The Teaching Bites Show with Fred & Sharon Jaravata

Because teachers need to prep for their future too. A show about surviving and thriving in our extremely busy and challenging teaching profession. She teaches 4th grade, He teaches K-12 Innovation. And yes, we're married to each other! Reach out to us at and Music by Music & by The Passion HiFi
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Now displaying: January, 2016
Jan 20, 2016

Corinne Corrigan is a fourth grade teacher who has a unique experience where she started in the classroom and moved to the computer lab, started her family, came back and established our maker space studio and is now back in the classroom–in a new grade. Whew! She has a wealth of teaching resources and tips for eveyone.

I learned everything about teaching from Corinne (and Zoe Ley) when I was her teaching assistant way back. She continues to be a mentor and friend who has always given great advice and tips professionally and personally ;).

Come listen as we chat about her experience and get valuable tips to use in your own teaching and find out what she means by telling teachers to “just don’t do it!”

Books Mentioned (Affiliate Links – at no extra cost to you!)

Great Horn Spoon

One Crazy Summer

Music by: JukeDeck

Here is the transcript for you:

[Welcome to the Teaching Bites Podcast. Here are your hosts, Fred and Sharon Jaravata.]

Fred Jaravata: This is the Teaching Bites Show where we connect you with people and ideas to take your teaching to the next level. I’m your host. I’m Fred Jaravata and today we have a special guest. This person here is a very good friend of mine and a special person where she was actually my boss. Well, Corinne was my master teacher in first grade for about two years and then after that, I followed her into the computer lab and we worked together there for the next few years. She took some time off, came back and worked in the Makerspace. She helped us set that up and she went back to the classroom and teaches fourth grade. Hi Corinne.

Corinne Corrigan: Hello.

Fred Jaravata: How are you doing?

Corinne Corrigan: Good. How are you? I didn’t know I was so special.

Fred Jaravata: Very special. OK, one of the few people in this universe that actually – is actually really cool.

Corinne Corrigan: Oh, wow. Thank you.

Fred Jaravata: OK.

Corinne Corrigan: I’m honored.

Fred Jaravata: OK. So Corinne, fill in any of those blanks – any blanks that I – the intro I shared with our listeners and let us know your teaching story.

Corinne Corrigan: OK. So my background, I taught for second, third and now fourth grades. I also had a stint as a pre-kindergarten teacher for a semester and I was a technology specialist for several years. I got into that when I wanted to do something different and I wanted to have a job that would also allow me to possibly work part-time when I was having children and it worked out. But then I missed the classroom. I’m happy to be back teaching fourth grade humanities.

Fred Jaravata: Fourth grade humanities, OK. So when did you start teaching?

Corinne Corrigan: I started teaching in 1994. It was when I started my credential program. I actually did a credential program overseas in England. I was – I had been living in England and wanted to stay there and had a boyfriend there that I wanted to stay and hang out with.

So I did my teaching credential and teaching education in England for – before I moved back to the States and then now I have a California credential.

Fred Jaravata: Now, why did you choose San Francisco?

Corinne Corrigan: I went to college. I went to the University of San Francisco and I wanted to come back. So I did a year in Atlanta where my parents lived. I moved back from England and had about $50 in my pocket and decided I needed to live at home for a while and I taught third grade for a semester and pre-kindergarten first semester and then I moved back to San Francisco.

Fred Jaravata: OK.

Corinne Corrigan: I lived here longer than anywhere else.

Fred Jaravata: Than anywhere else. And you like it so far?

Corinne Corrigan: Uh-huh.

Fred Jaravata: Yeah. I did two and here. How did you get into teaching?

Corinne Corrigan: Well, let’s see. I started college in 1989 and didn’t really know what I wanted to study. I knew I loved working with children. I bounced from one major to another. I finally ended up with a degree in psychology and religion and part of my practicum at the end of my degree was working in a school with the first grade classroom and being in that classroom, I loved it and decided that that’s where I wanted to be.

Fred Jaravata: OK, hold on. I have some sound issues I need to fix real quick. OK.

Corinne Corrigan: So I was working in a first grade classroom in San Francisco and decided that that’s what I wanted to do. By then, I was already a senior in college. So I decided the best route would be to graduate with my degree as it was and then go back to school and study education and get my credential.

