Intentions

Today is Tuesday and typically I would be writing a blog post for the #SOL Tuesday challenge on the Two Writing Teachers blog site. But, over the last few weeks, probably more than that, I haven’t been able to write much of anything…or even read much of anything, for that matter. I have had a partial block as far as reading and writing goes. I consider myself an avid reader and an emerging writer. Actually, the bit about being an emerging writer is so new to me that I even hesitate to say this out loud. So, writing it down is that much easier. I even notice that when I reread this post, I whisper that phrase – emerging writer. Do you hear it? Soft as a the breeze.

So, as part of my trifecta of practices – actually, it’s more like a double trifecta since it’s more like six daily practices that I’m trying to build into solid habits instead of three, which would be enough of a challenge, but you know me, or maybe you don’t but now you will –  to practice self-compassion, I have put daily writing as one of them. I’m trying really hard not to be orthodox about this. Like if I wrote on 750 words this morning, then I’m done with my writing. Or, why didn’t I write on the 750 words site and then wrote somewhere else, like my blog, for example? So, you see where this is heading, right?

I am too rigid. Too much of a rule follower. Too hard on myself.

So, instead of making more goals that I may or may not stick to, I am declaring my intentions. (Hat tip to Angela Stockman.)

I intend to be more kind to myself.

I intent to be more forgiving of myself.

I intend to practice gratitude every day by acknowledging it, writing it down or simply declaring my gratitude to a significant person in my life.

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I intend to not put myself down, but instead to raise myself up thereby doing the same for everyone around me.

I intend to walk into my classroom and my house with a clean heart, an open mind and a loving heart.

Happy Tuesday Slice of Life everybody. And, thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for hosting this challenge every Tuesday all year!

 

Restitution – #SOL18 March Challenge

Teachers make hundreds of decisions every day.

Some require some deliberation; most are split second decisions that may, nevertheless, have a lasting impact on students. I’m learning to say, “I’m not sure about that. Let me think about it and I’ll let you know tomorrow.” Or, “I don’t have enough information to answer your question. Let me think about it and we can talk tomorrow.”

I make many good decisions every day. But I also make some bad ones. I regret those bad decisions and try to find ways to make it up to whomever I feel I’ve wronged.

I have two to rectify tomorrow.

One is with a student who shared a “new strategy” for solving a math problem. I kept insisting he was just “creating an equation”. I need to listen to him and then honor his strategy by giving it a name so he can share it with his classmates. I know that by doing that I will be helping him build agency and self-confidence. I will also be building a more trusting relationship.

The other one is to welcome back a student who was absent all of last week. Because I wasn’t too pleased that he was gone for a week without a word I simply didn’t say anything to him today. I always make a point of noticing students who have been absent for illness, vacations or any other reason. I let my reaction get in the way of continuing to build a relationship with this child. I need to remind myself that this is not about me.

This is restitution. If I expect my students to “make it up” to someone else when they’ve wronged them, then I must do the same.

Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the March Slice of Life Challenge.

 

 

 

 

Work-Life Balance

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I have rarely been successful at finding a work-life balance.

I have a hard time turning off work so that I can enjoy my life more.

However, I am happy to report that I have gotten better about this over the last few years. I’m not sure what was the turning point or the event that forced this change to happen, but if I think about it a little bit, it was probably the year I had Frank (not his real name) in my classroom because I requested him.

Frank was the kid nobody wanted to deal with. He was the kind of student I thought I could save. Save from what? I’m not sure. Maybe from himself? Maybe I was trying to be a martyr. Play the hero. Be the one who could get through to him.

Frank was an aggressive child and nothing I did was going to change that. I didn’t believe that at first and I threw myself completely into the challenge.

That year was probably my worst year as a teacher. My health was in bad shape. My personal life was a shambles. The rest of the class, bless their hearts, suffered because of Frank’s outbursts.

I don’t know how I survived at all.

In the end, did all of my worry and perseverating about this one child, 24/7, make a difference in his life for the better? Probably not. It was too much for me, or anyone else for that matter, to handle at the time.

So, at the end of that year, consciously or not, I began to make changes. I started to change my conversation about school in more positive directions, or I didn’t bring it home at all. I tried to stay in the moment so that I could be present for my family whom I had ignored for the year that Frank was in my classroom. I started to see all that I had missed. I vowed not to do that again.

Since then I have realized that I’m not a martyr; I can’t save the world by myself. That’s not even my job. At least, it’s not in my job description!

I am committed to my students, my profession and my learning. I will always strive to be better than I was the day before for myself and for the students in my classroom. But it bears repeating: I am not a martyr. I am no good to anyone if I’m not well. That has been a hard lesson to accept.

