My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.

February 14, 2017

Love #SOL17

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Love is...

  • taking a late night call from your oldest to catch up on her day and provide support
  • not getting mad at your youngest for swiping your conditioner from the shower
  • sending your husband off with best wishes for a healthy heart checkup
  • coming to teach in the morning when you reallllyyyy need another hour of sleep
  • teaching your developing readers and writers how to write a kindness note
  • watching them think and encourage and decorate and help each other write notes
  • helping students deliver notes to pleasantly surprised staff members
  • getting messages of love from your family over social media
  • spending dinner with your daughter and laughing over messed up quesadillas
  • browsing at the bookstore, choosing just the right books for the upcoming baby shower
  • warming some milk, chocolate and cinnamon for a delicious hot cocoa
  • writing a slice showing gratitude for a really sweet day

February 7, 2017

One Little Word? Not yet. #SOL17

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2017 started yesterday, right?  Yeesh - I'm 38 days late to that party!  Whooosh - this new year is already flying by.  Lots of excuses and reasons I haven't written on the blog or read a lot of books:
  • grad school AGAIN (ESL endorsement 84% complete)
  • new principal ('nuff said)
  • second year at new school
  • too much paperwork I keep putting off
  • lots of political tweets and news and events to follow
  • everything else has bumped writing out of the way
This year I'm trying something new (because I'm refining and trying strategies every day) of stopping and thinking before I jump in to:  answer for someone else, raise my hand to volunteer or help a child or adult do something that they are capable of doing themselves.

So that leaves me with the question... what IS my One Little Word for 2017??

Is it...
  • stop
  • pause
  • mindful
  • reflect
  • choose
Calling all readers ... do you have some advice?  I tend to talk about being intentional with my fellow teachers, but I'm too impulsive for that one.

Thanks for listening.  It was good to write and get this out of my head.  

September 20, 2016

Nearly Calm #SOL16

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This weekend I was a soggy, weepy mess.

There wasn't a reason in particular, but I guess you could say it's been pretty stressful since August.

Lindsey (oldest daughter) went back to U of Iowa for her junior year.  She has lots of committments (RA, UISG senator, student!)

I have a new principal.  She's an instructional leader with clear expectations.

Interventions started weeks of assessment, meetings and data collection, 

Allison (youngest daughter) started freshman year at ILStU and has collected new friends and has lots of opportunities for growth (read:  oversleeps!)

Jeff started building my Little Free Library in between weekly trips to the east coast.  He's been away more than home, so the LFL is only half built.

I started a new grad class and twice! my book order was canceled.  My assignments are late.


Then tonight I took a walk.  My phone hasn't pinged with any "Mom help!" messages. 

The sky was a beautiful pink.  Data meetings are finished, I can focus on teaching.

I worked on the door of my LFLibrary.  I breathed.  I had a piece of chocolate (and another).

I realized that I don't need to stress. 

I just need to stretch 
and do my best.
and eat more chocolate
and breathe.

August 2, 2016

Systematic approach, reluctantly

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When Lindsey returned after a summer of working at the U of Iowa orientation program, we tried to contain her stuff to one corner of the family room.  We knew she needed time and space to decompress from her job.  Being in charge of a group of incoming first years or transfer students, two or three times per week, wears you out.

I decided not to nag her (this is a skill I'm working on) about dealing with her stuff.  I did ask a few questions and encourage her to make some decisions about what she would bring to school, and what she could let go, as she enters her junior year.

Lindsey pointed out to me (very diplomatically) that when her amount of stuff was questioned or looked at with dismay (pointing at you, dad), she got upset.  She felt that we were holding her back from building an independent life outside of our house.

Huh.  I never thought of it that way.

Nine days of relaxing, creating door decorations for her floor, and visiting with friends passed by.  Some stuff got organized.  We realized that moving day (it's tomorrow!) was quickly arriving.

Last night we made a plan for today.  I would not work on homework or go to school.  She and I would pack her stuff and place it in the truck.  No errands, limited phone time, lots of music, no lectures.  We decided to pack item stored in the basement, then the items in the family room, and finish with the clothes in her bedroom.

I'm happy to report that the plan went extremely well.  I let Lindsey decide where to place her stuff in the truck and how to pack most of it.  I was merely the assistant, in charge of laundry, hanging clothes and dishes.  I offered a few suggestions, but that was it.

