Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Final Post - Thank You for the Memories

June is always a bittersweet time for me each year, but this year it is exceedingly so. After hard weeks of restless sleep, heart-to-heart talks, and many tears, I’ve decided that the 2019-2020 will be my final year of teaching. I have decided to take the plunge - with my friends and family’s urging and my financial advisor’s blessing - and retire. I know I leave at a challenging time - believe me, that was the restless sleep part - but I also have full confidence knowing that Summers-Knoll is in the hands of such capable, intelligent, and creative people. I have never felt more connection to any place than I have to this school - this is my heart. 

I want to thank all of my beautiful co-workers who have been my family and best buds for a long time. Although I have been here the longest, there have been several people who I’ve known for over a decade and we’ve seen each other’s children grow up. There are others that have been here just a tiny while but we’ve bonded instantly. I’ve been lucky enough to have friendships that even expand outside of the school building and oozle into local establishments for the occasional refreshment. My husband doesn’t understand this. He doesn’t care to hang out with any of his workmates - they exchange just enough pleasantries to get through the day. Me? I’d hang out with all of you people all the time. I love you.

And to the school families I’ve had the honor of serving these past years - thank you, thank you. I have taught children for 25 years, the past 18 at Summers-Knoll. I remember each and every year thinking that this was a very special place, with an involved and caring parent community.

I know it isn’t easy to hand your child over to someone and trust that they will do their best to know them. To not hurt what is so precious and pure, and to honor what makes them unique. I hope I have been that teacher for your children. I will especially miss my current class of first and second graders - what a group of children and parents. I wanted to go out on the best and most wonderful highnote I could imagine - you little and big people were all I could hope for and more. 

Thank you, everyone.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

And That's a Wrap!

Instructions for Living a Life

Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

                                                                                                            ― Mary Oliver

Friday, June 5, 2020

Stay Woke, Little Ones

It has been such a heavy time in this country, for so many reasons. One of the many reasons I love to be around children is that they have always given me so much reason for hope - their energy, their pure hearts, their endless love - makes me think that the world will be in better hands when they are in charge. My job has always been to try to be worthy of what they have to offer, and to guide them to be their best selves. Mainly, though, I've mostly felt my job has been to "let children be children," and to make sure that they are happy and joyful (and learning). 

Over the past few years, though, I've leaned into having more difficult conversations with children - even at these tender ages of 6, 7, and 8. This video has been around for a while, and most have probably already seen it, but I encourage you to watch it again. This is a conversation that every parent has to have with their black children, and it is heartbreaking. 

And in today's morning message, I talked about the murder of George Floyd and how activism can bring change.

Racism is rampant today - you don't have to look far to find it. It's always been here, of course, but it feels like it has taken a scary turn towards "normalcy." Again, if we are going to turn to our children as our future, we need to continue having these difficult talks. Empowering children to learn what is going on in the world, to have them look around and notice what they see, and to USE THEIR VOICE is more important than ever.

In the June 1st edition of Ann Arbor Family, Dr. Heidi Harris lays out specific strategies parents use do at home with even very young children in her article called Start Somewhere: How to Start the Conversation with our Children about Racism.
  1. Identify racism and call it out. Read books about racism and ask open-ended questions to help your children understand and process the actions of others.
  2. When children notice differences in others, do not shut down the conversation, rather talk about it. Allow children to discuss and ask questions in a safe space. Talk about differences and focus on what makes your own child unique. The goal is to celebrate differences in themselves and in others. 
  3. Study and research history together from non-biased sources, which, admittedly, are difficult to identify these days. Look for causes of racism and patterns that continue to exist in society. Education is power.
  4. Look for real opportunities to learn about past injustices and leaders who stepped up to push back against systems that oppressed black Americans. Make this a continuing exercise, NOT just on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. 
  5. Reflect on your own biases. How do your upbringing, experiences, and family of origin impact your thoughts?
  6. Create an anti-bias environment in your home that is rich with possibilities for exploring race/ethnicity. Materials offered to your children matter. Booksart materials, and dolls that show diversity in people of color and skin tones are great places to start.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Our Final Special Reader Session on Monday, June 1!

Well, it's almost a wrap everyone! It has a been a year of me watching in wonderment as I witness children bloom as performers and readers. Special Readers has always been so, well, special in that allows children to learn the value of practicing a text, of reading with expression, and projecting one's voice. Emergent learners find success and encouragement, no matter what they choose to share or how they share it. More experienced readers can work on more technique - maybe changing voices for characters, or even how they show the book. 

Since remote learning has started, our routine hasn't changed all that much! We just do this all through a google meet. I'd like to share one of our special readers performances today, as I got his permission to record it. Please enjoy.

It's been a lovely year of reading, but it's not done yet! Next week we hear from our two final special readers: Evan and Graham.

Clover Craziness!

Well, we had some pretty amazing results from the 4-Leaf Clover Challenge! Several people, myself included, used the information about probability we learned to find a clover in a densely packed patch. To review, here is a variation of the theory and technique we were to use (you need to be on the blog itself to see this youtube video):

But! Wait! A few children found even more. WAY more. Here's proof:

A few children found over twenty four-leaf clovers! Without something genetic going on, the odds of this would be incredibly rare. 

In fact, from an article in the Daily Telegraph:

University of Sydney mathematics senior lecturer Clio Cresswell said with a one in 10,000 chance of finding one four-leaf clover, finding 21 was about a one in a number with 84 zeros.

“There would have to be something scientifically going on because the odds are far too ridiculous,” she said.

I don't care what Dr. Cresswell says. I still think we are a pretty lucky group of people.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Feeling Lucky? Try this Probability Challenge with Me!

This post is mainly for the students in my math group, although anyone is welcome to participate. I propose that we use probability to help us find a four leaf clover. I was lamenting the other day that I never have, and I wondered how I could improve my ODDS. Just by saying the word "odds" made me think that there might already be a formula or something already worked out - what is the probability of there being a four leaf clover in a batch of clovers, and how could I use this to my advantage?

Research quickly found that four-leaf clovers show up only once in every 10,000 clovers, so the probability is 1 in 10,000. That's not so good at first glance - the odds are not in our favor. Now I needed to find out how many clovers there were in a typical dense clover patch. Luckily, I found THIS article that did this work for us. Turns out, you should get 10,000 clovers on 12.5 square feet. This made it seem slightly more manageable!

So there's our mathematical adventure for the weekend, mathematicians! In your yard, or on a nature walk, try to find a clover patch. Stake out as close to 12.5 square feet as you can. Using your great powers of observation, probability, and maybe a little luck - let's get some four-leaf clovers!

Guess what? Alex and his family already found one! Get your game face on and get out there! Google Meet on Tuesday, May 26th to show results! I'll send a reminder.