Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ahhh...The Smell of Freshly Baked Bread!

I'll get to the bread part in just a bit, but I figured that was a good title for this post since my house is filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread on this gorgeous Saturday morning. Freshly baked bread AND no polar vortex.  Jealous?

We started back to school on Monday and, much to my surprise, all of my students walked through the door.  You might be thinking, "That's a surprise? Aren't they all SUPPOSED to come back?"  Not at our school. We often have families that take the winter break as an opportunity to visit relatives in Mexico.  These visits sometime extend 2-3 weeks into the new year.  Right in the middle of the toughest part of fifth grade math...fractions. But not this year!  It was great to see ALL of my students sitting in their chairs on Monday morning.  I do have one who's leaving next week for two weeks, but she's one of my most conscientious students and I have no doubt she'll complete all the work in her independent study packet.  The worst part about her leaving is that she keeps me organized.  She's my 'right hand girl'.  She remembers where I put my keys, always knows what time it is, reminds me to send the attendance folder up to the office, and loves to stay in at lunch recess to straighten up my desk.  I'll miss her.

Here are some highlights of what I think has been a great start to the new year:

I read Memoirs of a Goldfish to my class before break.  The book was leaning up against the whiteboard when I left.  When I got back, I found it on my desk with this stickie note attached to it:

The photo isn't as clear here in blog world, but it says, "This book is Amazing. Make sure your students hear it.  Jason the Custodian."  Okay, how wonderful is THAT?  Our night custodian actually sat down to read this book during his shift...and LOVED it as much as we did.  That just makes my heart smile.

Around 9:00 on Monday, the office called to tell me to send someone up to escort my new student to the classroom.  New student?  Yikes!  My 'right hand girl' jumped into action and rounded up supplies while I raced out into the hallway to steal borrow the empty desk that was out there.  I hate not having any warning that a new kiddo is about to step into my classroom.  I want them to be able to come into my room and sit down at a desk that just looks like it's been waiting for them to arrive.  I want all the goodies in place with neat little nametags on the consumables and a cute name plate for their desk.  I want them to feel like we've been expecting them.  But that's not our reality.  So it's a mad dash to pull it together while I send our Messenger up to retrieve them.   My new student puts my roster back up to 34 and she's a great addition to our mix of personalities.  We're lucky to have her!

Monday afternoon was like Christmas all over again.  If you're a DonorsChoose fanatic like I am, you know what it's like to have your projects funded right before winter break.  It means you have to wait until after the holidays for your project materials to be ordered and shipped.  I was pleasantly surprised to find two packages in the office on Monday afternoon.  The first was our new Epson Small-in-One multifunction machine.  Yep, we're printing in color now!  The kids are really excited as they are about to embark on their journey of researching and writing explorer reports.  The second box contained this:

Let me introduce you to iPad #6 from DonorsChoose!  The kids were pretty excited.  Almost as much as I was.  Now, if only our district technology folks could be as excited as we are and actually allow us connect to the internet through their system.  But no.  Still, where there's a will, there's a way.  I use the hotspot on my iPhone to give them access to the internet.  I haven't had a problem with exceeding any data limits on my plan, so it's all good!

Next up on the week's highlights: "Pauly".  No, that's not his real name, but he looks like a miniature Pauly D. from Jersey Shore (I feel the need to add the disclaimer that I have never actually watched that show). "Pauly" has never liked school.   It has always been an incredible struggle for him.  This year has been no different.  So imagine my surprise when we had this conversation on Tuesday:

"Pauly":  Mrs. Tanner, something's wrong with me. I don't know what it is.
 Me:        You're not feeling well?
"Pauly":  I don't know. I don't know what it is, but ever since Christmas break, I think I LIKE school now.  I don't know why, but I want to be here.  That's weird huh?

I got a little bit dramatic and felt his forehead to see if he had a temperature and fussed over him as though he was truly ill.  He smiled and said, "No, no, no, it's okay.  I'm not sick.  I just hope whatever this is, it lasts."  I'm happy to report that it lasted all week.  I'm hoping that whatever he's 'come down with' sticks around for a while.

