Sunday, February 28, 2016

Celebrate

Discover. Play. Build.

It was student led conference week, district speech week, and the end of February. Chaos and Craziness reigned. And while I thought I didn't have anything to write about when I opened up my blog this morning (really, I think I was just being lazy. I am really tired this morning), when I look through my Twitter and Facebook feeds, I realized just how great of a week it was, even if I didn't remember it all.

I'm changing up Creative Writing a bit this semester because I have a student teacher starting next week (and that is a celebration!  I can't wait to work with her). So this week, we spent playing with words and stories. It's my "Making Writing Fun Again" plan.  It's silly little group writing activities that move my high schoolers to be more creative.  They had a blast!

I also graded this little gem of Expressive/Reflective writing this week. A high school senior, ending his wrestling career, wrote this. Modeled after Kobe Bryant's Dear Basketball, he said goodbye to the sport he loves.  

My speech class presented their radio broadcasts and many are among the best I've ever had presented. I love that I now have new examples to share with upcoming classes.  I'd share one of those, but unfortunately, they are housed on my school computer, which, of course, is at school today.

Yesterday was district speech competition for individual events. There were so many great moments. We're sending 17 out of 31 events on to state in two weeks. One of my students performed her own poetry piece. She wrote it in Creative Writing last semester as a blog post. Then worked on it and created a digital storytelling piece with it. She worked on it again to use for Speech this year. It's amazing. I can't share it here {yet} because it's very personal. Her moment yesterday was when she heard the judge say, "She wrote that herself? Wow!"  I'm so happy she is moving on with this piece.

Conferences went well. All but two students in my advisory group had parents come for conferences. And even though many parents say that they talk about school with their kids all the time, they come to these conferences anyway. And I believe, they all go home with a little more knowledge, a little more respect, for what their child is doing in school.

So there it is. A crazy, chaotic week full of celebration.
Today's celebration will be pajama pants, my chair and blanket, and a well-deserved nap!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

#sol16 But I Still Wish I Could Wear My PJ Pants...

That "Day After Conferences" hangover. You know you have to get up, leave your pjs at home and get to school. No, you can't have another cup of coffee. Yes, those pieces of writing are still waiting to be graded. No, you can't cancel rehearsals. You have contest on Saturday.

You live for Friday, when you know you have a day off.

You sit at your computer for one cup of coffee before school and open up Facebook. And there, you find the nicest post just waiting to make your day.


Facebook post from a former foreign exchange student

And suddenly, you are ready for the day. You can have a second cup of coffee at your desk as you finish those last writing pieces. And tonight's rehearsals don't seem quite as overwhelming.

Especially since your husband already has supper planned. You can have a nice glass of wine while it cooks.

You look forward to kids coming in to work, you have plans to make for the rest of the week, and maybe, a couple more notes to write to students.

Because they do mean something...to both of you...

But you still wish you could wear your pj pants to school.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Celebrate

It's been a week.
And sometimes all we can do is celebrate little MOMENTS.


I celebrate my speech kids. Large group season was a little rough for us this year. Only six kids advanced to state. I didn't have enough to warrant taking a school bus, so I drove them myself in a school van.  You know what a bunch did? Carpooled and drove themselves down to cheer on their teammates.



I celebrate kids who believe me when I say, "I am your school mom. If you have troubles, you can come to me."  It's a blog post I won't publish, but I am so thankful that a student believed me this week.

Kids knew that something was wrong on Wednesday. It might have had something to do with the fact that I kept leaving the room in tears.... but....
on Friday, a simple little gift left on my desk reminded me that I teach the best kids.


This weekend we are spending with our favorite travel companions. Fun, food, and laughter are the recipe ingredients for the weekend.

It is the little things....







Friday, February 12, 2016

We All Do It

We all do it.

We're busy. We ignore what's in front of us.

A student comes into our room before class, drops their things on a desk and leaves.

We say nothing. We keep planning our day. Finish an email. Enjoy the last quiet moments before the day starts for real. The student will be back.

BUT
What if they don't come back? Then what do we do? We usually assume the worst.
THEY SKIPPED MY CLASS!  HOW DARE THEY!

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We all do it.

We're busy. We ignore what's in front of us.

A colleague, obviously upset, passes us in the hallway.

