Tag Archives: teachers


When you work in a place that you love, it makes you want to get up and go to work each day. Although we are made to feel appreciated quite often at our school, some days, our PTA goes over and beyond to show us – like today at our Teacher Appreciation Breakfast.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to teach the children of this community and thankful for all that their families do for us.

It Takes a Village…

teachers plant

This afternoon I attended a monthly meeting for the education association I belong to. I happened to be sitting with three teachers from another elementary school in our district.  They were DJ’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th grade teachers. (He was lucky enough to have one of them twice.)

All of them had seen on Facebook that he had been accepted into college and were so happy for him. One of them told me it made her feel old.  I said, “tell me about it!!!”

I began to think about all of the teachers he has had in his “school career.” I am fortunate that I have been able to work with many of them and get to know them beyond just their “teacher role” and I know that DJ has been very lucky to have had all of them.  From Mrs. Lerner in Kindergarten to Mr. Camp at his high-school.  Each one of them is responsible for shaping him into the person that he is today and I am grateful to all of them.

Professional Development


Every school year, before the students arrive, the teachers in our district go through two days of Professional Development.  For me, these days are really beneficial.  Today was one of those days.  We were divided up by grade levels and discussed updated curriculum and shared ideas with one another. 

What I love most about these professional days is the collaboration between the teachers.  We all come from different schools and we share ideas about what works in our classrooms and teach each other instructional games that have been successful for us. With so many of us working together today, we were able to leave with many new ideas to help our new batch of Kindergarteners have fun learning this year.

The room was filled with veteran teachers as well as new ones right out of school and it is essential that we work together and collaborate as a team because in the long run, it is the students who will benefit!  Ongoing professional development is what keeps us up-to-date on how children learn and different resources and tools we can use in the classroom.  I always look forward to these days.

One more day of professional development tomorrow and then….bring on the kids!



A lot happens in 35 years!

great teacher

Thirty-five years ago I was entering fourth grade at Jefferson School.  My teacher was Miss Lampros and I was nervous about the new school year.  That wound up being one of the best years of school for me and it was then that I decided that I was going to be a teacher too.  She was my inspiration. 

I had tried various times to locate her to let her know what an influence she had been to me but didn’t have much success until June of this year.  I wrote about it after finally getting in touch with her.  We interacted via email for a few months this summer and finally planned a date to meet for lunch.  I wrote down the date.  Wednesday, August 19th.  The problem was, August 19th was a Tuesday – while we were still in Connecticut visiting colleges.  I had been so off schedule because of being off my foot, I lost track of the days and totally screwed up!  I got an extremely caring email from her later that day asking me if I was okay since I didn’t show up to lunch.  I was devastated.  I had just told to the boys about how excited I was for my lunch with her on Wednesday and how I couldn’t wait for it to happen.  Meanwhile, I had just unknowingly “ditched” her after all this time!

I apologized profusely and we agreed to meet again and we did.  Today.  As I drove to brunch, I was wondering what we’d talk about.  A lot had happened in the thirty-five years since I’d seen her!  Mainly, I grew up!  Apparently, she told me during our conversation, that she thought the same thing!  In all of our email conversations, I didn’t realize this, but I hadn’t ever told her my maiden name!  I couldn’t believe it.  She came to this brunch not even knowing exactly who she was coming to see.  Once she saw me and I told her I was Claire Gianni, it came back to her.  She remembered my sister and my mom and we reminisced about Jefferson School and other teachers that I had and students that she had taught. 

She is retired now and still living locally.  She travels all over the world and is an author of several books. We sat together for nearly an hour and a half and there was never a lull in the conversation.  As we left, we promised to keep in touch.  I am looking forward to that.  I learned so much about her today.  She has done so much more than “just teach.”  Ninety minutes isn’t nearly enough time to cover so many years of life. 



