Teach and be taught.

(Images of Tavi Gevinson and Ira Glass via WSJ. Magazine.)

As I was browsing through my Google Reader, I saw Simply Lovely (a lovely blog I follow) linked to a Wall Street Journal article. Before I even started reading, I immediately recognized Tavi Gevinson and Ira Glass. I was amazed that they were photographed together, and I was instantly curiously. They are not two people I would place together.

Tavi has a blog called Style Rookie that I started following a couple years ago. She started blogging when she was 13 about things she liked. She likes thrift store finds and taking her own picture. She creatively puts outfits together and really has insightful things to say. I’ve followed her for the past three years, so I feel a little attached. Tavi is precious, and I admire her ferocity. I love any teenager who has the courage and confidence to be themselves. Being a teenager is tough, and to do it with style is just phenomenal.

Ira is the host of This American Life. I listen to the podcast religiously, he makes the mundane sound fascinating. My entire grad school statement of purpose was about my great love for stories. Ira can tell a story, and get others to tell a story in a way very few can.

The WSJ article was wonderful, basically Ira Glass is a mentor for Tavi Gevinson. He helps her navigate an adult media world and gives her advice. As a teacher, as someone who has grown a lot, and as someone who has watched others grow, I truly believe in the power of mentorship. It is so important that we surround ourselves with positive influences and remember to be positive influences for others. Experiences is invaluable and must be shared.

Both these people fascinate me, and I have even more respect for both of them now. Opportunites to teach and be taught are everywhere.

A Family’s Experiment in Extreme Schooling


I have spent the majority of my morning being fascinated with this school and this family. A New York Times reporter, Clifford J. Levy, moved with his family to Russia. He and his wife decided to immerse their children in Russian school. Not just any school, but a progressive Russian school. They came from public schools in Brooklyn, and became the only Americans in their school. Children truly rise to the occasion, and it makes me wonder how I would cope.

The article is lengthy, so if your short on time, do me a favor and at least watch the video.






My Classroom

A year ago today, I was setting up a classroom. I was trying my best to get a room ready for 26 kids who would show up Monday morning. I was an absolute complete wreck, it was terrifying. I froze when asked where I would teach from. I froze when they asked where they should put their backpacks. I froze when parents asked what my name was. Preparing a classroom takes time, and time I did not have. Things worked out beautifully. I loved the kids and they didn’t seem to realize I wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked to have been.

This year I had time. Last week was mandatory back to work, but for the 2 weeks before that, I went and spent time in my room. My sister and Mrs. Oswalt came to help me. My mom and JMO came up to see all I had done. Time is a gift I am grateful for this year. I am also extremely grateful for the amazing support system I have in my life. The people I love gave me gifts for the room and worked hard to help me. I couldn’t be happier with the result.

This is a pop up shark, he is now the treasure box. Kara found him at Target. Thanks Kara!
Treasure BoxRoom

My mother and I spent half a day at JoAnn’s fabric looking for something for these curtains. I had fully intended to make them myself, but my momma took over. Moms are good that way. Emily helped me put up all my boards and border, helped me make letters and die cuts, and then decided she would free hand cut ‘Pickert’ out of fabric and fix it on my desk cover. Emily is an awesome little sister.

Desk and cubbies

Mrs. Oswalt took it upon herself to buy me shelves! Don’t they look great? JMO came up and put them together for me. Mrs. Oswalt also sorted all my books for me. She’s a nice lady. Emily also cut out “What are you reading?” out of construction paper, glued it to more construction paper, and broke my laminator trying to fit it through. It looks pretty great (laminator was then fixed by JMO). My Aggie Cheerleader bear was a gift from a kid last year; I think she looks perfect in the corner.



So, after three weeks of doing a little here and there, my room is done. Lots of people helped me, and I am so thankful to have such fabulous people around.


