In reflection…

· Where I’ve Been ·

Overall, the R2P blogging experience challenged me in a new and interesting way.  Prior to developing my own posts, I always viewed blogs as a simple and fun resource.  While I still find posts engaging and interesting to read, I now understand the complex process behind composing a blog post.  Whenever I began to craft my posts, I spent a significant amount of time considering the three aspects of the rhetorical triangle.  Since the majority of my assignments in college require formal academic writing, this experience forced me to think differently.  While the writing was still supposed to be professional, I had to figure out how to simultaneously make the message conversational and inviting through my word choice.  Further, I gained experience creating an appealing format for my site and finding reliable, yet practical, resources for my readers.  Despite feeling overwhelmed by the task of creating a blog from scratch at the beginning, I have grown to learn how to craft a succinct, engaging, and informative story through this experience.

· Where I’m Going ·

Prior to this experience, I never saw myself creating a blog page or website.  Now that I have learned how to set up a blog and have practiced writing posts, however, I feel more likely to maintain one in the future.  Once I begin teaching in my own classroom, blogging could be a great way to showcase my favorite strategies and share the lessons I learn through my experiences.  Joining the blogging community can also expose me to new ideas in return.  Currently, I believe that the R2P experience will help me as I begin to construct the website for my e-portfolio.  I am excited to see what the future holds and send best wishes for everyone in their teaching careers!

How to Get Through the Final Stretch

Hello! Welcome back 🙂 While my previous post walked parents through creating a schedule for their littles, this conversation is designed for all of my teacher friends.

· Spring Has Sprung ·

Spring flowers typically signal a rebirth and coming back to life, yet it feels like life is only continuing to shut down.  Sure, the global pandemic led to the closing of your physical classroom, but as you and I both know, teaching never ends!  As you grapple with and adjust to these new ways of educating your students, the end-of-year teacher burnout has probably taken on a whole new level of meaning.

Now, more than ever, it is especially important that we take a step back, breathe (do it with me, inhale… and exhale…), and make time for ourselves.  As teachers, we have a tendency to want to give 100% to our students all the time.  I get it.  I am one of those people.  There are times, however, when we can actually give more by first giving back to ourselves.  Now is one of those times.

· Losing Steam ·

As you shift to remote instruction, have you been experiencing feelings of sadness, helplessness, exhaustion, disconnection, continuing stress, or uncertainty?  You should know that all of these feelings are valid, but you may be experiencing burnout.  Teacher burnout is becoming an increasing issue in education as teachers face pressures from the public, high-stakes testing, and school districts, while striving to optimally serve their students.  Currently, the rapid shift to online instruction is likely an additional source of stress.  While you have limited control over these outside demands, you do have the power to make your own lifestyle choices.

· Rest and Relaxation ·

As strange as it may sound, relaxing does not come naturally to everyone.  I personally try to fill my schedule to avoid the awkward feeling of having nothing to do.  Whether you have mastered the art of relaxation, or you are forcing yourself to take a break like me, here are some strategies for promoting your mental health and preventing burnout during these uncertain times:

  1. Be active: Go for a walk or run, dust off the weights, kick a ball around with your family, or dance!  Any form of exercise will take your mind off the school work and restore your energy.
  2.  Play games: Games are a perfect way to relax and bond with family.  You can even get everyone together virtually for games such as Yahtzee and Scattergories.
  3. Try yoga: Yoga has been found to alleviate stress by combining physical poses with breathing exercises and meditation.  You can get started with some of these exercises.
  4. Embrace music: Music has a healing power and provides an outlet for emotional expression.  Make music, listen or sing along to your favorite songs, or check out one of the many virtual concerts taking place.  Who knows, maybe your favorite band is scheduled to perform live in your house!
  5. Chat with friends and family: Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, the options are endless.  Remember, we can and should stay connected with people who matter during these times of physical separation. 
  6. Write: Writing can help declutter your brain and release some of the stress you experience.  You may want to write in a private journal or publicly on a blog.  Wix Sites and Google Sites are two free resources you can use to start your own blog.  If you are just looking for a personal outlet, gratitude journals can also help foster a positive attitude.
  7. Laugh: They say laughter is the best medicine, and it actually relieves stress and improves your mood.  Watch a funny movie, read entertaining books, or find something else that makes you smile!
  8. Sleep: You may find it difficult to stick to your normal bedtime when school no longer starts at 8:00 a.m.  Try to follow a schedule that allows for seven to eight hours of rest, as this helps your brain function optimally and ensures that you feel refreshed in the morning.

