Put Me on the Bobsled Team

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Track and Field day can feel rather crazy.  There are over 400 5th graders “crazed” inside the university field house.  They zip around like ants who have lost their ant hill scurrying and hurrying in all directions.  Looking like they have a destination in mind and then they zip in a completely different direction for no visible reason.

It is loud.  All these voices, the start gun, the cheering make my head throb.

Students LOVE this day.  It is “their” Olympics.  Most are like the Jamaican bobsled team and know there is no chance of winning but are thrilled to compete.  A select few, and they know who they are, are the contenders.  Their PE teachers have had them running in the gym during recess all year.  They have an internal drive to win and external pressure to succeed as well.  Their second place overall  is a bigger loss than the 4th place runner of their contending heat.  Their victory is everyone’s victory, their defeat, their own.

My favorite part of the day came as we walked to the awards ceremony.  One of my “bobsled athletes” had only competed in long jump.  He was so excited at his attempts.  “I had a great one, but, unfortunately, that one I scratched.  I think I might get 3rd or something though.”  He had no idea that the “contenders” had already compared distances and knew their standings.  After the winners were called without distances announced, my Olympian said, “Huh, they must have had a few extra inches than me.  I wish I hadn’t scratched.”   I am so thrilled for him in his joy of the day.  How wonderful to be happy with your best effort regardless of ranking.

My second place “contender” went home in tears.  There were no words to cheer her for her success.

I hope to live my life knowing I have given my best and that is success.

Wallah!

SOLWorking on improving classroom climate, I have reminded myself that perhaps, if I am not seeing it, it is something I need to teach and model.

We spent lots of time at the beginning of the year discussion and practicing teamwork.  We had lessons that required “good partnerships” and “helpful feedback.”  Since returning to school in 2014, we are in only our second 5 day week due to the crazy weather.  We have lost our routine and I may have led by “crunch time panic”

Thank you to Tara for you lesson ideas on how to leave a compliment.  We used it in math, science, and writing today.  I think we all felt good about what we did and what we offered to our classmates.

I am grateful everyday for what I learned this past summer at TCRWP.  We wrote our writing feedback on heart shaped notes.  One young lady wanted to be sure to let the writer know he needed more details but want to be sure she phrased it in a positive way.  I asked her to try out the sentence a few different ways for me and wallah!  “Oh, I’ve got it!”  It was not me telling her what to say but guiding her through our “try out another way to say it” and she found her own kind and constructive words.

Attitude

I forget the author or exact phrase but recall the “my attitude affects the entire climate of the classroom.”  Today I was going to enjoy the day with my students.  I was only going to praise and not give attention to the negative.  The video from Sunday’s post reminded me that we must be the blessings in one another’s lives.  We had fun, we laughed, we learned, and were connected.  All our schoolwork was not complete but there were smiles on all our faces at the end of the day.  Success.

I am just finishing the conferences for this evening and have the students and their families doing the talking.   I don’t know why I always get so nervous.

Today has been a good day.

Conference Nerves

SOLTomorrow night, our second set of conferences for the school year begin.  Why do I still get butterflies for these meetings after all these years of teaching?  I think I may have more anxiety than some of my students as we prepare and complete our “talking sheet”.  Perhaps it is the experience of knowing there are those random comments or questions that come out of nowhere and create doubt for either the student or myself.  Maybe it’s the defeating feeling of a student’s time to shine taken away by a parent focusing on the negative.  We (students and teachers) work so hard and want to share it with families.  Sometimes the other people turn focus to their needs and not ours.  I will do all I can to ensure time to shine balanced with goals.

