Tuesday, September 27, 2016

All we need is...

This past weekend, my daughter Jen and I, along with my grandson, went to visit a young friend of ours that is just about to turn 10.  This little girl has had a hard life - physically abused, she and her family were homeless for awhile. Life has not been easy.  But you would not have known that had you seen her this weekend!

Jen and I took Alexis, 2 of her friends, and her mom out to dinner. The kids were giggly and chatty.  It was obvious they were all good friends.  They are even in the same 4th grade classroom.  The laughs and joy was contagious.  I think we could be heard throughout the entire restaurant!

After dinner (dessert vanished in mere seconds) we moved the party to our hotel pool, where they played for hours!  Jumping, splashing, racing, laughing.  They quickly started up some games with the other kids in the pool and before we knew it, it was time for the kids to head home for the evening.

Watching those three, I realized how important friends are. We don't need a gabillion of them. Just one or two true friends can make everything better.  People to laugh with, share adventures with, even commiserate with when necessary.  That can make the difference in anyone's -young or old - life.

My thoughts turned to my grandson.  He is the happiest baby. He is surrounded by love- his mom and dad...all of his family love and cherish him.  His smile lights up my life.  Hopefully he will never leave through the tragedies that Alexis has. Friends, though, will be just as important to him as they are to her.  Because we are all better with a friend.

As a teacher, we have the ability to be a friend to the kids on our class, kids in our school.  The kind of friend that listens and cares, asks questions, remembers what's going on in their life.  We can make a difference just with a smile.

Teacher - that really is synonymous with friend, isn't it?

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for allowing me to share this slice of my life.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Permission to Fail

This happens to me every year.

All summer, I am able to read, keep up on twitter, maybe even blog (OK twice so far - not counting today, but it was a start!)  And then as soon as school starts - I loose it!  I vow that next year I will manage my time and energy better but I never can keep all the balls in the air.

How do others do that - blog, read, tweet...maintain relationships outside of school and home? I really wish I knew the secret.

I am so much happier when I feel connected.  Yes, twitter and voxer counts as connected. 

I love to read and learn.  In the summer, between grade-level books and professional reading, I am constantly absorbing.  I work on writing about reading.  This summer, I participated in a bookclub with other teachers, practicing what we ask students to do.  I met with other teachers to discuss ideas for math workshop.

But then school starts and BAMMM...I fall off the planet.

This year, I could blame it on a new position in a new school.  A position that requires me to create a curriculum as I go.  But I know that is not the real reason because this happens every year.  (P.S. - I am one of those crazy people that likes data and writing assessments and creating as I go).

Sometimes it makes me feel like a failure because I can't do it all.

Then I stop and think about what I am doing.

I am 100% present when I am with my students.  

I am trying out new ideas. This year, thanks to Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler, I am totally redoing how I teach math.

I am a wife, mother, nonna, friend, daughter, and sister (there are more - but you get the idea).

I have to accept that I cannot do it all. 

So, while I admire those that can, it is time to accept me for me.  I can only do what I can do.  I need to stop comparing myself against others - just as I don't compare students against each other.  We are all different with different capacities for learning and doing.  And sometimes I simply want to lay in my hammock and snooze.

That's OK.

So while I will continue to admire people that can accomplish what I cannot, I will try harder to accept me as I am.  
A teacher struggling to write with some consistency.  
A Nonna that doesn't want to miss too much of her first grandson.
A wife that likes to watch a favorite show or two with her husband.
A friend that values coffee dates to "catch-up."

Earlier this year, I made a goal to write every day. So far, I have failed.  Typically failure makes me give up (sad but true) but this year, I am going to forgive myself.  I am going to allow myself time to learn and build habits.  Some weeks I will manage. Some weeks I won't.

I am giving myself permission to try - and fail - just so I can try again.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers and Slice of Life for creating this opportunity.