All posts by onathought

Celebrating Grandparents

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So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend!  (In a better late than never sort of way. . . )

Last month we stopped by to visit my grandma on the way home from a trip. She met us with her caregiver on the porch of the home. She had a newspaper in her lap, and told us she loved to come out on the porch every morning to read. Her voice carried like memories, like my whole childhood wrapped in the silky smoothness of her cheeks. She hugged us and told us that we made her day. We only visited for 20 minutes or so, on strict instructions from my dad and his sister. “More than 20 minutes will tire her out.” So we started our goodbyes, even though she looked sad to see us go. Walking back to the car and getting resettled for our car trip took some time, but still, as we drove out past the porch, my grandma waved from her wheelchair. I honked my horn a few times, thinking back to all the old family horn-honking goodbyes at Grandma’s house.

My grandpa turns 101 next month.

101.

The other night we sat around the table after my dad’s birthday dinner, and my mom asked my grandpa to tell us about his old dog. It was a great story about a smart dog,  but I was busy listening to the ebb and flow of my grandpa’s voice.  I was busy thinking about my childhood, when I sat at family dinners and heard my grandpa talking, telling stories, riddles and jokes. How is it that a piece of my memory is now so embedded in the present day? 101! E says it’s more fun to say “Over a century!”

Most people don’t get to have their Grandpas and Grandmas still at this age. Mr. Thought doesn’t even get to have his parents anymore.

Somehow, I’m so lucky…  My kids get to have these very same pieces of childhood that I had. The stories, the voices, the love, the jokes, the hugs. . . And that is worth celebrating.

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A slice of not writing

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

Some things I did instead of writing this evening
washed the dishes
yelled at my kids to help with the dishes
checked facebook
prepared the make-your-own pizza supplies
made pizzas with the kids
cleaned up dinner
washed more dishes (what?!?)
played hide-and-go-seek with the dog
covered his eyes, told him “no peeking!” while my daughter hid
hid while my daughter told the dog “no peeking!”
decided to call that game “no peeking!”
snuggled with the dog
laughed at the dog
discussed random things with Mr. Thought
remembered to sponsor my kids’ fundraiser since it’s due tomorrow
listened to kids play some sort of made up board game upstairs
told kids to brush their teeth
told kids to brush their teeth
told kids to brush their teeth
(you get the picture)
sat with H while he fell asleep
snuggled E to sleep
fell asleep
woke up from the dog going crazy barking at the cat’s meow
the actual cat’s meow
tucked L in
read a few chapters
ate a few junior mints
drank my water
sent a few emails
refilled my water

A slice from my chair

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

From my chair, I see
An empty grape juice bottle, not in the recycling bin
A red and grey backpack, not hung up
A sweatshirt that should probably go in the laundry
A dishtowel too.

For some reason there are 2 folding chairs and a folding table
folded up, and just leaning

and a basket of Mr. Thought’s clean laundry. Folded!
(So many things folded… does this mean something?)

From my chair, I see Mr. Thought working in the other room,
the lights from his computer
brighter than the old floor lamp leaning there

I’m not sure why this room is such a mess.
My books from my classroom are still sitting here
and even though I should be annoyed at how they spill out of their bins,
I’m not
Because it reminds me of how the books have been lent and given
to teachers
to kids
to friends

From my chair, I see
this computer
with my blog window covering up
my calendar
my to do list
my email

I wonder if it’s still called procrastinating
if it is writing?

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Celebrating. . . Children speak in poetry

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So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend!  (In a better late than never sort of way. . . )

I want to celebrate going outside to write slices of life with second graders.

We walked outside, a monarch butterfly to release, and slices of the butterfly garden to write. After a brief butterfly lesson, we sent them off to notice and wonder and write about the things they saw. Their teacher and I looked at each other and decided we couldn’t write with them … we would be too busy supervising, conferring, helping…

And we were busy… but later, as we gathered the children to go back inside, we both confessed that we had put pencil to paper…we couldn’t help it.

These children speak in poetry! I kept crying out to them, “That sounds like a line in a poem! Write that down!” And they did. They wrote their words down (after speaking them to their teacher, to their friends, to me). As I walked around, I heard these kids noticing and wondering, and saying lines that belong in poetry and on inspirational posters.

Goldenrod Butterfly
       Children speak in poetry

We found red berries
This is the perfect spot for monarch butterflies
And also spiders

Write it down, friends! 
       Children speak in poetry

Follow me!
Another path!
I know where everything is in this school

Write that down, the things you say are lines of slices
       Children speak in poetry

This leaf feels like wool
I see nature all around me
I notice, I love nature
Trees, plants give us oxygen

Say it to the page, boys and girls! 
       Children speak in poetry

Oh! The monarch's still here
A path full of plants
Even though some plants are pokey
You should want them to live. 
It's nature

Goldenrod, Butterflies
     Children speak in poetry

I almost wrote down everything. 

