I’m a language teacher at heart, a lover of French and Spanish. Hoping to grow in my profession, and love it even more.

5 Google Classroom Resolutions

Last year, I started 2 or 3 Google Classrooms and used them intermittently.  I completed my Google Educator Level One Certification in May.  My feet were wet, and I thought I was hot stuff.  But of course, the more you know, the more you realize there is to learn…

Fast-forward to 2017 and all of my classes use their own GC.  Daily. Some recent epiphanies…

@AliceKeeler ( was the keynote at our school’s recent Google Summit–and she is a G-Suite DYNAMO!  I learned so much from her in 60 min  “Advanced Google Classroom” which I hereby resolve to practice, model and build upon.

Here are a few:

#005 Number the assignments – My Classroom stream was unruly.  This simple idea is genius.

#004 Post EVERYTHING to Google Classroom (numbered, of course) – I was assigning some work “in class” and some on the stream.  I needed a way to keep absent students in the loop.  Makes sense.

#003 Private Comment – This changed the way I did class this week.  Posted an assignment and told students to answer my prompt IN A PRIVATE COMMENT.  No more opening and closing 75 Docs–I can read and provide interactive, personalized, meaningful FEEDBACK to them on the same screen.  In like 5-10 minutes.  This is actual formative assessment that they can build on.

#002 Mark as Done – I hereby resolve to promote the Marking as Done until it becomes habit for my students.  Much easier to track down who needs to make up work if they have done this.

and number one…

#001 Customize your Google Classroom Banner Image with YOUR CLASS NOTES!  Saw this via @jmattmiller at, and it is GENIUS.



Waning Days of Summer…Surprise Move and cReflection on Flexibility…and Desk Arrangements

Just returned from 2+ weeks with my family celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary on and off a Mediterranean cruise.  Still on Euro-time, I’m up and at ’em early (for me) and tired by 8pm.  As a World Language teacher, I was like a happy pig in the mud exploring France, Italy and Spain with my children!  Practicing all those languages (don’t forget Catalan…), made me realize more than ever how relevant teaching our students to function in a language in addition to English is, and I’m ready to get back to it this year!

A few notable developments this summer:

  • found out in July that I have been reassigned to a different school/grade-level.  I had been slated to teach 5 classes of French FT at our HS.  I was told that I will now be teaching 8 classes of French and Spanish at our MS.  So ironic, because I had previously requested a transfer there a few times over the years.  Both schools are positive places for sure, but I confess I was looking forward to teaching my HS students in all one language and not keeping so many plates spinning at one time.  I am also involved in the HS community, which I will maintain: co-leading next year’s Europe trip, co-advising One Acts and World Language Honor Society as well as HS French Club.  But I’ve taught MS French & Spanish before (and I split my time last year at this MS) so it’s familiar territory–plus I really like MS students.  So…wouldn’t have requested this move, but I am glad it is to an equally friendly school.
  • read a few “regular” books and a few “teacher” books (the aforementioned Unshakable by Angela Watson, Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess), and am energized!

I have 2 1/2 more days to set up my new classroom.  I am currently pondering desk arrangements for Middle School World Language classes.  I am pinning like crazy:

…to name a few.  I want to reduce distraction as much as possible yet encourage collaboration and on-task conversation as much as possible.  Will experiment in my classroom until I hit on something my 8 classes ranging from 15-28 students and I can live with.  Suggestions are welcome!

Unshakeable Book – my thoughts on Going the extra mile for families; podcasts discovered!

Here are a few more of my reactions to this excellent teaching book, Unshakeable, by Angela Watson, which you can check out here.

Day 5 – Go the extra mile for families (but don’t take forever to get there) :

  • I like to try to send a positive email out early in the year before I have to make contact for a negative reason.  Doesn’t always happen, but it pays big dividends later when I can get this done early on.
  • I live where I teach, so I am at most of the community events.  As I’ve said previously, it is usually a wonderful relationship-builder seeing my MS & HS students and families out and about.  And even when I didn’t live where I teach–I made it a point to go to holiday concerts and townwide festivals.  Parents want to know you are invested in the community where they are raising their children.

Forget Game of Thrones, or Orange is the New Black, I have been “binge-listening” to Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers podcast.  I am just about through “Season 1,” and it has prompted me to seek out other positive podcasts, like Every Classroom Matters with Cool Cat Teacher Vicki Davis.  I’m hunting for more…

I appreciate filling my head and heart with good vibes and constructive strategies for working smarter and more passionately!

Participating in my first “teaching book” study

I found out about it via Twitter.  This is the first book I’ve read by Angela Watson, and I am impressed with her positive voice.  Here are my thoughts for each day so far:

Day 1 – Ch. 1 – Share your authentic self to bring passion and energy to your teaching – Early in my career I swore I would never live where I teach.  But then life happened and now I live in the small town where I teach.  I run into students  and parents every day.  They see that we’re all pretty much just people, and this shows in the rapport we develop in school.  Swore I’d never do it, but 99% of the time I am grateful that I live and work here.

Day 2 – Ch. 2 – Allocate your time and energy wisely through productive routines – I have gained ideas from my book study peers have ideas that will help shave time off some tasks:) I see from our online discussions that I am not alone in looking for strategies to work smarter.

Day 3 – Ch. 3 – Establish healthy habits for bringing work home and decompressing – With two children that need frequent taxi service to sports, scouts, clubs, etc., I always complete as much as I can at school, because once I’m done chauffeuring, it’s late, and my tank is running close to empty.

Day 4 – Ch. 4 – Determine how to do what matters most and let go of the rest -I want to DO ALL THE THINGS.  I am active in my community and I have begun in the last few years to SAY NO.  I’m still working on this one.

Why start this blog?

I am not a “mover and a shaker” or an “influencer.”  For the past 8 years I’ve been concentrating on keeping my head above the waters of unabating changes at school, all while caring for ailing parents and young family.  As it usually does, life has moved on, on both fronts.

In the last year, especially the past few months, so many positives at school have transpired that make next year one I eagerly look forward to:

  • An upcoming, first-time-in-years, spring break school Europe trip
  • A new, simpler school schedule, which begets…
  • …a simplification of my teaching schedule–no more rotations!  Fewer classes meeting more frequently (every day now), in all one language (been teaching two languages for many years)
  • The peace of mind of more reliable routines now that classes that meet every day (“Ziquemu Mardi,” or “Tuesday Tunes,” and “Verbathon Vendredi” here we come)!

So the WHY?  This blog has been bubbling for months to explore, experiment with, reflect on and share what the Twittersphere has been opening up to me and my students.  I’ve been wanting to blog with students for years, I see the benefits for kids of writing for an audience (real or perceived), but never made the leap with my kids or myself. Can’t expect kids to do it if I don’t!  The UNSHAKEABLE book study, hosted by Angela Watson, has prompted me to start.  So voilà, I’m leaping!

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