#CompelledTribe · balance

Searching for Balance

I have been doing a lot of soul searching over the last couple of days. 
And, I’ve come to the conclusion that I must change my attitude – shift my stance – so I can assume a new perspective. So that I am more aligned with what’s important and may add value to my life.  
Focusing on the negative is not making me stronger or healthier. In fact, I am often stressed because I worry a lot about unimportant things. I obsess over situations out of my control. I dismiss positive experiences that would help lift my spirits and align my focus towards what’s important. 
I need a distraction from my own thoughts.  
I need balance in my life. Not because I work hard to prepare my classes. Not because I read a lot of professional literature. Not because I wrote a lot this summer and will continue to do so now that school has started. But because I have been obsessing on the wrong things. Mostly, I obsess about what someone said or did and what it says about me as a teacher. I obsess about my worth as a professional. And, I have to stop. I am not a new teacher. I have been doing this for a long time. I love what I do. All of it. But, my lack of balance is hurting me. 
So, this school year I will find balance in small and big ways by taking better care of myself both physically and emotionally. 
I will drink more water on a daily basis. I know this may sound insignificant and obvious. But since I haven’t been practicing this simple habit, it is not an insignificant change for me. 
I will stay focused on the positive, especially what happens in my classroom. My students are always a source of joy for me as a teacher. 
I will not imbue a casual comment with anything beyond its face value. It’s not always about me! 
I will exercise on a regular basis. 
I will eat well. 
I will write down positive events that happen throughout the day in a small notebook and refer to it when I’m feeling down. Hopefully, this will help feed my soul. 
I will stop worrying about what others think of me. My opinion of myself is much more important.
What will you do to find balance during this new school year?
new group of students · new school year

In anticipation…

Today was my second day back at work.

The students haven’t started yet.
Their first day is next Tuesday.
At this time next week,
I will have met my new students.
I looked at my class list yesterday,
and again today.
I studied my new students’ faces.
None of them are familiar to me.
A new class.
Not my old class from last year.
I let myself be sad for a moment.
I loved my class last year.
I swallowed hard.
I took a deep breath.
This is the new group that I will love.
As much as I loved last year’s group.
I have a lot to think about
as I organize my classroom.
I make sure that everything is in its place.
I lay out the flexible seating choices.
I think about the first day.
The first week..
The first month.
I sit at my desk – 
yes, I have a desk – 
and look out across the room.
I can see the cozy reading area – 
two couches, 
two chairs, 
an individual desk against the wall
(to give kids the choice to work alone),
a bench,
a large bulletin board,
a white board.
I look over to where the window seat will fit,
and I can already picture my new students 
reading by the window.
I look at other seating choices across the room:
A rectangular table at standard height,
another one low to the ground,
three round tables,
two individual desks – side by side.
I look over to the wall behind me,
where the SmartBoard will rest.
My eyes sweep over the red, crimson rug.
I am there with my students.
During read aloud,
mini lessons,
class meetings,
and celebrations.
And, as I write this,
I can feel my excitement mounting,
waiting for next Tuesday to arrive.
#CompelledTribe · back-to-school

Back-to-School Ruminations

I would be lying if I said I didn’t have mixed feelings about admitting that I’m looking forward to the start of school in a couple of weeks.

Mixed feelings about admitting that I’m looking forward to returning to school in a couple of weeks?

Wait.

I am looking forward to returning to school in a couple of weeks!

There. I said it…at least in this blog…because saying this out loud in some circles may sound nerdy.

After all, who wants to return to work after a vacation? Who wouldn’t want to extend their vacation if they could do so?

Admittedly, summer vacations are my favorite time off from school. But, what teacher doesn’t look forward to summer vacations? They are stress free and rejuvenating. They provide a time to refuel, relax and reinvigorate for the new school year. They allow for extended travel time, reading – novels (adult and middle grades books for me!) and professional books – and for spending more quality time with family and friends. They are also a time to connect with other teachers through book studies, courses, and conferences – nerdy or otherwise.

First day of summer in June!
Best buds! 

