Routine is an integral part of me. I have blogged about this before, but at the time I was focused on one important mission - adjusting to life without my mother. Fortunately, I still had the routine of fourteen years, which was largely established through my work family at Calloway County Middle School. Although a little weary and quite shell-shocked, I weathered this past year magnificently, due in part to my colleagues and the simple routine of the daily grind. Of course my faith steered me to calmer waters, but the friends and faces of my Laker family helped soothe a very tumultuous year.
You see, room 215 in the halls of Calloway County Middle School will always be a beautiful gift to me. In the presence of great people, I was able to thrive as an educator. During the last fourteen years as a Laker, I have fallen in love with learning in a completely different way. I like to be in a constant state of growth professionally. I am never satisfied with the status quo and always strive to hone my teaching skills. People like Tawnya Hunter, my previous principal, are to blame. They placed resources in my hands, gave me a feel for teacher-leadership, and encouraged me to grow. Dr. Debbie Bell at Murray State University fostered in me a new confidence by listening to my ideas and cultivating a strong desire for literacy education. Above all, my colleagues, especially Robin and Heather, fueled the fire to grow through listening to my ideas, experimenting with me, sharing their trials, and caring about me. Finally, my students and their families supported me when I tried and succeeded (or often failed) in whatever experiment I was conducting at the time. Each of these wonderful experiences, however, have led me to take a leap of faith and move from Calloway County Middle School the the New South Marshall Middle.
So, why in the world would I step out of that cocoon of safety and venture into uncertain waters? Easy . . . I crave change. Some of you may not know this, but I am actually a Graves County girl. I worked as an educator at Graves County High School for six years. Goodness, I grew up in good ole' Farmington, Kentucky and attended school in Graves County for twelve years. So, when asked to pursue a career in Marshall County, I had to do a whole lot of thinking. Although I have lived near Marshall my whole life, I do not know much about the area. I was, to be honest, torn. Fortunately, my dad taught me a long time ago to create a pros and cons list. This list is why I am making the shift from my safe Laker world to the land of the Marshalls. Simply put, the pros outweighed the cons.
Marshall has opened up a new vision for me. I am excited to learn about new programs, work with fresh perspectives, and experience an educational system focused on project-based learning. PBL, although not new to me, is very intriguing. I love the idea of providing a classroom atmosphere engineered around action planning and cannot wait until August to begin this new journey.
I realize this will sound cliche, but change IS good. To my Laker family - you are always a part of me. Thank you for the last fourteen years; you will always be my family. To my new SMMS family - hold on tight! I am excited to get to know you and cannot wait to see what this year has in store for us.
Of course, I am certain many of you have experienced change in careers or relocation. If you have advice or comments, please feel free to respond.
I love to hear from you!
Imagine my teenage bedroom - posters from the latest issue of Teen Beat magazine staged strategically, so Prince Rogers Nelson was the first thing I would see in the mornings. His position in my room took precedence over Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Michael Jackson. I. Loved. Prince. You see, he "got" me. Prince's music defined my adolescent struggles of being a good, Southern Baptist girl in the anything-goes 80's. He touched my soul with music about family fights and arguments mixed with relationship issues and young love. Without a doubt, Prince defined my generation.
Ask anyone my age and you will hear similar stories. That is why people like Jimmy Fallon are constantly paying tribute to the memory of the Purple One: our generation's musical icon. Of course, not everyone knew Prince. I know some of my students do not know his music; however, very few adults do not recognize his music or his name (well, unless they have lived under a rock for the last 40 years!). What an amazing legacy!
Even alive, Prince commanded respect. Why? What is all the fuss about? Why Prince? What made Prince such an important musical icon for my generation . . . and why do people across generations still listen to him? Alive, Prince was solidified a legend. Posthumously, Prince is hallowed ground. Will anyone in this generation or the ones to come reach his musical significance?
I would love to hear from you. Why has Prince been memorialized in such a way? If not Prince, who do you deem worthy of the "music icon" status? If you are unsure, tell me what makes a music icon.
As always, I love to hear from you!
This week we are sharing what we have been reading. That may sound easy to you; however, I guarantee you have never shared reading quite like you will this week. You see, tech savvy generation that you are, it is time to use your expertise with technology to present materials to the class. Here is what you need to do:
1. Select a presentation tool. There are several places to go for creative presentations. I personally use CANVA , mainly because of the unique graphics and infographic feel. I have created a few of these, so ask if you need help.
