Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Calm in my Perfect Storm

So many times when I tell people what I do for a living I hear back, "How do you do it?  I could never last a day.”  Usually when I hear that I think how lucky I am because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.  I’ve had other jobs in my life but none that can even come close to offering the satisfaction I get from teaching reading and writing to 75+ sixth graders everyday.  Yes, I’m exhausted when I get home, and there are very few nights I go home empty handed.  More likely I’m loaded down with not one, but two tote bags filled with papers to read, feedback to be give and lessons to plan. I do as much as I can after dinner, fall asleep late, and then get up at the crack of dawn (or earlier) to start again.  By now you might be thinking, is she crazy?  Why would anyone one continue to do this day after day?  (And I haven’t even gotten into the nitty gritty details of my job.)  I guess it’s just something you have to experience for yourself.  Once that bell rings at 8:20 in the morning, my homeroom students arrive at their lockers, call out greetings to their friends and come into the classroom.  I enter autopilot, top speed.  It’s show time.  I have my game plan ready for the day.  I call it a game plan because it’s flexible.  I’m prepared for the expected and the unexpected.  But what’s truly amazing is that I am able to keep going at this speed until 3:30 pm, when the last student heads out the door at the end of the day.  During the day I am almost constantly in motion, whether I’m delivering a lesson, conferring, on lunchroom duty, facilitating writing club, some part of me is always moving, especially my mind.  Even after the kids go home, I usually don’t slow down until it’s finally time for me to call it a day and head home, again with tote bags in tow.

Today there was a calm in my “perfect storm”.  While in the library, moving between helping students look for books, advising two groups on their text structure posters, and trying to keep the noise level to a low hum, I look up and see my son in the midst of all of this. It took a minute for my mind to register what I was seeing it was so unexpected.  And then I noticed what he had in his hands, Starbucks!  He had come in the middle of the morning to bring me a hot Chai Latte!  For the first time in I don’t know how long, my autopilot stopped in the middle of the day.  I was stunned.  Even the students stopped for a moment (yes, that’s very unusual).  Then I hugged my son, the students went into overdrive asking me questions, then asking my son questions, and soon it was back to the happy continuous buzz of daily life at school.  My days are nonstop and hectic on a regular basis but I can’t imagine it any other way.  If anything the pace has truly helped me to appreciate the simpler things in life like family and a hot Chai Latte in the middle of the day.

Monday, March 24, 2014

100 Words 100 Days Challenge via #Engchat

       Today I rushed home from school to take part in a Twitter chat about writing.  As the only sixth grade ELA teacher in my school I sometimes feel like an island.  Twitter chats allow me to not only share ideas, but also gather tons of inspiration from teachers and experts around the world.  Tonight was no exception.  A large group of ELA teachers voiced their concerns, shared ideas, and offered inspiration on how to teach writing, offer feedback, and develop the writing habit not only in students, but in teachers as well.  After an hour of this fast-paced back and forth tweeting many of us echoed the same sentiments in our tweets, we were ready to grab notebooks, pens, keyboards, etc. and start writing.  Then the challenge was made:  100 words for 100 days.  I don’t even know who first offered the challenge, but it caught on and was quickly retweeted.  So here I am, writing, officially starting my first day of the challenge.  What will I write about?  I’m not sure: school, writing, reading, education, life in the classroom, most likely a mix of all.  But I’ll be writing and isn’t that what the challenge was all about it?  Feedback is welcome but stars and wishes only please!