Hi Readers! I Have Questions.

Hello Dear Readers!

Three things!

1) Ack! I spent a long time working on my latest post about reading, scheduled it to post, and then… my website went down for several hours. :(. Just wanted to let you know that it’s back up, and the post is ready for you!!

2) You can now follow me on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!

3) And while we’re at it… I don’t know if this is allowed in blogger world, but I have burning questions for you!!! The main one is this: WHO ARE YOU? I’d LOVE it if you could take a moment to leave a comment and tell me something–ANYTHING– about yourself! Which country and/or state do you live in? What’s your blog/website URL? What do you do? Why do you read my blog (food? teacher? parent? you’re my friend?)?

THANKS! :)
JoEllen

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Why Your Child Hates Reading (and How to Change That)

Why Your Child Hates Reading (and How to Change That)Reading is always a hot topic during parent-teacher conferences, and for good reason. In elementary school, students learn to read, so that for the rest of their lives, they can read to learn. If a student falls back here, almost every other subject will lag behind as they approach the upper grades. They will struggle with writing, labor over word problems in math, loathe their Science and Social Studies textbooks, and likely experience lower academic self-confidence.

One of my goals as a teacher is to help kids fall in love with reading… or at least not hate it. Every year, I have a couple of parents who insist that their child hates reading. I can see the defeat in their eyes, even as the school year is just beginning. It doesn’t have to be that way! I will share some basic beliefs I have about teaching reading as well as ways to help make reading time more enjoyable and productive time for your child. Continue reading

Flaky and Moist Cream Scone Recipe

Cream Scones with Dried Fruit

I have been a sucker for scones ever since my Auntie S. made a batch of blueberry scones when I was in elementary school. I begged her to share her recipe with me, and I even invented my own little technique for stuffing blueberries in the middle of the scones. It was my solution for the messy, purple, staining mess that came with mixing blueberries into the dough. I don’t do that anymore (although my mom says she liked it that way), but I do still love to make cream scones! Continue reading

How to Stop Inappropriate Clowning

Random quick teacher tip: How to Stop an Interrupting Clown. An interrupting class clown, that is. Especially one that is clownin’ on other kids. That’s not nice.

Sometimes I’ll have a student who likes to joke around in class. That’s cool. Except when it’s mean, or when it’s inappropriately disrupting a lesson. Sure, as a first step, I will directly address the student’s inappropriate behavior. But if that’s not enough to stop it, I also pair it with a subtle second step: I give the rest of the class a warning look. A cocked head, a slow blink, and a raised eyebrow that says, What, you think that’s funny? Really? Are you gonna laugh about it? Are you?

how to stop inappropriate clowning

It slices laughter in an instant. Continue reading

How to Approach a Parent-Teacher Conference

9 Tips for Parent-Teacher Conferences

If you dig through your child’s backpack anytime in the next couple weeks, chances are you will unearth a request for a parent teacher conference! Sometimes I wonder how parents feel about these conferences. Do they look forward to meeting the teacher? Do they get nervous? Do they think it’s a waste of time?

Aside from the exhaustion of teaching all morning and then conferencing in the afternoons, I really looked forward to meeting my students’ parents and guardians. I loved learning more about my students by meeting the people who raised them, and it helped me remember that each of my students are somebody’s baby. 

In a few years, it will be my turn to attend the parent teacher conference for my own baby. It will be so strange to be on the other side, but there are a few things I hope to keep in mind when that time comes. Here are some tips I have for parents (including myself) when conference time approaches. Continue reading

“Check Yourselves!”

Check yourselves! Easy as 1-2-3The Trick

Here is a supersimple handy dandy trick that teachers and parents will love. I know we all have our own methods for getting the whole class’s attention– ring a bell, xylophone, Marco-Polo, “If you can hear my voice, clap once…” and so on. That’s cool. If you don’t use any of these, you should try it! It’s great for quickly getting your students’ attention so you can give the next instructions or just move on.

Sometimes, however, we don’t necessarily need to make the kids stop what they’re doing or make an announcement. Sometimes, the class is just antsy or fidgety or chatty or SOMETHING and you just feel this crazy vibe in the room. Maybe it’s the day after Halloween, or maybe it’s nearing the holidays and the air is just bursting with too much excitement and they have trouble concentrating. Or maybe it’s just a normal afternoon, when the students’ focus is off and we’re all ready for an afternoon nap.

Or maybe it’s Friday. Oh, Fridays.

So far, I’ve shared with you ideas on how to get an individual student’s behavior in line using graduated consequences. What I’m about to share is an idea for the times when it’s not one or two or five students, but your whole class that seems to be driving you nuts. It’s simple. Just say these two magical words: Check yourselves! Continue reading

Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Recipe

Chocolate-dipped shortbread hearts 1

I have always dreamed of opening my own bakery. It’s probably not going to happen, because in addition to loving baked goods, I also love to sleep, and I hear being a baker + sleeping in are not compatible. Still, I love the idea of making treats and seeing that people would actually be willing to pay money for my stuff. That means they’re not just eating it out of niceness, but because they really LIKE IT!

A few summers ago, I decided to open up a virtual bakery, and I called it Sweet Dreams. Continue reading

A Handy Poster for Consequences

Behavior Check System for Home or Sunday School

A few months ago, I started a series on How to Shape Children’s Behaviorincluding posts on:

This was years of experience and teaching wisdom boiled down to seven posts. I had started off writing these with both teachers and parents in mind, and I think most of the things I shared can be effectively used in the classroom or at home. The rest of this post is written with teachers in mind, but anyone who is looking for a simple poster to use for consequences can just edit this one that I made and use it with clothespins! Just write the child’s name on a clothespin, stick it in the green section, and move it to yellow or red as needed. Continue reading

5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Teaching

A Letter to Younger Me

Seems a little strange that I have so much to say about teaching now that I’m not actually in it anymore. I don’t think I had the space and perspective to reflect and think about it all while I was in the thick of it, and I had never really planned to start a blog about food or teaching or anything. Funny how these things happen.

When I resigned, one thing I feared was that I would forget so many good things I learned, if and when I return to the profession. There were all sorts of habits and procedures and tricks I had picked up, and some I’d already forgotten. It would be so unfortunate if I went back to teaching and couldn’t remember them all! I think that’s part of why I spend so much time writing about it here on this blog. As much as it is to share information with others, it is also to preserve my experiences for myself, so someday I might go back and remember what my classroom was like and what made things run well.

I don’t want to return to the job and feel like a new teacher all over again– that was an overwhelming experience. There are some things I do wish I could tell myself, though. So here is a letter to younger me. New teachers, please feel free to peer over her shoulder. Continue reading