Monday, February 22, 2010

Back to School..Back to Reality

It's a strange morning for me. School resumes today after winter break and as I get excited to go back to school and see my cute lil kiddos, I realize that I am not going to be with them this week. I will be at school, yes, but my intern will be in charge of the classroom for an entire week.
My intern is awesome, competent, and well- prepared. I have complete faith in her ability to have a great week with our class. I suppose I am sad in a way.. perhaps even a bit jealous? ( whoah, voicing my neuroses on a public forum?)  I love hearing the stories of what my students do on their vacations, their proclamations that they missed me over the long week! I enjoy getting the cards and pictures and stories they wrote. I know that this is all part of the territory with having an intern, a co-teacher in training, with me for the year.
I do look forward to the opportunity to get organized and clean out an area in my office that has been in disarray since our Kindergarten pod was remodeled a year ago (right in the middle of the school year). I plan to get things filed and organized and reflect on my practices a bit. I will probably visit my K teacher friends and help them with some classroom management issues as well as observe and learn from them!
So, yes, today it's back to reality. The reality will be just a tad bit different, that's all.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Listening and Sharing Every Day: The Best Gifts of All

We can listen and share to show our love every day. It's so simple that it barely requires saying. Or is it so simple that it easily gets overlooked?
Loving each other on holidays should not take precedence over loving each other on ordinary days. Now I am not one to bash any expressions of love and kindness; I just don't think that we need a day marked on a calendar to show our loved ones how much we care. I am not saying that I don't participate in such days; I just remind myself that the other non-holidays matter too.
I made a Valentines card for my husband after I decided that I probably would not be able to find one with "just the right words". We are truly meant for each other, born on the same exact day across the globe from each other.  We had to go through an extensive  process of immigration mumbo-jumbo to be together, and work hard each day to show each other that we cherish and devote ourselves to our partnership.
Every morning before I head out the door I leave him a brief message on a sticky note. These notes range from mumbling about how hard Mondays are but how grateful I am to come home to him, to acknowledging those small thoughtful gestures he makes to remind me that I am loved.
Before any cynics out there get on me for being a hopeless romantic ( which I wholeheartedly confess to as well as being an realistic idealist) I just want to say: we all have needs to be loved and appreciated. It's easy for us to express thanks and acknowledge others for their special contributions when talking to our virtual friends. Do we take the time to show our partners, families and real-life friends that they matter MOST to us? I can't be the only one who has to remind herself to put down the electronics and look into the eyes of loved ones and listen.  Perhaps listening and sharing are the best everyday love gifts we can offer.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Letting Your Light Shine or Playing Small?

I am reflecting on this quote today:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

----from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson

So what does this mean to me? Why does it call to me, especially today?
  • I tend to be intimidated, at times, by the intensity of my own passions and interests, fearing that others might think that I am odd or even "crazy" when I share them. 
  • I am sometimes lonely in my pursuit of advocacy for kids, working with some people who have given up or who just "check in and out" each day, seeing teaching as a job, not a calling as I see it.
  • This quote reminds me of the responsibility I have in using my gifts to the fullest. I believe that we all have gifts that can make the world a better place. 
  • "We are all meant to shine" is a tough one for me as I was trained as a child to be humble, to play it safe, to not stand out. 
  • I am thinking about and evaluating possibilities for the future. Is the teaching environment I am in really the one that will allow me to do the most good?
As you ponder the quote, what calls to you? Are you putting your most talented and courageous self out there for the world to see? Do you struggle as I do between wanting to stay safe and please others versus being a voice for change?
I hope to learn how others conquer these challenges.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Do You "Leave School at School?"

In teaching it seems that there are endless opportunities to take the job home, both figuratively and concretely speaking. Yesterday, as I expressed my concern about some kids at my school, a colleague said, "Well, you know. There isn't a lot we can change here. So I work really hard to leave school at school. "
Even though this was a mantra clearly expressed to me by others before, I was a bit taken aback. This teacher is one of my allies in my passionate fight for kids:  someone who advocates and cheer-leads for those in her classroom.  Her comment led to reflection and more reflection. "Can I possibly leave my thoughts about school there as I leave each day?" Anyone who knows me would probably never take that bet!
I wish I had that balance..well, sort of.  I have managed to get much of my job done and optimize my time at school, but my thoughts are often caught up in brainstorming possible solutions for my classroom and my students. Not only do I take the job  home with me, but in the car, to the store, on the phone with fellow teacher friends and on social media like Facebook and Twitter. I think about the kids who may not be "instantly loveable" and wonder how we can reach them and help them believe in themselves. I think about the endless responsibilities we have in a screwed up system bound by politicians who decide who gets the money that will help the kids and even worse, "how" we are to teach and inspire those kids to become happy, healthy engaged contributors to society.
If we all just "leave school at school" how will change ever happen? Teaching is not my job, it's my calling.  But clearly, a balance is necessary so that teachers don't end up sounding like this teacher: tired and worn out on the 101st day of the school year.
How do you keep the balance?