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From The Middle

Day 31

Here it is.  The end of the challenge.  I wasn’t sure I would make it all the way through, but with the encouragement of my coworker (Torrey) and my blogging partners around the country (Maureen), it happened.

I learned so much about writing and being a writer during this month. I learned that sometimes you really feel like you have nothing to say, and struggle just to get a few words out. Sometimes you have a great idea and get started with it, but then aren’t sure where your words are going.  And then there are times where everything flows together and you feel proud of your words and want to share them with anyone who might listen.  And there are also times you write and hope nobody really visits your blog that day, when hitting ‘publish’ causes you to flinch just a little bit.

Even though day 31 doesn’t feel any easier than Day 1, I have enjoyed the struggle.  Mostly, I really enjoyed how blogging helped me reflect on my day.  How it made me reflect on my family, on my teaching and coaching.  Especially in the month of March, where I really feel like I’m just going through the motions, it was great to take a few moments to recognize the value that each day brings and the impact these small moments have on the ‘bigger picture’.

Not sure how frequently I’ll be blogging in the coming weeks and months. But I know that I will be more conscious of the ‘slices of life’ – those moments, both the mundane and exhilarating, that make up who I am and who I continue to become.

 

 

So much more than cookies

Had a great Girl Scout meeting tonight.  The girls did a great job compromising and working together. There was lots of idea sharing and laughter and collaboration. It was fun to see. I was worried because the start of this project at our last meeting didn’t go so well, and I was very conscious about making this a positive experience for everyone.  By the end of our meeting, we had a great plan and excitement to keep working even when the time was up.

Tonight the girls also decorated mirrors with empowering quotes about inner strength and beauty on the back.  There were a few extras, and one of my girls said to me “You need one!”. So she picked out a quote and decorated the mirror especially for me.  I was instructed not to look at it until she was done.  After she added the finishing touches, she presented me the mirror in grand fashion.  Her thoughtful design and choice of words warmed my soul.

I have led this troop of girls for 6 years.  We have grown from 4 to 14 and then to 10, but most have been together for the last 4.   As they move on to 6th grade and Cadettes next year, I know that we will lose most of the girls to sports and other opportunities. And the years of middle school and high school will take them on different paths.  Yet hopefully they will remember some of their Girl Scout years with fondness.  I know I will.

 

The Mayor

Tonight I attended a meeting for our community Memorial Day parade. The meeting was led by our newly elected mayor, who just began his term this January. The previous mayor had been in office for about 15 years.  The other people on this committee have also been part of the Memorial Day planning for many years.  As we were moving through the agenda, the new mayor would frequently say, “The mayor did this”,or “I’ll check with the mayor”, etc.  Of course he was referring to our outgoing mayor.  Even as he now holds this office, his title still does not belong to him, even in his own mind.

How long does it take until you identify with the role you’ve been given?  When I began my teaching career, I didn’t have any difficulties fitting into this role.  Perhaps it was because I knew for a long time it was what I wanted to do, and since my early teen years I had been ‘teaching’ in one capacity or another.  When I became a reading specialist, I felt equipped with knowledge but soon realized that my predecessor was highly revered and left big shoes to fill.  I found myself reaching out to her more, asking the questions “what did she do?” or “how do you do this?”  Now, as an instructional coach, those questions seem more and more frequent.  Despite my longevity in the field, my uncertainty in my role seems to be rising.  Is it that these new roles are stretching me and taking me out of my comfort zone?  This is not to say I didn’t question my pedagogy when I was a classroom teacher – many days I went home baffled about what I could have done differently.  But my instructional coach role puts me in a greater place of uncertainty – am I truly meeting the needs of our staff? Am I providing adequate support? Will I ever be as good a coach as …?

It may take a while for our mayor to see himself as ‘the mayor’.  After two years, I am just starting to feel comfortable in my role as Instructional Coach.  And I have so much left to learn, as both a teacher and a coach.  But it is who I am, even if it doesn’t feel like it on some days.

And it is who you are, too, Mayor.  You led a productive, efficient meeting and we will have a wonderful Memorial Day parade and program. Looking forward to many years of planning with you!

Another Day of Sun!

Today’s weather was perfect for listening to the La La Land soundtrack.  After a cold March and a weekend of clouds and rain, the sun finally came out in full spring fashion. Birds were singing, kids were playing outside without coats -shedding that winter layer that’s been needed since October, smelling of dirt and fresh air as they came in from recess.

I drove home with my sunroof propped open and my radio turned up. Even the DJs were inspired, playing  Bob Marley like we were all hanging out at the beach.  These are the days we dream of in the cold, dark, blustery moments of winter.  And they are so good for the soul.

