Wednesday, August 27, 2014

These Are The Days

August 27, 2014

Today's the kind of day I'd like to mentally file away for future use, perhaps sometime in early December when fatigue and senioritis have taken hold in my students and the over-scheduled stress takes its toll on the kiddos. Today, with the exception of a minor cell phone conversation we needed to have in one class, every one of my classes was invested, engaged, and actively participating in the conversation and practice of how and why we read. I loved the things the kids were saying and the way they were thinking. These are the days that see me through the tougher days. Lovin' this week. Lovin' this start to my year!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Reading Identity

August 26, 2014

I'm often amazed at how many of my students see themselves as 'non-readers'.  Then we get to talking and sharing all of the different kinds of reading we all do in our everyday lives--traditional and non-traditional--and they share ALL KINDS of things they read.  Novels, sure, but also cookbooks and gaming magazines and baseball stats and computer code and music notes and movies and even body language, just to name a few.  My job is to teach my students to think through processing the written word, but often they haven't seen that their skill sets in other kinds of reading--sometimes quite deep and intuitive and very thoughtful--can translate into application to the written word.  It's pretty cool when students feel validated in their own areas of expertise and can begin to see the transfer potential.  It's my goal to help all of my kids see themselves as readers, because ultimately what I mean when I say that is that I want them to recognize themselves as thinkers.  This week, we begin that journey together.

Monday, August 25, 2014

First Day Pics

August 25, 2014

It's getting harder to get my kids to humor me and let me take 'First Day' pictures, but I managed it!  I even got Bree to send me a picture of her first day of her senior year of college (since I couldn't be there), and Danielle took a picture of my first day of my 25th year as well.  Since the kids have to have their experiences documented, I might as well too.  Senior year, senior year, and sophomore year--here they come!

 Danielle and the bestie, Megan.
 Duty bright and early the first week of school.  Me in my safety vest.

 Bree and the bestie Brandon--representing SDSU Ambassadors on the first day of school.

Nicholas and his girlfriend Treasa

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Year 25, Here I Come!

August 24, 2014

Bookshelves are stocked, copies are made, posters are up, lessons are planned, rosters are printed, and teacher is ready to open up the doors to welcome her students.  It's the beginning of my 25th year, and I still think it's the best job in the world.  Bring on the kids!  (Two sections of World Lit, one section of Expository Writing, and two sections of AP Lit.)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Calm Before the Storm

August 23, 2014

It's the last Saturday night before the kids show up in my classroom on Monday morning.  Dinner at home, swimming and then hot tub, and a quiet comedy movie to round out our night.  The calm before the storm...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Family Dinner Night

August 22, 2014

It's Friday night--the last Friday night before school starts up again.  As usual, we did Family Dinner Night.  It was my choice tonight, and I decided I was feeling hungry for Wingstop.  We're really loving that this place has opened up so close to our house.  Nicholas asked to invite his girlfriend Treassa to join us tonight, and it was a lot of fun having her along.  She was a good sport about our Family Dinner Night question tradition, and even offered up a question of her own for all of us to answer.  (My question to everyone, since it was my choice tonight, was "What will you do this school year that you didn't do last year that will make this a better year for you?"  My answer was that I was going to implement some of the strategies I learned about this summer at my workshop into my classes this year.)  We then invited Treassa to give us all a question, so she wanted to know what each of us considered our favorite memory.  It was a lot of fun to hear everyone's responses to that one!  After our dinner at Wingstop, we popped in next door for frozen yogurt for dessert.  Despite the goofy looks on their faces, we had a good time!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rah Rah!

August 21, 2014

Today we had our annual Rah Rah General Session to kick off the school year.  We gather every employee in the district to celebrate all of our accomplishments and generally get inspired to go out and help make a difference in the lives of the the kids who will walk in our doors this coming Monday morning.  I actually really like General Session.  In the past, Mom and I used to go together every year.  For the past several years, I've gone with my good friends Victory and Allison.  I seriously love these fantastic women, and I seriously love my school and my district!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You

