Tuesday, October 28, 2014

100 Things I am Grateful For

A few days ago I received an interesting tweet from Terje (@terjeakke): a little challenge for you! I quickly read Terje's list. I was in! I even tweeted Terje that her challenge was accepted. Then I started doubting myself....

Then a few days later, my list is born:
  1. daughter
  2. home
  3. job that I love
  4. growing up in a secure and stable home
  5. viber app to text internationally
  6. skype to see my daughter's face when talking to her
  7. church family
  8. my mother-in-law and father-in-law
  9. raspberries
  10. sisters-in-law
  11. blueberries
  12. library booksales
  13. Kathy who makes my Thursday Corner Bookshop hours so much fun
  14. Saturday morning coffee time with friends
  15. brothers-in-law
  16. Pumpkin Spice coffee from Trader Joe's
  17. cousins who cross the ocean to come for a visit
  18. Facebook to keep in touch with friends across the oceans
  19. blogging community
  20. Thursday's spiritual journey group
  21. fellow ESL teachers
  22. nieces and nephews
  23. Youtube music
  24. Pentatonix Little Drummer Boy
  25. central heat
  26. Kindle
  27. great nieces and nephews
  28. precooked dumplings
  29. health
  30. my exercise pal Val
  31. colleagues who are willing to share
  32. trust
  33. on demand (that I just discovered!)
  34. sunrise
  35. short commute to work
  36. letter from Susan this week
  37. "Break Every Chain" by Tasha Cobbs
  38. poetry jams
  39. Finnish chocolate
  40. Mustikkapiirakka
  41. blue and white
  42. twitter PD
  43. Christmas candlelight service at the Vineyeard
  44. wake-up call/text from my daughter: "Love you Mom!"
  45. comments on my blog
  46. Little Women--book or movie
  47. one word
  48. health insurance
  49. warm socks
  50. fitbit
  51. kalakukko
  52. great cup of coffee 
  53. relaxing mornings at home
  54. snuggling with a good book
  55. students' progress
  56. slice of cake from a coworker in the middle of the afternoon
  57. journaling
  58. morning pages
  59. korvapuusti (Finnish cinnamon rolls)
  60. spine poetry
  61. blogging students
  62. "Ms. I missed you!" from my students
  63. technology
  64. iPad--finally
  65. answered prayers
  66. languages
  67. perfect earrings
  68. comfy shoes
  69. visiting manual dishwasher 
  70. green 
  71. vanilla lotion
  72. comedy that works
  73. remote control
  74. smiling babies
  75. air conditioning
  76. fish soup
  77. Thanksgiving Day
  78. swimming in a lake
  79. sauna by the lake
  80. birch trees
  81. fall maple trees
  82. double sided tape
  83. curtains
  84. Keurig 
  85. single moms dinners
  86. memories
  87. photographs
  88. student teachers
  89. translate app
  90. God's faithfulness
  91. movies that touch me
  92. knitting
  93. long weekends
  94. road trips
  95. cellphone
  96. mechanical pencils (0.3 of course)
  97. color printer
  98. soft blanket
  99. helping hands
  100. meeting blogging friends in real life

If you are reading my list, consider the challenge passed on to you! Don't forget to let me know if you write a list as I would love to read yours!

And, Dorothy, this is the official challenge for you as well! Love, √§iti

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Annual Conference Trip

Last year I read so many wonderful tweets and posts about NCTE that I really wanted to attend this year. This is, however, not going to happen. But no worries, there are conferences closer to me that are more accessible at this tine. There are also tweets to read and blogs to follow during and after NCTE to learn from a distance as much I possibly can.

This past weekend was our Michigan TESOL annual conference.

I was presenting with three other ESL teachers from around my area. We had an interactive presentation where each of us highlighted one to two areas that we felt we have been successful, or new initiatives that we are trying this year. I learned so much from my fellow presenters! These are teachers who have written curriculum, made home visits, tutored after school, and all this on their own time. These are professionals who want to make a difference in the lives of the students that they serve, and also with the classroom teachers that they encounter every day while working with the ESL/ELLs in their schools and districts.

I learned about new technology that teachers are using. Jing is one of these new tools that I would like to try in the next few weeks. (Check it out here.) Have you tried Jing? I learned about using U.N. debate model with students. I am trying to figure out when I could incorporate this type of model into my curriculum. I think my students would really enjoy debating in this manner. Maybe I could even find a clip or two to show how it is done in real life...

