I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Friday, May 31, 2013


Highlights of the day:

- Our class winning the ABC of sports contest (and then proceeding to go nuts when they announced us winning over the intercom)
- Winning a game of wall ball in aftercare (against a bunch of 4th and 5th graders)
- Getting my act together as far as enrollment benefits for next schoolyear
- Enjoying a school-wide sports dress-down (Go Michigan State!)

With only one more week (and some change) of school to go, it's the little things, people.

Cheers to the weekend!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Change in plans...

Sooooooo, I recently agreed to take on a new position at my school next year. Instead of co-teaching 4th grade (self-contained), I will be teaching middle school religion.

Next year's plans have been brought up with a few people (mostly family and close friends). Here are some responses I've received when I've explained the change for next year:

Middle School? Good luck with that...

Is that all you're teaching?

It is a full time job, right?

Wow, you're brave.

Well, that will be different...

I'd love teaching religion all day...if it weren't to middle school students...

Thanks for the support, guys.

Just kidding. Most of these comments have been followed by things like "You'll be good at that" or "I'm sure you'll be ready to meet the challenge."

It is going to be different, that's for sure. I'll miss working with my current co-teacher, and I will miss the 4th grade age group (and having one class for the whole day). But this opportunity will allow me to experience teaching other grade levels - can't expect to stick to just 4th grade "4"-ever. (Though, I must admit, it is a pretty ideal age group.) In addition, the principal has been very supportive in assuring me that if, in a year or two, I want to go back down to 4th grade (or thereabouts) that she would support that decision.

So, for now, we'll just have to finish out the year strong and then wait and see. Middle school, here I come!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

On My Lips

The other night at young adult book club, we talked briefly, among other things, about how praying for a person or making an intentional effort to really see a situation allows us to truly experience that person (and our interactions with him/her) in a totally different light.

I, personally, have found this to be true, both during Lent (when I tried to pray for one specific student each day) and more recently - when that student's name was on my lips (in prayer), I found I was able to face any struggles or annoyances with him/her more easily.

And, I suppose, that makes perfect common sense. Yet, how often do I allow myself to get caught up in a moment or to be silently frustrated (in a shaking-of-the-head kind of way) with a student or co-worker?

Too often.

So, what can we do about it?

One thing I want to try is to be in more constant communication (i.e. PRAYER) with God. The days in which I have achieved this more intimate and continuous conversation are ones in which I have been filled with more joy and peace about all that comes my way.

And that, my friend, is no coincidence.

Monday, May 20, 2013

My Kids

Another Monday has come and gone.

We're nearly to the end - just a few more weeks to go.

Hard to believe...hard to believe.

It reminds me of a quote I came across on Pinterest awhile back - so true:

Some days ahead will certainly be challenging, but our time left together is short. We have to remember to treasure and enjoy it for all it's worth.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Summer Time and the Reading is Easy...

We still have 3.5 weeks to go in our classroom, but that doesn't mean we haven't been gearing up for summer.

For the students, that means dreaming of camps, sleeping in, and going on family vacations.

But for us teachers, it means planning student summer reading.

The term "summer slide" gets thrown around a lot, but it should not be taken lightly. Our kids like to read, so that is probably why it is so disappointing that many of them choose not to read over the summer. (That is, they read the assigned 1 or 2 books right after school gets out OR right before school starts up again.)

As we finalize up our summer reading plans (which may include some student blogging - woo hoo!), let me direct your attention to these 5 practical tips for reading over Summer from Scholastic: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/pam-allyns-5-tips-summer-reading

Read on, my friends. Read on...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Because of Mr. Terupt, I am recommending this book

Just finished Because of Mr. Terupt - wow.


The fifth grade students (and their families) are transformed in this novel...all because of Mr. Terupt. (Um, just guessing, but I think that's how the book got its name.)