A Slice of Life, It’s Not Easy!

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

You know what’s hard?

It’s hard to do algebra when you’re 39, re-learning it on the fly
to help your 9th grader with radicals – simplified
“This is stupid! When will I ever need this in life?” She asks.

It’s hard not to answer her with sarcasm,
“Well, when your 9th grader is crying to you about algebra,
You might wish you paid a little more attention!”

It’s hard to push back your own memories of hating. math. class.
so that you can say instead,
“Algebra helps you in later math classes, and the logic behind it helps you in life…”

It’s hard to hear yourself sound like a cartoon mom
saying some sort of script instead of
the inspiration you wish you could be.

It’s hard to watch your child try and try
struggling, worried, stressed
with new teachers, new classes, new expectations.

You know what’s hard?
High School.
High School is hard
Learning, that’s hard
Parenting, teaching,
having patience,
perseverance,
knowing when it’s okay to fail, when you should try harder…
when it’s time to ask for help.

Celebrating my kids through paradox

celebrate-image So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend! 

What are you celebrating? As my kids make a mess of slime in the kitchen that was already full of dirty dishes, I’m celebrating this messy job of parenting. . .

One of my sons  might drive you crazy painting white out onto a table, and needing 3 reminders to stop. He’s also the one who will help you move tables and chairs without being asked. He’ll enjoy the jolly rancher you give him to say thank you, and he will also ask “Why are they trying to bribe us with tickets and treats?” after he hears about the positive behavior system. He definitely benefits from authentic positive feedback, and the he is impassioned about the ridiculousness of positive behavior incentives.

My daughter cares so much about animals, she won’t read a book or watch a movie that might have an animal go through a hardship… and she sighs loudly and rolls her eyes when I remind her to take the dog out. She sits for hours creating beautiful clay jewelry, a highly detailed sketch, and batches of slime. She also doesn’t understand why she has to go to school, and learn to study better. She is a creative writer, wants to write a book, and hates to sit and read. She reminds me to be stricter with her brothers a minute or two before she whacks them with the end of the dog’s leash.

My youngest reads voraciously once he starts, asks me to order him books, spouts off facts he’s learned from his books, and complains when I ask him to do his 20 minutes of reading. He talks about not having new friends in his new school and a minute later tells me a funny story about the kids he was playing with at recess, or that 2 of his friends will be going to math with him. He tells on his brother, and then (of course) turns around and mimics whatever his brother just did.

Isn’t it funny how everyone is different? Isn’t it amazing? Even within ourselves we are different — full of paradoxes.  How can I figure out my children? How can I help them grow while I celebrate who they are?

 

Slice(s) of Elementary

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

How are you? Without a classroom? How are you?

I’m fine! I’m good! It’s weird, It’s different. But I’m good.
I am in constant wonderment of the teachers around me
My eyes are teary because
I don't want to sound dramatic, but 
elementary school is magic 

Little people walk through the doors
Each morning -- Hundreds of them 
The first day, they are dressed up ---
Bows in their hair, little ties, dresses, tutus 
Even the 5th graders are dressed up -- 
Dressed up by dressing down 
just so
casual 
Oldest in the school now, leaders -you can tell by the way they walk and talk
I don't want to sound dramatic, but 
elementary school is magic 

And the littlest ones,
New to school, they look for their kindergarten teacher 
Who greets them, of course, like they are 
The one they have been waiting for
(because they are the ones they have been waiting for. All 20 of them) 
First graders hug their kindergarten teacher from last year before walking down the big kid hall
They carry their backpacks and their breakfasts on little trays 
They look happy. They look worried. They look excited. They look nervous. 
A fifth grader walks by, 
looks at her friend, and all around the hall
"I've missed this place." she says, shaking her head with joy.
I don't want to sound dramatic, but 
Elementary school is magic 

I spend my days popping in and out, slices accumulating in my tired brain….
A second grader looks at me with utter confusion, each word emphasized with a furrowed brow.
"Who are you?" 
A kindergartner makes plans for catching the gingerbread man who got away today. 
"I have a cage. I can build a security camera." 
A fourth grader says "Can you help me spell division?" and then in almost a whisper, "Are you H. Thought's mom? I'm Abby from school. I started a new school now." 
I walk with a first grade class to recess 
a sweet boy talks to me about his star wars game, 
He quietly grabs my hand as we walk
I don't really know him yet, but I love him. 
I don't want to sound dramatic, but
Elementary school is magic

 

Celebrate the Remarkable.

celebrate-image So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend! 

What was remarkable about your day? I’m noticing and celebrating all the remarkable things this week. And, if you’ve ever spent a day (or an hour really) with teachers getting ready for the school year… you’ll know the definition of remarkable. Quick!  Go thank a teacher, any teacher. If you need to find a teacher, look for the people at target, looking tired, but still loading their carts with school supplies before they go back to school this weekend.

