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#SOL18 The Confidence Factor

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At a recent parent's meeting I attended for my children's school, I spotted a mom wearing a shirt that said, "Any yoga I do is hot yoga." I had to read it a few times. Huh, I thought to myself. I would never have the confidence to wear something that pronounces myself as "hot". Not in a billion. 

I've been thinking more and more about confidence lately- how some have it in spades while others, ahem- me- often don't. In teaching as well, some educators seem fully assured of their knowledge and abilities. I so often doubt myself. 

The truth is we can always learn and grow and get better, yes. But the truth is I do know many things after being  a teacher for 17 years. Because I'm a teacher who always wants to learn, I read and write and talk a lot about teaching. There are things I know and do well and I need to start owning it.

Why does that feel so hard?


#SOL18 Friendship and Heartache in Preschool

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"Mommy, I don't like school anymore," my five year old tells me this afternoon. She only has 4 days left until preschool graduation.

"How come?" I question.

"Because I lost my best friend. I don't have any friends now." 

After some more questions, it turns out that another classmate has created "a crew" and my daughter is not part of it. Her (former) best friend is on the crew now and she's been left behind. There is one other girl not on the crew and that is the only friend Megan thinks she has now. 

Megan decides to make art projects to give to all the classmates, even the ones that are excluding her. The girl who is also not on the crew deserves an extra special, sparkly art project for sticking by her, Megan has decided. 

I want to jump in and fix this for Megan, but I can't. I want to make those other children be more inclusive, more empathetic, kinder...but I can't. I want to shield her from meanness and hurt feelings but I …

#SOL18 Make the Most of Your Time Here

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"Make the most of your time here." -Amy Krouse Rosenthal
I.

I love to look at the "On This Day" feature in Facebook. What pictures and videos did I post years ago? What was happening exactly a year ago? I see my children when they were babies, sometimes hear their baby voices and giggles. When they were those ages, I somehow thought I would always be a mom to little kids. Now, as Megan gets ready for kindergarten and Alex approaches second grade, I'll be an elementary school mom. I'll blink and they will graduate high school. There is not all the time in the world. 

II. 
It seems every day I wake up to a story that breaks my heart. I've been following 5 year old Avery in the "Bravery for Avery" Facebook group. Avery had brain cancer and passed away on Mother's Day, leaving her twin sister, younger brother, parents, and countless family members and friends. Her mother documented the journey of her illness and death through photos and posts. It w…

#SOL18 Lessons from Flowers

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"this is the recipe of life said my mother as she held me in her arms as i wept think of those flowers you plant in the garden each year they will teach you that people too must wilt fail root rise in order to bloom"
-rupi kaur
On Mother's Day morning, my daughter Megan earnestly said to me, "My heart pumps with love for you." At five years old, I find that sentence to be incredibly poetic as well as amazingly sweet. She followed up with, "I don't only love you on Mother's Day- I love you every day!" My son, Alex, made me a bookmark which he colored with effort and care. His handsome face is on the bookmark, too- a school picture from earlier in the year before life took a turn. 
On the day before Mother's Day, we went to the garden store and picked out beautiful, colorful flowers to plant in a new patch of soil we had the landscapers create near our recently redone walk. I now have lots of hours of planting before me! I've never been much of a …

#SOL18 Welcome Sunshine

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Welcome sunshine.
Welcome fresh air.
Welcome windows opened.
Welcome short-sleeves.
Welcome flip-flops.
Welcome the smell of barbecue.
Welcome late sunsets. 
Welcome green grass.
Welcome flowers.
Welcome ice-cream truck.
Welcome Little League.
Welcome playground.
Welcome a new season. 


Welcome hope.

#SOL18 What Does Morning Work Look Like?

