Friday, May 31, 2013


It's no secret that teachers get gifts. I've given many over the past decade as my girls have progressed through school. When gift selection was heavily influenced by me we gave house plants, baked goods, or gift cards. The girls, on the other hand, have preferred to select oddities like LED-lit snowmen, #1 Teacher coffee mugs, and hot-pink, rose-scented candles. Eventually we have gravitated to a happy medium where teachers receive something that reflects the gratitude of both parent and student. This year it was Ghirardelli chocolates and Starbucks gift cards. I have to admit I gave with a bit of personal longing.

While not unexpected, it is somewhat bizarre to be on the receiving end of teacher gifts for the first time. The following is a quick summary of my loot by category:
  • Biggest: a giant, stuffed, red M&M
  • Smallest: a sticker of Dory from finding Nemo ("Just keep swimming!"-- the perfect first-year teacher motto)
  • Most frequent: hand-drawn portraits of me and/or the gift giver (I consistently have an unusually large head and a big smile.)
  • Second most frequent: candles, soap, & lotion
  • Most quickly consumed: chocolate in all its forms
  • Most unusual: a Venus Fly Trap 
  • Most cozy: a micro-fleece throw
  • Most practical: socks
  • Most thoughtful: the Wordle
A Wordle is a word cloud. The one above was created using adjectives and role descriptors that my students chose from a list to describe me. My mentor then entered the words onto the Wordle website to create this treasure. Larger words were ones most selected; smaller words were outliers, though no less poignant. In my case 'happy' and 'brave' were clear leaders. 'Bossy' was among the smallest. Funny, I'd have made that last one bigger. Interesting how it turned out to be a bit fish-shaped, eh?

Of course, the best gift of all is getting to teach 5th grade all over again. For a while it sounded like I'd be changing schools and grades, but the chips have fallen in my favour. Perhaps next year I won't have to work evenings and weekends for months at a time. Perhaps not. Regardless, I will get to build on what I've learned while working with some of the best teachers and students I could ever hope for. Onward, ho!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Survival Tactics...or not.

I asked my departing students to write a note to their 4th grade replacements on how best to succeed in Mrs. Miller's 5th grade class. Many decided to express their incorrigible senses of humour instead. Here is a montage of their advice.
  1. Always use red pen.
  2. Never double space your writing.
  3. If she writes a number in your planner, you get a piece of candy.
  4. When she says, "Give me five," talk louder.
  5. When she says, "If you can hear my voice clap three times," hit your neighbour three times--hard.
  6. Use your 'Out of Control' voice when you speak.  Mrs. Miller can be a little deaf.