Day 17 – SOL March Challenge – Spring Break

Another short and sweet post…

One more sleep until Spring Break.

I can’t believe I made it this far.

I’m looking forward to some rest and also to getting some things done.

I want to get out of the house every day.

To walk. To run errands. To browse in a bookstore and the library.

To read and write.

To go to the movies.

Maybe to lunch and dinner with my son.

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Day #16 March SOL Challenge – Random Thoughts Tonight

Tonight has a feeling of summer.

Not because it’s hot. Because it isn’t.

Not because it’s so light out and it’s already 7:00 pm. Although it is.

Not because the skies are blue and it’s sunny.

Not because it’s almost spring break. (Next week.)

But because the air is still. Like it is in summer.

And most of the snow has melted, although I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of it yet.

And, I can now count the days until the end of the school year if I want to, but I won’t.

And I’m starting to feel nostalgic for this year already.

And after spring break it’s a slow race to the last day of school.

And because I don’t have any travel plans next week, and normally I do, I will be wallowing in all those summer-is-almost-here feelings.

And then I’ll get a little melancholy.

And then I’ll remind myself to be present. To enjoy these last few months of this very, very, very challenging year.

And I’ll start to think about all of the things I wanted to do with my students and didn’t get to do.

I’ll regret losing my patience, mostly with myself, and sweating the small stuff and I’ll realize, more and more lately, that I’ve been at this for a long time. And is it time to call it quits?

I don’t know. This year has certainly taken me to the brink of that decision.

But, no. I’ve got a few more years left in me.

Tonight has a feeling of summer.

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Day 15 – SOL March Challenge – I am grateful…

I am grateful for the warm-for-Calgary-winter days we’ve been having.

I’m grateful for all the books I’ve read and those I’ve yet to read.

I’m grateful for my partner teacher who is always so kind and supportive.

I am grateful for this community of slicers that comes together every week on Tuesdays and every day in March to share pieces of our lives with each other.

I am grateful that I get to enjoy every moment of every day with my students, even during the hard times.

I am grateful that I have a roof over my head, food on my table and a family to love and who loves me, unconditionally. I don’t need much more than that on most days, even though I used to think I did.

I am grateful for my three children who keep me in awe of who they are becoming.

I am grateful that the love of my life has stuck with me through hard times and good times.

I am grateful that I had such great care when I was sick.

I am grateful for this life. I wouldn’t want a different one. Not even for one minute.

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Day 14 – SOL March Challenge – Table Groups!

Source: WordPress Free Photo Library

Today was the first day of table groups. Until now my students have been sitting in rows.

They helped move their desks while I supervised. Then we made a couple of changes.

There’s room to walk around now!

And, I can have class meetings, read aloud and mini lessons at the front of the room.

No more read aloud while sitting at their desks!

No more straightening out rows of desks in a crowded room. An almost impossible task.

No more working alone at a desk.

Some table groups have discussed what name to give themselves.

They’ve reintroduced themselves to each other at their tables and shared something about themselves in Spanish.

I spoke first:

Mi nombre es Sra. Waingort. Yo tengo tres hijos. Mis dos hijas viven en Estados Unidos. Mi hijo está en grado 11. Tengo una perra pastor alemán mixta que se llama Osa. Yo vivo con mi esposo y mi hijo.

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Day #13 – SOL March Challenge – Books!

I spent most of yesterday and today reading.

Yesterday I started reading Where I Belong (a YA novel) and finished it today.

Not being able to put down a book because it was that good felt like coming home.

I haven’t felt that way in a long time.

I used to know that feeling well, but not lately.

It reminded me of my students when they said that one of the things that’s going well in school is reading workshop because they can’t stop reading.

And, I finished Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell yesterday. Still reading

In addition to continuing to read Homeland Elegies and Indians on Vacation, next up is:

Now, I’m going to get dressed (yeah, I’ve been in my PJ’s all day) to go watch Batman with my son.

I hope everyone has a great week.

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Day #11 – SOL March Challenge Parent-Teacher Conferences

I don’t know why I get nervous about parent-teacher conferences.

They usually go well.

My students’ families want to know if their child is doing well in school (if they’re happy, engaged, learning), and if something is not going well, they want to hear about that too. But they want suggestions. They want to know that their child’s teacher, or the school, is doing something about what’s not going well and that there’s a plan in place to support their child.

