Monthly Archives: December 2015

Celebrate Imperfection

celebrate-image

This post is part of Ruth Ayres Celebrate Link up. Thanks, Ruth for this great opportunity to celebrate.

I let my mom guilt trip herself into making a gingerbread house again this year. She makes such amazing houses. Open windows, and chocolate stone chimneys, tootsie roll firewood piles and powdered sugar snow. The smell of the gingerbread and the fudge glue takes me back to my childhood; and I love that it is a part of my kids’ holiday traditions too.

Things started so promising, I could almost smell that gingerbread through the texted picture:

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Then this morning my mom texted again.

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A roof collapse. And later, “It’s getting worse”

So tonight when the grandparents arrived with the gingerbread house, and we were warned not to laugh too hard, we were ready. Image 2.jpg

We still laughed. (Sorry mom)

We still decorated it. We tried to decide what the lesson was here. Christmas isn’t about perfection? You can decorate any situation? It’s not about the roof? Gingerbread is yummy even when it’s broken?

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We laughed at our efforts – even the glue wasn’t working tonight.

Meanwhile, my mom brought another handmade gift. Another house: a paper replica of our old home. Amazing treasure.

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The smell of gingerbread

The smell of gingerbread
baking 
or just sitting 
with its fudge glue
is enough

Organizing the candy
on plates
or just watching 
kids sneak a taste
is enough

Powder sugared gingerbread memories 
are perfect 
But Gingerbread time
with family
collapsed roofs and failing icing
is enough

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A Slice of … What’s a Coach?

Slice of LIfe

This is part of Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life. Find out more, and join in here.

I haven’t started my job yet, but many people are asking me what I’ll be doing as an Instructional Coach. After I told my students that I would be leaving to go be an Instructional Coach, they had the same question.

So I asked them to think of coaches they’ve had. “What do your coaches do? 

“Yell at us!” a few students said, in their ever-present ability to help me refine my questioning.

“Okay. Think about one of your favorite coaches. What kinds of things do they do? 

The answers… they made me wish I were in front of a piece of chart paper or my computer, instead of sitting on the rug in the circle.

“My coach pushes us to practice.”

“Supports us during our game.”

“Coaches play with us.”

“Let us play new games. My coach thinks that playing other games actually helps us with our game.”

“Coaches are there for you.”

I think my 6th graders’ tips are good ones to start me off as I start to learn my new role!

Celebrating something different

celebrate-image

This post is part of Ruth Ayres Celebrate Link up. Thanks, Ruth for this great opportunity to celebrate!

“God bless you.”

“I could never do that!”

“What are they? 11? 12? Thank you.”

Just a snapshot of some things I usually hear when I tell someone I teach 6th grade. Truth is, I love 6th graders – They are the best, they are awesome!  (Full Disclosure: I also said similar things about my 2nd graders way back when.)

So last week, when I sat my classes down to tell them that I was leaving to fill in as an Instructional Coach for the rest of the year, I was curious about what their reactions would be. Sad? Angry? Elated?

Shock. They were just so shocked. Calm, and cool, like 6th graders can sometimes be. (It’s true. They can be. They are.) They looked at me with what can only be described as astonished betrayal.

“I’ll still see you.” I told them. “I’ll be helping your new teacher. I’ll be helping you. We will still be connected.”

“How about you help our new teacher by teaching us once a week?” They challenged.

I tried to articulate to them that their new teacher would be with them longer than I have. That when they look back on their 6th grade year, the new teacher is whom they will really think of. This was hard to say aloud, because I love being these kids’ teacher. But, I said it. Several students looked at me thoughtfully, some I’m sure wanted me to stop being so dramatic so they could go back to their own thoughts, and a couple just shook their heads, “Not going to happen. You are our teacher.” 

Hands up for questions and comments.  This is where we come to the celebration.

“I’m just worried about one thing. Are we going to have as much read-to-self time with the new teacher?” 

“Wait. Are you going to take all of the books?”

“I’m not angry, I’m happy for you. I’m just going to miss you.”

“I wish you didn’t have to leave.” 

“I hope you remember me. I will remember you.” 

Later that day I sent an email to my students’ families, and it took a strong will not to call off the change! What kind words I got in return. Congratulations for sure, but lovely appreciation messages and “we will miss you” notes that made me feel so good, and also so guilty.

Listen. As a teacher I almost never know what if any impact I am having. I certainly don’t measure it by test scores. If I measure it at all, I measure my impact by fleeting moments; teachable and emotional. I measure it by glances that I can’t seem to articulate in writing — in inside jokes that hint at lightbulbs going off. I measure it in cooperation and laughter, relationships and community. The past week of transition, shadowing the current coach, teaching my amazing students, and getting ready to leave the classroom in January has been full of reflection and celebration.

Leaving the classroom is hard. I pre-miss it already. And, I’m so excited to try out this new role – I am going to learn so much – and I can’t wait to start to figure it all out… and celebrate along the way with all of the teachers and students I am lucky enough to be working with.