The In Between

slice-of-life_individualThe In Between varies it’s arrival time.  Some days, hours early, other days much later. Sometimes it is a welcome visitor and others, an unwanted intruder. The In Between slips in unannounced in those minutes or hours ‘tween sleep and rising.

I lie in bed dozing and the In Between caresses my mind, enticing me to engage. It starts interjecting images or ideas as teasers, waiting to see which will seduce my cataleptic state.

Sometimes I consent to the intrusion and I am gifted with flashes of inspiration. Creative conceptions overwhelm me and I race for a pen to capture them before they retreat.

Other times I resist as a cascade of catastrophizing contemplation consumes me. Distress disturbs my  dreams and worry wakens me.

Where does the In Between come from? Where does it retreat? Why does it choose to haunt and daunt me one morn, yet motivate and invigorate the next, leaving me vexed and perplexed at the dawn of the day?

The answer absconds and I rise to meet the day, while the In Between withdraws into murky memory.

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Tax Reminders

Today is my tax day.  As I pulled together files and receipts and forms, it gave me an opportunity to reflect on 2016.  All of these papers were evidence of the life I lived. It gave tax preparation a whole new meaning and perspective for me.

 

Taxes are a reminder..

That I am paid for doing what I love.

That I bought some really awesome books last year.

That I traveled to new places to learn new things.

That some people actually bought my book.

That my home really is my castle.

That I have two dependents that mean the world to me.

That marriage to this amazing guy is always an advantage.

That I am contributing to the welfare of others.

That I am a citizen of an already great nation.

That I existed.

 

Thou Shalt Covet

slice-of-life_individualIt was a long day, followed by parent conference night.  It was a little disheartening when there were a few cancellations from parents I really wanted to meet. I walked down the hallway, headed for the teachers’ room, and around the corner raced TJ*.

Hey buddy, slow down there.

He pulled up, clutching a book to his chest. His dad caught up with him. I introduced myself. “Yeah, she teaches us,” he told his dad. I explained that I am the literacy coach who comes in to work in his kindergarten during reading and writing workshops.

I gotta book!” TJ thrust it out to me.

What’s it called?” I asked.

Read it.  Read right here,” he swiped his fingers across the title.

Mouse Paint?” I asked him.

Yeah. That’s my book. I got this in Title I. I’m in Title I now.” he beamed.

I heard. That’s awesome.  You’ll get to read lots of books,” I said.

Yeah, but this one’s my book!” He pulled it to his chest.

He and his dad headed down the hall.

May you always be so covetous of your books my little reader.” I prayed.

 

*not his real name

Say It Today

slice-of-life_individualIn the past few months many of my friends have lost loved ones; parents, step-parents, grandparents in particular. Some have been sudden. Some have been expected. I read the comments that try to convey the depth of feelings that range from love and grief, to acceptance and relief. They talk lovingly about what made that person so special in their lives. They try to share a little bit about who they were. Encapsulating the essence of their being into words that cannot completely impart the complexity of their lives.

It made me think about the loved ones in my life and how much they mean to me.  I think they know it. I hope they feel the depth of my love. To be sure, I don’t want to wait to speak those words only after they cannot be heard. I want them to hear those words of endearment while they can appreciate and receive them.  I want to speak them often.

It also made me think about how I would like to be remembered. Are the things that are important to me obvious to others? Do I make others feel as special as they truly are to me?  We don’t all get the opportunity Ebenezer Scrooge had to overhear the remembrances and opinions of others about lives. But we can all appreciate his epiphany and contemplate being a better person to those around us-to make the world a little kinder and a little better through our words and deeds.

We get busy with life, with work, with responsibilities and it isn’t until we are reminded of our mortality through the sorrows of others that we stop to take stock. We can honor those sorrows and grief by reflecting on the gifts we have, including our loved ones, and showing our gratitude while we can.

Don’t wait.  If you are grateful for someone’s love and presence in  your life, speak the words to let them know….SAY IT TODAY.Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 8.33.26 PM

 

Moments of Elation

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Finding a note on my windshield after work; a flirtation from my future hubby.

Standing by the water’s edge, holding his hands, and proclaiming, “I do.”

