Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Enjoyment

My mom was born 87 years ago.  She's not feeling as spry as in her heyday, but she gets up every morning, exercises, writes letters to friends, and watches our president's antics on the news with appropriate scorn and disdain. She looks after all of us and makes sure we're doing okay.  When I called her on Sunday from school, she said, "Lee, I thought you were going to try not to go to school on the weekends anymore."
I gave my usual excuses about Open House coming up blah blah blah but then I stopped and said, "Who am I kidding, Mom?"
"Only yourself," she answered.
She's right.  I'm kidding myself that x y or z will happen and then teaching will be all sewn up by 4pm and I can go off on my merry way.  I'm not doing anything wrong.  My job's not a mystery to be solved. Teaching requires lots of teacher time outside of the school day and that's how it is. It's a good job and I enjoy it. That's someone else's mantra, but I may need to borrow it. No one can tell me what's enough though. Only I can do that.  We got all the stories done and a Thirdlander said, "Is this the only thing that's going to be on display at Open House?"
"Yes, these excellent Best Year Ever pieces are the only pieces on display."
Of course then I got the great idea to take photos of the writers, so I have those too to put up during lunch.
And there's a slim chance that we might do our wild thing monster heads today if there's time.
Who am I kidding? It's time to embrace the workload. And it's also time to roll out the new mantra of the school year:  Enough's enough.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Ponderosa

Here's what I'm pondering.  Do I want a blog to tell people about the book or do I want an actual web page?  I'm thinking on this daily and doing some casual explorations on the internets, as seen below.

I like this LITLEARNACT wordpress blog a lot, but once I tried to create a wordpress and it didn't turn out so great. But let's face it, how hard can it be?  But maybe I should stay loyal to blogger. These blogspot blogs REFLECT AND REFINE and CATHY MERE are excellent and really get the job done. 

Sam and Quinn use web pages to send their stuff out into the world and I like their pages, Sam Quinones and Quinn Sternberg

I made this weebly for my classroom press last year, but I didn’t add to it because our district blocked Weebly, for some reason. 

So I'm all over the place.  Please weigh in. If you feel like it. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Bests

I'm not kidding.  I've got to get those Best Year Ever pieces done today.  This is no joke.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Papers

 Open House is coming up and I don't feel like putting any student work up on my walls.  We are working every day on stuff, but I can't guarantee any of it's going to be finished by Tuesday night.  I'm thinking of having Open House catered.  If I carry around trays of sushi and small glasses of sake, I doubt anyone's going to care that much that their kid doesn't have stuff on display.  I decided to take a "gentle yoga" class.  Tonight was the first session.  There were moments where I thought, "NOT GENTLE! NOT AT ALL GENTLE!"  But most of it was fine.  It's important to take yoga classes and not worry about posting student work.  Teachers in Finland don't go crazy with the hallway displays.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Wonderings

I'm about to run some ideas by you, so settle in and get ready.  Someone suggested that I make a web page or a blog for the book.  And that I create some new lessons that go with the book to share on that web page.  I'm not sure if I want to do a webpage or not.  I see some people have cool sites on wordpress.  Not sure what to do yet.  Please discuss among yourselves and get back to me.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Sun

At my workspot, no one can go outside during the eclipse, but we can go to the science lab and watch it on a big screen. My classroom doesn't have windows to the outside, so we won't be able to see the darkening skies, but we can think about the eclipse and maybe write some poetry about what it's like to be so close and yet so far.  We don't want to leave anyone's vision behind on eclipse day, so we're going to stay inside for safety. Some families are taking the afternoon off to enjoy the eclipse experience.   I want everyone who's able to see the eclipse to just go ahead and have a good time. Luckily,  I'll probably be able to catch the next eclipse in 2024.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Pencils

1.  There's a book in my room that one of the Thirdlanders really likes.  He has encouraged me to read it to the class about 15 or 20 times a day.  Today I finally decided to read it.  When I walked over to the reading area with it in my hand, he jumped up and stood in front of me.  Addressing his classmates he said, "I want everyone to know that I highly recommend this book.  It's one of the best I've ever read.  And I'm sure you're all going to enjoy it a lot.  And you'll see at the end that it's based on a true story."  Then he sat down and we got on with the book.  It really was pretty good.  It's called Ketzel the Cat Who Composed. At the end, I said I wasn't sure the cat really composed the music.  He walked across the keys, but his guardian is the one who wrote the piece.  The Thirdlander in question disagreed vehemently.  "That cat walked across the keys, creating the music.  He was the original creator of the music.  He made the notes. He is the composer."
I'm not totally sold, but I decided to drop it.

2.  I'm working quite a lot right now.  Not at all like the teachers in Finland.  2 X this week I was at school for 11 hours straight.  I was getting stressed about it, but then I got home, ate dinner and went for a walk with Husbandman.  Life's good now.