Fred Jaravata: And again, you got your credential in San Francisco, in the University of San Francisco?

Corinne Corrigan: No, I did it in England.

Fred Jaravata: Oh, in England. That’s right. OK.

Corinne Corrigan: Yeah. And then I came back. I eventually got my master’s degree at USF as well.

Fred Jaravata: Oh, OK. All right. Now share with us the “aha” moment, that time when you realized teaching is for you.

Corinne Corrigan: Well, it was during my senior year in college and I was volunteering as part of my practicum for my psychology degree working at a school, working with individual students who – I was used in the classroom kind of – in the beginning, just to be there to observe and help and eventually I was given small groups and worked with children who really needed that extra support.

The teacher was great. She let me try out lessons with the whole class and with groups and just being in that classroom, I don’t think there was really one moment. I think it was that whole experience that really made me realized that that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to work in schools. I wanted to work with kids.

Fred Jaravata: How old were you?

Corinne Corrigan: I was a senior in college. So I was 22.

Fred Jaravata: So what did you want to do before that?

Corinne Corrigan: I had no idea.

Fred Jaravata: You had no idea.

Corinne Corrigan: Nope. I knew I love children. I wanted to work somehow. I thought maybe by going into the field of psychology. That was my degree. But in the end, I really – I wanted to be teaching children and working with them in the classrooms.

Fred Jaravata: OK. All right.

Corinne Corrigan: I was directionless before that.

Fred Jaravata: You were directionless and then you found teaching. That’s good, yeah. A lot of people – a lot of teachers I have noticed that when I interview them, they kind of fell into the teaching world too and they realized that they love teaching.

Corinne Corrigan: Well, I didn’t love it at first. I mean I wanted to be a teacher and then I became a teacher. It’s hard. The first few years were really a struggle. Just a lot …

Fred Jaravata: What were the toughest parts?

Corinne Corrigan: I think the amount of work, not having enough time to get everything done, knowing – you know, really what I wanted it to be, what I wanted my classroom to be and not being able to get there just because of the sheer size of my class or the lack of time. Dealing with parents was difficult because I was young and they were all older than I was. It’s hard the first few years really. I think that – I thought about trying to find a different career at one point. Now I love it. Now I just really enjoy it.

Fred Jaravata: So what helped you get through over that hump of actually sticking with it and facing all those challenges?

Corinne Corrigan: Not knowing what else to do partly. No other choice.

Fred Jaravata: I mean you were young.

Corinne Corrigan: I was young, no choice really. Like, OK, got to stick with this. I have a job and you need to pay the bills. Quite honestly, after doing it for two or three years, it definitely – it gets easier being able – especially when I was teaching one – the first couple of years, I moved around classes. So it was always like starting over.

Fred Jaravata: Right.

Corinne Corrigan: But once I was able to stick with one grade level for a few years and build some confidence and that experience I think helped me get through that. Then I took some time off after my children were born and honestly having my own kids also I think and getting older makes things a little bit easier.

Fred Jaravata: You’re much older now.

Corinne Corrigan: Much older. I know, Fred. You’re six months younger than I am I think.

Fred Jaravata: I’m only 27. So …

Corinne Corrigan: Ha-ha!

Fred Jaravata: You’re 28.

Corinne Corrigan: Twenty-seven plus what?

Fred Jaravata: Stop it. Stop it. A couple more decades of that.

Corinne Corrigan: Yeah.

Fred Jaravata: OK. So you mentioned that you – you know, you have your children. OK. So how does that affect you now in your own philosophy of teaching? You’re a parent. You have two kids. How does that affect you with how you teach but also in talking or engaging with your children’s teachers?

Corinne Corrigan: Right. Well, I look back to when I was a younger teacher and didn’t have my own children and I used to get really frustrated with the parents. Like I send things home and no one would reply. Things would sit in the children’s backpacks for weeks. And like, what are these people doing? How can they not look in their kids’ backpacks? Just little things like that.

Now I am that parent. So I definitely commiserate with the parents a bit maybe. I understand them more. I have more empathy. So – and with family life and what these kids – what happens when they leave school and how busy they are and what life is like after school hours. I have a better understanding of these families and I think that has helped me quite a bit. Is that what you asked me?

