Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Back in 6th Grade

New seats, new seats, new seats!  Everyone was so happy about getting a new seat and a new writing partner today.  It's funny- as I moved through the classroom I saw bursts of joy as students realized who they had been partnered with.  Trying to remember myself at that age I could barely remember anything about my own sixth grade classroom, and then I remembered Brook Boyle.

Brook was the goofy kid at my table.  I was quiet and definitely a rule follower.  There were many days when I cringed thinking we were surely going to get in trouble because of him and his classroom antics.  Thinking about him over 40 years later I didn't remember any specific trouble that our table got in.  In fact, I remembered very little about 6th grade.

I do remember:
~Not being able to spell probably and wondering why my teacher would only tell me it was wrong instead of telling me how it should be spelled
~Making something with Plaster of Paris- probably some sort of fossil mold
~Not being chosen for a special weekend surprise the teacher gave her top 4 students (apparently I was the alternate)
~The red bell-bottom pants I wore on the first day of school

Then I remembered one other thing about Brook Boyle.  He had the coolest little blue "Frito Bandito" eraser.  He didn't have it for long though.  Our table got caught playing around with the little blue guy and without much fanfare that little eraser found its way into the hands of our first year teacher, Mrs. Austin.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Walk On

It's been quite some time since I've taken a stroll around the neighborhood.  Tonight I was happy to lace up my walking shoes and get back out there.

The warm spring evening was perfect for walking.  The sun shined above as all sorts of yellow flowers strutted their stuff in the neighbors' gardens.  The kids were out as well.  They pedaled along the sidewalk as parents watched from the front stoop.  I saw a few runners, a few dog walkers and even one gal who was walking her cat.  The big black and white fellow sat patiently as his person stopped to chat with a neighbor.  The two of us exchanged glances and I knew, because he was a cat, how uncool he thought being on a leash was.  I did my best to respect his catness and kept myself from staring too long.

It wasn't a long walk.  I was back home about 30 minutes later happy to be reacquainted with the neighborhood's activities.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

On the Floor

The best moment of the concert I saw last night came towards the end of the evening.  It was a moment my group almost missed.

After performing their final song on stage the four musicians moved into the crowd and sang four more.  The group refers this part of their show as "four on the floor."  I moved closer to music and was able to enjoy the always-fantastic harmonies of the band.  The intimacy of the setting made me feel like I was listening to them in a small room- perhaps someone's living room, like we were all a party together.  The all-acoustic set, using only a guitar and tambourine that served as a drum, was inspiring.  The lyrics were that much crisper, the music that much cleaner.

It left me wondering what it would take to do the whole show that way.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Thank You Sleep

Monday through Friday I get, on average, 6.5 hours of sleep.  I manage to get through very busy days in the classroom and am pretty productive.  Somewhere around Thursday the sleep I'm not getting starts catching up on me.  Really I'm more of an 8-9 hours a night kind of sleeper.  Sure, my body can make do with the 6.5 nights but after too many in a row it starts to crave a little more shut-eye time.

Fridays are my sleep savior.  Just last night my Fitbit registered a whopping 9.5 hours of sleep.  No wonder I got so much done around the house today!

By noon I had done 4 loads of laundry, cleaned the downstairs, sorted the stacked up mail and cleaned the bathroom.

My chores are done and I'm still full of energy.

Thank you sleep.

Thank you Saturday.

Friday, March 24, 2017

From Zero to Sixty

I'm a slow starter in the morning.  I get up around 5:15 just so I can spend about 45 minutes with coffee and the news of the world.  I make my coffee from freshly ground beans by the cup.  Shout out to the makers of the Aero Press.  That thing makes one of the best cups of coffee I've ever had.  It is, by far, the highlight of my morning routine.

After coffee time comes the shower and the other get yourself together stuff.  I make a quick breakfast; pack up my lunch and head out the door for a slow stroll to the car.  It's hard to say goodbye to my comfortable little abode, but work is a necessity so I slip into my car and head off to work.

I move slowly through the neighborhood- a full 5 miles under the posted speed limit.  The community takes speeding through the neighborhood seriously.  Testing the limits is likely to get you a Facebook shaming.  

My left out of the neighborhood places me on the entrance ramp to the local highway.  As I wait my turn to merge into traffic I grip my warm cup of coffee.  In no time at all I go from 0 to 60 and I'm speeding into my day trying my best to keep up with the flow of traffic.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Oh Happy Day

There's nothing like a great day in the classroom to erase any bad feelings swirling around from a not so stellar yesterday.  Today was that day.

The student who was such a...12 year-old yesterday was a softer version today.  Sure he was still testing the rules with the sweatband he wore but he the snarl that was so prominent yesterday was packed far away.

We reviewed types of conflict today.  Thanks to my awesome colleague, who has done most of the work on the current unit, we zipped through external and internal conflict with smiles on our faces and nods of "yep, I got this!"  Not only did my colleague's Google slide presentation include a video insert, it ended with a round of Kahoot!

My students were shocked, impressed and excited about the lesson.

As my co-teacher Starr told me late this afternoon, "You blew Matthew away.  He had no idea you could ever play Kahoot in English."

Those kids better hold on tight.  My awesome colleague tells me the setting presentation is even better!

GeoGuesser anyone?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Can We Talk?

These last days of March are weary ones indeed.  My desk is a clutter of haphazard papers and tiny Post-it notes that have been around for so long that they often leave me stumped by my own cryptic messages to myself.

Today I had a rather negative interaction with a student.  It didn't feel good and I went in search of the counselor for some advice on how to best repair this frayed relationship.  This young man and I have had some ups and downs over the year.  I see him as someone who is testing the limits.  Some days it feels like he's more interested in testing his behavioral limits than stretching his academic self.

I get it.  I know that's part of being a middle school teacher, but it's hard to ignore at times.

I asked him to see me at lunch- hoping for a quick discussion, a little redirection and a pep talk.  The young man's body language assured me that was not going to be happening.  I could discuss, redirect and pep talk all I wanted but he wasn't going to hear it.  His wall was up and as strong as the snarl in his lip.

I cut the talk short, realizing it wouldn't matter what I said.  He may have felt victorious but I sure didn't.  

That meeting gnawed at my brain the rest of the day.  Finally around 2:00 I went in search of the counselor hoping she'd offer me some insight on the child and a path we could take together to bring out the best in our student.

--> The turn-around is going to take some time, it usually does.  We didn't completely solve the problem, but I must say talking with the school counselor always makes me feel so much better!