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Lessons from a Grocery Store Chain

This blog post really doesn't have anything to do with education, but it's a hot topic in my area, and there's definitely a lesson or two to be learned!

We have a local grocery store chain that's been in the news a lot lately for the last few weeks. 

Several weeks ago, the CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas was fired by the Board of Directors. They hired some other people. The employees of Market Basket were horrified by this decision, and let the Board know their opinions by protesting. They stood outside their stores with signs, demanding Artie T reinstated as their CEO.


Artie T. cared about his employees. He went out of his way to know who they were and show interest in them. He also cared about his customers. He worked hard to keep prices low, despite pressure from the Board of Directors. 

The protests and boycotts lasted 6 weeks. Most of the shelves in the stores were empty, especially produce, meat, and dairy. Loyal customers boycotted, and did their shopping at other grocery stories. The other grocery stores were over priced and over crowded. It affected not only store employees, but customers, suppliers, even stores and services adjacent to the stores felt the loss. The business lost millions of dollars during those 6 weeks.

Late last Wednesday, the Board of Directors finally accepted Artie T's offer pay $1.5 billion dollars for 50.5% of the company.

There were plenty of celebrations! Managers went to their stores in the early hours of the morning to prepare their stores, and sure enough, customers returned! Stores had welcome back signs, smiling employees, balloons, and everyone was just plain happy to be there! (I even saw a facebook post of a conga line of customers, complete with their shopping carts!)

People were buying whatever they could! (Not all the shelves were re-stocked yet, but there were plenty of choices!) 

I didn't get a chance to visit until Saturday. (It was the first week of school, and we all know that teachers are too tired for grocery stores after the first few days!) When I finally visited, I was greeted by balloons, smiling workers, "Welcome Home" signs, and a big crowd of Saturday shoppers. I knew the shelves wouldn't be completely stocked, but I was surprised at how much was available after only being back in business for a couple of days. I really only needed cat food, but I bought several items, especially the store brands... those purchases will help the stores build back those millions of dollars lost in the protest. 

Despite the loss, plus Artie T's $1.5 billion purchase, the low prices are still there! Yes, that's $4.99 for K-cups... they were $7.99 at the "other" store!

The whole purpose of this protest was that employees wanted to work for the good guy. They were protesting the "corporate greed" that had replaced their beloved CPO.

Many people these days are just out to make as much money as they can, and are "in it" only for themselves. Here, we had a person who truly cared about his employees and his customers. They trusted him, and they stood by him.

Loyalty like this is rare in 2014. 

I remember my dad was loyal to certain companies and brands back in the 50s and 60s. He trusted them, and kept returning. That sort of product loyalty doesn't exist any more. 

Perhaps it's because these companies and brands don't work at earning our trust. Perhaps it's because they're just trying to get our money. 

Perhaps employers and companies should work a little harder at earning our trust and our loyalty.

What do you think?

Five Reasons I Don't Like the First Week of School

As much as I love my job, I don't love the first week. Yes, after 37 "first weeks", I'm still not happy with the first week. Why?  Well, here are some reasons:

I don't like when I don't know the kids! I don't know their likes and dislikes. I can't remember which kids enjoy hockey and which kids have cats. I don't know the talents of these little guys yet! The best part of the job is the kiddos, and I don't know them yet!


They don't know my expectations. They don't know my sense of humor yet. They don't know my little hints. (Like when I make little kissing sounds, meaning they need to sit all the way down!) They don't know the meaning of my little sayings yet. ("Put your nose and toes to the door.") In fact, we haven't actually established the rules yet. That makes a difference, but we can't do it all in a couple of days!

Teachers know the meaning of "first week" tired! I've come home from school every day this week barely able to walk. I've neglected this blog all week. I've had tons of ideas, but I'm not able to sit upright and type.  I can't even think through how to organize a post!

I've had a whole lot of pictures I wanted to take this week! I did actually manage to take some pictures on the first day for our wall display. (Those actually came out real cute.) But I didn't get any pictures of the kids DOING anything! Of course, that's actually because I was too BUSY with the kids! They really aren't very independent yet, so I have to do a whole lot of "hovering" to make sure they're doing what they're supposed to be doing. I'm hoping this gets better, since I'm going to have to start running records next week! 

