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Showing posts from 2016

Celebrate: Endings and Beginnings

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There's a symmetry I like in our family holiday celebration. We end and begin each year together as family.  Our boys and their families come home to celebrate over New Year's.  6 kids, 3 dogs, 5 adults.  1 bathroom.  It's chaos. I'm not going to lie. And I love every minute of it. Morning begins with cuddles for Grandma. We'll have coffee and hot chocolate and talk before the other grown-ups come down. I'll find out about school and listen to silly conversations. I'll find out what books they like to read and what books they are reading in school (not always the same thing, as you know).  Chloe and the other dogs will do their best to budge in on those morning cuddles and grab a few of their own. We'll make plans for summer and Grandma will begin her countdown to lake time.  Saturday afternoon will find basketball and football games on TV. Card games and board games will be played. And there will be food. Lots of food. Presen

One Little Word

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I wasn't really thinking of my One Little Word, but I knew one day it would find me. It always does. This week, I was on Twitter and someone posted something about OLW. I thought back through my past words (Connect, JOY, Aloha, Balance and Moments) and how they move through my life, even now. But that's not when it showed up. Not really. My OLW has been following me around for awhile, always present, just waiting for me to notice it, embrace it. My OLW wanted me to think it I chose it instead of it choosing me. And, one day, in my wanderings and musings, it screamed at me.... DISCOVER I will turn 60 in March and like it or not, I am at the end of my teaching career. This year, my school district is considering offering an early retirement plan, and if they do, I'll take it. And while at first I was excited, I'm also wondering what this new part of my life will bring. Who am I, if not Mrs. Day?   Really. Who am I? So, whether I retire or not, thi

Revisiting MOMENTS

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2016 has been bittersweet. Staying in the MOMENT has been difficult. But I tried. I wasn't sure I could write this post, that there were any joyful moments to share. I seemed to have blocked many out. So I took some time and scrolled through my Facebook page. Do you know what I found there???? Lots of joyful moments. Moments important enough that I shared them with friends and family. My students created many of these moments. Speech kids always give me laughs and reasons to be proud. While last year wasn't our best, it definitely had fun moments for us all.  Throughout the year there were unexpected meetings with former students--JOYful meet ups that reminded me I have made a difference in at least a few lives. I also worked with an amazing student teacher last year, who gave me back my enthusiasm for teaching. I credited her with my JOY in teaching this year. There were moments with friends and family. My husband and I love spending as much time as we can

CPLit: The Introduction

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I teach a one semester College Prep Literature class each year. One semester. That's it. One semester to cram in every text they should have read before they go to college. But I know that's impossible. So, I started with the end in mind. What is it that I wanted them to know and be able to do when they left my class. These are my notes from my summer of reading and planning---notice my "ultimate goal".  "To get students to think for themselves." That was, and continues to be, what I want from my students. This semester, I have a small class of ten students. Eight girls and two boys. All good students. All students I've had before in various other classes and activities. We begin our semester with the essential question, "Why do we need things in books?"  This question actually comes from Neil Gaimon's introduction to the sixtieth anniversary edition of Fahrenheit 451 , and, not so coincidently, the first book we read

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

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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 r

#CelebrateMonday and All the Rest of the Week

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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 ti

Celebrate: Silly Kids

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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 start

I Write

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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

Lighting a Fire...

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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 hav

Celebrate

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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 ch

Celebrating Moments

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"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 bec

"This Is Me, Giving 100%"

Last year was not my finest as a teacher. I taught like a short-timer. Everything I did was just "good enough". I let negative thoughts about certain kids color my connections with them. To quote Michael Phelps, "I had no passion and wasn't really too into it. I had no motivation." A wonderful thing happened--an amazing student teacher entered my classroom and it rejuvenated me. She reminded me of the excitement of teaching. And I realized, I didn't want to be done yet, but if I was going to keep going, I needed an attitude adjustment. I didn't want to retire after my worst year, I want to leave on top of my game. To quote Phelps again, "I never wanted to look back 20 years down the road and say 'what if I did this differently, what if I did that differently'. This is me giving 100 percent." So, mentally I am ready. I'm looking forward to classes and kids. I have long range plans for a couple of classes I've been l

{solsc} 28/31 #sol16 Currently

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Currently Listening: The gentle snores of Chloe sleeping on the couch. She loved visiting my family and our kids this weekend, but it made for a couple of long days, with no naps for her.  Today, she seldom left the couch, even as nice as it was outside. Loving: This new season of "Dancing With the Stars" (and now my Monday nights are complete again. Aside from a couple, this season's stars have great potential and have already danced some amazing performances. Thinking: School starts back up tomorrow. I keep thinking of what I have to do when I get there in the morning. But the truth is, my student teacher is in charge. We talked about her plans and what she'll be doing with the kids this week. I plan to work on a new unit for after she's gone.   Wanting: A hot fudge sundae, with peanuts. That's what I really want. But I settled for Greek yogurt. Needing: Honestly. Nothing. My life is pretty great right now (well, aside from other peopl

