Monthly Archives: November 2011

Words of Inspiration and Motivation

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There are a number of  quotes/excerpts that I find motivational and inspirational. Here are a few of them:

“The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” summed up for me the commonplace conclusion that, like it or not, we are living in an interdependent world where what our children hear, see, feel, and learn will affect how they grow up and who they turn out to be. The five years since 9/11 have reinforced one of my main points: How children are raised anywhere can impact our lives and our children’s futures.” -Hillary Clinton (Source: 2006 intro to It Takes A Village, by H. Clinton, p. xii Dec 12, 2006)

“We all depend on adults whom we know and on those we may not to help us inform, support, or protect our children. In the last ten years, science has proven how resilient children can be despite great obstacles. And that’s where other adults may step in, to help nurture children and to provide positive role models.” – Hillary Clinton (Source: 2006 intro to It Takes A Village, by H. Clinton, p. xii Dec 12, 2006)

“In this book and my autobiography, Living History, I wrote about my own mother’s difficult childhood. Abandoned by her teenage parents, mistreated by her grandparents, she was forced to go work as a mother’s helper when she was thirteen. Caring for another family’s younger children while attending high school may sound harsh, but the experience of living in a strong, loving family gave my mother the tools she would need later when caring for her own home and children…Learning about my mother’s childhood sparked my strong conviction that every child deserves a chance to live up to her God-given potential and that we should never quit on any child.” -Hillary Clinton (Source: 2006 intro to It Takes A Village, by H. Clinton, p. xii Dec 12, 2006)

“As a teacher I feel that we teachers are pushed to spend every minute in the classroom on academic rigor and the need for play is pushed aside.” -Elena Bodrova (The First Years of School by: E. Bodrova, April 2003 | Volume 60 | Number 7,   Pages 50-53)

“With the right approach, a plain white hat and a plate full of yarn spaghetti can contribute to a young child’s cognitive development.” -Elena Bodrova (The First Years of School by: E. Bodrova, April 2003 | Volume 60 | Number 7,   Pages 50-53)

I love the excerpts above. They are so, so true! After learning about how family and relationships affect children’s development and about significant contributors to the early childhood education field, in my current graduate class at Walden University, I had to post them! And I LOVE the attitude of Elena Bodrova’s last quote!

” I wanted to be a teacher because I had a built-in passion that it was important to make a real contribution in the world and to fix all the injustices in the world. And I wanted to do that through teaching.” – Louise Derman-Sparks (The Passion for Early Childhood)

” I think first and foremost my passion comes from intrinsic motivation that I have for the work that I do. Everyday I got o work, I look forward to it because I know that the services I am providing to children, it’s to their benefit. It isn’t anything that’s going to benefit me. It’s going to benefit them. ” – Raymond Hernandez MS ed. (The Passion for Early Childhood Education)

” Working intently with families was almost like earning a doctorate. Every year there was always a specific challenge…and I had to meet it. I’ve always felt like I’ve owed the families the best.” – Renatta M. Cooper (The Passion for Early Childhood)

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My Personal Childhood Web

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There are a significant number of people who have profoundly contributed to my life in many ways. I have been nurtured, cared for, and loved by some of the most wonderful people in the world. I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoyed having them as a part of my life.

First and foremost, this is my mom and my best friend. I don’t even know where to begin to tell you how wonderful my mother is. Despite my efforts to truly tell you how incredible of a mother she is I simply cannot put into words all the things I really want to say and I don’t believe that what I am about to write will even begin to do her justice. The most important thing that I can tell you about my mother as it relates to my childhood is that I loved her and I knew without a doubt that I was loved back. There was never a day when my mother didn’t tell me numerous times, for no reason at all, that she loved me. That is one of the most important things you can do for your child, and my mom did it, without fail, since as far back as I can remember. I knew that no matter what I did, whether she approved of it or not, it wouldn’t make my mother love me any less. My mother was always encouraging, caring, and reliable. Those seem like such simple words, but they are important nonetheless. My mother has always encouraged me to be who I wanted and to do what I wanted. She always told me, “You can do it, Kristen”. She nurtured me to believe in myself like she believed in me. My mom has always been very caring. I remember feeling like I could talk to my mom about anything and that she would be there for me.  I trusted her and I knew that I could count on her. And to this day she has never failed me. She has always had my best interest at heart, despite my arguments when I was young that she was ‘being mean’, now as an adult, I see what she was really doing. She was protecting me. As I got older, I watched as my mother picked up her three children, ages 12, 10, and 8 and walked away from a marriage that was not healthy for her or her children. She always taught me to be strong and she was the perfect example of that. She taught to me to take care of myself and be independent. She encouraged me through high school and college to strive for excellence and I clearly remember her telling me that she wanted me to have an education so that I could provide for myself because she didn’t want me to be stuck in a situation (relationship, marriage, etc) that I couldn’t get out of because I was financially or otherwise dependent on someone else. My mother has been an example to me since I was a child and to this day she continues to be all of things I have told you about and more. I hope that I can be half the mother to my amazing little boy that she was, is, and will continue to be to me.

