House Hunting

This post is crossposted to the Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life.

My husband, my son and I have been in the market for a house since November. We have seen over 50 houses at this point. In fact, we’ve seen so many that we have a pretty good idea of what we want and what we don’t want. We can now walk into a house and  decide quickly if it’s worth exploring further. In fact, my son has become an expert: he opens the front door, peeks inside and quickly decides if it’s worth the look or not. With some, he has even refused to go past the foyer.

Fortunately, we don’t need to move into a new home until the end of March. We have some wiggle room. But, I’m getting impatient.

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We have seen large, medium-sized and smallish houses. We have looked at bungalows (the Calgary equivalent of ranch homes, but smaller) and one-family homes. We have looked at houses with attached garages (most of them) and we have looked at houses with detached garages (not our favorite). We have seen houses with unfinished, partially finished and fully finished basements.

We have gone to open houses, and arranged house viewings with our realtor at all times of the day – after school, in the evenings and on the weekends.

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We’ve seen houses close to my work and to my son’s school. We’ve also discussed the practicality of living in a neighborhood farther away.

We’ve explored old neighborhoods and new ones.

I think we’ve seen the gamut. And, guess what? None of the houses we’ve seen measures up to our ideal house. Not surprising, right? Nevertheless, we keep searching for the perfect house…

dartboard target aim goal achievement concept

For the curious among you, here is our list of priorities –

  • a view to the Rocky Mountains,
  • an office,
  • a good sized yard,
  • space for our daughters to visit with their growing families,
  • a good sized bedroom for my son,
  • a finished basement, preferably of the walkout variety,  
  • on a quiet street,
  • not a run of the mill house.

I know it’s a tall order. No house will live up to our ideal. Nevertheless, we keep looking.

Home Office pexels-photo-56759

So, as my family continues to debate the merits of this or that house, I will take a deep breath (remember, I’m impatient) and try not to fall in love with each new house I see. Maybe if I let go and be true to myself (speak my truth) about each house we see, we will end up with the house of our dreams. Not perfect, but just right!

 

 

2018

We are now two days into the New Year.

I have selected and blogged about my #OLW here. (Disclosure: my #OLW is TRUTH.)

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I have committed to controlling my presence on social media without tuning out altogether. I am choosing carefully what I do and what I don’t do on @Twitter, @Facebook, @Voxer, etc.

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I am writing something most days, mostly because I need to write between 350 – 500 words every day for my doctoral theses in order to stay on track. Even if what I write turns out to be less than stellar, I won’t get far if I don’t have anything to work on. That’s what I tell my students all the time; I am living this somewhat painfully at the moment.

Once a week I will continue to blog about my journey as a teacher, learner, reader and writer.

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I will update parents on happenings in our classroom and post these on our school website. See my first entry here.

I have started to rethink my to-do list thanks to Angela Watson’s Say Goodbye to Teacher Tired 5-day Challenge. I will prioritize what’s important to accomplish every day, rather than drowning in a list of too many things to do that never get done.

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I am going to address problems as opportunities and not obstacles by finding solutions rather than perseverating on the why of the problems. (My daughter told me that’s an important aspect of being happy. At least it’s better than complaining.)

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So, I’m all set for a productive 2018.

How about you? Have you set some goals for how you are going to live in the coming year? If so, or if you just want to think through some ideas, I invite you to share these in the comments section. Let’s start a conversation!

 

One Little Word 2018 – #OLW18

     For the past few years I have participated in the social media initiative around One Little Word or #OLW, but if you were to ask me TODAY what words I’d selected in previous years, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

     Those words were clearly unimpressionable.

     Choosing #OLW was supposed to replace the much maligned New Year’s resolutions that start off with good intentions, peter out before the end of January, and are quickly forgotten in February. However, my #OLW’s were not any more successful than my New Year’s resolutions in helping me live a healthier, happier and more productive year. Wasn’t that always the purpose in sweating over just the right wording of your New Year’s resolutions or finding the precise #OLW?

     What always unhinged me when selecting that perfect #OLW was that other people seemed to do really well with theirs, so why couldn’t I? How come my life wasn’t being transformed in the same way other #OLW enthusiasts claimed in their very effusive blog posts? How come I didn’t feel the same attraction and devotion to my #OLW as other teacher friends?

