Article #70
Giving Thanks...
Cheryl M. Sigmon
"There's too little pay in our profession and far too little thanks."... "I don't have money in my school budget for some of the essentials!"..."We work such long hours and are held accountable for so much that's beyond our control."... "Today I herded children into the cafeteria, wiped kids' mouths and noses, split up a fight between two students who weren't even mine, all while trying to eat the mystery meat on my own plate!"... "My evaluation by the principal is today, and, of course, Billy didn't take his medication. He'll be bouncing off the walls!"

So goes the life of a teacher and an administrator!

It's unfortunate that the pace of an educator and the trials and tribulations of an educator are such that we often don't stop long enough to count the many blessings that we do have. Sometimes it takes a special holiday like Thanksgiving to remind us to pause and reflect on those blessings. As I visit Four-Blocks school's classrooms, let me share what I'm thankful for.

I'm thankful for...

A classroom where kids nurture and appreciate each other. Because no one has labeled these kids, they grow to value their differences. They know that Billy isn't a good reader, and yet his partner is being so patient with him as they read together today. In another class, a child with Down's syndrome is selected to share his book with the class. He climbs into the "share chair" and all of his classmates listen quietly and attentively as he shares some words about his book. They clap for his when he finishes and little Deirdre even says, "Danny, you did a great job!" Wow ! I'm proud!

A classroom where kids have learned about responsibility. Kids make many choices in the 4-Blocks classroom. They learn to make wise decisions about the books they want to read during Self-Selected Reading. They learn to interact and cooperate as they read with partners or playschool groups or in Book Club groups during Guided Reading Block. They respond to their peers' writing in a positive, constructive way in Writing Block, and hold their own writing daily to a basic standard.

An environment that promotes and encourages growth in literacy. The walls are print rich with meaningful words and patterns to explore and support students. Books beckon students from every corner, enticing students to read. Student work is displayed and reassures students that their work is valued and that the room is theirs.

Teachers who are dedicated to their profession. They care enough about teaching to want to continue to grow and learn. They want to know all that they can about 4-Blocks. They read what is published and try their best to put it into successful practice. They meet on their own time to discuss their implementation with other teachers. Many of them go online to learn from a network of other teachers and administrators around the country--and the world. They go to training programs, often spending their own money to attend.

Administrators who support their teachers. They find the necessary financial resources to ensure that teachers have adequate materials in their classrooms. They go to 4-Blocks training to show teachers what they value and to be able to actively support the model in the classroom. They accommodate the model with schedules and planning time.

Educators who love children. That's the bottom line in education--doing what needs to be done in our schools to impact the lives of children. Four Blocks educators are those who so love children that they do all that they can not to label and divide them. They want to grow them all--each and every one.

I hope that you'll take time to count your many blessings this Thanksgiving season, especially in the midst of all the adversity we face. We all have much to be thankful for-including Four-Blocks! Happy Thanksgiving!

Training Opportunities:

If you're writing a grant at this time, I will be happy to write a letter of support for your grant to promise good training, either by me or by one of the wonderful folks who works along with me through ERG. Email me directly at or call 803-799-8024.

Below are seminars that I have coming up in the future. Please know that I have a small group of really excellent folks who work along with me, too. We do site-based work in schools and districts at your request. They did not come from a train-the-trainer program. Their expertise with 4-Blocks evolved over many years of training, teaching and support. For their services, you can simply call 843-539-1213, fax 843-539-1214 or visit ERG's website at We offer various types of staff development: classroom demonstrations, on-site presentations, classroom observations and feedback, and exploring 4-Blocks in more depth, among other offerings.

My seminar presentations:

Silver Springs, MD November 29  SDR
Hartford, CT       November 30  SDR
West VA            December 14  IRA Conference
San Jose, CA       January 15   SDR
Sacramento, CA     January 16   SDR
Long Beach, CA     January 29   SDR
Ontario, CA        January 30   SDR
Davenport, IA      February 12  SDR
Des Moines, IA     February 13  SDR
Albuquerque, NM    February 26  SDR
Phoenix, AZ        February 27  SDR
Toledo, OH         March 12     SDR
Indianapolis, IN   March 14     ERG (advanced)
Dayton, OH         March 15     ERG (advanced)
Columbus, OH       April 9      SDR (upper grades)
Indianapolis, In   April 10     SDR (upper grades)
Detroit, MI        April 23     SDR (upper grades)
Chicago, IL        April 24     SDR (upper grades)

For ERG workshops on 4-Blocks and Building Blocks, call 843-539-1213 or go to For SDR workshops, call 800-678-8908 or go to

Hope to see you at a workshop soon!

Personal Journal:

Happy second birthday to my beloved granddaughter, Meg, on her 2nd birthday, November 24th! It seems like yesterday when I was sharing the good news of her birth with all of you! My how time flies...

I hope you'll all have a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving with your family and friends! ----Cheryl

4 Blocks Goodies