Friday, March 31, 2017
I love reading other teacher-writers. I follow my friends and throughout the years various friends have joined the challenge. I also love to read other people I perhaps will never meet, but their words connect us. Their words inspiration me to write. Their words teach me about the writing craft.
I also love who stops by. I don't specifically write for an audience. I am always surprised by who reads my blog and lets me know face-to-face how my words resonate with them. There are also the likes on Facebook, the comments here and there by friends whom I haven't seen for years. There are comments by people in the SOLSC whom I never have and never will meet. I appreciate your time and response.
As I think about what is next for me as a writer, I have to challenge myself. The past year (2016) ended up being my least bountiful writing year. I know why. I have to work my writing muscles like I do my other muscles. All March, I kept thinking about how to keep the writing momentum going. Perhaps my themed posts will be a better way for me to write more consistently this year. My short-term goal is a post each week.
Thanks for taking time to read my posts. Thanks for the hosts of the SOLSC for committing weekly to this community and dedicating yourself to March for both teacher-writers and student-writers. It matters! It makes a difference! Thank you most of all for feeding me as a writer and as a teacher of writers.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
The amazing thing about teaching is the learning curve. This is my 24th year teaching and I still learn each and every day. As I tell my teachers in training, there is so much to learn, you won't get it all in college nor in your first year of teaching or even upon your years of teaching. You will never arrive; you only evolve.
What do you do when a student has a seizure in your class? My instinct was to responses- call the nurse or jump across the desk to catch her. Fortunately a colleague who knew what to do, was in the room and was closer to the student. He saved her from a possible concussion. He knew that we needed to immediately start timing it. He knew exactly how the student needed to be treated. It was serendipity, the time that this teacher, an ESE teacher, just happened to stop by. Now I know what to do--I learned that this week.
How do you carry on with your class after you lose a student? Sadly I've only had this happen once and that is one too much. About 5 years ago, my principal came to see me after school. She asked me about one of my students and his mindset. The initial thought was that he committed suicide. He didn't. The parents courageously shared that he did due to autoerotic asphyxiation. I say courageous, because this most often is misreported as a suicide due to the nature of the death. What we painfully learned was how a class moves forward when we lose a valued member. It is especially tough because counselors were there only one day. We began to move forward the next day. Each of his 7 teachers did it differently. It was a tough journey; I hope to never have to do that again.
How can we best serve our students, when the things we take for granted, are alien to our student's experiences? Students come to school and we truly are flying blind as Chris Crutcher has eloquently shared. Some of my students are homeless. We learn about the statistics in the books, but then we are confronted with reality, their stories, When parents don't show up, it doesn't mean they don't care. It means that they are sometimes taking care. I found that, as most teachers also have, keeping food, toiletries and even clothes in my classroom can be a difference maker. There are real reasons why kids don't have their paper and pencil each and every day. We shouldn't let those be become obstacles to learning. This was one of my first lessons when I first started teaching ELLs students in 1993.
Sadly these circumstances for some of our most fragile students has not changed over the tenure of my work nor will my opportunities to learn from my work cease. What has changed is my ability to take what I have learned in the moment and better serve my students. What have you had to learn in the teaching moment?
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
When my family gets together at the beach whether on the east or west coast of Florida, we celebrate the sunset. Enjoy our pictures from our last celebration.
|King of the Beach aka the Blue Heron|
|White Sugar Sand Dunes at Grayton Beach- |
formerly the Appalachian Quartz found on a Georgia/South Carolina
mountain top around 20,000 years ago.
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
After spending time in a relatively cool zone of Florida during break last week, I am not enjoying this sudden early heat. We are supposed to get up to 94 degrees tomorrow. My husband and I have had this competition since we have been together for past twentyish years about who breaks down and turns the AC on first. We have gone to June 14th once, but each year it seems to get early and early.
