Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Today I gave my students unit blocks so we could learn about volume.  I gave each table group 20 cubes.  I quickly realized that their little hands wanted to play before their little ears were going to be able to listen.  So I spontaneously gave them the challenge to build something beautiful in under a minute.

Each group made something totally different.  One made a rainbow/reverse rainbow tower.  One made the Eiffel Tower.  There was a ‘messed up’ house, a rainbow bed and a set of stairs.  One minute and they had all made something unique and beautiful.  And they were content to then start learning about volume.

As I told them the challenge, one of the kiddos said, “This is why I love you, Mrs. Kirk.  Because you let us do stuff like this.”

One minute and they all created in a unique way.  That’s exactly why I love each of them.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

I may or may not barely have my head above the water enough to take a breath on this Tuesday that is two, or maybe three months from the last Tuesday I wrote.  How can this possibly happen every year that it takes months before I feel like I have a grip on my teaching life?

I have so much to reflect on:
Teaching full time for the first time in 22 years.

Bidding a sweet see you later to the perfect compliment to me of the past 7 years as my job share partner moved to another building.

Welcoming a teacher candidate and learning to be a mentor.

Finding peace and calm in the exceedingly turbulent waters of my current workplace.

Rerouting my energy to my kids to the East coast to the West coast.

But for now, I need to breath and get what sleep I can before another long, long day.

 

 

Tuesday July 18, 2017

I am reading Leon Uris’ “Exodus” for my bookclub.  In a conversation about right and wrong between two of the characters, one says, “Foreign policies of this, or any other, country are not based on right and wrong.  IT is not for you and me to argue the right or the wrong of this question.  The only kingdom that runs on righteousness is the kingdom of heaven.  The kingdom of the earth run on oil.”  I had to look up the publication date when I read that.   It was published in 1958.  And here we are over 50 years later.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

I am getting the feeling that this will be one of many posts to come that have the same theme.  Something tells me that this is just the first.

It is 4th of July weekend and for the first time in many, many years, we are at home.  We were a little out of our element not knowing what to do so for old time’s sake, we thought we would do a one night backpack up to a favorite spot of ours.  We have been there multiple times over the years, before kids, with both kids, with each kid and now we thought it might be time to bring our 18 month old puppy along.

We left town at 4 and arrived at the trailhead at 5:00 in spitting rain.  Knowing that the forecast was for clear skies overnight, we waited out the worst of it and then started hiking.  It’s a quintessential hike.  It serpentines perfectly along the north side of the valley.  There are open traverses that give views of the mountains and ridges above.  There are dark corridors where the trees have grown thick.  The columbine are in prime, at times full fields of their blue and white faces.

We had to cross a few small snow fields and worried that our favorite tent location might be too wet this early in the year.  But it was waiting for us, flat and rock free.  We set up our tent, laid out dinner supplies, and settled in for a sunset filled evening.

Hallie, our pup, was loving every minute of it.

IMG_8658The trail is a dog on leash trail but we find that she is better if we have her off leash but wearing her shock collar.  She can roam 10 yards ahead or behind without pulling me off balance with my pack.  She knows now that once the collar goes on, she has to stay close.  We have needed the shock only twice since we got the collar, just to get her trained.  She is a pretty good dog.

We also brought along her tether so she would be able to move around at our campsite but not leave it.  She managed to tangle herself up in branches and brush while we pitched the tent, but she was close by and out of trouble.

And then we needed water for our noodles.  My husband volunteered to walk down to the creek, and took the dog.  Off leash.  He figured it wasn’t far, she was well behaved, there were no people or dogs within miles, and she needed to run.  Well, we didn’t anticipate this:

IMG_8668

Yes, those would be porcupine quills in her curious nose.  She had run off into the underbrush all of 15 yards away from my husband and found the one porcupine in all of the Indian Peaks Wilderness area.  And she just wanted to play.  Hearing the rustle of an animal my husband jumped into the bushes and  grabbed Hallie as quickly as he could, but not before her snout was fully slammed with quills.

We were able to pull out a few of the less embedded quills ourselves but Hallie quickly caught on that each tug was going to hurt.  We knew they needed to come out and we were not the ones to do it.

 

So, we put away dinner, packed up the tent, reloaded the backpacks, and headed home.  The sunset was beautiful as we walked down valley.  Hallie didn’t seem bothered at all by the toothpicks in her face as she pranced through the columbine fields and crossed the creeks on the way down.  We passed a few other late evening hikers, all of whom winced for her.  She really didn’t seem to mind her face of whiskers.

