The Power in Positive Language

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A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1 KJV

The morning routine has changed for my students this year.  Many of them arrive in my classroom about 30 minutes earlier than they did last year.  I didn’t think the added thirty minutes would make that big of a difference, but it does for one kid.  

There is one young man who walks into my classroom every morning in a rage!  He barrels through the crowd of kids, pushes desks, knocks over water bottles, and yells at people to move out of his way, grunting and kicking the whole time.  Now, he isn’t a mean kid.  He can actually be very sweet.  This behavior surprised me, so I began to investigate his bus situation.  I wanted to know who he sat with, was someone picking on him, what was the bus driver doing, and was something happening during the walk from the bus into my room. I got nothing! In fact, his ride on the bus is very short.

After a bit more investigation, I realized that this kid’s mornings are crazy at home.  I imagine his mom yells at him to hurry up.  His step dad is the disciplinarian, and probably rubs the kid the wrong way.  This child starts his day in chaos, and then he can’t calm down.  

We all know that it doesn’t take much to put us in a bad mood.  One person can speak a negative thought to us and set us up for a bad day.  We also know that it can be hard to turn around a bad mood.  

I began playing soft music in my classroom.  I started requiring my kids to work quietly.  I now watch my words very carefully.  I know that I need to ignore his bad mood and say several calming, kind statements to him before he can calm down. I have noticed that other kids are beginning to react to him in the same manner.  They are using calming statements with each other and seem to enjoy our quiet moments before the instructional day begins. 

Those of us with kids know how important this is.  We all have had those mornings where our bad mood rubbed off onto our kids.  God doesn’t want us to walk through this life in misery.  He gave us an amazing world full of blessings to enjoy!  Whose morning can you influence tomorrow?  Can your positive language change the day for someone?



The Role of a Teacher: Praying for Oklahoma

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Most of us knew early in our lives that we wanted to be teachers.  We chose a university with a good education program.  Many of us went on to get a Master’s Degree.  We began our teaching careers because we love our students.

We spend our days dealing with parents, testing, teaching standards developed by men and women who have not been inside of a classroom since they graduated, and, by golly, teaching those standards well!  We hold those who cry, we comfort those who suffer loss, we help those who do not know yet how to help themselves, and we teach morals, manners, and life skills.  We do it because we love it!

The worst fear of a teacher is not the testing.   We know the high stakes of our state testing.  We know that our kids must do well for their own futures.  We know our school, and perhaps our careers, depend upon those scores.  It is not what we fear the most.

Our biggest fear is not the parents.  Some parents try to intimidate.  It is frustrating to sit across the conference table from a parent who just doesn’t seem to grasp reality.  Parents do not make us tremble at night.

Our biggest fear is not the budget.  We face job loss, loss of materials, cut programs, and buildings that badly need repair.  This is not our greatest fear.

The greatest fear of a teacher is the safety of those children placed in our classrooms for safe keeping throughout the year.  We know the stories of bravery from Virginia Tech professors, Sandy Hook first grade teachers, and now Oklahoma.  If tragedy occurs, could I keep my children safe?

They need our prayers today!  In fact, every teacher who sits and wonders if he/she could protect the students in their classrooms needs your prayer today.


Thanksgiving in May!

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I am sure you have heard of Christmas in July, right?  I have decided to have Thanksgiving in May.

Last May I left school early for maternity leave.  May is a beautiful month in central Virginia!  Unfortunately, I see very little of it as a fifth grade teacher.  My month is consumed by testing, end of year fun days, and graduation.  On top of that I have thrown in our housing situation, trying to sell this one so we can renovate another!  There are also those two little people who live with me and call me “Mommy!”

I have focused a lot lately on my busyness!  I choose today to focus on my thankfulness!

1.  I am thankful for God’s grace and mercy!  My pastor defined grace as the blessings you don’t deserve and mercy as the lack of punishment you do deserve. My life is what it is because of these two gifts from God.

2.  I am thankful for my husband.  I have not yet driven him crazy with painting, cleaning, and packing our home.  He is patient and kind always!  I wish he would share his ability to display patience and kindness at all times!

3.  I am thankful that my family is thriving!  We have doubled the size of our family in five years.  These two kids add a lot of stress, but far more joy to our lives.

4. I am thankful that my greatest worries in life are managing these blessings.  I am not worried or afraid for our future.  God holds that in his hands.

5. Beyond all else, I am thankful that God is in charge instead of me!

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving in May?


Reviews: 24 Math Challenge

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*As a teacher, I love hearing ideas from other teachers.  We teachers do not make enough money to buy expensive programs or products for our kids unless we are sure they are worth the money.  In this spirit, I will review the products used in my county and my classroom for the benefit of others out there looking for ideas.*

One point single-digit card

One point single-digit card

My school system has a county-wide 24 Challenge tournament  for elementary students.  It then hosts a regional tournament.  I have participated in the tournament with students for five years now.  Over the past five years I have learned a thing or two about playing 24 Challenge.

For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, it is a card game.  Each card has four numbers on it.  The student uses each of the four numbers to create a math sentence that equals 24.  The math sentence can use any of the four basic operations.  For official rules, visit the website

Pros:  This is a terrific game to teach and practice basic computation skills.  It is really easy to use in the classroom once the students know how to play.  This frees me to work with students who need more attention from me.

The game is leveled.  The level of difficulty can be noted by how many points are available on the card.  You can buy sets of cards that use only addition and subtraction.  Once students are ready, you move them into addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  Again, students can move up to double digit numbers on the cards.  Finally, you can purchase cards that use decimals and fractions.  I have not used the decimal or fraction cards in my classroom.

Cons:  The decks of cards are expensive.  I bought four new boxes this year for a little over $100.00.  You certainly can play with only one box, but my kids who play on the school team like to take them home to practice.

Overall, the game is great.  In a world where high-stakes testing has taken over our classrooms, it is nice to have great games to sprinkle into our daily lessons.