I also LOVE SMORE. It is very fun to use and has lots of possibilities. I have created three presentations on this site and enjoyed the process for each one. It's user-friendly and applicable to just about any subject. It is probably my favorite if I need to present a lot of information. One caution on this one - it is blocked at school, so you will have to use this site at home. If you select this one, you'll present from my computer. :)
Obviously I can't share every site, so here is a listing of some cool sites. If you have a site idea besides the ones I've listed, by all means share it with me. I'm open to suggestions.
2. Once you have selected a presentation tool, you will create an account on that site. This is YOUR information and in no way related to me or my classroom. It is simply a tool for you to use to create a presentation; therefore, WRITE DOWN YOUR USERNAME AND PASSWORD.
3. Begin your presentation. Here are the guidelines:
Task 1: Tell your classmates about the book focusing on the jargon needed to discuss the plot, characters, setting, and theme.
Task 2: Recommend your book. This is a great place to give the book a ranking (I prefer the 5-star system, mainly because sites like Goodreads and Amazon use the same system).
Task 3: Critique your book. What did you like about it? What didn't you like about it? Use the jargon necessary to talk about how it is written, the author's craft (sentence structure, vocabulary, etc.)
Task 4: Embed SAT vocabulary. Use your personal categories and appropriately select powerful words to bring your book to life.
Task 5: Share your presentation. Be prepared to present your work. We will link it to your blog; additionally, you will stand in front of the class and share the work this week.
Please comment with the book you're sharing this week and the presentation tool you have selected. Presentations begin Thursday! :) Good luck and have fun.
If you're a teacher-friend reading this, please tell me what book talk sites you use. I love to hear from you!
Yesterday was such a blessing to me. As I read through each blog post, I couldn't help but be proud of the young men and women I am blessed to call my students. Thank you for working so hard in my class. Whatever the challenge, you guys are always ready to tackle it. Oh, we may fuss and argue over things from time to time (all families do), but you eventually will roll up your sleeves, tackle the issues, and work hard. For that continued effort, I thank you!
So, I'm giving you another challenge. Yesterday, after reading your posts, I began to realize how encouraging you guys are to one another. Several teachers read your comments (as did all of your classmates). Wow! You guys touched lots of people with your honest comments. Today, I am asking for that same effort and honesty. Your mission? Encouraging others with a quote.
If you are like me, you like quotes. Words from the past show up everywhere. Chances are you have a calendar or book full of quotes just sitting on a shelf somewhere at home. Some quotes are timeless, while other quotes are timely. Wherever you are in life, quotes speak to you. For example, when I was your age, my grandmother would always say, "Pretty is as pretty does," to me. I would roll my eyes like we all do when we want to appear frustrated (but we actually feel very loved). Boy, were those words timely; I needed a reminder to be sweet on the inside before worrying about my outer appearance. Today, though, those words are timeless. I tell both of my children those very words - and have even seen them on plaques at local businesses. Who knew my sweet Grandmama Hazel was on to something all those years ago?
I wonder what quotes inspire you. Do you have family sayings or words of wisdom like my grandmother's, "Pretty is as pretty does," or do you have historical mantras that encourage you? Perhaps there are song lyrics or biblical quotes that motivate you. Please share and encourage one another today with the wonderful power of quotes. When you share, be sure to tell the "story" of your quote or why those words are so powerful to you.
I can't wait to hear from you!
I am frustrated. By frustrated, I mean I have reached the boiling point. I am angry, sick to death . . . disgusted. Yep, that is how I feel today. Good and mad.
Wanna know why? Two words have caused all this frustration - complacent ignorance. You heard me. Complacent. Ignorance.
Of course, you may wonder about these two terms. Here is a small gut check to help you decipher the meaning.
1. Do you congratulate yourself on having a lot of knowledge?
2. Do you congratulate yourself for NOT having a lot of knowledge?
3. Do you feel so comfortable with yourself and the "status quo" that you do not see the need to grow?
4. Do you feel jealous when others know more than you?
5. Do you mock or ridicule others because they seek knowledge?
6. Do you lack a desire to learn new things?
If your answer was yes to a majority of the above questions, then you may be suffering from the "caving to society syndrome" called Complacent Ignorance. If that is you, go ahead and stop reading. I cannot help you; you do not want to learn and do not care anyway. For the rest of us, listen up! I have some advice for you.
