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What I’ve learned my first year out of the classroom!

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Hi, My Loves∼

Hope your summer is off to a great start!!!

As you all know I left the classroom last November, as a teacher, but returned as a literacy coach working primarily with teachers in the classroom side by side focusing on everything literacy.  Not that I am an expert as I am still learning.

Most of my work involved having conversations with teachers and administrators to find areas in which teachers wanted to continue growing. With the hope that students would benefit academically.

Research shows that if we can get children on or above reading level in the early years before 3rd grade, their chances of success across the board increases.  We also know that reading – as cliche as it sounds – is FUNDAMENTAL.

“We know that children who are not kindergarten ready are half as likely to read well by third grade, and research has shown that quality pre-K has lasting positive impacts on children’s health, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes,” said CLI CEO Joel Zarrow. “We are grateful for the opportunity to support teachers in implementing effective early literacy practices and fostering student growth so that more children enter kindergarten fully prepared. While CLI has been supporting pre-K instruction for over 15 years, RFA’s evaluation will help us to continue refining and improving our Blueprint curriculum and professional development so that we continue to see even better outcomes for students and teachers.” Children’s Literacy Initiative

Anyway with all that said I went into the classrooms armed with research and some best practice models to support teachers. Hopefully.

Now I have to say I was a little worried and maybe slightly intimidated, after all who was I to tell anyone that it could be done better.  My experience as a teacher reminded me that as  teachers we are very possessive of our classrooms and our students.

We already have plenty of folks telling us what we are doing wrong, so I wanted to make sure that I celebrated my teachers for all their accomplishments first and recognized the amazing work they were already doing.  I entered the classroom with a different approach – educators are always learning and growing.

Now I have to say that being on the outside looking in, I don’t really know how I lasted as long as I did.

Teaching has to be the most unappreciated profession out there.  Like literally at the bottom of the career totem pole.

It’s a wonder we even have people who still want to teach.

Talk about the pressures!!!  My teachers never knew from one day to the next what to expect.  They were bombarded daily with data, data, data.  They were bombarded with daily mandates to try this and or that,  never giving one thing a chance to see if it worked.  They were bombarded with daily walkthroughs by individuals – groups of individuals – who are so far removed from the realities that occur in the classrooms telling them “students are failing because you’re failing”.

Imagine going to work everyday knowing that others already thought you failed?!?!

I found myself clearly being able to empathize as I was fresh out of the classroom.

I would walk into classrooms to find my teachers rushing to meet deadlines, testing deadlines, bulletin board deadlines, pressure to increase reading scores with no regard to all it entails to be prepared to enter classrooms and teach all with a smile and hunched shoulders. Sad.

Let me explain to you all that is required to go into a classroom to teach your children.

Lesson plans so detailed that it takes hours and hours to prepare without a curriculum to fall back on or use as a resource.  Analyzing of data to see where they failed and what needs to be done to do better.  Testing on a weekly sometimes daily basis.  Differentiation of independent work time to 20 students sometimes more because a teacher is out for weeks sometimes months without a substitute.  Missed preps (planning time) that are crucial planning for teachers so they have less to take home.  Going into grade level meetings where you are not asked for your input but rather told what to do by people who do not know your kids.  Leveling libraries, posting student work monthly with constructive feedback students can’t understand.  Literally squeezing every minute, every second of everyday with so much “stuff” it’s too much to list.

My head spins just thinking about it.

All of this without one word of appreciation from ANYONE, sometimes parents included because they’ve been sucked into this culture of you need to pressure your kids to do more more more- some of which is not even developmentally appropriate.

And FYI, this is at the primary level, Kindergarten to 2nd grade, let’s not even talk about the upper grades.

Listen at the end of the day we all want our children to strive in schools.  To feel loved and cared for.  But isn’t it time to just stop and let teachers teach?  I thought if the goal is to get our students to love reading, why not let them read? Why not let them manipulate books? Why not let children develop a love of reading so they can desire reading? Why not allow teachers to model what reading is? Holding a book in a quiet corner of the classroom while everyone interacts with books.

Why is a 1st grader expected to think critically about books instead of enjoying them?

Anyway, I am getting off on a tangent, but you get the drift, right? I hope.

I don’t know if this is the end all, be all for me, however, I did learn that teachers really need a cheerleader in their corner and I hope I was that for the teachers I met and worked with. teacher7

They were one of the most caring, dedicated, and professional bunch I’ve ever worked with and I give them KUDOS for the work they do- day in, day out.

Teaching is not an easy task, it requires a person to really love it, to do it well.

