The DungeonĀ 

Once there was young Queen who lived in a kingdom she ruled alone. She ruled as fairly and consistently as she could. Many of her subjects were pleased to do the hard work required to keep the kingdom functioning and their fellow subjects happy. Many of the subjects did their jobs, earned for themselves, and went about their lives in peace. There was one small group of subjects who tried to stir rebellion among the other subjects. They would often come together and attempt to take over the queen’s castle. One would distract the queen and her knights out in the forrest while the other scaled the castle walls trying to find a way in. It was a constant battle for the queen, trying to keep her kingdom running smoothly. She often feared that the rebels were those closest to her. She was afraid the servants on her castle were helping plan the attacks. 

One evening, as the queen was resting after a day full of battling the rebels, she became so distressed she could not sleep. Wandering the halls of her castle, she fretted. She found her way to a high tower where she stopped to look out over the village below. Something must be done but she feared it was not in her power to fix the troubles she was facing. 

She wrote to several queens in nearby kingdoms. They replied with letters of encouragement and carefully crafted jokes to assure the young queen of her power and goodwill. Those kind words pushed the queen through weeks of continuous fighting with the rebels. 

One morning, the queen went to the great hall to check in on her servants. One of the maids had paused in her work. She stared up at the queen with hatred in her small eyes. As the queen started forward to admonish the servant, a flash of light filled the room. All of the servents stopped and gaped. The light faded. The queen looked toward the source of the light. 

A beautiful woman stood in the center of the great hall. She was dressed in a silver robe that glittered like stars reflected in a waterfall. Her crown was fitted with thousands of diamonds. She faced the queen. 

“Salutations, my dear queen.” 

The woman’s voice was clear as a bell yet strange. She must have come from a far away land. She looked from side to side surveying the room. Her eyes paused for a brief moment on the angry servant girl before stopping in the queen. 

“I have traveled here to speak with you about the trouble that has fallen on your kingdom. Every good queen has a fairy godmother and I am here to help. Should there be any citizen who chooses not to follow your law, you may send them to me and I shall place them in my dungeon.” 

The young queen smiled to the fairy godmother and thanked her from the bottom of her heart. As the young queen approached the fairy godmother, the servant girl cried out.

“It is unfair! It is not fair that she sits quietly in this large house while we are forced to work!” The girl rushed forward, “I would rather be in a dungeon than in this castle!”

The fairy godmother smiled at the young girl, “you would choose to live in my dungeon rather than here in the light? Here in this beautiful castle where there is plenty to eat and warm beds to rest in? The dungeon is a cold, dark place. If you choose to go, that is your choice but know that if you stay you will stop stirring up trouble among the others in this kingdom. The choice is yours.” 

The servant girl smiled, “I will go to the dungeon.”

With a puff of smoke, the servant girl disappeared. The other servants looked at the spot she had been standing. They looked quite concerned. 

The fairy godmother spoke, “anyone else who wishes to live in the dungeon of my castle may but know that you will never be able to return to the splendor of this place. On the stroke of midnight three nights from this, I will return taking anyone who choses to go.” 

With that the fairy godmother smiled and nodded to the queen the disappeared. 

The young queen watched her servants carefully over the next two days. Some discussed the possibility of leaving. Most determined that life in the castle must be better than life in a dungeon. 

On the afternoon of the third day, there was knock at the castle door. An old woman stumbled through the door when one of the servants answered it. The woman asked if she could speak with the queen. She asked the queen for somewhere to stay and something to eat. 

“Of course,” the queen answered, “we have many beds here and plenty to eat. Please sit, I will have someone bring you dinner.” 

The old woman ate and rested. The queen looked in to make sure the old woman was doing well. 

The day went on and midnight came. The servants, the queen and the old woman gathered in the grand hall, awaiting the arrival of the fairy godmother. The castle clock rung twelve and she appeared. In the candlelight, the fairy godmother shone brilliantly. Her robe and crown sparkled silver and gold. 

“Salutations,” her bright eyes flashed around the room, “before I ask for those of you who wish to come with me, shall I show you something?” 

