Slice of Life – Day 31

This is just a thank you to the TWT blog team for hosting the March Slice Challenge. I loved it last year; I loved it this year. My boss sent me an email yesterday saying that an article for our district newsletter was due Monday. I think I would have been in such a panic if I wasn’t writing regularly. Instead of becoming stressed, I just started writing. I have this challenge and community to thank for that.

I am going to personally commit to slicing on Tuesdays and trying to write every day outside of this challenge. Yesterday I visited a writing workshop. After students were “finished” writing, they pulled out books and read. While when I started in my current position, I would have thought that wonderful – look at how much the students are reading, I now realize that “writing ” was being told, you are something to finish – to get done – to stop and switch over to reading from. I want students to keep journals and write down their every notice. Today, I could have written about at least five topics that emerged for me as a writer. I will work throughout this year to live the writer’s life and to share the importance, no the vital-ness, of writing with educators and students.

Thank you for being a sounding board for my thoughts, ideas, and writing. Thank you for being a tremendously accepting community where writing and writers thrive.

Slice of Life – Day 30

I was inspired to try this format after reading it was shared in another TWT post.

I’m crawling into bed, checking my calendar for tomorrow, ready to put an end to this day…

Before that, I drove down I-83, both trying to find a much needed gas station and reflecting on what I could have done differently in grad class tonight.

Before that, I facilitated learning about assessment, fluency in older students, and how high-stakes testing is not beneficial for ELs.

Before that, I called home, because I wouldn’t be able to see my kids before they went to be tonight.

Before that, I met with a group of second grade teachers to discuss how I could push in to work with students during their altered PSSA schedule.

Before that, I taught Kindergarten in a rush, because they had a Junior Achievement lesson to attend and I didn’t want them to miss it.

Before that, I met with teachers in grades K-1, 3-5 to discuss trying new things in May to personalize student learning.

Before that, I posted on Facebook and Twitter for KSRA, for Teaching Idea Tuesday, and on TWT with my Day 29 slice.

Before that, I tried to get my hair to cooperate.

Before that, I woke up too early and read, trying to calm my nerves about heading back to school after spring break and knowing that I’d be working until about 9 p.m. tonight.

Slice of Life – Day 29

My Office
The best thing is that it is filled with books.
I can come here and, if I am planning,
I have everything that I have read at my fingertips.
Lesson planning or professional writing – resources are right here.
No, the best thing is that it is quiet.
There’s not much foot traffic down my end of the hallway.
I can play music, or have peace,
Depending upon what I need.
No, the best thing is that it has two huge windows
So that I can look out at what’s going on outside.
No, the best thing is that it is mine.
I have had whole rooms that I shared with colleagues.
I’ve had carts and been a teaching nomad.
I’ve had artificially lit rooms without windows.
I like this office the best.

Just a few pictures of my office. It always has some clutter or another because I don’t have another space to store things…. and I am OCD in that if something is going to be used, or needs to be remembered, to be used, I want to keep it close at hand.

Slice of Life – Day 28

Today I get

the whole day

to myself to

complete paperwork, plan

for the upcoming

week, or write.

I hope I

choose to write

because it’s really

quite in my

office today and

I will be

able to focus

without too many

distractions pulling my

attention away from

the things I

want to do.

Slice of Life – Day 27

     Today, was my week to volunteer in the nursery at church. I was feeling a little nervous when I received this email:
     We were setting up the room for a huge crowd when my middle son asked if he could stay to help. I work on the infant side. I didn’t think it would bother anyone if he stayed and he could probably be helpful shaking a rattle or getting me a wipe. When the head teacher came in though, she said he had to stay on the toddler side because he wasn’t 16 years old. At first, he went to the far corner of the room; he looked lost – his plans altered from what he had envisioned. I asked if he wanted me to text his dad to come get him. No. Do you want to play my phone? Yes. After a few minutes though, I tentatively asked, Buddy, can you play ball with Joey? I’ll give you extra video time at home if you just try.
      He handed back my phone. He tentatively started to play ball with this little one who had been crying. After a few tosses, the boy stopped crying and showed a shy smile. Next, my son was poking his head through a tunnel, coaxing – come on, you can do it. Only 30 seconds later, an 11-month-old dressed in her Easter best popped her head out of the same end.
      And that’s the way it went: he played with one child for a few minutes, then he’d move to another child. He sought out the quieter ones. Before long, the other adults in the room were calling for him to play with a child, or get a toy that had fallen just out of reach, or guard the door with the broken gate while they were serving snacks, or clean up Xavier’s dropped fish crackers.
      I watched as he found his place among the “walkers” and the adults. I was on the other side, helping infants stand, bringing them toys, and changing diapers. One mom commented that he was really good with the little kids. A dad said to him, thanks for your help, buddy.
      He said goodbye to the kids who he played with when their parents came to retrieve them. He helped clean up the room so that middle school health class could resume on Tuesday.
      “This was the best Sunday ever. Thanks for letting me help you, Mom. When do you volunteer again?”

Slice of Life – Day 26

Visiting “home”
We went “home” for two days for the holiday. We can still visit where we lived for eight years and where both boys started school because my mom still lives there. We moved four years ago and until just recently, I actively referred to where we used to live as “home.” We still have friends there, and wonderful memories. We still have doctors that we visit one to two times a year. It’s also close to Philadelphia, where I grew up.