So, yes, I’ve loved being on vacation, especially this summer vacation, which has been particularly memorable; my oldest daughter recently celebrated her wedding at the end of July and we hosted many out of country guests for about two weeks. The feelings generated from the wedding linger on and I hang onto them as summer officially winds down.
The day before the wedding.
Breakfast with my son-in-law’s family!

My daughter throwing the bridal bouquet at La Casa del Árbol,Baños, Ecuador.


Yet, I contain my excitement about checking out my new room, getting a hold of my class list (have to wait a little bit longer for this) when I try to imagine the person behind the name, gathering new school supplies, and figuring out how to incorporate all of the (free and online) professional learning I have done this summer.

Some of the new books I got this summer!

Source: http://ourelementarylives.blogspot.com/search/label/primary

I contain my excitement about the unveiling of the new furniture I requested that will make for a flexible learning environment for my students.

I contain my excitement about a new teacher in my division who is also interested in flexible seating and may make for a new partner in crime this year. Shout out to Nicole!

My first read aloud of the year!
Source:Wonder by R. J. Palacio

I contain my excitement about the first day of school when I get to greet my new class of 5th graders who are probably equal parts eager and apprehensive, as I am.

I contain my excitement as I anticipate getting past the formalities and awkwardness of that first day as we adjust to learning and living together.

I contain my excitement about my son moving to middle school because I know how fast that goes.

I contain my excitement about finally starting my field research for my doctorate. Since my research is happening at my own school, I look forward to making an impact in my school’s collaborative and professional learning environment.

I contain my excitement about the new middle grades and professional books I ordered at the end of last year.

I contain my excitement about organizing my classroom library so that it’s pleasing and accessible for my students.

These are some of the books my students read last year and
that I am eager to introduce my new students to this year.

I contain my excitement about getting back to the teaching I know how to do and weaving in new learning ideas from this summer. Think DIY Literacy, Who’s Doing the Work, The First Six Weeks of School and other mentor books that I will be leaning on this school year.

I contain my excitement about the possibility of sponsoring the newly minted Student Leadership group that was formed last year with the passion and hard work of some of my former students.

I contain my excitement about #GRA16 and reading Pax, a book one of my students recommended I read aloud to the class last year; it was a huge success. Thanks, Willa!

And, finally, I can’t contain my excitement any longer! Bring it on!

So, don’t contain your excitement any longer! What are you looking forward to this school year?

grandmother · mother-in-law

Grandmother?

My daughter got married a little over a week ago.

I am now a mother-in-law and eventually will become a grandmother.
It’s a lot to wrap my head around.
Although the title of mother-in-law does not scare me, 
the label of “grandmother” is a bit more than I can chew.
To make light of this, I have been polling my friends for names other than “grandma” 
so I can train (not really, but yes really) 
my grandkids not  to call me grandma. 
Of course, I am joking…sort of. 
The idea of being a grandma is scarier than being a “mother-in-law” despite all of the latter’s negative connotations. I love my son-in-law and couldn’t be happier that he is my oldest daughter’s husband.
So, what do I do about becoming a grandma? Although this is not an imminent situation in the least, I am still thinking about it. And, although I joke about it, I recognize that this worry is all about getting older and coming to terms with what that means for me. After all, I’m not the first person to ever grow old or the last one; everyone grows old and many of us go through these life stages. 
Nevertheless, something’s holding me back from enjoying this stage of my life fully. I know I will need to grapple with this sooner or later, so this is a first attempt, but certainly not my last.
Is it because of society’s expectation that I should start to think about retirement that I am feeling this way? Perhaps.
Or, is it because I don’t consider myself “old”, just growing older, that I am at odds with myself? I have a lot of energy and feel like I could put in a lot more years in the classroom.
Most likely, it’s the realization that a person’s life is just a split second moment of time in the universe. It’s part of coming of age, so to speak. The only path I can take is to embrace this new stage of my life gracefully and joyfully. 
I love the woman my newly wed daughter has become. It is a happy time for my family. 
Life is sweet. Life is good. I am grateful.