Welcome to My Blog!

Welcome to my blog! I use my blog as a way to reflect, share, organize, and re-conceptualize my views as an educator. Enjoy and feel free to comment, post, disagree, and share your opinion. The more perspectives, the better!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Geometry Unit

I finally finished my TPAC geometry unit. This was the first major unit I planned. We started planning for our unit during fall quarter. It was at this time that I realized that there was no way I could teach Geometry in only five days. My unit, the one that started as 5 days, was a full 2.5 week. Thanks to snow days and holidays, my unit took over three weeks. 

I could not be happier with the results of my unit. The really exciting thing about this until was that the majority of students had already met the 1st grade Geometry standards so my unit was almost all enrichment. I chose to focus on 2 main ideas:

(1) Identifying shapes by the number of sides and angles they have and
(2) Composing and decomposing shapes from other shapes.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
From a teaching perspective, I really tried to incorporate many different learning styles. We had hands-on activities, connections to literature, book study, and traditional worksheets. Not all of the lessons I taught were perfect, but I feel confident that they were effective and taught my students to look at shapes in a different way. 

Throughout this lesson I capitalized on my students love of reading by using children's literature to introduce and review many of the concepts in my unit. Dr. Seuss' The Shape of Me, The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns, and The Great Shape Race by McGraw Hill were staples to introducing non-traditional shapes, using sides and angles to label shapes, and exploring 3-D shapes respectively.

One of my most popular activities was our shape hunt. The children split up into teams to find objects in the room that had either no sides, 3 sides (a triangle), 4 sides (quadrilaterals), or 5+ sides. This was a fun take on "write the room" and I loved the carry over between math and science. After the lesson I left extra scavenger hunt pages with a basket of picture books so the children could do a literature shape hunt when they finished their work early.

Additionally, as you can see in the slide show, I incorporated books about quilting into our CAFE (reading workshop) time. I also plan to continue the quilting theme by reading Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt during black history month. After reading the book, each child will add a small house to their quilt square. This house will symbolize a stop on the Underground Railroad similar to Clara's Quilt. 

I LOVED teaching this unit! I have 101 more ideas I could have incorporated, but good things come to an end and there is always next year! After we finished our assessment (twice, but that is another post itself), it was time to move on to our Money unit. 

P.S: My mom deserves a shout out for helping me cut 1,000 triangles for our class quilt over winter break. This is clearly why I went home :)

Friday, January 28, 2011


Just so you know... I looked famous today.

H: "M...You look famous today! Why do you look so famous?"
M: "I don't know...I just do"
H: "ooooooo, Miss Prinzo, you look famous today too!"

Famous is apparently when your hair is pulled up into a pony tail...It is good to know that on days like today when I am too tired to straighten my hair, I can still look famous :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Top 10 Ways to Make your Principal your "Pal" and Other Advice (part 1)

Tonight at Senior Seminar we had amazing speakers, Mr. Hockenberrry, the principal at Oyler School and his co-worker Mrs. Dorfmann, a special education teacher. He began his talk by listing 10 pieces of advice for first year teachers.

While some of them are extremely obvious, I thought the list was a helpful reminder to everyone on how to conduct yourself in a professional, teaching environment. We all will be nervous going into our first year. We all will make mistakes. This list gives ways to show your effort and ways to show that you are willing to do what it takes to provide a solid education for your students.

For me, it was also a realization for me how helpful my experiences with extra-curricular activities (even going back to MS and HS) have been so critical to my education. His advice was obvious to me. It was not obvious to me b/c of my coursework, practicum, and ST experience (though Melanie reinforces all of this), it was obvious b/c what I have done outside of the classroom. Here is the list:

  Top 10 Ways to Make the Principal your "Pal"

(10) On-time performance: Make timeliness a priority...especially during arrival, dismissal, lunch, and specials. Do not make people wait for you.

(9) AVOID "I have the worst class" syndrome: This is very unlikely. It is more likely that you need to improve. Instead of complaining and making excuses for your class and yourself find a way to get better!

(8) Get involved: somehow I think I have this one mastered! He made a really good point though...EVERYBODY IS BUSY, but if we really want to foster a positive school atmosphere and we really want to

(7) Do not make your principal work backwards: make sure to read emails, announcements, newsletters, etc. Stay organized and on top of things so that your principal does not have to ask you twice and/or back track to find information that you might have forgotten about.