I workout year round outside and we normally have a gradual entry into the late day heat, but today was a tough tough workout due to the heat. My calves were cramping up early and often. I should have paid better attention as they cramped a little last night in my sleep. I will do better tomorrow. That is the grace that I give myself. Tomorrow is my workout rest day so that will be a tiny reprieve to hydrate and potassiate (yes- I made that word up- something I like to do).
My daughter made the track team again. She dropped 36 seconds off of her 800 time. I love that her team practices in the morning. This way it doesn't disrupt our busy afternoon schedule- ballet two times a week, student council once a week and garden club once a week. It is also cooler and her middle school doesn't start until 9:30 so I think it is an effective use of their morning time. The only drawback is that all of her track meets are on Wednesdays and I work. Therefore I will only see her run once. I rely on her dad to be the sole supporter there.
Wednesdays have been his gig for the past ten years as I work. We share the ballet work on Mondays and Fridays. I do school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Sundays. Saturdays are the Family Fundays where he might take her to the library or we do an outdoor trip. I get the drudgery of shopping with her, but I most prefer shopping for her. Shockingly she still will wear clothes I just buy for her. We both enforce the chores. It works for us.
So my antidote to a little writer's block is just a little random rambling. Slice 28 is done.
What do you do when you have writer's block?
Monday, March 27, 2017
The way I read professional books it takes me longer to read/digest them. I can easily finish other books over the course of a week or two, but I savor my professional books. It takes me a few months to really read, practice and then reflect. What I am currently savoring is Kristen Hawley Turner and Troy Hicks Argument in the Real World and .Diana Neebe and Jen Roberts book, Power Up, as we have moved to 1:1 at all the high schools in my district this year.
What I love about these books are the teacher voices and student voices that are present throughout the pages. I also love that both authors have a live site (ARW and PU) to to take your thinking beyond the pages. Also the authors are accessible via Twitter. Some of my teachers in training have tweeted questions out to Troy Hicks and he has responded. Jen Roberts is available in the Twitterverse as well sending out resources too. It keeps my learning live.
My learning with these books didn't occur in a vacuum or in isolation of solely between pages. There was a reading lineage or journey that I took to get there. I represented it in my Piktochart above. My instructional practices built on what I had learned before. Another step in my learning about teaching is to avoid getting overwhelmed by the presented perfected practice in these books. This is part of the reason I savor the work, so I can try and process one new strategy at a time. I can implement their ideas in a way that makes sense for my students as well as reflect on my mistakes or successes. This is an invaluable process in my teaching practice to grow my teacher self.
How do you work to grow yourself professionally? What are you reading or trying now?
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Taking time each week to reflect on the goodness.
7. Access and opportunity to enjoy Florida's spring weather. The Florida State Park systems has carved out oases for residents and visitors to enjoy. Park systems at all levels are valuable to our country and our lifestyle. Everything that is good about our country can't be captured at a theme park. We all need a little more Vitamin N in our lives and park systems near and far afford us that opportunity.
6. Sunset celebration for three nights in a row on the west coast of Florida. Although only one night afforded us the actual opportunity to see the sunset. The ritual of riding our bikes to the beach to watch the sunset as well as looking for the green flash and the riding back in the gloaming was part of what made our family vacay memorable.
5. Hanging out with my nephews. Each day we kayaked, paddle boarded, played in the sand, jumped into the surf, biked, threw the frisbee and burnt marshmallows. You can leave things behind, but experiences stay with you.
4. My designated driver aka my husband who takes the wheel on each of our trips. This week it was our 6 hour drive to and from our spring beach vacay in the Panhandle. I get to read while he drives. I do pay attention a little to navigate. He stops when we need to stop and he is only a little impatient at the end of our journey.
3. My sister gets extreme kudos for embracing camping as well as she has despite the bugs, the dirt, and this time, the rain. My nephews love it! I love making memories with them too as does her niece, my daughter. For our kids, we get out of our comfort zone.
2. My daughter, now 13, still embraces camping. She is able to disconnect from tech and be in the moment in the sand and surf and with the people. She still reaches for my hand when we go to sleep at night in the tent. Camping lets her practice independence as well as stay connected with her family.
