Most of my time writing now-a-days is spent writing for other peoples websites or blogs, which has taken a lot of the time that I used to devote to my blog.  However, there are still thoughts and ideas that I want to share, but do not have enough time to develop into a full blown article, and that is where this page comes into play.  This page is going to be updated periodically with some thoughts and ideas that I want to share, and welcome your comments on.  

November 22nd 2018
"Holiday Message"

I have a few "traditions" in my teaching, things that happen consistently on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis.  One of those traditions is my holiday message, which was delivered to my students again this week.  At the end of each class I spoke to the students about their upcoming time off, about being safe, and about how most people really look forward to time away from school, and celebrating holidays.  However, I also remind them that not everyone shares that same mindset.  At a time of year when you hear most teachers say "Have a great thanksgiving everyone" as their students leave the room, I think of the student that may cringe when they hear that, maybe because I was that kid.  Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Easter, Passover, spring break, winter break, Presidents Day etc. are not great times for all kids.  I still wish them a great break, but I do not let that statement hang there without perspective.  What may be great to one kid, may not be great to another.  At the end of class on the day before a break I always tell them that a lot of people are looking forward to time away from school, and time with friends and family, but not everyone is.  Some kids would rather be in school than away from it, and some kids do not love breaks or holidays for various reasons (sometimes they want to talk about why that may be). I tell them that if they are one of those kids, the anxiety of upcoming breaks or holidays does not have to last forever (more detail on that is also shared).  I tell them that I was one of those kids, and now I love the holidays.  I remind them that if they know someone who may be struggling during their time off, to reach out to them, invite them over, invite them out, see whats up.  Let them know that they are thought of and cared about.  Holidays are tough for a lot of us, and as we teach kids about compassion and empathy, lets also be specific and thoughtful in our language, and take a moment to let kids know that not everyone has the same experiences during breaks. 

August 19th 2018
"Every Child Deserves a Champion" - Rita Pierson

This past year I asked the custodians if they could hang two frames above the bulletin board, that is above my desk. The walls in my office are solid, so I can not complete this task on my own, nor would the school want ME drilling, anything, ever. In order for the custodians to help me out they would have to stand on my desk, so I cleared everything off for them. Later that same day, I walked into my office to find two students standing in the doorway, starring at my desk. One said, "Rizzuto, are you leaving?" "No Way!" I replied.  "Good!" she said.  "I saw your desk empty with two frames on it and I got nervous." "Don't worry, I'm not leaving" I said. To which she replied, "I know I give you a hard time in class sometimes, but I really do not know what I would do if you left, besides cry." This student is an amazing kid, but she is also the kid that told me the first day of school she probably wouldn't like me because I do too much in "gym". Then, later in the year, she told me I was "too nice", so I jokingly told her I would work on being meaner.  I tell you all of this because she is a student that I would never expect to be so upset of the thought of me leaving. She never loved PE, and initially had little interest in stretching her perception of what PE could be, both of which caused her to think she wouldn't like me before she ever really got to know me.  However, she is also a kid that was never given up on, will never be given up on, and she knows it. I am sure you all have a story like this, and I think they are important to share. Every kid needs a champion, everyday. I do not think I am a "champion", but I do try to model the spirit of that statement. Just because a kid may not always show it, doesn't mean you aren't making a connection.