Nurturing Relationships: Teaching Kindness

I love the saying, “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness.”  People who are kind can be perceived as weak and naive. However, showing kindness is a sign of strength, and there are numerous reasons for teaching kindness in school.  The physical, emotional and mental benefits can transform a classroom.  Lisa Currie (2014) summarized a few key outcomes associated with teaching kindness  including decreased bullying and increased peer acceptance.   I came across this site, 12 Kinds of Kindness, and thought it would be a great model for  defining examples of and practicing  kindness. It takes practice you know.…

Nurturing Relationships: The Power of Words

I mentioned before that I am from a big, Brooklyn family. I have six siblings (love them all to pieces).  When I was young we didn’t have a car.  We had to walk with my mom to the grocery store. Yes, my mother would take seven children into a grocery store.  She would calmly push the cart up and down each aisle, scratching items off her list as we gathered what was needed.  When it was time, she would walk us to the checkout line where we knew to place…

Nurturing Relationships: How Will You Embody Respect?

What does respect look and sound like in a classroom? It is easy to define or capture disrespect, but how can we highlight those examples of respect so that they become more prominent? It begins with acknowledging that students need to feel and believe that they are valued in the classroom for who they are and that their unique identities and perspectives are appreciated.  In like manner, understanding and accepting that teachers nurture relationships and build respectful communities in different and unique ways is important. Last week, I walked in a fifth grade classroom where students were reflecting on…

Walk in the Light Wednesday: Dance! Dance! Dance!

There are days when I have to remind myself, “Self, don’t be the wallflower at the dance.” Wallflowers watch from a distance as everyone else is dancing, singing and being free. They want to be on that dance floor so badly, but can’t bring themselves to do it.  They spend the majority of the time  thinking about what everyone else is thinking and doing. Each time they hear the beat of a song they love, their heart wants to be more and more on that dance floor, but they stay tied…

I See You: The Power of Affirmation

My husband Eric is the inspiration behind this post.  He said something to me that I knew I had to share with everyone. I’d be selfish if I didn’t. Recently, he made an area of our home into an office. I wanted a place just for Dr. Joy.  When we talked about it I wasn’t sure what it would look like because we had limited space.  The outcome was absolutely gorgeous.  He framed my academic degrees, a few special photos of the children and one photo of a much younger version of the two of us. He hung them on a solid black wall. When he was finished, he brought me to that…

We Were Them…Then: A Reflection

My 6- year- old son, Christopher, was just bouncing around the house one day. This particular day was rough, and I was emotionally, mentally and spiritually drained. To make matters worse, Christopher had a marker in his room and it bled through his bed sheets. Frustrated and at my wit’s end, I looked at him and said, “WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO MAKE A MESS!” He looked at me with an equal level of frustration and said, “I’M 6, HOW CAN I NOT MAKE A MESS!” That response stopped me in my tracks. I remembered not too long before that day working on a project at my office and getting hot glue all over a table. So, I took a deep breath, picked Christopher up, and he cried in my arms. Now, I am a sucker for this little boy, but I also realized at that moment that we were both just drained.

Student Voice: The Journey Begins on Day 1

When I was a classroom teacher, I would start getting a little anxious around  mid-August as I anticipated the upcoming school year. Mostly, I  was excited for the opportunity to reinvent myself. I realized today that I pretty much always started the first day of school the same. I spent a big chunk of the day involved in the following activities: Finding adequate space for the abundance of hand sanitizer, tissue boxes and storage bags Helping students organize binders and label already color-coded folders Taping name tags on desks once…

Creating Conditions That Encourage Student Voice

I took my nine year old daughter, Erica Lynn, shopping for school clothes this weekend (ay yi yi).  I heard about the social and emotional changes that begin to occur during this age, but I can’t say I was totally prepared for them. During our all day experience (and I mean all day), there was laughter, tears, compromise, frustration, and at the end of the day there was joy. Erica put her nose up at about 80% of the outfits I had in mind for her, but I realized something…

Whats You’re Take on Misteaks?

We all have one of those memorable mistakes.  When I was 16, I worked at a sporting goods store.  I loved it!  I worked with a group of fun woman and we wore cute referee uniforms.  One evening, we were yapping away and looking busy at the register when a young charming man walked in requesting change for his 50 dollar bill. He was friendly, complimented us on our uniforms, and even told us about some of the parties that were going on that evening. I don’t remember exactly what…

The Buddy System: It’s Not Just for Field Trips

My first year of teaching was fun and overwhelming.  I had a very challenging group of 25 first graders (at least I thought they were).  At the end of each quarter, I was required to submit a reading and writing portfolio for each student. Near the end of the first quarter, my deadline was fast approaching and my student portfolios were an unorganized mess. I was doing the work, but just hadn’t figured out a good “organize as you go” type of system.  The evening before my portfolios were due,…