Saturday, February 28, 2015

Celebrate Turn #5

I am ever so grateful to Ruth Ayres for inviting us to share and celebrate events, big or small, from our week.

This week I celebrate through the creation of list.  Too many wonderful celebrations and not enough time to write about all of them.

I celebrate:
  1. My daughter finishing up her first student teaching assignment - almost done!
  2. Watching a high school basketball in our old gym with a 1 million dollar make-over.
  3. Finishing our "practice" tests and being ready for the "real" one.
  4. Having our standardized testing decreased by 3 hours.
  5. Receiving four out of my 16 books won in a contest.
  6. Receiving a hug from a former student who guards her heart.
  7. Seeing students at a basketball game and having them tell me how another teacher stole my Blake Shelton signature move.
  8. Getting ready for my first slice in the Slice of Life March Challenge.
  9. Watching my son play Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird with his band for the last time at a high school basketball game.  Watch the video below. (My son is the one on the left in the hat.)
  10. Laughing with teachers and having the best job in the world.

Have great week and may you find many celebrations!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snow Day Fun

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating a place to share our Slice of Life.  Read more slices or add you own here.

We have gone most of the winter without snow and then...


It hit us last week.  We went to school one day last week, and in all honesty there was not much difference between Thursday and Friday, the one day we did go.

My son has been in heaven.  He loves winter and loves to snowboard on a hill by our house which has been the sledding hill for over 100 years.  He has watched skateboarders and snowboarders on TV since he was a little kid.  We traveled to several skateparks in the midwest when he was little, but he has only snowboarded on "real" slopes a few times.  

The first talk of snow and Ethan and his friends are out building and rebuilding ramps. Each year their endeavors seem to get more creative and interesting than the previous one.  They have used a door, a desk, a doghouse, an old water fountain, PVC pipe, logs, and any piece of wood that is not nailed down to build their ramps.

This year, they took the top of a picnic table to make their ramp.  This ramp was high enough to give Ethan enough air to try a 360.  After many attempts, he finally landed it.  Here is the video.  His friend put the turn in slow motion which makes it really neat to watch.  I know it is not the X-Games, but for my son, it was snow day fun!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Celebrate Turn #4

I am ever so grateful to Ruth Ayres for inviting us to share and celebrate events, big or small, from our week.

This week was a very lucky week for me.  

Several days ago, I saw a couple of tweets about a Valentine's Day giveaway provided by a group of middle grade authors, spearheaded by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.  I went to her website and saw all of the teachers who were already signed up.  I knew I didn't have a chance but thought, "Oh, what the heck" and submitted my entry.

Thursday I went to lunch with a colleague because we had a snow day, and when I returned I had a rather large amount of emails.  (I have a dumb phone so my I don't get dings for emails and Twitter notifications.)  I knew something was up.

The first one I saw was from Elsie and then Terje, both congratulating me on winning the giveaway.  I thought no way - out of all those teachers, I was picked!  Yep!  Me!  Sixteen signed copies of the books in the first annual Middle Grade Authors Love Teachers Giveaway!

So today I celebrate authors who are so graciously willing to share books with teachers and our students.  They are my rockstars, and I am so thankful for the gift they have given my students.  The best part is that each author is sending the books individually, so going to the office to get my mail will each day will hold the possibility of a new celebration.

Now I need to find a way to pay it forward and extend the celebration.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Slicing Community - A Field of Beans

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating a place to share our Slice of Life.  Read more slices or add you own here.

My original thought for a post today was irony - the irony of getting President's Day off because we have had no snow days and looking out the window to see 8+ inches of the lovely white stuff.

Then, last night happened - the Slice of Life Challenge Twitter Chat.

Participating in this chat reminded me just how special this community was.  It is one thing to read slices, share stories, and write comments once a week, but having a "live" conversation took it to a new level for me.  There were old seasoned slicers and new slicers all with a common goal - to share tips, ask questions, and encourage each other.  The chat had the feel of a reunion.

There are other communities in which I participate in conversations and chats, but they are not like this one.  Last night, I felt like I belonged there.  I felt like I had truly become part of this community.

It wasn't always like this.  I remember last March thinking there was no way I could write something for 31 days.  Listening to the new slicers last night, I could feel their fear along with their excitement.  I remember it well.

