Caroline Campaigns for Kindness!

Meet Our Third High 5 Winner, Caroline S.
Elementary School Principal

IMG_2208

Teacher Peach is pleased to present the third winner of Teacher Peach’s “Granting Teacher Goals!” High 5 Initiative, Caroline S.!

Caroline S. teaches her 2nd-4th grade students the importance of empathy with The Great Kindness Challenge! In an effort to banish bullying and create a positive school culture, Caroline and her terrific teach-mates have initiated a kindness movement. Students become engaged with activities such as creating kindness kits, fliers, posters, and decorating classroom doors. Their kindness kits include thank-you cards, decorated heart shapes, painted posters, etc. all created by students. This project goes beyond the classroom as students deliver their kindness kits to community service groups including the local police and fire department, the Mayor’s office, and more!  

Our revered judge, LeeAndra Khan, explains why The Great Kindness Challenge is such an important addition to the High 5 winning initiatives. “Schools should aim to educate the whole student. Having students exercise their voices to prevent bullying is a great step toward promoting empathy and tolerance. Students gain leadership skills and also learn the importance of collaboration. Adding the community engagement piece to the project helps students to understand their role in the larger community.”

Caroline Says . . .
We had the privilege of interviewing Caroline about her experiences in education and her goals for her project. Here’s what she had to say . . .

TP: How long have you been teaching?
CS: I have been a teacher for 19 years and an administrator for 5 years.  I am truly a teacher at heart! I love teaching students and teachers, and even teach night classes at a local college.  

TP: Why did you become a teacher?
CS: I feel like I was born to teach. I have always been involved with kids—babysitting, religious school, and tutoring.  I knew I could make a difference and would enjoy a career in teaching.  

TP: What are the most inspiring aspects of teaching for you?
CS: The most inspiring aspects of teaching are the “light-bulb moments” I see when a child finally catches on to a certain skill or strategy. Students show their appreciation with hugs and I love you’s.  This keeps me striving to be the best I can be for kids.

TP: How do you think this project will impact your students and what outcomes are you hoping to achieve?
CS: The Great Kindness Challenge has always been a very successful week of creating a culture of kindness [in our school]. I notice a decline in discipline referrals because students focus on being kind to one another.  This positive bullying prevention initiative is powerful as students have an opportunity each day to expand their compassion and learn about about other cultures and needs throughout the world.  There’s a huge impact on our community as local law enforcement officers, fire fighters, mental health providers, the town mayor, and many others come to school on Monday morning to help us kick off the great kindness challenge. Kindness quotes, kindness stations, lunch buddies, and a service project are just a few of the exciting activities that students participate in during the week. We’re excited for next time.

TP: What advice would you have for other teachers?
CS: Teaching is an incredibly complex endeavor. No one has it nailed. There are always ways to get better for students. I would remind teachers that whoever is doing the reading, writing, and talking is doing the thinking. Learning is a consequence of thinking. Teachers should provide time everyday for students to read, write, and discuss their thinking. We are smarter together. We need to collaborate with our colleagues and our students. Focus on relationships. You will get so much more from your students if they know you love them.  

Inspired by Caroline?
Teacher Peach is proud to help Caroline continue to bring The Great Kindness Challenge to her students and community. This educational project not only encourages students to become a ‘buddy not a bully’, it also encourages them to share the good will with others! In addition to the $100 award, Teacher Peach is also sharing some awesome products with Caroline and her students.

Check out just a few of these Teacher Peach products Caroline will use to help her students ‘catch some kindness’!

Quench Cups

Stress Balls

Mega Stickers

Dry Erase Clips

Common Core State Standards Kit for Success

Teacher Peach Writing Tools

Little Black Notebooks

Take a Peek!
Caroline was kind enough to share a recent The Great Kindness Challenge with us in these beautiful photos!

What ideas does Caroline’s project spark for you? How could you create or adapt a project like this for your students? What spaces surround your classroom that could be enlivened by the creativity of your kids?

Cynthia C. Goes Overseas!

Meet a Winner in Writing, Cynthia C.

