Artist Date Reflection

woman walking on bridge
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A couple Sundays ago, I took myself on an artist date.

To be fair, it was not exactly planned as an artist date.  I did not purposefully carve out the time, it was slotted for me. Nevertheless,  I chose to make this time part of my creative process.

First on the list was to treat myself to a lunch of Indian food. I haven’t eaten and enjoyed it for years. I chose a newer restaurant that I had not been to before because the place I used to frequent in the same town, is no longer open. The new place has a lunch and dinner buffet on the weekends. To be honest,  I hate the buffet. What I order and what is comfortable for me is never on the buffet. I know this,  but I feel pressured. Since it was a new place I did not order off the menu. I was too shy. I did have delicious butter chicken and I tried a new dish but there no Naan so that was disappointing.

Next, I went to a park that has a 3 mile trail loop. I walked the path that I have run hundreds of times training and running races in the years previously.

The feelings I experienced were bizarre.  It was like being a stranger somewhere that used to be home. It was familiar,  but there were new parts which honestly filled me with anxiety. The park had installed new wooden plank walkways and there were new trees and foliage everywhere which was lovely. I did a lot of reflecting and sweating. While I walked, I  just listened to the woods and the water. I did listen to a podcast for part of the time but shut it off quickly to enjoy my surroundings.

Lastly, I visited a local coffee shop in the town where I live. It is a small chain but feels homey and writer-friendly. I almost didn’t stop though. I drove around the square twice before finally parking. I am glad that I did and did not allow my anxiety to grab hold. I didn’t write much myself but did record a lot of conversation between 3 friends that were meeting that will for certain end up in a story.

Part of what I learned is the fact I am dealing with some very real anxiety.  I  had to keep talking myself into keeping my plan and not go home. The moment of not going back is today. I am not sure who I have become. I forged forward and the feelings were not crippling but I sure didn’t like it. Everything was just off center. I kept having to talk myself into doing something that years ago I would have happily done – and have done numerous times.

At this point in my life, I am not comfortable in new places it seems. There was different anxiety at each place.

These new feelings are unwelcome but also preparation for the new life I want to be living. I have to get out sometimes don’t I? I have been ignoring the feeling of wanting to rush home.

I am uncertain as to the why of the anxiety. I can guess but I also cannot reverse it.

I am not exactly lost.

I will keep moving forward and reflecting and honoring how I am feeling and see where it takes me.

Poem in Your Pocket…Literally

sols_6I am continuing the logging of some of my funny stories from my teaching career and am sharing one for Two Writing Teachers Blog Slice of Life.

Last month I attended an amazing workshop with Jack Berckemeyer and his colleagues. One of the main components of their presentations is FUN. As I was listening I started a list of funny stories from my teaching career. Every teacher has funny stories of situations with students and I have decided to write some of them down.

Laughter helps you lose weight, live longer, and lower your blood pressure. Bring on the guffaws!

Poem in Your Pocket…Literally

I love poetry. I love writing poetry. I love teaching poetry. I love reading and displaying the poetry my students write.

When I was a reading specialist I introduced Poem In Your Pocket Day. I use poems with reluctant readers because they are fun and because they seem to be less intimidating to students. We use them for reading and writing.

I was lucky in this particular job at the elementary level to push in to do full classroom writing lessons but also have small groups.

My classroom was right by the front doors and the office, but also right across from the bathrooms. I learned early that it was important to have reading materials outside my door and in the hallway so students could read while they were waiting in line for their turn to use the facilities.

I was standing in the hallway having a brief conference with a 5th grade teacher and her students were lined up. I noticed one boy kept patting his jeans pocket. It was that movement we have when we have something important in our pocket that we do not want to lose. We keep checking to make sure it hasn’t magically disappeared without our knowledge.

I asked him what he had in his pocket. I was intrigued. He looked at me shyly and said, “My poem”.

This was a student that was a little on the harder side. He was very guarded and would be likely to have a weapon in his pocket rather than a poem.

The look of surprise was evident in my face and he continued.

“You talked to us about poem in your pocket day so I thought I should put my own poem I am working on should be in my pocket then I always have it with me.”

I smiled at him with tears in my eyes. “I love it,” I told him.

He smiled and patted his pocket again.

I saw him several times during the day and every time he would smile at me like we shared a secret and pat his pocket to let me know his poem was still there. He extended poem in your pocket day for at least a week.

#happytuesday

Wait! She’s Trying to Remember the Rest!

abc books chalk chalkboard
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I am continuing my funny stories from my teaching career.

Last month I attended an amazing workshop with Jack Berckemeyer and his colleagues. One of the main components of their presentations is FUN. As I was listening I started a list of funny stories from my teaching career. Every teacher has funny stories of situations with students and I have decided to write some of them down.

