Saturday, February 25, 2017


I did it again...let time get away from me.  I haven't written in a couple of weeks. I didn't mean to--really! It's just that time of year.

February is brutal when it comes to time.

I'm up early this morning for another speech contest. Individual events this time. It's the next to last contest I'll ever coach.

But here's what I celebrated in the last couple of weeks

Discover. Play. Build.

  • Great performances from my kids at our last contest. 
  • Senior boys acting group who were honored with an All-State selection
  • An instructional coach I love in my room
  • A friend who comes to check on me during a mini-meltdown (inevitable in February)
  • Being so busy there's no time to "count down" to the end
  • My school kids who also get that these are days to remember and celebrate
  • Longer days so that it isn't dark out when I leave school
  • Valentine flowers
  • Snowblowers
  • Snow days
  • Speech contest is only an hour late today after the blizzard of yesterday
  • A co-coach this year who helps make sure everything gets done
  • Ruth and writing group and their Facebook live event! It was so fun to see them all.

OK. It's all I've got today.  I'll be back next week and will try to write a real post!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Little Celebrations

Discover. Play. Build.

It's little things that drag us
Like a nasty email from a disgruntled student
we rise above it, and that is worth a celebration

We need to remember more students like us than
hate us
and they show us that love
in our classrooms

visits from former students come at
the right time
to remind us we have
goodness with the world

It's the little things that make a
Celebration Post...
Chloe snoring peacefully on the couch
A new connection with an old student
All-State selections (but that's kind of a big one)
Student giggles
Texts from grandkids asking which book should be read
Laughs with friends
Puppy pictures shared
Love returned


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Celebrating Underestimation

Discover. Play. Build.

This has been a good week.  I could write a long list of everything I celebrate. And that's the thing I found about celebrating--the more you do it, the easier it is to find things that bring you joy. There have also been a couple of "how can I give this up?" moments, but I believe those are for reminding me I am leaving while at my best, and that's exactly how I want to do it.


As always when teaching Fahrenheit 451 in College Prep Lit, we discuss  education. Yesterday, I started with this quote as a thinking prompt.  The conversation was fast and furious. They started with standardized testing, moved on to upper level math, class rank, grade points, and teachers. My instructional coach and I have been working on deeper discussion in this class during both semesters and this class blew me away.  And the best part is--I underestimated them :)

This is a boy-heavy class. And most of them are reading haters. They put off the "too cool for school" vibe. The girls, in general, are more serious but quiet. And there are 19 of them. Last semester I had 10.  All but two have been with me before.

I thought I would get superficial answers. I thought I would get simple answers. I thought the discussion would last about five minutes.  

Boy, did I underestimate them.

We never did get to the book.

Several kids also have Creative Writing with me the next period. They were still talking. And writing about it.

I don't know how my coach kept up with tracking discussion. When I saw her later, she was still shaking her head. During the large group part of discussion, there were 51 contributions. 51! And I had kids telling me they had things to say, but couldn't get into the discussion!  We'll figure out how to make that work next week.


This week's DISCOVER: Never underestimate the passion of people when given the opportunity to share their voice.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

#sol17 It's Coming!

-------------WINTER STORM WARNING-------------

At some point today, the snow will start. The winds will blow. The roads will be slippery. And we will go home.

The thing is, it probably won't start until later this afternoon. The warning now starts at 3:00 pm instead of noon.  But that won't stop the inevitable question:


Phones will be held at their sides out of my sight, computers will be open to the weather page and to one of the TV stations that post school closings. The whining will start with the first early out, "Everyone's getting out but us!"

I will again post this on my board. It answers both their questions: Will we get out early today? Will we have school tomorrow? I prepare myself for the whining.

Oh! But wait!  I won't be in the classroom today!  I have a sub and a student teacher who will handle the whining and complaining!

I won't have to tell them to put their phones away and get back to work!

I won't constantly have to answer "the" question and listen to the whining!

I think I'll still post the note....

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Celebrating the First of the Lasts

Discover. Play. Build.


I unlocked the door at 7:00am, knowing some would arrive before they needed to. It's contest day and excitement will get them moving much earlier than teenagers like on a foggy Saturday morning. I think back to all the other Saturday mornings I have done this, other bus rides, other students. This is my 10th year coaching Speech.

And my last.


We're only riding twenty miles today, to a school who has hosted many of the contests we've been to. It's a familiar place and I like that. I check in for the last District Contest. The first contest of our season. When I have time, I remember other performances, other tears and cheers. But not too much remembering--we have new memories to make.


My kids this year are awesome. They are silly, creative, weird and family.  One of my favorite moments happened with two of my senior boys at their acting event. Their judge is a Hall of Fame Coach (Literally. Iowa Speech Coaches have a Hall of Fame), now judging so he can stay involved. His center was running ahead, so when the boys came in, he talked to the first. Got the crowd laughing. Asked them if their families were here, because otherwise they could wait a few minutes. "We're good," one of them said, "Our speech family is here."  


Another room. Another moment. 

Rooms fill up quickly at speech contest. Especially the Group Improvisation room. Improv is fast and funny and everyone likes to sit in that room to watch. Chairs are at a premium. I was sitting beside a couple of my freshman when the boy young man next to me stood up. I turned and saw him offering his chair to a very old woman with a walker, waiting to see a grandchild perform. The young woman next to him gave her chair to the other woman. I was so proud of them (and told them so). 


There were nerves to calm. Happy tears. Silly moments. Amazing performances and lots of growth. All the things I write about every year. I will miss this. 


This week's DISCOVER: Remembering is fun, but staying in the moment is important and gives me more memories to look back on.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Celebrate and Discover

Discover. Play. Build.

Sometimes as teachers, we really don't know if we have made a difference. Students leave us, and we may never hear from them again. But some we stay in touch with, and it is those students--my "forever kids", that gave me so much to celebrate this week.

As I wrote on Tuesday, I've decided to take the district's early retirement package this year. It's a bittersweet decision.  But it's what happened after I shared my news that I celebrate. The outpouring of love was amazing. Former students, parents, colleagues, all with words of love.  I'll admit to screenshotting my Facebook post, so I will have all that love to wrap myself in when I'm feeling blue.

Just a few of many (Teacher confession--it feels like bragging to share these. I'm not, really. I am actually so humbled by all the comments...)

But it was the comment by a former colleague that made this all OK and connects right with Ruth's post about giving love away. He said to me, "Could you think of it as giving another person a chance to have all the great experiences you had? It makes it easier, in a way."

And, you know what? It does.

This week's DISCOVER
Love comes back to you if you put it out in the world 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

#sol17 Last and Best

I'll admit to a few tears in my eyes as the school board voted 5-0 to approve an early retirement package for our district. Greg and I have talked about it for months. If it was offered, I would take it.

And now, it's real.

So why the tears? I really don't know. I told Greg when I got home that they were happy and sad tears.

Can you have both?

My wonderful husband told me I didn't have to take it if I didn't want to. If I wanted to stay a couple of more years, I could.

But I don't. I am ready to retire. I am ready to be done with lesson plans and grading papers. I am ready to be done with the politics and defending summer "vacation".

But I am not done with kids. And that's where the sad tears came from, I know.

This will be a semester of lasts. But it will also be a semester of BESTS. I am determined not to be a short timer and be my best as I count down the lasts.

Stay tuned as I DISCOVER how to do this and find the future.