She reached out from under her robe and waved a magic wand toward the old woman standing near the queen. The old woman seemed to melt away. In her place, the servant girl stood. She dropped to her knees before the queen. 

“I am sorry. So sorry for what I have done. As a stranger, you showed kindness to me. The same kindness you showed to me as a servant before I went to the dungeon. Before I betrayed you. Please take me back. This place is far better than anywhere I have seen.”

The queen was unsure of what to say. She looked to the fairy godmother for advice. The fairy simply smiled and raised her eyebrows. 

“The choice is yours. She may come back to the castle if you please or she and anyone else who feels life would be better elsewhere may come back with me.”

The queen looked from the fairy godmother to the servant girl, “the choice is yours. If you chose to come back you may, but know that you are not free from the consequences of your choices. You shall serve the people of the town. Anyone who asks for help you must help. Anyone you see or hear in need of anything you will respond with kindness and care. If you choose not to, you go back to the dungeon. What choice will you make?” 

The servant girl looked up to the queen and the fairy godmother. With a relieved sigh she agreed. The next hundred years in the kingdom were years of peace and prosperity. The servant girl’s helpfulness and caring brought joy to the queen’s subjects. The queen ruled fairly but firmly with the fairy godmother supporting her and guiding her. 

Of course, mistakes were made but those who remembered that time in history chose to learn from those mistakes and accept the consequences of their actions. For those who can accept that their fate is their choice are the ones who succeed despite their circumstances. 

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The Things I Don’t Do

Today was a day of doing things I don’t do. I’ll start from most recent and work my way back. 

This afternoon I assisted the coach of a little bitty kid baseball team at their itty bitty kid baseball practice. I volunteered for crowd control and wound up sporting. I threw the ball. I threw it more than once… I did not hit a kid! I did not injure myself! I sported! 

The not so great thing I did that I don’t do had to do with blood. A student got a terrible nose bleed at recess today. When I went over to see what was going on, there was blood in the grass. So much blood I could see it in the spring grass… That was the first time my head started reeling.

I tried not to look at the blood too much. We got to the doors and there was blood all over him because she was letting it drip on the ground. I told him he needed to start catching it so it didn’t go all over the floor. It didn’t work out so well and there was blood everywhere anyway. 

We made it to the nurses office. When I walked out of the nurse’s office, the principal and I talked. She asked what happened. I told her and she asked me if it was his all over me… His blood… all over my tan skirt… 

Sheer willpower kept me upright as the office brightened then darkened a little. I repeated over and over to myself that it wasn’t on my skin and there was nothing to faint over. Also I think I subconsciously knew that if I fainted they would probably call an ambulance and everyone would find out about it. 

Don’t hit the floor… Don’t hit the floor!

I happened to have a pair of jeans in my car that the principal let me go get and wear the rest of the day. Then I washed my skirt in the sink. 

It was a bizarre day of doing things that I don’t do… 

Miss Haley and the Frog Round 2

Last year, I found a group of tadpoles. In the process of finding the tadpoles a frog jumped out and almost touched my face. We caught the frog and took pictures and I brought the tadpoles to Mrs. K.’s room. She asked if I could find more fort this year. My dad found one and I took it in today. My class frenzied over the visitor. We did a project on the tadpole and I took the projects and tadpole over to the elementary after school. When I got there, I left the tadpole in the classroom because Mrs. K. was not there. I went back to the office and asked where the kindergarten teachers were. The office lady paged her even after I said it was not a big deal and I could just leave it there. It was a little awkward but I am glad I got to talk to Mrs. K.

It is still weird looking back on all the fun, ridiculous situations I got myself into. Gosh, frogs are gross…

Blurt CardsĀ 

It’s not very often I think up ideas on my own that actually work out for my class. Three days ago I brainstormed an idea that seems like it’s having the effect I intended. I was reading articles about how to stop kids from blurting out. My students often assume that they should just say whatever they want whenever they want. It doesn’t matter if I am talking, if the room is silent, or if the principal is in the room. My students assume that whatever they want to say they should at whatever moment suits them. It’s been driving me crazy recently. My class will just start having 14 conversations right in the middle of my sentence. So I researched. 

