Springing Forward

The  promise of spring approaches.  There are some days of warmer temps forecasted, most of the snow has melted from my roof and sidewalks.  A red-breasted robin was spotted.  These are surely signs of spring- right? Perhaps the most unwelcome part of spring (at least for me) will arrive overnight, and cause havoc with my days for quite some time– the dreaded switch to Daylight Savings time.  

I grew up in an era where my state didn’t change times.  We stayed consistently with or an hour behind our neighbors all year long.  In winter, my watch was set correctly for Michigan and Ohio adventures.   In the summer, I knew I needed to add an hour….life was good.

But now- Indiana has joined the rest of the crazy time changing world.  So tonight, while I sleep soundly, an hour will disappear.  The clock will switch from 1:59 to 3:00 a.m.  Few will notice at that moment, but in the morning- the change will rear its ugly head.  

There are those out there who welcome the change– I guess I’m not one of them. I think it comes from my nocturnal tendencies– morning comes early…and I just don’t do mornings well.  I do much better when time returns to “normal” in the fall.  I fall back well.

As for springing forward-

not so much.

Laughter IS The Best Medicine- Especially When It’s Shared Between Friends

Recently, I’ve been co-teaching with a good friend of mine, who happens to be our district’s literacy coach.  The kids and I look forward to her visit each day- seemingly for different reasons.  They love the break from the monotony of being “mine” all day.  I look forward the the opportunity to laugh.

I think as teachers, we feel a great deal of pressure every day, no matter what grade level of subject we teach.  The constant demands of students, curriculum, administration, etc. wears on us.  It starts to take away that sparkle we have for the jobs we do each day.  Over time, we discover that we’re still ourselves, but we’ve gotten to be serious (and rather dull).  Our vivaciousness is gone.

Having our literacy coach in the classroom has done a great deal to restore my sparkle.  I’ve been able to find moments to take myself so much less seriously, and actually laugh at the silliness that inevitably occurs in a room full of second graders. (“Do penguins have knees?” and when looking at a a penguin chick- “Oh, I know what that is– that’s one of those hairy penguins.”  Cue the giggles!!)   And guess what– the kids see the change in my manner and perhaps the return of my sparkly side. I enjoy what I’m doing- the kids are excited, and I can’t help but think that it was the addition of the literacy coach, my dear friend, that has helped restore us.

So perhaps we look forward to seeing her for the same reason, after all?  

I love the opportunity to share my moments of laughter with my friend and my students– it’s truly  a much needed medicine for my teaching soul.

 

 

Quilts and Quotes

I’m in the mood to be creative.  I have learned a great deal about the true art of making quilts in the past year.  Left to my own devices, I’d probably make something “quilty” every day.  Or at least daydream about quilt designs.  Colors.  Fabrics.

I’ve asked myself many times why I like quilting so much. In a word, creativity.  Quilting lets me touch on the creative side of my nature, much like having the freedom to write and post each day on this Slice of Life challenge does.  It gives me a daily reason to flex my creative muscles.  I have only the boundaries and rules that I set for myself.

Recently, I started playing around with Animoto.  I did a little with it several years ago, but have refocused on it.  I tried a project tonight that combines two of my favorite sources of inspiration- quilts and quotes. Click below to see it.  I couldn’t figure out how to embed it correctly.

http://animoto.com/play/Waf1W1IoDBlGhCrlbR9YCg

When you combine the two (aha…the premise of my next project), it’s hard to tell where the road to creative expression may lead. I’m certainly excited to begin the journey!

Proposed New Standards…Yikes!

Wordle

Indiana is revising the Common Core and Indiana standards to
try to create a hybrid form of learning standards. Sort of the
a “love child” if you will. A big, scary love child.

I decided that I would try a word cloud to see what jumped out at
me about them. It was a giant cloud. There were a few large
keywords, but many, many smaller terms. It goes totally against
my training of teaching deeply rather than trying to teach broad and shallow segments of curriculum .  I’m thinking of Wiggins and McTighe’s UbD and its focus on larger concepts.  There isn’t room for these here.

Time to read them more closely, then post my feedback.  If you live in Indiana, I encourage you to do the same.