When I first began slicing it was like this bean field, a field full of slicers.  I was quite intimidated.  There were days when I felt like the corn stalk in the middle of the bean field.  I felt I was in a place where I didn't belong, way out of my comfort zone.  Could I write stories like the other slicers?  Would anyone find my writing interesting?  Who would read it?

I passed by this field many times last summer,
and I have waited for the perfect slice to use it.

It didn't take long to realize that I was among a group of wonderful people.  People who wanted me to grow right along side of them.  It didn't matter who was a bean plant or who was a corn stalk.  We were all growing writers, thriving in a field together.  Our harvest is in the month of March where we reap what we have sown all year.  We share stories, we share smiles, and yes, we even share tears...every single day.  But that is the wonderful bounty in it all.  That is this community, and I am so blessed to be a part of it.

I hope those of you who are reading today and are considering the March challenge, will just jump in and join.  I became a better teacher, a better writer, and a better person because of it.  And I don't even mind being that cornstalk anymore.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Celebrate Turn #3

I am ever so grateful to Ruth Ayres for inviting us to share and celebrate events, big or small, from our week.

Thank you all for your words of support and encouragement  last week.  When a person has so many stressful events coming from different angles, life can be so overwhelming.  I celebrate your words. 

I live in Indiana, and if you have read news reports, tweets, or blog posts about our state testing, you know it has been a mess.  For the next three weeks we will stop instruction and begin our first round of testing, including a week of practice testing.

As bad as it has been, our teachers have continued teaching and being positive for our students.  The students know we have adopted new standards and the new test will be much different, longer, and more rigorous than any other test they have taken before.  Teachers, principals, coaches, and students have been flexible by adapting to changes that have been thrown at us, even days before testing begins.  We have all worked hard, and today I celebrate my colleagues, my administration, and most importantly, my students.

I celebrate no snow far.  We have Monday off for President's Day which is the first time we have had it off for several years.  If we continue to have this no-snow-day pattern, we will also have off the Fridays in May which I love, love, love!

I celebrate my Grandma!  Yes, I am 50 years old and still have my grandma.  I had lunch with her today because my mom and my aunts went out of town, and they needed someone to look in on her.  I hate the fact that her mind is slipping, but we had a great time together eating lunch and sorting cards.  To keep her mind active, my aunts tells her the playing cards got mixed up and she needs someone to sort them.  

For those of you who have read my first slice - It was March on the milk carton today! Celebrate!

I hope all of you have a great week and have many celebrations along the way!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Monday, Monday - A New Perspective

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating a place to share our Slice of Life.  Read more slices or add you own here.

How many of you have a different attitude about Fridays than you do about Mondays?  I know I usually do.  By Friday, I am usually ready for the weekend, ready for a much needed break.  Mondays roll around, and I hit the snooze too many times and want to pull the covers back over my head.  I get to school and teachers talk about how tired they are or what all they have to do this week.

But how many students feel just the opposite?  How many dread going home on Friday and look forward to coming back to school on Monday?  How many feel that coming to school is the best part of their day, let alone their week?

How many of them long for a place where it is warm.

A place with hot food and fresh fruits and vegetables.

A place where someone says hi with a smile.

A place where someone says, "I am glad you are here today."

I think about this from time to time, but I can't say I think about it on a regular basis.  This weekend I saw a tweet that really gave me a new perspective and changed my attitude about Mondays.

This tweet was from Steph Frosch @steph_frosch.
Yesterday I had students come in and say things like "I didn't want to come to school today."

I smiled and said with new enthusiasm, "I love Mondays!"

Of course they looked at me like I was crazy, but I just smiled and replied, "I get to see all of you."

I want to make every Monday matter in my classroom, because it might just be the best part of someone's week.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Celebrate Turn #2

I am ever so grateful to Ruth Ayres for inviting us to share and celebrate events, big or small, from our week.

January was a tough month for me, and I was happy to be able to turn the calendar page.  I have not written a celebration post since early January.  

Today I celebrate hard things, because through hard things I become stronger.

I celebrate rainy days and my husband's wisdom for planning and knowing there will always be one...someday.  

I celebrate mentors and the rekindling of relationships with students...even those separated by a period of absence.

I celebrate short evenings alone with my husband...knowing in our hearts and dreading the day when these evenings become days or weeks or months.

I celebrate my daughter's smile and the feeling in her heart...knowing she has made the right decision.

I celebrate a sweet message from a friend...I have missed your celebrations.

I hope you have a week filled with celebrations.