(6) Don't "bad mouth" your principal: I think this one is self explanatory, but probably the most broken rule by teachers. I swear, teacher's gossip and complain more than middle school girls! Even if your principal is not in the room, it will get back to them eventually.

(5) Classroom Management is your responsibility (NOT your principals): 1. they are too busy, 2. you loose credibility and control with your students if the principal needs to come in to help you manage your classroom.

(4) Don't pass off the "Monkey on your Back": There is a difference between venting and problem solving. Make sure that when you approach your principal with a problem you are not complaining, but rather actively working out a way to make your situation better. Come with ideas and options to discuss.

(3) No Surprises: Keep records and let your principal know of problems that happened in the classroom. It is better that he know that the problem happened and how the problem was dealt with BEFORE he is confronted about it than after.

(2) Attendance should be your priority: Your attendance has a HUGE impact on your students. He used a great example. Having a substitute teacher in your place is like walking on to an airplane and have the stewardess let you know that the regular pilot was unavailable, so today's flight will be navigated by a biologist. Just because someone has a 4 year degree, does not mean they are qualified to teach your classroom. Even substitutes with an education degree cannot adequately replace you. Your students respond best to you---your routine, your standards, and your management.

(1) Realize that you are trusted with someone else's most precious possession: Every child is someone's child, niece, neighbor, grandchild, etc. Everyone of your students is a part of a family and his or her family trusts YOU to teach them and care for and about them for six hours every single school day. This is a tremendous responsibility and will make your job as an educator incredibly rewarding.

Mr. Hockenberry and Mrs. Dorfmann talked about many more important things, but it is way past my bed time so I will leave you waiting foe part 2!


W: "Mom, Can I.."
Miss Prinzo (teasing): "What did you just call me? I am telling your mo-om!
W: ((turns bright red, walks away laughing, waits a second and comes back))
      " I meant Miss Prinzo, but I love you too"

"I'm not going to call on you"

Our students give short speeches each month for a monthly project. This month they talked about their dream job (aka What do you want to be when you grow up?). At the end of each speech the other students can ask 3 questions. One of my students was taking questions when...

L: ((blurts out question))
C: Um L, I am not going to call on you b/c you didn't raise your hand. ((calls on someone else who is raising their hand))
L: ((raises hand))
C: L, thanks for raising your hand.

The student is officially the teacher. What a good reminder that students feed off of your words and actions!

A 'Come to Jesus' speech kind of day


Today was a day of days! Monday was hard after coming back from a 4 day weekend/snow days. Yesterday was pretty frazzling as well, so yesterday night I stayed an extra 3 hours after school to really prepare for today. I came into today an extra 20 minutes early and was very very prepared, but for lack of a better word, my students would not shut up or listen all day! Everything took forever! Instead of the 1 minute it takes to clean up and line up it took 5. Instead of transitioning in the carpet quickly and quietly, it took FOREVER. At one point in the day I actually made tally marks on the board counting how long it took past a reasonable amount of time for the students to come to the carpet. I got up to 100 tallies before the majority of students showed me they had listened to directions.

I swear, I pulled out ever classroom management strategy that we have ever used this year (and some of my own on the spot) and it seemed like nothing was working!

Finally, my mentor teacher had "had it". She rarely ever cuts in while I am talking or formally in charge, but after I had repeated myself for the millionth time today, she gave them "Come to Jesus" Speech #1 (don't know what I am talking about see Come to Jesus Meeting). She asked the students what my directions were (that I had repeated 3 times in the last minute) and no one could answer. There were guesses, but no where close. The class was silent as she explained how frustrating it was for teachers, especially me learning how to be a teacher, to have to repeat ourselves over and over and see students doing the wrong thing or not learning because of their behavior. She had the perfect timing b/c I was about ready to either fly off the handle or burst into tears. It worked. We were back on track and independent work time during CAFE was quiet and productive.

Now lets move on to the first CAFE independent work time to our Group activity...it start again. This time it is interrupting during directions. My turn. "Come to Jesus" part 2. A short, but effective. I give a similar talk, but focused on how many fun and exciting things we could be doing if we could just listen and follow directions  and, one of my favorites, if you listen to ALL of my directions, I will likely answer your questions.Talk over. Begin cleaning up and move to the carpet.