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Teachers, talk to me about your morning work. I have varied what I've done and am still trying to figure out the best way to start our day. Sometimes I have a math exit ticket as a morning assignment. It includes only 2 problems to do and it is based on our lesson from the day before. When students finish it, they are free to read, draw, write, or use a chrome book to create a Buncee presentation, blog, add to their digital reading wall, etc. Some mornings I ask students to write on their blog. Some mornings I ask students to update their digital reading wall. Some mornings we make a birthday card for a classmate. The work is no longer than 30 minutes at the max and students come in on a staggered schedule so 30 minutes would really just be for the student who first walks in the door. 

There is a little boy I know and love who goes to school a few towns over from where I teach and he is a third grader, too. His morning work lasts 40 minutes to an hour. It includes at least four ass…

#SOL18 A Poem for Teaching

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Just when I was missing the routine of blogging, Tuesday rolls by again. The March SOLSC has ended, but Poetry Month has begun. I can't take on another challenge, but I am eagerly following what Amy Ludwig Vanderwater writes each day at The Poem Farm. This month, Amy is writing 30 poems about the constellation Orion, inspired by her book Poems Are Teachers

Her first technique was a list poem. If I were to take on Amy's challenge, I would choose "teaching" as my one subject to write in different ways. Today I'm trying a list poem.

Teaching

Planning
Crafting
Trying
Revising
Deciding
Listening
Affirming
Reminding
Refocusing
Inspiring
Reporting
Debating
Changing
Growing
Laughing
Crying
Sighing
Smiling
Planting
Hoping
Believing
Imagining
Loving
Dreaming
Doing
Learning
Teaching


#SOL18 Day 31 Goodbye to You

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Goodbye to you, March Challenge. Goodbye early morning wake-ups, adjusting workout routines (or skipping them) to make more time for blogging. Goodbye trying to find the words and delicately balancing what my heart needs to write and what my brain thinks I should publish.
Goodbye to you, fellow bloggers. Your stories touched my heart. Your words made me think. Your passion for teaching inspired me to be better.
I'm sorry I didn't get to read more, comment more, but what I read was glorious. Our country will be saved by teachers like you, I'm sure of it. 
We will meet again, 
on Tuesdays.
And we will meet again,
when next March comes. 
Till then...

"Who can say if I've been changed for the better? Because I knew you, because I knew you, I have been changed for good."
-from "Wicked"


#SOL18 Day 30 Good Friday and Easter Sunday

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How is it almost April?

Time seems to have stopped somewhere in mid-January when our lives changed with a phone call. While I was just starting to come up for air, a second surgery dominated the Winter Break. A month has gone by, and now we are closing out March. 

Spring.

Today is Good Friday. As a Catholic, although a somewhat lapsed one, today is the day where evil seems to win. A dark day, a sad day. A day where a friend betrays you and hope dies. The beauty of Easter Sunday is that hope never dies, that evil never wins, that good triumphs and redemption is possible. 

I need Easter more than ever this year.

I am tired of the greedy and selfish dominating the headlines. I am tried of school shooters. I am tired of Russia and collusion and doctor's appointments and guilt and sadness and fear and worry and wishing with everything in my heart that I could redo a certain day in January. 

I have been trying to be strong and most days I am. I know many have more challenges than me, more pai…

#SOL18 Day 29 My Mom

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I always advise my student writers, "Show- don't tell." So I could tell you about my mother, but maybe this example will show you what you need to know.

On a particular day last year, I drove to my parent's house to pick up my children after work. My mom comes to my house every morning by 7:15 to help get the kids ready for school. Later, she picks up Megan at preschool and an hour later picks up Alex from his school. She watches them until I get home from work, which some days is later than I should.

 I walked in to find Megan wearing a tissue paper hula skirt, twirling around. But what's more, all of the many dolls she brought, including her stuffed animal dog Star, were sporting the same mini-versions of the pink tissue paper hula skirts. My mom was wearing her reading glasses, deep in the work of creating another hula skirt for another doll. It was a scene I will never forget.

What can you infer about my mom from this example? Would you conclude she is patient, …