Sunday, August 31, 2014

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.


Why? 

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?



Friday, August 29, 2014

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!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Five for Last Chance Friday

It's another Five for Friday, and it's been quite the week! I've been in school all week, trying to get my classroom ready. Today was the last chance to work in the room, since Monday and Tuesday are meetings, Tuesday night is "Meet and Greet the Teachers", and Wednesday is the official first day. 


I had posted HERE about how my sunny classroom made all the tape stick to my furniture, and I posted HERE about the process to get all that tape off my furniture. That was where a good chunk of my week went!

Besides cleaning off all the tape, I had to scrub the desks to get them ready for the kiddos. I just can't imagine them coming to school with "permadirt" from the kids the year before. The white boards also needed a scrubbing. You could actually see where the kids had written word from last year, and it just wouldn't wash off. I finally took a Magic Eraser and bleach spray, and now they are ready for new students. 

Another time consumer was running off and putting together the Writer's Workshop folders for the year and preparing the writing materials. Writer's Workshop is a big part of my classroom, and I'm always thrilled with the writing skills the children come with from first grade. Then they develop even better writing skills in second grade!

All the materials I use are found in this set:

and can be found HERE.

Here's a closer look at the collection:

Preparing the folders includes running off most of the resources, some in different colors, punching holes, and putting them into the folders. I also made a variety of 5 page booklets for them to get started, with different kinds of lined paper, and different colors for covers. We're ready to start Writer's Workshop on Day 1!


The week was mostly working on school stuff, but not all... on Thursday I drove down to Boston to get my daughter (she needed o do some serious New Hampshire shopping). After an awesome job parellel parking (on the left, no less!) we walked to this very cool Asian Shabu restaurant. Shabu means "hot pot". They actually have a boiling pot of broth on the table, and you cook the meat and the veggies yourself right there at the table. It was not only delicious, but it was totally fun!

I overslept this morning, then rushed into school for the final last chance on the room. I finished putting up decorations, sorted and labeled supplies, ran off papers, put the last few things away, and finally put the nametags on the desks. I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be, except for a few things I have to put together this weekend.

Why no pictures? Because they kicked us out of the building at 4:00! I was racing around trying to get things done. 

What did I do next? I came home, took a shower, and crashed on the couch for 2 hours. Boy, was I tired!

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



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

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!




Monday, August 18, 2014

Brain Breaks are Essential for Learning!


Brain research tells us that movement is an important part of learning. Research also tells us that children can only pay attention for about as many minutes as their age, plus or minus two minutes. That means that my second graders can pay attention at max, about 9 minutes. That also means some of my little ones can only hold it together for 5 minutes! (Yep, that sounds about right!)

There are so many types of brain breaks!  Some involve a lot of movement, enough to get your heart racing. Others include just a quick stretch and breath. Still others are just a break from the routine, without movement at all. It's important to use all sorts of brain breaks in the classroom!

You're in luck! I have quite a collection of brain breaks on my Brain Break Pinterest page!

If you aren't familiar with Go Noodle, it's time you checked it out!


Just go to gonoodle.com and set up a free account! Then enjoy! Each little video is totally fun, different, and wakes those kids up so they'll be ready for the next part of your lesson. Seriously, I can't say enough great stuff about Go Noodle. And... did I mention it was free?


Here's a brain break freebie to help you start the year. Click HERE to download 12 different Brain Breaks with a back to school theme!


Brain Breaks help the kiddos learn their sight words with this game! The brain breaks are shuffled right into the deck of words and phrases for them! They love those brain breaks so much, this became the most popular game in the classroom! This one is made up of Fry's first hundred words, but I have several sets of these, including a Bundle. You can find this game HERE.

It works with Math, too! Here are a whole set of addition and subtraction facts for the kiddos to learn, with a research based sequential order for learning. It includes a gameboard for practice and... brain breaks! You can download it HERE.

I'm linking up with other Brain Break Bloggers for the Brain Break Blitz! Click the image to see the linky!



GoNoodle Inspiration Blog

Saturday, August 16, 2014

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!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

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!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Meet Teacher Blogger Linky Party!

I found a fun linky party! In order to participate, I get to write about something I know quite well:  me!

First and foremost, I'm a teacher. I'm about to enter my 37th year of teaching, and have no intention of slowing down anytime in the near future. I absolutely love my job! I always wanted to be a teacher, and come from a family of teachers. You could say it's in my blood!

The most important person in my life is my beautiful daughter. 
Here we are at one of our favorite locations!

I've been a single parent for most of her life. It isn't the easiest life, but she is totally worth it!

I have a pesky cat that I love, Mia.
Mia isn't very photogenic, but at least I got the right end in this picture!

A few more I couldn't leave out: my brother, David (yes, that's an Emmy he's holding, his second! He's a college professor.) Next is my sister, Nancy. She's taught Physical Education as well as Health and Nutrition. She also has a farm!  Next is my aunt Carol. She's a former special education and home economics teacher, and a retired state representative for Massachusetts. 

I also have a lot of people in my life that are no longer alive, but are still with me every day. My dad was always my hero. He still inspires me, even though he's been gone more than 10 years. He was a Phys. Ed. Director and football coach. Those who knew him, knew he taught a whole lot more than football!


How about a little Q&A?
  
I've always been a huge fan of musical theatre and can belt out many a show tune! As most New Englanders, I'm a Red Sox fan, even though they are right now 15 games out of first place. (There's a lesson in loyalty here!)


Seriously, at no point in my life did I ever consider a job other than teaching, and theatre has always been more of a hobby, but if I were offered a role as a Broadway star, I might take a leave of absence from teaching.
  


I'm real. As much as I love theatre, I'll leave the drama for the stage. I'm not putting on a performance for anyone. What you see is what you get!


I could have spent a lot more time on this question!


Some of these people are even alive! It would be quite a party!


 I should have used "Strong" as one of my words above. A lot of things in my life have forced me to be strong: being a single mom, losing my mom early in life, poverty, health... I could go on, but I won't!



I don't mean to sound like I'm in a beauty pageant, or overly sappy, but I just wish people would get along!

I must admit, I've had plenty of those moments, and I'm counting on having many more!


In case you don't know the song, here's Carol Burnett singing it. It's awesome! (She's awesome, too! I've invited her to my birthday party!)




This becomes difficult at the end of the summer, adjusting back to the school schedule, when I have been sleeping late and staying up late all summer.



Fry Phrase Frolic with Brain Breaks  is actually a bundle of three different products:


  So that's all about me! In case you want more, HERE's a link to my "About Me" page, which in turn has several links to other posts about me. This should take you days to read! (Seriously, I'm not all that complicated!)
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