CynthaCovey2_web

Teacher Peach is pleased to introduce the second winner of Teacher Peach’s “Granting Teacher Goals!” High 5 Initiative!  Cynthia C. engages her 6th grade students by “taking them overseas!” Her innovative High 5 Initiative blends authentic writing assignments with patriotism as her students “adopt” deployed US service personnel. Her educational project not only builds and sharpens the writing skills of her students, it also makes a powerful difference to the dedicated and brave individuals who go to incredible lengths to help keep us safe.

Our esteemed judge, LeeAndra Khan, explains why this project was a clear winner.  “This project helps to increase writing skills as well as gets students to become more globally minded. Students also learn about the locations where the service personnel are stationed. This activity helps students to develop empathy as well as understand and express their appreciation for patriotism and service.”

Cynthia Says . . .
We had the privilege of interviewing Cynthia about her experiences in education and goals for her project. Here’s what she had to say . . .

TP: Please, tell us a bit about you, how long you’ve been teaching, what grades, etc.
CC: I have been teaching since 1983, with maternity leaves, for a total of 21 years of actual time in the classroom. I have taught in several grade levels, from elementary through high school.

TP: What made you decide to become a teacher?
CC: I became a teacher because I love working with children and young adults. I achieve a personal “high” when I see them experience an “aha” moment, regardless of the content area.

TP: What have been the most inspiring aspects of teaching for you?
CC: The most inspiring aspects of teaching for me are watching my students mature in their personal, social, and academic skills. When they suddenly understand the power that they have as individuals and as a cohesive team to make change in their own lives, the school environment, and the larger community, it is a wonderful sight to see.

TP: How does (did) this project impact your students and what outcomes are you hoping to achieve?
CC: This pen pal project, sending letters and care packages to service personnel stationed overseas, has impacted my students by awakening in them a sense of patriotism; they begin to understand that the United States has a multi-faceted mission, one that protects US interests abroad, and also the interests of innocent people caught in hopeless and difficult situations caused by war. They realize that we are not only on military missions—we are also on humanitarian missions. I have been doing this project for the last nine years and this experience has impacted not only my current students, but their parents, and especially younger sibling and friends who ask, on their first day of school, “When do WE get to start the pen pal project?” That’s a powerful reach. With this additional financial support, we hope to reach even further.

TP: What advice would you have for other teachers?
CC: My advice to other teachers is to think big! Create projects that will impact your students AND a larger community. Reach out to forge partnerships in the community to enlarge the audience that becomes a part of your lesson. You’d be amazed at how community leaders are usually willing to participate; you just have to take a risk and ASK!

Inspired by Cynthia?

Cynthia’s lesson is certain to influence and inspire the lives of all of those involved—both today and long into the future. As Cynthia’s interview confirms, many of her former students and their families are already “veterans” of this activity and it has become a tradition that everyone is proud to continue. Teacher Peach is proud to help Cynthia to further enrich this project going forward. In addition to the $100 award, Teacher Peach is also sharing some awesome products with Cynthia and her students.

Check out these Teacher Peach products. Cynthia will use them to connect her students to soldiers and to keep her classroom organized all along the way!

“WRITE.” MECHANICAL PENCILS

COOL TEACHER POCKET FOLDERS: UPCOMING EVENTS

 

What ideas does Cynthia’s project spark for you? How could you create or adapt a project like this for your students?

Magnificent Murals Winner!

Meet Our First Winner of the High 5 Initiative, Amanda T.
Art and Exceptional Education Teacher

untitled (1)

The big moment is here! Teacher Peach is pleased to introduce the first of five visionary and talented teachers whose engaging school projects are true winners! These teachers and their projects add incredible value to their school communities. The winners of this initiative are dedicated educators and we believe their work will inspire students and colleagues alike—that’s why they were selected by principal and thought leader, LeeAndrea Khan, to receive a $100 Teacher Peach award to fuel their educational project as part of Teacher Peach’s “Granting Teacher Goals!” High 5 Initiative!

Amanda Transforms Blank Spaces into Celebrations of Art—and Life!

Amanda T. encourages her students to look at blank walls, doors, and bulletin boards and envision the colorful and informative possibilities! This heartwarming High 5 Initiative includes the beautification of her Floridian middle school and improvement of the community image of the school. With this grant, her art class will now have the freedom to continue to paint beautiful, artistic murals around the school, helping to make their school environment even more inviting for the community. Amanda’s educational project goes beyond aesthetics, giving students a unique sense of pride when they see their original works publicly displayed. It also help students to connect visual expression to some very important life lessons that serve us all well to remember.