Fred Jaravata: Yeah.

Corinne Corrigan: OK.

Fred Jaravata: You definitely understand now why parents aren’t getting back to you sooner, right?

Corinne Corrigan: Yeah. And just what – as far as even things like homework and what is appropriate for kids to work on as – with homework and how busy kids are outside of school. All of that, I have a better understanding of and how busy parents are and how hard it is to be a parent and juggle everything.

Fred Jaravata: And with that, so when you interact with your children’s teachers, you …

Corinne Corrigan: I’m usually apologizing because I’m the one that forgot to send in the form because I know what it’s like being on the other side not getting that form.

Fred Jaravata: Right. You understand that and hopefully they understand that too.

Corinne Corrigan: I showed up to a parent-teacher conference a week early once. Yeah. That’s me.

Fred Jaravata: That’s you.

Corinne Corrigan: That’s me.

Fred Jaravata: Wow, OK.

Corinne Corrigan: And she was so nice. She even did the conference right there.

Fred Jaravata: Oh, she did?

Corinne Corrigan: She did.

Fred Jaravata: That’s nice.

Corinne Corrigan: She didn’t have to, but she did. I felt so bad.

Fred Jaravata: Wow. You caught her off-guard – well, she was probably ready.

Corinne Corrigan: Well, she’s a great teacher. She knew I wasn’t, you know, going to hold anything against her for not being totally prepared since I was a week early.

Fred Jaravata: OK. Better than a week late. That would be irritating.

Corinne Corrigan: I have not shown up too. That has happened.

Fred Jaravata: OK. Quote or a mantra. What is your – if you have one. Do you have a quote or mantra or a saying or whatever it can be that helps you with your teaching? What would it be? What is it? I need a drink. That’s a quote.

Corinne Corrigan: That’s …

Fred Jaravata: I can’t wait until it’s over. I can’t wait until June.

Corinne Corrigan: June, July and August are the best months of the year. Now, there are a couple of things. One I would say is – when I was a senior in college working at that school in San Francisco, when I decided to become a teacher, the teacher there, she said something that has kind of stuck with me. She said – she was like, “You know, they learn in spite of us.” So I tried to remember that, that I can’t do everything, that I can’t get everything done. I can’t have a perfect running classroom the way that it’s all shiny and happy and perfect and trying to create that kind of classroom is impossible and just creates too much stress. So I just do my best and I say to myself, “Well, they learn in spite of me.”

Fred Jaravata: They learn in spite of you.

Corinne Corrigan: In spite of me. And also the other thing I try to remind myself is to have fun. I spend more time here at school than I do …

Fred Jaravata: Anywhere.

Corinne Corrigan: Anywhere else and it better be fun or it’s – it can be miserable if you let it.

Fred Jaravata: You’re going to go crazy.

Corinne Corrigan: You will. You will go crazy and you can be totally stressed out and miserable or you can decide, “I’m going to have fun. I’m going to enjoy myself and not worry if I don’t get everything done.”

Fred Jaravata: That’s a good one. That’s good one. They are learning in spite of you, right? In spite of all of us.

Corinne Corrigan: I hope so.

Fred Jaravata: OK. What I ask a lot of our guests also and a lot of the listeners like to hear the answers to this or the tips and ideas, can you name or can you share a moment in time of a challenging moment that you had with a student or with a parent and how you overcame that?

Corinne Corrigan: Are parents going to listen to this?

Fred Jaravata: Parents are probably not. But they may.

Corinne Corrigan: I won’t name names. I won’t name names and it was a long time ago.

Fred Jaravata: OK.

Corinne Corrigan: But if this person does hear it, she might know who I’m talking about. So this was several years ago and I had a child in my class who like to go home and tell stories that weren’t always true because they would experience something that a six-year-old – or he would experience that a six-year-old would experience and whatever that experience was would then go through his six-year-old filter in his brain.

Fred Jaravata: This is first grade?

Corinne Corrigan: Yes.

Fred Jaravata: Was I in this class?

Corinne Corrigan: No.

Fred Jaravata: OK.

Corinne Corrigan: That narrows it down, doesn’t it?

Fred Jaravata: Yeah it does narrow it down.