I included my personal favorites above, but these websites have additional activities you may want to try:

· Now What? ·

Now that you have made your way through the post, is your first thought “Okay, so what am I teaching tomorrow?”  If so, I suggest you think again.  In the long run, we will not be able to give our all if we overlook caring for ourselves.  This time of overwhelming newness is the perfect opportunity to create a lifestyle change.  Try something that will restore YOU.  The light is all around us, we just have to learn to let it in.

· References ·

Drolette, E. M. (2020). Strategies for Preventing Teacher Burnout in Early Childhood Education. Exchange (19460406), 252, 40–42.

Harteneck, P. (2015, October 27). 9 ways you can improve your mental health today. Psychology Today.

Harvard Health Publishing. (2009, April). Yoga for anxiety and depression.

McCarthy, J. (2020, April 10). Prioritizing self-care while working from home. Edutopia.

National Institutes of Health. (2013, April). The benefits of slumber: Why you need a good night’s sleep. News in Health.

National Institutes of Health. (2018, December 10). Emotional wellness toolkit.

Provenzano, N. (2016, May 16). Stop, drop, and roll with it: Teacher burnout prevention. Edutopia.

Suh, R. (2019). Teacher Burnout. Salem Press Encyclopedia.

Tams, L. (2013, October 15). The role of music in stress management. MSU Extension.

Tapp, F. (n.d.) Teacher burnout: Causes, symptoms, and prevention. Hey Teach.

University of Michigan. (n.d.) Ten things you can do for your mental health.

Navigating the New “Normal”: Establishing Structure Amidst Uncertainty

Hi everyone! Welcome back to my blog 🙂 If this is your first time visiting my page, you may want to check out my first post “Educational Inspirations” to learn about my perspective on education. Today, I decided to address the world of change we all experienced within the last month. My hope is that this will help relieve some of your stress!

I understand how you’re feeling.

A few weeks ago everything was status quo, and suddenly a seemingly unending storm commenced. As a parent of a young child, or several, you are most likely trying to figure out how to keep your ship afloat. I imagine a wide variety of thoughts run through your mind on a daily basis. Perhaps you can relate to one of the following:

          • I did not sign up for homeschooling.
          • I am not qualified for this.
          • How can I possibly teach three children in different grades simultaneously?
          • My kids just will not focus.
          • My children are now living on electronic devices.
          • How do I manage all of their free time?
          • When will I ever find time for my own work?

One simple solution can alleviate some of this recent anxiety: a schedule. While this suggestion will not solve all of the world’s problems, I believe it will help restore your sanity and support your children in the transition to this new lifestyle.

The Beauty of a Routine

In the beginning of the year, your child’s teacher established a daily schedule and routine. This daily schedule with embedded routines provides children with a sense of security. They know what to expect every day they arrive at school, and they also know what the teacher expects of them. On days the class attends an assembly, hosts a speaker, or participates in a special activity, the students trust that their teacher will share these changes with them and address how they impact their daily schedule. Children grow accustomed to this schedule and find comfort in the consistency. It also promotes on-task behavior because the pattern and order of activities is clearly defined.

Just as your schedule has been disrupted, so has theirs. Reestablishing a schedule that accommodates everyone’s diverse agendas will equally benefit you and your child.

Building the Structure

Step #1: Reflect

First, I recommend considering all of the different pieces that must come together in your daily schedule. These will vary from family to family, but you may want to consider the more rigid, scheduled factors first. For example, it is important to ensure that the correct time is set aside for your calls and your child’s class meetings. Next, you can consider other tasks that you and your child must complete, such as cleaning, work sent home from school, and your work that can be finished more flexibly throughout the day.

The more consistent the schedule the better, but life happens. If your work meeting times vary from day to day, you can design a special schedule for each day of the week. This way, Mondays will always follow the same format, as will Tuesdays, and so on. Your child will still catch on to this pattern and find the consistency reassuring. Another option is to schedule blocks of time. For example, 10:00-11:00 could be “math time.” While this window is always your child’s time to engage in math activities, these activities can look different from day to day. When you are available, you may sort and count objects, look at patterns, or draw shapes together. If you have a call, however, your child may play math games on a tablet or computer instead. Regardless, your child knows that 10:00-11:00 is “math time,” and the schedule remains consistent.

