Posted in Miscellaneous

Recipe for Happiness


Three cups of hard work, one heaping cup of humility, half a cup of fun, two tablespoons of love, and a teaspoon of passion. From skiing to laying on the couch, we all have our own recipe for happiness. For me, my formula has three heaping spoonfuls of dance. In my lifetime, I have shimmied my way through breakups and poor test scores. Glided my way through success and failure. In the classroom we will all fail. But it is the ability to “dance” through these trials that will separate the good teachers from the great ones.  When I say dance, I am not referring to the ballet or formal dance. The dance I believe in is more like flinging your body around the room. For me, dance isn’t about a perfect technique or style of movement. Dance is pure joy in physical form. I dance because I love it.

We all have our own “dance.” It’s a way in which we overcome our deepest hurts or celebrate our happiest moments. For my brother, it is singing. He sings in the shower and he sings in the car. He makes up silly songs for his nieces and he turns to music when he is sad. Whatever form dance takes in your life, it is how we escape from the mundane. The way we choose to do something that has no purpose other than to make us happy, to let us feel something beyond the everyday. We live in a world of deadlines and pressures. Each day, we feel compelled to make our time meaningful; To accomplish something important. I love dance because in the words of Dr. Wayne Dyer, “When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way…I am learning to be a wife. I am working on my degree, taking 16 credits and working 2 jobs. My life is goal-oriented and purpose-driven but sometimes I just have to dance. It is then that I remember why I work so hard.

Dance reminds me of where I came from. It takes me home to our kitchen when we were doing dishes and my entire family would start dancing, weaving across the kitchen, laughing and spinning and bumping into each other. Dance brought a joy into my home that my whole family could participate in. It transports me to the night I was married and I danced with my husband for the first time. It reminds me of my first prom and sharing one last great memory with my childhood friends. Dance reminds me of who I am. I may be the stressed college student, but I’m also the little girl dancing around her room and dreaming of the life I would create. Dance is an expression of the joy that transcends time and situation. I believe in dance. I believe in finding what makes you happy and doing it just because of the joy you feel. Life is not always about where you are going but the fun you have getting there. We all have our own recipes for happiness. Take the time to figure out yours. As teachers we must all find time to enjoy life and the classroom. This I how I do it. Please share a love for life with your students and your joy will soon become theirs.

Posted in Miscellaneous

Explode the Moment

A guy started the race with a gun and I started running. It was a long course. I was tired. Then, I saw the finish line and ran as fast as I could to cross it.

The student above wrote about a race they were in. As I read their work, I had a hard time visualizing this moment because it lacked detail. Is your students’ writing lacking detail? Is it hard to visualize their stories? There are many ways to help students add more detail, to show rather than tell their story. When I read this student’s writing, I knew it was time for my personal favorite lesson, Explode the Moment!


Explode the Moment

Students pick a sentence from their story to explode (slow down the moment). They fill in a chart to aid them in this explosion. The chart includes as many things as they can remember under five categories: feelings, thoughts, dialogue, senses, and actions.

After they finish filling in the chart, the students rewrite that moment using all the listed details from the chart. The difference this exercise makes on students’ writing is amazing.

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This is the student’s second draft after exploding the moment…

Sentence: I saw the finish line and ran as fast as I could to cross it.

The finish line was in sight. My feet were aching, lungs gasping for air, and my side ache arising again, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from pumping my arms faster and quickening my pace. All I could think about was finishing. My teammates in the stands were shouting and cheering. “Go! You’re almost there!” A battle ensued between my mind and body. I wanted to go faster, but my body wasn’t allowing me to. Exerting every last ounce of energy, I finally triumphed across the finish line.

If you’re stuck on how to help your students add detail in their writing and getting them to show rather than tell their stories, why not try teaching the Explode the Moment lesson. It may completely change the way some of your students write.

Posted in Miscellaneous

BYU Women’s Conference


As the summer comes to a close and we look back at all the wonderful events that took place here at Brigham Young University, I would like to take a moment to discuss this year’s Women’s Conference. Walking onto campus and quickly noticing the growing number of women, my heart was warmed by the wonderful events and speeches that were taking place. These wonderful talks invoked confidence in their listeners, brought them spiritual security, and allowed women to feel supported in their beliefs. Ellen Young, a devoted Women’s Conference participant and close family friend, said when speaking about the joy she finds at Women’s Conference, “Women’s Conference for me, and I assume many of the participants, is a much needed break from the worries and strife of the world.” As you look deeper into this program, it is no wonder that women like Mrs. Young find Women’s Conference so enlightening. 