IMG_8679It was a short walk back to the car and we arrived just as we needed to pull out our headlamps.  We trundled back into town and showed up at the emergency vet at 10:15pm.  It was 3am before we could take her home – quill free and very, very tired.

And we were worried that we wouldn’t have anything to do if we stayed at home on this 4th of July weekend.  Sleeping in was first on the list.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Yet again, the words that I wanted to say or write were given to me by someone else.  Here’s is today Poem of the Day from poem-a-day@poets.org.

Hope

Ali Liebegott

 

always the hopeless asked to give others hope
the ones pushed up against wall after wall

when you’re done unpinning yourself
from the wall, please give hope

those who work twice as hard to seem half as good
being asked to do one more thing

we need to be seen
because things are not going well
and the crows are up to no good

While Ali was writing about the marginalized, women and people of color, these words spoke to my educator’s heart of the last week.   I couldn’t believe how well Ali’s words captured what I have been feeling.  After being pushed up against walls and peeling myself off to go in for another day at the office, I start again each day with trying to give hope.  While I am sad and frustrated, I still get up each day and give my best to my students.  I am there with a smile on my face and the same commitment to make it a worthwhile day for them.

And I work twice as hard, sometimes far more than twice as hard, but am expected to do more and be more and not be recognized for what I do accomplish.  I am expected to give, but not expect anything in return.  Things are not going well.

And I can relate to those crows.  They are in fact grackels who are usually gone by this time of year but we can hear them yelling, truly yelling, at each other from tree to tree in our back yard.  It was deafening and somewhat irritating last night.  I feel like those grackels are circling around me sometimes; I am doing my work and doing more than my work again and again and again but no one is really listening or acknowledging.  They are just yapping and yelling at each other way up above trying to get all of the attention.

Thank you Ali, for your words.  I am not alone.

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

downloadWhen they want you but they don’t want you.  What a strange place to be.  It’s worse than a rock and hard place because you can’t move the rock and you can’t maneuver out of the hard place because someone else is caving it in on you.

It has been made clear to me that I do not belong where I am and I am tolerated at best.  But I am very, very good at what I do.  I am told this continually by colleagues and by leaders, by students and by parents, by peers and cohorts.  I know that I know what I am doing and that I do it well.

That creates both the hard place and the rock.  I am too good to be allowed to go because I am good enough to leave.  So I am stuck – here in no man’s land.  This is not the way I intended to start my summer, or spend my summer.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

TANKA TUESDAY

 

Inside my tennis hat brim

“Do what you love”, it challenges me

“Love what you are doing.”

I do love exactly what I do

I just struggle to love doing it

 

Sometimes the strangest things speak to you, like the inside of a Life Is Good hat.  It told me just those words above and I had an aha moment.  I love teaching.  I love the smells of a school, the walls of a classroom, the hugs and eyes and movements and words of the students.  I truly love everything about it.  When I am teaching, the rest of the world disappears and I am in my flow.  It’s my zen place, my happy place.

This past year, however, I have not been loving doing it.  Mostly because it involves so much more than just the students and the classroom and school building.  All of the otherness has beaten me down in a surprising way.  So, I am trying to find a way to bring back the love of doing it.  I have thrown the dice up in the air, hoping they land in a new arrangement that will lead me to again love doing what I love to do.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I have officially been banned from making any travel arrangements for our family.  Instead of writing a blog post this evening, I have been making changes to the flight that I incorrectly booked.  Last year, I was so proud of myself for booking two super cheap tickets for my husband and son to fly back east to look at colleges.  Thank goodness I checked the day before because I had booked the 11pm arriving at 4am tickets instead of the 11am arriving at 4pm.  That might have been grounds for divorce had they gone ahead and not double checked.

Well, I just did it again.  I am flying solo to meet my son, trying to arrive at the same time he arrives by train.  Again, I thought I got a sweet deal.  Instead I am out $75.  I had to cancel the flight and rebook it because, yet again, I booked for the evening instead of the morning.  For some reason, those pm and am things are tricky for me.

From now on, my husband will do all plane reservations.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Just slow down.  It is that panicky time of year when positions and jobs are shifting and moving about.  Instead of slowing down and thoughtfully thinking through our options, we are rushing to post an opening in fear of losing out on the best candidates.  And in our rush and hurry, we forget to take care of ourselves.  We seem to have forgotten the care and keeping of humans.  When a team member leaves for another school, it should start with a celebration of their steps forward.  It should be filled reminiscing about happy memories and well wishes for the journey ahead.  It should be tended carefully with sincere gratitude for the many years of service.

It should not be met with immediately posting for that vacancy – a space, a blank instead of a person, a teacher, a professional.  Slow down and take care of each other.