What’s the Best Part About YOU?

if someone approached you and asked, “What part do you love best about you?” what would you say?  Would it be your hands? Your eyes?  What about your feet?

It seems so much easier for many to answer this question if it focused on the negative, just because society portrays so many things to be perfect… like the celebrities on the covers of different magazines. It’s easier to say things like “I don’t like my hands because they’re so wrinkly” or “I hate my curly hair – I wish it was straight.”  So when we’re asked to think about something we LOVE about ourselves, we take a few seconds longer to ponder about it.
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Happy 1st Day of School!

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Happy first day to many educators and children! Getting ready for the school year is always so exciting yet so nerve-racking. Though school officially began with students today, teachers go in way before to get the classroom ready. You wouldn’t believe the amount of work that goes behind the scenes.  Just look at this photo of my classroom with my new co-teacher. Those books and label bins took over 4 hours to sort and make it look good. We had to unpack all those boxes just to make counter space for the green and blue bins.  We had to unroll and vacuum those 2 giant rugs for parallel teaching.  Whew* They didn’t tell us this when we applied to become teachers! =P 

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Change.

Change is never an easy thing. When I first moved to the city (coming from a more suburban background), it was hard. The noise didn’t bother me, but the crowds and the small apartment sizes did. I had a huge house and a backyard – plus I didn’t have to walk everywhere! But slowly I began to appreciate the convenience, the incredible amount of diversity, the bright lights, the subway, and the fact that I live in the center where it’s easy for everyone to meet up.

When it came to work, change was still not easy. Five years ago, I was asked to move from first grade to second grade. It didn’t scare me too much as I knew second graders were still a great fun age, but still – learning how to teach again. Then, it turned out what shocked me was how my students surprised me with techniques that I never thought I would be able to teach 7 year olds.  I never expected them to be able to look closely at details, pay attention to the way they hold their pencils/markers/pens, or set themselves with a high expectation that they can draw or write like high school students. It turned out this change was good. After 5 years of second grade and teaching them about New York City birds as part of our social studies curriculum, I’ve grown a love for this age and their love for school and growing abilities.

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Beautiful and Ugly At The Same Time

It seems that in the last few years, “ugly” sweaters have gotten really popular and so have ugly sweater contests!  There are even websites such as UglyChristmasSweaterParties and Pinterest heavy ideas to help with the making of them.  This year, our school Parents Association hosted an incredibly sweet Teachers Appreciation Breakfast / Luncheon last year, and part of the fun was wearing an ugly sweater to be part of a staff contest. My first instinct was “Where the heck am I going to find an ugly sweater?!?” Of course two days after that, my favorite sweater got ruined by random things in my classroom and by the velcro on my jacket sleeve.  VOILA!  There goes a sweater that I can plop some ugly stuff on!

So Tuesday came about, and many teachers showed up in the most fun sweaters. My favorite part about all of it was the fact that our staff really took it to a whole different level and embraced the fact that just for one day, we can look as silly as we want!

From Hanukkah to Christmas, from LED lights to hand sewn details, from 3D pop-outs to sweaters that jingle and make noises, the creativity was intense!  I took as many photos of the sweaters as I can (with faces of course cropped out for privacy). Thanks to all the teachers for letting me take pictures to share with everyone!

Can you all guess who the winners were?  2 for most creative and 1 for ugliest sweater!

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Kids’ Perspectives Up High

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If you’re thinking that these kids’ views are quite high, you’re right. As part of our social studies integrated curriculum on New York City parks, I took my class to the High Line to study how this park was different from others and why it’s so important to New York City. Given a historical background on the High Line before it became a park, they were pretty excited to see that their teacher wasn’t just making up some random story that a park was built on an old railroad track. 😛  With their high level of interest and engagement towards the High Line, I felt it would be fun to share what they noticed in case you haven’t been to this hugely tourist attraction yet.

The High Line was actually built to help overcrowdedness and traffic while carrying goods to and from Manhattan’s largest district. Later on, since trains weren’t really needed anymore, the last one ran in 1980, and demolition was lobbied by many. On the other side of the debate, many residents advocated to preserve it and use it as a public open space. They won, and the first section of the park became open to the public in 2009 and was completed just last year.  (I didn’t realize that 6 years has flown by already since I first went!!)