Corinne Corrigan: And so things would go through this six-year-old brain. It filtered through and come out as not really what happened, right? I don’t think he was outwardly like trying to fib. But his version of events wasn’t quite accurate.

So he went home and I honestly can’t even remember what he told his mother I said. It was something that was criticizing her, that I had criticized her to him, which I wouldn’t do.

Fred Jaravata: Right.

Corinne Corrigan: Right? Who would do that? So this was a time before email really. I mean there was email but it wasn’t used as much as it is now.

Fred Jaravata: As communication with parents.

Corinne Corrigan: Right. So I would get voicemail messages. So I had a voicemail from this parent within half an hour after dismissal, which was a usual thing with her, but this especially. So I talked to her and I tried to reassure her that I would never criticize her in front of her child and she basically accused me of lying. Yeah. So it was hard. This was about a week before parent conferences.

Fred Jaravata: Ouch. How did she approach you?

Corinne Corrigan: She phoned and left a message for me to call her.

Fred Jaravata: Oh, OK.

Corinne Corrigan: So I called her back.

Fred Jaravata: OK.

Corinne Corrigan: And was accused of lying when I denied that I said what he had said and I don’t remember what it was exactly. So that parent conference a week later was not so much fun and I just decided to – and I’ve done this a couple of times where I just – I’m very direct with the parents and just take it head on and I just said, “You know, I’m really having a hard time getting past our phone conversation where you basically accused me of lying.” So then it didn’t work out too well. The conversation went downhill from there. I wasn’t super delicate with her.

Fred Jaravata: But she insulted you.

Corinne Corrigan: She did and I wanted to clear the air and I wanted her to understand that I wouldn’t have done that. I wouldn’t have criticized her in front of her son.

Fred Jaravata: Right.

Corinne Corrigan: It worked out in the end. She kind of blew up and left and the next day wrote me an apology letter. So it – and from that point forward, we got along very well. So it’s – sometimes being direct with the parents helps and works really well and other times, you have to finesse it a little bit depending on the personality of that parent.

Fred Jaravata: Interesting. OK.

Corinne Corrigan: Yeah, that sticks out as probably the biggest event with a parent that I’ve had.

Fred Jaravata: That’s probably common also with teachers and parents, the whole dynamics. That probably is pretty common. But I’m glad it worked out. Good.

Corinne Corrigan: I ran into her probably a year ago. We had a nice conversation and yeah, I think she has obviously moved past that her son is now …

Fred Jaravata: Do I know this parent?

Corinne Corrigan: I’m not naming names.

Fred Jaravata: OK, no names.

Corinne Corrigan: You may have heard of her. I don’t know.

Fred Jaravata: OK.

Corinne Corrigan: No, she’s a lovely lady and she was …

Fred Jaravata: You worked it out.

Corinne Corrigan: She was looking out for her child and herself.

Fred Jaravata: Exactly.

Corinne Corrigan: I understand that.

Fred Jaravata: You would do the same thing.

Corinne Corrigan: Uh-huh.

Fred Jaravata: OK. OK. So I know earlier, before we stepped into the sound room here, you didn’t have a book or a song or even a movie that kind of inspires you. You even questioned. Like, what is this question about? But is there anything that inspires you, something in pop culture? Let me put it that way. Something in pop culture.

Corinne Corrigan: Pop culture? Like Kardashians or something? No.

Fred Jaravata: What was the other one that you kept on talking about before, you and Krista? It was the Honey Boo Boo thing?

Corinne Corrigan: Oh, Honey Boo Boo. Yeah, no.

Fred Jaravata: That’s a big one.

Corinne Corrigan: Not so much.

Fred Jaravata: It doesn’t inspire you?

Corinne Corrigan: It inspires me to do other things. It’s a hard one. Honestly like the books I read, I find myself reading a lot of children’s literature since – this is only my second year teaching fourth grade. So I feel like I’m constantly trying to read things that they’re reading.

Fred Jaravata: Can you name some books at least in your fourth grade?