So the next time you think about your child and teachers and schools remember this:

Teachers are not only educators, they are nurses, social workers, psychologists, and even parents to your children who you have entrusted to them for nearly 8 hours a day if you count before school and after care. teachers6

Teachers don’t need accolades.  I didn’t.  I just wanted someone to believe in me and that I was doing my best work, out of love.

So thank a teacher next time you go for a parent teacher conference, or an event a school or even merely seeing your child’s teacher out at Target or something.

I learned a lot this year and know I have so much more to grow and learn to do my best work.

One of my favorite quotes is from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 16:14, “Do everything in love.”

I know I try every time I walk into my school building and I know the teachers I worked with definitely do!

Thanks my loves for stopping by and reading.  Happy Summer!

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♥LolaUncorked

 

 

 

 

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We have the power to create a positive life…

Hi, My Loves ∼

Happy Wednesday!

I’ve been wanting to jump on here to talk about a great conversation I had this weekend about positive energy and visualization and law of attraction and all those buzz words about creating a better life.

I read a lot of personal growth books and listen to so many podcasts.  Recently, I’ve been listening to Eckhart Tolle and Oprah dissect A New Earth chapter by chapter.  For those of you who are familiar with A New Earth, it’s exactly about that- creating a new spiritual earth through our thoughts and actions. But more importantly this idea of letting go of the ego and staying in the present.

Anyway, I was asked this weekend if I really believed in this idea of being positive and 300848-Once-You-Replace-Negative-Thoughts-With-Positive-Ones-You-ll-Start-Having-Positive-Resultscreating positive energy. and law of attraction.  And how all that works out for me in my life.

The first thing that I want to say and said this weekend is that any type of spiritual practice requires daily and intentional focus in order for it create change.  We are human beings and we are prone to falling off the wagon- often.  Many times we give up and we say that’s it, but really what we should be doing is resetting and hopping back on the wagon.

At the beginning of this year I made a commitment to keep getting back on the spiritual wagon no matter how many times I fell off or how long I stayed off.

And this is what I’ve noticed.

Typically the beginning of the year is always a hard time for me financially.  It’s after the holidays, a time I overspent.  Sometimes I am backed up in my bills so I am playing a lot of catch up until income tax time.  Then income tax refund comes and I can’t really enjoy the refund because I am still playing catch up.  I spend a lot of the new year stressed out and worried about money.

This year has been a very different experience.  I’ve been blessed and abundant in so many ways and I know it has a lot to do with staying positive and letting go of the things I can not control.

  1. Stress is useless.  Really.  Stress is created when we worry about the things we can NOT control. The past nor the future. Listen I am not saying you shouldn’t give a crap if your past due on bills or making ends meet.  Try this exercise the next time you open a bill that you are like “Shit, I can’t pay this.”
    • Sit looking at the bill.  You can’t pay it right? So then what?  Does stress help you pay it? Probably not.  Does money appear from anywhere the longer you look at it?  No.  If you go to bed crying, can you pay it? No.

   What if you shifted your focus from the bill to what you already have –  your                     health, your cute little grandson, a job, etc.?  How does that feel the moment you            start being grateful for what you have?  There should be a shift in your energy                  because now you are focused on what is, not what could have been or will be                    because at the end of the day we have no control over those things.

2. Second is that the only person that can control my mood is me.  How often have you heard someone say “Ugh, he just totally pissed me off.”  Why?  The reason you’re still pissed off over someone’s actions is because you can’t control it.  And the reality is who cares?  I mean, why do we give people so much power over our emotions?

Let it Go.
Let. It. Go.

One of my favorite quotes is “People do the best they can with what they know.”  When I have an interaction with someone that has the potential of putting me in a bad mood, I repeat that quote over and over again until it doesn’t even matter anymore.  Does this make sense?  I hope so.

3. Lastly, I am the only person that can set the tone for my day.  If I say  I am going to have a great day, I pretty much always do by just making that statement.  Really, it’s true.  Because once I make that statement I pretty subconsciously take steps to make it happen.  I dress nicer.  I might put on a bright lipstick.  I play happy music on the way to work.  I post positive quotes on my social media.  I greet people with a smile, kind word and make eye contact. I mean I could go and on.

So going a back to my conversation this weekend, yes I believe that we create our own positive energy and that we can attract it.  Our minds are so much more powerful than we think.

I believe that if we staying the present moment and focusing on what is right here right now, we change the shift in our attitudes and moods.  Take every opportunity you can to give thank, for every little thing good or bad in your life. Because it all matters and serves a purpose.