Seeing a heartbeat on the ultrasound beyond the fateful weeks of four miscarriages.

Feeling my baby laid across my chest as I sob “I love you. I love you. I love you.”

Watching my daughter cradle her baby brother in her lap for the first time.

Waking to the realization we’d slept through an entire night.

Getting the call from mom that the spot on her lung was an imaging error.

Putting her on the bus for the first time and racing to school to watch her arrive.

Celebrating his little league team come from behind to win the championship game.

Mesmerized by her pirouette, tendue, and leap across the stage .

Cheering his first varsity soccer goal and humble celebration.

Opening the acceptance email from my editor.

Showering my colleagues rejoicing life changes.

Hearing her give the salutatorian speech to her graduating class.

Hugging my hubby before returning home in our emptied out van.

Lying side by side, spooning throughout the night.

Waking up each morning and realizing this isn’t just a dream.

World Poetry Day

slice-of-life_individualToday is World Poetry Day as celebrated by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization).  On Twitter people are asking one another to share their favorite poems.  While I love seeing and reading the variety and immersing myself in a cascade of poems, I am also troubled.  We don’t ask parents to choose their favorite child, how can we ask readers to choose A favorite poem?

So rather than choose and share my own, I am going to retweet as many poems and posts as I can today to share the love of poetry and celebrate the poets and readers who come together to infuse life and meaning into the words.

While I cannot say these are my absolute favorites, I’ll share two that resonate with me very strongly today (below). HAPPY WORLD POETRY DAY!  Do yourself a favor and savor a poem today! Or take the advice from this tweet I read this morning

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Try it. Play with the words.

See where they land. See where they light.

 

 

TWO POEMS TO LINGER ON TODAY:

And one to listen to with loving ears and open heart:

Successful Parenting Stings

I was up for hours, knowing she was heading back this morning. She came down the stairs and made a quick breakfast. The dogs huddled around her feet as she tried to shuffle through the kitchen.

“Need any help?”

“Nah. I got it.”

She knelt down and rub her hand across  Murphy’s back.  He knows something’s up. He’s been loving that lap of hers all week long. She’s not sitting down. There’s no lap to leap on. She’s buzzing around without lighting.

She heads back upstairs. I wait a few minutes before following.  Her bags are packed and stacked neatly in her room.  Her Baboo sits atop the pile.  He’s been her stuffed companion since infancy. “No bear buddy left behind”. 

“Want me to carry some down?”

“Yes, please.”

We lug a week’s worth of clothes, textbooks, and “stuff” down to the door and plop it in a pile.  The dogs rush over to sniff and check it out.  She sits on the floor and they rush to her.  Murphy snuggles in tight.  Tubbie jumps about, snorting and wiggling. Oreo meows and joins the group hug.  She soaks it up…getting her fix of furry love for the next six weeks.

“Ok. You ready, dad?” She hoists her back back and adjusts a bag on her shoulder. She hugs her Baboo close. I snap a last minute selfie and plant a kiss on her cheek.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

She and her dad walk to the van, loaded down. I stand in the doorway, loaded down. This is what all my parenting has been about.  “You’ve done a good job,” I tell myself. Success doesn’t always feel so good…at least not in moments like this.IMG_9735

 

Appreciate the Path

slice-of-life_individualI think the proverbial Road Less Traveled is overrated sometimes.  Sure it’s great to try new things and be original.  Breaking new ground or creating your own path can be rewarding in many ways. Newness keeps life spicy and fresh.  But sometimes it’s good to realize that there is great value in the variety of paths we can take-that each offers its own rewards if we mindfully contemplate and appreciate them. My snowshoeing yesterday brought this lesson home for me.

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Creating new paths where none exist takes courage and strength sometimes. It is easy to get lost, it can wear you out quickly, but the anticipation of new experiences can keep you going.

 

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Following the path of someone so different from yourself can bring insights and understanding. You don’t know where it may lead, but curiosity compels you to seek out new knowledge and understanding.

 

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Following in the footsteps of a trailblazer let’s you learn from their steps and lean on their work. Somehow you feel less alone and more empowered to build on those steps and perhaps stray from the path when it is right for you.

