10 Ways to build relationships with your students

If you are struggling with classroom management, the most important thing to remember is to build those relationships. Middle school students are strange little creatures….It’s almost like they are…Human. So with that in mind, here’s what I suggest. 

1. I have found the most important thing to do is remember what YOU were like at that age. Look at your old yearbooks. Show them to your students. Then get on to the next step and….

2. Have a good laugh! Kids love to laugh and to know you have a sense of humor. 

3. The next step goes right along with laughing…..It’s PLAY. Find some way to play with your kids. Too much of life is serious. Let kids enjoy some time to play.

4. Assign projects that allow for kids to insert their personalities into them. Then…

5. Ask them about what you see. Then…

6. Remember those special things about them and bring them back up later. 

7. Do a home visit now and then to really understand where your kids come from and how they live. 

8. Give them special privileges, such as eating or listening to music, that you can use to motivate them instead of jumping straight to the discipline plan. 

9. Treat them with respect even when they aren’t giving any. Your example may be the only one they see.

10. And finally….. remember that they are much less likely to learn anything from you if they hate you or stay mad at you. So taking the time to build these relationships is truly a great investment. 


Great things about being over 40

1. I no longer apologize for having my own opinions.

2. I see wrinkles as wisdom creases or battle scars. 

3. The desire to go “party” still happens…..But quickly passes and the desire to sleep takes over…And that’s just fine with me. 

Rapid Reset

In yesterday’s post, I discussed how I have discovered that many of the stresses that come from being a teacher and parent are self-imposed. It was a principal that actually pointed this out to me. Yes, as teachers there are expectations given to us….but the reality is, administration knows we cannot meet them ALL 100% of the time. As a mom, my kids will forgive that I cannot be their entire world. In fact, they will appreciate that I help them create a larger circle of support. In short, it’s time to give myself a break.

Now what about today? How do I face today with optimism and faith? Luckily, I do not have to go far to find the answer. There are so many amazing professionals all around us that are so ready to help. Their advice? Remember that we must work on staying motivated DAILY. There is no magic bullet that will push us through and keep us going for years, months or even weeks on end. One of my favorite methods of getting motivated daily is by using the technique many success books describe as re-framing situations.

Here’s how I re-frame my world. I combine working on gratitude with changing my perspective. Yes, I start VERY small and go minute to minute when I have to, it absolutely changes my mood.


  1. I wake up tired. /I woke UP and my bed is warm and cozy.
  2. My sinuses are still clogged. / I have medications and techniques to           help me make it through the day.
  3. My hubby is hogging the bathroom./ I have INDOOR PLUMBING.
  4. My classes are too full!!/                   My students LOVE to come to my class.
  5. There aren’t enough books./               I have access to computers.
  6. There isn’t enough paper./                   I have a projector.
  7. I feel overwhelmed./                               I am EMPLOYED and can help support my family.

It may sound silly, but it is highly effective and will help you get through your day!! So as we say at Sierra — Make it a great day, or not. The choice is yours!!



Let’s get Real– Life as a Teacher & MOM Sucks


Yeah, you heard me! Teaching and being a mom sucks. Every year it’s the same thing! I begin the year with a million great ideas. I may even have weeks, months or even a year’s worth of lesson plans to choose from. I’m great at collecting cool resources. I’m phenomenal at working with “hard” kids. Middle schoolers DON’T scare me. They crack me up. I LOVE my team! My colleagues are amazing and hilarious! We plan together. We eat together. We laugh together… and then…. it happens….every year.

Reality hits. We lose teachers. Class sizes increase while resources decrease. Rules and laws that are DRILLED into our skulls are ignored by the powers that be and evaluations are based on what sometimes turns out to be data completely unrelated to us.

Then there is the personal side. I might be able to ignore or overcome all of the above obstacles. I might even have a few weeks, where my lessons click, my kids engage and things flow along perfectly. I arrive home a bit tired, but still manage to go to the gym a couple days a week. Then that ONE Friday comes when I arrive home and my back aches; the tell-tale sign that I’ve waited too long to take that bathroom break. My kidneys need some TLC. My daughter’s physical therapy appointments take over any extra time I had to go to the gym. My other daughter has performances coming up. I realize I haven’t checked HER backpack in a week. I’m sure by now there’s something growing in there.

The final little bit of internal motivation I have is destroyed as my allergies turn into months worth of sinus problems. I tell myself it’s ok to take days off no matter what the evaluation says, but then I sit down to get a sub. I put the information in the computer and wait. If I’ve waited too long, very often, no one picks up. If I put in too early, but don’t specify a sub….ANYONE picks up and let me tell you, that can be a VERY bad thing. Kids with the wrong subs will misbehave. Kids with the wrong subs can end up being suspended and many students fall behind because they haven’t been able to focus in a chaotic environment. (So there’s that.)

So what’s my point. Do I want this to just be a gripe fest? NO! I want this to be informational and hopefully motivational. I want this blog to be a place where people can come to see that you are NOT alone and the solutions are not to add to your already packed schedule, but rather learn that maybe some of the stresses we face are entirely self-imposed.

Look back at how I got to my breaking point. Teachers get transferred and class size increases. That’s an outside stress. My response is usually to be to be outraged and fight like mad. Fortunately though, that is not my job. Mine is to teach….no matter who or how many. If I just take a deep breath and keep trying…..it won’t necessarily be teacher of the year quality….but I’ll have less stress and keep my job. If powers that be ignore rules and laws….well, then at least I have an argument if they ever call me on something I am unable to accomplish with those scarce resources and overcrowded classes. That does not mean I am not trying or that I’m not an over-achiever in certain areas. It simply means, I have a union to fight for me. I do not need to take that all on.

