Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to School!

Today was the first student day of the 2012-2013 school year at my school.  I teach 6th grade resource, reading, English, and math.  Although I never, EVER imagined myself as a teacher, I LOVE it!!

I have a bit of a reputation (hopefully in a good way!) among the students as being a bit...quirky.  Maybe weird.  But I teach with a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and creativity.  We do a ton of active learning, and we do some impressive projects.  My students work hard and produce quality work, and I'm always so proud of their growth.  We have one-to-one technology (iPads), and I love what we get to do with them.

That said, I also know there are areas I need to improve.  Here are my professional goals for this school year:

  • Improve my classroom management

  • Manage paperwork responsibilities more efficiently and effectively

  • Improve communication with parents

  • Improve daily routines

  • Consistently include active and technological learning opportunities and approach learning as student discovery rather than teacher directed

  • Maintain healthier work/home balance

·      I'm excited about the plans I have in place to improve these areas.  I really think I've got things moving in the right direction.

The first day was a whirlwind, as expected, but I think this will be a neat group of kids to work with.  I' sure miss the ones that have moved on, though!  I saw a ton of former students in the halls today, and they all seem so old!  They simply aren't allowed to grow up.  But, on second thought, maybe it's rewarding to see them so mature and well-adjusted.

Now I'm home with my feet up, watching an episode of Dance Moms and relaxing for a brief moment before I get supper ready for my family.  I'll leave you with some pictures of my room!
 This view shows my reading and writing center, our resource shelves, and the doorway to the work room.
 This is one of the lap-height counters I made!  I used old shelves from home and stacked old textbooks for the supports.  I duct-taped them together and then covered them with beach-scene plastic.
 The bulletin board includes our assignment list, calendar, classroom jobs, student personal-best board, and tech procedures.
 My small group table is at the back in front of my office.  Our IA's small group table is off to the left of this picture against the side cabinets.
 After a long day of working in the room, I took a moment to try out the new counter :)
This is our time-out desk, an idea borrowed from a friend from college.  I now have a "Fair vs. Equal" poster from this great blog loaded with freebies!
 I've read that kids like to see what their teacher was like at their age...oh my!
 Writing wall
 Keys to Learning, from this I found on Pinterest...
·      And finally the giant pencil I made out of a pool noodle, based on an idea featured in Family Fun magazine.

Isn't my room fun?! :D

Friday, August 10, 2012

I'm in love with a 5-year-old

I'm in love with a 5-year-old, and his name is Tovi.
Tovi is my first-born, my introduction to parenthood, my proving grounds.  And he's fantastic.

He's creative, living in his imagination, acting out super-hero adventures in every day life.

He's compassionate, quick to sense emotion and eager to respond.
He's particular and quirky, keeping life interesting and amusing.

He's learning to be a good big brother, genuinely enjoying his little brother and inviting him into his daily adventures.
He's a fan of slides.
He's got a heart for God and desires to be good for Him.  He commits God's word to heart and strives to live by it.

And he's down-right good!

Tovi's name means good in Hebrew.  Like in Genesis, when God created and saw that it was good.  He is literally our good boy.

4 has been a fantastic year.  We've lived in capes and masks, even to the grocery store.  Tovi fell in love with Robin, the Boy Wonder, the side-kick extraordinaire.  We've giggled until we've got the hiccups.  We've been to Florida twice.  We've made major changes in our lives.  We've learned to write our name, phonics, right from left, and how to get to our favorite places around town.  We've snuggled.  And snuggled.  And snuggled.  I've loved every age, but I must say, this has been my favorite so far.  I'm a little sad to leave it behind, but I know more adventure is yet to come.
Tovi turned 5 today.  It's a big deal.

So tonight, I'm not imparting wisdom or mulling over life's lessons.  I'm just bragging on my precious Tovi.  So here are a few of my favorite Tovi-isms from this last year!

"Last night as I put Tovi to bed, we heard sirens. He said, "Oh no, someone's in trouble!" He thought for a minute and then said, "They need a transformer! That would keep them safe!" :)" (August 29, 2011)

"Tovi got a Captain America shield for his birthday. This has necessitated teaching him how to say "disks." His pronunciation leads to embarrassment." (Sept 6, 2011)
"Tonight Tovi told me a story:
"Hey Mom, I got to tell you sumfing. You know the black Power Ranger became bad guy? Yeah! He was a monster. Awkward!!"Then he laughed hysterically :)" (Oct 12, 2011)

"Tonight in the bathtub, this is what transpired...
Tovi: (tooting) Hahaha...ha...ha. I fink that's funny!
Me: Why is that funny?
Tovi: Ummm...I don't know...dogs pee outside.
Me: ...yes. Yes they do." (Nov. 16, 2011)

