Wednesday, November 9, 2016

#areyouwithme, Mr. Trump?

I woke up this morning, and I mourned. I’m not being dramatic; I literally felt like I have suffered a loss. I was hoping to wake up to history being made. I cried. I questioned. I ran pre-election scenarios through my mind. And that’s my right. I am entitled to my opinion. I am allowed to voice it. I did voice it. I voted, but my opinion was not with the majority. I felt, and still feel, ignored. I am upset about that, but I’m more concerned about the fact that I am genuinely concerned about our future as a nation and as a humanitarian society. That’s how I feel. I am allowed to feel that way.

Having my own opinion and feeling free to voice it is my basic right as an American. As such, I also understand that we are one country. We are a unit. We are a team. Now that you have become Mr. President-elect Trump, I understand that you are our future leader. #imwithher but I’m not moving out of the country. #imwithher but I’m not going to protest in the streets. #imwithher but I’m not going bash you just because I’m upset. I’m an American, and I will be a part of America’s future. But, I do have a few concerns.

While I truly respect the title of President, while I will respect you as our future POTUS, I do not have to agree with you. No one ever agrees with everything someone else says; it’s just not possible. But I understand your title, your position, and your power. 

I’m a small fish in an even smaller pond, but to be honest, I feel that you owe me a lot. Yes, that’s right- Mr. President-elect Trump, you owe me. Why? Well, once Hillary conceded in the early hours of this morning, you were no longer only there to take care of the Trumpettes and your devout followers. You are now responsible for taking care of me too. Even if your views don’t match up with mine, you are still my leader, and it’s your job to do what’s best for all of us.

Your job is to represent the people- the people of America. And not all Americans feel building a wall is a good idea. Not all Americans believe that women should be grabbed when men feel compelled to do so. I’m sure your supporters don’t think that way either. Not all Americans believe publicly body shaming women is right. You have said some seriously hurtful, hateful, and horrible things. Why do you have to be a brilliant businessman who slanders women, minorities, and anyone else who gets in your way? You get so angry. Why do you have to be a bully to anyone who disagrees with you? Obviously your an intelligent man. Why can’t you use your intelligence to explain your positions rather than go for the low-blows that make me question your moral character and your ability to reason and react in a calculated and reserved manner?

#imwithher but now #imwithyou. I have to be; I’m an American. I know that divided we fall. I’m not willing to let your tantrums and chauvinistic comments divide our nation. We have too much at stake. We have lost too many lives to protect this very nation. We have made too much progress to stop now. But, you need to right your wrongs and a simple apology won’t do. I need see action- progress. You need to see our side just as we have seen yours. Only then can we begin to work together.

I’m willing to work together. Let’s actually take time to see each other’s side of the aisle. You ran against a powerhouse of a woman. A woman I truly admire. I was hoping she would break that glass ceiling, but the fact of the matter is that she didn’t. My hope is that you don’t board up that glass ceiling, Mr. Trump. The comments you have made- the ones that made me question your motives in the first place- make me think you are hoping to cover that glass ceiling with steel, so it’s never broken. I’d love for you to prove me wrong. #areyouwithme, Mr. Trump? I’m not a member of the boy’s club; I never will be. Are you still with me? If Hillary wasn’t a woman, would things have been different? Only you know the real answer to that question. And it’s not all about Hillary being a woman. I supported so much of what Hillary stood for. Do you find any value in her positions or her ideas? Now that she isn’t the enemy anymore, can you see her side of things? That’s the quality I expect from my president. I expect you to be the most brilliant thinker and the most rationale thinker. I expect you to see all sides of the argument and blur those party lines if it serves the people best. I expect you to propel our country forward. I expect you to honor every American- citizen or not- and value each and every one of them equally.

America has always been a team. Let’s become a team again, but, if you are going to gain our trust, you have to start by righting your wrongs. Are you a fundamentally good person, Mr. President-elect Trump? I need to know that you are, so I can sleep peacefully at night. Will you consider all of America when you make your decisions? If so, #imwithyou. I’ll chalk up the entire election to a sensationalist ploy to get your foot in the door, so you can truly do what you say and “Make America great again”. I love my country. Personally, I think America is great already, but obviously we can always do better. Everyone can always do better. 

Let’s start doing better. Let’s start today. Don’t waste another second trying to get our attention. You have it. You are Mr. President-elect Trump. What’s your first order of business? If you can prove that you’re with me, then #imwithyou.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My Personal Experiment -- Day 12!

STOP! Put down the remote and step away from the TV!

