Five Recent Updates…

If you have followed my blog you may have noticed that my posting schedule has been light over the past several weeks. Don’t worry…there are no plans for a hiatus or time away from the blog.

To simplify the reason, my priorities have just shifted temporarily.

Summer is coming to an end and I am back in the classroom. Time seems to be elusive and I’ve had to make some compromises with myself to ensure that I am prioritizing my time in the healthiest ways during this season.

Life has been hectic, but enjoyable and I need to catch you up with where I have been and what I have done during the days between posts.

1. I started my 11th year as a classroom teacher

This is my typical first day selfie while working hard at my desk. The year is off to a great start. This year I also added Student Council Advisor to my list of titles. I am so excited for the road ahead.

2. This week I begin my final semester of graduate school

I took courses this summer on Dystopian Literature and Critical Race Theory (BLM in films). I have learned so much and the work has been manageable. I cannot wait to finish my degree in December. This semester I am taking a course on Indigenous People Groups and another on fiction writing. Additionally, I will be enrolled in a capstone program where I will be working toward a Masters Portfolio/Thesis. I have BIG writing goals for myself post-degree.

3. My youngest sister started working in the same school district as me

What kind of sister would I be if I didn’t buy us matching shirts for the staff first day? We are having a blast working on the same schedule and for the same community. I love hearing her stories and seeing the district afresh through her eyes. We don’t work in the same building, but how fun would that be?

4. It’s been important to reconnect with friends

The pandemic taught me that my friendships are important and gathering with friends regularly is important for my spirit and mind. I am lucky to have amazing teacher friends within my school as well as many friends outside of my teaching community.

5. My little gymnast is keeping me busy

I spend a lot of time during the week transporting and watching my little gymnast practice. Proud doesn’t even begin to describe how she makes me feel. We are praying that her gym will open up for competitions this year after a full year of no competition.

The Ameri Brit Mom


Teach: Five Minute [Friday]

Today I am joining the positive writing community over at Five Minute Friday  (a day late) for their weekly link-up. Each week we gather to write on a common theme. This week our theme is Teach.

Eight days in to the 2021-2022 school year and I have already been through so much: adapting to numerous administration changes, learning my role as a Student Council advisor, a 24 hour stomach bug, learning 150+ students’ names, and kicking off my courses in fun, interactive ways. In many ways it has felt like things are back to the way they were pre-Covid, but this week the pandemic kept rearing its ugly head in the background. A few students quarantined here and there, social distancing protocols, and the latest talk of reinstating mask mandates in the schools.

I’m not here to be political or to insert myself into the dialogue about our rights to not wear masks as American citizens. All I want to accomplish is a smooth, productive, and positive school year.

If we could leave Covid protocols to the previous school years and move forward with a clean, healthy slate that would be ideal. No one would argue that. But as my sudden illness this week proved, being healthy comes before anything else.

So those are my scattered ruminations after my first eight days. Things are going well and I’m trying really hard to ignore the fact that Covid is still trying to impact my school year. I’m ready for a normal year of learning and growing as a teacher and individual.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Link-Ups · Teaching · Uncategorized

Moment: Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday and I’m doing a dance for having finished another great week at school. I feel like I’m getting into a rhythm at school and I’m enjoying the process of getting to know my kids a little better. Today I am joining my fellow positive writers over at Five Minute Friday, where we gather weekly to respond to a common prompt. This Friday the prompt is Moment.


In this moment I am…

Thankful for my faith. It keeps me grounded when the waves of this world swirl around me. I will not sink because my God is bigger than the waves.

Rejoicing over the fact that I am clear of the nasty virus that compromised my body this week.

Singing a bit of Ed Sheeran as the Pandora station became my soundtrack while grading papers today.

Smelling the hand-sanitizer a student put on just before the final bell. It smells like a fresh batch of snicker doodle cookies.

Thinking about all the things I want to get done this weekend

Walking out the door of my classroom! It’s the WEEKEND!

The Ameri Brit Mom

Family · Uncategorized

Well, We Survived!

Week one of school is in the books and all four of us survived. Naps were essential, and sure, there were some meltdowns, but we made it! Life is starting to settle into routines and each day gets a little easier. For me, I started my eighth school year teaching ninth grade in a public school. My husband started his seventh year of teaching elementary school and my daughter is now in kindergarten at his school!