Laughter helps you lose weight, live longer, and lower your blood pressure. Bring on the guffaws!

Wait! She’s Trying to Remember the Rest!

To quiet students, I use Harry Wong’s GIMME 5.

It is a nonverbal that if established can be effective.

When first introduced you say the 5 things – one for each finger. I believe I modified from the original 5 from Wong.

Stop moving.

Stop talking.

Look at me.

Listen.

Think.

When I was a reading specialist I convinced an old school teacher to let me in his room to teach writing. No one knew really why he let me in when he had let no one in previously. In his class, there was a student who was 6ft tall in 5th grade and sat in the center of the room in the back row. He was a leader in stature and culture.

While in the process of starting my lesson I had established the gimme 5 signal. I would go through each step until they complied and then move on. If they were still talking I wouldn’t move on.

One day I started with “Gimme 5, stop moving, stop talking…” I was waiting for them to stop talking when the larger than normal 5th grader said…Quiet! She’s trying to remember what the rest of them are!”

I remember saying, I didn’t forget and then started laughing.

 

My Brain Needs More Oxygen!

happy child fun boy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Last month I attended an amazing workshop with Jack Berckemeyer and his colleagues. One of the main components of their presentations is FUN. As I was listening I started a list of funny stories from my teaching career. Every teacher has funny stories of situations with students and I have decided to write some of them down.

Laughter helps you lose weight, live longer, and lower your blood pressure. Bring on the guffaws!

My Brain Needs More Oxygen!

When I was teaching first grade many years ago I was honored to have a professional development coordinator in my district named Rita Brodnax. One of the many programs she brought to the district was Brain Compatible Teaching for Learning. One of the many practices I have adopted over the years is to share some of the learning with my students when I have attended a conference or workshop when I return.  I want the students to know that I am still learning and bringing it into the classroom for them and for me.

One concept I had talked to my students about was the need for the brain to have oxygen when thinking gets difficult. When we are learning new things our heads literally hurt because new dendrites are being formed. When this happens we need to sit up straight so out brain gets more oxygen to aid in the process.

I had a very unique class of cohesive learners that year and we were able to get to mastery levels with grade level material very quickly. They were sponges. We wrote and read every day. The kids were constantly making books. We had our family meetings in the mornings and then wrote a group chart. then the students wrote in their journals and we conferenced. The afternoons were filled with read alouds and math.

It was may and we had reached the end of the math book so I began material from the second grade standards to get them ready for the next grade. It was harder concepts, they knew it was second grade material but I was chunking it and things were going well.

This afternoon we were talking about borrowing in double digit subtraction and the students were working on a problem independently to check their thinking after the model part of the lesson. This was normal practice for our class.

Suddenly in the middle of silent work and productive struggle (there were lots of mumblings of process steps) my student Micah stood up abruptly.  It was so sudden it startled everyone. I asked him what was wrong.

(My name was Zack at the time)

Micah said “MS Zack, this is hard! My brain needs more oxygen” and with his missing tooth grin spread across his face his classmates and I laughed. I told him he could stand for as long as he needed to.

He stood for the rest of the lesson.

From then on, it became a thing for students to randomly stand. No one was alarmed when someone stood after Micah’s introduction to the concept in our room.

Happy Fourth of July!!!

A beach poem…

The Dunes

The sand smelled fresh
Not humid, damp, and stale
No food smells permeate
The air cleaned by the sun
The bad ions evaporate by the rays.

Tall stairs to the sky

Overlook the tops of trees

Living there for hundreds of years Guarding the sand and the water.
The dunes are mighty

But can be taken down by man, wind, and their best friend the water.

Leaving is…Complicated

At the end of the month, my family and I will be leaving a house that is full of memories even though we have been here a short time.

My husband and I did quite a bit of work to the house. Some of these elements I will miss. It depends on the new space whether we eventually mimic some of the changes. Taking down wallpaper is not something I want to repeat!

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I love these stairs! It took a while for the layers of paint and the trial and error for the book stripes and the lettering! I do love how they turned out. With us being a family of readers,  it was perfect. Each of the titles is significant to at least one family member too which makes it even more special.

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My husband and I painted this basement more times than I can count. The floor was also a trial and error project! Overall we were really happy with how the colors turned out. The floor reminds me of sand!

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This house is perfect for Christmas decorating! We moved the tree to the “red room” this year [named so for the red couch and chair in there!] With the fireplace upstairs it is very festive.

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Many words have been written in this chair. Many games of hot potato have been played here too. I do love this chair. It is staying with the house, however.20180331_123241.jpg

The next house MUST have a fireplace. We love it!

Thanks for indulging me with memory lane! I woke up thinking about the stairs.

 

Happy Thursday!