Most importantly, remember it’s not how many times you start or try, it’s that you keep on that counts. Inspirational-Quotes-About-Being-Positive-And-Being-Negative

So with that all said, I challenge you today and for the rest of the week to get up each day, regardless of how terrible things may seem (because that’s an illusion) and commit to having a great day and being positive and grateful.  Then come in a week and tell me how it went.

See you soon!

LolaUncorked♥

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50 Things I Want To Do In My 50s

old-ageHi, My Loves∼

So as you all know I am turning 50 in about a week.  That’s a big one. It actually seems surreal.

You know how people often say, “Oh you don’t look like you’re 30, 40 or 50!” Like what exactly does any age look like? I am not sure what 50 should look or feel like.  I guess it feels exactly how I feel right now.

And I feel pretty awesome.  In a great place.  I love my job.  I have an amazing family.  A nice circle of friends.  I have health most importantly, but I feel like, and maybe some of you guy feel same- I feel like there are so many things I haven’t done. So I have compiled a list of things I want to do this year, experiences I want to have, places I want to go.

I’ve been really thinking about things I’ve always wanted to do and have not done yet. So in commemoration of my blogs one year anniversary – here is my list of  50 things I want to do in my 50s. (And these are not in any particular order of importance.)

  1. Do more yoga. Like aside from the physical I would like to know yoga with my yogaspirit.
  2. Go to Maine and eat lobster.
  3. Move to a nicer, bigger place. Maybe even become a homeowner.
  4. Skydive, though I don’t know if I’ll actually do it.
  5. Go to Europe, I’ve never been.
  6. Blog more.  At least once a week. Really grow my blog and hopefully do some influencing.
  7. Write. Start writing that book. About what? I’m not sure yet.
  8. Probably take some writing lessons in order to write that book.
  9. Run a marathon.
  10. Sell at least 5 homes this year.
  11. Go visit Graceland. I am a huge Elvis fan.
  12. Become debt free.
  13. Go on a family vacation with my girls and grandkids – something as simple as the shore.
  14. Volunteer more.
  15. Take a road trip cross country.
  16. Meditate more.
  17. Create a meditating space at home.
  18. Find a Buddhist temple near me and engage in some learning.
  19. Read more books- hard copies!
  20. Spend more time with my mom. Create some kind of a tradition/ritual with her.
  21. Journal EVERYDAY.
  22. Write a letter to Oprah. Don’t ask. Hopefully get a response.

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    Self-care is most important in my 50s.
  23. More self-care things like monthly massages and/or facials.
  24. Grow my hair and possibly let it gray naturally.
  25. Declutter. Really live minimally.
  26. See my dad more often.
  27. Learn some basic photography.
  28. Start a Vlog
  29. Send birthday cards to people instead of a social media post.
  30. Work out at least 5 times a week
  31. Move away from Facebook.
  32. Speak more Spanish to my grandbabies.
  33. Maybe learn another language – I love Portuguese, BUT I know some Italian, sooo maybe.
  34. Apply to be on a game show – I’ve done this several times (never made it) – the freaking application for Wheel of Fortune is insane.
  35. Play in the rain/mud.
  36. Spend more time down the shore
  37. Live a healthier lifestyle overall
  38. Learn how to swim finally!
  39. Quit drinking alcohol.
  40. Go parasailing.
  41. Take tango lessons.
  42. Create a daily practice of journaling, meditating, exercising, and eating healthy.
  43. Be kinder to people – smile more (guilty of RBF). LOL!
  44. Build my family tree (I did my DNA and it was sooo interesting).
  45. Go ziplining again – IT was amazing.
  46. Visit an ashram.
  47. Visit more bookstores.
  48. Celebrate NYE on an island somewhere.

Isn’t this list amazing?  Now listen, clearly I can’t do all of this in ONE year, but you best believe I am starting.

I will reflect on this list throughout this year and make sure I am making moves to check off these 50 items off my bucket list in my 50s.

What’s on your list of things to do?  You don’t have to wait until your 30, 40 or 50 to start your list and to start checking off those things that stir your soul.

Life is so short and in my almost 50 years, I’ve seen how quickly a life is snuffed out whether to disease or accident.  I have been blessed thus far and I’ve done a lot, but there is more I want to do and plan to do!

Someone I knew once said, “Don’t wait for another day or another hour or another time.  Go and Do It. Now” – Kyrzayda –

So just watch me guys!  Here’s to 50!

Happy birthday to me!

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Cheers to me!

Thanks for stopping by and reading.  Make sure to like, comment, share and follow!

