Celebration Saturday: June 15th. 2014 – A day late, but much to celebrate

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Celebrate with Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes  …. because, we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get!

I haven’t celebrated with Ruth Ayres and her Saturday folks in a while – partly because I’ve been juggling so many projects, and partly because I sometimes feel as though in some ways  I am swimming upstream and against an immovable tide all week – so there is little energy left on Saturday to celebrate.  But I always check in to see what my friends are celebrating on Ruth’s site… their joy and positivism, especially about all the magic they make in their classrooms  is infectious.  I need that.

Yesterday morning, Carrie Gelson posted an absolutely wonderful celebration about a colleague, and about her kids. I could spend all day reading this post over and over again – it is a powerful reminder that as teachers we are there for our kids, to work together to create environments that push their thinking and nourish their souls.  Reading Carrie’s post, I decided that I would push aside the week’s negativity, the things I am not able to control,  and focus instead on what was achieved – the things I should to celebrate…even though it isn’t Saturday anymore (and I have a feeling that Ruth won’t mind):

Wrapping up a year of learning :

We spent Friday going over our learning year in writing-reading-social studies.  There on the reading rug, sitting in our “let’s ponder and discuss ” circle, my kids shared what they considered to be the ups and downs of their year with me.  I loved listening to their comments and suggestions, I loved how seriously they considered all that we had been doing, and I loved how they tried to view things from the teacher’s perspective – that they understood the serious purpose of our being together in the first place: learning.

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How, even at the end of a long school year, even though they are tired of being in school, when I ask them to come together once more to think about important themes we have investigated in our final chalk talk, the classroom grows quiet and my kids get to work and think:

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I celebrate my kids and their desire to learn.

Basking in the learning community in Room 202:

I am most proud of the learning community we become in our classroom – without that essential feeling of trust and support, we would not be able to write, read, share ideas, and grow new ones.  Although I feel this spirit every day and in so many ways, it becomes so much more evident  when it is finally time to make a list of “Where we’re from” ideas to create our end of the year poem – all the memories and threads that connect us as a group come together in one place:

Where We’re From

We’re from 202 and Smithlings,

from comfy chairs and study lunch.

From quiet reading times to

feisty discussions-

who we are and who we are


We’re from learning tools and learning rules

(of work hard, be kind, “turn it in”

and “be on time.”)

We’re from projects and writing,

from gallery walks and turn and talks.

From Reading Journals to “unpacking poetry” –

discovering ourselves through words

and what they can mean.

We’re from our sixth grade year –

from learning and sharing and

thinking, and imagining.


We’re from book clubs and Rice Krispie treats

from Red Kayak to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

We’re from books, books, books,

and talk, talk, talk.

From laughter and jokes,

and “I have five questions and six comments.”


We’re from the Slice of Life and Ms. Kaplan,

from stories we wrote and lives we shared.

We’re from “Sentence Smackdown” to Wonderopolis,

from things we loved doing,

and things we learned to (kinda) love.


We’re from “Smith is the name,

and teaching’s the game” to

“I will come after you with a wet noodle!”

We’re from worrying about lockers and lunch,

to wondering about who we are, and the people

we want to be.

We’re from friendship and forgiveness,

From being true and being kind.


We’re from a classroom family,

together for just a year.

From a time of making lasting memories,

so many of which make us smile.

In our room there will always be  our pictures,

snapshots of all the moments

we’ve shared together.

We are from those moments,

even now…when we will say for one last time:

“Goodbye, and be well….”

I celebrate the learning community we’ve worked so hard to create.

Leaning on and learning from my online PLN:

I really don’t know what I would do without my virtual colleagues who share the books they read and love, and the learning experiences they work hard to create every day of the week.    Connecting with each of them on our  blogs and on Facebook and Twitter has enriched my teaching life so much.    I wish I had each of you to walk down the hall to, a cup of coffee and the latest PD or YA book in hand.  But, our online community allows me to peek into your classrooms in Denver and Dublin, discover what’s new in San Diego and St. Louis.  And, our Twitter chats allow us to share insights and resources.  I can always count on supportive comments when I blog, and (better yet) questions and ideas to push my thinking.  When I wrote about using Google docs in my writing workshop, for example, Emily and Leigh Anne wrote back to say “YES! –  but here are five more things you can do!” – instant PD!  When I texted Rachel to ask if she’d be interested in collaborating over Skype this summer since she’s returning to teaching 6th. grade in her Denver school, she responded with an enthusiastic, “Sure! What do you have in mind and when can we get started?”   All of you may not be next door and down the hallway…but sometimes it certainly feels like it!

                                            nerdy bookcyber pd Mon Reading Button PB to YA  NF-PB-2014


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I celebrate my virtual colleagues – thank you for always being there for me.


9 thoughts on “Celebration Saturday: June 15th. 2014 – A day late, but much to celebrate

  1. Tara, I’m glad you’re celebrating! I love, love, love, love the Where We’re From poem! I’m totally doing this next year. That’s an awesome idea! I shared your Google Docs post with other teachers. I think it will help out teachers new to using this technology a lot. And finally, I agree…my virtual colleagues inspire me when I feel like there’s nothing left! Thanks for the great celebrations!

  2. I’m so glad you decided to share your celebrations this week. You have so much to celebrate! Your where I’m from is an experience I wish every child and teacher could live during their education every year. I love the term “Smithlings”! The world shrinks when we have virtual friends who reach out and make a difference in our lives. You make that difference for me. 🙂

  3. I’m finally home & getting to read a few of other’s posts & celebrations. Your poem is wonderful, Tara, & speaks so beautifully of the teacher you are. I love being your “mostly” virtual friend, & wish we could teach down the hall from each other. This PD of all of ours is really something to be grateful for, is it not? Happy final days with your special class!

  4. This is wonderful, Tara! I love the idea of writing a “Where We’re From” poem as a class; what a joyful way to celebrate a year of learning together. I completely agree with you about the value of this virtual community. I can’t imagine what we ever did without it! Thank you for always pushing my thinking forward. Have a wonderful time in Boothbay!

  5. I did not write a celebration post or a slice this week because I have also been swimming upstream. I sat tonight and started reading a few because I really do miss it. So glad I stopped here – thanks for the shout-out. I am really excited about all the things Google docs has to offer. I am just waiting for more time to explore. I am moving to 6th grade – it is official at 8:00 tomorrow morning – so I have been packing up my room this past week along with working at our writing camp. I may be picking your brain this summer on how to teach 6th graders.

  6. Tara – first – many, many thank yous for letting me know that my post was an inspiration! Miriam is my inspiration so I am very happy to share! This Where We’re From poem shouts learning and community. Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. I have often seen Where I’m From as a beginning of year poetry. Writing it collaboratively as a class for an end of year reflection/celebration makes it into a beautiful gift.
    Thank you for writing here and at TWT.

  8. Hi Tara, I came back to Saturday celebrations this week for the exact same reason as you. It is much needed. I love your collaborative I am From poem. I have done them for several years as Christmas or Mother’s Day gifts with my kids, but never had I thought about writing one collaboratively. It’s a wonderful idea!

  9. Tara, when I read your post about Google Docs, I was almost ready to sign up for another year. So many possibilities for writer’s workshop! I’m still hoping that we’ll start our book group for Linda Rief’s new book. Looks like you’ve already read it, and I loved your review of the book. I do wish some of my virtual friends were down the hall, but they are nonetheless some of my favorite PD “go to pals.” Someday I may visit your classroom. How far are you from Ithaca?

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