Our esteemed judge, LeeAndra Khan, explains why this project was a “picture” perfect choice as one of the winning entries. “Getting students to be part of keeping their own community beautiful only enhances their learning experiences. It is important for students to have voice and choice in their school. This increases engagement and ultimately impacts success. When they feel like they belong there, they act like it.”

Amanda Says . . .

We had the privilege of interviewing Amanda about her experiences in education and her goals for her project. Here’s what she had to say . . .

TP: How long have you been teaching?
AT: I have been teaching for 10 years.

TP: Why did you become a teacher?
AT: I became a teacher in the field of Special Education/Art to help students who learn differently become confident in their personal learning styles—and to keep learning in their own special ways. This applies to all students, of course.

TP: What are the most inspiring aspects of teaching for you?
AT: The most inspiring aspect of teaching is to watch students become interested in and eager to participate in the learning process, enough to want to show off what they know.

TP: How do you think this project will impact your students and what outcomes are you hoping to achieve?
AT: The “Beautify the Door” Contest involves my students in my art classes. The students use perspective in the literal way with drawing buildings and then they add a written component with sayings about how we look at life—learning and behaving, for example. They’re able to see the significance in how art can impact people in a variety of ways. (We’ve included a short video illustrating her “Beautify the Door” Contest below!)

TP: What advice would you have for other teachers?
AT: My best advice to other teachers, especially new teachers, is to stay on your toes and be creative! Also, be on the lookout for where your kids are and what they bring to the table. Students drive the lesson forward by what they bring with them from their own life experiences. What they have inside and are willing to share with us can teach us, as teachers, in the process. Then we can connect the lessons to their realities in ways we wouldn’t have imagined would be possible. Just by listening, we learn, too.

Sparked by Amanda?

Amanda’s colorful concept will have a BIG impact on both her students and the community as a whole. By creating an inviting and expressive academic environment, she is inviting her students to express themselves, enhance their environment, AND she’s also reminding her students that there are people who care for them, about them, and are willing to support their successes. Teacher Peach is proud to help Amanda create these vivid, fun, and creative displays that will spark students’ creativity and curiosity—and those of the school’s faculty, too. In addition to the $100 award, Teacher Peach is also sharing some awesome products with Amanda and her students.

 

Check out just a few of these Teacher Peach products Amanda will use to help her students beautify their learning space!

Keep It Together Portfolio Case

The Box! Totefolio

Take a Peek!
Amanda shared a quick video of some of the work her students have done so far. In under a minute, she’ll give you a fast tour of how these amazing students express themselves and make connections that will inspire all of us! Go, Amanda!

 

What ideas does Amanda’s project spark for you? How could you create or adapt a project like this for your students? What spaces surround your classroom that could be enlivened by the creativity of your kids?

 

Making Time Makes a Difference

01-16-16_QUOTE-20_timecreativelyMLK_Page_1.jpg

On Columbus Day this past October, the weather in Washington, DC, was breathtakingly perfect. I know this because I was there. Several weeks prior, I had committed to going on a same-day marathon trip with a group of 15 others to visit an array of monuments and museums in Washington.

As with many such “extra-curricular” additions to my calendar, it sounded simply wonderful at the time I registered. As days passed and the trip date grew nearer, I began to question my decision to take an entire day away from work and be away from my kids on a day with no school. I had to leave the house before 5 in the morning only to return well after 11 that same night, and get up for work just six hours later the next morning. In this light, it didn’t sound all that appealing.

The items on my to-do list seemed to grow as the time before the trip continued to shrink. And so began my inner monologue: “You’ll take your laptop and work on the plane, on the bus, and in between things. There’s bound to be down time. You’ll get it all done; you always seem to.” And off I went. A big draw for the trip was that four of my very dear friends were also joining for this day—one even leading the trip.

From the moment we pulled out of the dark, starlit driveway to head for the airport, I somehow knew I’d made the right decision. Of course, I didn’t open the laptop at the gate; there wasn’t time. Of course, I fell asleep on the flight. And on the bus ride from Reagan International to our first stop, the Jefferson Memorial, it never entered my mind to even consider working. I was already enchanted by the ride, the view, the stories, the laughter, and the impact of the monuments.