So what did the kids notice?  ALL and MORE of THIS.  I’ve captioned the photos with as many quotes from them as I can remember! Some just put a smile on my face… 

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Back to School!

This week was the first week back to school for public schools in NYC! The feeling of returning never gets old – excitement with a burst of butterflies and sweaty hands. I just love going back to the classroom and setting up for the year.  New school supplies, new setup, new decorations.  Then the night before the first day kids come in, I feel it… adrenaline pumping, flashes of what might or might not happen occur, and a constant repetition of my first day’s lessons run in my brain… next thing I know, I have just completed my first day with my new group of kids! 

Call me biased, but I highly respect teachers. They spend countless hours planning for lessons and activities, multi-tasking between kids and tasks, working and learning to differentiate with all kinds of personalities and needs – all the while vacuuming, Clorox-wiping the tables, sharpening pencils, calming a crying child down, dealing with wet accidents.  It’s never-ending yet so rewarding! 

This was a short post, but I’ve started to sleep at 10 p.m. already!  Point is, cheers to all the educators out there – you rock.  Know that the future generations really do depend on you and as cliche as it may sound, you really DO make a difference. You may not feel like it (as I don’t often times either), but don’t be so hard on yourself – listen and try to believe when others tell you what an amazing job you’re doing.  

Here are 9 videos to get you inspired for the year. (Click

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Bird Study in Second Grade!

I’m extremely excited for the summer.  School is out and that means… lots of blogging and adventure time! It has been one incredible school year – the sweetest, most empathetic students I have had and we are closing 2nd grade with some fun, fun projects. As part of our social studies integrated unit, we study birds of New York City. It’s amazing how children are fascinated with animals, in particular birds – even pigeons. Through the unit, there was a lot of inquiry based project work. They questioned, they answered, they wondered, they reflected. The beauty of a study like this is that the learning never stops and neither does the engagement. With tons of field experiences, guest teachers, readings, and academic projects, the children continuously collaborated and built strong relationships with one another.  The motivation behind each of their work and drive to succeed was astounding!  So here are a few pieces of work that I took pictures of and thought I’d share with you!  (note: none of these were edited or completed yet! I just snapped as I went along.)

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Future Artists and Fashion Designers!

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 On Monday, June 8th, 2015 from 6-8 pm, P.S. 126 and the Manhattan Academy of Technology , a pre-K to 8th grade school will be having an Art & Fashion Show along with a mini auction.  The art teachers, Ms. Nieves and Ms. Schorr, and students have been preparing for this event for many months, and it is incredible to see the community hard at work!

In art, students have been learning various art techniques and styles throughout the year, experimenting and excelling with different mediums. If you see the art live in person, you’ll be amazed at the details and effort put into every handcrafted piece, from 4 to 15 year olds!  I took some time to catch a sneak preview and thought I would share some with you – but to find out who the artists and designers are, you’ll just have to attend the event! 🙂 

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The Sock Monkey that started it all

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I remember on my 29th birthday, people said to me “Enjoy the last year in your twenties!” What did that mean? Are the 30s really that much different? Is there a list of things that I’m supposed to have done and if I don’t, I should scream in my pillow and start pulling my hair? (Though even without pulling, they just love to fall on the ground little by little!) There are even countless articles, blog posts, and videos related to “What to do in your twenties.”  Does this mean life is gonna change drastically?  Ahhh, the questions! 

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Birds Beyond Pigeons and Gulls!

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Thank you for the lovely emails (and for being forgiven!) I’m taking things one step at a time and balancing all the work with nice walks in the spring weather! Last week, a friend I met during last year’s Maine and Hog Island trip visited NYC. While I took her around the city for a bit, she took me birdwatching within the beautiful Central Park. It was the perfect day to do it, and we had such a good time!

Of course all the while I was birdwatching and catching up, I was thinking of photos to take and post so you can learn along with me.  So here they are! This whole newfound love for birds began with my second grade’s bird study with the children – you’d be amazed how amazing birds actually are!

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