 *  This is my step father. He came into my life when I was about 12 years old. When I first met him, I was instantly comfortable around him. I liked him as a person, I liked him for a father figure, and most importantly I liked him for my mother. He took an interest in me, my brother, and my sister. It was nice to feel that he wanted us around and enjoyed spending time with us. It was obvious that he cared about us. Not many men would take on a woman’s 3 children. I recall never feeling like we were loosing our mom to some guy, but rather gaining another father. He was everything a father should be. He was very hardworking, working both as a firefighter and in the Air National Guard. Although he never taught me through conversation, his hard work and ambition encouraged me to be the same way. Like my mother, he was right there beside me when I needed something, be it advice, a shoulder to cry on, or encouragement.  He has always been the perfect example of a father through his nurturing, his affection, and his reliability. I have always felt like I could count on him for anything I needed. The same holds true today as I am an adult with my own child and family. He is the first person I call when I need something. I am a very lucky girl to have had the chance to have two fathers.
Click on the link to hear a song that has always reminded me of my step father… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjO1F6oCab8&feature=youtu.be
The following link is the song we danced to at my wedding in the picture above… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awNqLO6auQA&feature=youtu.be

This is my Aunt Linda. She is also my Godmother and truly like a second mom. As a child, my Aunt taught me the importance of family. She would often pick me (and my brother and sister) up to go shopping, to do something fun, or just to spend time with her at her home. She always knew how to make us each feel special. I had fallen off my bike and broke my wrist, so my aunt picked me up and took me shopping for something special I wanted. I loved the times when I would just hang out with her and enjoy her company.  I was a flower girl at her wedding and I remember thinking how lucky I was to have her in my life.  I now know as an adult that many people do not have the relationship with their aunts as I was lucky enough to have with mine, but when I was young, I didn’t know any different, assuming that everyone had this relationship with their extended family. My aunt continues to be a treasured part of my life. I turn to her often when I need a second opinion or just a bit of conversation and a hug.  She has always encouraged me to stand up for myself and not let people take advantage of me. She is a strong independent woman and I believe that I learned some of that from her, just as I did my own mom. I was blessed with such wonderful family and she is just the beginning.

I wish I had a picture to share with you of this wonderful woman… When I was a baby and my mom went back to work, our neighbor offered to babysit me. Her name was Mary Ellen but I called her Mimi. Although I was not old enough to recall this myself, my mom told me of how much she loved me and how she took care of me with such love. I would play with her sons, who were a good bit older than me. I do remember a few things from being with her, one of which was how I couldn’t have felt more comfortable with her, as if she were my own grandmother. I say grandmother because although she was not quite as old as my grandmother, she was older than my mom. She had children and grandchildren of her own and I remember feeling as though I fit right in with them. She enjoyed taking care of me because I am the only girl she had experienced until that point. She was a mother of boys and my mother tells me how much fun she had with me and likewise. As a teenager/early adult, my mom and I went and visited her and on her coffee table was a flower that I had given her many years before as a Christmas present. I mentioned it to her and she said, “Oh yes. My grandkids know not to touch the flower that my Kristen gave me. ” Even as an adult she had a special way of making me feel important.  She passed away before I really had the chance to know her as an adult but I have fond memories of her.

I wish I had some childhood pictures to share, but this is one of my oldest and dearest friends. Her name is Lara and she and I have been friends since pre-school. Our fathers were friends growing up and still lived in the same area when they both started having children.  My earliest memories of Lara and I were in elementary school. I would spend the night at her house often. At that young age, children like to feel accepted and I was no exception. I felt very accepted by Lara. She defended me, she cared about me, and the most important thing at that age, she was nice to me.  My students often say that about their friends at school. “I like him/her because he/she is nice to me.” As a child, you are very fickle when it comes to friends. On Monday one person is your best friend and on Thursday it is someone new. But with Lara, I remember real friendship. A friendship where you knew without a doubt that you would be friends forever. And so far we are heading into year 26. Lara and I would spend our time together, playing, dancing, and laughing. I can recall weekends that I spent at her house, bugging her older sister, gossiping about elementary school girl stuff, and attending church on Sundays in matching dresses. She always made me feel important in our friendship. No child likes to feel unimportant or pushed aside by his/her friends. I knew that she cared about me and I am positive that she knew I cared about her. Friends build your confidence. When someone wants to be your friend, it makes you feel good about yourself and not afraid to make friends with other people. Having someone to experience ‘life’ with at such a young age makes life a little less scary.  Friends help create memories that you won’t forget. As time went on, through me moving across the county when my parents divorced, going to different high schools, and her joining the Coast Guard as opposed to my enrolling in college, we have stayed close. Lara continues to be a blessing in my life. She supports me and my decisions and is here for me when I need her.   I feel very lucky to have a friend who was a part of my earliest childhood memories and now our children will have the same with each other.  Click on the link for a video that pretty much sums up our childhood friendship(and our adult friendship if you really want to know the truth. Ha!)… particularly at 1:26. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5MAYw_77_o&feature=related

My favorite things…

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 This is a picture of me from 1985 when I was 3 years old. This is one of my favorite pictures of myself.

