Monday, May 26, 2014

Behind The Scenes

I will always be real with you.  Today there are no classroom craftivities, no bright colors and classroom creative lesson plans.  No new ‘Teachers We Love’ video interviews.  Just a real teacher story and heartfelt post.  

I have been asked: How are you always so happy?  You are Miss Congeniality.   You are such an amazing teacher.  

My Sprinkle Teaching Magic blog, pictures on Instagram, happy posts on my teaching Facebook page, special teacher interviews all tell part of my teaching story.  But there is more. 

Let’s take it waaaaay back.  

I’ve taken what I loved doing as a child to my adult life.  I used to play teacher in my mom’s 8th grade classroom.  I would stick paper clips on my fingers, write on the chalk board, and teach a classroom full of stuffed animals.  Those stuffed animals eventually  turned into real students, and I have taught grades K-5.  

As a young girl, I had a trusty cassette tape recorder and a video camera, and pretended I was a radio and television host.  Now I produce shows on my YouTube channel offering free tips and teacher interviews.  I also host a monthly Teacher Radio Show.  

You need to know that I am by no means the “perfect happy teacher”.  In fact I am far from.  I hope the more honest I am about my own teaching struggles the more I can help you.  I have had life and career ups and downs.  

There was even a time I almost walked away from teaching, my true calling.  

More recently, I had to leave my teaching position three weeks before the end of the school year.   This was with great heaviness of heart.  I have often shared on this blog how wonderful my students are.  I love them with all my heart and I am so proud of the growth and successes we have made this year.  

Ultimately, there are many things that go on behind the scenes in a teacher’s life and at a school.  Relationships, loss, health, grief, and life priorities come up.  Educational dysfunction/bureaucracy compromises a teacher’s values and philosophy. Everyday this depletes the teacher.  Put on a brave face.  Be there for your school.  Your students.  Your parents.  What happens when a teacher needs to be there for themselves?  What boundaries does a teacher keep?  Putting ourselves first can come across as selfish and confusing to those not walking in our shoes.     

I am not happy every moment in the classroom or every moment in life.  This is not a reality.  In fact I struggle daily with some anxiety.  I have spent years observing teachers, interviewing teachers, reading about education, and trying out happy practices.  Some have worked and some fell flat, but I will always continue to focus on teacher happiness. 

We all know that teaching is a noble profession and meaningful career.  

The heart of education is the students.  This I know, but what about you, the teacher?  Over the years I see how myself and my colleagues give and often give to their detriment.    
Are there enough people advocating for you?  Supporting you?  Listening?  Understanding?  And shining light on amazing teachers who keep going despite the dysfunction that exists in education?  

Teachers are truly grateful for the appreciation and love given by the school community and students.  And often, the community, students, and administration do not know what goes on behind the scenes or daily struggles a teacher may have.  Teachers must have a voice.     

I decided my true passion and calling lie beyond my classroom and to a larger community of teachers.  

I think about the darkest times in my teaching career and how in those fragile moments I wish I had something or somebody in education to turn to.  I needed a community that focused on the positive, but yet shared the nitty-gritty, real life teaching stories.  I didn’t need another classroom idea; I needed a pep-talk, a “I’ve been there, I get it, you are still an amazing teacher and you don’t have to be perfect all the time.”

I carefully and thoughtfully create every video, blog post, and radio interview to support you and to give back to the profession I love.  If I can help a teacher I am indirectly helping students.  

I’m here to be a “connector” among all of the fabulous teachers in the world.  I will bring you stories of hope, inspiration, and courage.  

I am here to increase your potential for success and to give you meaningful teacher connections.  

Taking what I have learned and sharing it with you brings me the greatest joy.

I hope to boost and refresh your spirit when the work load of teaching is overwhelming.  

You are in the right place.  I hear you. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

No More Late Nights and Work Weekends Get Organized with C.Jayne Teach

Let me know if this sounds familiar…

You strive to have an impact on students using every instructional minute.  You wonder, are my reading groups running efficiently?  You spend hours browsing Teacher Pay Teacher and Pinterest in hopes of finding the perfect craft, organization idea, or piece of curriculum that will make life easier and make learning come alive for students.  The more you browse, the more the ideas start piling up. Overwhelm and perfectionism sets in.  How will I prep it all? How will I fit it all in? The classroom quickly starts sucking up all your time. 

Even after close to 10 years of classroom teaching, I still struggle with this challenge to balance my work time and personal time.  

In my first years of teaching, my administrator handed me my personal walkie talkie.  I was that newbie teacher staying at school until 11:00 pm working in my classroom.  He felt the walkie talkie ensured safety. He said to contact the night janitor if I needed help.  Pathetic!  Roger That! Sometimes the janitor would leave before me.  Every minute of my time was consumed with school.  I was desperate for a teacher intervention.   

