Why I Love My Job

Today I was invited to a presentation of McKinley KidTV at McKinley School in Westfield, NJ.  And wow!  That show rocked!  Under the direction of Joe Paradise and Cathy McGarry, two teachers at McKinley, a bunch of fifth grade students produced a one-hour TV show that made me cry happy tears.

The backstory: Four days a week, during recess, the kids meet with Joe and Cathy to write, direct and produce TV.  The kids decide on issues, or themes or news of interest to them and then they research the topics.  This year the show centered on Super Storm Sandy, how the brain learns to read, students composing music about endangered animals, and don’t forget MythBusters!

I love that the kids choose the topics.  THEY decide how to shape the content of the show.  THEY create it, and THEY’re the stars.  Thank you, Joe and Cathy for making this possible for McKinley School kids.   Teachers like you make me love my job.  Check out a video at vimeo.com/67690352.

Celebrity of the Week

Okay, I admit it.  When I first heard about Celebrity of the Week in my son’s class I thought, ho hum.  By second grade, kids are over that stuff aren’t they?  But no, my second grader,  has waited all year for the honor.  I guess I wasn’t really listening when his teacher, Lori Talbot explained the ritual.  (And I was probably half-thinking, how does this fit in with best practices?)

Now it’s here and…well, wow.

Each day is something special for the Celeb.  Monday he’ll share a poster he created that tells about him.  Tuesday he’ll share his favorite book.  And today, as Lori says, “Wednesday, is the day Mom and Dad get to brag all about him and what makes him his wonderful self.”

Here’s the letter my husband wrote to our little guy.

Dear Ari,

Your name means Lion.  You have the strength, grace and confidence of a lion.  When you make up your mind to do something you don’t let anything get in your way.  You’re lightning fast too!  No one is going to throw you out when you play baseball.  

Ari, you care about everyone and everything.  You feel everyone’s feelings and try to make others feel better.   And you’re the best hugger!  And back scratcher!  Not too hard, not too light…just right!

You’re already a published writer!  You’ve written many picture books and even sold them every year at your summer book stand.  If your readers are lucky, you might even autograph a book!

You’re a master builder.  Legos, Hero Factory, pillow forts.  And as for finding your way out of mazes, well let’s just say that “You’re the man!”

If anybody needs to be cheered up?  You’ll make up a joke.  Or a game.  Your funny ideas will have everybody rolling on the floor laughing. 

If Star Wars was real, you would be a Jedi Knight in training.  And then probably Luke Skywalker’s Padawan!  You have the goodness of all the Jedi Knights combined.  You can probably even use ‘The Force’ to open doors.  

Ari, we have never met anyone who did not fall in love with you the first time they met you.  You’re the best thing that ever happened to us and we love you more than anything.  

Love, Mommy and Daddy

If Ari can read that aloud without tears, I’ll be surprised.  (I couldn’t.)

Thursday–he’s really looking forward to Thursday.  He gets to have lunch with Mrs. Talbot.

And Friday, he’ll receive his fan letters from the rest of the kids.

Did I say ho hum?  I take that back.  Anyone who showers this much love on her students is anything but.  As one principal said to me recently, “You can’t measure heart.” But you can feel it, and it’s alive and well in Lori Talbot’s second grade class.

Mother’s Day (again)

In honor of all moms, I’m republishing last year’s post about Mother’s Day.  There may still be time to have a Mother’s Day Tea in your class…

Last week I received a note from my son’s first grade teacher.  She was inviting me to a Mother’s Day Tea and by the way, could I write a poem for my son?  Oh, man.  Another Mom project, I thought.  Can you say corny?

But I wrote it, wondering what the other moms would do.  Would they all write something?  Would they all show up?  Would we be rewarded with good food at least, for our efforts?

Well.  Let’s just say I cried all the way through the Mother’s Day Tea.  I was so completely taken listening to the moms read to their children.  And the stories that were told in verse.  Wow.  The mom whose first son had died and who now found healing in her second son.  The mom who made the clever rhyme comparing her son to an ice cream cone.  The mom who’s afraid to read aloud to the class for fear of stumbling, but found the courage to read a loving ode to her daughter in front of almost fifty people.

I’m moved by the moms in my son’s class.  I am moved by the poetry in their souls.  I loved this Mother’s Day celebration more than any other so far.  I thank my son’s teacher, Angela Cerchio, for asking me to do corny and for giving me the chance to open my heart.

An Interesting Way to Celebrate Writing

Two of my favorite teachers, Cindy and Nicole, in Bogota, NJ had a different kind of writing celebration recently. They decided it would be fun to swap classes for the celebration of the writing launch.  On the chosen day, Nicole’s class went into Cindy’s class and vice versa.  Each child read at least three stories, then wrote a note on an index card for each student author.  Cindy and Nicole had talked to the kids in advance about how to write the notes.  And since the teachers had collaborated throughout the unit, the kids all knew what to look for in the writing (good beginnings, good endings, etc.).  Everybody had a ball!  The kids felt like real authors with a real audience.  And they loved reading their comment cards.  What a great way to celebrate in writing class!