Believe it or not, this is quite a disappointment! Our local grocery store chain has been involved in a boycott for the last 6 weeks. The boycott caused a lot of people to be out of work or lose money. Most of us had to go to more expensive grocery stores, which were overcrowded because of the boycott. It was awful for so many people. Finally this week, the corporate big guys came to a decision and everyone is back at work.

They have been back in business for a couple of days, and people who have been to the stores have said they are the happiest places around! Workers are smiling, laughing, singing, thanking and hugging customers. Customers are smiling, hugging managers, and I even saw a facebook video of customers doing a conga line through one of the stores with their shopping carts! 

And I'm too tired to shop tonight. I'll be there in the morning!

Be sure to stop by Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday!

Getting the Tape Off!

If you've been following my blog or my facebook page, you'll know I've had a little crisis with tape! Since people were in our classrooms this summer for summer school, we had to tape everything up so the people using our room wouldn't get into our stuff. Well, I happen to be in a very sunny classroom, (which is usually good!) but all that tape just baked away this summer, and the tape wouldn't come off!

I had lots of fabulous advice on removing the tape, and went into my classroom yesterday armed for battle!

I bought a spray bottle of "Goo Gone", a set of plastic scrapers, extra scrubbing sponges, and Dawn dish detergent. Why Dawn? Because it's extra good at cutting grease, and the Goo Gone is VERY greasy!

I sprayed all the places with stuck tape on Monday. I gave everything a good soaking with the Goo Gone. Unfortunately, it's drippy and runny, so it was all over the floor, which made those newly waxed floors super slippery, but I survived.

When I came in on Tuesday, I took my little plastic scrapers, and most of the tape came right up! You can probably tell the desk is rather shiny, because of the greasy Goo Gone. It took a lot of Dawn to get rid of that slippery mess!

After a good scrubbing, a quick second coat of Goo Gone to get rid of the sticky residue under the tape, and a good washing with Dawn, I was very happy!

I got all the little spots around the room, and feel like I'm caught up on the tape disaster!

I also did a whole lot of  other cleaning. Even though we cleaned the desks before summer pretty well, they were pretty disgusting after summer school, so they needed a full scrubbing. (It's hard to tell in this picture, but they were filthy!)  I had to pull out the magic eraser to do these desks!

I've got a few more days of work in my classroom before I'll be ready for those kiddos next Wednesday, but after all that cleaning, I think I deserve some shopping!  There's a BOOST sale at Teachers Pay Teachers, and my sales cart is already packed! This sale is for the benefit of people like me who weren't quite ready to shop at the first Back to School sale a couple of weeks ago... I'm ready now!

Of course, if you already shopped at the last one, I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to pick up a few more things for those kiddos!

Tips for Teaching Procedures

The beginning of the school year is all about procedures.  The kiddos learn procedures for lining up, choosing books, signing out to the Library, how to pass in work, what to do when work is finished.    We teach them the procedure for fire drills, procedures for lock down, procedures for evacuation drills. We teach them the procedure for going to lunch, going to recess, and going to Phys. Ed. class. 

And so on. 

Here are some things to think about when teaching procedures!

When addressing a new procedure, I'll get right up and act out different scenarios. I find the kids really pay attention if I act out what NOT to do! (Adding a little humor helps the memory!)

For example, when acting out how to get into line, I might:
  1. neglect picking up my materials
  2. forget to push in my chair
  3. run, flailing my arms
  4. cut in line
  5. get into an argument about who got in line first
Isn't it amazing how they'll always notice what's done wrong when the adult is doing it? 

And they're not shy about pointing out what I did wrong!

Once they've had a good discussion on what NOT to do, it's time to have someone model what to do.  Have a few volunteers act out the right thing to do. Be sure to comment on each thing the child does right! This is a good chance to give positive attention to some of those kids who REALLY need attention!

"Notice how John pushed in the chair as he walked by." 
"I like the way Bobby walks at a good pace." 
"Did you notice how Marie let Anna go first?"
"I noticed Bradley kept his arms by his sides when he was walking."
"Of course Theresa put her math tools away properly before walking to the line."

The old saying goes "Practice Makes Perfect", but I think "Practice Makes Permanent" is more accurate. 

After having several children acting out the right way for the procedure, it's not over. Find time later in the day for more children to model it again. Every time they go through that procedure for the next couple of days, have them stop and think about what they've learned.