It is equally important to set aside time for yourself. During this stressful time, find what brings you happiness, comfort, and peace, and make time for it.

The key to this step of reflection is envisioning how your needs and your child’s needs can be met simultaneously. Dedicate the time you are available to engaging in learning and play with your child, and reserve the independent activities for when you must attend to your own work.

Step #2: Consult Your Children

Your children likely have their own agenda of activities they want to do and need to do. They can also tell you what they usually do at school, and probably share the order of these activities. Engaging them in designing the daily or weekly schedule gives them a sense of agency, which encourages them to buy-in. You respected their interests, and they share ownership in the schedule, so they will be more agreeable in following it with you.

Step #3: Filling in the Gaps

Now you have factored in the “wants” and “needs” of both you and your child. Are you wondering how to fill the rest of the time? Your child’s teacher may have suggested some at-home activities, but I imagine the amount of free time far exceeds the duration of these recommendations. A quick visit to some of the following sites will provide you with ample ideas that will entertain the family for weeks to come!

Wide Open School offers a wide variety of activities for children of all ages. On this website, you can find unplugged activities, videos, online games, and stories for each of the four core subject areas. Further, Wide Open School offers resources for children who are English language learners or have special needs. Finally, your children can take virtual field trips, practice life skills, and engage in activities that support their mental health using this site!

PBS’s Everyday Learning offers lessons pertaining to math, science, social studies, health and wellness, and the arts. Each lesson includes a video and supplemental activity to complete with your child!

Scholastic also provides parents with several activities to engage in with their children ranging from daily literacy-based lessons, to ideas for purposeful play, and daily reading quests.

Have a meeting during your child’s “reading time”? Storyline Online contains numerous videos of celebrities reading children’s favorite stories. Your child can look for their favorite book or star. Either way, I guarantee your child will be content with this story time!

Step #4: Create!

Finally, it is time to bring the schedule to life! If you have a white board handy, you can easily make writing the daily schedule a family activity to start your day. Instead, you may prefer to make your calendar digitally. Canva is one website that offers pre-made schedule templates. Once you navigate to the website click “create a design,” scroll down to “class schedule,” and you are on your way!

Sample schedule from Canva

Whichever format you choose, make sure to display it for everyone to see and reference, as this will enhance accountability. Adding visuals will help your little ones read the schedule too!

Final Thoughts

As we continue to push through these uncertain times in the coming weeks, remember to breathe and think about everything you have to be thankful for. It may not seem like the end is in sight, but we will rise above these trying times.

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius

“The Manips”

“Play with me! Play with me!” the colorful materials tucked away in organized bins appear to call to the young children every morning. While the classroom features at least five open centers at all times, the manipulatives area is always the hub of the room. Each morning you find the carpet enclosed by these materials completely filled with busy children and bins of toys spread everywhere. Teachers barely have room to join in the fun!

Building my own world…

In the manipulatives center, children find delight in building different towers and castles, constructing different patterns, and experimenting with how they can fit pieces of different shapes and sizes together. Sometimes the students enjoy building independently, while other times they work as a group to build the tallest tower using the materials available. Provided with a wide variety of materials, the design possibilities are truly endless for these creative and imaginative individuals. Some of their favorite objects to play with in this center include magnetic tiles, peg boards, and combs.


Magnetic Tiles                                 Peg Boards                                    Combs

The students’ persistent interest in these manipulative materials intrigued me. While the number of students at stations such as the library, writing, and block centers fluctuates from day to day, the manipulatives center is always lively. Noticing the amount of time the children spend experimenting with these materials, I began to consider the advantages these hours of play afford the children. This led me to investigate the question: “How does playing with manipulatives benefit young learners?”

…prepares me for success in the future.

Providing access to objects that children can physically manipulate is essential to the development of their understanding of the physical world. When children play with blocks, magnets, and other materials, they construct spatial-mathematical reasoning, develop skills related to planning and executing, strengthen their problem-solving abilities, explore the properties of the objects they work with, and observe and experience magnetic and gravitational forces. Therefore, children build their foundation for the study of STEM disciplines through these captivating play experiences. Every time a child plays with the magnetic tiles, they physically experience the behaviors of positive and negative forces. Similarly, whenever a resounding CRASH is heard throughout the classroom, a child has witnessed the force of gravity acting on their once majestic tower. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of manipulatives in fostering the development of these STEM-related skills and understandings, check out the article Children’s Exploration of Physical Phenomena During Object Play by clicking here.

