I absolutely love Miranda Lambert's song "The House That Built Me!" Through the years, there have been people and things that have influenced the teacher I have become and the teacher I am still becoming. Here's my "Top 13!"*
13) First and foremost, I have to mention my Twitter PLN. Until the past few months, I was not a believer in using Twitter for professional development purposes. What. A. Mistake. I have learned so much and made so many incredible connections because of Twitter! Thanks, Tweeps!
12) My students over the past 16+ years have taught me so much! Looking back at photos of former students reminds me over and over again about just how much I've learned from my 6 and 7 year olds.
11) My colleagues over the years have been a powerful force in influencing what I do in my classroom just as much as what I don't do! It's amazing how colleagues can show you who you want to be as a teacher and who you don't want to be.
10) Mr. Madalinski was my 4th grade teacher, and I will never, ever forget the enjoyment and laughter he brought to the classroom! He laughed, sang, played, and learned right alongside of us.
9) Janean Hansel was my principal for over 10 years. She was an incredibly talented speaker and reading teacher. I would not be the teacher I am today if she hadn't challenged and encouraged me in so many ways!
8) Marilyn Meyers was my cooperating teacher when I student taught many, many moons ago! Through her, I gained my desire to read professional resource books and know what is going on in the field of education.
7) Donalyn Miller (author of The Book Whisperer) taught me to share my reading life and really talk to my first graders about books they're reading. She also validated my enormous classroom library!
6) "The Sisters" Gail Boushey and Joan Moser have brought serenity back to my classroom! Implementing the Daily Five and Cafe has been incredibly powerful for me and my little friends. I would HIGHLY recommend looking into it if you haven't already!
5) Ok, I have to say... there are probably a lot of other author/teachers that have influenced me as well. People like Debbie Miller, Regie Routman, Franki Sibberson, and so many more have each left their imprint on who I am as a teacher.
4) Northwest Illinois Operation Snowball was a leadership group I joined in high school. I would not be the person I am today without NIOS! The people I met are my best friends to this day. The lessons I learned there made me a better person and are watermarked on my soul.
3) My all-time favorite teacher was my first grade teacher, Mrs. McCamman. One thing that sticks out in my mind is how Mrs. Mac was right by my side during our weekly presidential fitness runs (that I dreaded!) Her loving encouragement has stuck with me in my teaching.
2) Without the loving support of my family, I'd be lost! Whether it's laughing about my latest "Oh, you have to see this!" moment, shaking their heads at my huge pile of TBR books, or visiting my classroom, I know they love me and support what I do. I also have so many wonderful memories of my incredible childhood out in the country. My life wouldn't be the same without my family by my side.
1) The Chicago Cubs. Yes, you read that right. The Cubs. The only team that hasn't won a World Series in over 100 years. I bleed Cubbie blue. My die-hard love of the Cubs has taught me to never, ever, ever, ever give up. I believe that with my students and with my teaching, too. Even when things seem impossible and can't get any worse... there's always next year. :)
*I have to laugh when I use a "Top ... List!" No matter how many or how few numbers I gave my kids this year, inevitably they would need to add lines to finish their thoughts. It led me to realize that it doesn't always have to be a neat and tidy number. Sometimes a Top 10 just doesn't fit nicely!
Thanks for reading!