     The process of choosing my #OLW was always painful. I agonized for days over the “perfect” word, yet it never seemed to surface for me. And, when I finally picked my #OLW, it sounded forced; the blog posts were strained and insincere.

     Let’s face it: I was a fake.

     So, this year, as I think about that perfect, idyllic, unique #OLW, I am once again confronted with the difficulty of New Year’s routines, such as resolutions and one little words. Unless I truly meditate and reflect on these every day of the year, they are meaningless exercises in social media pop culture. And, if there’s something I know for sure it’s that I don’t want to participate in to-me cutesy, ineffective activities. Therefore, my New Year’s resolution is simple: stay true to myself.  My #OLW: Truth.

What about you? Any New Year’s Resolutions or #OLW? Share in the comments section below. 

Disclaimer: It is not my intention to disparage the #OLW movement, only to make sense of what I think is a potentially useful exercise for setting goals and intentions for the new year.

Note to self: Remember that writing always reveals that which is hidden. If I hadn’t written this post, I wouldn’t have arrived at what truly matters to me.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Tuesday #SOL Challenge.

I have never been the kind of teacher who…

I have never been the kind of teacher who makes kids sit in rows.

But I have been the kind of teacher who has assigned seating in the classroom. Now, I use flexible seating arrangements.

I have never been the kind of teacher who insists on using writing prompts to get students to write. I know better than that.

But I have been the kind of teacher who has sometimes said, no when a kid asks: “Is it OK if I…” I don’t do that anymore.

I have never been the kind of teacher who has a silent classroom all the time.

But, I have been the kind of teacher who insists on silent writing or reading for some part of the day.

I have never been the kind of teacher who requires kids to walk through the halls in silence.

But I have been the kind of teacher who expects kids to talk in soft voices unless they’re on the playground.

I have never been the kind of teacher who worries more about having a Pinterest classroom than a learning classroom.

But I have been the kind of teacher who sometimes worries that my classroom doesn’t measure up.

I have never been the kind of teacher who doesn’t want parents in her classroom.

But I have been the kind of teacher who has wondered how to improve and enhance the home-school partnership.

I have never been the kind of teacher that chose education because you can get summers off.

But I am the kind of teacher who uses every available moment to become a better teacher…even in the summer.

I have never been the kind of teacher who complains about everything we have to do.

I am the kind of teacher who is getting better at finding a work-life balance.

What kind of teacher are you?

 

A Sitting Kind of Day

Today was a sitting kind of day.

The snow returned.

It blew in whiffs through the playground leaving a thin, white blanket over everything.

The temperature dropped a bit.

The building of the forts continued. There was a tiff between two groups about whose fort-is-this-anyway?

And, then we sat.

We sat while one girl shared about a trip to Victoria to cheer on her sister who competed in the Junior Pan Am Games as a diver.

We sat while another student presented her PPT about bobcats. She was inspired by a bobcat family sighting in her neighborhood; this family seems to have taken shelter for the winter in my student’s neighborhood. This isn’t that rare since shortly after school started a family of bobcats was sighted in our school playground early in the evening. Could it be the same family?

We sat during writing workshop. Students were working on their #NaNoWriMo novel. Some had to reset their goals as they hit their word count mark already! Great problem to have.

We sat during independent reading. And, again, to jot down the three or four most important events in our book. We put the sticky notes in our notebooks and wrote our thinking so far about our book.

We sat during the #classroombookaday read aloud and the subsequent conversation. This is always a challenge with 28 students and a too-small space. We read Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie. The kids loved this book and we had a lively conversation about what were the important events in this book, not as easy as it seems.

Thunderboy Jr.We sat while another student shared about a four-year old neighbor who has facial deformities just like Auggie in Wonder. The little boy’s family is having a fundraiser at a local movie theatre this weekend. Tomorrow my student will share the presentation she prepared about him.

We sat through a conversation of what’s the same/what’s different in two images of dividing fractions here.

Although we sat a lot, we also talked a lot and when we needed to stretch we did. But tomorrow will be an opposite kind of day – more one-on-one student-to-student and teacher-to-student conversations and less whole group. Though I like whole group because it helps build community, it’s also good when we break up to pursue our own interests.