What do we do? If they are a friend, we may ask what's wrong--if we're not too busy.  If it's not someone close to us, we turn our heads and look the other way.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We all do it.

We're busy. We ignore what's in front of us.

A friend texts or posts on Facebook. We text back a shallow, "it will be OK" kind of response.

Or we ignore it.

They'll be fine, we rationalize. They're just being a drama queen.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The point is, you never know what someone is going through. A few sincere words can help a person a lot more than you think.

How about this year, instead of giving up something for Lent, we do something.  
Doing For

Take a few moments and ask that early bird student in our room how things are going.
Ask the colleague if there is anything you can do to help them out.
Pick up the phone and call people--or better yet, go and visit.

Doing for
instead of 
Giving Up.
I think I'm going to try it...

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#sol16 It Started With a Piece of Writing

He looks up from his writer's notebook.

"This is hard."

Wait! What?

"This is hard. I can't stop writing."

J is taking Creative Writing independently because he couldn't fit the regular class into his schedule. It is the lesser of two evils. He hates writing less than he hates reading.

"I just don't know where to stop."

"What are you writing?"

He proceeds to talk about a decision he was working his way through--whether to go to college or join the Marines.  He wants to be a professional pilot. It's been his dream forever and he recently got his pilot's license.  He has lots of reasons to do either one.

The decision isn't important---well, it is. BUT

He was using his writing to help sort out his thoughts. Thoughts he hadn't even expressed to his parents  yet.

And then we started talking. He'd explain. I'd question.

I'd explain and he'd question.

I asked him if it helped, this conversation. It did, but it also gave him much more to think about.

Writer's notebook forgotten.

But it's OK. Because sometimes, conversations are more important than curriculum.



Postscript:  J is using this conversation and the draft in his notebook as the basis of his first piece of writing. He still hasn't talked to his parents but is closer to making the decision. I can't wait to read about it.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Celebrating Snow, School and Friends

Discover. Play. Build.

1. Celebrating Snow Days
Is it wrong to celebrate two snow days and a two-hour late start?  I'm going to. There's something about an old-fashioned blizzard that's just kind of fun. Well, not fun for my husband. He had to go out and blow the driveway (I did help a little).  I snuggled in comfy clothes and a blanket the whole first day. I read and wrote. I dozed in my chair. When Greg came in after clearing out the driveway the first time, we binged watched half of the first season of The House of Cards on Netflix.  We are now officially addicted to this show.

The second day, I did do a little grading and planning, but still found time to read and write.

2. Celebrating School
It was nice to get back to school and see my kids. Lots of fun discussions about what everyone did on their days off.  I keep telling students that as the oldest teacher in the district, it is my job to decide if school is called off, so I was thanked a lot for the midweek vacation.

3. Celebrating Writing
I have been writing EVERY DAY.  Since discovering the #Edtime2wrt hashtag on Twitter, I've been committed. Most days I share the page in my notebook and what I've written. Even if I haven't shared, I've written.  I've noticed the more I write, the more I have to write about. Hmmmm. All I have to do is

4. Celebrating Students
I am teaching a credit recovery English class this semester. Five kids who have failed English previously.  They are working hard!  They don't think they are, though.  They are showing up. They read, write and discuss daily, with a minimum of griping. We're reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which they have deemed "not too bad". High praise from kids who admit to never reading and doing homework!

5. Celebrating Friends
Greg and I spent time with lake friends last weekend and it was much needed.  I love my school friends, but most are younger and not at the same point in life I am at. It was nice to talk to others who understood my indecision on retiring, thinking about instructional coaching, or staying where I'm at. They know the tiredness I talk about and the needing to be re-energized by something. Indecision is my middle name right now. I have to make a decision in the next couple of weeks, though, so I need to figure out where I'm headed.

Well, that's the highlights this week.  Stay tuned. I've got a couple of blog posts in progress!


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

#sol16 Snow Day Possibilities

Snow Day Possibilities

Up and Moving at the
Usual 6:00 AM starting time
It's dark,
quiet,
The perfect
MOMENT
to begin the day.

Make coffee
Make a list
  Write
  Read
 Nap
     Repeat

Enjoy another cup of coffee
Snuggle into my blanket
and
Enjoy the possibilities