Using My Teacher Voice

“Wow, I was using my teacher voice. I actually missed that.”

I couldn’t believe that was a thought from my own brain. Yet, there is was. Even more shocking… it was true. I really had enjoyed using my teacher voice.

This teacher voice, however, was not the stereotypical one my students aren’t supposed to make me use.


Oh, I have that one, too.

Then the realization dawned… I have more than one teacher voice.

And so do my teacher friends. I have heard many, many teacher voices coming from down the hall and in my own classroom.

There is the teacher voice that yells above a noisy classroom.

A teacher voice that quietly talks to a student about their struggles at the teacher desk.

The teacher voice that is raised in anger.

The teacher voice that is upbeat and cheerful.

A teacher voice that is firm in discipline.

The teacher voice dripping in sarcasm and bordering on disrespect.

A teacher voice that almost sounds like singing – lilting and lyrical.

A teacher voice that is smiling.

A teacher voice that is sad.

The teacher voice that is tired and discouraged.

I’ll admit it.  I’ve too often used the wrong teacher voice. My students got an exasperated voice when they needed a patient one. I taught about main idea and details (for the 500th time) with a tired voice when my students needed interest and energy.

Some days I may feel like Charlie Brown’s teacher projecting wordless, almost intonation-less mumbling in front of a classroom, but in actuality my students hear what I say.  Maybe more importantly, they hear how I say it.

School’s out for the summer, so I’m looking forward to the next year. One goal is to own my teacher voice (all of them) and make conscious efforts to use the one my students need… and leave behind the one they don’t. Do I think I will always succeed? No, but there is the grace of transparency and admitting when I’ve used the wrong voice. When I talk to my students about my voice, they understand their own.

Self-controlled. Lyrical. Firm. Smiling. Sad. Respectful. Laughing. Clear. Strict.





Not Consumed

“How was your week?”

I felt rather awkward making small talk after this past week.  I was pretty certain my answer to that question didn’t fall in the ‘small talk’ category.

I felt overwhelmed.

I was exhausted.

It seemed like the universe was against me getting any sleep.

As an indicator of how the week went, take Monday. After 11 hours at work, I came home, did laundry, cooked dinner and Tuesday’s lunch, washed dishes, and finished up lesson prep.  At 11:30 p.m., 5 1/2 short hours before my Tuesday morning alarm, I was trying to fish a broken measuring spoon out of the garbage disposal with a pair of chopsticks while holding a flashlight in my mouth so that maybe the disposal would work again.  The rotting fruits and vegetables couldn’t wait another 17 hours until the faculty meeting was over and I was off the clock again. I didn’t remember signing up for this.

I was grumpy.  I didn’t want to be a public school teacher anymore. I didn’t want to be a homeowner. I didn’t want to have to interact with any other people for the foreseeable future.

Did I mention I was tired?

I felt overwhelmed by things to do and beset by the temptation to be short tempered, complaining, impatient, and unkind.  In my discontentment, I didn’t feel like fighting the temptation.  After all, I felt justified.  And surely God wouldn’t expect me to keep fighting when I was obviously overwhelmed.

How was my week?

I felt consumed.

I felt consumed by work, by impatience, by inadequacy, by discouragement, by weariness.

But then, the Holy Spirit sent a timely reminder.

I am not consumed.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

My feelings were strong, but not stronger than the reality. If God’s great mercy means I am not consumed by his righteous wrath, how much less can the urgency and pressures of the world and my own heart consume me?

Meditating on that didn’t make getting the measuring spoon out of the sink any easier, or earn me extra hours to sleep.  It did, however, take away the tyranny of the discouragement and bitterness that threatened to seize my heart. What light was brought to my mind by the beauty and glory of that thought!

Trials may try to consume, but the Lord’s love is greater still. Struggles will eventually cease, but his compassions will never fail.  Discouragement and weariness may be great, but God’s faithfulness is greater still.


Displaying anchor charts

Quick post to share a new strategy I’m using for displaying anchor charts. These clips are available with other poster strips and hooks at Walmart and Kroger. They can save money overall and are easy on the anchor charts– especially if no one has gotten around to laminating them yet. 😉


Bright Hope for Tomorrow: A Teacher’s Sunday Night


It’s no great secret.  Ask any teacher what their least favorite time of the week is, and they’ll most likely reply “Sunday Evening.”  It’s the day before the start of a new week and a repeat of writing more lesson plans, grading more papers, observations, testing,  and, heaven-forbid, another fire drill. And for many teachers, those will be the easiest things they deal with in the classroom.