Restore

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I live Sunday as a day of rest and restoration.  I prepare for the week ahead with hope, joy, and anticipation.  The restorative part of my day may come from family, friends, or even time alone to reflect and look forward with optimism.  I need this day to “fill me up” again and repair my veneer from last week’s comments, disappointments, and disheartening events from the classroom.  As teachers, we often lack the tangible view of our work.  Are our encouraging words tucked away to use later?  Do the words, “We’ll try again tomorrow,” really instill hope or the agony reflected back from their faces?  As a class read aloud we read Wonder.  The words, “Choose Kind” are above the board.  I get discouraged when that is not what I see in my students.  Sunday is my time to restore my own hope and belief that the words and actions I model do matter.  As part of my master’s work I was assigned the following video.  I feel restored.  Writers, it’s long, but even only watching 12 minutes you will feel better.

http://media.bioneers.org/listing/becoming-a-blessing-rachel-naomi-remen-md/

Everyday is new.

Couldn’t Sleep

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Good Morning Writers!

Saturday mornings are supposed to be for sleeping in.  I think my excitement for the Slice of Life writing equaled those feelings of the first day of school.  Excitement, anticipation, hope, and nervousness. It was hard to fall asleep last night thinking about how will I make sure I post each day and also allow enough time to read others and  comment.  I tossed and turned.  Finally at 5 am I got out of bed.  Many ideas went through my head on what to write about today.  I am looking forward to improving my craft of writing and, excited for my students as writers as well.  Today, we all begin a month of working toward living life as a writer.

The internal dialogue or argument in my head to try to go back to sleep.  I wanted to enjoy sleeping in.  No hurry to get ready and prepared for school, no hurry for breakfast and dishes, no hurry to be in the car and on our way.  Lying there, telling myself to go back to sleep, I started thinking about what to write.  Should I retell the story about the field trip to the circus, do I want to write about Conner’s words, “It’s both happy and sad,” when he was talking to Mrs. Bloomquist, how about the tangled feelings during our PBIS celebration that were supposed to feel “zen” and were far from it.  My list kept growing and I couldn’t decide.  I thought about Julian in Twerp and his need to write to Mr. Selkirk.  I decided to get up and write.  It does help us organize and prioritize our thinking.  I have jotted my ideas in my notebook so that on days when I am struggling for an idea, I can think back to this morning when I had so many, I couldn’t sleep.

Building Stamina

Saturday, I was one of over 10,000 skiers in the American Birkebeiner held in Cable & Hayward, WI.  My race, the Korteloppet, is a half marathon.

Each of the 23 kilometers was it’s own slice of life story.  A lot of thinking happens out on the trail.  It was a mental game to push myself through to the end.  The first few kilometers were plagued with “I’m so cold, Why did I sign up for this? Can I still feel my toes? Does that woman have frostbite on her face?” and then at kilometer number 5, I warmed up.  With comfortable toes and fingers, I was able to appreciate the beauty of the woods.  We had received 18 inches of heavy wet snow less than 24 hours prior.  The trees were laden with thick sweaters of white.  I was amazed that they did not shed this burdensome garb in the 20 mph winds.  The sunlight broke through the clouds and revealed a sparkly fresh winter landscape.  It was breathtaking in sight and temperature.  I was able to enjoy this crazy winter celebration.  The next few kilometers of thinking included, “This is great, I’m so glad I’m in it.”

Next came the stamina check. My legs began to tire and I thought of all the “building stamina” speeches I have given my students this year.  My ski training was like our reading. I had started out strong and had built stamina to ski easily for 3 or more hours. When I reached my goal, I had let off on the steam and skied shorter distances and quit early in the cold.  My class had worked through the “Why do we have to do this?” and built to self-sustained reading and writing for 40 minutes with joy.  I eased into interrupting this time because, “We were good at it.”  “We could handle the change to our schedule.”  After the new year, “our legs” were tired and we haven’t found our routine.  I could blame the crazy weeks broken by canceled days of school due to weather, but really my complacency is somewhat to blame.  We have not been practicing.

I saw the 21K sign and knew the end was near.  Looking into the tall pines, I resolved to take my stamina lesson to the classroom and “retrain” my students and rebuild our reading and writing stamina.  I will hold sacred our reading and writing time and keep distractions and interruptions at bay.  I look forward to March and building my own writing stamina as well as the literacy stamina in my classroom.

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