Hello friends!

It has been quite busy over here in NYC. Some of you have asked me when I usually update the site and my answer has always been “twice a week – usually Sundays and Wednesdays.” But for those who have been reading, I’m sorry to disappoint you with the late entries but I can explain! 🙂

Follow along with me in this busy little ritual that has been happening for a couple of weeks now! I’ve been …

– extremely busy with my little 7-8 year old munchkins (Yes, all 26 of them!). We’ve launched our study on birds, experimented with force and motion, planted a gazillion seeds in our garden, learned freestyle and backstrokes in swimming, and got little piggy banks to learn how to count, exchange, and save money! The learning never stops!

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“I’m almost done having cancer!” :)

Up until my third year of teaching, I wondered everyday why I wanted to be a teacher when everyday felt worse than the day before. It seemed like a million jobs in one but with little appreciation or support.  Yet after those first difficult years, it became easier and I was reminded by my students of why I chose this career path.  It wasn’t just a career – it was a lifestyle. For me to teach children not just academics but how to aim for success in life, how to make friends, how to have manners and proper etiquette, I had to be aware of every move I make as well as learn to increase my interests for everything that I was teaching them. A simple “good morning” to a child or adult goes a long way and shows you care – I love when my students now say it first before me!  After a while, you see them mirroring you in both good and bad, and you realize how important your presence and your examples are. They look up to YOU

But last year, I realized that I look up to them too.  The intelligent conversations they have, the curious minds that allow for exploration and questioning, the innocence of knowing the good, the respect they have for others, the inner drive they have to succeed (though this could take multiple modes to dig out of them!), and the smiles they bring when you least expect it.

In the spring, one of my students was diagnosed with cancer. He missed a couple of days in school and I had wondered why. At first it was just a stomach problem but then it became more severe and treatment was immediately needed.

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From a Fashion Designer’s Studio to the Elementary Classroom

There are so many things to appreciate and love in life when you look at them through a different lens, especially when things don’t go the way you expect them to. Normally, I find the littlest things inspiring (hence this blog was born so that I can share them with you!)  But in this post, it wasn’t something little that inspired me. It was big, and I had to immediately share it with my students.

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About two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a Master Class with my principal that was offered by the Academy of Teachers. These classes involve a small group of educators who spend the morning learning a craft from an expert and in the afternoon make connections to teaching. This particular class was led by fashion designers, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, two of the most inspiring people I ever met.

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Isabel Toledo is a fashion designer who is well-known for designing Michelle Obama’s first inauguration suit and has been sewing and designing for 35 years. Her husband, Ruben Toledo is a well known illustrator and artist.

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Making teachers and students’ wishes come true :)

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If you haven’t heard about DonorsChoose.org, it’s an incredible nonprofit organization that does wonders in our nation’s public schools. It gives any individual an opportunity to donate directly to a public school classroom project. As a teacher, I have seen the difference these donations have made in our children’s educational experiences and in their appreciation of where they’re getting their supplies or materials from.  Very often, we hear that there’s not enough money in the school’s budget to support this or buy that so we usually have to find our own way of giving our children what they need or deserve. DonorsChoose does exactly that – teachers write a proposal for needed materials, donors donate and receive pictures and thank you letters from the teacher and students.

Last week, DonorsChoose had an open house event at their new office on 37th Street. It was a pleasure to meet some of the staff and other teachers from around the city, and to see how the company functions from behind the scenes. Thanks to staff member Josie, I got a private tour so that I can share with YOU all the beauty of the company that you donate to or participate in. 🙂

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Japanese Stab-Bound Book-Making!

Last week, I attended the Audubon Camp’s Educator’s Week at Hog Island in Bremen, Maine where my husband and I met tons of educators and spent days immersing in nature. It was truly a memorable experience as the staff was tremendously knowledgeable, dedicated, and extremely fun to be with! I’ll definitely share more in the next couple of entries.

At this camp, I had the privilege of being with Sherrie York, an incredible artist as well as an illustrator of Audubon Adventures. We hiked together and she shared some great resources I can use in the classroom, but one of the greatest parts was participating in her book making workshop. Though my pictures and directions are far from being perfect, I just had to share some of the photos of the steps we took to make a Japanese stab-bound book! The directions were very detailed, so if you are interested in making it, please feel free to message me for specific directions!image

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Lifelong learners and artists

One of my favorite parts of teaching is the ability to help mold the children into people who believe they can do anything they set their minds to. With this year’s group of children, art became a huge part of the learning process because they went from hating to color and drawing, to focusing on every little detail and enjoying the process of their creations.  Thanks to my principal’s encouragement in making self-portraits, I was able to embed the artwork into my curriculum.

One of my students brought back all his work to the classroom last week, so I asked him if I can take pictures. Here are 6 of the portraits we did this year, each focusing on a different use of medium or topic. He has grown so much!

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September:  crayon self-portrait with no lesson on coloring. I just asked them to draw a picture of their face and down to the shoulder. 

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Let’s Celebrate!

It’s National Teacher’s Appreciation Week and National Nurse Appreciation Week! Both jobs really require nurture, love, and patience. To all the nurses and teachers out there, I hope you know that you are deeply appreciated. Thank you for all that you do!

I was extremely excited when I found out one of my greatest friends has been featured in the newspaper ads for Nurse Week. She is truly one of the most caring and generous people I know and her love for her patients is only a small piece of her huge heart. I’m so proud of you, Irene! Thank you for being one of my inspirations with your creativity, your care, and your determination.

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How many ways can I draw … “ME”?

In the school that I work at, a monthly requirement (a rather fun one) is to have students create a self-portrait. I wondered how many ways a child can make a picture of him or herself without getting tired or bored and the more I thought about it, the more exciting it became. To see the growth of each student’s piece is jaw-dropping especially in a span of 9 months. There are some materials and methods of work that I love re-using every year, but every group of kids is different. This year, I took several “AH-HA!” moments and embedded them into each portrait session.  I also challenged myself in using materials that I rarely ever used before. Turns out that with specific instructions, felt is not hard to cut at all!  … Here are 3 portraits from one of my students.

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(Top left): “Me With My Winter Gear” – pencil, Sharpie, crayons, multicultural crayons, felt, white chalk
(Top right): “Simple Portrait” – crayons, thick Sharpie
(Bottom): “Me In Action! – color pencils, thick Sharpie

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