1. My mom, now 70, camping with us too. She has graduated from a tent to an RV, but it plays backup during inclement weather and is a base-camp for friends and family alike. I love that we can explore different places as a family.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Looking for a destination vacation? Grayton Beach State Park is the place to be if you like sugar sand and turquoise waters. If the water is just right, you can snorkel out 750 feet to the man-made turtle reef. This beach is more remote and less crowded than the other beaches in South Walton.
It isn't just for the beach crowd. You can bike or hike. Two freshwater lakes are ideal for paddleboarding or kayaking. Rentals are readily available. Kids can roam the woods. If all that is too much, just hang out in a hammock to nap or read. It is an affordable place with camping sites available for about $25.
What makes this state park ideal is that it is situated between Destin and Seaside beach communities in the Panhandle. If you have someone who likes civilization, you can ride your bike to Seaside and grab lunch, dinner or a cocktail. Seafood, Gulf shrimp or oysters, however, is this region's specialty so most restaurants like the Shrimp Shack are ready to serve you a dozen or two raw. There is also a thriving community of artists and other shopping too.
If you are looking for a way to disconnect and relax, make plans to head to one of my favorite new places to camp.
Friday, March 24, 2017
Friday morning welcomes me with the twitter of mockingbirds, the scampering of squirrels, and the wind rustling through the trees. I linger in my tent longer than I would in my bed at home. Although my watch reads 8am, it is really 9 am Eastern standard time. Therefore it is long beyond my normal get-up and go-time, even on weekends. That is one of my camping perks.
Another perk is the long drawn out breakfast making and eating. I've backpacked sections of the AT to know that what we are doing here, car camping is a luxury. Backpacking was work all the time althoug it yielded plenty of moments to remember. Lingering at my picnic table, however, with my coffee and newspaper is perfect, made perfect for me with my French press.
I didn't know what I was missing in my camping experience until 2004 when several hurricanes ripped thru central Fl. With the power out for miles, there was no coffee to be found. (Yes- in the midst of catastrophe small comforts matter!). I realized then and there that I could rectify that situation and bought a blue speckled enamelware percolator. It seemed obvious and that's what my friend used.
The percolator didn't last long on our adventures. It seemed to take too long. I would run out of gas or the coffee would be too weak or the water just boiled away. I never quite mastered it. I thought long about what to try next. My Cuban roommate in college always made espresso on the stove with his tiny pot. I, however, have another coffee drinker to think of so the espresso stovetop was out of the question. Then I remembered the French Press. Boiling water is always accessible and sometimes an important step in camping and catastrophe. Hence an ideal way for me to brew a pot. It requires patience, but butter, bread, eggs, cream, and coffee, my ideal way to start my camping day!
Thursday, March 23, 2017
We just arrived at our spring break destination loaded down with our camping gear, bikes, and. Kayak. We are at Grayson Beach State Park between Pensacola and Panama City. After a 6 hour drive with little traffic we checked in and put up our tent. By 4 pm we were kayaking and paddleboarding right off our site. We then watched the sunset on the superfine sugar sand. Tomorrow calls for cousins, snorkeling, and smores. We are lucky to enjoy the gorgeous state park system and blue blue Gulf of Mexico with friends and family.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
When the words are tough and I am drawing a blank, I use the inspiration from the other bloggers hence my math autobiography today. Inspired by Terierrol and Leah.
1 artificial pancreas attached to me
2 housemates aka my daughter and my husband
3 nights camping planned for me
4 siblings in my family and 4 nephews too
5 days a week that I work out
6 loads of laundry to fold
7 7-11s that I pass on my 12 mile route to work.