Two minutes later, Come to Jesus part 3. I go at it again. This time in a quieter tone. My talk is on "Do you think Mrs. Baumann and I like yelling at you? Do you think we want to spend our whole day yelling at you? Again, we are quiet and have a great time looking for our word wall words in a page from children's literature (Did you know over 75% of the words in children's books are sight words? We proved it.).

We go back to our seats...everything is good until our IA walks in (an hour and a half late...) and disrupts the previously silent independent work time. It is over. They never get quiet again, but my mentor teacher and I agree to let them go b/c it was an adult's influence this time).

Come the Jesus part 4: Tag-Team. Instead of centers you get to deal with the pile of work in the unfinished basket and then you can look through the 30 papers without names on them (yes, I actually counted...I started a tally. Our goal is to remember our name on every single paper. If we have a week without a single 'no name' tally, I promised them I will bring in a special treat. The treat is TBD and I am counting on it not happening, but if it does they deserve something special). Those of you who did all of your work correctly can play games independently. This works well, but the "concentration" noise level (nothing above a whisper so your neighbor's can concentrate) did not last long. Neither teacher has the will to shut them up so we let it go and only re-direct students who are excessively noisy.

Class meeting/ pack up. We gave the directions. The same ones as always and chaos came. It was like they had never packed up a day in their life. Wait we need our bookbags? Oh the papers need to go in my folder? I need to make sure my table space is clear? A lunch box...what is that? Oh, I brought a coat today? This went on FOREVER! Well like 10 minutes (which is forever in teacher-time, especially on a 4-5minute routine normally). Come to Jesus Speech Grand Finale. This one was my mentor teacher's turn. Repeat speeches part 1-4 and finish off with "the next 5 minutes will be silent. If you talk you will pull a card. If you are not silent, you will pull a card. If you have no cards left, tomorrow morning you get to call home and explain to mom and dad that for the first time ever you had to call home because of your behavior." ((pure silence)).

I finished up packing to make my way to seminar and said goodbye to the class. At first no one responded b/c they were afraid to talk. "It's okay to say good bye"

And thus, a "Come to Jesus" kind of day. To end on a positive note, my mentor teacher and I talked about how behavior had been this week. She explained to me something I had not really thought of, but that makes perfect sense...our class has really bonded. They are clearly comfortable here. Many students behave differently (and more relaxed/loosely) at home because they are comfortable here. Creating a community is extremely important to my mentor teacher and myself, and I believe our students have strong bonds and our classroom really is a community. There is give and take. This was a give day!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Turkey and Chicken

Two of my students were looking at a globe during center time...

(T) Turkey? There is a country named Turkey?
(S) No there's not...wait there is really a country named Turkey?
(T) Yeah! See! (points to it on globe)
(S) Well, there has to be a "Chicken" then.

...and then they spend the next 5 minutes looking for a country called "Chicken" on the map...

Friday, January 21, 2011


The best thing about this week was that I was accepted into Teach For America (well that, and the 2 snow days). I am going to Nashville and will be teaching in an Elementary school! I officially accepted my offer last night and it was honestly a rush of emotions. I cannot believe that after 4 years of wanting to be a teacher I actually have the next step in place--I AM GOING TO BE A TEACHER. A "real" teacher now (according to my students). I am excited and overwhelmed and excited and terrified and overjoyed. The teaching part is totally exciting, the idea of picking up my life and dropping down in Nashville is the terrifying/exciting/overwhelming part.

I love it here in Cincinnati and honestly, for the past month I had totally convinced myself that there was no way I was going to be accepted into TFA and was starting to really like the idea of teaching in Cincinnati and pursuing a masters in teachers education from the Advanced Inquiry Project. Back-up plans were starting to take over my reality. My new, as of 2 days ago, reality is that I will be a teacher in Nashville, TN. A place I have never visited and have heard both horrible and incredible things about. I am excited to meet my future students and colleagues and preparing to work harder than I have ever worked in my life (which for those of you who know me, is REALLY hard). I am excited to  begin a new chapter in my life, but at the same time, not ready at all to finish up the one I am living in. Hopefully the next 4 months will get me ready, and I intend to live out every moment of my last 4 months in Cincy.

Do not get me wrong, I am nothing but happy with my decision to apply for and now join Teach For America. I truly believe that this organization is the best choice for my future and I believe that the impact I can make in my future classroom with my future students will be greater as a result of being a Corps member. I admire everything about their organization and I feel lucky to be a part of a movement of hardworking, dedicated individuals who have a common goal. Nashville, ready or not, here I come!