I love knowledge. No matter what I am studying, if it is in my field, I want to know more about it. Along with learning, my next favorite thing to do is network and share. If there is a new strategy, I want to learn about it. If there is a better way to work "smarter not harder" as a teacher, I am all over it. In other words, I strive to learn about my field and enjoy sharing my knowledge with others. Guess what? If you are like me, you already know. People are mean, especially to life-long learners. I cannot lie to you; unkindness to the "studious" type does not go away. I have just learned to cope with it. Sure, I get my feelings hurt. Do not think for a second that teachers are all nice and nurturing of one another. In the last 24 hours, I have had three educators "slam" me and my desire to learn. The. Last. 24. Hours. I kid you not.
My response. Who cares?
Belittling someone because they like to learn is simple-minded, no matter the age.
Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin
This one is a little tricky. We all love/hate parts of what makes us unique. For me, I do not enjoy my obsessive personality; it drives me nuts. I am sure there is something about yourself you do not like; however, that does not mean you have to let that define who you are. Those of you that know me have seen my obsessive personality at one point or another. Whether I love or hate that about myself, I know my capabilities and limitations. I see myself! While there are many, many areas that need improvement, I have learned to be comfortable in my own skin.
Max Lucado said it best in his children's book You are Special, "Words only hurt if you let them." So, if you are a life-long learner like me, take heart. You give others the power to hurt you. If you see others in that light, you take the power away from the detractors and find comfort in your own skin. Society wants us to worry so much about "fitting in" or "standing out." Will you cave to the trends in your life circle? If your peer group finds it funny to ridicule or mock others, will you allow it? If your friends make fun of, say, blogging, will you do it too? Or, will you step up, find comfort in your own skin, and say, "I actually like to learn."
See Learning in a New Light
Thank the good Lord for knowledge. Whether you want to admit it or not, learning changes the world. I really believe this. As you read this blog post, a scientist somewhere is researching the cause of renal cell carcinoma (the cancer that killed my mother). I am so glad there are people willing to learn new things. Whether it is the cure for a disease, a new way to educate children, or the best strategy for solving a math problem, every time you are given an opportunity to learn, you are one step closer to knowledge. Wow! Imagine a world where the children and adults all viewed learning as "stupid" and/or "pointless." I would not want to live in that environment. Living in ignorance means, according to Merrian-Webster, "a lack of knowledge, understanding, or education." Oh, how complimentary. We love to laugh and say, "That is so ignorant." A boss or a scholarship committee, on the other hand, finds ignorance as exactly that - lacking.
So do I. Please, whatever you do, reframe the way you view learning if you find it "uncool" or "mock-worthy." Caving to the notion that learning is silly is, well, ignorant.
What are your thoughts? Have you been a victim like me? Have you mocked learning? What can we do to avoid caving?
As always, I would LOVE to hear from you.
I'm so proud of my bloggers! Every year I see tremendous growth in the blogging abilities of my students. If I give them a challenge, they take it. If I assign them a task, they do it. Their efforts make teaching so much fun.
So, I'm challenging them again this year to show up for the "Slice of LIfe Blogging Challenge." I found this a couple years ago. Thank goodness teachers share. Without the ideas of my colleagues, I would be lost as an educator. When I stumbled upon this challenge, I was hesitant at first. I mean, how many middle school students try to blog every day. Boy was I wrong. Last year multiple students took on the challenge and surpassed me in it. I'm hoping for the same participation this year.
This opportunity, although challenging, is already making headway in our school. Many students have signed on to blog nearly every day for the month of April. More importantly, though, these students have committed to make writing a top priority in their lives!
If you are interested in the "Slice of Life Blogging Challenge," comment below to let us know you'll be doing it with us.
