Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Whole Brain Teaching Year Has Begun!

Well, school has begun and I feel like I am finally coming up for air. The first two days have gone well, but – as is usually the case – it has been hectic. Teaching sixth-grade in middle school, the poor darlings don't really know where to go or where they should be. Changing classes is new for them, and in one hour I had 16 people that did not belong in my class! Oy vey! Amazingly, by day two things went a lot more smoothly...and by smoothly, I mean no more than three kiddos in the wrong class per hour. 

I have been so busy with new school procedures, new administrator lists, and just the beginning of the school year that I haven't been planning"W.B.T." I covered the five rules, class/yes, and passing out papers on day one. We also discussed multiple intelligences and filled out an M.I. Survey. I had grandiose plans of getting to so much more. Ha!
I popped in for a Twitter #wbtchat last night, and Nancy S. was quick to remind me of a few things that would help me easily get back on track! So, scoreboard was today for day two! It was a huge – and I mean huge success! Also, I reviewed the class yes and rules, and added the teach/okay. They loved it! There was even one student teaching the rules to his shoe!  Hahaha!

I want to mention that I had our ELL teachers translated the 5 WBT rules into Spanish and Marshallese! Has anyone else translated them? Does anyone need them? I'm happy to share!

So...I'm tired. My washer at home broke.  My A/C in my classroom went out. I have lunch duty this first week of school. My voice is weak. My legs are nearly numb. My brain is fried. But, in all honesty, I can say, "I LOVE MY JOB!!!"

Power to the Teachers!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Student Walk-Through

I am tired. My feet hurt – I have a blister on my foot from new "big girl" shoes I wore yesterday (and only 6 hours). I've spent late hours both in my classroom and at home reading, preparing, researching. But I am not discouraged.  I am not hesitant. I am not sorry to see the end of summer. On the contrary, I am excited about this school year! 

We are anticipating +\- 180 sixth-graders this year--one of the largest Longfellow Middle School has seen. Yesterday our sixth-graders were invited to LMS  to walk through a mock schedule.  You see, they weren't able to your the building in the spring as fifth-graders because the building was under reconstruction. Sixth-grade teachers were discussing that a turnout of 80 would be great.  Yesterday somewhere around 125 showed up! I think the kids are excited about this school year, too!

Power to the Teachers!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Never Before...

I have taught before, but I think I'd mentioned that in my first blog post.  Never have I reported so early in August.  Now, I'm not one who usually remembers dates, so how do I know?  Today is my birthday…and never have I reported back to school BEFORE my birthday.  I'd always viewed that as a good thing -- but this year is different.  The staff I have met thus far is different.  I am different.  I am so very glad to be working with them, for they bless me beyond belief! We get along, share, encourage, expand, and help each other. We have group jokes from our FIRST DAY together.  It's unreal!

We had just a half day of the district's new teacher workshops/meetings yesterday, so we gathered at Applebee's for lunch.  Much to my surprise, I was sung to AND given such a sweet birthday card and gift card.  Honestly, I was fighting back tears…I was moved!  These people I had JUST MET on Monday…not even three work days ago…had plotted.  :)  After lunch, I reached to pay for the ticket, BUT NO!  They had secretly arranged to split my tab amongst them!  I had my daughter there, too, and they paid for hers!  I was (and still am) touched.

Never before have I felt such an immediate bond with my grade level (plus one!) of teachers.

Never before have I thanked building administrators for hiring the new teachers…ALL of them!

Never before has a group of educators moved me to improve myself and grow professionally.

Never before have I awakened on a Saturday at 6am (on my birthday, no less) and my first thoughts were of school! Honest Engine!!

Never before have I wanted…waited…for the time to pass so I can get into the school building to get back to work.

