“Sra. Waingort?” #SOL21 Day #24

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Today was one of those rare days when I heard the voices of two students in our Google Meet without having to call on them to speak.

This is such an infrequent occurrence that I was disconcerted at first.

Where did that voice come from?” I asked myself.

I scanned the frames on the Google Meet screen – some with actual faces and others with cute avatars – until I found it: the voice of a student I almost never hear from in class.

Tentatively, but with probably too much excitement in my voice, I said: “Yes?”

Sra. Waingort, I just wanted to tell you that I won’t be here on Friday.”

Ah!

OK,” I said. And that child returned to hiding behind the cute avatar gracing their frame.

It was something, I tried consoling myself.

Once voice from the void.

And, then, as I was contemplating how something like a student speaking in class – something that may appear insignificant to a bystander – could actually make my day – out of nowhere, another voice piped up.

I scanned the frames again until I found it.

Sra. Waingort, if you go to “change layout” and then click on “spotlightit will pin the speaker to the screen.”

I almost fainted.

You may laugh, but it’s true.

Another voice from the abyss!

Two in one class!

On the same day!

Oh, my!

I wait with bated breath for more voices from the void to spring forth tomorrow.

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

Hard Days – #SOL21 Day #23

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Today was a hard teaching day.

Because teaching can be hard on so many days.

But when I feel like I’ve done everything I can think of, and more, to address the needs of my students and then I hit a wall with caregivers, it is even harder.

So, today was a hard day. Did I say that already?

I am exhausted.

I do what I need to do even if it isn’t always welcomed or applauded or recognized.

I do what I do and then students must do their part. They must meet me half way. I can’t do the learning for them. And neither can their caregivers.

Students must do this for themselves.

I provide the best environment I can with the best experiences I can create and then I need to get out of the way.

If I can reach just one student every year, then it will all have been worth it.

Still, today was a hard day.

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

Spring? Nah! It’s still winter here.

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I thought spring had arrived.

But on the day after the official start of spring, it is snowing

A lot.

All of the snow that had melted over the last few days is now back.

Source: Free Photo Library

Pristine. White. Cold.

The warmer temperatures had been a tease.

Nothing more.

It happens every year.

And every year I get duped.

Over and over again.

Spring? Nah! It’s still winter here.

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

On any given Sunday afternoon

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On any given Sunday afternoon,

you will find me lamenting the start of a new week.

On any given Sunday afternoon,

you will find me wondering what happened to all of the things I wanted to get done.

On any given Sunday afternoon,

my most dreaded time of the week,

you will find me wishing for another day

to do all of the things I was sure I would be able to do if only…

On any given Sunday afternoon,

you will find me frantically trying to get ready for another work week.

On any given Sunday afternoon,

I will try, but ultimately fail, to pretend this isn’t just

another given Sunday afternoon.

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

Intentions – #SOL21 Day #20

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Today I woke up early to write.

Because that’s what I do on Saturday mornings.

I wrote a proposal for a conference.

I am writing this blog post.

I will soon start writing my weekly update to my students’ families.

Later I will work on the slides for a workshop I will be doing at the end of this month.

I will start developing lesson plans for the last week of school before Spring Break.

And, I will write a persuasive essay to share with students as they finish writing theirs this week.

I will also make time to read because, while I still consider myself an avid reader, I am finding it more and more difficult to sit down with a book, any book, long enough to lose myself within its pages. I am so exhausted at the end of each work day that all I seem to be able to do is sit in front of the TV and binge on Netflix movies and series.

Since the first step towards making lasting change is to acknowledge and name the problem, I hereby acknowledge that I have a reading problem: lack of focus and finishing books.

First, I plan to go to bed earlier so that I’m not lured by the giant TV in our den that is making me whittle away my precious time.

(You’re probably thinking: this is another one of those self-improvement schemes and resolutions that she has committed to before and haven’t lasted long and so it won’t last for long this time either. And, you probably wouldn’t be too far off the mark. Yet, the alternative – continuing to watch hours and hours of Netflix while my to-read pile languishes away in a corner – is not OK.)

They say that if you make your goals or intentions public, then you’re more likely to carry them out. So, here are two intentions that will hopefully restart my reading life:

(1) I will set aside at least 60 minutes for daily reading.

(2) I will read a professional book, an adult novel and a middle grades book at the same time (that is my usual MO) and finish each one before moving onto a new book.

(3) At the end of this month, I will write a blog post to update my progress.

Stay tuned!

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

Today was a great day – #SOL21 Day #19

It’s starting to feel like spring. Source: WordPress Media Library

Today was a great day.

First, I got a clean bill of health from my doctor.

“Your blood counts are great,” she said.

“Your organs are happy,” she said.

“I’ll check back in 6 months,” she said.

Then, I went for an hour long walk with my husband and our sweet puppy.