Corinne Corrigan: Books in my fourth grade. So …

[0:17:22] [Crosstalk]

Corinne Corrigan: Some of them read that, yeah. I read those a long time ago. But I was reading the summers. I really enjoyed reading. It was called One Crazy Summer. It’s about in the 60s in Oakland and these children that move out to the Bay Area to be with their mother for the summer who is involved with the Black Panthers. So it’s an interesting read. I read a lot of books that revolve around the gold rush, California gold rush. So there’s the By The Great Horn Spoon that my students read. I’m always looking for new things about California history or that tie into California history so that I can integrate the subjects. I find that’s the best way to get through the most amount of curriculum is to try to integrate the reading and the writing and the social studies.

Fred Jaravata: OK. So you have a very unique experience. You started in the classroom. Then you went to the computer lab and then you took some time off to be with your family. Then you came back into the computer lab, which we transformed into the Spark Studio. Now you’re back in the classroom.

Corinne Corrigan: Right.

Fred Jaravata: This is a question. How – from what you know now, from all the experience that you did that, is there a tip or trick or – how do you integrate technology in the classroom now being …

Corinne Corrigan: Not as much as I would like. It’s interesting.

Fred Jaravata: Right, because you were one of [0:19:01] [Indiscernible] and you went through that. One of our jobs is to help teachers start using technology and innovate, right?

Corinne Corrigan: Uh-huh.

Fred Jaravata: From your point of view now, as a classroom teacher, what’s your experience with that?

Corinne Corrigan: Well, you think I would go in and be using technology left and right just from my background. But being new to a grade level and really trying to learn all that curriculum and learn where the students are at this age and piece it all together has been a huge overwhelming task and I do use technology. We have – the children all have one-to-one iPads that they use. I would like to use it more. I find myself sometimes forgetting to use the technology in that. I will be like, oh, I could have done that. Why didn’t we use the iPads for that? It’s not coming to me because I’m too busy trying to get everything else together at this point.

So one of my goals actually is to – this year and especially next school year, my third year in fourth grade, is to really use it more and use it how I really want to use it. But it kind of goes back to what I said earlier about having this perfect classroom that has everything like the way it should be. Like, in my mind, I know what it should be. I just can’t get there right now.

Fred Jaravata: Right. The reality gets in the way.

Corinne Corrigan: Reality gets in the way, definitely.

Fred Jaravata: OK.

Corinne Corrigan: So I do use it. I do use technology. The students – I try to let them have as much choice as they – as I can. Technology is always one of those choices. So some children have ideas of ways to use it and I usually let them go with it.

Fred Jaravata: Can you share at least one way that kids are using it?

Corinne Corrigan: Well, we are …

Fred Jaravata: The iPads.

Corinne Corrigan: The iPads. Yeah. So sometimes what I will have them do at the end of reading a novel is have them do some kind of report using the iPads and I leave it kind of open. So they can make a movie about it. They can do either an iMovie or an iMovie trailer. They can use the audio. Oh gosh, what is that app called? Is it Audio where they do like a little slideshow and their voice in – I can’t remember what it’s called. I think it’s called Audio, isn’t it? Anyway, they can do that. There are lots of choices. They can make a little book about it using Book Creator.

Fred Jaravata: So you’re giving this as an option for them to do it.

Corinne Corrigan: Yes, or they can make a poster or they can not use the iPad.

Fred Jaravata: So that’s a key thing, what you did. You’re giving them the choice to do that and I think that’s one of the things that I think some teachers have – are struggling with technology, using the iPads or Chromebooks or whatever, is that they would have to know everything of using the technology. Of course you’re unique where you have that background. You know how to use iPads and so on. But what’s one tip you can share with the teachers struggling to use technology?

Corinne Corrigan: Right. I think what’s important is to decide, “Well, why do you want them to do this project? What is it you want them to show?” You want them to show their learning and what they know. So that can be done in a variety of ways. You have to just be open to letting them show their learning in different ways. So I don’t like to get 22 – or in this case I have 42 students. I don’t like to get 42 projects that are all the same. That’s boring.

Fred Jaravata: Right.

Corinne Corrigan: So I like leaving it up to them. They can still show their learning in multiple different ways and it could all be different. But they’re still showing me their learning. I think you just have to kind of let go and be able to do that. I don’t know if that’s a really good piece of advice or a tip but that’s – you have to get to that point where you – and you can still give them parameters. If making a movie is one of the options, well then, give them parameters within that, that your movie has to have X, Y and Z in it. That way, you still have some control over it.