I had a college student spend the day in my classroom yesterday.  He sat quietly in the back of the room taking notes all morning.  I'd check in with him whenever I could to answer any questions he might have.  He didn't say much.  But then, when the kids went off to their music prep, he came up to me and said, "I love you."  There was the briefest moment of awkward silence after that declaration.  Then he continued with, "I wish you had been my fifth grade teacher.  You seem to love all your students and they love you back.  How do you do that?"  It was another one of those moments that makes my heart smile. I shared a comment with him that a friend made after I had a little rant about not having enough time to teach such a large and wildly diverse group of kids everything they need to know before heading off to 6th grade:

  "Thankfully, that regardless of the system...regardless of the outcomes, each soul you teach is blessed with caring growth and is transformed in a way which is good."

That's what it's all about, isn't it?

So, what's happening on the homefront this week?

I got a bread machine for Christmas.  Now I'm only ever a few hours from freshly baked bread without all the mess.  I'll be making some toast as soon as I finish this post.

Honey Oatmeal Bread...Yum!

I also have a new addiction.  Sadly, it's not exercise, but I'm working on that.  No, my new addiction is zentangling.  You've no doubt read about it on several folks' blogs already, so I won't go into detail.  I bought this book:

... a set of micron pens, a sketch pad, and artist tiles so I can do this:

My Day 4 Zentangle 
Zentangling is described as "creative drawing for relaxation, inspiration, and fun." The artist gene skipped a generation in my family, so I'm thrilled that I can actually produce a doodle like this.  I'm finding it to be a great way to unwind from my day at work.  I can't wait to introduce zentangling to my students.

And finally, I have my One Little Word for this year:  Choices.  I love my word.  I have completely embraced it.  It gives me space and holds me accountable all at the same time.  Just what I need.

I've got a piece of honey oatmeal toast calling my name......

Hope all of you have had a great start to 2014! 


  1. What a great post! I laughed throughout every paragraph :)
    I love that your janitor left you that note - how cute!
    And 34 students?!? WOW, you are brave! How do you manage that many kiddos in one room?
    I'm glad your challenging student and student teacher appreciate your hard work - that's what gets us teachers up in the morning :)

    Enjoy your honey oatmeal bread...YUM!

    Joy in the Journey

    1. Jessica,

      34 fifth graders in a small classroom....well, let's just say it's cozy! Sadly, the policy of having a district class size average allows me to have 34 kids while teachers at the higher performing schools on the other side of town have much smaller class sizes. It's frustrating if I think about it too long. So I don't! :o) It is what it is, right?


  2. What wonderful news ... the bread, the new student, the one whom you likes students now under your guidance, and the custodian! I think the custodian leaving a note is my FaVoRiTe!!!

    Keep up the HEART work in room 24!


    1. Barbara,

      I loved finding that note from our custodian! He's a great guy. On a sad note, I just read that Dr. Kennedy just passed? I've been away so long, I wasn't aware of her illness. My thoughts are with FISD family today.


  3. Ok, so many things to comment on....let me start with:

    Memoirs of a Goldfish. GREAT book! Love it. It's been sitting on my desk since October because I want to use it as a springboard for a writing activity. Or something. Have you done anything with it {other than read it}? If so, please share with me..... {and how cool is THAT that your custodian read it and gave a review. That made me laugh.}

    Donors Choose. Ok, haven't done it yet. Have been toying with asking for some iPads. Those are $$$, so I'm not sure how many would be funded. Did you say you've had 6 funded??? I've just recently decided that I would go on and ask for a color printer with scanning and copying capabilities, as well as a year supply of ink for it. Sounds like you got that too. What did you write? Any pointers? I've never done Donors Choose before, so any tips would be helpful. Maybe I'll ask for some iPads too? CUTE is he??? Don't things like that just warm the cockles of your heart? That is the coolest things I've read all day. : ) And your student teachers....that is just amazing. Makes you KNOW you went into the right profession, huh?

    Now, that honey oatmeal bread? Can you send some my way? ; ) Sounds delish, and I haven't eaten breakfast yet. Miss my bread maker. : (

    Teaching Powered by Caffeine

    1. Ali,

      I sent you a reply by email. I look forward to seeing a project of yours posted on DonorsChoose! If you have questions, just holler!


  4. Lori! I love everything about this post...the custodian, Pauly, the college student, Donors Choose...all of it. I am smiling ear to ear for you!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

    1. Thanks Alison! It was a great first week back!