For two days, women have the opportunity to take time apart from their day-to-day lives and truly reflect and begin anew. My question is, how do you believe we can create in our classrooms the same feelings of love and renewal felt at Women’s Conference? The answer has many facets, but I believe the most important aspect that makes Women’s Conference so effective is the feeling of love that is so prevalent. Each individual is filled with a love of learning and of each other. I assert that a classroom cannot function without love. In the classroom, take time to help the students develop a love of learning. This is the most effective tool in the classroom and one that will touch the students’ lives. I personally flourish in classrooms where I first feel respected by my peers and then loved. In these scenarios, I have been able to come to a deeper level of learning. This is only created when each individual feels like they have something to add to the conversation. It is each teacher’s individual responsibility to create this atmosphere in their classrooms. This will lead to not only a greater level of learning but also an increased love for learning.

Posted in Miscellaneous

5 Things I Want Future Teachers to Know

From: a teacher with a week of experience.

Image courtesy
Image courtesy

1. Teaching involves more than just liking to teach and be with kids.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people in my major answer the question, “Why did you choose to major in Elementary Education?” with the reply, “Well, I just LOVE kids!” That is important, and great, and good, but it doesn’t mean that you should be a teacher. Teaching involves SO much more! Yes, I adore my 30 students and I adore teaching my primary class in church, and yes, I feel like I belong more with children than adults, but that isn’t why I became a teacher. I became a teacher so I could make the world a better place. I became a teacher because I wanted to give back. Realize that teaching is NOT as easy as it seems… read on 🙂

2. Teaching is EXHAUSTING.

As I have seen Facebook posts pouring in from all my fellow first-year teachers, there seems to be a consensus. WE ARE EXHAUSTED. Why? No one seems to understand. However, after this week I’m realizing it is because when you are a teacher, there are NO breaks. You want a lunch break? Too bad. You need to help Sally with her bullying problem at recess. Want to sit down? Nope. The second you sit down, Tommy over in the corner will start goofing off again. Want to go to bed early? Fat chance. You’ll be up until the wee hours of the morning planning a lesson that suits every child’s needs. Teaching is more than just a full-time job. Which leads me to my next point.

3. Teacher is your job title, but it involves SO much more.

There are so many times that I have heard fellow teachers say, “That wasn’t in my job description…” You will NEVER be prepared for the range of things that happen in a school day. In one day, I had a child from another class hang onto my legs and say, “I will hug you one thousand times and never let go!” Despite my persistent urging of her to go play during recess, a child confided in me some very sensitive information, a child burst into tears because I wouldn’t let her do what she wanted in class, another student completely ignored everything I said and did not do a thing all day, all while trying to administer 29 reading tests. Now if you learned how to deal with all that in your classes… I need to find out what program you are in and go back to school! Being a teacher means being an educator, a nurse, a parent, an advocate, a police officer, a lawyer, a projector specialist, a janitor, a teddy bear, a comforter, a debater, and whatever you are outside of school as well.

4. Things aren’t always what they seem–especially in the classroom.

These kids in my class, all 30 of them, are wonderful. They are amazing and can do great things, yet the one thing I think they know how to do best is push my limits. One student in particular said something very offensive to me on the second day of school. My first instinct was to take the child out and talk to him very sternly about what he had said. But I calmly sent him in the hallway. When I went out to talk with him, he had big tears in his eyes. I asked him what was wrong. Come to find out, this boy has been told all throughout school that he is a “bad boy.” So when you want to give someone what they deserve in your classroom, give them the benefit of the doubt and really figure out what is going on.

5. You will NEVER regret your decision to be a teacher.

Sitting through three years of Elementary Education classes seemed like an eternity to me. When I started my degree, I honestly believed I would be married and have a kid before I graduated. Now here I am, an internship away from graduation. On the first day of my internship, I announced to my students that our class theme would be “This is going to be the best day of my life.” I promised them that each day would be the best day of their lives in my class, each day would be better than the last. At the end of the day, I didn’t expect the kids to even remember or to be impacted by what I said. Suddenly, years of schooling all became worth it when one boy looked up at me and said, “Mrs. Lyon, this really WAS the best day of my life!” Mission accomplished.

So, this post isn’t meant to scare you, it is meant to help you see the realities of teaching. No matter what anyone says, teaching is NOT an easy job. Never fall for that. Teaching will be the hardest, most rewarding job you will have yet (aside from parenting). As David O. McKay said, “The privilege to work is a gift. The power to work is a blessing. The love of work is success.”

This was another blog post from our wonderful guest blogger, Jessica Lyon. Jessica is a senior from Cedar Hills, Utah studying Elementary Education. In her spare time she enjoys preparing her 3rd grade classroom for the Fall and learning about learning. See her previous posts here and here.