Day 11: In 4th Grade, We Dance!

This week has been so busy and my kiddos handled each challenge like champs! We had many discussions about being in the “Learning Pit” (metaphor for the struggles that the learning process can present to learners) and today all my students felt like they had made their way out!

I love ending the week on such a positive note and to celebrate we have what we affectionately call a “10 second silent dance party!” This little dance party is a way for us to acknowledge the hard work they have all put in and how much they have grown as learners. It makes me smile to think about how much they love this quick, but fun celebration, and of course I love to see them show off their latest dance moves!






Day 10: Solid Advice

“Always have something to look forward to- it keeps you motivated and can be the light when things are tough.” Of all the pieces of advice my mom gave me throughout my life, I think this piece is pretty solid and time and time again has proven to be true.

Today my best friend and I booked our flights to South Carolina for our good friend’s wedding; just getting the email confirmation made me smile! I have the best friends any one could ever ask for and we’ll all be together for this special celebration!

I was eager to send out a group text letting everyone know that we had finally booked our flights and their responses of excitement makes me hope that the next 2 months fly by!

Charelston, here we come! (69 days and counting!)




Day 9: You Can Try, But You Won’t Succeed

“You can try, but you won’t succeed. You will not succeed at pushing away the people who are here to help you and who care about you.”

I found myself having this quiet conversation with a 5th grader who sometimes checks-in with me as a way to keep his academic and emotional progress on track. He has been struggling this week and I was happy he accepted my invitation to come work in my room while my 4th graders took their math test. When he didn’t show after lunch, I went next door to his classroom to extend the invitation again. As soon as he saw me he grabbed his things, and without saying a word, followed me to my room.

We looked over his latest writing piece, but I could sense he was ready to talk or in this case, write about how he was feeling. As my own students were diligently working away on their test, I took out a piece of paper and some colorful markers for him to write with. I began to talk to him about the fact that everyone has bad days, sometimes even a bad week, but how taking help from people around you can really turn things around. I asked him why he thought he was having a tough week, his response sort of broke my heart.

In red crayola marker he wrote, “I don’t belong here. I really want to get along with people, but stuff always gets in the way, I’m always in trouble. Then I stop caring.”

I continued to whisper, he continued to write his feelings down and then it dawned on me, maybe he doesn’t think he actually deserves to be cared about.

“Do you believe that you deserve to be cared about?” I asked.

He shrugged his shoulders, shook his head no and buried his head in his sweatshirt.

“You do, everyday, you deserve it- even when you try to push people away, even when you have tough days.”

He lifted his head, just enough to allow his eyes to peer over his sweatshirt. I explained to him that caring about kids is what we do here at Edgewood and that no matter how hard he tried, he would not succeed at making us not care- we were not giving up on him. He smiled for the first time in days and I smiled back, hoping a weight had been lifted off of his young and fragile shoulders.

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring for him, but in that moment, I think he felt a sense of comfort; feeling as if he does belong and that he deserves to be cared about. I got to thinking later today, aren’t those just the things that everybody wants feel?






Day 8: 73 Degrees and Sunny

I left work today at 3:45pm and this has literally never happened. Today was too perfect of a day and I couldn’t pass up taking advantage of it!

I love spring, everything about it- the idea of a fresh start, letting the sun shine on your face after so many months of gray, and the gentle breeze that awakens you from the slumber of winter. I also love how a change in the weather makes everyone feel more energetic and spontaneous!

I took a couple of hours to embrace what this possible fleeting day of spring has to offer. I called a friend and luckily she was up for a little shopping and a quick cocktail with outdoor seating!

Maybe, just maybe, I am starting figure out the whole work/life balance thing! Cheers to spring!


Day 7: “Would You Like Fries With That?”

McTeacher’s Night was unexpectedly fun and I discovered that I have a real talent for making ice cream cones! It was great working with various teachers from my school and seeing how excited the kids were when they spotted their teacher behind the counter!

My time was mostly spent calling out order numbers, making shakes (most noteably, the Shamrock Shake), and doing my best to make a perfect ice cream cone swirl! One misconception I would like to note is that making an Oreo McFlurry is not as easy as it looks. Getting the ratio of vanilla ice cream to Oreo crumbles is really key; too much of either and you’re looking at a real disaster when you start mixing the two. I am speaking from experience, I had the unlucky fortune of getting vanilla ice cream and Oreo splattered all over my face and shirt!