Above photo courtesy of graygalaxy.edublogs.org
I am a creature of habit. For as long as I can remember, I have maintained a variation of the same school-day schedule. By schedule, I mean routine norms I do daily, without waver. For example, I fix exactly one cup of coffee as soon as I wake every morning. Nothing unusual there you're probably thinking. I mean, most people drink coffee; it's a typical routine. Okay, then, how about this one. Until the 2013-14 school year, I called my grandfather every school morning at the same time. Every. Single. Morning. So, from 1996 to May of 2014, my grandfather and I chatted each morning. Or, how about this one. Nearly every day of my life I talked with my mother multiple times, especially in the afternoons. Every. Single. Day. No big deal, you may think, we all have special people we talk with daily . While that may be true, I wonder if you have experienced an end to those routines? If so, you may know where I am headed . . . making it through the new normal.
The hum-drum of a routine, to some, may seem tiresome; however, I find it soothingly normal. I need to hear the same voices, see the same people, and eat or drink the same foods about as much as I need water. Normalcy is just part of my DNA. So, you can imagine how jolting the past two months have been. For two months and two days the number one "normal", my constant . . . my mother . . . has been gone. For two months and six days, my partner, my Robin, has been absent across the hall. For three months and 23 days, my firstborn, Marlee Rose, has been away at college. That means the routines of many, many years, especially my mother's unwavering love and support, have been noticeably absent. To say it has been a struggle is an understatement.
So, how does one find the new normal after heartbreak? To be honest, I have no idea. I'm still digging through the rubble of cancer's aftermath. My heart is still breaking. You will not find secret hints about life here. I can't tell you how to live or what to do when normal is swept away. All I can do is define the new normal.
The new normal is scary.
It is scary to find yourself in a place of uncertainty, whether good or bad circumstances. The old routines often define us. For example, I never realized how much my mother calmed me after a disappointing day. Mothers are known to make things better. My mother? She moved the world for my sister and me. Moving day to day without mother's guidance and (ahem) bossing is scary to say the least. The only way I have been able to soothe that fear is through my faith in the Lord.
Re-evaluating roles is a necessary evil found in the new normal.
The figurative "passing of the baton" is a living, breathing part of the change process. Every routine that changes must be replaced by something. For my family, re-evaluating roles is the worst part of the "new normal" definition. How can a larger-than-life person be replaced? Who is strong enough to not only catch but run with mom's baton? Where do we go for the holidays?
The Lord is helping me through this one, a milestone at a time.
Mourning comes with the new normal.
The real strength isn't always found through showing a brave face. Oftentimes true character surfaces when you aren't afraid to show you are a living, breathing person. You may need help and feel afraid to ask for it. Don't worry about appearing weak. I spent much of the last year afraid to show the weakness of mourning (my family experienced two deaths last year alone). For some reason, I felt mourning showed weakness. How silly! A dear friend recently reminded me of places in the Bible where people mourned, such as when Moses died. This same friend also reminded me to take up the mantle after my mourning period, dust myself off, and go forward. The first step, though, is allowing time to mourn.
So there you have it. The New Normal. Much like learning, the new normal is a messy and uncomfortable process. There are days I want to give up. Other days, I am on top of the world. To find success in this newly mixed up world, I cleave to my faith and focus on the little things that matter the most. Sure, it's a cliche', but focusing on faith, family, and friends makes all the difference.
I'd love to hear from you. Let me know about your hardships and lessons with living through the new normal.
I love the history of St. Augustine. From the old fort to the historic streets, the oldest city in America inspires me in so many ways.
Upon entering downtown this week, I noticed a change in the landscape. Turns out El Galeon has docked in celebration of St. Augustine's 450th. What a beautiful surprise.
As I watched the crew ready the ship for visitors, my mind was drawn to my students and their adventures. I wonder, what surprises have you stumbled upon this week during spring break?
Please comment below.
Okay, kiddos. You know Mrs. B can sometimes be a fan girl. While it can be a little nerdy at times, my "fangirl" problem often opens doors for me or inspires me to do something different. Recently, during a particularly exciting fangirl moment, one of my heroes in education reached out to me (see picture). All I can say is, WOW. I was so excited.
Of course, in true Mrs. Barrett fashion, I immediately thought of you guys. I wonder, if you had a hero reach out to you, who would it be? Comment here and let me know.
Kimberly Barrett, NBCT, Bachelor of Arts of English, Murray State University, 1996, Master's Degree in English, MSU, 2004
Blessed to teach since 1996, I spend my days doing exactly what I've always wanted to do . . . TEACH. I'm married to the sweetest man alive, Tim, and we have two beautiful babies, Marlee Rose and Beau Wilson.