Fun fact of the post: Cincinnati is give or take about 20 minutes, the exact half way point between Akron and Nashville. How perfect is my life?

Simple Joys

I love this "simple joys" post from Scholastic Teachers. It really is the little things that make teaching so much fun and so rewarding!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dr.Martin Luther King Jr.

My students are OBSESSED with Martin Luther King, and I want nothing more than to encourage them to keep exploring, keep asking questions, and keep learning. We have been studying him all week and my students have shown a maturity while learning about him beyond what I could have ever expected (and I expect a lot out of my students).

Each child is reading an MLK themed text on his or her level for their Good Fit Book (GFB). While the reading level of the text is appropriate for the children, the topics they address are anything but simple. We have had numerous discussions on subjects like: assassination, non-violence, Ghandi, equality, laws, lawyers, the Supreme Court, marches, sit-ins, fair vs. equal, boycott, and so much more. I have been asked everything from "Why is there a policeman behind him in the picture?" to "Why would someone want to kill him?" to "Why do we only celebrate him once a year?" to "Where would I sit on the bus if I lived back then?"...and that is only in 3 days! Several of my students have tried to figure out what they would say, do, and how they would be treated if they lived back then.

We have devoured all of our classroom books on MLK. Today we read over 24 pages of a non-fiction book (stopping to discuss each picture) in one sitting! First graders should not have to sit that long and they usually can't, but they were so interested and curious that we just kept going.

I have to admit it is intimidating to try to explain these very complex concepts to children. My students want more than the surface level that I expected to be teaching about, but I am struggling with answering their questions in a satisfying way, but without scaring them or talking above their head. I am in all honesty having discussions with them that I would expect to have with a class of middle school students.

My mentor teacher and I discussed showing the students some of the "I have a dream" speech. I am going to show this clip:

The vocab is hard and it will probably lead to even more questions, but I believe my students are ready for it. What I really am trying to help them understand is that he was able to make changes because so many people believed in the change. He inspired them to believe and that things could be better. I really feel that at this age, no one explains that to children. My students came in knowing a lot about MLK, but they thought he made all of the changes himself. I want them to see him as a leader, as a symbol, and understand why he was so important--which is that he inspired others to do good things. That is why his legacy lives on. 

MLK has been a huge part of our Social Studies curriculum, but it has also been integrated into language arts. We have been able to discuss the features of non-fiction texts, used pictures to better comprehend our reading, practiced our fluency, most definitely stopped to ask questions to aid in comprehension and later this week we will be doing a GFB pair and share, a paragraph frame, and a text to text comparison. There will be no superficial cloud "I have a dream" pictures for the First Grade Froggers and I could not be more proud!

On a side note, during parent-teacher conferences, one family told us that their child requested to go to Atlanta, Georgia to see MLK's home on their next vacation.

Enjoy your Monday off, but realize WHY we get the day off. Take a minute to celebrate a great American whose legacy will live on forever--my first grade students have given me proof of this. 

The Art of the NON example

Out of everything that I have learned from my mentor teacher this year (which trust me is way more than I have learned in 4 years of coursework and I suspect more than most people learn in their first year teaching), one of my favorite strategies is the non-example.

By our definition non-examples are when we demonstrate, say, act, or talk about something to the children that is completely wrong. We do this to help them understand why it is important to understand or use a strategy or behavior. 

Non-examples can be as simple as saying the opposite of a direction, writing the wrong thing on the board (2+2=5), or acting out or narrating inappropriate behavior. I am amazed at their effectiveness. It is often ends up moving the student to that "click" moment in a new concept and will many times prevent a mistake from occurring. While it is important to learn from your mistakes, often, especially with forming letters and numbers,  it is one more time the child is practicing something the wrong way. The more a behavior or skill is practiced incorrectly, the harder it will be to change habits. Imagine being told that bed time was at 6:00pm every night for the past two years and then one day being told that we actually stay up until 10:30pm. It would be hard to stay up for those extra hours wouldn't it? I know it would for me, and it is just as hard for a child to reverse mistakes.

Between my mentor teacher and myself we probably say or do at least 20 non examples a day. Some are complex, but most are very simple. Some are fun ways to improve behavior or lighten the mood (my students love to be 'tricked' when we cheer spelling words for example) and others are attached to meaningful and further explained lessons and strategies.