I often have people ask me where I get the motivation to be so active and productive all the time. Well, here's the scoop. I'm not always moving and going and doing. I have downtime every day, but it's the right kind! If I want to nap, I nap. If I want to go for a leisurely walk instead of doing an insane workout, I walk. If I want to sit in silence on my hammock and just stare at the sky, I do it. Outside of my uber-productive spells, there is a great deal of my day devoted to relaxation and balance, and that has only increased since the school year ended. As a teacher, I am blessed with time on top of time on top of time during the summer. It's magical; I'm not going to lie. But sometimes, there's too much time. Did you ever think that could be a thing? Well, take it from me, it's real! When there's little need for a schedule or a pressing need to get things done before a certain time, you spend all day with no sense of urgency. That freedom can be amazing if you use it correctly, or it could become a slippery slope of nothingness! 

Today is Day 12 of my own personal experiment. I decided that this summer, I would limit my TV watching. I made a rule for myself on the last day of school, and I have stuck to it since then! I love TV, so this is really an accomplishment for me.

Here's my rule: No TV from 8:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.  

Could you do it? Could you limit your TV watching each day and schedule your indulgences? I challenge you!

Every summer, I vow to accomplish certain tasks. My summer work ethic always starts off strong, but as the weeks go by my motivation lessens. The cause? TV! I am a naturally driven and productive person, and I love starting and completing tasks -- devouring anything in my path. It's who I am. This quality sounds great, but it does not stop at building a brand, a business, writing the next great American novel, sewing a runway quality frock, or learning to play the guitar (all summer To Do's ; ) ). This quality extends into every aspect of my life -- including binge watching tv series or shows just because "I have to know how it ends"!

Like I said before, I LOVE TV!  ❤️  📺 ❤️   There's something about the mindlessness of it that calls to me. Reality TV is my nemesis AND my best friend. You put on an episode of The Real Housewives of ... , even one I've watched countless times, I'll watch it. The yelling and screaming will make my head hurt, but I love it. Kim K and Khloe are eating the same huge salad I've seen before while they discuss which new phone to buy, I'm hooked. My very "focused" personality inhibits me from watching a few minutes and turning the TV off. I can't stop watching once I start. There are days when I don't sit down for more than 20 minutes; then, there are days when I don't move for 6 hours as I binge-watch a TV series. I know myself, and I know that TV sucks the motivation right out of me. I just can't give in to it! This summer, I'm staying strong!

It's Day 12 and I found myself laying down on the couch after lunch. I was thinking of taking a nap which would normally mean turning the TV on, so it would lull me into a stupor that would only end in a glorious two hour nap. Obviously, it would take two hours of watching a show, or two, or three before I actually let myself succumb to the wills of the couch-- relaxation, partial paralysis, slumber. 😴  That would mean AT LEAST 4 hours of couch time. Eeek! Tack on an hour of post-nap confusion, delirium, and continued partial paralysis and that's FIVE hours of couch time. If I want to nap these days, I do it ... sans TV. That gives me back at least two hours of my day! There's no way to avoid the post-nap struggle! 😜 

Since I took this no TV vow, I have found myself automatically reaching for the remote as I sit on the couch. It's muscle memory in the most unproductive form! Do you do this too, or is it just me? I know. I sound like I'm addicted to TV. 😁  Well, I have now placed the remote inside the coffee table, so I have to actively look for it when the luxurious, microfiber siren lures me in. If you're worse than me, you might want to unplug that flatscreen beast, so you don't suddenly realize that you've been watching a Botched marathon for 3 hours. 

I've been so much more productive by limiting my TV watching each day. I know it would do the same for you. Just try it for a day, even if you don't think you watch that much TV. When you begin to look at your daily routines and patterns, I'm sure you'll see that we are pretty similar. Do you accept the challenge?

Stay strong. Keep that TV off. It's worth it; I promise!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Find Someone Who for Elementary Spanish Classes!

I created this Find Someone Who activity
to use with my 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students!  There are some easy activities, but some are very challenging.  For the boxes written solely in Spanish, the students had to use the resources around the room, as well as dictionaries.  This is a great way to get the students out of their seats!

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Happy teaching, 
Kristen's Common Core Creations

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How Full is Your Bucket? Building Kindness in Your School

We have to teach our students how to be kind.

I don’t expect my students to arrive in my classroom and immediately know my rules.  No teacher would expect that, and they shouldn’t.  I TEACH every habit I want my students to emulate and to internalize.  If I want my students to understand when it is appropriate to sharpen a pencil, I explicitly teach them. I act out scenarios demonstrating the appropriate and inappropriate times to rise out of their seat and venture towards the sharpener.  If I want my students to understand what hyperbole is, I will dramatize my speech and say, “I’m dying. I’m starving. My eyes popped out of my head.”  What ever it is, if I want my students to know it, it is my job to teach it.  Kindness is no different, but after years of experience, I know there is nothing harder than teaching students how to be a good person.

