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Funny family

December 30, 2011 Leave a comment

My family left a computer charger, hair brush, and bag of art supplies at our cousins’ house after Christmas.  Today my mom got a gchat from my cousin.

Cousin:  you wouldn’t believe how great my week’s been
Cousin:  my computer’s always charged, hair has never looked better
Cousin:  and my room is covered in decorative signs now
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Categories: Uncategorized

Year-end thanks

December 30, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking a lot this fall about how different my life is now than a year ago.  While some of the positive changes may have happened on their own, there are an incredible number of people who have helped change my life for the better this year.

Paul helped me kick off 2011.  At a point when I desperately needed someone to see me as more than a teacher – yet also needed someone to care about that part of me – he did both.  We didn’t last long, but our time together helped me find my balance again.

When Paul and I broke up, Melanie understood that my Facebook request for new activity ideas meant I was sad and she invited me to trapeze with her.  I didn’t go that night, but the invitation changed the course of my year.

Through the spring, summer, and fall, my coworkers have been there for me, unfailingly supportive and always willing to talk through classroom difficulties.  In the end, I returned for a second year because I couldn’t imagine telling them I was leaving.  And I’ve been happy with that choice.

At the trapeze school, Mandy has almost single-handedly provided the sense of belonging, significance and fun that I kept looking for in Unitarian churches and other activities but never really found.  She knows my flying better than I do and always knows exactly when to push and when to pull back.  I know that when I fly with her I don’t have to self-advocate – she’s got my back.

And there’s the rest of the staff and students at trapeze.  From my very first class they’ve welcomed me, almost literally, with open arms.  They listen to stories, give support and advice, and are completely fun to be around.  Becoming part of that community has been one of the most enjoyable developments of my post-college life.

And finally, there are my students.  It’s been wonderful to see H. blossom; it makes all of last year worth it.  This year’s class is full of such wonderful, vulnerable kids, and I am regularly humbled by the trust and love they give me, even on the days I don’t think I deserve it.  I know I’m not doing it all right, but they think I’m getting a whole lot of it right, and that’s definitely helping me sleep better.

While many of these people may come and go in my life, my family and close friends have been there every day of this year – and of the last.  They’ve dealt with my lows (and I know there were a lot), but I hope they’ve been able to share in my highs, too.

In the end, I feel like a very lucky girl, and am thankful for the happy, interesting year that’s gone by.

Know when to stop

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve taken a trapeze class each of the last two nights.  While that’s considered intense most of the time, it’s been particularly intense because I’ve been working on a very physically demanding new skill.  My arms, shoulders, back, and abs have been feeling the effects the last two days.  I almost signed up for a third class tonight, but at the last minute decided it would be better to rest.

Then instead of resting, I tried to practice the V-ups (like sit ups, but lifting your legs up, too) that I’ll need to pass the trapeze fitness test next month.  I laid on my back on the floor, engaged my abs, breathed in, and gave my muscles the signal to lift my upper body and legs.  My legs came up and my upper body…stayed flat on the floor.  I gave the signal again…and my back remained glued to the floor, my muscles too tired to even try to obey.  In the end, all I could do was lay on the floor and laugh at myself.  Good thing I passed on class tonight.

Categories: Choices, Hobbies Tags: , ,

I prefer drama

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

We decorated gingerbread men cookies in class on Wednesday.  I made 19 cookies for 16 kids, but 2 cracked in transit and a 3rd broke as I handed it out, leaving exactly the number I needed intact.  One cookie, however, was much thinner than the others, and when the boy decorating it tried to transfer it into a baggie to bring home, it cracked under the weight of the candy.

About half of my students would have shrugged it off.  Hey, it might be broken, but it’s still a cookie with lots of candy on it!

About half of my students would have dramatically melted down.  The cookie BROKE.  It is the end of the WORLD.

Both these reactions would be easy to manage – the first obviously so, but even the dramatic group is pretty easy to respond to.  You sternly stop the crying, focus on the fun of the experience and the intactness of the candy, and send them on their way.

But this one boy, the only one whose cookie broke, isn’t part of either of these groups.  He’s not go with the flow, and he’s definitely not dramatic.  So when his cookie broke I didn’t even realize there was a problem until I saw him standing, silently, holding the broken pieces, little tears quietly dripping down his cheeks.  No words, no tantrum, just a silent mourning that I was powerless to help with.  I tried to help, of course, but in the end all I was able to do was gently take the cookie pieces from his hand and finish packing them up.

Is there anything harder than not being able to comfort a sad child?  Sometimes I think I’d be okay with more drama in my classroom if it meant being able to help the kids when they’re sad.

All is forgiven

December 22, 2011 Leave a comment

One of my boys almost always has hard days, but today was particularly tough.  By the afternoon he couldn’t control himself anymore.  In his non-stop moving over-exuberance he ripped a book, threw a pillow at a classmate, then tackled another classmate and wouldn’t get off or stop tickling him.  He’s almost never aware of his movement, and definitely doesn’t feel responsible for it, he felt hugely wronged by getting in trouble for this – “[while sobbing] You so mean!  You SO SO MEAN! [continue crying]”  I brought him to a buddy teacher’s room to calm down; he stayed there for almost half an hour, coming back just in time for dismissal (it’s our last day before winter break).

At the doorway he threw his arms around me, buried his head in my stomach and said “I going to miss you so much!”  I got a big final squeeze, then he sprinted down the hallway to his bus.

Growing roots

December 17, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve spent most of my time since college enjoying where I am while looking constantly for the next place I’ll go.  I felt that way last year, through my first year of teaching, but this year, for the first time in my life, I’m not looking to go anywhere else.  It’s not that other places have become less interesting to me, but that this current place has quite a hold on me.  For the first time in my adult life, I have real roots in the place I’m living.  I live three minutes from two of my siblings and 20 minutes from my parents and I love the ease of seeing them.  At school I have not just first graders this year, but a whole cohort of second graders I know and love.  When I arrive for trapeze class I get smiles, hugs, and hellos from instructors and other students.   I love living above a Metro stop and minutes from one of the world’s major cities.  I’m starting to get to know my way around and it feels good.  The wanderlust hasn’t left me, but right now it’s not the most important feeling.  I’ll move again, I’m sure, but for now I’m happy to be right here.

Running

December 16, 2011 1 comment

Our wonderful P.E. teacher started a school-wide running program this year.  For every two miles the kids run in P.E. or at recess, they get a charm to add to their running necklace.  My grade started the recess program on Tuesday and it’s been wonderful to see how the kids respond.

Two of my boys, one a constant behavior issue, one incredibly shy, have thrown themselves into the running wholeheartedly.  In just four days they’ve earned two charms each, which means they’ve run at least one mile in each 15 minute recess – not bad for a six-year-old!  They, and the rest of the kids in my class, glow with pride over the charms they’ve earned and they’ll tell anyone who will listen how many more laps they need to earn their next charm.

The P.E. teacher says studies show schools with running programs like this one experience a drop in serious discipline problems and an increase in test scores.  While it’s obviously too early to know if we’ll see those benefits, I’ve already experienced at least one benefit of the running program.  This afternoon my usually prickly, inexhaustible child spent the last lesson of the day curled next to me, cuddly and sleepy.  Seeing that side of him was a nice way to end the week.

Categories: Teaching Tags: , , ,
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