Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday nights.

Sunday nights are always anxiety-producing. Did I plan enough to do tomorrow? Will my dreams be ridden with pencils and shushing and team points? Sunday mornings are perhaps my favorite, Sunday evenings are even worse than Monday. The anticipation of the week is quite difficult for me. Tonight I worry that my classroom will still be in shambles tomorrow since I didn't do a lick of cleaning after school Friday...just headed straight for the door to leave for Newport Beach. I still don't have my new transition song solidified...I need to sharpen pencils, change out the math workstations, make copies, make my lunch, all those things that all teachers do...that at the moment seem so daunting. Then, I'm thinking of what I will do when the meltdowns am I going to make this week better than the last?
I don't know, but surely I'll dream about it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Difference is beautiful.

Teaching is often heartbreaking. I am trying to keep my head up after a very heart-wrenching week, for a myriad of reasons. I imagine this is only the beginning of feeling downtrodden in this career, but I know the rewards are greater than the challenges--- this, too, shall pass.
Tomorrow, of course, commemorates MLK's birthday. My students are always incredibly engaged when learning about him--one of my African American students proudly raised her hand and proclaimed she was African American, too! I adore talking to my students about race and hearing their insightful comments. What is often tricky is when some of my Latino students look at their skin and notice it is lighter than others who may be Mexican just like them, or darker than mine, and yet we still are some form of Latino, but this often gets mixed with saying "I'm white!" even though none of my students would be considered white by American standards. Phenotypically, some of them are very light-skinned, but none Caucasian. I know some might be reading this and thinking "What does it matter, anyway?! We are all equal!" I believe the intricacies of race relations of United States are incredibly important in considering when teaching our young ones. These early conversations are key to identity formation. If we as teachers can guide our students to think about their skin color or difference from others and celebrate that, I think we're doing well by our diverse country. Every person's experience is quite different from the next, so to say we are all the "same" on the inside is to deny the different, beautiful experiences that make up who we are. This doesn't have to be race could be socio-economic, cultural (which is often intersected with race), religious, or whathaveyou...we are all different and this is why our nation is special and great. I've been thinking of how to portray this in a lesson...I like doing activities in which my students can see in what ways they are similar and different from all aspects, by sharing our connections with one another, and also by sometimes having a completely different perspective on something. We can learn from eachother's varied experiences, celebrate them, and relate to each other with our similarities as well. To say we are all the same on the inside, though, I think ignores the beauty and excitement in difference. Children don't all learn the same way, they don't like the same foods, they don't experience the same family structures or communication styles at home, so why tell them they are all the same? I, of course, still struggle with how this looks in first grade... but I think this PBS article does a good job of summarizing what I feel about encouraging knowledge about diversity in the classroom and beyond.
Any suggestions on an MLK related activity where we celebrate both differences and similarities?

Outside of school land, I've spent a huge majority of today nested in my favorite chair with my favorite blanket, devouring (and finishing) a Lisa See book (Dreams of Joy), watching David play Zelda for hours upon hours, and watching bits of the 49er game with friends. I'm not really a football fan, but I'm a Bay Area fan, so I'm rooting for the 49ers (I suppose). I much prefer baseball, but it's not hard to get caught up in the excitement. I'm not necessarily wearing my red and gold, but I'm happy for the city across the bay.
Well, back to watching David destroy more odd creatures and chase after the ever-elusive Zelda.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


2013 brings so much for me. A half marathon, many new organizational and professional goals, and a WEDDING! I have a new, beautiful nephew, and a renewed appreciation for the profession I have chosen and all that comes with it.
Professionally, I'm feeling a little stuck. I know the learning curve is different for everyone, but I have been feeling downright behind for a third-year teacher. I will keep on keepin' on, hopefully with a big smile on my face, but the realities of this job and the realities of my demeanor (disorganized, inconsistent) are wearing on my confidence and classroom. This break was certainly just what I needed, but I'm finding myself dreading starting again and overwhelmed by the reality that awaits me (two children who have very high emotional needs, who I want to help greatly, but feel I am misserving because there are at least two intense outbursts every day in my classroom.) I know I will push through and do the best I can, but taking it in stride has been difficult. We have such a great responsibility as educators, and to feel like I am failing in that is certainly not good. I will continue to do fun activities, continue to tell the children how much I love them, and try to keep the yelling to an absolute minimum. Even just writing these words makes me feel grateful for a few more days of rest.
On a happier note, Hanukkah and Christmas were absolutely lovely this year. Watching my nephews (I have 3) open their gifts was incredibly joyous, and being surrounded by family, cookies and smiles was rejuvenating. I've been spending as much time as possible with my parents and family this break...even living 20 miles away makes it harder to see them as much as I'd like during the school year.
I resolve to reflect and post more about the lessons I'm doing and resources I'm using. I've been creating some units on teachers pay teachers, most of which are free. Wish all a happy, healthy 2013, and days at school filled with joy.