This year I have had the opportunity to join the School Climate Committee.  This is a school-wide committee that is tasked with creating experiences for students to foster a sense of community among every member of the school community.  We decided to implement the “Bucket Filling” approach to teaching kindness, samaritanism, collegiality, and citizenship.  I have used this concept in my classroom in the past, and I am truly honored to be taking it school-wide.

To introduce the concept to our students in a comprehensive and age-appropriate manner, we hosted an assembly for our K-6 students.  During the assembly, we read How Full is Your Bucket?
written by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer. The book was projected onto the big screen using our document camera, so every student could enjoy the text and the illustrations as we read.

The concept is simple: When someone does something nice for you, it fills your bucket.  When you help someone feel better, your bucket fills.  When your bucket is full, you feel wonderful!  If your bucket is empty, or someone dips from your bucket, you feel sad.

After simply reading the text, the students were charged and ready to be bucket fillers!

I was even able to share with the school how my colleague filled my bucket without even knowing it!  If you are interested in learning more about how my school is using this book, feel free to post a question or comment below! 

I’d love to share this initiative with more schools.  It’s a life-changing model for community building, and I can’t wait to see where it takes our school this year!

Respect one another.  Build each other up.  Create positive change.

Happy teaching, 
Kristen’s Common Core Creations

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Back to School Night ~ The Thoughts of a Teacher

          Below are the thoughts of teachers on Back to School Night. I apologize for leaving the male teachers out of some of these; you know I still love you! : ) Share the thoughts you have in the comments! I'd love to hear from you!

BEFORE you even see your first parent ...

Is my presentation complete?
I think I should make it prettier. Instead of including more content, you make it cuter. You are an elementary teacher; it's in your blood. An hour later, you have added more transitions and borders. The content is exactly the same, but you just feel better knowing you used complimentary colors for all of your borders and fonts! I think I added too many TpT borders. Oh, wait. You can NEVER use too many borders. Should I add more clip art? TpT clip art is the heart of a presentation. Maybe I should find some new subject area clip art. Back to my TpT cart! Did I just spend $15.00 on clip art? Whoops. I can find uses for all of it, even if I don't use it in this presentation. 

Are the slides detailed enough but not too wordy? Maybe I should run through it one last time. I used the wrong "your"! That's what happens when I rush. I checked this baby twelve times already. I'm a teacher. Everything I do has to be perfect. Teachers can never make a mistake in the eyes of parents. How did I miss that? I should check it again. Ten checks and two hours later, it's finally up to par!

What was I thinking at dinner?
Garlic knots? Garlic, in general, is a terrible idea before you are asked to speak to a.n.y.o.n.e. Even your loved ones don't deserve that kind of punishment. Unless you know you will have a six-foot barrier between other breathing human beings and you, don't eat it! The Queen of England is better than me. How can she resist that deliciously, potent seasoning smothering a puffed pastry? I don’t even have mouthwash! Extra cheesy pizza? Your stomach grumbles. Dairy was a bad choice, but it was the quickest meal I could order. There was no time for a three course sit-down dinner. I ate in the car on the ride back to school!

I should have never worn heels. 
Who do I think I am? I never wear heels. Okay, I do, but that's typically when I'm out with friends on the weekends, and somehow the pain just disappears. I'm not sure if there is a connection to beverage consumption, but it's very likely. Now, my feet are screaming at me, and I’m supposed to smile?! My emergency flats are in the car. Usually, they are tucked under my desk, but it’s only the second week of school. My survival kit has not fully been established. You know what I'm talking about, right? Flats, aspirin, mouthwash, chocolates, mints, duct tape, sewing kit, static cling spray, lotion, hairspray ... Pretty much anything I might randomly need during the school day. If I could just get out there somehow, I could make the switch and no one would know. Okay, everyone would know because I’d be four inches shorter. These heels slow me down too much. I'm like a newborn fawn on these unstable torture chambers. There's no time for me to run to my car.