You don’t realize how much you need these days until they actually happen. That warmth of the sun, the promise of a dream fulfilled.  Tomorrow it may turn cloudy and a bit colder, but I am ready. I am armed with a fresh dose of Vitamin D and the knowledge that this is only the beginning of “another day of sun”.  (Check out the song here:  Another Day of Sun )

Unfinished

My blog post yesterday was published unfinished.  To begin, when I went to check on it today, it wasn’t there at all.  Somehow I neglected to hit the ‘publish’ button after writing last night.  So I quickly hit the button without even checking on its completion.  Tonight I thought I would try to edit and finish what I had written, but to be honest, I’m not sure what else I was going to say.  That’s how this blogging experiment has been working for me…inspiration and ideas flit in and out and if I don’t catch them while they are present they get lost or forgotten fairly quickly.

There are lots of things I leave unfinished.  Cleaning is one of them.  I start in one place, but get distracted by mess somewhere else, and then I get distracted again, and so on and so on. In my role as an instructional coach, I often feel like I am leaving things ‘unfinished’ with a teacher.  We work together for a short period of time, but then I get distracted or pulled to another commitment  with another teacher. I feel guilty that there isn’t ‘closure’ or a finished product with our work together.

But then again, maybe it is the unfinished that keeps me going, keeps me motivated, gives me focus.  While I enjoy the feeling of hitting ‘publish’ every night on this blog, I wonder what tomorrow’s thoughts might be.  I was wondering today if I will continue this habit after March 31st arrives.  Will I hit ‘publish’ for the last time, or will I leave my site unfinished, a blank page ready for whatever comes my way next?

Invisible

There are times when we all want to feel invisible. We find a corner of a room or put our head in our book so that we won’t be noticed. For whatever reason, we just need to escape for a while and not be included. And then there are times when we are made to feel invisible. Entering a room and not being greeted, whispered conversations or private jokes, it is like we are not there at all.

Today I watched as a child searched all over the room for a partner while my daughter stood right in front of her. Moments later, I watched as my daughter walked right through a group of girls as if they weren’t there at all. Invisible, like she couldn’t be seen. Both ignoring and being ignored.

Lots had led up to my daughter being excluded by these girls. Some of her own behaviors have contributed to it. And some of it has to do with mean girls being mean. I try to stay out of it and let the girls navigate through it, but today bothered me more because we were at church. Apparently, despite our language of inclusion we can’t break through the stereotypes here.

But I did nothing to point that out today. I don’t want to embarrass or reprimand here. I want everyone to feel welcome. But my lack of voice today denied this welcome to my own daughter.

It’s hard to know when to interfere when you notice “invisible” moments. Sometimes students want to be left alone, and really have no desire to be part of the group. Sometimes, kids will shrug off the mean kids and find comfort where they are included. But if we never interfere, do we miss our moments of teaching empathy and individual value with our students? Do we miss opportunities to recognize that even the smallest snub could lead to great hurt?

 

After Party Haiku

Glitter on the floor

Rare afternoon naps signal

A night full of fun

 

No such thing as all-natural slime

Tonight we are celebrating my daughter’s birthday with some of her friends. As part of the fun, we decided to make some slime. This trend has apparently caused an Elmer’s glue shortage in craft stores everywhere. But we were prepared with our gallon jug of glue and Borax (left over from crystal making from a past bday party)

And then I did my research and people are discouraging the use of Borax, so laundry detergent it was. Grabbing the first bottle, we started mixing glue and detergent, just as the YouTube tutorial showed us. But nothing was happening. Add more detergent, we thought. Nothing. Add more glue? Nope. Just a soupy mess.

Then I realized…the all-natural detergent does not have the chemical compounds needed to turn glue into slime. Luckily, it was Tide to the rescue, and so we started again. One tablespoon of detergent was all it took to turn ordinary glue into a slimy glob of fun.

Sometimes we search for a new and improved way to put the magic of learning into our students. But new and improved doesn’t always mean it works better. To be better readers and better writers, we don’t need the latest gadgets available to us, we need to engage more in reading and writing. To collaborate with one another we don’t necessarily need digital formats, but we do need thoughtful questions and time dedicated to this cause. The original formula, the original purpose can get lost in the new and improved sometimes.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t be trying to better our practice. Its just that sometimes it comes down to the simplicity of mixing the original ingredients for the magical bond to happen.

 

Long days…

When it is almost 9:30, and you are just beginning to prep for a morning meeting…

both a feeling of exhaustion and gratitude for a job that keeps me on my toes and the opportunity to share an evening with my daughter.

Off I go!

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