Yes, I am thrilled to announce I am certain this year will be like never before!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Every Child Deserves a Champion

I love Ted Talks.  I love the enthusiasm and charge they give me. After viewing one or two, I am filled with a "can-do" attitude.  
This one, in particular, spoke to me tonight.  I hope to be that champion.  Will you be?  How do you plan to become a champion? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Thank you, Melonheadz, for making such cute teenager people art! I have finally created my blog banner, which I have a also used on my Facebook page. If you ever are in need of illustrations, please check out won't be disappointed!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer's End

Summer consists of two days for me…today and tomorrow…then I'm a working gal again! New teachers in our district report August 6-8th from 8-3. All teachers report August 11. Students start on August 19th.  While I know I should be cherishing these last few hours of summer, I am instead ready for things to roll! I have been hoping, planning, interviewing, and wanting to be in the classroom for so long--now, I just want to teach!  :)

So, friends and educators, enjoy the waning days of summer! Read a book (or a mere chapter, in my case), soak in a bit of sun, and relax with your loved ones.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Flashback -- Interactive Notes from 2014 National WBT Conference

Summer has been rolling along and I have been working on preparing for the start of school and my WBT internship.  This morning I found an INVALUABLE resource! I was instantly thrown back to my whirlwind days at the 2014 WBT National Conference in Louisiana!  Linked below, for you to peruse and learn, are notes from WBT Intern Kelly Avery.  There are 35 links that have been added to cross-reference videos and free e-books from the WBT website.

Warning:  within the link there is a LOT of information! Use caution when consuming this much mind-blowing data!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ripe? Funky? Malodorous?

So the two ladies I worked with in a group went to lunch together today. Time was short. The Yelp app was wrong. Sonic was our solution. I inhaled my #1 with mustard and extra pickles and back to the conference we went. Soon after I modeled WBT techniques (see previous entry "PROGRESS"), I realized I was feeling sticky. (It was about 2?) I kept catching a malodorous whiff and assumed it was a need to reapply deodorant. 
--Now, fast forward to some time around 5pm.--
At a gas/pit stop, I realized I was still wearing my "Keep your dear teacher happy" button. Upon removing it, something fell to the floor. 
😳 Yes, folks, that is a Sonic diced onion with mustard. Odor solved.

Word Crimes

Hey there, ELA teachers!  Have you seen this video?

Reactions? Comments? Like or dislike?

P-R-O-G-E-S-S. Oh, Yeah!!

     So day two has ended. I, once again, was asked to model the WBT lesson techniques using fractions. Coach B restarted me only once. 👍 Oh yeah! Plus, he asked me to add an explanation of the Q-T process and Q-T questions. Oh, sweet mama, what a difference a day makes! Things went so much better. 
     After Coah B closed the session, he allowed me to shamelessly plug my blog, twitter account, and class FB page. 😉  Should you be reading this and were at the West Memphis conference, please leave a comment to let me know. I have attempted to add a "follow me" widget, but it may or may not be working. If it isn't working, I will consult with my Technical Advisor (😏 aka my 15 year old son who knows a bit about html) and will correct the issue by Friday. (Give a mom a bit to do laundry, lol!)

Pictured below: Sue Scott, Coach B (aka Chris Biffle), and me!
Thank you, Coach B, for your help and guidance!  I look forward to the next time our paths cross. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

WBT Conference #2--I'm still cool!

Day one of the Arkansas WBT Conference and Coach B called me up to model the first three steps of a five step WBT lesson on fractions. The chairs represented each step: Class-Yes, Mirror-Words (with 2 sentences of instruction using big gestures), and Teach-Okay. Coach introduced me as one of the newest WBT interns...and after much redirection, I asked if he wanted to resind my internship. 😳 Boy! I think the chairs had it out for me. LOL. I'm just kidding!  I had spoken the lesson in "teach-okay" to my partner, but it was such an adreneline rush teaching the group...gulp!  What a fabulous learning experience!! Thanks, Coach B, for guiding me and being so kind!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Elbow Grease

A bit of paint, 1/2 price scrapbook paper, and modge-podge and this drafting table is like new. I want to drill holes in the legs so I can put in casters -- mobile! 😎👍 I'm going to say goodbye to the traditional teachers desk and be all updated and swank!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Can any working parent "have it all?"

