I spent much of last week surrounded by extended family. I now know that our close relationships are not as common as I once thought. Growing up, I believed families like my own were the norm. I was often surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Many of my cousins are as close as siblings.

I don’t want to suggest that we all get along all of the time. There are certainly moments of hurt, anger or disappointment. Ultimately though, we support each other in times of celebration and rally around each other in times of need. We love each other despite our flaws and stumblings.

One of the reasons I appreciate teaching elementary school as much as I do is the opportunity to develop intimate classroom families. By spending ten months of the year together, day in and day out, we develop relationships with our students and they with each other. We read and learn together; we problem solve and compromise; we celebrate the highs and comfort through the lows; we laugh together and cry together.

Families come in many forms. Home. Work. Church. School. The events of the last few weeks have reminded me to enjoy each moment with our families. We just don’t know what lies ahead.


Our week was not as expected.

My dear uncle, perhaps the smartest man I knew, suffered a stroke. When I saw him last he wasn’t the witty Uncle Pat I knew. He wasn’t leaning in to share a dry remark. He wasn’t curling or sitting watching sports or supervising the rest of us playing cards or Scrabble. There was no Guinness in hand.

Although not his usual self, one thing remained the same: he was surrounded by those who love him. This husband. Father. Grandfather. Uncle. Brother. Brother-in-law. Teacher. Friend. Sports fanatic. Trivia master. Food connoisseur. Wordsmith.

He took his last breath on Saturday. One of his last audible words earlier in the week after he was told he had suffered a stroke: “bollocks.” Fitting if you knew my Irish uncle.

Rest in peace Patrick. You will be missed.

A Season to Read and Write

This weekend December arrived and along with it some snow. A lot of snow, actually! We also put up our Christmas tree and decorated the house.

At this time of year in the classroom, I love to capitalize on the excitement of the season.

  • It’s time to introduce transformation stories using How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss and The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado. After exploring these books, students can write their own transformation stories.
  • It’s time to share Christmas poetry such as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore.
  • It’s also time to have students write recipes. Find a picture of a non-bake Christmas treat; students have to list the ingredients and write the steps to create the treat!

Happy reading… happy writing!