As I’m getting ready for this school year, I am getting wrapped up in the tasks I love and am avoiding the activities that I don’t love (organizing). I get the icanread tumblr in my Google Reader, and truly enjoy many of the images. A lot of them make me think, and because I’m in the business of making kids think, I had an “AHA!” moment. I can share some of these with the kids. So, I’m borrowing some of the images for my classroom blog. The kids can think about and write what thoughts come to mind as they read.

Being judgmental is something I struggle with, so this one really made me think. The last thing I want to be defined as is judgmental. I hope these images help ten year olds start to think about the kind of person they wish to become.



A few months ago, my partner teacher signed up to be in the dunk tank at our school’s carnival. It was going to be hilarious. Then, she got tickets to Cirque Du Soleil, and you cannot miss out on that. So, in a haste to help my pal, I said, “I’ll do it for you!” I often commit myself in haste, and it is often not a great decision.

The principal at our school was before me; she was such a good sport! She smiled, egged kids on, and gracefully slipped into the water. She made getting dunked seem okay, even enjoyable. Getting dunked was not okay. When I stepped up for my turn, it was slippery, and the water was disgusting, and I had a nervous case of giggles. The boys in my class were lined up and stretching their arms. They were pumped, and the sight was pretty entertaining. My dear sweet boy that went first missed, so of course I let him know that he was my new favorite. Then a very athletic and awesome kiddo hit the button the first try, and I splashed into the water. It was gross. As I climbed back onto the seat, it wouldn’t latch. In fact, it became a recurring problem in my hour in the chair, the chair would spontaneously dunk me on its own. A father of one of my students stood by the tank and re-rigged the seat for me. Continually, I had to remind myself to put on my smile and appear to enjoy the process. The kids loved it, and I wanted very badly to love it too. One stinker in my class ran up and just pushed the button (at the encouragement of my fellow fourth grade teachers), I forced him to come around and hug me. Sadly, no one snapped a picture of that! Being in the dunk tank was a whirlwind of emotion, it sounds silly, but I felt attacked, I felt scared of not knowing when I would fall, I would fall, it was chilly, but it was reminder that when you put a on a face you can create something fun for someone else. The dunk tank was about good fun and creating a memory for the kids who paid four tickets to get me down. Signing up for the dunk tank wasn’t something I probably would have done on my own, but it was a memorable event, and at the end I felt like had accomplished something.

I tried to convince my assailants to come hug me, but there were very few takers.



Recently, I got to leave school in the middle of the day to go to a lunch! It was crazy! Leaving! Sitting down to eat! Sitting with my principal! Sitting with important people in Sugar Land!

The Rotary Club of Sugar Land invited this years rookies of the year of the district to a luncheon. I was selected at our school (in all honesty – we didn’t have hardly any other new folks), and I had to write an essay. I was pretty proud of my essay. So proud, I sent a copy to my parents, and my dad copied it and sent it to my grandma. My lovely mentor, Lauren, and my principal wrote about me as well. Lauren has a magical way with words, she made me sound pretty phenomenal. Now, they were true things, but she just made them sound incredible.

I was selected to be one of the finalists. There were three elementary finalists, and three secondary finalists. The two girls next to me were the other two elementary finalists, they were both art teachers. I thought that was pretty interesting.

We all had to speak, and it was pretty nerve racking. I talk in front of ten year old kids everyday, but they aren’t adults or business leaders of our community, or strangers. One of the women talked about the fact that every year there are more and more cuts, and every year we hear things on the news, but every year there are great things happening in our classrooms. It is true. These teachers were truly impressive, they were very passionate about their job and making a difference. I loved hearing their speeches about why they wanted to teach and how amazing the support of fellow teachers has been this year. There are so many amazing teachers in the world, and they don’t always get the recognition they deserve. There are many thankless tasks in teaching. I work with so many amazing people. These people are creative, compassionate, smart, and very organized. Teaching is a hard job, it takes great mental capacity, patience, organization, and a lot of time. It is the best thing I have ever done.

My first year is almost behind me. I will cherish the memories. The day at the Rotary Club will be one of them.

The article on their site can be found here. I borrowed their picture.