Fred Jaravata: What’s your favorite tech tool?

Corinne Corrigan: My favorite tech tool.

Fred Jaravata: Tech tool, resources, websites that you actually like using.

Corinne Corrigan: You’re going to laugh.

Fred Jaravata: I’m already laughing. What is it?

Corinne Corrigan: Yeah, I like my phone. My new watch.

Fred Jaravata: An Apple watch.

Corinne Corrigan: An Apple watch. No, I really actually like Pinterest. Very simple. There’s so much on there. I can always – if I’m stuck for an idea, and I do a search, nine times out of ten, it’s on Pinterest.

Fred Jaravata: Right. It’s true.

Corinne Corrigan: And I know it’s – I knew you were going to laugh at me. But it’s true. I can always get different ideas or I get an idea and I tweak it and make it my own and take it off from there.

Fred Jaravata: Sharon, she loves that. Last year she …

Corinne Corrigan: There’s everything on there.

Fred Jaravata: There’s everything on there, right? I mean you just type in like kitchen stuff or whatever.

Corinne Corrigan: I don’t have time to make my own Pinterest page. Who has time for that? But other teachers …

Fred Jaravata: You’re pinning stuff or you’re subscribing to boards or whatever. I don’t know how it works.

Corinne Corrigan: Yeah.

Fred Jaravata: But yeah, Sharon loves it. I don’t. I don’t like Pinterest and maybe just the layout, how it works out, and it’s not really geared for my style of consuming things. Yeah, I just know there’s a lot of – I’m going to say it. Women love Pinterest and men, I don’t – very rare do I find …

Corinne Corrigan: The only thing I look on there, for teaching things and gardening. That’s it. I get ideas and all I do is look at the pictures and if it’s something interesting, then I click on it and try to find it. The other site that actually is often on there is Teachers Pay Teacher.

Fred Jaravata: That’s a big one.

Corinne Corrigan: I like that site too because that way I don’t have to recreate something that’s already out there.

Fred Jaravata: And people making money with that too.

Corinne Corrigan: I know and I thought about putting things on there. But again, I don’t have time.

Fred Jaravata: You don’t have time.

Corinne Corrigan: I don’t have time to make my own stuff to sell.

Fred Jaravata: Exactly. But if you make something and then it’s a hit, you will have more time to do the things you want.

Corinne Corrigan: Yeah. Maybe at some point I will give it a try.

Fred Jaravata: OK. So what’s something happening now that you’re excited to learn about more or about?

Corinne Corrigan: Something I want to learn about. One of my regrets is not learning another language and I took a lot of Spanish in high school and college. I really don’t remember much because it was all just written and reading. Not a lot of conversational Spanish and I didn’t really use it.

So I really want to learn. I want to go back and study Spanish and really learn it. I would love to find a way because my students take a semester of Spanish. It would be really great to find a way to do more of an immersion style, like parts of the day in Spanish, even if it’s just like the morning meeting or trying to incorporate that into the classroom to help them with learning Spanish as well.

So I have this idea kind of rolling around in my head and I need to find a way to go and do it and do like an immersion myself and learn Spanish. So that’s kind of one of my future goals is to get on that and learn a language.

Fred Jaravata: That’s cool. That’s a very useful thing.

Corinne Corrigan: It also ties in because I teach about Spanish colonialism in the 1500s and all of that kind of ties together. So it would be kind of cool to bring it into the history that I teach as well.

Fred Jaravata: OK. What project have you done in the classroom that you’re most proud of?

Corinne Corrigan: Oh, gosh. I don’t know.

Fred Jaravata: I’m guessing it’s not the Spanish.

Corinne Corrigan: I didn’t look at that question. I didn’t see that one. I didn’t think about that. Project that I’m really proud of in the classroom. Oh, I know. So I did this thing last year. I called it the California Showcase and this year I changed the name to California Bonanza. I think it sounds better. So basically it’s kind of a culmination of all of the history that my students learn. They take that. I divide them up into groups and they research a topic or a period of history, so that they’ve already learned about it but they dig in deeper.

