell them about my beloved hound dogs, Brutus and Rose!
Next year's theme may just have to be
"Rock On With Mrs. Reynolds" because this
new set from Melonheadz Illustrating that I bought
is just too cute and colorful for words! I am absolutely
addicted to clip art!
11. Mac or PC? I currently use a HP laptop with Windows 8 that took some getting used to after the hard drive on my PC turned to "toast" this summer. My children love their Mac laptops though, so maybe that will be a future investment. I am not the most tech savvy person, but am trying to stay current, and will attend my district's Digital Initiative workshops this summer to learn how to use Google Chromebooks effectively in the classroom!
Before deciding to begin writing my own blog, I conducted "research" all summer and discovered these teacher-authors. The knowledge, humor, ideas, resources, organizational tips, and thoughtful insights they've shared has made me a better person and a better teacher. I read their posts consistently, and even though I have never met any of these women in person, I feel like we are kindred spirits! I enjoy their humor and insight, and I respect the effort and expertise they invest in their teaching. I look forward to the day when I may get to meet some of them and give them grateful, heartfelt hugs. Until then, I've provided a link to their blogs and hope that you'll stop by!
1. Who is your favorite children's author?
2. What book character are you most like and why?
3. What is your favorite song and/or musical group?
4. What is your most guilty pleasure or indulgence?
5. What is the hardest part of your work as an educator?
6. What is the best part of your job as an educator?
7. What is your favorite snack?
8. If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
9. What are your hobbies?
10. Who has been your most important and influential mentor?
11. How would your students describe you?