Monthly Archives: September 2014

What I Learned About Teaching From Toy Story

With three boys under the age of 11, I have watched Toy Story once or twice. Toy Story is a little magical to me. It makes me laugh and cry. It inspires me. It is an experience I love to share with my boys. During my latest viewing, I realized the toys were not just providing entertainment, but they were teaching me to become a better member of my school community.

Here are a few things I learned:

1. Celebrate and embrace the unique strengths of community members .
The toys in Andy’s room were all different, and each of them brought some thing unique to the room. Whether playing with Andy or rescuing a friend from Sid’s clutches, the unique strengthens of each toy made each endeavor a success. In our school community, we must draw upon the unique strengths of each member.

2. We have to do what is right and not what is easy.
Andy would never dream of going to cowboy camp without Woody. But when Woody’s arm is damaged, he makes the hard choice to leave Woody behind. Woody was not happy about this, but Andy needed to keep Woody safe. In our school community, we must do what is right and not what us easy. Even if some do. It understand or agree.

3. If we become vulnerable and trust, a new world can open up.
Jessie did not believe that a child could love her again. She had been abandoned once and had no desire to put herself out there again. But if she had not, she would have missed out on some of the greatest adventures of her life. In school, we must open up and trust in each other. We must be willing to be vulnerable. If not, we face isolation and loneliness. We live in a dark closed up box.

4. Have a plan. But know that plans change.
The toys ended up in some tough situation, but they faced each challenge head on with a plan tucked I their back pocket. We must plan for success, but also be responsive to the needs of the moment.

5. Plans work better when put together and pulled off together as a team.
The toys did not work alone. When one thought it was hopeless, someone was right behind them to help them out. Buzz was ready to give up, but Woody was not going to let that happen. The toys always came together when one often was in trouble. The toys were stronger when they were together. Just as we are stronger when we work as a team. We must also be willing to reach out and help a teammate. Even if they don’t want our help.

6. And of course, you’ve got a friend in me.
The toys never gave up on each other. They stood by each other. They relied on each other. They enjoyed each other. They challenged each other. They had fun together. They were a family. Think of what our schools would be like if we lived this way.

Wishing you adventures, fun, and a lot of magic.




Filed under SOL

New Start

I love the beginning of the school year.  I love the sharp pencils, new boxes of crayons, never been used markers, and the blank pages of notebooks waiting to be filled with learning.  I love setting up the classroom space and picturing all of the learning that will occur in each carefully designed section.  I love setting up classroom libraries and bubbling with excitement as I think of sharing each treasure with the readers in the room.  I think of the community that will be created.   I love the hopes and dreams that fill the hearts of each and every teacher as they prepare for the new year.  I love the endless possibilities that the new year brings.  All of the goals we set for ourselves and know we are going to achieve.  The new chapter that we all get to write, and we are confident it will be the best one ever written.  The works of art we get to create.  It is easy to get lost in the romance of it all.  Everything is perfect and then the students arrive.   It is at that moment that I have a choice.  I can keep my fire burning bright, or I can allow circumstances to extinguish it.  I choose to let my fire burn on and grow.  I choose to never loose sight of the bright eyed teacher that knows the year will be magical.  I choose to make my dreams a reality.  After all, I am the only one that controls the pen, and each word is worth my best.


Happy School Year!  Make it the best one yet!

First Day of School



Filed under SOL