In New Jersey, public schools close for two days every November in order to hold a huge teacher’s convention in Atlantic City.  I am not sure exactly how many years the convention has been in place, but even as a kid I remember school being closed the first Thursday and Friday of November.  Last year, because of the hurricane that destroyed a large part of the Jersey Shore, it was canceled.  This year, it is back.  I did not go.  I have seen numerous comments about why teachers need this “time off.”  A friend posted something on Facebook today, and with absolutely no malice to her, I had to share it here.  She was wondering how many teachers actually go to the convention.  To be quite honest, I do not know that statistic.  There were several light hearted comments on her Facebook thread, mostly just conversation.  I stayed out of it until I read one comment that I just could not sit back and not respond to.  I will very rarely ever comment on any educational posts.  I keep all political comments to myself as well.  I know that some things are best to not put in writing, but I could not let it go.  I apologized to my friend who started the original post – and she in turn wrote privately to me that she never meant to start anything negative about teachers, (which I never thought was her intention.)

This was the post from someone I do not know….“I never understood this (regarding the convention and two days off.)   Most of the working world gets the equivalent of 4 to 8 weeks off a year ( 10 paid holidays and 2 to 6 weeks of vacation). New Jersey Teachers get 17 weeks off. I could never understand why, with summers and school holidays, they need to interrupt the school year with an additional 2 days off to attend a convention. Why can’t that convention be scheduled during winter or spring break, or during the summer. I have relatives and friends who teach in many other states and they have never heard of such a thing.”

I had to respond.  I do NOT get my summers off.  Since my school year is a ten month year, I get paid only during those ten months.  I have to get a summer job every year to financially support my family.  I do not get to go on vacations every summer.  Many of my coworkers have to work two jobs in order to support themselves.  Not to mention the hours of work that we bring home from work everyday and every weekend.  We don’t get paid for that extra time.

In order to attend the NJ Convention, (which I truly would like to take advantage of at some time,) I would have to pay my own way, it is two hours away so I’d need to pay for a hotel room and pay for any courses that I’d want to take.  This also doesn’t take into account that many teachers who would like to attend, also have to arrange for childcare for their own children who are also off from school during these days.

I know that she is not alone in her thinking, as I have seen from other postings.  Teachers don’t have it easy.  I would never say that my job is more difficult than any other person’s BUT it is so discouraging to hear that people make comments like this without knowing how it really is.  Teachers are not “raking in the dough”, making six figure salaries.  Getting to work daily at 7:30 and leaving at 5 does not equal that typical “8:30-3:30” school day so many people think we have.  I put in more than 45 hours a week JUST at school.  Not to mention the hours I spend working at home.  This is typical of most teachers I know.

I am not writing this to pat myself on the back.  Not my point at all.  I just wish that people knew just how hard some of us work to make sure that their children, who we spend hours with every week, are being educated, loved and cared for every day of those 180 days they are in our care.

The First Week

tired teacher

The first week of Kindergarten is over and what a busy week it was!

One hundred and seventy-five more days to go!  No matter how much I love it, (and I truly do,)  I always think this way in the beginning of the school year.  The first month of Kindergarten is so challenging!

I enjoy teaching so much – but you will find a completely different level of enthusiasm in September than you will find any other month of the school year!!  After having a class leave in June, completely “trained” in routines and ready to be First Graders, starting all over again is rough.  It is the same in all grades.  Everyone gets their class right where we need them to be and bam they move onto the next grade.

This week, we established classroom rules, we learned each others names, sang songs, did some writing and read books all about Kindergarten.  The children felt “like big kids” when they got their own math and handwriting workbooks.   We played with our Magic Play Dough, and sure enough, just as it does every other year, it elicited excited squeals and giggles.

The weekend is here.  So to all of the teachers out there, feeling just like I am right now, take these few days to recoup and get some rest, so you have the energy to get back to school and do it all over again for Week Two.

Getting Back to Work

teachers who love teaching

Getting back into the classroom is always an exciting time for me.  I love making new name tags, decorating and rearranging my classroom to make the most of my classroom space.  As a kid, I loved opening boxes of new crayons, markers and colored pencils  – I still do!!  All the sharpened pencils and fresh glue sticks are ready to go.

Our school starts late this year.  Although teachers report “officially” on Tuesday, the students do not start until September 9th.  I have been back to school a few times now and my room is almost ready to greet my twenty-two new Kindergarteners.

