Blogging on The Brightside

"I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." -The Little Engine That Could

“Worry is a misuse of imagination.”

— Dan Zadra

As we (my district and many other fellow educators) begin a new school year tomorrow, I am overcome with a myriad of feelings.

Excitement. Anxiety. Hope. Doubt. Joy. Passion. Worry.

With every good emotion, feeling, and memory comes the struggle that follows every educator. A few questions will always remain.

Will what I do be enough? Can I change my students for the better? Will my students be better people when they leave my class? Will they show what they know? Can I get them to reach their fullest potential and try their best?

As these questions float around, anyone can feel overwhelmed. (There’s a reason that so many teachers leave the profession within their first few years.)

But what if we let go of the worry? What if we gave ourselves more room to imagine the best of our students, our curriculum, ourselves. When we pause and leave room for this kind of thinking, the room that is necessary to imagine the best in all situations, we can transform our classrooms. We can transform our students’ futures. We can transform our lives as a whole.

Use your brain for good. Remind yourself that as we start a new year, new season, new part of our lives, worry drains all the energy we have to make ourselves great. Use your imagination and lift yourself up. Living fully requires everything you’ve got. Whatever you give to worry you can’t give to anything else.

Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow starts a new year. Tomorrow could be a new life for you.

Make it count. Imagine the possibilities.

Love and Light, Carly

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“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, an sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.”

— Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s that time of year: the end of the year. With the end of another glorious year comes the not-so-glorious task of “doing grades.”

As an elementary school teacher, not EVERYTHING can be graded, nor can it all be graded the same way. I look at the papers I bring home, thinking of how hard students tried. They poured their heart and soul into something that did not turn out the way they had hoped. I have to account for effort. I have to see if they were present in the lesson, listening, and trying to succeed. I want to see my students participate. I want to know that they are actively trying to engage with my lessons, my ideas, my thoughts. They need to have a hand in their own success.

Life wants the same thing out of each and every one of us. Tell me you haven’t slacked earning your “participation points” recently… yeah, that’s what I thought. It doesn’t matter that we get everything right, and goodness knows, perfect is a fantasy. But each time you don’t participate, at least a little, you’re losing points. Perhaps you won’t get a grade for your efforts, but the point you are missing has a much heavier weight attached to it.

What is the point of suiting up? What is the point of signing up for anything? What is the point of waking up, getting out of bedding, and trying at all?

BECAUSE IT IS YOUR LIFE. No one else can live it for you. Unless you are willing to participate, life can’t even meet you half way.

Give life the benefit of the doubt. Don’t miss the point. And for goodness sake, get an “A” in participation. You’ll thank yourself one day, I promise.

Love and Light,

Miss McPartland



“Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Experience is life’s best teacher. Sometimes, it comes to you as a euphoric moment and other times it brings you to your knees gasping for air just before delivering a knock-out blow. I never said it was a “nice” teacher…

I won’t belabor the point. No feeling is final. Let it all happen to you and grow through it. While it may not be the feeling(s) you want, they are feelings you need to experience. Feel what you’re feeling so that you can live your life.

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“The soul is healed by being with children.”

— Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Sandy Hook Elementary

Spending each and every day with 21 wonderful, bubbly children makes my life quite interesting.

Some days are happy. We fill our classroom with light, laughter, and lots of “teachable moments.”

Some days are a challenge. We do not feel like doing our best, being nice to our friends, or following directions.

Some days are all over the place. We are racing from one class to the next, leaving pencils on the floor and papers at our desks instead of in our backpacks to take home for the day. We forget a glove or our favorite hat and miss our buses to return for it.

Regardless of what it brings, each day is a blessing. Each day we spend together is the best day of the year. My students and their families have shared their lives with me, and I spend every day teaching them all that I can. Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science are part of the plan. Life lessons find their way into every subject. They will leave my classroom better people. That is what matters most to me.

It is my love of teaching and my love for my students that made this post so difficult to write. With that in mind, Friday during an in-service was __________________. (If you can find the appropriate word to place here to express my shock, horror, and disbelief, feel free.)

This week, our nation was faced with a devastating realization– not all people have the same motives that we do. We watched as the tolls rose and parents and students wept. We watched as a place of hope and caring was turned into the complete opposite. We watched as innocence was stolen along with the lives of 20 children and 6 adults. It something that no one could ever fix with mere words. I cannot begin to try.

I, along with so many others, can only try to continue the way I know how– with gratitude and hope.

I am fortunate enough to walk into my classroom this morning and see all 21 of those bright, smiling faces smiling back at me. We may have a happy day, a challenging day, or an off-the-wall day. Regardless of what the day brings, at least it will bring us together.

It is my hope that this post  brings you closer to hope and to those you love. We send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to ALL those affected. We thank all those who helped to protect school members and students. We thank the teachers who risked their lives to save their students.

Never forget that everything can change in an instant. Love those around you and never hesitate to tell them how much they mean to you. And for those of you who are blessed to share your lives with children: remind yourselves how much time spent with them can heal. They are light. They are all that is right with the world. They are hope. They are what matters most.

Love and Light,

Carly and Ray

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“What are you going to do with your one and only life?”

— Viola Davis in Won’t Back Down

A new teacher movie for me to geek out over is coming out this weekend. It was this quote however that reached out to more than simply the parents, students, and educators.

We have one life. ONE. What are you going to do with yours?

Make it one worth remembering. Make it one worth celebrating. And for goodness sake, make it one that makes YOU happy.

Love and Light,



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