LolaUncorked♥

 

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You can’t buy happiness, but you can definitely buy books…

Hi, My Loves!

Let me tell you here is something magical about finding a quaint little bookstore in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a city.  A place you can slip into and escape the outside noise.  That’s not exactly what happened to me, but close enough.  I found this treasure on a quiet side street in Montclair (NJ).

If any of you know Montclair, have visited, worked, or lived in Montclair (or still do) you know that Montclair is known for its chic little boutiques, bougie international eateries, yoga studios and cozy cafes.  It’s a mini NYC right in our very own backyard.   https://www.montclairnjusa.org/

We weren’t looking for a bookstore.  We meaning myself, my photographer, Geraldine and her assistant.  We were just looking for a location to shoot some photos for my blog when we happened upon the Watchung Booksellers, a cute bookstore near the train station.   https://www.watchungbooksellers.com/.   

I literally felt like Dorothy arriving in Oz or Cinderella at the ball.  Watchung Booksellers has got to be the cutest little gem I’ve come across in a long time.  It was like a three scoop sundae with all the toppings! Want to know what the cherry on top was? Well, even if you don’t I will tell you anyway.   

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Look at that smile….books stores feel like home to me…

As I walked in absorbing the wooden shelves, rows of books and cozy reading areas, I turned to my left and to my wandering eyes what should I see?

A little cafe – Da Pepo.  Complete with chalkboard announcing “Wait to be seated”, wine glasses for BYOB, farm-style grey washed tables where you could partake of paninis and things. 

I wanted to squeal like a kid on Christmas morning!  We immediately took over the cafe, after ordering three coffees and asking for permission to shoot some photos, of course.

We were having a ton of fun and just loved the space, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the bookstore next door.  I had peeped a wooden stepladder through the connecting doorway and I really, really, really wanted some photos on it!  I kept thinking Carrie Bradshaw with my cute french beret.

I finally asked an employee if we could take photos.  I explained that I am a blogger who blogs about a little bit of everything and I loved their space and really wanted pictures.  She referred me to a younger girl who I guess is in charge of social media.  She asked about my blog, agreed to the photos and asked that I tag her so they can follow me. Oh! She also asked for my blog site so they could follow it! Winning!  

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Books, books, and more books!

Look I know we have bookstores like Barnes and Noble and they serve their purpose, but it’s so big and bright and formal.  This book store was small and quaint and familiar.

Now let me back up a second.  I wasn’t planning on writing about this bookshop – it really was just a prop.  But something stirred in me as I walked around, posed, touched and smelled books.  A long hidden memory was tickling the edges of my mind.

And then I suddenly remembered a bookstore I used to frequent  (no let me rephrase that – nearly lived in ) back in Passaic where I grew up.  I can’t remember but I believe it was just called the Passaic Bookstore.  It was located at the end of Main street.  I remember spending hours a day several times a day after school in there as a depressed and angry teen.  LOL!

I would get lost picking up books, touching them, browsing, reading the first few pages trying to decide if it was worth the 75 cents it cost (clearance shelf).  And there was so much clutter!!!  Heavenly clutter! Every wall was lined with books, aisles had baskets filled with books and little tables piled high with more,  nooks and crannies where you could hide and get lost in.  

I remembered  that when I was no more than 15 or 16, I told myself I wanted to own a little bookstore when I grew up.  

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Cozy cafe attached to the bookstore…Da Pepo…Go check them out…they literally had a soft opening the day before the shoot..

I wanted something that felt like someone’s living room with dark wooden shelves, comfy plush seats, the smell of coffee brewing in the background mingled with the smell of old pages in a book. 

I haven’t held a book and read in a long time.  I used to read 3 or 4 books a month growing up.  Now I listen to 1 -2 books a year on Audible because I am always running around.  I have to say it’s not the same half-listening to a book while waiting to order coffee at the drive thru.

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Books are like heaven to me!!

I didn’t buy any books that day as much as I wanted to, but something about that bookstore stirred a long dormant love of books.  I don’t know if I will ever own my own bookstore, but I will definitely be going back to the little community bookstore in Montclair because if I can walk into a space that brings me as much joy as it did that’s a place I need to frequent more often.

Thanks for stopping by lovies! PC|geri_1221   http://www.geritorres.com/

P.S. Here a list of some of my favorite books EVERRRR! (I hope you share yours with me too!)

  1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  2. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  4. Pillars of the Earth . by Ken Follet
  5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (of Course!)
  6. Passing by Nella Larsen (A MUST READ!)
  7. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Marquez
  8. Counte of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  9. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  10. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

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♥LolaUncorked