Just before midday, our little bus parked along a curb and we all got out, a routine we’d adjusted to on prior stops. We walked along a pale granite wall that I later learned is the Inscription Wall. We had arrived at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial. While I’d visited other memorials at various times, this was my first exposure to this particular memorial.

The granite stretched on. At perfectly orchestrated increments, exquisitely carved, perfectly proportioned capital letters formed excerpts from Dr. King’s many speeches. Some I knew; others new. All were thought-provoking and powerful in their clarity and simplicity. How often have we been taught that it is harder to express thought with fewer words than many? Every excerpt was a stunning example of Dr. King’s effective distillation of complexity that goes beyond any words.

Then I saw it—the towering memorial edifice itself, the Stone of Hope. There, in front of me, truly larger than life, was a white stone sculpture in the image of Dr. King himself. Armed folded, expression thoughtful, and impact indescribable, this strategically placed work in massive stone, over 28 feet tall, had caught me. Suddenly the enormity of the issues, the struggles and the pain of so many, and the certainty of Dr. King’s convictions were all depicted in the single sculpture of a single man. The crisp fall day with its perfect blue sky and sunlight reflecting off the Tidal Basin cast precision shadows that only strengthened the experience. Justice, democracy, hope, and love, key messages of Dr. King’s, were each underscored for me everywhere I turned. I was riveted.

In that moment, I knew. I was right to have come. I was changed for having made time that day for a trip that mattered—and continues to matter—on so many levels. Now, when I think of that day, I’m immediately transported to that moment at this memorial. Those vibrant feelings of heightened awareness, pride, and strength come flooding right back. All because I made time to go and I made space from my work—to see and be present.

When I discovered the quotation by Dr. King that opens this blog post, I knew this was the right story to share to accompany his message. Yes, we all must use time creatively. As I write this post, I recall that I did have a lot of work to do for Teacher Peach that day, and by applying some creative problem solving, I got it all done. Of course, I cannot remotely describe that work at all. Yet, I recall immediately the awe and amazement I felt and still feel for this incredible contributor to our country’s history and for master sculptor Lei Yixin who brought this memorial to life.

Creatively Choose the Use of Time
As we move through this first month of January, time feels like an easy companion, not yet fighting us with the urgency to choose. It still seems there’ll be plenty of time to do it all, much as it felt weeks before this trip last October.

Urgency and choice are two key filters for how we decide to use time. The third filter, as Dr. King described, requires us to creatively use time. While there may a limit to the time we have, creatively using the time we have expands our ability to choose wisely and can offset the urgency that “urges” us to try to do it all. I’ll always be grateful for the creative choice I made to spend that October day with special people who matter deeply, sharing experiences I’ll never forget, and honoring a man who helped change so much for so many.

More Quotations About Time
As you move through the second half of January, you’ll undoubtedly need to make your own choices about how to wisely, creatively, and efficiently use your teaching time. In honor of Black History Month, we’re including a worksheet of this quotation by Dr. King. We’ve also included two more worksheets with a “timely” quotation from Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandela, respectively, so you can “ch-use” with your students in mind.

PQS Worksheet 1-14-16 Time MLK

01-11-16_QUOTEWKSHEET_LifeIsNotMeasured

01-11-16_QUOTEWKSHEET_WeMustUse

We look forward to hearing how you opt to use these PeachQuotes Studio™ Worksheets in your classroom. We so hope you’ll take just a sliver of time to share your creatively chosen teachable moments. Share an experience that you’ve had like my amazing trip to Washington, too. I understand Maya Angelou’s words so well—the Martin Luther King Memorial definitely took my breath away!

 

Teacher Peach Freebies: Team Collaboration Commitments

Collaboration Takes Commitment from All Team Members
A new school year means attending plenty of meetings. Meetings are effective when everyone has a clear understanding of the meeting’s goals and when all team members are committed to the collaboration. Whether your school has team meetings every week, every month, or every quarter, you’ll want to set the tone for those meetings early in the school year.