Here are some examples:
--Telling the children to line up "as loudly and slowly as possible"
--When working on a Venn diagram or chart, beginning to write in the wrong spot 
--Acting out what it looks like when a child sits on their knees (instead of criss-cross applesauce) with their hand waving and making the 'uuuu' 'uuu' sound.
--Reading a book without stopping at punctuation and skipping a few words.
--Reading a book without any adjectives (how boring is that)
--Reading a book way too fast or way too slow
--writing a sample book starting with "I like" for every sentence
--adding when you are supposed to be subtracting

and here are some non-examples...just kidding!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Inspiration from the 2011 World Community Conference

This past Saturday I attended a conference at the Cincinnati Zoo. The conference showcased the work of graduate students in the Global Field Program and Advanced Inquiry Programs co-created by Miami University and the Cincinnati Zoo. The conference's intent was to celebrate science, education, conservation, and learning...and I can say it did that and so much more!

While I do not have the time or energy to fully explain what I saw and heard, I did write down and pull from the conference program/materials several key phrases that to me, help define the conference:

  • Inquiry-driven education
  • international partnerships
  • success in the protection and propagation of endangered animals and plants
  • build an alliance
  • community-based learning for the benefit of ecological communities, student achievement, and global understanding
  • authentic dialogue
  • "That's all we can really do--make a difference where we are."
  • time in nature benefits students
  • What more can I do? How can I reach them?
  • Increase inquiry
  • Focus, Purpose, Have a cause.
  • Cultural experience
  • Diverse cohort
  • "We tell students all of the time to make a difference, but you can go all the way from Kindergarten to high school to college without ever practicing making a difference."
  • environmental education
  • Living with people, alongside of them
  • build partnerships with small, grassroots organizations
  • children eat 33% more when lunch is after recess
  • mindfulness in the classroom--give children the opportunity for a positive break
  • Incomparable field experience
  • Inquiry as a lifestyle
For more information:

Can you tell I am inspired?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ready to go back?

My mentor teacher made the comment today that you are never "ready" to go back to school. I know that is the feeling most students have, but I never thought I would experience it as a teacher. I will say the "not ready to go back" feeling is different though, at least for me...

My "not ready to go back" feeling was not because I do not like what I am doing (in fact it is the opposite--I LOVE it!) but it was because I knew there was more I should have done over break. I wish I would have been more motivated to plan more. Sometimes it is hard to plan when you haven't seen how the students will react to something, but I am realizing it is REALLY hard to plan after a full day of school (and class and work and meetings).

It is not that I can't fill up the time in my day, I have plenty of filler work for them to do. It is the well thought out, really experiential planning that takes forever. It is the planning that causes me to run to Kroghetto at 7:30 in the morning, cut "building cookies"game pieces until my hands blister and wrist is swollen, review children's lit until my head spins, and cut a thousand fabric triangles kind of planning and prep that I want to do with my students. Maybe I am too ambitious, but this is how I want my students to learn.

I know the balance will come. I know I will get back into the swing of things, but right now I am just not able to figure out how or when. I am exhausted, but with two days in I am loving internship. More stories, lessons, news, and pictures are in the works, but for now it is time to go to bed!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I love graphing! It is one of my favorite things to teach. I love how many possibilities there are with this concept.  I also love that it is a concept that really grows with students. It is easy to see how the bar graphs we made in our preschool classroom are similar to the graphs we use in high school and college. Graphs are used in articles, magazines, and opinion polls...we see them everywhere! Maybe that is why I like teaching graphing so much---it is a skill that I know my students are going to use for the rest of their lives.

Graphing is also one of the concepts I have had the opportunity to teach in all of my practicum experiences (which might be another reason why I like to teach  it so much). Here is a run down of the graphing activities I have taught and how they grow at each level.

Preschool: Shoe Graphs

During my lead teaching week my focus in math was graphing. As a way to help students learn about graphs, we used a shower curtain and each morning at arrival the children in the class would take one shoe off and place their shoes on the graph. We would then talk about our graph during our first circle time. The focus was to graph by a different property each day (the graph for the first day, shown in the picture above, was to graph by color). This helped the children focus on identifying characteristics, classifying and sorting. We would talk about the basics: which category had the most and the least and how many shoes were in each category. At the end of circle time children would be dismissed by getting their shoes back...a relief for me because I got really sick of the "put your mat away" song!

Kindergarten: M&M Graphing

Any lesson that involves candy is an instant hit with students! Making them work before they can eat their candy it is a GREAT motivator. Every time I have used candy as a manipulative my students work really hard to stay on task so they can get my approval that their work is done correctly and FINALLY eat!