But, it’s also in the hum-drum of the every day, the snail’s pace of progress that makes a teacher question the difference he or she is actually making.  I questioned it of myself this past week.  This morning, I found myself talking to a friend who was doubting the same.

I think it was no coincidence, then, that one of our scripture readings during the church service included Mark 4:26-27.

And [Jesus] said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.  He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.

So it may be that the daily scatterings of knowledge, patience, discipline, and love in the classroom will sprout and grow, whether the teacher sees or knows how.  It could be that the late nights and early rising will later be blessed with a harvest that the teacher cannot judge now.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Teaching isn’t the only profession that is tiring, but it is tiring.  Teaching is not the only profession that requires self-giving and denial, but it does require those.  Teaching is not the only profession that is time-consuming, but that it most certainly is. The bright hope for tomorrow, even as I may be laboring late tonight and then again early tomorrow, is that my scattering of the seed, seeking to do kingdom work in the place God has given, will produce a harvest, even if I know not how it takes root and grows.

Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9



Reading Language Arts Anchor Charts

I have successfully spent the last morning of 2015 sniffing Sharpie fumes… I mean, making anchor charts for the classroom. Along with getting organized for the semester, I also wanted to create some reading and grammar resources for my kiddos to use in the classroom to help retain previously taught information. Anchor charts are a helpful visual aid for introducing a topic. Sometimes I bring a completed chart for the lesson. Other times I create a chart while I’m teaching the lesson and hang it up later. The students like to copy the chart in their notebook for note-taking if I’m making one during the lesson. We also discuss information that could be added to the anchor chart (or information that shouldn’t be added) during that lesson or as a review activity. During small groups, students can complete or create from scratch an anchor chart about the lesson, which I also display. (That’s evaluation, application, creation, and synthesizing, for those keeping track of higher order thinking skills.) I have seen my students use these to help answer questions and guide discussions in table groups. They have grown in confidence as a result. Over time they depend less on the chart as a result of repeated exposure to the information. Since I have ESL students, I tend to go for charts that are rich in vocabulary words, as well as grammar. Here are some of my favorites I made today. (But seriously, anchor chart crafting should be done in a well ventilated space. Sharpie-induced headache is a real thing.)


Others include Pinterest inspirations:





What are some anchor charts you use in your classroom?

Teaching with Dessert: Oreo Writing Workshop

*Admission: This is actually a post from almost a month ago… apparently I forgot to finish it until now.*

Within the last week, I’ve taught persuasive writing using Oreos, author’s purpose with pie, and character descriptions with ‘If You Give A Pig A Pancake’ and ‘If You Give A Cat A Cupcake’.  To make matters worse, lessons on cyclical stories, cause and effect, and sequence of events using ‘If You Give A Mouse A Cookie’ are all on the schedule for this week as well.  I think I’m setting a bad example for the children… and I must be craving sugar, at least a little.
It all worked out very well though — the students learned the concepts and we had fun doing it.  AND … my fifth graders had apple pie for the first time.

OREO WRITING — Using this fabulous packet from TeachersPayTeachers

One of the standards for 1st grade is to write and support an opinion.  Since we have also been working hard on using graphic organizers, starting with a graphic organizer seemed like a good idea.  This will transition well into paragraph writing.

— Opener: Started the lesson by reviewing the lesson vocabulary (necessary background knowledge — opinions, likes, dislikes, etc.).  I also previewed the video clip by explaining the acting in the commercial.  Then, I played this OREO commercial.

— Instruction: Discuss the importance of giving reasons and examples for our opinions.  With idea webs, the students and I brainstormed reasons to support the argument that the cookie or the cream part of the OREO was the best.  Using the graphic organizer from the TpT packet (link above), We co-wrote a paragraph to argue for a certain part of the cookie.  The graphic organizer itself relates to the OREO — Opinion, Reason, Example, Opinion

Practice: To narrow down topics, we brainstormed a list of superhero powers (6) for possible writing topics.  Using the graphic organizer (fill-in-the-blank), I wrote a persuasive argument for my favorite superpower, giving reasons and examples.  The students then filled out a lined graphic organizer for their favorite superpower (with assistance).  (And we ate our choice of vanilla or chocolate OREOS while working — win!)  Students could then transfer the writing from their organizer to lined writing paper and illustrate.

Early finishers: If a student finished early, they found a partner to compare opinions and reasons.

Reflecting on Lesson: As a whole group, the students compared opinions and their reasons.  All students who wanted were able to bring their paper to the front of the class and read their persuasive writing to the class.

Every one of my 1st graders volunteered to read their opinions and reasons.

That’s the best of all.