Monday, November 14, 2016

Celebrating When You'd Rather Scream and Cry....

Discover. Play. Build.

It's been a week, hasn't it? And sometimes, during times like this, it's really hard to find things to celebrate. I had to be very intentional to find things that brought be JOY this week. But, because I paid attention, I found celebration all around me.

Little things--
  • Double chocolate donuts brought as birthday treats
  • Great conversations with kids after the election
  • My College Prep Lit kids who discuss books better every day
  • Starting a new speech season
  • New improv team members who are rockin' it!
Big things--

Our district became part of the Iowa Teacher Leadership grant this year, and as a result, we have three instructional coaches. While all of them came from the elementary building, they are great educators and have spent a great deal of time learning the ways of secondary ed.  

They've all been in my room, but one in particular has become a regular in my College Prep Lit class. She loves sitting and discussing books, so whatever we read, she reads. And then, about once a week she comes in and joins us for discussion. She's helped me with finding a way to grade discussion rather than worksheets. We're working on ways to connect students and discussion when they all read different books in the next unit. 

I love having someone to bounce ideas off of. Someone who finds resources and shares them with me. Someone who has been in my room multiple times, watched growth in my students and continually says, "I love what you are doing."



Last, I want to celebrate the passion of a student involved in the election. Last year, as a junior, he was an ardent Bernie supporter. He caucused. He was elected as a representative for our county and went to the state meeting to cast votes for Bernie. But when Secretary Clinton was selected as the Democratic nominee, he was all in. He went door to door. He made phone calls. Again, he threw himself into the campaign. 

When he wasn't in school on Wednesday, some in my classes assumed he was home, too upset about Clinton losing to come to school.  The actual story? He had to drive to the state capitol to return his party laptop.  I wrote him a note this week and told him in a note how proud I was of his commitment and enthusiasm. 

Trust me. 

The future is in good hands.





Saturday, November 5, 2016

#CelebrateMonday and All the Rest of the Week

Monday.

I stood in the hallway, watching students racing off to their first hour class, wishing I had stopped at the local convenience store and bought myself a cappuccino to sip during my prep. I was going to head up to the lounge to grab a cup of coffee, but it wasn't the same thing. And then, from around the corner, came a wonderful sight.

Mitchell, one of my senior speech kids, had two cups in his hand and handed one to me.

"White Chocolate Caramel cappuccino. Your favorite."

Monday saved.

Tuesday was our first day of conferences. I woke up that morning preparing myself for a long day. After my shower, I sat down with a cup of coffee and to check Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday saved.

Wednesday. Well, Wednesday was the Cubs. Enough said. Wednesday saved!

But Thursday. Oh, my. It's the second day of conferences and I was up much past my bedtime on a school night watching those Cubs. Yikes.

But it was OK. I certainly wasn't the only tired one. It seemed everyone watched that game much past their bedtime and we all commiserated on how tired we were, but how great the game was. Even if we weren't a Cubs fan, we knew someone who was and knew how important it was to them that the Cubs won the series. 

After a second great night of conferences, I could go home and snuggle on the couch. Sleeping in on Friday was a given. And we headed off to Wisconsin to spend time with family. 

Today we will head off to craft shows and repurposing shops, and maybe a brewery and just enjoy being together.  

Saturday saved.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Celebrate: Silly Kids

Discover. Play. Build.

My favorite part of teaching comes from interactions with kids. I love their enthusiasm, creativity and downright craziness (although, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have written those words at 3:30 Friday afternoon). This week's celebrations come from those little moments.


For years I posted silly student quotes on a wall in my room. You know the ones. Kids say and do things in class all the time that just make you laugh. For some reason, I haven't written them down in awhile, but several students think I should start again. And I may. But this little snippet would be too long for the quote wall. It deserves to be shared.

My College Prep Lit class is a small (10) group of great kids. Three gifted and talented sophomores, the rest juniors and seniors. I've had them all in class before and they get along fabulously. They are not afraid to admit when they don't know or don't understand something. And they are not afraid to fact check me.

We started our reading of Elie Wiesel's Night this week. After some background discussion, I assigned the Preface and the Forward for the night's reading. There was some whispering, some giggling, coming from the sophomore girls. 

"I thought it was pronounced pree-face."

I laughed. 

From the rest of the room, came the giggles of agreement. 

The next day a senior girl told me it was her word of the day. She told everyone she knew how to pronounce the word. 

But, a couple of them did admit to fact checking. Thank Heavens Google agreed with me!



And then there's these guys....
Leftover props from a Drama assignment. "They mysteriously" move about my room throughout the day.  It took some time for most students to notice them and longer to notice that they move.

But now. 

It's a new game. Every day I have a few students who come in the room and see how fast they can spot them. The corn is getting better at hiding, so sometimes it takes a bit. I guess it really is the little things that keep us entertained.


My last celebration is me. I'm writing more again and that's a good thing. My  notebook sits beside me so I can jot down little pieces that maybe will become bigger pieces. And maybe not. But at least I'm writing!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I Write



I write

The words flow out my fingers
at times when it seems
NO ONE
will understand them.
I keep them private
Just for me.

I write

The words flow out my fingers
to celebrate the moments of my life
That I never want to forget and I
SHARE
them with the world
Or at least my blog readers

I write

The words flow out my fingers
to convince a student their
STORY MATTERS
their life matters
and they need to share it
With someone.