All in the first week we experienced: the end of my blessed maternity leave, a new sitter for the baby, Arianna’s first lost tooth, Sam’s first week of coaching Arianna’s new soccer team, and a new season of AWANA at our church.

It’s been a crazy week, but I love it all!

I love watching my girls flourish and I am actually really happy to be back in the classroom. The school year is off to a great start!


The Ameri Brit Mom


Teaching: Are We Releasing Too Soon?


“Why are these scores so low? I showed them how to do this!”

Many of us have had reflective conversations with ourselves or colleagues drenched in comments similar to the one above. It’s frustrating to go through a process step-by-step with students only to turn them loose and receive a less than desirable assignment in return.

We reason that there must be something wrong with “this class” or we justify these behaviors saying that, “this group must be lazy.” In reality, it may not be a lack of effort on the students’ end, but rather the lethargy may actually stem from the teacher’s planning.

Gone are the days where the role of the teacher was to spew information while students collected it in tidy notebooks. With the onslaught of technology, our students have been transformed from information collectors in to information seekers. Our world has shaped learning to be far more productive in a problem solving scenario than in a catch-and-release system.

I recently attended a Vertical Alignment session with my district Curriculum Director where we looked at best practices throughout our English classrooms in the district. Being a high school teacher confined to fifty minute periods has produced many obstacles in creating a balance between Reading, Writing, and Language instruction. In a perfect world, I would tackle all three areas of ELA in a single class period, but that’s just not the reality of my classroom. I feel stifled by time restraints and frustrated when I cannot see my students making the progress I anticipate to see. Based on my scores from last year’s standardized tests I have added to my curriculum, but fitting everything in before March seems an impossibility.

As a teacher passionate about my content, I’ve been wounded by my student performance these last few years. Like anyone would, I have started to blame the group of students or blame their previous teachers, but the truth is if I’m trying to point blame I should look no further than my own lesson plans.

I read the article Releasing Responsibility by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey at the PD this week. What stuck out to me the most was the idea of Gradual Release of Responsibility.


(Photo: ASCD)

Thinking back to my college days in my cluttered dorm room I can remembering cracking open my book of Educational Psychology and studying Vygotsky’s theories of cognitive development. It is something that is so ingrained in my brain that I’ve actually forgotten all about it. I know that asking a student to work independently on something before they are ready is a recipe for disaster. I know that in order for students to work alone they must receive a focused lesson, guided instruction, and collaboration first, but when I think back to my frustrations with their performance I feel convicted because somewhere along the line I’ve skipped some steps.

As teachers we feel pressure from all directions, but nothing is worse than the pressure of time. Because of time constraints, I’ve recognized that sometimes I revert back to the old schoolhouse method of standing in front of the class, giving them notes, and then expecting them to complete an assignment or homework without any further practice. That isn’t setting them up for success.

The way to beat this slump is to narrow the content of your class. Find the standards that are pivotal for your course and focus on those and the skills necessary for mastery of those standards. When you have five things you are committed to accomplishing instead of forty you feel less pressure to move quickly allowing for a timeline that eases into the release of responsibility.

Designing lessons and units should be centered around these principles and not the curriculum maps or units of study prescribed by a textbook. (In fact, you may not even need that old textbook at all.)

At the high school level what does a lesson look like from each of these stages of the Gradual Release of Responsibility? In a focused lesson, a teacher may introduce new terms, show a video, distribute a notes page with ideas, read a story, or re-inact the setting or plot of the content being read. Guided instruction involves letting the students see your thinking processes. This means vulnerability in many cases, but students will learn most during this phase if you admit your weaknesses and provide modeling of your use of the skill they are working toward. Collaboration is giving your students a scenario or problem to work through with peers to help them gain experience and confidence in the focus area. Activities for small groups should always be things that they could not do independently. Nothing is more frustrating than to be placed in a group to do something you could have done more efficiently on your own. Design a little stretch or challenge into your collaborative assignments.

Finally, after all three stages have been mastered, then you may begin the independent stage of the instruction. This phase is absolutely necessary and should never be skipped, but it’s important to remember that it isn’t the second stage. Lesson delivery isn’t followed by independent work.