What I love about these meetings is that, barring any unforeseen circumstance, my students are present and take an active role during these discussions. And, what they say often leads me to try out new ideas or solutions to tricky problems in the classroom that will often benefit all of the children.

Yesterday and today, we came up with strategies to help students focus, attend to goals and explore learning interests that may be a bit outside the curriculum. This solutionary perspective has become one of the most enjoyable aspects of parent-teacher conferences.

Next week, I will be putting some of these ideas into practice.

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Day #10 March SOL Challenge – Today’s Wins

I just finished the first round of parent-teacher conferences. Tomorrow is the second day.

We – parents and children- talked about what is going well and why, what’s not going well and why, and the children fleshed out their goals.

I had one in-person conference and the rest were virtual; the same for tomorrow.

Next week my students and I are getting rid of our rows and setting up table groups of four to five students. I am so excited and so are they. This will be their first time not sitting in rows.

After conferences, I went home to a super clean house. We are trying out a new cleaning service and they did a great job: having a clean house makes a huge difference to my state of mind.

We have one more week of school and then we’re off for Spring Break. And, the weather’s warming up, at least for now.

Wins all the way.

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Day #8 – March SOL Challenge – The Fundamentals of Educational Dialogue – a course

Classroom Dialogue – Source Free Photo Library

I am taking a course through the University of Cambridge called The Fundamentals of Educational Dialogue.

This is the second week of the course. The readings, videos and other resources for the first week were phenomenal. They support what I’ve previously read about classroom talk and go deeper.

This evening, I met my research buddy. She’s a teacher in Las Vegas and we’re both interested in supporting kids to reason in math class through using dialogue. I’m excited about this partnership.

My research buddy and I will be meeting once a week for about 30 minutes each time to talk about the readings and how we are implementing what we’re learning in the course with our students.

Having a buddy will help me stay accountable to the weekly course requirements, which includes a weekly (extensive) journal reflection.

This is the kind of nerdy stuff I love to spend my time on. It keeps my mind nimble and reenergizes me when I’m feeling defeated about how difficult teaching has become.

Meeting other educators, who are also on a personal learning path, whether similar or different from mine, gives me hope that this profession that I love so much can be pulled from the muck it is continually being dragged into.

So, cheers to all of us who are blogging every day, or most days, this month

Cheers to all of us who write.

Cheers to taking what we are learning back into the classroom.


Crossposted to the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Day #12 – SOL March Challenge Autobiography

Note: I was inspired to write my autobiography by another slicer. (Sorry, but I can’t remember who that was, but thank you for the inspiration!)

I was born in a small town in Cuba just 30 minutes from Varadero beach – the most beautiful beach in the world, IMHO. I’ve lived in the US, Canada and Ecuador. I love chocolate ice cream and carrot cake, though I don’t have either one very often. I’ve lived in London, but never travelled outside of the UK while I was there. I took up tennis as an adult and love to play, though not competitively. Teaching is a huge part of who I am. I love to read, but the last two years have taxed my attention and that makes me a bit frustrated. My family is Jewish – Ashkenazy on my father’s side and Sephardic on my mother’s side – though I was raised in a mostly secular home. I have never let my religion define or limit me. My husband was raised Catholic. We exposed our children to many different religious traditions growing up. I am grandmother to two beautiful little girls that I don’t see nearly enough due to distance, but when we do get together, I shore up all the feelings and experiences for the next time we see each other. I was diagnosed with cancer almost three years ago, underwent treatment and have regular checkups every six months. My life changed after my cancer diagnosis. My priorities are not the same. My relationships are not the same. I slip into the old me sometimes, but not for long. I am going to write a book. When? I don’t know. I’ve already started; I just need to keep going. I am nearing retirement, so they say, but I don’t know what I’ll do when I don’t have a school to go to every day and students to learn from. I love to travel, and still do, even though COVID has put a damper on that. My favourite place to be is the beach. I prefer hot weather over cold, so I don’t know what I’m doing in The Great White North. LOL! I don’t like change or surprises, though I’ve had my share of both. I like to plan and be organized and I like to have everything in its place. I don’t do well when the schedule changes on me without warning. I prefer small cities to towns or large metropolitan areas, which is interesting since I grew up in NYC. But once I left for college, I’ve only lived in cities with populations under 1.5 million people. I am grateful for the life I’ve lived and the life that’s yet to come.

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Story Challenge.