Parenting young adults is a whole new world.  They want to be seen as functioning grown ups.  We parents want to help them navigate life smoothly, avoiding some of the bigger pitfalls we remember from our past.  Hoping to help them realize what stuff is important.

It's an exciting time around here!  Lindsey's younger sister leaves for college in two weeks.  I wonder how packing her stuff and launching will turn out.

July 27, 2016

BElive in YOUrself

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Allison showed me a picture on Pinterest.  "I love this quote.  See how the BE in believe and the YOU in yourself is highlighted?  I'm going to make this for my wall."

My youngest daughter loves to surround herself with inspirational quotes and crafty projects.  She's a creative mind amid lots of practical, linear thinkers.  She needs constant reassurance that she is OK and doing the right things in life.

As much as I tell Allison and my oldest daughter, Lindsey, that they are perfect just the way they are and to celebrate their strengths, I've struggled with the my own self-esteem over the years.  My internal voice likes to remind me that I need to work harder to be organized, be leaner, be less of a talker and get things finished!

This summer I have worked on self care.  Reminding myself (like I tell my daughters and my students) that I am human.  I am a work in progress that doesn't need to be anyone but myself.  It has taken me 46 years on the planet (and a LOT of meditation) to realize that it is just fine to be who I am, quirks and all, and be passionate about what I do and what I love.

Wow.  Heavy stuff.  But not really.  I'm feeling lighter and less stressed and more grounded!
Why? How? One big help?

This summer I immersed myself back into the world of books. 

  •  I downloaded a pile of YA books from the library and devoured them.
  • I visited Little Free Libraries and added to the collections.
  • I sat under a tree at school each week and handed books to families.
  • I worked through two grad school classes for my ESL endorsement and made sure I spread book love through the class discussions (predictable!)
  • I attended NErdCampMI in Parma, MI, with my new book-loving teacher-friend (Meghan Hernandez!), surrounded by thoughtful teacher leaders (Cathy Mere!), librarians, authors, and many, many book heroes.

This summer I took a deep breath.  I realized I don't need to BE anyone but ME.
Quirks (clicking pens), habits (eating chocolate), loves (books, music, family), and dislikes (broccoli!).

BElieve in YOUrself.

May 31, 2016

Little Free Library Dreams #SOL16

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I did it.
I ordered my charter sign for my Little Free Library.  
The one I plan to place in my yard.  
The one I will fill with books for grown ups and little ones and curious neighbors.

I staged a little sign for social media (I wasn't brave enough to leave it in the yard, even just for a while).  

Jeff (my fabulous hubby) promises to build me the library.  He has a workshop full of tools and a keen eye for design.  He claimed that once I got the charter sign, he would build the library around it.  Now he travels every week for work.  I have to be patient.  Being patient is not easy for me.

Meanwhile, I'm working on how I will promote the library (once it's installed) and welcome my neighbors (some I really don't know!) to be involved in taking and giving books.

Some ideas...
  • ribbon cutting
  • set up an info table next to my LFLibrary during our city's Labor Day festival (lots of people park on my street)
  • write up a blurb for our city newsletter
  • create a flyer for my neighbors' doors
  • sit in my daughter's room and stare out the window at the library, wondering if I'm okay with complete strangers stopping in front of my house 
  • talking about said strangers with the neighbors on each side of me (communication is key)
I really have to be patient, and thinking of lots of ideas gets me excited and nervous at the same time.  I'm glad to have the Little Free Library newsletters and website to help me out.

I also appreciate your suggestions!

May 10, 2016

Just getting started

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My coworker looked at me today.  "You're not smiling.  What's wrong?"
I wasn't crabby (tired, but not crabby), I was just deep in thought.

"You can do it, you can make it 11 more days!" she laughed.

"It's not that we have 11 days of school left, it's that I feel like I'm just getting started!" I replied.

This has been a school year of learning,
starts and stops,
rushing into groups,
finding my backbone,
stating my intentions
and remaining transparent.

I'm here to boost my students
and to help them develop as
and cooperative, respectful citizens.

It's May and my students are just realizing their potential and finding success.
Their teachers are tired, drained and anxious about
packing up,
escalating silliness,
assessments and
data collection.

I'm just getting started in helping my students and fellow teachers
find their passion and their strengths
as they find ways to minimize their weaknesses.