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December Currently

It's one of my favorite Linkys with the one and only Farley!!!

Listening: I am obsessed with my Holiday Albums! I talking Mariah Carey "Merry Christmas," the soundtrack from "The Best Man Holiday," and Idina Menzel "Holiday Wishes."

Loving: I come from a a really BIG family (check my bio), but I don't live in the same city as any of them. I am in L-O-V-E with being able to spend time with my family during the holidays. If you follow me on Instagram you've probably noticed lots of family pictures! If not, I'll give you a little taste. For Thanksgiving my fiance and I went to Ohio to visit with his family, and we'll be in Miami for Christmas. As a bonus, one of my sisters in currently spending the night with my niece and flying out tomorrow. 

Thinking: I have to catch up on my holiday decorating. Last year was my first Christmas in my cozy house so I was inspired to decorate after a L-O-N-G renovation. I need to kick it into gear!
Wanting: Nothing at all! I probably write this for every Currently, but I am blessed beyond measure.
Needing: A clone! The next three weeks are filled with travel for work. I'll be at my alma mater FSU this week, NOLA next week, and Cincinnati the week before the break. This time of year I am very thankful for Precheck (AKA keep on your shoes and laptops stays in your bag) and my airline status because it keeps me sane during holiday travel. I also need my alma mater FSU to STOP raising my blood pressure every football game ;-)

Giving: Every year I participate in the Angel Tree Fellowship with my church. We adopt kids whose parents are in prison and buy gifts on behalf of their parents. I absolutely LOVE this program and am excited for the kids we are giving to this year!

In the spirit of giving I am also giving away my Native American unit! It's here! If you have issues opening (it's a large file) just email me! Seasons Greetings! 

Building Five Star Relationships

This blog post is serving double duty. I'm linking up with Jasmine over at Buzzing with Mrs. McClain for her You Oughta Know blog hop. I am also posting the second topic in a series about teaching in low income communities.
The first lesson without a doubt is getting to know your students. This is probably a "duh," but I wanted to include it just in case (wink, wink). Knowing students means not only their interests, but also what motivates them, how they receive feedback, things that anger them. Below are a few of my favorite resources to use to get to know your students. 
Other Ideas: Attend an extracurricular event, do a home visit, eat lunch with students 
I purposefully used the term "influencers" versus "parent" because in my experience I've found it helpful to know the adults that students look up to. That might be a previous teacher, extracurricular coach, older sibling, community leader and/or everyone in between. When I prioritize getting to know the people who know the people who are important to my students, it proves that I care, and provides another support link for students. SHAMEFUL PLUG-  I'll be doing a full blog on "Working With Stakeholders" that will include resources...I hope you come back.
When students feel valued as individuals and connected to a community, it provides the framework for a strong classroom culture. A safe and nurturing classroom is something that is intentionally built and maintained by the classroom teacher. From rules and procedures, to the classroom layout and student pairings... EVERYTHING BUILDS (or destroys) CLASSROOM CULTURE. Below are a few resources to assist with building relationships and creating a safe class. 

               Posters by Maria Manore              Subway Art by Hope King 
Personal relationships with students take time...and consistency. A lack of consistency creates a slippery slope when it comes to building trust filled relationships with students. Students have to know teacher expectations and these have to be followed through every time...without fail. I tend to think of my relationships with students as flowers... they need consistent sunlight and water. 
The final thing you OUGHTA KNOW is that building relationships is hard and time consuming. The most difficult thing in my experience was that many of students have many different layers of protection around who they were, which makes it difficult to open up. I own the times when I stopped trying (please don't judge me). That said, hindsight is a gift. Looking back, I've built stronger skin and have changed my orientation towards relationship building. This can be summed up in one of my favorite Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quotes, "The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy."As it relates to relationships, I believe that enduring through adversity and humbling myself in service of my kids and community is what has enabled me to build strong relationships and networks.   
I'd love to hear how others approach building relationships.

Working In Low Income Communities: A Blog Series

Thanks for reading! I'd love to for you to leave thoughts in the comments section... especially if they are different from the experiences listed in this entry. I hope you will check back soon for my entry on building relationships. 

November Currently

I've been in rut when it comes to blogging, but linking up with Farley is the PERFECT pick me up!

Listening- My hubby just bought a new Dizzy Gillespie album, which if you love jazz will not disappoint! This has to be one of the best big bands ever assembled. 

Loving - THE WEATHER! I went on a beautiful and long walk with my puppy today and it was simply gorgeous outside. 

Thinking - I lost a student. My second of the year, and third in the last two years. My heart is heavy. I am praying for the families of my students. Sleep in perfect peace Andrew, Ron, and now Demantrae. 

Needing- Given how difficult this week has been, I need a break! We'll be going to Ohio for a Thanksgiving, and I've been doing a ton of reflecting on all the things I am grateful for. 

Reading When I need to cope with the *trials of life*, I read. I am currently reading the book Courageous Conversations About Race with my team AND planning a new blog series about various topics from the book #staytuned