 

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Following a well-worn path may seem less adventurous, but remembering that there is often good reason for the shared pathway-it probably led others to joy or enlightenment. It was valued by many so perhaps we can trust that it is worth our time as well.

 

Whatever path you take today, I hope you take the time to appreciate it a little more.  We never know when the path may end, so enjoy and savor the journey.

PD À la carte

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A few years ago I approached the administration in our district about bringing an EdCamp model of professional development to our staff. They wanted to give it a try for one of the few workshop days we have. They designed a mini-conference-style day of professional development where teachers were offered a menu of sessions ahead of time that they sign up for sandwiched between keynotes to kick off and wrap up. It has proved to be very popular and meaningful to staff.

Yesterday was one of those workshop days. It was also the first time I didn’t have to present and could just be a participant.  I loved it!  My choices were quite wide ranging…and probably would not have even been on my radar a few years ago.

We started with a keynote ‘Responding to and Preventing Bullying’ that stressed the importance of intervening-even when we don’t know the ‘right’ thing to say.  Speaking up with respectful interventions and breaking the pattern of escalation is essential. The speakers intent was to open our eyes to how students experience coming to school in which hateful language and bias is prevalent and our role to awaken the empathy that allows it to exist.

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Preventing Bullying Sketchnotes

ACTIVE SHOOTER simulations. This is a PD I hope I’ll never have to use, but was grateful to our local police department for offering it.  What would I have done if  was at Columbine or Sandy Hook? I don’t know, but I have a better sense of awareness and options to consider, now.  We experienced 3 real-life scenarios that happened in schools and then debriefed on what occurred and what we might do in those situations. It’s training teachers should never have to experience, but our world is changing so fast and guns are far too prevalent for us to bury our heads in the sand.

Another way our ‘local world’ is changing is with the influx of more and more immigrants and refugee students. A session on supporting English Language Learners was incredibly enlightening. Understanding why it is important for their entire family to acculturate together, the ‘affect of filter’ on learning, and cultural considerations that can impact our relationships with student were eye opening. I am more in awe of the challenges and courage of these families and I’m more determined than ever to support them.

After a session on Movie Maker (our school took away our Macs and replaced them with PCs so I felt like a novice again!) I think I can once again create teaching videos to share with staff.  We then ended with a keynote on Happiness Hacking. By the end of the day on a Friday we were already feeling pretty happy, but any tips for inviting more into my life is always welcome.

If your school district hasn’t tried this format for professional development, I encourage you to look into it and suggest it to the powers that be.  We differentiate for our students, why not differentiate for our teachers as well?  We are all learners. We all want some choice in what we learn! I’m proud of our district for recognizing and honoring that.

Clear, Consistent, and Convincing

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If you clicked on this blog post today, chances are you are working on, or have achieved certification with National Boards for Professional Teaching (NBPT). When I thought about next steps/challenges for my teaching career I thought I might give it a try. I already tackled Reading Recovery training, multiple college degrees, and advanced coaching training. “Hey, let’s check out National Board Certification” I thought.

When I looked at the the 5 Core Propositions for accomplished teachers, I truly embraced and believed in all of them:

  • 1. Teachers are committed to students and their learning.
  • 2. Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.
  • 3. Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.
  • 4. Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.
  • 5. Teachers are members of learning communities.

So last year several teachers from my district and I embarked on this journey together. We tackled components 1 (a grueling test) and 2 (differentiated instruction that never seemed good enough!) last year and now we are up to our eyeballs this spring in components 3 (the dreaded video taping) and 4 (being an effective/reflective practitioner).

It’s frustrating, exhausting, and truly eye-opening.  I’ve never dissected my teaching so many different ways. I’ve never questioned everything I did to the nth degree. (Well, Reading Recovery training may have caused as much guilt-ridden reflection, but enough time has passed that it’s all a pleasant memory now!)

I don’t think I could do it without my colleagues to collaborate and console, to nudge and to nag. Thank you Caroline, Katie, Maureen, and Gigi. We’re getting closer each day to that May 15 deadline. We’ll upload that last file, hit submit, and …

wait 6-7 months for the results!

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Here’s to any of you slicers who are trying to plug away at NBPT work and slice each day. You’ve got moxie and motivation! Now go back through your writing and make sure it is clear, consistent, and convincing!!