Later in the afternoon, I went to my hearing test. The audiologist confirmed what I already knew: my hearing is not getting any better. In fact, the chemo I endured in 2019 probably made it worse.

The good news is that I will explore hearing aids…again. Maybe this time they’ll work and I will be able to find a viable solution to a life-long problem.

After my appointments, my son, my husband and I went for lunch at an outdoor venue in downtown Calgary where we could also take our sweet puppy.

On the way home I noticed that downtown was teeming with Friday afternoon strollers. A rare sighting since COVID forced many businesses to shutter down.

Finally, we made a stop at the public library.

Now, I’m resting and enjoying a quiet evening at home.

All in all, a great day.

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

Mistakes – #SOLS21 – Day #18

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Have you ever made a mistake while teaching?

In a subject that you were feeling on shaky ground to begin with?

Or in a subject where you were trying out some new instructional routines?

Well, yeah. That was me today.

Twice!

While parents and guardians were more likely than not listening in while out of sight.

Aargh!

Then, I read a post by someone on FaceBook asking for advice on how to recover from a botched up lesson online while other adults were watching from home.

And, it made me realize how worried we are about making mistakes.

Even more worried now that many of us are teaching online with not an audience of one, but of two, three or more.

(The other day I found out one of my parents laughs at all my jokes. I didn’t even know he was listening! LOL!)

I thought about all of this during my lunch hour.

By the time I finished eating and went to sit in front of my computer screen again, I had made a decision.

I took a deep breath and started the Google Meet.

I started the lesson and pretty soon I was joking about how we all make mistakes, even me!

And, not just one but many mistakes. Sometimes several in one day!

And, how that was OK.

Really.

As I was poking fun at myself, I saw the kids smiling. Some were even giggling. Me, too.

By the end of that class, I was relaxed. All of the tension of the previous two hours had washed away.

It was just another day at school.

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

Saying: No.

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I am learning to say, no.

In fact, I am always learning to say, no.

Why is it so hard?

Saying no is part of how I am setting boundaries for myself.

Saying no is how I am taking care of myself.

Saying no is how I am preserving my sanity.

Tomorrow I have two events at the same time: my son’s virtual parent-teacher conferences and a math professional session for families. The latter is not led by me, but I was going to host it online for parents and guardians. It is an easy decision, really. My son comes first. Yet, I was trying to figure out how to do both. I was thinking that I could have two devices running – one with the math livestream and the other for my son’s conferences.

I know. I know.

Fortunately, I stopped myself before doing anything I would regret.

I let it go. It feels good.

Like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. A weight I placed there to begin with!

I will focus on my son’s conferences with his teachers.

The fact that I was even considering doing both simultaneously is why I have felt constant overwhelm and frustration.

As I examine my choices and priorities, I am forcing myself to make decisions that privilege what’s important to me. What matters. What keeps me from tearing my hair out. What keeps me on a joyful path.

It’s really a no brainer, but I am embarrassed to admit that it has taken me years to realize this and then many more years to act on it.

I am a work in progress.

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

Boundaries – #SOL21 Day #16

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At the end of every day I try to quit work by 5:30.

I try to stop checking emails.

I try to shut down my computer.

I try to leave my office space and venture up to be with my family.

Some days, I can do that.

Other days, I struggle.

Since I’m teaching online, it is harder to just “leave” work and go home.

Because it’s always there.

Calling to me, like a jealous lover.

Tethering me to my computer.

My fingers flying across the keyboard.

Jumping from open tab to open tab.

Then, the next day I am flummoxed because I can’t find anything.

Because this work that we do is never ending.

The more I work, the more there is to do.

And, honestly, I am exhausted.

My eyesight is suffering.

My posture is shot and it was never that great to begin with.

I make plans to get on the Peloton, but then I don’t.

I grab a book to read and my mind wanders or my eyes get heavy with sleep.

So, no more.

I am readjusting my boundaries so that I can disconnect at 5:30 every day.

I know I’ve said all of this before.

I may even go down this road again, but the difference is that this time I’m being kind to myself.

Is it quitting time yet?

LOL!

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

So Grateful – #SOL21 Day#15

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I belong to two different, but incredibly special, educator communities.

In one group we meet monthly on Zoom around a topic of interest.

In the second group we meet several times a week to share personal and professional stories and to write.

In both groups, we carry on conversations when we’re not gathered together in a synchronous space.

We talk.

We share ideas.

We support each other.

We learn from and teach each other.

I am so grateful to the educators in both groups.

You’re probably thinking: so what? Many of us belong to similar groups.

But what is different about the members of both of these groups is that, for the most part, I’ve never met any of them in person.

Yet, I consider them friends.

It was in one of these groups where I first shared my cancer journey.

It is in both of these groups where I feel seen and heard.

And, all of this happened online.

I am grateful for the opportunity to “see” my “friends” often. To learn from them. To cry with them. To celebrate with them.

I am so grateful.

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