8 legs of my 2 cats, Fanny2boots and Jinx
9 days left in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge
10 years adjuncting at UCF
11 states left to visit
12 dozen eggs in my fridge waiting to remade
13 the age of my daughter, a newly minted teen
14 the number of my volleyball jersey
15 my allotted carb serving
16 items in my Amazon shopping cart
17 years of marriage to be celebrated in May
18 the age when I voted in my first Presidential election
19 the age when I went to my first concert in Gainesville possibly Cheap Trick
20 books or more in my TBR pile
21 my age when my dad died
22 the number of blog posts that I have written this year including today
23 the age that I bought my first brand new car
24 the number of years that I have been teaching and the date of my birth in April
Monday, March 20, 2017
I have a confession! I am a full blown Rick Riordan fan. I just finished the first book in his Apollo series and I've read every other single book in his series. I wish he was around when I had to read Edith Hamilton's Mythology in seventh grade oh so many years ago. I would have understood the myths better. I also love how I have been introduced to mythologies from all over the world from his books. I also like reading books that my daughter likes and she loves them. This is a shared reading experience for us. She, however, is totally Camp Half Blood while I am Camp Jupiter. (I think that is due to my years studying Latin.) If you do have someone who loved Percy Jackson, you might like to pick up The Hidden Oracle as it is features characters from Camp Half Blood. I can't wait until May 2nd when the next book comes out.
Another book that I've read recently was Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking. It's not really a title for the ya, but I do love the pictures and her past. It's also a quick read. I've enjoyed her fiction in the past, Surrender the Pink and Postcards from the Edge. We read Wishful Drinking in book club in February and the reviews were mixed. Some thought her narrative was too disjointed. I loved the pictures and her honesty. It is a nonfiction book based on her one woman stand-up show. I am going to queue that up too.
What are you reading that you would recommend?
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Taking time each week to reflect upon the goodness.
7. A day of learning at ECET2. Spending the time with teachers, building connections with new-to-me passionate dedicated teachers of all levels. Time to teach the kids in front of us seems to be our common issue.
6. Enjoying the morning at the Dali Museum and the Frida Kahlo exhibit that is currently there. The first time that I saw Dali's work, I was amazed by the scale of his master works. I still am. I think that is the difference between seeing pictures of paintings and actually seeing them.
5. A clean desk. One of the things that I like about a teacher work day is the opportunity to take care of things without so many interruptions. I will go back to work with a clean organized desk. Don't underestimate that power.
4. All my papers are graded....for now. In the digital age, my students can turn in papers 24/7, but they had spring break last week so I was able to catch up. My inbox is empty for now.
3. My husband, the designated driver. Whenever we have trips, he drives and I read. It works. Yesterday, however, our typically 2 hour trip to St. Petersburg was a lot longer on the road I like to call I-Fear. It's spring break. We invariably have to pass Disney. I am just glad he drives, I read.
2. Making memories with my family. It was my mom's 70th birthday yesterday. We surprised her
with a dinner party. She was truly surprised wondering why I didn't even call her on my birthday even though she knew I was "working." A surprise well-pulled off!
1. I get to sleep in tomorrow! It's spring break.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Today my mom turns 70 so this post is dedicated to her and what I learned from her over the past 5 decades in my role as her oldest kid.
1. Keep moving! I watched my mom embrace the jogging in the 80's as well as Jane Fonda and aerobics! When roller-blades became popular my mom did that too. She has kept active kayaking, hiking and swimming. She hasn't stopped yet. She may not keep the pace she once did, but the forward motion matters.
2. Get as much education as you can afford even if you can't. Both my parents were SOTAs (students over a traditional age) even before there was such an acronym. My mom went to community college when my sister was born and then earned a scholarship to FSU where she went and finished her bachelors and then her masters. My siblings and I watched her do this. Later she then moved into working into my dad's business and made it theirs. Even in that business, she kept going to training, reading, and learning. Education doesn't necessarily have to happen in school, but education does
matter. So get as much as you can.
3. Travel! The world is a wide and wonderful place. It is a classroom for yourself and your children. Get out there even if it is just your unexplored community. Don't wait! You'll never have enough money or enough time, so the time is now. Take your kids with you when you can. What they read in school because a living tangible thing. I remember our first trip to DC. It was history alive. I remember our trip to the Keys. Although I was to scared to snorkel then, I do it now. My kid does too. Travel gives us windows into the world.