I had a remarkable first week in my new role as an instructional coach. . . So much to notice…

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What was remarkable?
New team, children and teachers at the heart
(#truth)
Time is always short
No tired like beginning of the school year teacher tired
…but coach tired is a thing too

What was remarkable?
Feeling welcomed in new places
Hugs, smiles and even cheers
The old song keeps coming into my head, like I’m 5 years old again
Make new friends, but keep the old…One is silver and the other’s gold

What was remarkable?
Listening to learn about
people
classrooms
grade levels
schools
leadership
collaboration
confusion

What was remarkable?
Questions I can’t answer
So many questions I can’t answer
The learning I need to do
Jumping in
And holding back

Love this quote that came in my inbox today. . .

Fueled by Love

celebrate-image So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend! 

I want to celebrate one of my kids today. One of my wonderful children is a little extra unique. He’s smart, creative, comical, helpful, talented, a struggling reader, fidgety, a nonconformist, sensitive and loud. If you haven’t met him, watching this will give you a good idea of him. (If you’re his parent, watching it might make you cry and hope.)

The other day I overheard someone else use the word tricky to describe him. They hadn’t met him yet, but it was my fault because sometimes I have labeled him “tricky” in order to try to describe him to others. But I think I’ve been using the wrong word. It’s not that he’s never mischievous… it’s just that that isn’t what I mean by tricky. The nuance of what I mean is lost in the translation from my brain to others’ ears. I mean unique. I mean not interested in the status quo. I mean challenges you to be a better person.  I mean sensitive but not quiet. 

The other day, Mr. Thought and I were talking about how to make sure our son starts off his new school on the right foot.

“He’s not tricky.” Mr. Thought said. “Well, sometimes he is, but that’s not the point.”

We both thought for a moment. “He’s just fueled by love.” My husband explained, “He needs to know he’s loved.”

I don’t usually speak in hashtags, but come on. This is #truth.

So, I have a new way to talk about my amazing kid. He is fueled by love. He deserves it.

And I think I have new way to talk about all kids, right? Who isn’t fueled by love? Who doesn’t deserve it? What does it mean? It means give every kid the benefit of the doubt, set kind limits, give second chances, again and again. Take a deep breath, let it go. Don’t make compliance your learning goal. Look around at your students and get to know them. Please. They are fueled by love.

 

 

A slice at the Grocery Store

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

There’s only one register open at Wegmans, and it’s a little bit slow. E and I can handle it though, and while we wait, a pregnant mother of 3 kids pulls her cart behind me. Her toddler keeps throwing things on the floor. So, when it’s my turn to put groceries on the belt, I ask her if she wants to go in front of me.

“No, that’s okay. They need to learn to be patient.”

“Are you sure?” I ask, “I only brought one of my kids with me today, so you are welcome to go first.”

“Nope, I’m kinda hoping they open another register. Usually they open registers when there are lines.”

The cashier rings up my groceries, and the woman has to start loading hers.

“Can you get those things on the bottom? No the bottom. The very bottom of the cart.” She explains to her kids. “Grab the milk from your sister before she drops it.”

I’m pulled out of my noticing by the cashier complaining about the line. She needs a price check for one of my items, so now she is the only cashier and her lamp is blinking. Another worker walks by, and my cashier yells after her.

“Is anyone going to help me?”

The woman walks away, saying “I’m going to accounting.”

“It would be great if you said something.” the cashier tells me. “That will make them listen. This is crazy. I’m all by myself.”

I nod. “It really puts the pressure on you.”

“That’s true.” she says to me, and then turns her head towards customer service, calling out the name of her manager. “I could use some help!”

Her voice is stressed, and snippy. The manager looks up, takes a deep breath and says “I’m with a customer. And then I can help you.”

The cashier grumbles to me some more, and I don’t really know what to say, so I just tell her that it must be so hard. The manager walks over, a smile on her face, asking what she can do to help me.

“I’m the only one on register.” the cashier says as the manager walks away, looking for the price we need. When she gets back, she asks the cashier if the item got on my order.

“I have no idea. I’m the only one on register. Can someone please come help over here?”

The manager checks that the item is now on my order, turns to the cashier and talks in a very patient voice, “More people are coming on. It will be okay.” She walks away.

“I hope your day gets better.” I tell the cashier as I walk away. E looks at me, eyes wide and rolling a little. It’s the look he gives me when we witness something a little odd. So, we talk a little about how hard it must be to be the only cashier, and how hard it must be to be the manager trying to get other people on the registers.  In my head I think about how patient the manager was, and how stressed out the cashier was. I wonder if this was supposed to teach me something. Is it ironic that the manager was all smiles to me, and on the patronizing side of patient with her employee? I don’t know. But, I noticed.

E reads this over my shoulder. “That’s sad” he says, and then, “Why are you writing about Wegmans? Write about something else.”