{solsc} 26/31 #sol16 Even This Week

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You've had those weeks, haven't you?     This week we've found out that my husbands twin brothers will both be having major surgery a day apart. One will have a quadruple bypass and the other will be having surgery to remove cancer on his tongue. And then we found out that one of our very best friends was told surgery wasn't possible and he has maybe a year to live. This all sucks.  And it's hard to celebrate.  But I will. Because both my mom and sister (cancer survivors) received clean bills of health. We went to my hometown on Friday to visit and enjoyed the time we got to spend with everyone. We then drove north and spent time with our boys and their families. It was just the thing we needed--to laugh and love with our kids and grandkids. :) My husband and I are both healthy. And trust me. We have been making sure of that.  We hit fourth quarter at school, so summer is right around the corner. As much as I've enjoyed this year,

{solsc} 25/31 #sol16 Cancer sucks

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We moved to the area about the same time and met when our oldest sons joined the local Cub Scout pack.  I volunteered to be a leader, Tom was willing to help. Little did we know almost 30 years later, the four of us would still be friends. We've helped raise each other's kids, celebrated holidays, birthdays, and graduations together. We've been neighbors both in town and the lake. We go to concerts together and enjoy each others company in the quiet of a campfire.  We've supported each other through the deaths of parents, kids getting in trouble and health issues. Only now, this latest health issue will separate us, will rip apart a friendship strong enough to survive anything. Anything except this. Cancer sucks.

{solsc} 24/31 #sol16 Tonight

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Sometimes Your world seems to d    r       o           p out from under you This has been one of  those weeks The words won't come and  I don't want them to yet Tomorrow will be better Tonight I will wallow in sadness.

{solsc} 23/31 #sol16 What Did I Do Today?

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I did it! I left my room today. It's not that I don't trust my student teacher--I do. But I like chatting with her and the kids. I just knew I had to get out of there and let her do her thing. But was does a teacher who isn't teaching do all day? I left this note on the board for my students--just so they don't forget me. We're in a Winter Storm Warning, so I know the questions on all of their minds is "Will we get out early?" and "Will we have school tomorrow?" My note answers both questions! First hour, I said hello to my independent writing students and reminded them of deadlines and then went to the art room and gushed over the painting of her walls. I reminded her that when she got done having kids paint her walls, I do have one rather large one they could use for a canvas. Second hour is our prep period. Since I didn't really have work to do, I mostly checked the radar to see how the storm was doing. I forwarded a c

{solsc} 22/31 #sol16 Why I Stayed

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I fully intended to turn in my application a few weeks ago for one of the instructional coaching positions being offered in our district.  I worked on my resume, my cover letter and the application itself. I looked back on my career, thought about ways I've been a leader in our district, and ways I've been not so great. I completed question after question. Aside from a little wordsmithing, it was ready to turn in. Well, editing work and one question Why do you want this job? I looked over my pros and cons list. I talked with peers about the job. I reread my answers. But none of what I read and heard seemed like reasons to leave what I love. My kids. I thought about my pixie, who almost took her cutting too far And A, who always needs to talk on Mondays after a weekend with her mother And then there's the new boy. So angry when he first started, but now he's fitting in and wanting to raise his grades so he can go out for football in the fall.

{solsc} 21/31 #sol16 The Hardest Thing About a Student Teacher

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Do you know what the hardest part of having a student teacher is? Keeping my mouth shut. It's not that she is doing anything wrong or needing my help, or forgetting anything. She's wonderful! We talked about what I wanted kids to do in writing units and then I turned her loose with Gallagher's Write This Way and my informative writing unit .   She came up with four great days of playing with informative writing before she asked them to start their actual pieces (I am going to steal one particular activity!). She walks around and checks in with kids and has plans to conference with them all on Thursday. The kids are responding well to her. I love it. She's also doing the informative speech unit. And again, came up with great plans. Today we both walked around and checked in with kids about what they are thinking of researching. I should have stayed out of the way, though. She's got this handled! When I'm in the room, some kids talk to me instead of he

{solsc} 20/31 #sol16 Show Up and Write

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I need to write want to write have to write BUT I can't think of anything to write about (insert whiny teenager voice) SHARE a moment It's all I need to do A moment Maybe that's the problem There have been a lot of moments lately Breathing becoming normal Writing begins to flow Calm. Show Up and  Write

{solsc} 19/31 #sol16 Celebrate! It's All About the Basketball

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Every Saturday Ruth Ayres invites us to celebrate the little moments in our lives that bring us joy.  Whether from the classroom or our own lives, it's important to focus on those things that make us smile.... Or as Ruth said in a post the other day, "When I choose to celebrate, I no longer have space for complaining." I  love March Madness.  Watching college basketball gets me through the winter. I follow the ups and downs of lots of teams, so when March comes around, I am in 7th heaven. I read ESPN and CBS articles. Follow lots of people on Twitter who are in the know and I fill out brackets everywhere. The tournament is fun to watch, but this year, there is a lot to cheer for! All three Iowa teams made the tournament AND won their first round game---two of them on last second shots. My birthday was Thursday, so that brought many, many little moments to celebrate. Facebook wishes that went on for days An early morning phone call from my granddaug