3.  A few minutes ago, I told Husbandman that I'm kind of thinking about the concept of the bully pulpit.  He said, "Okay."
"Do you know what bully pulpit means?" I asked him.
"Yes," he answered, busy with his computer.
"Prove it," I answered back, but he refused to do it.  So, I guess we all can only conclude that  Husbandman obviously doesn't know what a bully pulpit is!  Incredible!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Zen

If I had more energy, I'd crop and straighten this photo.

Day 5.  These Thirdlanders are pretty darned nice.  Today they worked on writing in the morning. Some were even revising with green pencils. We read The Name Jar and I mispronounced the main character's name, so I'm going to have to correct that tomorrow.  We talked about Crow Boy and made some sketch notes.  We are building our reading stamina.  According to the Daily 5 book, the teacher should read as well at the beginning of the year, until the class gets to know the procedures.  These kids actually read a lot and are very focused, so I could've probably started reading conferences today, but I decided to keep reading ZEN TEACHER for one more day.   I'm enjoying the heck out of that book.  Our calm day had some riotous moments.  Case in point. One Thirdlander spent a considerable time in the restroom. When I asked why, the Thirdlander said, "My butt was exploding! It was almost having spontaneous combustion."  Besides this outlier, the day proceeded pretty much as planned.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Films

Rosalyn et Kyle
Our town has a summer film festival and this is the first time we've bought passes.  In the afternoon this past day, we saw Lost in Paris, a funny little film, full of nonsense.  There were 8 people in the theater, including us.  Then we went to another venue to watch The Other Kids, an interesting fictional documentary about high school.  Peeps, we were the only people in the theater!  The only ones!!!  So that's weird.  I feel like the film festival needs some serious help.  And I feel that someone needs to get their butt home and start running the film festival.  The films were good though and La Croix Water was a big sponsor, so I got to take home a case of LaCroix water.  I probably could have taken more, but I didn't feel like lugging it around. Welladay.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Shock

  After school today I tried a new approach to after school work. I packed up my old kit bag and headed to a coffee shop.  I worked there for 60 minutes, then I called it quits.  The barrista made me a special kind of iced tea which was refreshing.  The coffee shop was clean and quiet.  I had a muffin.  In other words, I'm being more like the teachers of Finland this year. 
At the beginning of the summer I wrote a blog entry pretending the summer was over and congratulating myself on what a great time I had. Do you remember that? Well, come to find out, I'm asking the Thirdlanders to write a similar piece, pretending it's the last day of third grade and they're describing why it was the best year ever.  Most of them are writing about all the fun field trips we took.  I may have to up my game in the field trip department.

One last thing.  I got an electrical shock this evening when I turned on the garbage disposal.  Now I'm not sure if I should turn it on again.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Beginning

A grand start today.  Sweet crew.  At the end of the day, I said good bye to them and I said, "Please, please, remember to come back tomorrow."  One Thirdlander said, "I'll be here!"  Another said, "Dr. H., our parents make us come here." Another sweet young man said, "This day went fast.  I guess it's true that time flies when you're having fun!"  We'll see who ends up coming back tomorrow.

Tonight I'm tired, but pleased overall with a stellar beginning.  Not really ready for tomorrow, but what can you do?  What does ready even mean?  Let's just do our best and forget the rest."

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The House

The Open House was a success.  I have a strong feeling that the year is going to be fun.  The new crew of Thirdlanders came in with their supplies today.  While I mixed and mingled, they put their supplies away calmly and cheerfully.  They all seemed nice as can be. One little guy was a bit sad because his friend was in another class.  I held up my hand and said, "I am now taking a solemn oath that your Third Grade year is going to be awesome."  He gave me a high five on my oath hand, so I think we're going to be fine. Check back tomorrow for an update on the first day of my 33rd year of teaching.

Monday, August 07, 2017

The Resolve

A few months ago, Husbandman asked me if I wanted to see Lucinda Williams singing at a concert this very night last.  I did, but I feared that a concert would make me too tired for the first teacher day.  I overcame my fears and tickets were purchased.  Lucinda was amazing and when we left the concert hall at midnight, I felt an arrogant pride in my resolve to have fun and not worry about work.  Come to find out, at 6 am this morning, I was singing a different tune. I had regrets about seeing one of our nation's treasure's singing her heart out with her incredible voice and jaunty demeanor.  "I regret going to the show," I told Husbandman, as I stared into my coffee.

I headed to school for a day of meetings and planning and mixing and mingling with colleagues. As the day progressed, I still felt like a laggard, but I made it through and got a lot done.  Now it's 8:10 pm and I'm in bed.  Everything's going to be okay.  I'll sleep well, seize the day, and congratulate myself on clinging to that last bit of summer.  Just like Lucinda tells us:

See I got a candle and it burns so bright
In my window every night
Well it's over - I know it - but I can't let go

You don't like to see me standing around
Feel like I been shot and didn't fall down
Well it's over - I know it - but I can't let go

Sunday, August 06, 2017

The Flaw

I went to school today to sort out some odds and ends.  Teachers work tomorrow and the new Thirdlanders arrive on Wednesday.  You know how I'm always kvetching about not having enough time blah blah blah?  Well, I found out a critical truth about myself today.  The truth is, I have enough time, but I choose not to use it wisely.