And, reflecting on this now, so many years later, I wish I’d been able to accept these lessons sooner: it is so important to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Teachers are notoriously not good at this and so many of us end up with stress-related illnesses. Even with all of the information out there about the importance of work-life balance, so many of our colleagues stuffer from an unbalanced life. I wish I could take them into my confidence and say, “Don’t. It’s not worth it. You can be an effective teacher and be healthy at the same time.” It’s just a matter of knowing ourselves. Knowing when to stop. Knowing what gives us energy and joy. Yes, teaching gives me energy and joy, and when it doesn’t (the year of Frank was that year for me), then it’s time to regroup, reevaluate, remove yourself and start again.

You will be grateful you did.  I know I am.

This Spring Break I will be going to my oldest daughter’s baby shower. The anticipation of that celebration brings me unbelievable joy.

What will bring you joy during the upcoming break?

 

 

Spring Break, Summer, A Year Ago – #SOL March Challenge

In two more weeks it will be Spring Break.

After that, April, May and June will probably just fly by.

It seems that every week gets busier than the previous one. And, busier because there are school events (almost always worth the time) that seem to interrupt our classroom routines. Which makes me think that it is probably in the fall and early winter when most classrooms have what might be called a “more normal schedule”. That’s why it’s probably a good idea to focus on the curriculum demands – what I’m mandated to teach – earlier in the year so that it doesn’t feel like I’m rushing to teach it all right at the end.

Of course, if I think outside the box of traditional curriculum demands (which I try to do, despite institutional constraints), then I can say that the teaching and learning that I’ve done with my students this year has in some ways gone outside and beyond the curriculum, as it tends to do. And, if all we’re concerned about is covering the curriculum, then we’ve lost sight of the students we are teaching. I promised myself long ago I would never do that and if I had to choose curriculum over kids, the choice would be a no brainer. Of course, my students would come first.

I’m beginning to anticipate the end of the year.

The start of summer.

The uncertainty of a new school year looming ahead. A year ago I was a bit unsure where I would be and what I would be doing at this time. It seems crazy that was a year ago! It seems even crazier that summer is around the corner.

Still so much to do…

Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the March Slice of Life Challenge.

Tennis – #SOL March Challenge

Tennis.

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That is my sport.

That is, if I had a sport, tennis would be it.

I have never been athletic.

I always have to plan when and for how long

I will be going to the gym.

I don’t like lifting weights.

I’d rather join a class,

but that still means getting my exercise gear ready

and going right after work.

If not, I just won’t go at all.

But

if you

invite me to play tennis,

then chances are I will not

think too much about it before I say,

yes.

Tennis.

That is my sport.

Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the March Slice of Life Challenge.

Procrastinator – #SOL March Challenge

I think I’m finally getting into a routine with my daily slices.

I usually slice at night.

I am never one day ahead, although it would be great if I were.

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And, I am on mountain time, which means I have to post my slices no later than 10:00 pm my time. That feels like a lot of pressure to me, so I’m trying to slice earlier. That way I won’t find myself rushing to post something…anything at the very last minute.

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I am a chronically late person. I try not to be, but I have a hard time getting places on time. Over the years, I’ve gotten better about this, but I still struggle with schedules.

I don’t do well with submitting claims to my insurance company on time.

I wait until the last possible minute to do report cards.

I let emails accumulate in my inbox with the excuse that I’ll get to them later.

I am a procrastinator.

So, I do better with deadlines; they help me get my work done by feeling a sense of urgency…finally. Otherwise, things just languish. I always figure I have plenty of time until the deadline looms closer and then it’s here and I’m scrambling to meet it.

So, I am going to try to address things as they come up. Either delete/throw out or take care of them. It seems so much easier that way and yet, for people like me, it’s a real challenge.

I will cut myself some slack if I fall behind or if I forget, but I am not going to forgive myself if I fall into a new cycle of procrastination.

The clock is a-ticking.

Thanks to the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge.

One Day in the Life of a Teacher – #SOLC March Challenge

Today we started reading the picture book Dust Bowl by David Booth. We didn’t get very far, but we’ll continue tomorrow. I haven’t been all that great about my #classroombookaday commitment even though my students have tried to keep me honest. Some days I haven’t read a book and other days we’ve been reading the same picture book for a couple of days. Making time in a constant problem in the classroom.

We played multiplication Bingo in math. We started analyzing why some numbers from 1 – 36 will never work on a 5 x 5 Bingo card if we’re using two six-sided dice. Tomorrow we will dig in further by grouping and making connections between the numbers that work on a multiplication Bingo card and those that don’t. Can we make any generalizations about these numbers? How will the range of possible numbers change if we add a third dice? What if we use dice with more than six sides? Lots to talk about.

We wrote more slices and commented on those of other classrooms. And, I’ve been having trouble with Edublogs. I think it’s fixed. It was a settings problem that hopefully will go away now that I’ve made some changes. Keeping my fingers crossed.

I checked in with students regarding their self-assessment about their writing about reading. Some interesting observations by students in their notebooks. Some good conversations, too.

I’m looking forward to going back to school tomorrow. I’m excited to see my students and to continue learning with them.

Weather forecast: blue skies and sunny!

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring the Slice of Life March Challenge!