As a group, they write a play. So we do a little bit of playwriting with it and they perform the plays for the parents at the end of April. So we start with the early Californians, the Native Americans, so there’s a skip with that. Then we move into the explorers and Spanish California, Mexican California, the gold rush and statehood. So they take and create plays about each of those periods of history or periods within California history and then perform them. They write the plays themselves. They make the props. They create all of it. It’s a huge project. They have – they bring in things for costumes. We will even do some sewing if we need to.

It’s really child-centered, child-made, the whole thing with the teachers kind of – we’re the guides to make sure that they stay on track.

Fred Jaravata: So when will you start this project? You said they present it in April?

Corinne Corrigan: Yeah. So this is only my second year doing it and we’re starting it now. I wanted to start it earlier but it just didn’t happen. This year, I’m incorporating it into our writing, our informational writing unit. So they are – I’ve divided them into groups. They’re getting their topics. They then individually have to choose a topic within that period of history to work on during the informational writing unit that we’re doing.

So that way, they’re getting all their research done and they really feel that they understand that period of California history, so that when – in about a month, they sit down to write the play as a group. They will have a lot more research and information in their heads and in their work that they can share to write a play. Then we practice and practice and rewrite and rewrite and revise, revise, revise. It’s a lot of work. But the kids love it and they perform it and the favorite topic last year was the Donner party of course.

Fred Jaravata: The Donner party.

Corinne Corrigan: Oh, yeah. I tried to just keep it about pioneers and people coming out to settle in California.

Fred Jaravata: So they’re reenacting the whole …

Corinne Corrigan: They decided to …

Fred Jaravata: The beef jerky.

Corinne Corrigan: There was no beef jerky, Fred. We kept it tasteful.

Fred Jaravata: Using it as a prop? No?

Corinne Corrigan: We kept it tasteful. They – so they wrote – the one group that did about the pioneers, wrote their skit about the pioneers definitely talked about the Donner party in there. So it was pretty funny. We kept it – it was appropriate.

Fred Jaravata: OK.

Corinne Corrigan: That’s where we step in and make sure the teachers step in at that point.

Fred Jaravata: OK. So how do you inspire your students?

Corinne Corrigan: How do I inspire them? I don’t know. I try to use humor as much as possible. They’re here just like we are, more than they are at home, and I think it’s important that they feel safe and happy at school because they can’t learn if they don’t feel safe and happy. So I try to tell stories. I think teaching history is – can be dry. So I try to create stories out of it as much as possible.

Fred Jaravata: One thing that I learned also is to get to know your students, right? And I know you’re doing that. How about the other way around? Do you share what’s going on with you with your students?

Corinne Corrigan: I do. I think it’s important that they feel a connection with the teacher and in order to feel a connection, you have to really know a person and I definitely – I share little tidbits. They know about my family. I have children their age and I talk about them and they love that. They love hearing any little tidbit I can throw out there that’s about me.

Fred Jaravata: Right. And hang on to that.

Corinne Corrigan: So yesterday, I actually blow-dried my hair and used a flat iron and it was the first thing they noticed this morning. Mrs. Corrigan! Your hair looks gorgeous. Any little difference, they notice.

Fred Jaravata: Well, that’s a good one. I mean otherwise …

Corinne Corrigan: It is good.

Fred Jaravata: The other way around, sometimes they will just criticize you.

Corinne Corrigan: Well, they will. Yeah.

Fred Jaravata: Your hair is ugly today.

Corinne Corrigan: Well, they’re not quite like that. The girls are more subtle. They look and they will say things like, “Wow, you must really like those shoes.” Like why? Because I wear them a lot? Yeah, you do. You wear them a lot.

Fred Jaravata: So wait a minute. You kids are in dress uniforms. You guys are always wearing the same thing.

Corinne Corrigan: I know, I know.

Fred Jaravata: OK. So we have a couple more minutes left in this interview.

Corinne Corrigan: OK. I’m scared. What else are you going to ask me?

Fred Jaravata: Time-saving tip.

Corinne Corrigan: Time-saving tip.

Fred Jaravata: To …

Corinne Corrigan: Don’t do it. That’s the time-saving tip. Just don’t do it. No. I don’t know.

Fred Jaravata: That’s a good one. Why do you say that?