{solsc} 18/31 #sol16 The Things We Carry

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At some point last year, my friend, Christy Rush-Levine, posted a blogging challenge for her students. The prompt for day 1 of the challenge was The Things We Carry Things we carry      Secrets      Guilt      Hope Some days, I carry more than homework and lesson plans home in my bag. Some days, I carry      Heartache and      Worry Those damn kids. The ones who don't do homework, Who cause trouble in the back of the room The ones acting all tough Like nothing bothers them Those damn kids are the ones I carry      Home Those damn kids, whose parents don't seem to care Or don't know how to care Who don't seem to worry Those damn kids Whose parents kicked them out of the house, Who have no one else who wants them That's the      Heartache and      Worry I carry with me

{solsc} 17/31 #sol16 Since My Last Birthday...

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Birthdays. Some people hate them. They dread them coming around every year. They lie about their age. I love them. I celebrate my birthday as long as I can and proudly admit that this year I am 59.  Although, I'm wondering if I should have kept my mouth shut at school. There were a few, "OOO. Next year's a big one. We're going to have to do something." I woke up this morning and checked Facebook. So many birthday wishes. I loved this one from my high school friend, Dan. One of my granddaughters called me before school while she was riding the bus to school. A friend's daughter sang me Happy Birthday in the enthusiastic way only a five-year-old can. A class sang to me later in the morning, while also tormenting me with bananas (I hate them. The class thinks it's funny to torment me). My husband took me out for supper and I had bacon wrapped shrimp. And green beer. And, of course, March Madness starts today, so there are plenty of college

{solsc} 16/31 #sol16 All It Takes Is the Right Book

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"I'm going to have to buy the next book of this series." HUH???? These words came from the mouth of Mechanic Boy. A self-proclaimed nonreader in my credit recovery class.  But he's read TWO books this quarter. Really read them. As a class we read Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  It didn't suck. And we had great discussions. Then we started an independent reading unit. Student could choose their own book and they would read it in 15 days. 15. Days.  I was crazy, wasn't I? Mechanic Boy was home from school yesterday with food poisoning. He finished the book. Finished the book on day 6! And loved it. He has to order the next one because "The author stopped this book is a really bad spot."  In other words, Mechanic Boy needs to find out what happened. He kept telling Amanda (student teacher) and I that he still wasn't a reader. He just liked this book. I kept telling him, "Everyone is a reader. S

{solsc} 15/31 #sol16 A New View...

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It's so strange, sitting in my classroom and not being the one who leads the lesson. But that's what I did today as my student teacher, Amanda, lead my Creative Writing students in activities that will lead to informative writing. She did a great job. And most of the kids kept on task as she led them through what she wanted them to do. What did I notice? Most of them had phones out and sneakily texted any moment they could.  Until I moved into their area and sat down.  That's the great thing about the comfortable furniture in my room. There are lots of places to sit and observe. And phones silently got put away.  I need to deal with this. My room is a comfortable place to be.  Nice spaces. But. I feel bad for Amanda, because the seating is not of her choosing and it's hard, I know, for her to teach a lesson, while being observed by her advisor and me.  I'm not sure I can do much about this for her. But I'll check with her tomorrow and see if she has

{solsc} 14/31 #sol16 Avoidance

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There are lots of ways to avoid doing school work (I'm writing a blog post, for instance), but some of my students have become masters of it in my room.  I've started a list of all the ways they stay off task and, sometimes, get me off-task too! How to Avoid Doing Your Work in Mrs. Day's Room 1. Help another student with their homework--especially Math homework! Students know I  love those who collaborate and help each other out. Teaching someone else is a great way to show our own understanding of the work. HOWEVER!  Get your work for my class done first! 2. Discuss politics.   I can't help it. I'm a political junkie. And I love students who are taking an interest in politics, even if they can't vote yet.  Quote from a student in one particular class, "Any thought is three sentences away from being about politics". 3. Tell Me About Your Car (job, accident, girl/boy friend) I'm a sucker for talking to kids and love to hear about their liv

{solsc} 13/31 #sol16 Contentment

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I am so content and peaceful as I sit in my chair, while the rain taps gently at the window. It is the contentment of being happy with who I am, decisions I have made and who I am with. This time in our life is just for us, my husband and I. There is an easy rhythm to our life now. An ebb and flow. A give and take. Life is good.

{solsc} 12/31 #sol16 State Speech Celebrations

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I'm home after 15 hours of Speech today--5 on the bus and 10 at contest. I'm tired. Really tired. So today you get my celebration in tweets. And Pictures. Selfies mostly, because they're teenagers after all. But their chosen poses. I have to apologize to those I missed today, they all did great also!