I really didn't have to go to school today.  I had not much left to do.  And I had no unwritten book hanging over my head stressing me out as in Augusts of yore. I could have zipped in and out and had time to read a book or walk about aimlessly.  Instead of making efficient life choices, however, I continuously noodled about, diving into unessential projects.  First I decided to look through every picture book I own, just for the fun of it.  That took well over an hour.  Then I decided to learn more about Claes Oldenburg. We're going to be starting with a wellness unit and I thought some of his food sculptures could be a good kick off. Then I looked at videos of assembly line machines because I thought studying machine movements may help me with the Make a Machine arts based strategy I'm planning for day one.

All this stuff was kind of fun, but where do I draw the line?  Let's face it. I'm a time waster.  I waste a lot of time.  I need to stop thinking about things.  If I could stop thinking about things, the world would be my oyster.  Who knows what I could accomplish if I were guided by an efficient, single-minded sense of purpose?

Saturday, August 05, 2017

The Squirrel

I recently bought Animal Spirit Medicine cards.  This is how they work.  I pull out a card when I feel like it. I read about the power of that card's animal and how that power might help me.  Recently, I drew out the squirrel card.  It was perfect because I had to pack that day for our trip and squirrel's power is "gather what you need."  The whole trip I kept noticing squirrels running hither thither and yon and I felt a strange kinship with them.  Like the squirrels, I felt prepared and ready for whatever comes down the pike.

Fast forward to this morning.  I'm walking out to  Judith's car so we can go get some breakfast and I nearly step on a dead squirrel right on my back step. I was distraught, wondering if my squirrel power might have also died somehow.  Judith encouraged me to take a photo.  I sent the photo to Husbandman who was still inside and asked if he could somehow discard the squirrel carcass.  Later I called 20 Something and told her about my sadness about my potential loss of squirrel power.   20 Something has a different view.  She believes the dead squirrel may be a sacrifice and that even greater squirrel power may now be mine.

Friday, August 04, 2017

The Room

Summer's wrapping up.  Time for some thoughtful reflection. How'd it go?

Overall, I'd say the season was splendid.   I went swimming a bunch of times and traveled to some fine cities. In terms of physical exercise, I give the summer a C minus.  But in terms of engagement in quality experiences, the summer gets a solid A.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

The Re-Entry

 It's time to get into the school site.  Come on, Lee, You can do this!  It's already afternoon and I'm taking my sweet time about it.  I read Gail Collins' great piece about the special weeks that the current administration keeps touting. Infrastructure Week.  Hero Week.  I'm going to call this Re-Entry Week.  Vacation's been top notch and now I'm ready to connect with some new peeps and create some fun stuff with them.  Connect and Create might be my mantra this year.  I'm not committing to it yet though.  Sometimes I don't come up with the mantra until October. See how I'm into slowing everything down?  It takes a lot of slow to grow, Karla Kuskin tells us. I can't slow it down until I start moving.  But once I start moving, I'm going to move so slowly that  I might even come grinding to a halt.  Who can say? The sky's the limit, when my heart is in it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

The Airport

We ended our vacation with a wild night of revelry at Hotel Utah.  As usual, Mighty Brother delivered and the night was cheerfully raucous.  But here's the thing.  Vacations eventually end, my friends.  You're just going to have to face up to the facts and accept reality.  Just be grateful for the good times.  Good pal Mary tried to cheer us up this morning with an upbeat comment about getting to sleep in our own bed tonight.  It didn't quite do the trick, but you know us.  We have indomitable spirits and we'll probably get back into the game before you know it.  Maybe all our friends back home can throw us a surprise welcome home party to help ease us back into the real world.  I think it would really help.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Blissfulness

So, this is the cover of the book and as you can see it's very cheerful indeed.  Even if you're not a teacher, you should read this book if you feel like it.

Vacation is proceeding blissfully.  We have tasted wine in St. Helena, walked along the ocean at Land's End, mused over the Edward Munch exhibit and moseyed through the Roz Chast memories.  In between these lovely outings, we've talked and laughed with the pleasantest people around.  Tonight we wrap up the trip with a Mighty Brother concert at the Hotel Utah.  Many friends are joining us and it feels like it's my birthday.  I've sent a list of my favorite Mighty Brother songs to #1 Son and he agrees that I've made good choices.  Our family of four will be briefly and blissfully reunited.  I can't wait to get into the huddle with the team.

The New Blue

Our home is being painted .  I love this new blue.  It used to all be the red brickish color of the deck as shown above.  For various reas...