4. Spend thoughtfully so you can do the things you love. Sometimes my clothes came out of box of hand me downs from my cousins or the downtown Jax Junior League thrift store. We always, however, took a family vacation. These experiences are where memories are made. We might have been camping in a borrowed VW van with the pop up ceiling or going to all the tourist attractions on military appreciation day in St. Augustine, but they still created opportunities by choosing to put dollars elsewhere.
5. Play your cards wisely. I started playing cards with the grown-ups at age 10. Hi-Lo-Jack was the name of the game. We would play cut-throat or teams and still do. It taught me to pay attention, think ahead, be strategic, and rely on your partner's strengths. It taught me to patient and not rash or reckless. It taught me to take risks. It was obviously more than a card game. It's also our crazy family initiation or hazing I suppose when we welcome you to play.
7. Choose laughter. You can fight with your friends and family and you will, but always come back to the joy and laughter. That's what lasts and is lasting. Happy 70th Mom! Love ya! Looking forward to many more memories, laughter and love!
Friday, March 17, 2017
For my central Florida readers, it's spring break and a great time to try something new. For potential visitors to Orlando one day, there are magical places to eat that won't swallow your whole wallet. Here are some local places that are great spots to linger, but won't break your bank.
1. Breakfast at Sugar Daddy's. I recommend the Kolach, a stuffed bun. I prefer a savory rather than a sweet breakfast and these eastern European buns, ham and swiss, smoked sausage and cheddar or my favorite apricot and brie certainly fit the bill. There might be some controversy over the name, but I know that most cultures have some kind of handpie/bun, savory or sweet. My daughter loves the cinnamon buns here. What is super cool about this place it that you can see how they repurposed a bank into a bakery. Yes, there is a drive-thru, but the vault is still there too. It's a place to linger over coffee.
2. Lunch at Se7en Bites: Honestly, breakfast, lunch or dessert will suffice here. My husband likes to take home the salted caramel pie. I prefer the biscuit with their pimento cheese, egg, and ham. It can get really busy here during the weekends and they are only open until about 3 pm. You order at the counter and then it's brought to you tableside. You might need to sit at the community table, but it's worth it. I love their orange blossom ice-tea. They are some regular items on the menu, but the surprise is what will be featured on the weekend.
3 Dinner at the Gnarly Barley. Don't be dissuaded by the tiny building. The back has a porch and picnic seating, perfect for a spring eve hangout. This place is all about the brisket and the beer. The sandwiches are huge here so I recommend the mom's special where you get a side and 1/2 of a sandwich. The beer menu is extensive here too.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Invariably I always dedicate one SOLSC post to my spring break resolutions or plans. (A more ambitious post here with my spring break A-Z list or my most simple to-do.) It officially starts at 3:30 tomorrow although my kid's break starts tomorrow, we have a teacher workday. I love a workday. It is time to get some stuff done.
10. Make the appointments that I need to make. Something I can easily accomplish.
9. Spring cleaning--I've got books to go through and toys to donate.
8. Go to the Dali museum in St. Petersburg, FL and see the Frida Kahlo exhibit.
7. Enjoy the disconnect that camping will bring.
6. Be proactive with planning and grading.
5. Workout daily.
4. Hang out with family.
3. Work on my taxes and get them extension proof.
2. Binge-watch something with my kid. (Any suggestions?)
1. Be still and sleep in!
What will you do for spring break?
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Each Sunday morning, I walk with a friend. Part of our of time is spend capturing the signs of the seasons. Although we walk the same path each week, the sights are continuing changing thru our urban nature path. Bunnies, birds, flowers, and fish are some of our companions. Baby turtle season is upcoming. I am not sure of the name of any of these sights, but I look forward to the sweat and sights each Sunday.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
|MagFest Circa 2009|
You know this gradual release of responsibility doesn't just apply to your students, I think it applies to parenting your kid too.