So, tomorrow will be a pursue-your-own-learning kind of day.

I am looking forward to tomorrow. That’s a great way to end the day.

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday.

Reflection on a Monday Night

The new school year is well underway.

My students and I have had about six weeks to learn about and understand each other pretty well by now.

We survived the so-called honeymoon phase.

We’ve gotten past the “who-the-heck-are-you-and-why-are-you-acting-this-way phase”.

We have had our share of ups and downs.

Many, if not most, of our routines are now in place. We have done them for at least 21 times and counting.

The days of changing up this or that routine or trying to set a schedule that doesn’t change are behind us.

I have let go of some things I struggled against, like the noise level. It’s hard for 28 grade 4 students to be actively engaged in learning without there being a bit of noise. As long as the buzz is about the learning, then I’m OK with that.

I do love independent reading time. Right after lunch, because they argued that it would calm them down for whatever learning events were planned for the afternoon, they come running in from the playground, without running, eager to find a comfy spot – the couch is a favorite – and get into their book. It’s silent then. It’s a good sound.

Like all kids, my students are eager to learn. They want to be successful.

We have embarked on a wonderful journey and we’re only at the beginning of a still-to-come amazing voyage.

#classroombookaday

#GRA17 – we’re still reading The Wild Robot.

#NaNoWriMo

#mathstations

#IDR – independent reading

And, now it’s the season of snow forts and winter holidays.

I love being a teacher. There is nothing I would rather be doing. And, there are no students I would rather have in my classroom than the ones I have right now.

I am humbled and privileged to be teaching this particular group of students at this moment in their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Single, Working Parents

I have a new found respect for single, working parents. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always known that being a single parent is not easy. But knowing something and living it are two different things altogether.

Recently, I spent 2 1/2 weeks as the only adult at home. So, I was glad when my husband returned from his trip; there is now someone else to help with chores and to make decisions. I have someone to talk to about how difficult my day was. I can count on him to take over when I need 15 minutes to regroup. When it’s just you, you can’t take a moment to rest or do anything that will derail your very carefully structured schedule. If just one thing gets out of place, everything falls apart.

While my husband went back to South America to rent our house, sell our car and basically pack up our things to be shipped to Canada, my 13-year-old son and I had to fend for ourselves. Right at about this time, you’re probably thinking: ‘So, what? What’s the big deal? Your son is a teenager. He should be able to help around the house.’ So, I guess I should tell you that my husband is the one who cooks our meals, so when he’s away it’s my turn. If you know me personally, you will know what a huge learning curve that is for me. I. Don’t. Like. To. Cook. There. I said it! So, my son and I teamed up in the mornings and evenings so that we could have healthy meals and time to rest before bedtime. I think we did well during those 2 1/2 weeks, but when I think about doing this all the time, my heart sinks. I feel for those parents who are going it alone and are doing their very best every day.

The children of these parents are sitting in our classrooms right now. Whether or not we know that this is their situation is beside the point. In fact, what’s important to remember is that we are all trying to keep our days intact so that chores don’t consume our every waking moment. Although, some of us are fortunate to have more supports in place, others of us are hanging on by a very thin thread.  Either way, one- and two-parent homes are busier than ever before. We fill up every waking moment with commitments and appointments; our calendars are a criss-cross of play dates, school activities, and other events. While some of these may be obligations, others are time fillers. It’s as if we don’t know what to do with ourselves unless we’re busy. (But, I digress; that’s a post for another day.)

When the family lives of our students pose a challenge (like mine temporarily did for a few weeks), we need to remember that children absorb their family’s energy and bring that to class, whether or not they know this is happening. It’s particularly true for young children. That’s another reason why it’s important to connect with the child in front of us even if we’re having a bad day ourselves. Even if we’re feeling less than effective as educators and are tempted to put the responsibility somewhere else.

Take a deep breath. Step back. Clear your mind of preconceived notions and prejudices. (Yes, we all have them.) Start with a clean slate. It’s a meditative moment. Look around at your students. Imagine your own child, niece, nephew, or neighbor’s kid, who may be having a difficult time, and take another deep breath. Smile. Make a connection. It could make the difference for your student today and always. But, don’t take it from me. Try it out and leave a comment about how it went.