And then there was the great part: driving to the conference and back with Liz! Two and half hour drive each way. We covered so many topics I lost count! Some were extremely personal, and others completely professional. Liz and my school are about 5 miles apart, but our student population could not be any more different! Different language groups, different problems. But through all the differences, one thing remains the same: Our desire and our commitment to teaching English to our ESL students.

I should have stopped along the way to take some photos as the creation around me was so beautiful. Imagine driving in clear weather down a smooth highway that is surrounded by trees in all the beautiful fall colors. This colorful nature restored my soul! Yes, I would have liked to extend my weekend through Monday--I actually almost called to stay home--but then I remembered that I had a volunteer coming to help me this morning! Time to apply what I learned!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Peace Beyond Understanding

Thank you Holly for walking along
on our spiritual journey. Check out Holly's blog for more great posts.

At the beginning of the week, Holly sends a tweet that includes the topic for this week's Spiritual Journey. This week's topic: peace.

I was working with some 8th grade students today at school. We were reading about Malala and her winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Peace was a new English word for one of my students. As we talked about the meaning of peace, and finally looked up the translation, one of my students eyes suddenly got a different look. He finally got the meaning of peace. He understood. 

"The opposite of war. Right, Ms?"

That got me thinking. There must be so many people who think peace is just the opposite of war. Nothing more. Just a physical peace. What about inner peace? What about the peace that surrounds you even when your life is anything but peaceful? What about the peace that Jesus promised to leave for us?

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

There must be a special kind of peace that is not dependent on the outside forces, but comes as a gift from above. Peace that is freely given. Not earned. There are mornings when I am tired, feeling short tempered, not sure how they day will unfold. Prayer. Simple request to ask God to surround me with His peace. He has never failed to answer my prayer! Even when I have been reluctant to even say the prayer aloud. He has never hold my lack of faith as deterrent to giving me His peace.

His peace is more than just not being in the middle of a war. His peace gives me the ability to respond with love and patience even when I don't feel like it. His peace inside me gives me the ability to keep on working with a child who has been disrespectful and annoying for the last few months. His peace is not dependent on how I feel. His peace is a free gift given with love.

This is my prayer for each of you today:

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4: 6-7

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hope Left......and Then Returned

Thank you Holly for walking along
on our spiritual journey.

A few weeks ago hope left my church. Some revelations about our leadership became public knowledge, and controversial issues have caused people to take sides. It was looking really dark for a while. Nothing has really been resolved, but we are having many more conversations. People are beginning to feel that they are heard. Many are also suffering as they are thinking about what the future will bring.

A friend had tears in her eyes on Sunday when I asked her how she is doing. She was sad. She was feeling hopeless. She could not see how our problems could be solved without saying goodbye to many dear friends.

I, too, have felt this hopelessness. Often asking God why he would choose to allow the issues to surface at this time. How many more friends will I lose? What do I need to do?

I don't have answers. I am still pondering. Still asking God to guide me and our church. But after I read something that my friend had posted, I started looking things in a little different light.In her post, Barb reminded all of us that love--love for one another--is what will show the world that we are followers of Jesus. Not buildings or a style of worship, but our love for one another. "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35

I still don't have answers, but I have hope. I don't know how we will solve our issues at church. I don't know if I will lose more friends. But I do know that I need to have love for my fellow brothers and sisters. We might believe in different ways, but Jesus command is still to love one another.

Therefore, I have hope! I will look to Jesus to guide me. I will look to Jesus to show me the way. I will look to Jesus as my source for continued hope. He is powerful to change opinions, solve problems, and bring reconciliation even to a hopeless situation. I have hope. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Full Moon and Four days

When I woke up last night and looked out the window, I realized that it was full moon (at least as far as I could see). It was beautiful! It was clear and crisp. The moon was the only thing I saw on the sky.

Work has been the only thing that I have seen the last five weeks. It has felt like new students are coming daily. Data charts need constant updating, students need to be tested, lesson plans need to be changed, and then there are those meetings that need to organized. Writing agendas, updating teachers, meeting with new students, finding translators, talking and advising students on how school works in America.

We started our classroom blog! I might fall asleep before writing my Slice of Life posts each week, but at least I have been writing with my students. We are working on how to write comments right now. In a few weeks we will transition to one student at a time writing the post for the rest of us to comment. We are  making progress! It might be slow, but it is progress!

After a four day weekend, I feel like I can breath again. Yes, I still have work to do before students come on Wednesday (PD day is happening on Tuesday), but I feel like my head is now above the water! I am back to schedule going to gym. I am caught up on sleep. I am rested. I am ready to spread some JOY! I am ready to write and comment! It is amazing what a difference four days can make!