I just developed chronic dry mouth. 
My mouth feels like the Sahara. Where is my water bottle? Oh, no! I left it next to the copy machine. Do I have time to run back and get it? I have to. I’ll die if I don’t. You sprint down the hallways only to see the herd of parents coming your way. I just forgot my entire presentation. Why am I running? Where am I going? What are the names of these parents? Have I met them before? She looks like Jimmy's mom, but I've made that mistake before. You muster up enough saliva to utter the words, “Hiiiiiiiiii, how are you?" The extended "Hi" allows you to skip the pleasantries of actually names. "It’s wonderful to see you. Feel free to find a seat in my room." Oh, yeah, my water bottle. Your little pinky toes are being squished against the side of your pointed-toe heels. You think about the grotesque scene that will unfold when you remove those shoes later. You're disgusted at the thought, but you force a painted on smile to mask your pain. You don’t break stride for a second.

I can’t believe I have to talk for 40 minutes straight. 
That sounds super ambitious. Have I ever talked for that long before? I guarantee I’ll be finished in 20 minutes. What if I finish early? What will everyone do? Maybe I should make up an “early finishers” activity. That’s ridiculous … but maybe I will. #teacherbrain 


I hope my voice doesn’t crack.
You know your voice gets shaky, your throat dries up, and you cannot articulate sounds when you are nervous. You hope that your first word is audible and doesn’t come out as a whisper like last time. Is the red on my chest creeping up to my face? Now, everyone knows … I’m nervous. My body chemistry is broadcasting my secret to the masses. With every word, my chest thermometer is rising. I hope my principal doesn’t see me like this! My Professional development goal for this year should be to learn how to speak publicly without fainting or throwing up. I'm going to suggest that to admin. I can't be the only one.

I just realized that I’ve used this presentation for ten of these parents before.
Yes, you’ve taught the older siblings. Some of these parents have seen this exact presentation. The dates for class trips and parties have changed but that clip art of the two kids reading on the carpet while laughing hysterically is probably imprinted in their memory. I knew I should have changed that one! It was too cute, though. These veteran parents are on to you. Just keep going. Why do they look so confused if they've heard this spiel before?

I only see one parent nodding.
You look out into the audience and many parents look confused. It’s a lot of information; I get it. Some parents look scared. I don’t understand why PARCC keeps changing either. Don’t worry. We’ll all be fine. Some parents even look a little angry. I know you basically wrestle your child to the ground to get them to do their math worksheet each night, but it’s important! I’m not plotting against you. I promise. You scan the parents in attendance and you see that one parent who is smiling and nodding. She loves what you do. She supports what you do. She even “gets it”. Keep your eyes on her to calm your nerves. She even comes up to you after your presentation and commends your impeccable public speaking skills. She’s too kind, and she’s lying, but you accept the accolades. Befriend this parent; she will be an ally all year! Class mom, perhaps? 

There are only 5 minutes left.
I have ten more slides to get to. I’m never going to finish. I wish I had more time. Wait, wasn't I worried about not having enough to say? I don't know myself at all! I could talk teaching all day. How could I forget? My friends usually start rolling their eyes after twenty minutes, but these people actually want to hear my silly stories, and they want to know about my passion for the field! I'm going to soak in every second of this. Time for sonic speed-talking. God speed everyone who is listening to me. God speed.

AFTER you have finished your presentaion ...

I could run a marathon right now.
You literally feel like you have the strength of a Greek Goddess. That exhaustion has morphed into more energy than you know what to do with ... and it's 9:00 p.m. Your mind is going a mile a minute. You try to call your significant other to let him/her know how your night went, and they ask if you drank three Red Bulls. You didn’t. What they think is a sugar high is actually a “teacher high”. A teacher high comes from teaching a great lesson, establishing a deep connection with a student, or nailing your Back to School Night presentation. You’re excited. You’re proud. You’re reflective. You forget why you were so nervous in the first place!

I can’t believe I have to be back here in nine hours. 
You’ve stayed at school since the students were dismissed. Instead of going home to see your family and eat dinner like a normal person, you stayed at school from 7:45 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. You didn’t want to go all the way home, put on sweats, and get comfortable because you just knew you wouldn’t want to go back. You also had way too much to get done! On the drive home, you wish for some downtime before you have to go to bed. Suddenly, that brilliant idea for the science packet you hoped to create after school pops back into your head. You forgot that you need it for tomorrow during 1st and 2nd period. I’ll only work on it until 11. I’ll get an extra large coffee in the morning. 

That teacher high makes you do crazy things, but it’s all worth it. After all, we do it for the kids.

Until next year, Back to School Night!

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        I hope you enjoyed my take on Back to School Night! If you liked this post, be sure to read "The 10 Stages of Classroom Set-up" and "I'm the Fun Aunt in the World of Education," and share what you think!

Thank you to Shelley at for some survival kit ideas!

Remember all ... respect one another.  Build each other up.  Create positive change.

Happy teaching, 
Kristen Karl
Kristen's Common Core Creations

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