"Before we line up, turn and tell your partner what we've learned about the right way to line up."
"Close your eyes and picture yourself lining up the way we practiced."
"After you share with a partner, take a deep breath before you line up."
"Put your hands on your head if you know the right way to line up."
"Name something your partner won't think of that's important to remember when lining up."

You know, it's amazing we ever finish going over the procedures and get on to the real learning!  But seriously, if you take the time to teach the procedures properly, the rest of the year goes smoothly. 

 And I truly believe that's worth it!

See the linky below for more bright ideas from over 100 different bloggers!

If you enjoy my tips here on Elementary Matters, feel free to follow me on facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter for more tips, tricks, and fun teacher stuff!

How to Have Them Happy When They Exit the Classroom

This is the last in my series of reposts to celebrate 3 years as a teacher blogger. This one is the response to yesterday's post: How to Have them Ready to Learn When They Enter the Classroom.

It's important to have the children leave happy for so many reasons.  For one, you want them to feel good about school so they'll want to come back tomorrow.  Maybe even more important, if they're feeling bad, that's how they're feeling when mom asks, "How did school go today?"   This can lead to bad feelings and/ or bad communication, which we just don't want to happen. 

I start my day on a high energy note (see my previous blog post:  How to Have Them Ready to Learn When They Enter the Classroom)  I prefer for the kids to leave on a calm, reflective note.

I play soft music as the children are packing up.  (They tend to have trouble focusing by the end of the day, and the music calms them down and helps them focus on their responsibilities.)  When they are all packed up, we meet in a circle for "High Low".  While they are waiting for the others, they reflect on their school day.

When most of the children are ready, I usually start "High Low".  I pick up a beanie baby.  (Whoever is holding the beanie is allowed to speak.)  I tell the class my high of the day and my low of the day.  It might sound like this:  "My high of the day was how everyone enjoyed the story I read.  My low of the day was that someone hurt Susie's feelings at recess."  As the children decide their high/low, they raise their hands.  I'll pick one child and toss the beanie to them.  And so it continues.  A few procedures I've followed during "High/ Low".  No one can be raising their hand while someone is talking. Don't raise your hand until you've planned what you're going to say.  Say the person's name BEFORE you toss the beanie.  No one has to have a low, you can do two highs instead.  If you want to participate, you have to have at least one high.  No mentioning names if it's not good news, just say "someone".  If it's good news, use names!  Don't toss the beanie to the same person every day. 

Often people wonder why I even do a "low" for the day, why focus on the negative?  Well, I've found that sometimes things bother the little ones and it's important to let it out.  As long as it's anonymous, letting it out is a good thing.  I also find that when I tell my low, it gives the children an idea on how much I care about them.  My lows usually have to do with someone who is absent or someone who got hurt.  A lot of thought and "modeling" go into my personal "high/ low".

I do find the children love it, and it's a great motivation for them to finish packing up so they can participate.  I also find it's a great way to learn what is important to the children.  And, of course, sometimes I find out things I didn't know were going on in the social circles of my classroom.  This is all valuable information for me!

How to Have them Ready to Learn When They Enter the Classroom

We are nearing the end of my "revisiting posts from three years ago", but you're seeing one of my very favorite posts today! Again, it all comes from what I have studied about the brain and how it learns!
Everything I've read about brain research and memory tells me that there are strong ties between the memory and emotion.  As an experienced teacher, it's clear that children will remember events that are associated with emotional events.  Personally, I prefer to keep that emotion a happy one while in the classroom.  (Although I'll bet everyone reading this remembers events from extremely unhappy times, I'll leave those negative emotions to a power higher than myself... hopefully it's not the principal!)

I remember, a long time ago, I walked into a workshop after a long day of workshops.  It was a long morning, and we were fed a good lunch.  This was mid afternoon, the time when many countries like to take a siesta, and the rest of us wish we could. 

As I walked to the room for my next workshop, I was seriously thinking of sneaking out to find a place I could slip in a little nap.  I walked into the room, and I heard music playing.  Not your typical "little kid" music, but fun music, the kind you'd hear at a party.  Immediately I started smiling and happily found a seat, smiling at the other teachers in the room, who were also smiling.  I saw lots of other people do the same... looking around, smiling, moving to the music, chatting happily... can you picture it?

When the workshop started, we were all in grand moods.  I still wonder if I would have enjoyed that workshop as much, or even been able to stay awake, if it weren't for the "feel good" music while we were arriving. 