This is a current picture of me from my wedding day with my son, Cole. 9-24-11

This is a picture of my family. My husband Michael, our son Cole, and me. 9-24-11

This book is one of my favorite children’s books. I read this book with my first graders at the beginning of every school year. This story touches on the differences between people and that it is okay to be different. It teaches them about diversity. We use this book each year when we get to know our classmates as we compare our similarities and differences. We read this book together and then go through a number of examples of differences from the story as I ask students about themselves. My favorite example from the book is “It’s okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub”. I love to ask the students to raise their hands if they eat their macaroni and cheese in the bathtub. It’s always fun to see those few students who raise their hands because they do and then when I ask them, “Do you REALLY eat your macaroni and cheese in the bathtub? They always say ‘no’ and giggle.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward

I love this quote because it is true. I strive every day in my classroom, outside of my classroom, and now by enrolling in graduate school to be a great teacher. I do believe that in order to inspire, you need to have a good combination of the other things. It is important to not only explain and demonstrate, but also to motivate and encourage them to elicit a true passion for learning. One of the most important things a teacher can do to inspire their students is to be inspired themselves. They can tell when you have a real passion for teaching them and want to be there or if you are just there to collect a paycheck. Children are intuitive.

My favorite story to tell about my experiences as a teacher is about one of my second grade students, my first year of teaching. Let’s call this boy, M. During the week that teachers went back to work, the first grade teachers had seen my class list and warned me about this particular student. They warned me that he was a bully, he did not care about learning, and that he was always in trouble. From the moment I heard about M, I vowed to make this student my challenge. He came in on the first day of school and after ten minutes with him it was apparent that the first grade teachers were right, but I was determined to change this. His behavior, language, and attitude challenged me on a daily basis. He was suspended for cursing at me and threatening me. He seemed to be very angry. After a few months of trying every behavior modification method that I could think of, I finally requested a conference with M and his mother. The minute they walked into my classroom together and I saw the interaction between the two of them, it hit me. M just needed a little bit of TLC and someone to show him they cared. The following day, began the change that I believe has put him on the track he is on right now as a 5th grader. I started talking to him more often. Talking to him about how he was feeling, why he was behaving the way he was, and explaining to him that I cared about him and his behaviors were upsetting to me. Rather than raising my voice, or punishing him with loss of recess or showing frustration, I let him know that I was disappointed. I started to see a change in M. Because I had changed my reaction to him, he had started to want to please me. While other teachers yelled at him in the past, I changed the approach and it worked. He was by no means ‘cured’ of his behaviors when he left my second grade class, but the entire school had noticed a positive change in him. And for the first time, his new teacher the following school year heard wonderful things about him the first week of school. I told his new teacher of what I did to get positive behaviors from him and I encouraged her to try the same things. My methods have been carried on all the way up to 5th grade and I am proud to say that I helped create a change in M.

Here goes nothing…

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Hi. My name is Kristen and this is my first blog post. I am a little nervous about this type of thing because even though I love my Facebook and I love updating people through it, this is different. Facebook is a quick little status update or a photo album. This is more like a journal. I have never been good at keeping a journal or diary of any sort so I am hoping that as time goes by, I get better at writing my blogs.

I will start by telling you a little about myself. First and foremost, I am a mom. I have a little boy who will be two on Christmas Eve and if you are a mom, you can understand when I say that watching him grow and change each day is the most amazing thing in the world. I never imagined that I could love someone so much. I am also a wife. I married my best friend just a few short weeks ago on September 24, 2011. I was truly blessed the day he walked into my life. I am also a teacher. I teach first grade at a Title One school in Baltimore County, Maryland. It is challenging at times but the most rewarding job in the world. Just as I love watching my two year old learn something new, I absolutely love seeing that look in my students eyes when they realize that they just learned something. My favorite thing to hear is one of my students say, “Mrs. Hammel! I can do it!”

I have also just started my first ever class of graduate school and I am little nervous. I think that if I were attending a regular old ‘go to class on campus’ college like I attended for my undergraduate degree, I wouldn’t be so nervous. But I have just embarked on a journey that is brand new to me…online classes! I am taking all of my graduate classes ONLINE! I am worried that I won’t have the self control to get online and do my work. It’s a little intimidating.

So, in closing, thank you for reading my blog and I hope you come back to read more. I need all the support I can get. Wish me luck!