Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lunch, Grief and Time Together

I had not met with Nancy since her daughter's visitation almost year ago.  I have followed her postings, and thoughts on Facebook, but today was the first time that it was just the two of us. After setting the meeting, I was wondering if there really would be things for us to talk about. Would she cry? Would I cry? Would Nancy want to talk about her daughter? How would she feel if I'd ask her some questions?

Neither one of us cried; we came close to it but smiling won today.  We talked about how do you ever get over a child's death (in this case teenage daughter). How do parents deal with the grief? What about the siblings?  Nancy also shared something that really stuck with me. She said that when people would say "just let me know and I will do anything," her response would be: "take me to lunch." Nancy said that usually she would not hear from them again.  WHY??? Are we  as human beings so unprepared to deal with death and grief that we will offer money and empty words, but do nothing that would actually require an effort?

I have never lost a child. I don't know how that feels. I have lost many loved ones and I am familiar with grief. Can I share another person' grief without making everything be about me and how I would feel? Absolutely! I can listen. I can share stories that I remember about her daughter. I can share how differently I responded when my parents died to when my husband died. I can share how my mother-in-law responded when her son died. We can talk about everyday "stuff:" our children's lives, living situations, girl and boyfriends, future plans etc. And we can enjoy good food and time together!

Why did I even worry about my words? I was going to meet a friend! I came home blessed because I had spent time with a friend!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

It Is Time to Say Goodbye.......to Another Year

It is time to say goodbye to another school year! I am ready. It has not been an overly stressful year, but I think a break is always welcome
This year saw so many changes: new cut scores for standardized testing, introduction of the upcoming smarter balanced testing, new teachers, new students (every month except June), more testing than we have ever done before, and, of course, teacher evaluations.

My favorite part has always been students. This year I was blessed to be able to teach so many highly motivated newcomers. Students who came to America with no English skills at all, but by spring they were helping other students. Students who came and had never read an English book, but at the end there were the ones with the most AR points at the end of the year.

There were also challenges among my students: I am thinking about the one student who kept falling asleep in my class almost every day. He could not remember to turn in assignments either. His most common reply was, "you never told me I need to do this."  You really can miss a lot while sleeping (or napping in class). Then there were the students who came to America, but had missed two to three years of school. If we had known about that at the beginning of the year, we could have had much better action plan for them. Well, there is always next year.

Colleagues--I could not manage without them. There are the comments in the mornings: "I was wondering where you were this morning." "This is late for you." (And it wasn't even seven in the morning:)) Or the essential questions: "Do you have any extra coffee?" "Does your Internet work?" "How late are you staying today?"
There are also the serious ones: "What can I do with this child? Nothing that I try is working." Or the many discussions that we have about the level of English proficiency of our students and their abilities. I love to brainstorm together with teachers about curriculum and how we can made the common core standards accessible for our ELL students.

I will miss the people this summer (not grading)! I will take the time to recharge my battery and get ready for a new year.  I will have fun!! I will share coffee and lunch dates with friends. I will irrigate my soul. I will walk more. I will read academic books as well. I will travel with my daughter. I will write more.  I will comment on more posts. I will participate in Teachers Write 2013.  I will have fun!!!!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

With One Hand


What can you do with one hand?

-I remember holding my daughter's hand when she was still young enough to need her mother when walking in the park
-I open a book, hold it and disappear to a parallel universe for a few minutes (or maybe even a bit longer when school is out)
-I imagine holding my phone while listening to my mother tell all the news from back home. If I close my eyes I can still hear her voice; even the tone she used to use to remind me to send a thank you note or a birthday card to someone.
-I click on the new whiteboard marker and write the objectives on the board
-Then I use the marker or a fancy finger pointer to over the objectives to set the course for the lesson
-I can pick up any color pen and correct all those papers: WAIT!!!  My hand is crawling closer to the finish line. Only ONE more essay assignment to correct before my fingers can relax and let go of the colored pen
-One, two, three, four, five OR yksi, kaksi, kolme, nelj√§, viisi  OR 
OneTwoThreeFourFive   days until the door closes behind me until August
-I can count the months (not yet the weeks) until my daughter's departure for overseas; I can count the years for her return as well!
-with one hand I can move my mouse to make sure I post this blog before  the end of the day today

Therefore, I can be so grateful for my fingers and hands! If I can do all this with one hand, imagine what I could do with both hands? 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

10 More Days...

10 more days until summer break
9 more evenings to set my alarm (although the birds wake me up before my alarm)
8 more days that I will meet with my high school class (besides the Saturday lunch)
7 more days to make sure I have lesson plans written for
6 more mornings to meet with my middle school students
5 more chances to practice for the semester exams
4 more chances that my high school students have to improve their writing pieces for their portfolios
3 more farewell parties for my elementary students
2 more exams to grade
1 more chance to welcome students to school during my last hallway duty of the year
0 chances to wish for more time to learn or to grade or to teach: SUMMER IS HERE!