Hands down, this is one of the best upper elementary/early middle school books I have read in a long time (except for The One and Only Ivan). The chapters are short, and they trade off points of view among the 7 main students in the book. (In fact, the way the story is written almost makes it seem like there are only 7 students in the class - that might be its only downfall.) The voice in the writing is superb, and it is specific to each student. And each student carries baggage. And each student needs some kind of reassurance and reconciliation...and...and...

All right, I'll stop there.

HOWEVER, if you teach in the 4th-6th grade range, you NEED to read this book. (And then, more importantly, pass it on to your colleagues and students.)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Random Friday Night Thoughts...

I don't know about you, but this week has been loooooong. When I think it's Thursday and it's really just Tuesday, that says it all. Yep, that's what it's been like.

Not that I'm complaining - more like stating a fact about my life. My nights have actually been filled with fun things: volleyball, trivia (for the win!), school spring concert, and dinner with my sister. (Maybe I just haven't been getting enough sleep.)

There's just a lot bouncing around in my brain right now - lots to think about. Sorry if I'm not making any sense - we've been looking over student data, looking ahead to next year, preparing for changes in faculty, and more...so I'm a little lost in thought right now.

So, can I ask you just to send a prayer up for me?

Thank you.

P.S. Check out our superintendent's spotlight in the ACE News.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Change of Plans...and then back on track

What are you doing after school today?

Well, the original plan was to score some Social Studies quizzes, fix up the classroom, drive home, head to the gym, eat dinner, and then go to volleyball.

Plans changed, however, when my co-teacher and I realized our fourth grade boys had a baseball game at 4. (Lucky for me it was close to my apartment, so I dropped my car off and made my way over and met my co-teacher there.) While our team lost by the 10-run/mercy/slaughter rule, they still seemed to have a good time. And they seemed excited (in a fourth grade boy kind of way) that we had come to see them. It was really nice to see the boys on the field playing as a team, as so many times (especially of late) during the day the students are at each other's throats. And it was good to chat with some parents too - we haven't seen many of them since conferences, unless we randomly catch them in the car line at drop-off or pick-up.

Afterwards, I headed home, and my after-school plans resumed at the dinner portion. Volleyball was a lot of fun tonight, and we kept playing until 10. I don't think I'll make it to any remaining games due to YAC book club next week and ladies' night the one after that, but I'm glad I started finally going this year.

It's probably time for bed - but I honestly am not that tired. I believe that exercising that close to when I try to fall asleep cannot help in that manner at all. Oh well...

P.S. Just started reading Because of Mr. Terupt and couldn't put it down. After about 100 pages last night, I forced myself to close the cover, tuck it away, and get some sleep. But I plan to finish it soon. It's a good one - It is the story of a class of 5th graders and their teacher. And it is told from 7 different students' perspectives over the course of a school year. The children are definitely different personalities, and each one carries baggage that others (except the reader) don't know about.

I see potential for some great classroom discussions on this one...

Monday, May 13, 2013

As we go 'Twitter'ing...

Let's face it, I'm a pretty regular user of Blogger, Facebook, Pinterest, Feedly (R.I.P. Google Reader), Google Docs, and Evernote. And I regularly visit sites like TED, NPR, NYTimes, TJP, and other sites to stay up to date on what's happening in the world (and also in the worlds of education & my faith).

And I was fine with that.


But more and more, my friends started posting what the Pope tweeted on Facebook. And one of the priests at my parish started referencing Twitter a lot. And I kept noticing hashtags (e.g. #isitfridayyet). #everywhere.

So I finally joined the Twitter nation (@KFoyle), not because I necessarily have the desire to tweet my own thoughts but mostly to follow and engage with the tweets of others. However, if I do post, I will try not to be obnoxious, nor will I attempt to bore people with the mundane happenings of my life. (We'll just have to see where the tweeting spirit leads me...)

So, happy Monday, friends. We made it.

And here's a little Twitter humor/food for thought for your day:

- "On Twitter we get excited if someone follows us. In real life we get really scared and run away." ~Unknown

-"It's not just about consuming content, but sharing it, passing it on, and adding to it." - @ariannahuff

-“LinkedIn is for the people you know. Facebook is for the people you used to know. Twitter is for people you want to know” ~ Source unknown

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Weekend Musings...

