Dec 31 2017

The Stuff You Actually Wanted to Know, 2017 Edition

The Stuff You Actually Wanted to Know, 2017 Edition

It’s that time again: the post where I smuggle you behind the scenes of my blog so you can peek at the stuff other people are Googling.

I’m always fascinated by the search terms that bring traffic to this site, and they seem to get more interesting — and more extensive — every year. In 2017, almost every single one had to do with teaching, which sort of baffles me: I’ve only published two posts (maybe three, if you count this one) that are teaching-specific. But this post from last April continues to generate the most visits by far, with somewhere between 500 and 1000 unique views each week.

Usually I share the top 10 searches, but this year I’ll show you the ones I found most captivating. Continue reading

Nov 30 2017

5 Sneaky Ways to Practice Reading with Your Preschooler

5 Sneaky Ways to Practice Reading with Your Preschooler

For the last couple years, my husband and I have managed to semi-successfully employ an age-old parenting trick: spelling covert stuff in front of the kids.

“Did you remember to pack some S-N-A-C-K-S?”

“They need to decide which T-O-Y-S they want to give away before Christmas.”

“Don’t forget, P’s friend’s mom is P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T — we’d better bring something other than wine.”

But last night, when I turned to Al and said, “Just so you know, I ordered that S-C-O-O-T-E-R for Baby B today,” my 4-year-old glanced up and gave us a look.

“He already has a scooter,” she said. “Is it broken or something?”

Well. Game over.

If you would ALSO like to sabotage your secret spelling language so that your child will forever be able to involve themselves in every conversation whether you want them to or not, I’m happy to share some sneaky ways we accidentally practice reading. They’re “sneaky” because our preschooler thinks they’re just inherently fun, and that’s the key — turn it into a game, and they’ll want to play.

Note: These activities work best when the child has some base knowledge of letter recognition (both sight and sound). Continue reading

Oct 4 2017

Teachers, You Should Watch What You’re Doing

Teachers, You Should Watch What You’re Doing

The second you decided to step in front of a classroom, you agreed to spend your day on a stage.

They are watching you all the time: the students, the administration, the parents, the media, the world. They are looking at your test scores. They are examining your data. They are hoping you will be the one to save education, to prove that our children are just as brilliant and well-trained as any emerging graduate from anywhere.

It’s sometimes difficult to experience that level of scrutiny. The parents, sitting at the next booth over, overhear when you order wine during dinner. The teenaged cashier at your local grocery store recognizes you from the school hallways and peruses your purchases. The kids, during class, notice everything: Toenail polish. A quarter-inch trimmed from your hair. The fact that you’re wearing the same shirt as last Tuesday. Continue reading

Sep 25 2017

How to (Accidentally) Trim the Fat from Your Facebook Business Page

How to (Accidentally) Trim the Fat from Your Facebook Business Page

FRIENDS. Let me tell you, having a Facebook “business page” is not for the faint of heart — but it’s teaching this Nervous Nelly a thing or two about building a backbone. If you’ve never had a business page and/or never plan to start one, this (unsolicited) advice post may not interest you whatsoever — but I encourage you to stick around for the giveaway at the end.

For those of you with a business page, here’s some free intel: if your goal is to keep every last follower no matter what, DO NOT CHANGE YOUR PAGE NAME.

But if you don’t mind trimming the fat, go right ahead.

For me, the most surprising thing about a business page is that you can see pretty much everything: how many people hide your posts, how many people choose to unfollow you (and when), how many people your post has “reached.” This is scary info for someone who initially meant for her blog to be anonymous. Continue reading

Aug 10 2017

15 Things That Aren’t Weird in Silicon Valley

15 Things That Aren’t Weird in Silicon Valley

Before we moved here, I always pictured California as a just-like-the-movies SoCal paradise: perfectly manicured palm trees, glittering sidewalks dotted with stars, 85 breezy degrees forever and ever and ever.

But Silicon Valley is a whole different beast. If you were expecting excessively Botoxed platinum blondes or shirtless yogi dudes who travel via surfboard and only know the word “brah,” then you’ve come to the wrong place.

At first, I thought Silicon Valley looked almost like the Midwest — well, plus some mountains — in that everything seems fairly “normal” upon first glance. On the surface, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of flashy extravagance. Run-down strip malls line the roads. People ride bikes. There are no throngs of paparazzi following Kim Kardashian to dinner.

But once you’ve been here for a while, you begin to notice that it does NOT in fact resemble where you came from, and that the differences go far deeper than a mountainous landscape. To a Midwestern mind, there are some things that seem pretty unusual — but in Silicon Valley, they’re not weird at all. Continue reading