If you are anything like me you may just need a reminder that dates, timelines, and tests shouldn’t dictate your lesson plans. Learning is the goal and should be the instrument to measure your progression through content. At the high school level the middle stages of the model above are often left behind an forgotten. We complain that our students aren’t motivated and they don’t enjoy school, but designing lessons that challenge them in all stages of learning will reignite their passion for your content and their performance on various forms of assessments.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Faith · Uncategorized

Five Minute Friday: Collect

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Collect. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:


Philippians 4:8- Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

This week really seemed to drag on for me. By Wednesday I was ready for the weekend. It was Spirit Week at school which naturally meant a week out-of-order. The students were squirrely. I was gravely behind in grading. A mountain of to-dos just piled up.

In a job that involves constant exchanges between teacher and students it is easy to build a collection of insurmountable papers and a sour attitude toward grading. Somehow throughout the course of this busy week I went from having a clean, organized desk to being buried beneath a ream of papers.

Things collect so quickly when you have over 150 students. And the state of my desk was a direct reflection of my state of mind.

So as I built up my collection of student work one thing I forgot to collect was positive thoughts. I turned my attention from the things scripture says I should focus on. Instead of thinking about truth, righteousness and love I found myself wallowing in self pity.

I sit this Friday evening and reflect on the week behind me. I realize that with each little annoyance or mishap this week I added it to the load already on my shoulders. Without meaning to I started a little collection of negativity to match my disheveled desktop. I let my workload dictate my mood, and that is the type of behavior that leads to defeat in a teacher’s world. Life as a teacher is always full of tasks. It isn’t a 7:30am-2:30pm job.

Teaching is a lifestyle and I’d be lying if I said it isn’t sometimes exhausting, but amidst the tiresome duties there is great reward.

I’m ready for a weekend to recharge. I need to collect enough positive thoughts to blot out the week behind me. I’m looking forward to beginning next week with a clean slate and a new perspective. Now…bring on the weekend!!

The Ameri Brit Mom


Fashion · Uncategorized

Dressing and Educating: Days 20-24


Day 20: September 12, 2016

The best kind of Monday is one spent at home.

I took my first personal day of the year as I always do. For the past four years I’ve been out of work on September 12 to spend my daughter’s birthday with her. My husband, daughter, and I celebrated at home this year. With all the partying we did over the weekend in honor of my daughter turning four it was a welcomed day of relaxing and allowing my daughter time to play with all of her new gifts.

I would never trade a relaxing day as a family for anything in the world. I live for these days and these moments of shutting down our busy lives to make memories. Never forget the importance of unplugging with your family. It was so worth it. Because of this opportunity to recharge I feel ready to conquer the new week and its challenges.

Above my daughter is dressed in an adorable dress we picked up this summer from Pep and Co. in England, and a necklace she received for her birthday from Carters.


Day 21: September 13, 2016

It was a fun day of catching up after an absence. I always say that it’s almost not worth missing a day of school as a teacher because of all of the sub plans and the catching up that accompanies an absence. Yesterday my substitute teacher spoke about his experiences on September 11, 2001 and it was neat to hear some of the notes my students took and things that they learned from him. I do think it is nice for them to hear from someone other than me sometimes. I think they really enjoyed his stories and personality.

After school today we had a staff meeting. Not that they are the most terrible thing ever, but I always find it hard to focus at staff meetings. I generally end my day with a lengthy to-do list and I subconsciously spend staff meetings trying to plot the quickest way to tick everything off that list before locking up for the evening. It wasn’t a bad meeting though. Short, quick, and to the point. (My favorite kind of meeting if there is such a thing.)

I was feeling nautical this morning in my Fun 2 Fun Rinald Front Pocket Blouse from my summer Stitch Fix. I paired the top with an Outback Red Chambray Blazer from The Limited. On my bottom half I added some color with red jeggings and then added a little denim accent to match the blazer with my charcoal, denim Toms. I woke up this morning ready to rock this four day week!


Day 22: September 14, 2016

I had a blast teaching about the English Monarchy today. It’s one of my favorite topics for the whole year.

I was wearing an orange pleated Old Navy dress with a Ellaine Open Cardigan by Papermoon from Stitch Fix. Of course I had to have my gray lace Toms to match dressed-up look.