Ensure All Team Members Are Committed to the Cause
Establish meeting ground rules and get buy-in from all team members by using this Team Collaboration Commitments document. It features a list of best practices for team collaboration that can serve as your ground rules for your team meetings.

Read through each point on the document. Discuss what each point means and how the action might look in your particular meetings. Then have all group members cement their commitment to the team by signing the document. Keep the document accessible during your meetings throughout the year and refer back to it to make sure your meetings continue to be effective.

Be Sure Your Group Is Prepared to Participate
Help liven up your team meetings with these Teacher Peach supplies.

Help reinforce the collaborative process with “Write.” Mechanical Pencils and “Revise.” Eraser Sticks. Show your team that you’re willing to write ideas and try new things, but that you’re just as willing to erase and revise ideas when bigger and better ideas are introduced.

Teacher Peach's Write Mechanical Pencils Teacher Peach's Revise Eraser Sticks

After your team meetings, be sure to show your appreciation to your team members by giving them a Partner Thank You Card that has the perfect message thanking them for being your partner. Enhance the message by writing your own message inside the card.

Teacher Peach's Partner Thank You Cards

Need more ideas? Check out teacherpeach.com.

Announcing Teacher Peach’s Freebie Initiative

Giving Away Great Freebies
With constrained budgets and limited resources, finding a cache of valuable freebies on the Internet can be a huge time-saver. Freebies not only save you money, they also can spark many ideas.

At Teacher Peach, we want to help you save time and build your cache of go-to resources, so we are giving away a regular stream of powerful classroom freebie downloads. These freebies are one of the many ways Teacher Peach gives back to the teacher community. Be sure to follow our blog to make sure you don’t miss any of these freebies as you kick off this next school year. Start the year on the right foot with these freebie downloads.

There’s Nothing Standard About These Freebies
For the first series of freebies we’ll be rolling out over the next few weeks, we are focusing on the critical start-up steps that teachers need to do at the beginning of the school year when faced with tackling challenging standards, either Common Core State Standards or the specific standards required by your state.

Check out these coming attractions. From class profiles and peer team forms to lesson observation checklists and big picture support tools, these freebie downloads cover all the bases. And the best news of all is that these are totally free. So keep checking our blog to discover which freebies are posting each week.

Ready for More Than Freebies? Check Out This Kit!
CCSS Kit for Success
The Common Core State Standards Kit for Success can be used with both the CCSS and state-specific standards; the process is the same.

  • Each kit includes a playbook, a to-do list, a writing tablet for your team meeting notes, pens, sticky notes, and a folder to store your materials.
  • The kit is designed to help plan your approach, chart your course, and reflect upon your progress for the entire year.
  • It’s quick and complete, with only 6 pages per month for you to incorporate into your busy work life.
  • The backbone of the kit is Common Core State Standards Playbook for Success.
  • This 80-page playbook contains key strategies, resources, and timelines designed to help you create a game plan to navigate the world of rigor and standards in your classroom.
  • This playbook makes an excellent addition to your Teacher Evaluation documents. Impress your principal with your completed playbook.

Be sure to follow along as we release each of the freebies in their own blog posts. Then check out some of our other informational blog posts while visiting our blog. These freebie downloads will kick off your year and get you going. Check out the Common Core State Standards Kit for Success at teacherpeach.com to explore the benefits of starting your year in a standards-focused way. Many teaching teams get one for every teacher, compare notes, and use this inexpensive kit to bring teachers together, collaborate, and create amazing classroom results. Take a look.

How will you be launching your new school year? Let us know.

 

Back-to-School Ideas for Teachers to Involve Families, Part 2

Smart Teacher-Family Partnerships Make a Big Difference
The partnership between teachers and families is a critical and pivotal part of shaping a plan for success for your students. The families of the students in your class want a successful and positive school year for their student—as do you. In most school settings, three facts impact the teacher-family relationship:

  1. These families did not have the option to choose you as the person to teach their student this coming year.
  2. You did not have the option to choose the families or even the students in your class this year.
  3. You and these families—these extended networks of your classroom—are both deeply, albeit differently, vested in the successful development of one person: their student.

This common interest gives you both a powerful framework within which to build a smart, connected relationship. As the teacher, Continue reading “Back-to-School Ideas for Teachers to Involve Families, Part 2”