August 20, 2014

Our book club met tonight to discuss our first book, This is Where I Leave You.  This was the first book our group has chosen--our first discussion.  Most of us are Buchanan teachers: Christine, Marci, Jen, Kristin, Tina, Allison, and me.  Let me tell you, these are some really fun, intelligent, and fascinating women!  For the record, the general consensus was that we didn't much like the book, because none of the characters, especially the protagonist, was particularly likable or sympathetic.  Our dislike, however, didn't remotely hinder our conversation, and like all good book discussions, it started out with the book and then expanded to real life connections and general philosophizing. Our book talk was funny, non-stop, and insightful. (The book was about a dysfunctional family, which most of us can relate to, although this particular family had its own special blend of every possible dysfunction concentrated in one fairly small family.)  One of the deciding factors in choosing this book was that it's been made into a movie that's coming out next month, so we had already planned to follow up with a movie night.  Even though we didn't love the book, we watched the movie trailer, which has a fantastic and funny cast, and we think this may be one of the rare cases of the movie being better than the book. We've already chosen our next book and the next meeting date, and I'm already looking forward to getting together with these fantastic ladies again!  I'm really hoping that we don't let the crazy busy-ness of the school year push off our get-togethers--I feel like this is going to be a great way to recharge our batteries if we decide to make it a priority for ourselves.

Our Own Cheer Squad

August 20, 2014

Monday we came back to school for two days of grade level/department-specific meetings.  Today, however, was our first day back with the whole staff.  I don't know too many places where you come to work and are greeted by rousing cheers, yells, chants, and ovations, but at my school, that's what met us when we got to work this morning.  Our amazing Activities Director, Marci Beddall, had our leadership kids show up in full spirit regalia, full of enthusiasm and excitement, to cheer us on as we got ready to kick off the new year as a staff.  What a great group of kids--what a great way to set the tone for the year!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Growing Up as the Kid of a Teacher

August 19, 2014

Today was the second day of back to school prep and planning meetings.  At least four of my colleagues brought their young kids to school to help with the classroom set up, which means a little bit of help and a lot of coloring and racing wheelie chairs down the hallway to the joyous sound of chortles and giggles and belly laughs, and generally spending time charming all the other teacher-friends of their mommies and daddies.  It's seriously one of the things I love about the pre-school planning week.  We get to feel like the aunties and uncles of all of these kids that we are watching grow up year by year, just like when my kids were younger, they looked to all of my friends as their own personal bonus family members.  I remember being equally at home in the hallways of my mom's school when we'd go help her set up her classroom every year.  It's strange to think that there are lots of kids around for whom this is not the norm....  Anyway, I got to see several of my favorite kiddos today, and tomorrow I get to spend time with one of my very favorite kiddos, because Danielle has volunteered to come and help me out in my room tomorrow--and probably wheelie-chair race and charm a few of my friends along the way.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Time Well Spent

August 18, 2014

More than any summer in recent past, I feel this summer has been full of exciting and interesting adventures for us.  We went to my niece's wedding, I did two separate week-long curriculum development/work-enhancing sessions, took a photography excursion to Morro Bay with a fellow photographer and another friend, went to a couple of out of town soccer tournaments with Danielle, and went to a couple of different big gigs for Doug's band.  In addition, Nicholas completed summer school so that he wouldn't have to take P.E. this year (yay!) and got his driver's license (yay again!), and he and I got to take a mother-son trip to Monterey Bay, just the two of us, to visit the aquarium.  Danielle and Bree went on vacation with Bill in Oregon for a week, went to a weekend beach retreat with her church youth group, and then went on a week long summer camp for church as well.  Bree got a second job and moved into her new place, as well as continuing her work with the Associated Student Body and the Ambassadors at San Diego State.  Doug and I got to spend quite a bit of time together this summer, as we were both off work, and amid all of the flurry of activity with the kids, we managed to get away to Cayucos for a weekend with our friends Joe and Wendy.  And then, of course, there was Costa Rica!  Lisa and I spent five wonderful days in Costa Rica for a long-awaited, very overdue sister bonding excursion.  From start to finish the vacation was beautiful, and just made us vow to make these kinds of trips--checking places off our Life Lists--a priority again for us.

More than any summer in recent past, I feel fully rejuvenated and refreshed.  I don't feel like I wasted away my days sitting idly in front of the TV wondering what happened to my vacation.  And now, although I'm already planning some pretty exciting things to look forward to the next time summer rolls around, I am also more than ready to step back into school and kick off another fantastic year!  Today was my first day back--planning and prepping and getting back in touch with my work friends and my teacher-self.  We've got four more days of meetings and lesson designs and making the room welcoming and homey, and then the kids come bright and early next Monday.  I'll be ready!