Today's blog post is in response to an article I read about the CEO of Pepsi Co. (link to follow) I appreciate Indra Nooyi's one who has worked full time before children, worked FT with one child, been a SAHM with all three, worked PT with all three, and am preparing to return to working FT with three children, I always felt guilty/inadequate because I was always missing out on something.  This article made sense to me. It's not the lesson of the 70's and 80's my generation heard growing up...but I'm no longer sold on that being possible.  I believe any of us can choose to do anything, but no one can have it all.

Power to the teachers!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I came from Louisiana with WBT on the brain.

Three days.  Just three days.  It hardly seems possible for ten years to be trumped by three, relatively short days, but that's exactly what happened.  I attended my first WBT workshop. EVER. The first time I was in the real-live-presence of WBT in real life. I had watched some YouTube videos and read some of the ebooks (even a few chapters of Coach B's book), so I thought I knew what I was getting into...BOY WAS I WRONG!  And, I have to admit I have never been so happy to be wrong.  This was no "convention" like I had ever attended.  I was in heaven, for THIS WAS SUMMER DAY CAMP FOR TEACHERS!  

There was an all group time, a small group time, and (like every camp) lunch time.  We had our counselors, our own camp songs (of sorts), camp stories and jokes.  I made lots of new friends.  But the biggest thing is that I cannot get WBT out of my head. I want to do everything to recreate that "camp" feeling for my students! I want them to feel the energy and fun about my subjects that I did about WBT.  I want them to leave my 55 minute class thinking, "Mrs. Benge's class is over already?" I want them to walk out of my class period wanting more...yes, that's it.  I want to leave them wanting more!

It is Thursday morning.  Two short weeks ago, I interviewed for my position.  That Friday I was "officially" offered the job by the district, Saturday I packed for my trip, and Sunday I drove to Pineville, Louisiana.  Monday morning I felt a bit like a fish out of water -- but that soon changed! By Wednesday I was just like any camper...ready to go home, but sad to leave my experience behind.  Just one week ago I returned home. There hasn't been a day since that I haven't thought of a zwoop, eert, big gesture, or scaffolding.  My brain is ON FIRE! I wake up in the middle of the night and my thoughts are in teach-okay phrases! I actually used the word "guff" with my daughter yesterday (and, yes, I then had to explain what it meant). I have applied what I learned as best I can to my parenting...secretly wishing I could go full-tilt on my unsuspecting three. 
There hasn't been a week day since my return that I haven't been in my classroom. Honest engine. Yesterday I was there with my daughter for just shy of 6 hours.  She arranged my 400+ books for the classroom library.
I arranged desks. I made a seating arrangement template. 
And then...then, I wrote out my Five Rules.  
Yes, they are already posted at the front of my room!  Sweet Mama, I'm sick -- I've got WBT Fever!

Power to the Teachers!
Cathy Benge

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What does this make me?

It's summer.  Two of my children are home, the third is at camp. I have post-camp laundry from two, the dregs of my post-trip laundry, and regular, every day laundry ALL piled up.
 Sigh.  Then there are the stacks that continue to creep into my home.
 And I am having to FORCE MYSELF to be responsible and get household things done.  I would prefer to read my WBT book...

So, does avoidance make me an irresponsible ostrich?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

...I'm baaaaaack!

Nearly twelve years ago, I taught two years of fourth grade and nine years of sixth grade.  I loved the interaction with the students, seeing the "ah-ha" moment when they understood a concept. I loved coming up with new ways to teach old tricks.  I loved learning from my students.  I. Loved. Teaching!  Then we began our own family. My husband and I both wanted me to stay home to raise our children--it was a blessing to get to do just that!   

Our three are older and more independent now, and I have been restless at home. I have tutored, dabbled in gardening, worked at a coffee shop and my husband's office. I have learned scrapbooking, knitting and quilting and crochetting.  The past three years I have even substituted PK-12 and have realized the "teacher itch" is still there. This fall I will be back in my own classroom teaching sixth grade English/Language Arts at middle school.  And. I. Am. EXCITED!

I may have gone off the teacher track, but Mrs. Benge is coming back!
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