Even with a little ice cream in my face, I’d say my very first McTeacher’s Night was a great success and it’s good to know that if this whole teaching thing doesn’t work out, I could have a back-up career making shakes and ice cream cones!


Day 6: The Weight of 23…

There are moments where the weight of my 23 students feels too much because I agonize over their well-being, academic and otherwise. Today, I could feel the muscles in my shoulders tense as I graded each question and felt my energy drain from the disappointment. Not disappointment in them, an overwhelming disappointment in myself.

Teaching is not for the faint of heart. There are times, like today, where you question your own ability, you question whether or not you did enough for them. Even though I finished grading hours ago, I can’t shake this feeling, I can’t stop thinking about why they had not succeeded like I had expected. I know that these are the moments where you see what you are made of, you see how well you can bounce back.

Tomorrow is a new day, a day to be better for them, all twenty-three.


Day 5: The Quiet of the Morning

The quite of Saturday mornings is what I wait for all week; to drink my hazelnut coffee out of my favorite coffee mug, to read the newspaper that my niece writes for, to sit and just enjoy the calm silence after a long week.

Today was no different. I curled up on the couch, cozy under a warm blanket with my pup, Finnegan and for the next hour I just enjoyed the quite; not worrying about cleaning, laundry, school work, or anything else on my long To-Do-List.

This hour helps me to still my overly active brain, almost like a life time out…until the phone rings and I’m snapped back into reality and so begins my day.



Day 4: Too Tired For Words…

After a great, but exceedingly verbal day, I am simply, too tired for words.

Friday nights might be my most unproductive time of the week, it’s like my  brain begins to slow down around 4:30pm and there’s no going back.

Even getting my hair cut and colored tonight was overwhelming- how would I  a. Keep my eyes open for 2 plus hours and b. Talk to my hairdresser for that long?

You can file this under things that are not real problems, but that’s where I’m at. On that note, good night all!

Until tomorrow…


Day 3: Procrastination to Revelation

I was working in my classroom after school today and decided that finishing my lesson plans for next week should take a backseat to deleting unwanted pictures on my phone. I only have 1,152 pictures on my camera roll, how long could that possibly take, right? The art of procrastination is one I have mastered, especially when my brain feels tired after a busy day of teaching.

As I sat comfortably in my favorite chair, I started check-marking the unwanted pictures, getting ready to mass delete all of the photos that weren’t going to make the cut.I had opened a few of them to take one last look, when I stumbled upon a picture that I had saved from Pinterest in mid-September. The picture is of a heart made out of crayons and inside the heart was the quote, “The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways.”

I was brought back to mid-September, when I was just getting to know the students in my class, trying to gracefully navigate my way through some challenging moments, working patiently with each child to make connections, and help them grow through their behaviors. I remember feeling so struck by it, I had never thought of students in this way and yet, it made perfect sense; kids just want to feel connected.

I think our students are always testing us, seeing how committed we are to them, challenging us to meet their expectations, challenging us to care for their well-being, despite the way they may go about asking for it.

quote for blog




Day 2: The Heart of the Story

Today’s writing lesson was focused on developing more complex ideas and tips for how you can achieve a deeper level of writing. Despite the fact that I have read tip number 4 several times, I honestly had not given it a second thought until one student said something so profound that it sparked some deeper thinking of my own.

Tip # 4: “Understand that things change across a story. Characters change. People’s responses change. And those changes are the heart of the story.” 

I asked my class what they thought the heart of the story meant. “Ms. Senese, I think that the heart of the story means that it is the thing that pumps throughout the entire story.” I was taken-aback by this response and was so impressed at his ability to make a strong connection towards the overall deeper meaning, that I looked over at our instructional coach and we just sort of melted! His comment not only struck a cord with me, but he beamed with pride that he had just given such a spectacular answer!

Throughout the rest of the day, I couldn’t get his comment out of my head. It made me think about my class and our journey together. What will be the heart of our story? What is the thing that pumps throughout the story of our year together?

I began to draw so many parallels between this writing tip and the experiences I have had thus far with my students and am reminded yet again, how my students teach me just as much as I teach them. Perhaps that is the heart of our story, this mutual adoration and respect we hold for one another that allows us to grow and change alongside each other every day. There are often moments where I feel like I am right where I am supposed to be and that I have been gifted these children because for one reason or another, I was just what they needed, and the opposite holds true as well. I can say for certain that they have made me a better educator and person; children have a unique way of bringing you out of your comfort zone and pushing you to be better, even if they don’t know they are doing it.