Miss H and “The Manips”

As a person with an inconcealable passion for math, I highly anticipate incorporating manipulatives into my future classroom. Why? They’re fun and I want my students to find the same joy in math and problem solving that I do! Many students who dislike math develop a phobia for the subject in elementary school, which makes my position as an early childhood educator all the more important. If my students associate math with positive, enjoyable, playful experiences, they will be more likely to express interest and feel confident in the subject as they progress through subsequent grades. Physically working with these concrete objects will also provide them with a true understanding of foundational math concepts that they may build on throughout their life. Below, you can see some of the manipulatives I hope to offer my students.


    Linking Cubes                          Fraction Tiles                  Multiplication Cards

Begin considering all of the fun you can bring into your classroom by exploring the variety of math manipulatives here. Who knows, maybe you will resolve your own math phobia!

· For Further Reading ·

Solis, S. L., Curtis, K. N., & Hayes-Messinger, A. (2017). Children’s exploration of physical phenomena during object play. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 31(1), 122-140.

Educational Inspirations

I would not be half the person I am today without all of the incredible people who have supported, encouraged, and inspired me throughout my years of learning and growing. Check out some of the powerful individuals I have had the privilege of learning from below!

· Millersville Professors ·

The professors at Millersville University have significantly impacted me as a future educator. While I always loved working with kids and spent many summers as a camp counselor, these individuals have shared their knowledge and expertise on how to teach. They make teaching look so easy! I absolutely love learning from their prior experiences and about their favorite strategies. They have given me so many ideas for my future classroom, from engagement techniques, to possible lesson designs, and strategies for creating a positive classroom environment.

Their unceasing curiosity has also rubbed off on me and led me to fall in love with learning all over again. They push me to dive deeper by providing me with opportunities to engage in individual research and follow current research on best practices. I never would have imagined conducting my own research project three years ago. One of my primary goals as an educator is to foster this same curiosity in my students that similarly leads them to become lifelong learners. Learning can be overwhelming, but it is also fun, fascinating, and exhilarating! I hope that my students find the same energy in learning.

· Theorists ·

John Dewey’s philosophy regarding the importance of experiential learning especially resonates with me as I have a strong interest in integrative STEM education. STEM pedagogy emphasizes practical, hands-on learning experiences for students. These opportunities for authentic learning can be structured for any content area, and Duke, Halvorsen, and Strachan offer advice for applying project based learning to social studies and literacy in their article “Project-Based Learning Not Just for STEM Anymore” (Duke et al., 2016). I personally value providing my students with meaningful learning experiences that are relevant to their lives. I never want to hear my students question why they are learning a concept because that means they view learning as a chore. Rather, I strive to design lessons that are engaging, relate to students’ current interests, and clearly have applications to the world beyond the classroom.

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” -John Dewey

My perspective on education also prioritizes Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I recognize that, biologically, learning is not an essential need like food or water. If my students come to school hungry, tired, or anxious, learning quickly becomes a low priority. The hierarchy of needs pyramid will influence my future classroom as I plan to maintain a supply of snacks for my students, create a safe space where they feel comfortable taking risks and realize the value of mistakes, and offer them time to rest when they are clearly exhausted. I remember getting headaches in elementary school when we were not allowed to have water bottles. Even at eight years old this blew my mind. I will NEVER let my students experience this discomfort!

Finally, Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural learning theory and concept of the zone of proximal development heavily influence my philosophy. Students spend a lot of time at home with their families and constantly interact with their peers. Of course they learn from all of these social experiences! As a teacher, I will try to build on this wealth of knowledge my students bring to the classroom. I will also design appropriately challenging opportunities for my students that push them just enough outside of their comfort zone to optimally learn and grow.

· Fellow Aspiring Educators ·

My peers at Millersville have significantly impacted me throughout our journey toward becoming preservice teachers. I find that our passions for education continue to grow as we become increasingly immersed in the education program. It is so energizing to be around people working toward the same goal! We continually encourage each other to become better educators by sharing ideas and collaborating both on projects in class and on events through education organizations. My peers are the best support system throughout all of the “firsts” that come with teaching. I love being surrounded by such creative and inspiring people as a member of the education community at Millersville.

· For Further Reading ·

Duke, N., Halvorsen, A., & Strachan, S. (2016). Project-based learning not just for STEM anymore. The Phi Delta Kappan, 98(1), 14-19. Retrieved February 21, 2020, from