I write

At times it has felt that the words left me
No longer wanted to be shared
They are in my head
But they won't flow from my fingers

I let them go for awhile

But now
I force it
Because my head isn't going
to tell
My fingers what to do

I write






Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lighting a Fire...

The power of speech--not only for the student but the teacher also. The things I learn about my kids and the connections I make are priceless....



I didn't have much hope for him.
I listened to girlfriends and former girlfriends and teachers and former teachers.

In my head I thought, He's probably not going to do much. He'll probably barely get by. 

At least I didn't let the voice in my head come out of my mouth.

Because that voice was wrong.  Really wrong. I am ashamed of myself for even letting that little voice whisper.

This is a great kid with passions most people in the school don't know about. Well, now they do. Because I've been sharing part of his story with everyone since last Tuesday.

One of my favorite speeches for kids to give in class are demonstration speeches. I encourage them to
share with the class something they really love, something they are pretty good at. I have kids who think they aren't good at anything. I have kids who try to make a joke of the speech by tying shoes or something similar, but most of the kids share something important.

This year, as the class was talking about possible topics, H mentioned that he works with glass--makes necklaces and knick knacks. Really?  I thought. He was so excited about sharing this and his excitement was contagious. Kids kept asking him about it. He brought in some pieces he had made. So we figured out a way for H to bring in his equipment.

He got permission from the principal and the Industrial Tech teacher to bring his torch and propane to the shop and set up in there. Now this was scary for two reasons. A. The principal--what kid wants to voluntarily go there? B. The Industrial Tech teacher is also the head football coach. He's loud and intimidating. But H did it. And they both agreed.

On speech day he was really supposed to be finishing up some standardized testing, but I pushed that back a day. He was ready and excited and I wasn't going to crush his enthusiasm.  The whole class followed him down to the shop where he had his equipment set up.

He started in. We recorded his speech on an iPad, so I could just rewatch if I needed to.

I didn't though.

He was magnificent.

I can't begin to describe how proud I was or explain the tears that threatened to fall. He held his
audience in the palm of his hand. And that audience gained a new respect for him. The Industrial Tech teacher stood and watched with just the hint of a smile on his face. I think he learned a little bit
more about the kid too :)

Yesterday during inservice, I wrote him a little note about how proud I was of him and stuck it in his locker to find this morning.  To quote him, "Thanks for the note Mrs. Day. It made my day." 

The power of relationship building--not only for the student but the teacher also. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Celebrate

Discover. Play. Build.


Here I sit, on the first weekend of no lake time, wrapped in a blanket, drinking coffee and very content.  As much as I will miss the lake later this winter, today, it is comforting to be nesting and enjoying home today.  I have time to clean and and grade some papers, to watch football and grade some papers, nap and grade some papers, binge watch something and grade some papers.  You're seeing a theme here, right?  It's the end of first quarter next Friday, so grading papers will be top priority.


I tried something new for me this week--I created learning stations for editing and revising in my Creative Writing classes (Shout out to two of our Instructional Coaches for letting me talk out what I wanted to do and for checking in with my kids while I was gone the first day).  They seem to be working well for most kids. I mini-conferenced with them all on the second day and most seem to like knowing exactly what I wanted them to do. And the checklist--they loved the checklist.  I'll be writing a blog post about this process later in the week. So if you want to know more about this, check back!


This was Demonstration Speech week in Speech classes. Holy Cow. Some kids blew me away.  One of my "at-risk" kids demonstrated how to create glass objects to use for jewelry, etc.  He had the entire class mesmerized. Never underestimate the power of a student's passion!



Well, it's time to start grading some of those papers. Hope all of you had a week full of celebrations!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Celebrating Moments



"I can't be a leader, but I would sure help someone."

And just like that, in a single moment, a friendship of almost 30 years was born. I haven't had the words--still not sure they are there. But one moment he was here

and then he wasn't.

Cancer stole him from us last week.





But there are still moments to celebrate--we spent the summer stealing moments before cancer took him. Precious moments for his wife, but also the rest of us. There were concerts, and meals, and laughter. There was a golf day the Saturday before.

I felt luckier than his wife when he was stolen because we are still in the town where they lived and worked for so many years. I received a great deal of love when the news broke. I felt guilty. Guilty I was receiving what was in reality hers. But lucky too. Because people cared.

Since last spring I haven't written, haven't blogged, haven't shared celebrations. Not because I didn't find things to celebrate, but because they were private. Memories to be kept in my heart.

It's time to share again.....


  • The picture above is of a tile that was given to me by a student when she heard the news of my "other husband's" death. She didn't know that "Moments" is my OLW for the year. I bought a plate stand for it and it sits on a shelf in my room where I can see it every day.
  • Our oldest son and his wife bought a new house this summer. It was a long struggle, but she told me as soon as they walked into it, she knew it was home. Much like the story of Greg and I when we found ours. Today we are heading there to watch a Hawkeye football game. Our son bought a smoker and is cooking all the food. They invited many lake people to join the party. I'm sure his "other dad" will be looking down and smiling....
  • We're closing up the cabin at the lake next weekend, but plans are already in the works to get together during the winter months. We need each other. And there will be moments....
  • My kids at school this year are amazing. I'm loving my time with them. I promise I'll share my moments with them in the coming weeks!

That's all for today. Hug your family. Love your life.  I'll see you next week.