Day 23: September 15, 2016

It was a pony-tail rocking Thursday. After a tough workout class on Wednesday night, I found myself sore and unhappy about my early alarm. A quick shower and securing my hair up with a cute, jeweled headband was my style of choice this morning.

I had a fun day talking about the current royal family of England. We discussed the drama, rumors, and scandals associated with such a beloved family. We also talked about America’s obsession with the Windsors (the royal family’s last name in case you thought their last name was “of England”) and the legacy of Diana. I think it was a day of enjoyment for my history students.

In English, the classes are wrapping up their first narrative. They are currently typing their rough drafts. I really enjoy this assignment. It’s essentially a food review in that they choose their favorite food, explain it using sensory language, and then describe a personal experience or memory attached to that food. It’s a unique way of pairing narrative writing with something every kid enjoys–food!

Today I am wearing black pants from The Limited, a red top from Primark in England, and a black and white striped cardigan from Fig Leaf Boutique.


Day 24: September 16, 2016

I cannot believe how quickly we have reached the interim of the first grading period. My school always releases students early on the last day of the interim in order to have staff Professional Development. Most of my class periods were under half an hour. It was a relaxed day in the classroom and all students were out of the building by 12:32pm.

In the Professional Development session we met as a high school staff to look over our building Continuous Improvement Plan. We discussed what was going well so far this year and ways that we need to better implement the plan in our building.

I received some pretty bad news this week about someone I care about that has really affected me emotionally. I decided once the development was over that I would stay a little later in my room so that everything was ready to go for next week and I could get back on the Positive Train. More than ever it is important to be present and alert for my students and I worry that I unintentionally let my fears reside in the back of my mind all week.

Above I am wearing a Vikings t-shirt for my casual Friday outfit. I layered the t-shirt under and navy and white flannel from Primark in England. On my bottom half I wore a pair of denim jeggings and my original boat shoe Sperrys.

I’m ready to rest and relax so I can be renewed on Monday morning!

Which outfit was your favorite this week?


The Ameri Brit Mom

Fashion · Uncategorized

Dressing and Educating: Days 11-15


Day 11: August 29, 2016

Over the weekend some pretty heavy storms hit our area. Unfortunately one of those storms involved a lightning strike to my school building which caused the air conditioning units to shut down. I was thankful that I chose to wear a dress this Monday morning as the air conditioner played catch-up on a ninety degree day. It was a warm one. This dress from Francesca’s and my black lace Toms were a perfect fit for this broiler of a day.

My English class did a Close Read today of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber. This classic short story was turned into a movie directed by Ben Stiller a few years back and so I opened the lesson with showing the movie trailer. The movie is so action-packed and exciting that the trailer really drew the students in and sharpened their focus before reading. As we read the short story together the students were able to make connections to the movie and their own inferences to bring the story to life.

On Saturday I rented the movie to prepare for today’s lesson and let me tell you that it was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while. The writers took several liberties to make this 1940’s story more relevant to our culture today, but the main ideas stayed the same and I loved every scene from beginning to end.

Close reading also helped me get a feel for the reading levels of my students. They were each able to read and interact with the text which gave me an opportunity to assess their individual abilities. Overall, it was a fun and interactive lesson that I plan to implement in future years.


Day 12: August 30, 2016

This teacher was exhausted today. I might have pushed myself a little too hard at the gym last night and I was nursing a bit of low blood sugar all day as a result. I tried to cover it up with a few cups of caffeine, but for the first time all year I was truly dragging by the end of the day.

In my history class, my students were performing research about the English monarchy leading up to a unit on the Tudors and absolute monarchs of England. Although this is difficult material for this age group it is one of my personal favorites. A big part of the reason I love to teach Honors World History is because I get to go so in-depth about a country that means so much to me. As a wife to a native Englishman I am beyond fascinated to learn more about the history of his homeland. Although England isn’t part of my personal history it will be part of my daughter’s heritage. I took the opportunity today as the students conducted research to interact with them, finish scoring pre-assessments, and start working on the next unit.

In the above photo I am wearing printed pants and a tribal print kimono from H&M, a basic tee from Primark in England, and a pair of Sperrys. Comfy-cute was the theme.

Day 13: August 31, 2016

One word to describe my Wednesday: INSANE.

