Aaaaah! A few minutes to yourself! Block from your mind any memories of blank lesson
plan books staring back at you and stacks of papers waiting to be corrected. Don’t think about the dust that’s taking creative form on the top of your stereo or the pans that are soaking a little longer than they need to in your sink. Grab a new cup of coffee, put up the “Do not disturb” sign, and kick off those tight shoes while you check out our new teachers’ lounge!
Decodable Book Sources
For those looking for publishers of books that are phonetically controlled and decodable for students to read while going through the Lively Letters program, here is a list of publishers of Decodable Books.
Catch Me If You Can...
Sure, everyone loves gingerbread cookies, but do they really belong in the classroom? No we’re not concerned because of the calories (They’re skinny cookies - how fattening can they be?), possible peanut allergies (or wheat, or gluten…), or even the possibility of fallen crumbs leading to ant infestations (although Penny does admit to being afraid of ants). To see how all of this relates to classroom teachers, read the article listed below:
Gingerbread Cookie Classrooms
by Penny Castagnozzi
Why are gingerbread cookies so popular after hundreds of years? Is it because people are excited to reap the health benefits of eating ginger to cure gastrointestinal distress? Do we otherwise have a shortage of ways to fill out any gaps that may come between the seat of the biggest jeans in the closet and our already pleasantly plump bodies? Is it some barbaric desire to destroy a perfectly good human form by biting off the head, leg, or arm, and continue gnawing off extremities until we are left with just a rounded cookie that we then polish off to erase all evidence?
I don’t think it’s really anything as extreme as any of those options... I think we just like the idea of seeing all of those cute little cookies shaped like perfect little children, all looking identical except for the chef’s fanciful artistic license with icing.
How easy would it be if your students were just like these gingerbread cookies? What teacher wouldn’t want to walk into her classroom each day to find it filled with cute little gingerbread boys and gingerbread girls, each waiting patiently to absorb whatever subjects the teacher decides to submerge or dunk them into that day! Every little gingerbread girl would be dressed in a respectable skirt (not too short) and perfectly matching blouse. Gingerbread boys would stand tall, their tailored shirts tucked neatly into pants that would be belted at the waist instead of threatening to fall below the hips. The heads of all the gingerbread children would have perfectly coiffed hairdos, alert eyes, and nice, quiet smiles. Each morning they’d line up around the borders of the classroom with arms open wide to greet their favorite teacher with adoration. (They would have stood obediently by their desks in the middle of the room, but they have no feet, and tipping over would mean a mess of crumbs on the floor for Teacher to clean up.) As all of the cookies were made of the same ingredients and prepared with the same methods and tools, all of the gingerbread children turned out exactly the same. Any that came out of the oven in an altered state (a bent leg, a shorter arm, a less than perfectly shaped head) were snatched off the tray and kept from display in the classroom. These rejected cookies were the broken ones, the gingerbread children that most people would not select when placed among their perfect peers.
Yes, what an easy life it would be to have all students look, act, and learn in identical fashion. All would have the same background experiences and the same physical, intellectual, and emotional abilities. A math teacher could simply walk into the room, draw a diagram, explain the math problem, and test the smiling gingerbread children who would all get perfect scores. This teacher would know that she was perfectly in control, completely understood, wonderfully appreciated…
And totally bored.
How brilliant would a flower garden be if there was only one type of plant? Who would listen to a song with only one note played over and over and over again? Why would anyone stop to look up and appreciate a rainbow if all of the colors were blue?
It is the differences among the children that make a classroom rich. Every person in that room has an original blend of genes, a unique history, and a variety of strengths and weaknesses that makes a child what he or she is today, and what he or she may become.
While some students find it easy to relate what they’re learning to the rich experiences of their young lives, others may struggle to make any connection to what they have heard or seen in the past. Some will quickly remind you of the last page you read to them a week ago, while others forget to take their coats home with them at the end of the day. There may be a child who has difficulty adding two numbers, while a classmate waits eagerly for the opportunity to point out your mathematical errors on the board. Some prefer to sit alone, reading novels in a corner, while others can’t seem to stop chatting long enough to listen to you explain what sounds the letters make. One child is painfully fearful and another runs in reckless abandon. All are unique; all are important; all are your responsibility.
It’s not easy to work with all of these different personalities and abilities in the confined space of a classroom. You didn’t choose teaching, though, because you thought it was going to be easy. You chose this profession because you knew it would be rewarding to see the difference you can make in the lives of the children you are entrusted with. You chose teaching because you wanted to help the weak grow stronger, and help the active make good use of their energy. As a teacher, you are molding the lives of the children placed in your care - not using a cookie cutter to make each one turn out the same, but using gentle hands, a thoughtful mind, and an empathetic heart to appreciate their differences and guide them on their journeys. You will use every tool in your ever-expanding bag to create these miniature masterpieces, a banquet of small, delightful treasures that will each improve the world in some way, each bearing the imprint that you left on their minds and their souls.
Will it be a challenge to offer this differentiated instruction? Yes, but that’s just the way the gingerbread cookie crumbles.
To download and print a copy of this article, click here.