I've remembered this moment many times.  I've collected a number of classic "feel good" songs that I like to play when the children enter the classroom.  These songs always bring smiles to faces.  Even though they hate to see it end, they settle right down ready to work after the happy music. 

I find this music is great for Open Houses, too.  It's nice to see those parents smiling.  I'm preparing my music for this Monday's Open House... it's their first impression of me, and I want it to be a good one!

What music makes you feel good?  Here is one of mine!  I can't help but smile when I hear Aretha!

What Phrases Do You Repeat Over and Over?

Here's another one of my earliest blog posts! 
I'm sure you have phrases you repeat over and over in the classroom. 

As I look at this list, I realize many of them came straight from my dad. Who ever thought that teaching second grade would be so similar to coaching high school football?

Here are some of my most famous quotes in the classroom! 
(Can you guess which ones came from my football coach dad?)

There are some phrases that I say over and over.  It gets to the point where the kids say these phrases along with me.

"When I'm done talking not before..."

"... in two shakes of a lamb's tail...

"Turn and talk to your partner"

"Never settle for less than your best!"

"We don't save places in line."

"I can and I will!"

"Take a bow."

"Take a beanie."

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going!"

"It's good to see you today."

"Your desk should look like ____'s."

"A wrong answer is better than no answer, because wrong answer means you tried."

"Don't make me put on my grumpypants!"

"A mistake helps you learn.  That's how I got so smart."

"Thanks for making that mistake.  You helped us all learn."

"Thanks for bringing that to our attention."

"You have the power to change that!"

"That's a great question."

"Exercise is good for the brain."

"Check behind your behind to make sure you didn't leave anything behind!"

"It helps the brain remember if you...."

"As long as you do your best to learn, I'll do my best to make it fun."

I could go on and on, but I won't.  
What phrases do you repeat a lot?

Music, the Brain, Memory, and the Seven Continents

Music, the Brain, and the Seven Continents: This post makes the connection between music and memory, and has a song to help the children remember the names of the seven continents.

Did you ever find yourself singing along to the radio to a song you've never really liked, yet somehow you know all the words?  Or perhaps you caught yourself singing along to a commercial on TV? Doesn't that kind of point out the connection between music and the brain?  Yep, without even trying, you've memorized the words to hundreds of songs, right? 

I use that often in the classroom.  If there's something I want the children to know by heart, I'll whip up a little song for them.  I typically pick a tune that is familiar to all, squeeze in some words in a similar rhythm, and  there you go!  Sometimes I'll even make it rhyme, but that's not all that important.  Nor is it important for the words to fit perfectly in the rhythm. 

Here's a social studies song to the tune of "This Old Man"  (also known as "The Barney Song")

The Continents Song

North America, South America

Europe, Asia, Africa,
Australia and Antarctica.
There are seven Continents.

North America, South America

Europe, Asia, Africa,
Australia and Antarctica.
Now we all can cha, cha, cha!

I'll admit, the kids made up the second verse.  I figured if my second graders can name the 7 continents, they deserve to dance!

Years later, kids come back to me and sing the song for me.  

Music helps the memory.
Music is magical.

The Brain, Memory, Emotions, and Hurricanes

In honor of my 3 year blogiversary, I plan on reposting some of the blog posts I did way back 3 years ago!  

This is a story I tell my students about my first day of school ever!

I've been in the mood to tell about my very first day of school.  Yes it was a very long time ago, but if you recall, the memory is connected to emotions, and I had some VERY strong emotions that day.

My mother was a teacher, my dad was the Phys Ed director in my town, and my older sister went to school.  I had to stay home with the babysitter while everyone else in my family went to school.  Needless to say, I wanted to go to school just like everyone else. 

I kept asking when I could go to school.  My mother showed me on the calendar how many days had to go by before I could finally go.  I counted, and counted, and finally, the day came.

School was cancelled because of Hurricane Donna.

"But you promised."  I was inconsolable.  I remember my mother bringing me out to the front porch, trying to convince me that they wouldn't let children go to school when the weather was that bad. 

I must have gone to school the next day, but I really don't remember. 

It was the intense emotion that I remember to this day.  Yet another lesson on the brain and emotions.  And another hurricane story.

Think about some of your strong memories. Were they related to strong feelings like this one?

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