I was extremely busy from the moment I crossed the threshold of my building in the morning until the final bell at 2:32pm. During my lunch and prep periods I was even pulled to cover other classes for teachers experiencing some issues. It wasn’t just a busy day for me it was busy for everyone on my campus. Tis the life of a teacher, I suppose.

I was dressed rather comfortably for my day on the go. I wore my Stitch Fix top from Renee C and paired it with a pair of Pixie pants from Old Navy, a white cardigan from New York and Company’s outlet shop, and my red Toms.

Day 14: September 1, 2016

I’m starting to feel the desire for Friday. It’s been a really busy week and although I am starting to adjust to my daily routine I still find that by the end of the day I’m totally knackered (a British term for exhausted for my non-British readers.)

Today my students read “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell. It’s one of my favorite short stories all year and the students always really enjoy it. We talked about elements of narratives as we read and made predictions and inferences surrounding the plot of the story. The writing nerd in me was right in my element talking about the parts of a story.

In my Honors World History classes the students each presented an English monarch that they researched over the past couple of days. I was really impressed with the effort and energy placed in these first projects and enjoyed the opportunity to witness their presentation skills and abilities.

It was a fun day, but I left my classroom ready for a long nap!

Above I am wearing an olive knit top from Primark in England, a mint camisole from Target, khaki pants from Old Navy, and Sperrys. I sealed the deal with some gold jewelry from Premier.

Day 15: September 2, 2016

With the first home game for the football team happening tonight the school was all abuzz today as the anticipation for a great game under the stadium lights was on everyone’s minds. Students were well aware of the long Labor Day weekend ahead as well and talked much of the day about their plans. It was a fun day full of school spirit, learning, laughter, and I was able to even sneak a lunch date in with my husband. This was a special day and I represented my school mascot with my outfit choice today. Go Vikings!

Which look was your favorite?


The Ameri Brit Mom

Blessings · Uncategorized

Five Minute Friday: Happy

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is HAPPY. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:


The first week of August has come and gone and I can’t decide how I feel about it. As a teacher, flipping the calendar to August brings up several emotions. At first, I experienced dread. The unscheduled fun of the summer is quickly coming to a close. All of the day trips and late nights are winding down. It’s hard to come to grips with the fact that I will soon be back to school and my daily routine will be in place once more.

The next emotion I feel is happiness.

I’m happy for so many reasons, but up toward the top of my list in the beginning of August is the fact that I get the opportunity to spend the summer with my family. So many people envy the work schedule that I have as a teacher. I’m happy that I’ve chosen a career that is not only rewarding, but that allows me to still spend so much time at home. I love spending time with my husband and daughter. Luckily August won’t change the fact that we will get that quality time together–it will just look a little different.

Lastly, I feel anxious.

I’m anxious for new students and a new school year. Meeting new people can be so much fun, but the time leading up to the beginning of the school year always has me a little nervous (in a good way.) This year I have one more thing to be anxious about. My baby is starting pre-school! I can’t believe my little girl is actually old enough to need a backpack and school supplies. Time has truly flown by at a ridiculous speed. It seems like just yesterday that I held my eight pound baby for the first time. Now I’m preparing to release her into a classroom.

Despite the dread and anxiety I am still full of happiness. I choose to be happy when I think about the next couple of weeks, because I am blessed to have a career and lifestyle that still affords me plenty of quality time with those who matter most.

What are you happy about?

The Ameri Brit Mom

Teaching · Uncategorized

Five Minute Friday: Expect

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Expect. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:


All that lies between myself and summer vacation is three days. Next Wednesday the students will leave my classroom for the final time. When I think about that moment I’m overcome because it has been a great year, but I am also excited for all that the summer holds for my family.

I’m expecting a long, fun summer full of family activities, travel, and lots of reading.

I’m expecting joy.

I’m expecting rest.

I’m expecting love.

I’m looking forward to a mini-trip to Chicago in nineteen days. Long car rides, sight seeing, and trying new foods are always full of wonderful memories. I expect that trip to be full of them.

I’m excited about spending a month in the summer back at my husband’s home in England. It’s always nice to get away and catch up with our family across the sea.

I’m also ecstatic about not having to grade essays, projects, or late work for a whole three months!

Here’s to summer 2016.

The Ameri Brit Mom