I found quite a few good ideas that would work for classes that were less challenging than mine. I thought about using beans, as someone recommended, and take a bean away every time a student shouted out. I wasn’t so sure about that with my class because too many of them would knock each other’s beans away on purpose. 

I read so many good ideas that were just not quite right for my class. Then I thought, “what if I wrote prizes on cards and every time a student blurts or the class starts talking while I am talking, I will turn one of the cards over and the students will not get that prize.” 

I grabbed some card stock and a marker and got to work. I put magnet tape on either side so I can easily flip them over. The students can earn 3 extra Friday free time minutes, 2 go noodle songs the next day, up to three dojo points each, and a joke of the day told by a student picked at random. 

I thought for a while about all the things that could go wrong with it. My biggest fear was that students would blame each other for loosing the prize. I decided to try it anyway. I put the cards up on the board and let the students ask about them. They seemed really interested. I told them it would be hard at first to get the prizes because we have trouble with blurting out. I also told them that if one person blurted and I turned over a card that if the rest of the class complained or yelled at them I would turn over two more because we are all learning, we all make mistakes, and we should try to encourage our friends to do better next time instead of just making them feel bad. 

It seems to work so far. I had to turn over 4/5 cards today but we were a little crazy today. Spring break is right around the corner and the kids can feel it. 

I just hope these cards work out the rest of the year. I might make a second or third set to switch out every week so they don’t get bored with the same prizes. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s working. 

Weekend Work and the Survey

I surveyed my students anonymously about how they felt about school, the staff, and me. I felt pretty good when only 3/23 students said false to, “My teacher is a good teacher.” When I asked the students what they thought about our school most of them chose the positive answer choices. It was pretty refreshing to hear that my students don’t hate school, each other, and me as much as I thought they did.

I have spent Friday night and tonight looking over the data scanning for patterns. Something is a little depressing about that fact. It makes me feel better about some things and worse about others. The political scientist in me loves comparing all these numbers! I even had a another teacher ask for it!

 

I do what I want!

Things get messy in groups of people with different opinions, ways of doing things, and past experiences. It’s not an easy thing to live in the world we live in. So many things are difficult. So many things are unfair. 
So many times we look at our lives and wonder why the things that happen to us happen. We get angry and think we would be better off somewhere else… anywhere else!

Then you have one of those weird moments where the world shifts. Someone says salsa and you bolt out of a staff meeting and actually run through the parking lot talking to your coworkers about doing whatever you want. And you realize, “I can do whatever I want.” 

It takes a lot of kinds of people to make the world go around. Some people that are like you and some people that are different. You need people who are different to show you how you can be better. You need people just like you to remind you what you like about yourself. The thing is though, you get to decide. 

You get to choose how you feel about every day! You get to choose whether you crawl into a hole and think about all the stuff that’s awful or run through the parking lot yelling and get yourself some salsa. You have to look and see things the way you want to.

You have to look at the people around you and know that this person is everything you like about yourself, this person is smart enough to show you what you can work toward, this person is going to be there to support you, and this person is going to walk beside you and make the same mistakes you do! 

Your life is your choice and a terrible attitude will cause even the best life to look like one that doesn’t matter. Bad things will happen. People will yell. You get to let it happen, yell back, or smile at it and get you some salsa! 

Genius Hour

My students have been working extra hard on a preference based independent research project while were not taking ISTEP+ this week. It has been so great. One student wanted to do her project on the first artist. It has been so wonderful watching her learn about cave paintings and different famous cave paintings.

I asked her today if she expected to learn what she did. She said, “no but this is so much cooler! I thought I would learn about Picasso or something but these cave paintings are so cool!”

I love that this project gave her a new perspective on learning. She never knew that this information was out there and it just took a little push to help her learn something that interested her. I love teaching. I love that I have the opportunity to guide students in their learning without spoon feeding it to them.