But on this trip, I realized that it is no longer home, something about which I’m not feeling that sad. This is possibly because, professionally, where I live now has been filled with incredible opportunities and a rewarding position. Perhaps it’s because of my new friends and colleagues who I have really connected with this year. Maybe it’s due to our beautiful and comfortable home. It’s definitely owing to the fact that the kids are thriving here in a way they may not have before (in a larger district). We are also still enjoying learning about and discovering this part of PA what it has to offer.

So this time, when we crossed the Susquehanna River, I actually sighed with relief. Just a little longer until we would be home.

Slice of Life – Day 25

“Mom, what do you do when someone is bossy?”
“What’s going on, buddy?”
“What if someone tried to boss you everyday and it was really annoying?”
“Well, I guess if that was happening to me, I would tell them to stop.”
“I already tried that. She didn’t.”
Dad, jumping onto the bed, “What are we talking about?”
“Someone being bossy at school.”
“Kieran needs help dealing with someone who is giving him a hard time.
What if, the next time she tells you what to do, you say to her, I am so over you bossing me.”
“Or… You could say, does somebody need a hug?”
Giggles from the parents.
Silence from the child.
“I could never say anything like that.”
“What would you say?”
“If she said, stop talking, Kieran, I could say, stop telling me what to do. Then if she said, I don’t care what you say, I could say, then why are you talking to me?”
Together: “That could work. Try that.”
“I think you just need to show her that you aren’t ok being spoken to like that.”
“I think you’re right.”

Slice of Life – Day 24

10 Things About Me (in no particular order)* (Part 2 – continued from Day 23)
6. My oldest son was born via a water birth with midwives and a doula. It was in a hospital. The whole experience was incredible. I love water. I feel that if a vacation doesn’t include water in some way, a hot tub, ocean, pool, water park, it didn’t count.
7. I don’t drink coffee or much of any caffeine. If you’ve heard me talk, especially when I get excited, you know I don’t any caffeine.
8. I sang in choirs from 2nd grade through college. I cannot sight read, which was why I didn’t sing throughout all of college. I am so excited that my younger son made county chorus. This is something I did in elementary. I still remember one of the songs. Chorus was my “team” throughout middle and high school. I could learn anything if it’s turned into a song.
9. Both my mother and father were only children. I have no aunts, uncles, or cousins. My mom only met her father for the first time when she was 28 years old. He was an amazing grandfather, who lived in San Antonio, TX. He spoke Spanish and looked like Walt Disney, to us anyway. While we didn’t get to see him very often, when we did, it was what I always dreamed family would be. He had five brothers and sisters, who all had at least two children. We would have parties that lasted long into the night with tons of abrazos from tias, tios, y primas.
10. I am exceptionally grateful for this writing community. It is only because of Two Writing Teachers that I see myself, albeit tentatively, as a writer. I will be finishing my fellowship work to become a member of the National Writing Project this semester. I owe it all to this TWT community. Thank you for reading.

Slice of Life – Day 23

10 Things About Me (in no particular order)* (Part 1)

1. For one year in middle school, thanks to the encouragement of a friend who is now a music teacher, I played the harp. I was not great at it, but it is a cool thing to share about myself.

2. I studied American Studies at the University of Wyoming for my first Masters degree. That opportunity allowed me to complete an internship in Denver at the EPA, and have “rock pile” tickets for the first season of the Rockies.

3. When I was a beginning teacher, I coached three sports: tennis, volleyball, and softball. I have also coached soccer, field hockey, and basketball. I will be the assistant coach for my daughter’s U7 team starting in two weeks.

4. I am now officially a foodie who receives Blue Apron boxes every week. I have at least three shows recording from the Food Network at any given time. If there’s a special occasion, I will suggest we go out for a nice meal. Unfortunately, 3/5th of my family thing that eating “fresh” is a punishment.

5. My daughter is adopted from Ethiopia. We were going through with an adoption from the Phillipines which was not moving along well. I read the book There is No Me without You and I felt that I was being called to Ethiopia instead. It worked out perfectly and now we even sponsor a child from Ethiopia through Compassion, to share a little of our daughter’s heritage with her.

To be continued tomorrow!

Slice of Life – Day 22

Assumptions about Fathers

On Sunday, the lead pastor announced that the associate pastor would be speaking that morning and that his father was present to hear him preach. He asked if the congregation would show him extra love when he came up to deliver the sermon.

During the last song, before the offering was taken, this pastor sat down in the row in front of us, two seats away from a gentleman who was sitting by himself. The pastor always sits up front, so I assumed that this man was the father who had been mentioned. I thought it was nice for the pastor to sit next to his father, but I immediately started to craft a story in my mind about their relationship.

The gentleman was sitting in the back and not with the rest of the pastor’s family. They must be slightly estranged. But he was here now. That was something.

But why wasn’t he sitting with the pastor’s wife and kids? Maybe they don’t get along so well. It must be because the father wasn’t really involved and didn’t know the family very well. They felt awkward with each other, so the father stayed in the back.

After all of my assuming was finished, and a strong sermon delivered, it was the end of the service. Something compelled me to say to the gentleman in front of me, “Your son did a great job.”

The father’s face lit up. “He did, didn’t he! I am only able to visit every three months because I live in the Midwest. Sometimes when I am here, he is not preaching. I was so grateful that today was his turn.”

I was only able to respond, enjoy your visit.

Maybe because of my own “father” experiences, I put my own understanding of their relationship into my thoughts. I should know better than to assume anything about a situation I knew nothing about. Lesson remembered.