Finding my ice cube


I am a proud dog mom. My furbaby Clark is 100lbs of fluff and slobber. In our home he has a room that he stays in when Sam and I are at work. He is still puppish, and if given the opportunity he loves to shred scarfs, papers, and the fur on my winter boots.

When Sam and I get home it is like jail break. My puppy gets super giddy, does a happy dance, and gets as far as he can away from that room.

If I were to put a treat in his room, Clark would stay in the living room..

If I were to put water in water in his bowl, Clark would stay in the living room.

You have probably heard the idiom, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”. Standing just under 4 foot tall, but dog is practically a mini horse. As much as I fill his bowl, he is not going to drink water. He is not a dumb dog. He knows that if he gets put in the room that he is going to get stuck there.

However, if you were to grab an ice cube from the freezer and drop it in his bowl. No matter where Clark is, he comes running.

I can lead my dog to water, but he will not drink  on his own. He needs more than that. He needs ice cubes.

On several occasions I have heard this idiom compared to teaching. You can teach a student, but it is their job to learn. It is not the teacher’s.

This is the problem that I have been reflecting on lately.

Upon an unsuccessful senior presentation my principal said with a laugh, “I don’t blame the student, I blame the teacher”.

I blame the teacher.

Wow, did that cut deep.

I take being wrong like Mega Mind…




When he was finished with the presentation, I sat down and asked him how he thought it went. He was hesitant. I think that he could read the faces of the people in the room.

Together we reviewed what he missed and what I observed. I instructed him that he would need to present again. Before he could do so, I airdropped the recording and asked him to see how he could improve. He will present later this week.

I thought that I gave the student everything he needed from day 1. I had all of the rubrics, papers, projects, and he came in several times to work on assignments.

I worked with him, but now reflecting… Did I find his ice cube?

There are gaps in my teaching. Lucky for me, I will not have another senior presentation until May. Until then, I will be searching for my students’ ice cube.




Marathon Teaching


Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. As the bitter string of winter’s evanesce fills my lungs with a gentle reminder of how sweet air is. The rhythmic pounding of my feet electrifying my soul through my sole. My arms hidden under layers of warmth, swing back and forth propelling me forward.

…but in my mind I think

What did I sign up for?

Last March I decided to take the bold step of participating in Chicago’s Shamrock Shuffle 8K race. I say bold, because up until this point I had only done one other race in my life and it was a fun run 5K at my college.

I was no stranger to the idea of running. Living next to Lincoln Park, I would frequently run in the morning. I never measured my distance or timed my running. I moseyed along until I found something to consume. It varied between coffee, doughnuts, and french macaroons. The exertion justified the consumption. It is all about balance. So naturally when someone suggested I sign up for the race, I thought “yeah I could do that”.

A 8K, if anyone is wondering, is 5 miles. This does not sound like a lot, but when the only running you do is casual at best. It was rougher than expected. Despite my body telling me to quit, I was able to complete my first “real” race.

I use the word “I”, but I cannot take the credit solely. The day that I signed up for the race, I received a safety net of support. Throughout the race I was showered with encouragement and support. The night before the race I was showered with goodies and gear. The morning of the race fellow racers and volunteers were there to help in anyway possible. During the race strangers cheered me on and gave me high fives. After the race the lady next to me gave me her beer tickets and I think I hugged her.


For me, what got me through the race was the support. This probably makes runner’s cringe reading this, but there is a hype around races that propels racers to do their best. As of tomorrow, I will have finished my first semester teaching and it feels like a marathon. The biggest reason that I am crossing this finish line is, because of my support group. I have a fabulous mentor that knows when I need something even before I know I need something. I have an instructional coach that is wise and inspires my creativity. I have on Facebook several ICTE groups that I know if I ever need anything I will have responses all over Iowa. I may be a Facebook creep, but I read almost every post in the group. ICTE is full of so many inspiring people.

The race is over and I am so proud of myself.

Does this make me an expert teacher? Not by any means! I may have finished the race, but that was not the best I could do. I could improve my time, breathing, and pacing.

There are so, so many things that I want to change and improve on, and I never want to lose that feeling. It is that feeling that ignites passion.

The month of January is all about resolutions. Here are my teacher resolution to make me a better teacher.

Something I want to try: I want to include more writer’s workshops, creative writing, and student choice.

Something I want to improve: I want to improve my feedback. I want to have more conferences and letters.

Something I want to change: I want to stop working or policing free read time. I want to be able to model reading to my students.

Non-teaching: I want to get better at running. 😉