One of the best parts of getting back to school is seeing all of my co-workers.  We see each other in the halls, greet each other with hugs and stop working on our classrooms so that we can catch up.  We have some new teachers, filled with anticipation of what lies ahead of them and  a lot of experienced teachers who return year after year because they, like myself, really love to teach.

Every new school year is a fresh start.  A new beginning – especially in Kindergarten where some of these children are just beginning their school experiences.  Every year is different than the last and I feel invigorated and ready to embark on a new adventure.

Moving On…

child becomes today

Today was graduation day for my 5th grader.  As of tomorrow, I no longer have a child in elementary school. I’m not sure I have grasped the reality of that!  Elementary school is a time of innocence for most children.  I always tell parents that Kindergarten is a “magical place” and I hope that the magic stays with them throughout elementary school.  That is the hope that I have had for Drew.  Drew has never loved school, but he has loved his teachers and that is so significant.

Today I am thankful for all of Drew’s teachers who helped him throughout his years at Tuscan.  Drew and I went to all of his teachers before school today and got a photo of him with most of them.  He has fond memories of all of them and I hope that he can carry those memories with him throughout life.  I can still remember so many of my teachers from elementary school.  When a teacher has a positive impact on you – it makes an everlasting impression.  I know that these teachers have left a positive impression on Drew.   I was fortunate to be a teacher in the same school as him, which created wonderful memories for me, and although he won’t admit it now, I hope that some day when he looks back on this time, these will be wonderful memories for him as well.

Fifth grade graduation is a pivotal occasion for both children and parents. It marks the end of an era, and the beginning of those “tween years.”  He’s not grown up yet, but he is getting there. Already having one son who has gone through this, has allowed me a preview of what I should expect, but Drew is my baby!  I am not sure I am ready for this but it is inevitable.  My gratefulness for the years he has spent at Tuscan are immeasurable.  Years of happy days, (and difficult ones too), were all days that made him grow into the amazing kid he is today.  He has reached a milestone in his life.

I know that middle school is going to have its ups and downs.  I know that he will not be coddled as he was in elementary school.  It is time for him to grow up.  I am sure that he will become more responsible and accountable for his work. The workload will increase and he will have to learn to manage his time more usefully.

For now though, he has the summer, only a few more months of being my “little boy”.  There are not going to be many more days where he will let me allow him to be that little boy, so for now, I will take every opportunity that I can get while he still lets me!!



Tonight I attended our local Board of Education meeting.  I went as a parent, a teacher and a community member.  I went to support a few of my fellow teachers who were speaking tonight.  As I sat through a very long meeting and listened to the accomplishments of so many of our local students and teachers, I could not help but feel pride.  The list of commendations went on for so long!  Academic awards, athletic awards, fine arts…the list went on and on.  Awards for teachers, students, supervisors and schools were announced.  It made me feel proud to be a part of this outstanding community.  Teachers sat and beamed as they heard names of students past and present named.

I love my job.  Teaching is what I was meant to do.  There are not many people who can say that they love to get up and go to work everyday, but I truly do.  Sadly, I am noticing that many teachers are becoming disheartened in their career.  This makes me sad.  I think that teachers need to be optimistic and continue to teach with the thrill and pleasure that made them choose this profession to begin with.  I truly believe that as I stood along side of these teachers who spoke up at tonight’s meeting, that they helped to reignite that spark for many teachers that were there.  Their enthusiasm and compassion was evident in their words and their tone as they spoke.  The room was enthralled as they spoke, and if they could have gone over their two minute time limit, I am sure that they would have kept us captivated the entire time.

I truly think that it is necessary that all people share this same type of optimism.  I wish that I could watch their speeches over and over again and share their words with others because if you are feeling a lack of inspiration at all, they would be that source!

Look for the spark yourself, regardless of what you do for a living and reignite that flame and remember why you choose to do what you do.



I post this today for all of my teacher friends who are feeling so overwhelmed at this point in the school year.  Report card grades due, supply orders due, class lists organized…the list goes on and on.  With so much to do, we seem to lose focus and worry about not getting it all done.  Yet in the end, we always get there.  So, I am suggesting that we all take a few deep breaths, stay focused, calm and celebrate in the peace of each day.  We can do it!