I remember the first time my kid, then 8 months old, asserted her independence. We were at the Magnolia Music fest sitting in the amphitheatre under the hazy sunlight of the Florida fall. My babe started to crawl away from us. I was curious to see how far she would go before she would turn around or freak out. She never did. She crawled about fifty yards uphill, never looking back. Obviously we went and got her.
I remember the first time she walked home to a friend's house from elementary. It wasn't too far. She was in fifth grade. She spent much of her elementary afterschool time in extended day with most of her friends too. Extended day is/was a working parent's haven where kids got their homework done and got to play outside. This one day was different as one of her friend's mom was going to be off that day. What typically got done at extended day, homework and play, got done, just in a different way.
Today she walked to a friend's house from school, untethered to me. I am sure it could be considered a 21st century horror, aka no cell phone, no "find my kid app." I figure let's try this out in small bouts. I never walked home from school or to a friend's house. The walk was always too far. We live like most of her friends within two miles of her middle school. The walk is and isn't that far. Although I imagined a million things that could go wrong AND I did ask a million questions about the process before I consented, she did make it and I knew she could. I just didn't know if I could. It was just an unfamiliar act---walking home to someone else's house with all of her friends rather than me picking her up and taking her and sometimes friends home.
But what I acknowledge most in myself as her parent is that if I don't let her practice the small stuff, she won't be ready for the big. And even if I can't prepare her for EVERYTHING and somethings just can't be PREPARED FOR, parenting is still the ultimate gradual release of responsibility.
Monday, March 13, 2017
Looking for a series with strong female leads to
share with your tween/teen or planning your spring break reading escape? Last year, my daughter and I started listening to books together in the car. Here are a few that we have enjoyed!
1. The Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers/ A little historical fiction, a little paganism, a little magic and assassin nuns, Set in the 14th century amidst the political intrigue of France, Catholicism and paganism. If you like Game of Thrones, you might enjoy this as there is less gratuitous violence. Not really marketed for teens, but totally accessible.
3. If you are a fan of the Beautiful Creatures series and want to read the genre described as Southern Gothic, you will fall deep for the romantic and magical lure of The Inheritance of Watson Island series by Martina Boone. Plenty of the paranormal and a little history here too.
Happy Reading and\or Listening!
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Taking time each week to reflect on the goodness in my life.
7. The opportunity and ability to afford my child participation in and exposure to the arts. I don't perceive myself as an artist, but as an art supporter. Just like voting is a learned behavior, I think supporting the arts is as well. It costs money to go to the ballet, a Broadway show etc. I am thankful for the means to do so. We enjoyed our opportunity to go to The Little Mermaid. Next up in May, Matilda.
6. An evening laughing with friends. Laughter is truly the best medicine.
5. My Sunday morning exercise accountability partner. I have been meeting my friend and coworker Jen every Sunday morning for exercise for several years now. In early years it was running in prep for a half-marathon. As of the late, it has been just walking. We review the week and make work plans. This morning with spring forward, it would have been easy to skip. She made it less so.
4. Co-workers who care about kids and give up a Saturday, unpaid to make a difference.
3. A relatively pain-free testing day/week. I am sure that the people who make these rules don't appreciate the scope of the work nor the impact. On Monday we tested over 1900 concurrently for the FSA ELA Writing portion of the computer-based test. There are so many moving parts to make this happen. Our learning community responded to the challenge. We also had another big test scheduled concurrently this week. It could have been dicely. Our final numbers for just the writing portion were 2055 kids. Our next round starts after spring break.
2. Access to quality healthcare, especially because I have a preexisting condition & a chronic disease.
1. Spring forward! As hard as it is adjusting to this time change, I love the extra light at night. I don't care why it exists. I am just glad it does so I can stay outside and play later. I just remember to drive with more care. It's dark. Although I will miss my am sunrise view on my way to work, I might actually be able to enjoy while not driving.