This weekend has been filled with activities but has seemed slow. And that has been wonderful...

On Friday, I had aftercare, but one of my co-workers took over for me around 5, and I ended up spending about 3 hours sitting in Panera with my sister. (The good news is that their summer salad is back...) It was relaxing, good-quality sister time. We were both (although, probably she more than me) exhausted from the week, and after I dropped her back off at home, I went home, checked some emails, and headed to bed. It was going to be an early morning (and a full day) on Saturday.

And so Saturday morning did roll around - with the sun shining for the first part of the day, I thought I had overslept. (Thank goodness that was not the case - going through the day without a shower was not an option.) Up and at 'em for Marisa's kiddos' First Communion, I picked her up and was able to get in some reading while I waited in her room before Mass began.

Her students were all beautifully (and handsomely) dressed, and they were beyond excited for both the Eucharist and for their parties that would follow. I was blessed to minister the Blood during Communion to some of her students for the first time.

After about 2 hours' worth of Mass, we peaced out pretty quickly in order to make the afternoon portion of a day-long young adult retreat at our parish. We made it in time for the tail-end of lunch - score! And, while there was some confusion among our friends - "Wait, when did you get here?" and "Were you here this morning?" - we explained where we had been and continued on with the day, which included witness talks, discussion and reflection time, a brief Taize experience, Mass, and dinner. The night continued at a local bar, which had karaoke. (No, I did not participate.) Overall, it was another great retreat experience. (I love my Church!)

When I first woke up this morning, I did a little bit of work for school and wasted a bit of time on the internet before meeting up with my sister for a run. On the way, I encountered these lovely tulips blooming right alongside the road -->

Needless to say, I was very glad I had my phone with me.

Our run was pleasant - the sun was shining, but my oh my was it windy! I think we ran about 10 miles - we're trying to ramp up our mileage to get ready for a half marathon coming up. We'll see how it all goes... Following the run, I came home, cleaned up, ate, and have been working here and there on Religion reviews and other various activities for school. I think I'm just about ready for the week!

I also talked with both of my parents on the phone, which was lovely. We had some good story swaps and some good laughs too. Can't wait to see them this summer!

And, last of all, Happy Mothers' Day to all moms, especially mine. I hope you have a special, wonderful day!

Friday, May 10, 2013


I had aftercare duty today, and, while there, I noticed the following "prayer" in the prayer corner:

I believe that sometimes this is the best we could possibly say because sometimes there just aren't words...

P.S. Check out our class banner for Mass today in honor of mothers:

(And, no, we did not get our idea from Pinterest...)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Student Teachers...?

As a teacher, learning how to let go of control over exactly how a lesson will flow can be a hard one to learn.

But it's one I'm learning how to do quickly in our fourth grade classroom, as students are turning in their DOJO points to become "teacher" for a subject.

So far, we've had four different students step up to the plate and embrace the challenge of planning and carrying out lessons in Math, Social Studies, and Science. At home, they've taken the time to find videos, create activities, make Powerpoints, and pre-read the book material.

I must admit, it's harder to let someone else teach than it looks/sounds. It's a lot more work up front to make sure the student knows exactly what lesson we'll be covering, to check in about activities and plans, etc., but during the lesson it's more just gentle guidance and chipping in when necessary to emphasize a point, generate the start to a discussion, and manage classroom behavior. (Actually, students are generally more well-behaved for their peers. Imagine that!)

Some people may think this idea of students teaching students is crazy, and 5 years ago (when I started teaching), I may have agreed. But I truly feel that we, as teachers, can use opportunities like these to empower students to master material and lead their classmates. When they can explain concepts to each other, then we know they've understood it in the first place.

And who knows - we may have a few future teachers on our hands...

(On a completely unrelated - but funny - note... At dismissal yesterday I was trying to call a student down to the office, but I ended up paging Pierce Brosnan instead... No big deal.)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

St. Louis de Montfort on Our Mother Mary...