In Search of Quiet Spaces

The room around me sits quiet and still until

Beeeeep!– the buzz of the bell unleashes a flurry-

Shoes stomping-

Voices shouting-

Laughter echoing-

The multitude of tiny knowledge seekers take over these once quiet halls.

Beeeep!- it rings again, signaling the dawn of the learning day-

The quiet escapes the room, unseen

Filled instead by  

“I want”-

“I need”-

“I hope you’ll let me”-

The knowledge seekers stir up the whirlwind that is their life-

The chasing of reading rainbows, mathematical mountains, and writing rivers-

I partake of the experience, lost in the moment, fostering learning,

And wait again for the end of the day,

When I will once again be

In search of quiet spaces

Keep Breathing

I parked the car, hands still resting on the wheel.  As soon as the engine stopped, the heat of the day began to press inward through the glass windshield, making my already damp palms feel even slicker.  I reached for the door handle and paused, watching the steady flow of men and women into the large high school building.  I pushed my sunglasses up on my head, stepped out, and faced the heat of summer in Central Oregon head on.  The sun seemed to bake down on my skin, even though it was still early morning.  I took out the necessary supplies, slipped the silly name badge over my head, and squared my shoulders to join those entering the building. The voice inside of me begged to go back to the car, to the house I was renting, to spend the day relaxing in the pool- or shopping- or being anywhere but here.  Anywhere that I wasn’t a novice.  Anywhere that I didn’t feel that I was the only beginner.  But my feet carried me forward, across the cracked, black pavement to the entrance.  Signs, lettered in black and white script, welcomed all to “A Quilter’s Affair”- one of the largest quilt shows and workshops in the country. I felt out of place, my pulse quickening as I thought about how little I really knew about quilting and art quilts.  I located my classroom, took a place at a table with other women carrying similar boxes of fabric- rainbows in a tub.  There were scissors, irons, fusing, and photos spread all over. The familiar sight comforted me.   I turned to the woman sitting next to me and said, “Hi.  I’m Becky. I’m from Indiana.  How are you?”  She smiled back at me and I felt myself relax a bit.  Beginner or not- I was welcome here.

The Memory of Grasses

Looking out the window today, I see the world in covered in pristine marshmallow-like fluff.  The day is a new beginning. The world is fresh, white and new- just as it seems to have been each day since January 1st.  As I dig into my mind, I recall a strange and foreign place- a world of green, of warmth, of sunshine.  It is the memory of grasses.

With it comes the memories of children playing outside.  I remember then feeling of gentle breezes blowing in through open windows.  I wish again for dandelion puffs and the first peeks of tulips.

I’m certain that one day, these odd memories will come back to life and that I will feel the sun and warmth upon my face. Until then, I’ll try to appreciate these clean, white days of new beginnings– while clinging to my memory of grasses.

Lessons Learned from Driving on Ice

Tonight, as I headed home from an evening out, the roads became covered with a slick, transparent film.  I had about a 45 minute drive ahead of me, creeping along the interstate at a stunning 40 miles per hour.  As I drove, I held onto the steering wheel, white knuckled and stressed out at the ice accumulating faster than my wipers could remove it.  I pulled over twice to clear the windshield and the wipers of the ice.  Eventually, I did make it home safely.

Reflecting on the harrowing journey, I realize that sometimes teaching feels very similar to this journey.  Seems a little farfetched, I know- but bear with me as I share my thoughts.

Just when you think everything is going fine- there’s bound to be a snag in the road.  You’ll be asked to teach in a new way or step out of your comfort zone.  You’ll hang on to what’s comfortable with a white-knuckle grip while slowly moving forward.  You’ll make progress, slowly- but in the end, you’ll reach your destination– an improved teacher!

The path in education isn’t always clear.  You start out thinking you know where you’re going, only to realize that your vision gets cloudy.  Sometimes you have to pull yourself back, scrape off those stressful thoughts and worries, and go back to the basic beliefs you’ve always had.  It feels like starting over, but you’re really just helping yourself be able to see your path.

So be brave, fellow teachers.  We can move forward.  It may be slow.  It may be uncomfortable.  It may be scary.  But when we follow those things we’ve always believed in- we’ll get there!