In this lesson, we practiced graphing with M&Ms. My main focus was to help the children learn how to represent a group of objects on a bar graph. It seems easy to us as adults, but children at this age sometimes have a hard time understanding how blocks on a page can really mean real-life objects. When they actually get to construct their graph using actual materials I think it makes the concept less abstract and easier to master.

I started the lesson by demonstrating how to construct a graph with the students. We followed these steps:
1. Separate the M&Ms by color (I bought a few large bags and separated them into ziplocks for my students...I did this opposed to fun size bags b/c I had more control of the contents. I used this as a way to differentiate instruction for the students).
2. Look at the graphing page and find the first color. How many do you have? (I pre-created the graphing pages for my students. We talked about all the parts of the graph during the intro to the lesson. I thought it would be too much of a task for the children to do the writing and graphing and post activity)

3. Count that number of blocks up. Put your crayon on the highest block and color down. (I always teach color down at the suggestion of my K mentor teacher--coloring down will help the children keep the children from accidentally coloring too far. It also helps for later when their bar graphs may not have grids. It also teaches them to look over to find out the value of the bar)
4. Repeat for each color

When the children completed their graphs they raised their hands. My mentor teacher and I would ask them a few questions (Which color did you have the most of? etc), check to see if they had made their graph accurately, and then let them eat their M&Ms.

After the children finished making their graphs, I wanted to reinforce looking at graphs and the data they contain. I created a short worksheet that they completed in pairs. This was a little tricky for them, but it really forced them to look at what their graphs represented and answer questions about it. Here is the worksheet:

First Grade:

We did a short unit on graphing before winter break. The unit focused more on the data analysis side of graphing rather than constructing graphs. I created one of the lessons in which we focused on why it is important to know the question that was used to collect the data.

I started the lesson by asking putting up a chart in with the categories video game, doll, puppy, book. I did not tell the children what the categories were for and asked them to mark the graph. One by one they came up and marked the graph. A few students caught on and asked me if they were supposed to mark their favorite and I would respond "whatever you think" which seemed to satisfy them. When they finished I asked them what the graph was about and I got all sorts of answers (favorite toy, what they wanted for Christmas were the most popular). After some of their answers I told them "Would you have answered the same if I told you this graph was the thing you would  NEVER be allowed to play with again?" and was almost blown out of my chair with their "NOOO!"s. This led us to the discussion that the question used to collect the data is really important.

Prior to the lesson I created a few different graphs with no titles that were all food related (desserts, entrees, drinks). I put up each one and had the children create questions that they thought the graph showed. I would select one of the answers as the "real" question asked. I made sure that one of the questions was "What is the ____ you liked the least"

After each graph had a question that showed what the graph talked about I paired the students up for this challenge: "Use the graphs to create the perfect meal for the students in this class" and handed each group a slip of paper to construct the meal. The students who finished early were asked to create a meal that you "absolutely would not want to give the class". This turned out to be a really fun way to help the students see how data can be used. It also was a good way to show "majority rules".

I am excited to keep exploring graphing with my students! The next stop in the graphing adventure will come during my Geometry unit...get excited!

The Plight of High School Homelessness

I read the The plight of high school homelessness in the Washington Post earlier this week and the article has really stuck with me. I applaud the community leaders who are working to change the lives of high school students and  their efforts to explain how a lack of a stable living situation can affect students in the classroom.

For me, this article is yet another reminder that the life of a student is complex and multifaceted. Students, even the youngest students, have lives outside of the classroom. Many students have worries, fears, and anxieties that affect their classroom learning. It is a reminder to me that all children are unique and that rules and procedures are not supposed to be rigid--There should be flexibility in the classroom to accommodate needs of individual students.

More than anything else, this article reminds me that creating a safe, comfortable environment is essential for student learning. I learned from working at the Wynn Center that as a teacher you cannot possible fix every problem that every student has. A teacher cannot singlehandedly fix homelessness, hunger, domestic violence, and crime, but they can create an environment for children that is an escape; an environment in which children want to come to school; and an environment in which children can feel comfortable enough to take risks.

As students grow older, this becomes even more important. As ECE teachers we have a responsibility to lay a foundation for students so that they value their education, want to come to school, and realize that learning is not compartmentalized into the school day--it is a lifelong practice.