If your desire is classroom success, organization, and a balanced personal  life, then this SheilaJane Teaching episode is for you.  Chandra from C.Jayne Teach offers her field tested organization ideas and tools.   Chandra shares with you how she makes time for her adorable family, business (a teacher entrepreneur), and teaching.  

Did this quote that Chandra shared in the episode speak to you?
Tweet The Happy Out
"Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle." @teachhappynow

Instagram or Pin It Out

In Chandra's episode of "Teachers We Love", she mentions the "Happy List" idea.  She keeps a Happy List in her Teacher Anchor binder (a must see!), on her desk for easy access.  When life and work becomes overwhelming, Chandra looks at her Happy List and completes one of the items to boost her spirits.  Works like a charm! These Chandra's teaching secrets will save us.

Chandra and I want to know your Happy List.  Please share your list in the "comments section" below.  Your happy list will help other teachers by boosting spirits and making  life a bit easier.  

Thank you for reading, watching, and participating in the juicy teacher talk discussion.

Sending you love,



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Episode #02 with Ramona Recommends: Make Your Reading Instruction Successful

Popular Education Internet Radio with

Imagine (gasp) an ORGANIZED classroom library just the way you have always dreamed it could be.

Picture all your students cheering for books, especially your struggling readers. 

Want to make every student fall in love with the magic of reading?  

Join us as Courtney shares not only her reading expertise, but also strategies to successfully guide reading instruction in your classroom.  

Courtney is a teacher blogger at  She holds both a Masters Degree in Reading Education and has her Reading Specialist Certification.  

Not to mention she has over 1,200 children's books sitting in her office.  This teacher know her stuff!

After listening to the podcast, Courtney and I would love to hear from you. 

What children's books made YOU fall in love with reading?  

Courtney and I can't wait to read what your special books are in the comments below.  

Think about the amazing list of books we could generate if everyone answered. 

Looking forward to hearing from you,


Interview Links

Ramona Recommends on Facebook

Courtney (Ramona Recommends) Children's Literature Resource Guide

Molly (Lessons with Laughter)  Classroom Library Organization System

Catherine (The Brown Bag Teacher) Classroom Library Organization System

Storyline Online

Scholastic Warehouse Sales

Barnes and Noble Teacher Reward Card

Classroom Organizer

Common Core Ap

Classroom Book Recommendations 
A Bad Case Of Stripes by David Shannon

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Clearly

Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor

Princess Pigtoria And The Pea by Pamela Duncan Edwards 

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

The Little Red Pen by Janet Stevens

Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco

Teacher Recourses 

Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller
Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller, Susan Kelley
Rick Morris 
Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert E Probst

Friday, May 2, 2014

Pretty Woman at A Sweaty Open House

90 degree temps.

No air conditioner.

A sweaty and sardine packed fifth grade classroom.  

Some parents resorted to making paper fans, a kindergarten skill they never thought would come in handy until this night.  

Thank goodness I wore my flowy polka-dot dress.   One sweet mom told me my dress was right out of the movie 'Pretty Woman.'  I'll take it!

After 10 years I still get nervous.  The palm sweating, self doubting, am "I good enough" kind of nerves. 

Open House is always a success, yet the nerves are hard to shake.  

This year I went minimalistic.  

Binder portfolios and state reports were the two main items on student desks.  Nothing showy.  Nothing that keeps me in my classroom late at night, on a wobbly ladder, and covering every inch of wall space with manufactured student work.  

The purpose of Open House is not to win the cutest classroom award.

Open House should not be used as an opportunity for parents to shop for next years teacher.  

I remember one Open House, back in the day, when a parent sat at my teacher's desk and started going through my papers and desk drawers.  There was also the time a parent grilled me on my educational philosophy.  Open House is not the time for intrusive inspection and interrogation. 

The focus of Open House should always be to celebrate student successes.  

When this is my focus, the Open House stress melts away, and I am much happier. 

My students loved creating a scrapbook portfolio filled with work from the year.   I loved shocking them with work saved from September.  Huge academic growth. 

Hormones, awkward dances, and braces are Middle School rites of passage. My fifth graders are only months away.  Poor things.  

On the front and back cover of the portfolio students drew versions of themselves as successful Middle Schoolers.  Students listed the academic and social skills needed for Middle School success.  I called this "Middle School Me."

The portfolios overflowed with work the parents had never seen.  I heard a lot of "wows."  

Students designed and created the layout of their portfolio, and I could tell they were excited to show off.  Most students chose to hang out in our classroom over ditching their parents for the playground.  Win!

I want to hear from you.  

In the comments below finish this sentence:  I know Open House is a success when...

Thank you for commenting! 

With Love,



It's Currently Time with Farley!