Corinne Corrigan: Well, sometimes you have to decide what’s important and if you – I could be here until six o’clock every day and still not get everything done. So I have to decide what’s important right now and get that finished. Some things don’t really have to be done. I have to decide. Do I really need to do this? Does this have to be done? Maybe in a perfect world, I want it to be finished. But sometimes I’m like, no, I don’t have time. It’s not needed and I need to focus on other stuff.

Fred Jaravata: You are prioritizing things.

Corinne Corrigan: Yes.

Fred Jaravata: Right. What needs to be done.

Corinne Corrigan: Yeah. I think early on I tried to do everything and wanted everything to be perfect and I would be at school so late every day and neglecting my family and I try not to do that anymore. I try to get out of here and pick up my kids and enjoy time with my family.

Fred Jaravata: Good. That’s very good advice. Speaking of tip, advice, would that be the best advice you would have for teachers or is there another tip or advice you want to share with teachers?

Corinne Corrigan: I mean I think going back to what I was saying before about you – there’s not enough time in the day and you ask teachers often. Like, what is it you really want? And they often say more time, more time. Well, it’s not going to make any difference. You’re still not going to have that perfect bright and shiny little classroom that has everything you want done and it’s impossible.

So it’s hard as a teacher because you know what it should look like and you just can’t – reality sets in.

Fred Jaravata: Because you’re looking at their Pinterest. That’s why.

Corinne Corrigan: Yes, because I’m looking at Pinterest.

Fred Jaravata: Why? Looking at the perfection.

Corinne Corrigan: May be true.

Fred Jaravata: You don’t see the work behind all that stuff.

Corinne Corrigan: Yeah. Yeah. I think prioritizing, choosing what to do and what not to do, being OK with it not getting done. I think you have to get to the point where you’re OK with that. Like, oh well, I didn’t get it done. It doesn’t look like what I wanted it to look. Oh well, move on.

Fred Jaravata: Oh well, move on.

Corinne Corrigan: You know? And try to use humor and have fun.

Fred Jaravata: Very cool, very cool. All right.

Corinne Corrigan: Anything else.

Fred Jaravata: I think that’s – well, I’m done. I’m done with all these questions.

Corinne Corrigan: Well, thank you. I’ve enjoyed it.

Fred Jaravata: Did you really enjoy this?

Corinne Corrigan: I did. I did. I was a little nervous. I didn’t know what it was going to be like. But it was fun.

Fred Jaravata: OK, Corinne. Thank you so much for joining our show.

Corinne Corrigan: Thank you.

Fred Jaravata: Thank you.

Corinne Corrigan: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Jan 8, 2016

I interview a dear friend, who happens to be an ex-roomate who also happens to be an Associate Dean and Director of Academic Development and Technological Innovation at the University of San Francisco, Dr. Charlene Lobo Soriano.

Charlene shares with us so much valuable ideas and stories that it was a mind blowing experience.  

We go over her story of being finite to infinite.

I learned that its important for students and teachers t "embrace the cactus," and what "adulting" is!

We then explore what it means to be a lawnmower parent vs. a helicopter parent.

And so much more!

Jan 4, 2016

We had the wonderful opportunity to interview Stef: our dear friend, former teacher, godparents to our boys, stay at home mom, awesome chef and knitter!  Talk about talented!  Fred met her in college and we become godparents to her two girls.  She recommended me to her principal and I got the job I currently have at my school, what a blessing!  We watched each other's kids grow up while living next door to each other- we are family.

Stefanie's a-ha moment that inspired her to teach was listening to her first grade cousin read to her.  She was so amazed that she wanted to be a teacher!  She spent most of her teaching career as a 5th grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher and made her no regrets decision to be a stay at home mom to her two girls.  Now 8 years removed from teaching, you can hear her passion for education and how it has helped her when it comes to homework time with her girls.

Follow Stefanie on her blog: and check our her knitting projects on (you must already be a Ravelry member to access). Enjoy!

Music from Jukedeck - create your own at

Jan 2, 2016

We reflect on our first year of podcasting. We go over the technical challenges and expectations of trying to produce a valuable resource for our fellow teachers.  

We then go over our 2016 goals and expectations so that we can be accountable so that we can deliver good stuff.