June 16, 2011

One step closer to a bigger fight

Chicago labor unions rallied against corporate greed in front of the Hyatt in downtown Chicago. We have a bigger fight ahead of us next week when the Chicago Board of Education meets to discuss how to take away our 4% raise and make us work longer without pay. Reverend Jesse Jackson joined the rally. Check out this link.

June 15, 2011

A simple approach

This is not my typical post, actually it’s more like a venting session and a simple answer to all my stress.

A coworker frequently comments about how impeccable I look every day. She loves the way I dress and my hairstyles. Today after school she made her usual comment and all I could say was thanks as I looked at the stain on my pants from the cake my student dropped. I was looking forward to eating that slice of cake. I was having a bad day and I was hoping it would get better.

I arrived at home feeling overwhelmed and frustrated and my friend could hear it in my voice over the phone. He said he noticed that I haven’t been myself. I told Jeff that I had a very hectic weekend and needed to catch up on some sleep. He didn’t let me get away with that excuse so I went into more detail. I haven’t managed my stress levels the way I thought I would. This stress is coming from the emphasis I’ve placed on goals I hope to achieve. Health and nutrition, exercise, a career shift, family and my blog are priorities in my life. I have become overwhelmed and frustrated for not achieving my desired results within the timeline I created. After about 20 minutes of venting, Jeff asked me what tips was I offering for stress on my blog. I had to ask myself how could I when I can’t manage stress. Would I become a product of what my blog is set out to do and that is help teachers manage and reduce stress? So I had to analyze the goals I was achieving. I go to the gym on certain days and see my dad one day a week. I do this religiously. Why wasn’t I applying the same method to everything else? After all the ranting I came to the conclusion that I need to utilize my iPad and make a weekly schedule the way I do with exercising. One day I will work on my career shift, another day on my blog and so on. I feel more relaxed just thinking about it. Simple as that. I look forward to my new and simple approach to reducing the stress in my life.

June 8, 2011

The Next Picasso

Today I just had to post this drawing by one of my students. The student that drew this picture is a very bright 6yr-old girl. She is autistic and many times has difficulty working for more than 10 minutes (don’t we all). So to keep her engaged I give her breaks in between lessons. After every lesson she is given time to play or draw. This student chose to make her own interpretation of a drawing made by my teaching assistant. I thought it was great to see her own interpretation. The details she added clearly indicate her creativity and what really amazed me is how she hid her name in the drawing. You have to look closely to find her name. She may be the next Picasso.

June 5, 2011

What do you do on weekends?

From May to October Chicago Farmers Market opens up in my neighborhood. Flowers, fresh fruits, vegetables and baked goods are sold at stands between the morning and afternoon. I love fresh buying croissants and flowers. The best part is talking to people. Local as well as tourists come to the market. I get the pleasure of talking with people while looking for flowers or trying a homemade hummus and chips. Yum! Take the time to visit your Farmers Market and describe your experience here. Better yet, talk about how you spend your Saturdays.


June 3, 2011

Grading Papers II

My sister also graded papers at the coffee shop with me last Thursday. Her sign invited people to ask her how much she spends on her classroom. We buy things for our students despite the fact that we don’t get reimbursed. We receive $100 to spend on the classroom for the school year. $100 barely covers what you spend in  the first few weeks of school. I’ve worked with teachers that have bought their own copiers and laminating machines.  I would love for this to be a topic of discussion. So how much do YOU spend on your classroom?

June 1, 2011

Plants Promote Good Health

Added another plant  to my place and not only for aethestic reasons. Scientific studies have shown that houseplants such as lilies are good for you in many ways. Plants remove harmful chemicals from your environment. In addition, houseplants make your home appear more welcoming. After a long day teaching and running errands after work it always feels great to come home to a place that is inviting. Plants in the classroom provide the same benefits. Children appreciate living things and are always eager to care for plants. Plants also make a great teaching unit. We can teach children how plants support personal and global health. I hope you accept this idea for better health. As I always say, the healthier you are the more available you’ll be to your family, friends and students.

May 29, 2011

Grading Papers

Last Thursday evening found a teacher working after hours at a coffee shop. His dedication to the job keeps him grading papers and preparing for the following work day. Marc was working hard to provide feedback to high school students. I was also drafting IEP goals despite the fact that my day ends at 3pm.  The work day never ends for teachers and our devotion keeps us fully committed to providing children with the best learning experiences.

May 21, 2011


So I am on day 3 of a 9-day cleansing system. No, it is not a colon cleanse. The past two days I replaced a few meals with shakes, supplements and snacks. Today I feel hungry, but more energetic. How? I’m not sure. By the ninth day I should feel rejuvenated…………..here’s hoping. The question is why did I start this cleansing system? Well, it isn’t for weight loss, although dropping a couple of pounds isn’t bad, but rather I’m looking for greater energy.

We live in a polluted environment. We breathe, eat and drink from our environment and thus we are consuming toxins. A pileup of toxins in our bodies has direct consequences on our energy levels. Having this knowledge led me to this 9-day detox. Teaching calls for a lot of energy and I want to be available to my students as much as possible. This can’t happen if I feel groggy in the mornings. What do you do to increase your energy levels?

May 20, 2011

An Ivy League education won’t guarantee you a job.

My public education from a state university got me a teaching job right out of college. It was a great time. However, 11 years later I worry for my former students and the availability of jobs for them. I always encourage my students to apply themselves in school and choose a field of study that they are passionate about. Unfortunately, today’s recession makes me think that perhaps the best advice is to choose a field that is ‘practical’, meaning it will get you a job. CNN.com featured an article on how people age 24 and under are having a difficult time finding jobs.   A young woman with a French/English degree in teaching from Princeton hasn’t found a job in over 2 years. Despite the recession and lack of jobs, I still find myself leaning toward my past advice and that is for college kids to choose a field they love. Is this advice outdated in today’s economy? I invite you to comment on this post and give your two cents to college students.


May 19, 2011

Strength in numbers

There is always strength in numbers. The more individuals or organizations that you can rally to your cause, the better.

                                                                                                                                                                                 ~Mark Shields  

A few hours ago I held a meeting with fellow teachers regarding Illinois Senate Bill 7. I expressed how important it is that we work as a community to overcome this bill. More importantly, I communicated to my colleagues that they have the power to make a difference. Senate Bill 7 is on the governor’s table and a sense of urgency needs to register in the minds of all teachers, not just teachers in Illinois that this bill needs to be stopped. Fellow teachers are being encouraged to contact their representatives and say no to the bill. I invite you to support us by posting a comment to this post. Don’t know about Senate Bill 7? Check out this link,