What about those issues at home? Somehow, I have trained my family that I am the person to take my kids to everything 95-100% of the time. I did that to myself! Somehow I think I need to be at EVERY performance. Maybe I don’t. My parents weren’t at everything and I don’t even remember which things they missed or attended. It was nice to know they would come when they could, but not the end of the world when they couldn’t. It may even be an important lesson to teach my girls that the world does not actually REVOLVE around them. What?

My conclusion? I do actually want something better for myself and my family. I want a job I can control…..not one that controls me. I want to be able to take time to take care of my family and know my employer has my back. I need stability, insurance and retirement. I’d LOVE to have all of these things AND have the satisfaction I get from seeing a kid light up when they see me, or when they beg to stay in my class…..or come back and tell me what they learned….or bring me keepsakes related to content. At home, I need space and time for myself as well as the ability to let things go and realize that most issues are not as big a deal as I make it. How do I get that? This year I will do the one thing I don’t think I have ever done before, I’M GOING TO ASK. I will find that scenario or create it for myself.

To wrap up this first New Year’s post, I’d like to say to my teacher and parenting friends….ONLY FIVE MONTHS LEFT!!





Do Not be Discouraged!!

I have been given a gift; a wonderful gift. It is the gift of determination. When I was younger, some people mistook it for stubbornness. As I grew, some thought it was DRIVE, then ambition….then strength. The truth is though, it is none of these. It is simple determination. That does not mean that I wake up everyday with the ability to get everything done that I would like to. What it means is that throughout my life, I have had dreams and goals that have been put on the back burner, but have NEVER gone away. The determination kicks in and I realize it’s time. I bring them forward and work on them and sure enough they begin to become what they were always meant to be.

Why do I share this with you? Because as I sit here this morning I realize I haven’t written in a while. I hadn’t written because I was busy. I was living my life and building my dreams. The “balance” I’ve been looking for is happening. My business is growing and I am developing it slowly while still making time for my family and friends. It hasn’t been easy and my kids are often the ones who throw that balance off….asking for more and more while doing as little as possible for anyone… including themselves. (Human nature I guess, but something that has to be addressed.)

The joy though, is that I see it and am able to confront it head on with time and energy that I seemed to never have before. So what does this mean to you? It means, so what that you’ve left things on the back burner. If you feel in your heart the time is now…bring them to the forefront of your life. It isn’t too late. Determination to me means holding on when others would have long since have given up.

What is THAT???

Have you ever gone to get a massage and the therapist rattled off a bunch of different things that they do and you thought….”Well, I don’t know what that is…I just want you to get rid of my pain!!” Yeah, me too. Now that I have learned about some of it, I thought I’d give you quick definitions of things and what they are used for so that when you hear them, you have some idea of what they are.

Myofascial Release is today’s modality. I could give you a big long definition with a lot of technical terms, but I like to keep things simple. There’s a layer of tissue in our bodies that surrounds and is part of every structure in our body and when it is tight….we hurt. It doesn’t act like muscle so to release it we have to treat it a little differently.

So what would that look like in a massage room? Well, there would be a lot of stretching that lasted anywhere from 2-5 minutes per stretch. There would be slow, still work that doesn’t feel like much at first….but can provide tremendous relief and it’s done with fairly light pressure.

Why would you want this? Well, it can help break down scar tissue, soften tissue, increase range of motion, help to balance your posture and just help you move more fluidly.
Simple. Direct and to the point. Myofascial Release is a valuable treatment that when done correctly can really help a person struggling with things like a tight shoulder, scarring, poor posture and/or poor flexibility just to name a few.

If that sounds like you, ask your therapist about it next time you go for a massage. They might just be able to do a LOT more than just relax you.

The low down on the rub down!!

Over the last six to eight months, I’ve learned so much about massage and while those who get one regularly already know this, if you are new to massage, you may want to keep these things in mind.

First, a massage really should not hurt. Yes, there may be moments of pain if you are working an area of soreness or injury, but continued pain is NOT a good thing. Speak to your therapist. If something hurts, let them know.

Second, more is not necessarily better. Pressing harder may be what you want a therapist to do, but if you need a specific treatment, deep pressure may not be ideal. In fact, it may very well be counter-productive. Again, communication is the key here. If the therapist is doing something you wonder about, ask them.

Third, you have the right to tell the therapist what you want them to do. In fact, it makes their job easier. If you don’t like your ears to be touched, tell them. If you don’t like your feet to be touched, tell them….kicking them may cause a bit of a strain in your relationship.

Fourth, be sure you are working with a therapist who is flexible and does what is in the client’s best interest. For example, the elderly often need a shorter massage. They may not be able to tolerate lying on the table for a full hour. They may need a chair instead of a table. If you have an injury and just want a specific injury treated, a full hour may not be called for. If the therapist is insisting on hour long appointments and you want shorter sessions, they may not be looking out for you….but for their pocketbook.

Finally, don’t go to get a massage if you are sick…especially if you have a fever. A good therapist will not work on you. They will ask you to reschedule. That may not be what you want to hear, but massage during an acute sickness is generally contraindicated. You may be contagious and the massage may actually make things worse.

Now, I have to let you go….my daughter wants a massage. Have a great week!!!