In the spirit of May (the month of Mary, Our Mother), I wanted to share (even though I already blogged today) a thought from The Magnificat: Year of Faith Companion -->

"Mary will share her faith with you...Therefore, the more you gain the friendship of this noble Queen and faithful Virgin, the more you will be inspired by faith in your daily life. It will cause you to depend less upon sensible and extraordinary feelings. For it is a lively faith animated by love enabling you to do everything from no other motive than that of pure love..."

Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

You can lead a horse to water...

This is how I felt at a number of times today:

I was literally standing over students in their seats with their blank papers after we had stopped to answer some questions and have our discussion. (In my head = Participation is not an option!) I pointed, coaxed, and invited...however, much to my chagrin, the paper remained empty by the end of class.

What more can I do? 

<Enter Chinese Proverb from above>

Some days I feel so ineffective...yet there are most students who are participating and completing their activities. So, we must be doing something right...

I'm still looking for ways to keep those daydreamers and (I say this lovingly) 'space cadets' engaged...when I get that mastered, we'll really be in business...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

What I've Learned from Going SCREEN FREE

Where do I begin?

At the beginning, of course...

It all started when...

Just kidding.

Having been away from blogging for about a week, I've actually been flooded with ideas, thoughts, reflections, and more - I probably should have kept blogging during SCREEN FREE WEEK just to keep my sanity. Ah, well, such is life...

Here are just a few conclusions I have come to during the past 168 hours (7 days a week x 24 hours a day):

1) In an age where society is constantly "plugged in," I can see how television, social media, and computers suck us in and suck up a lot of our time.

And I also realize that getting students to READ over watching TV or using their iPod apps is oftentimes going to be an uphill battle. My mission, therefore, over the next month is to come up with some way to make our students accountable for reading over the summer months. Let's face it, summer book assignments (of 1-2 books) is NOT enough...

2) As long as I teach at the 4th/5th grade level, I will use the book Tuck Everlasting.

When students come into school in the morning and before even saying "Good morning," they say, "Ms. Foyle, Tuck Everlasting is SO GOOD. I can't wait for book club today!" you know it's quality stuff you've put into their hands. The students in my group this year have literally been swept up in this idea of everlasting life, weighing the pros and cons for both themselves and the characters. (Plus, one student keeps reading to find out if Jesse and Winnie get together in the end - she's obsessed with the "love story" I suppose.)


3) Facebook and Pinterest are both well and good, but they often prove to be sources of time-wasting.

I'll admit - it was difficult to be away from both of these sites for a week. (Granted, I would sometimes pin websites to Pinterest, but I would not go on and browse.) But the time I gained from my withdrawal was incredible. In the mornings, I had more time to read blog posts & prayer reflections and to just sit in the peace and quiet. At night, I spent more time preparing for school by getting additional resources and videos for the students to enhance what we would be doing from the book chapters this week. I even scored student science assessments OUTSIDE on the back patio. (It was LOVELY!)

So I guess you could say I learned that while I thoroughly enjoy using Facebook and Pinterest, I can live without them - that means (at least for now) I should think about cutting back on my site visits. :) Time is a precious thing I am tired of losing.

4) The hardest times to go without television are a) at the gym and b) on the weekends...and c) when you buy tickets in advance to see NPR's first live cinecast event)

Honestly, I don't watch a lot of TV. But it's hard to escape it at the gym. (I suppose I should have just chalked up my gym membership fees for this week and gone outside to run instead, but I figured since I'm paying to belong to a club, I should go.) So, I guess I did cheat. A little.

It's also hard to not just flick on the TV when you're home at night on the weekend and your brain is fried. Going out with friends obviously solves that (as it did for me Friday night - see below). Reading is also a good pastime, if you can concentrate. And sleep is good too.

What I've learned here, then, I suppose is if I ever need to give up cable, I can do it!

at my sister's school's fundraiser event

I hope you have had a most wonderful week. And I encourage you, if only for a day or two (at the least), to try "unplugging" and go SCREEN FREE.