Nathan threw a toy, and Tovi said, "Daddy! That's not bery nice. You shouwd go to your woom." Then tonight when we were talking about Christmas, Tovi said, "What about Baby Jesus in the nest?" When I could stop laughing, I explained about the manger. (Nov 29, 2011)

"Today Tovi did maybe a dozen little things he knows he's not supposed to do, so I told him there'd be no snuggles at bedtime. As I settled Oren into bed, Oren asked for snuggles, and Tovi called from down the hall, "She won't give you any!" Ha!" (Feb 5, 2012)

"Me: Tovi, do you have pants on?
Tovi: I need pants?" (Feb 16, 2012)

"Tovi was reading his new Batman book to me, and he was struggling with the name "Two-Face." He said, "Batman's going to get Toothpaste!"" (Feb 16, 2012)

Tovi: Mom, I have a plan.
Me: Oh yeah? What's that?
Tovi: We can get more chips. 
Me: Oh? Where would we do that?
Tovi: We can get them at the store. We can go tomorrow. I WANT more chips." (March 4, 2012)

"Tovi keeps adding extra syllables into the word "snuggles.". We are up to suh-nuhg-uhd-uhls." (April 1, 2012)

"Tovi asked for 20 snuggles tonight. I asked how we measure 20 snuggles, and he said, "Snuggles go round and round in a circle until they come back to snuggles again."" (April 16, 2012)

"Me: "It rained for 40 days and 40 nights, and water covered the land for 150 days."
Tovi: " was wet."" (April 23, 2012)

"On the way home, Tovi said, "Mom, I'm thirsty. How about we stop here for a nice, cold juice?" Sweet-talking little boy!"  (May 10, 2012)

Tovi explained to me why elephants aren't available in pet shops and calls sun screen skun screen. :)" (June 24, 2012)

"Oren has action figure Thor's hammer, and Tovi has action figure Power Ranger's sword, and they are engaged in an epic (miniature) battle." (June 7, 2012)

1) Mom, can we vacuum? This floor's a mess!
2) (while watching me swish the toilet) I sure wish I could do that!" (July 23, 2012)

"‎5 years ago tonight, my mom was sneaking us to the hospital to have Tovi. He was born at 8:11 the following morning. We've been having fun ever since!" (Aug 10, 2012)

That's my Tovi James, and I love him!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Let's have a conversation.

I've been thinking.  

Yesterday I had lunch with a lovely young lady.  She's insightful and kind, and her very nature is to want to help, heal, cure everyone around her.  She's 15 years old and wiser than most of us.  She said, "Everyone has holes they're trying to fill, and they're just filling them with the wrong stuff."

(Seriously, take a minute and go read it. It'll be well worth your time!)

We know the answer, right?  Everyone has holes, and they're trying to fill them with the wrong stuff.  The right stuff is Jesus.

But somehow in the name of our Lord, we have managed to marginalize and outright hurt those who need Him the most.  I don't mean the whole Chick-fil-A thing.  That's not what this is about.  I mean we have this ability to pick out the sins that others struggle with but we do not so we can stand above those who are hurting and look down on them.  It keeps us safe.  Makes us feel holier.  And it's destroying this world.

Michael Patz described a conversation with a homosexual.  When the man found out Michael was a minister, he expected condemnation.  And why not?  What have we (Christians) collectively demonstrated?  That blog post got me to imagining.

Let's say you encounter a homosexual like Michael did.  Let's say that person responds to your Christianity like the person Michael described.  How could you respond?  How about this:
You: Look around you.  How many people here do you think have had sex outside of marriage?

Viewed pornography?



Been unforgiving?

Loved money?

(you get the idea)

Did I condemn any of them?  Did I go yell at them?  Did I treat them with any unkindness at all?

Them: No.

You: Then why would I be any different to you?

 Everyone has holes, and they're trying to fill them with the wrong stuff.  Here's where you introduce Jesus.  

Wait, you mean you want me to bring Jesus into this conversation?

Yes, yes I do.

I've heard it said that people can argue the points of the Bible but cannot argue with your own story.  So here's what I recommend.

Introduce them to Jesus by introducing them to what Jesus has done for you.
Tell them your story.

Then listen to theirs.

 Everyone has holes, and they're trying to fill them with the wrong stuff.  The right stuff is Jesus.

We have marginalized, minimized, ignored, and outright condemned too many people.  

 It's time for us to step up and love.

Take a moment now.  Look around you.  Who is hurting?  Marginalized?  Minimized?  Ignored?  Condemned?

How about this:

 Everyone has holes, and they're trying to fill them with the wrong stuff.  The right stuff is Jesus.

Have a conversation.  Share your story.  Listen to theirs.