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Showing posts from March, 2013

Endings and beginnings...

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I had a vision and a plan for tonights writing, but instead will reflect on the Slice of Life Challenge 2013. I had discovered this challenge and, since I was committed to writing every day and had already been writing since January, decided to begin Slicing. I had no idea the world that would open for me. My evenings changed...I became a blogger and a writer. I began looking forward to my nights on the computer, reading others blogs. First I would go to those who commented on my blog, and before long, I was following a long list of blogs.

I am a bit in mourning right now, knowing that this month is coming to an end. What will I do with my time...I mean, I have ideas...watch more Dr Who, spend time with my husband, kiss the littlest man, but really, what will I do???

I will continue writing. I have joined the #AtoZChallenge, which means I will continue to blog each night, with each topic inspired by a letter of the alphabet. We'll see where this one goes. I hope that some of you …

I want to be me...

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Today was a beautiful Oregon day. In Oregon, it is not often that we get gorgeous sunny days in the early Spring. Today was clear and 77 degrees. On days like today, there is so much possibility. The flowers are beginning to poke through the ground, the smell of sweetness floating in the air. Spring signifies newness, growth.

Spring is a time where we can move forward, grasp the things that are important...

There are so many things in the air right now. Sometimes we just need to step out and remember who we want to be. As the end of this challenge is nearing, I think about all the gifts it has given me...

* I made a commitment to begin daily writing and I have continued it for 82 days.
* I have become a more thoughtful writer in this process and I think that my craft has progressed.
* I have formed a bond with other writers and have loved reading their thoughts
* I am grateful for Stacey and Ruth for putting on this challenge. I will be continuing on Tuesdays
* I will be moving onto …

Age is just a number...

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In 24 minutes, it is my birthday. Birthdays are always a weird time for me. I remember when I was young and I would wait, impatiently for the arrival of the next year. Now that I am older, I am not sure how to feel. I grew up with a mother who would always tell people that she was 10 years older than she really was. That way they would compliment her on how great she looked for her age. This was a real issue for me because I felt that they were fake compliments...I mean, the compliments were real, just based on false information. To solve this problem for myself, I just don't tell anyone my age. This accomplishes two things...first I don't have to think about it (since I can't remember most of the time anyway) and second, I realize that age is only a number, but I don't have to stress about it!

Sometimes when I think about the whole birthday thing, it really makes me think about the importance of it all. I mean, my grandmother just turned 94 and that is amazing, but wh…

Bonus GBE2: It's a small, small world?

Welcome to the Weekly Bonus Blog!!!

Have you ever questioned whether worlds exist that are very, very small? Imagine if on every blossom of every cherry tree on the planet, a complete world was encompassed...every dust speck floating on gentle air currents, a complete universe. What would those tiny, tiny beings think? Do they see us, giant versions of something like themselves, or are we completely and totally different? Sometimes, as I am driving and "dust" and other particles are flying by, these are the things that I ponder. Could there be very, very small planets hovering about within our atmosphere, their own complete solar systems? I wonder....could our own planet be a very, very small speck within someone else's world. Hmmm...I don't know...makes me wonder.


The Power of 80!!!

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Today is officially my 80th day blogging in a row. I know...UNBELIEVABLE!!! What began as a challenge to myself to let my mind quiet has now become in integral part of my day (or rather night) that I look forward to! I feel that writing every day has helped me grow as a writer and as a person. So for today...I wanted to share with you...the power of 80!

In Math, 80 is a semiperfect number which means that it is the sum of all of its own proper divisors.

In Science, 80 is the atomic number of Mercury and atomic weight of Bromine. Mercury and Bromine are the only metals that are liquids at standard conditions for temperature and pressure. (cool!)

In Religion, Moses was 80 when he spoke to the Pharaoh and is the upper limit for a cardinal to participate in the papal election.

In Numerology, 80 is considered to be the highest feminine number and the number of a natural leader. The Tarot Card of the number 80 is the card of strength. The Destiny number 80 see a bigger picture with a higher…

One daughter at a time...

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I am finding it interesting that during Spring Break, I am  finding it harder to write each night. Part of it might be that I don't have my students for inspiration or the drama that seems to unfold each day at school. I just have me and my family and our daily, kind of boring, life.

I have been reading lots of other blogs and reading stories of marriage, relationships, children. Maybe it's time for me to bust out one of those so tonight I am going to talk about one of those relationships that you don't expect...one with your daughter.

When I was pregnant, I knew that she was going to be a girl. I picked out a girl's name...one that was a combination of her father's name and mine. To be honest, I first thought of it as a license plate, but then thought it was too cool and it should be a baby name instead. So she got a unique first name and then has a Hawaiian middle name to honor my best friend at the time, as well as her father's best friend (who is Hawaiian)…

Telling your story...

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Today I had the opportunity to go to the Oregon State Capitol and meet my legislators. This is the first time I have really done this work and it was a powerful experience. I had the opportunity to "tell a little of my story" involving my youngest son and why funding for home care shouldn't be cut for seniors and people with disabilities. To have the opportunity to speak to people who are in a  position to talk to others of power was pretty amazing. Do I think my one story is going to tip the scale, I don't know, but someone's will.

When I think about those times when we "tell our story" to others, we are creating a space in the universe for this story to be heard. Each night, as I am writing, I am becoming more and more aware that my story is being revealed to others. You are becoming entwined in my life and I in yours.

Today my story was about my son and potential funding issues involved in raising him in our home. We have a strong desire to keep him …

The Playground in Heaven...

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Yesterday morning I received news that another boy who has MTM, the disease my son has, passed away. He was 7. Another child lost...another angel gone. Over the last nine years, we have lost so many...about ninety children and young adults to this disease.

I'd like to think that they are at the Playground in Heaven. The older welcoming the younger ones...age determined by how long they have been playing. When they arrive, they have bodies that are free to run and play. They laugh out loud and chase one another. Their bodies are vibrant and healthy. The breathe into lungs that are strong and their hearts beat fully. Every aspect of them is fresh and new.

I think about these sweet angels, wind blowing through their hair...both boys and girls swinging and on the bars. Running from one toy to another, holding hands, laughing. The young adults on benches surrounding the Playground, reminding them to be careful, not run to fast, then laughing and telling them to run as fast as these hea…

Capris and fun...

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Today was one of those days where time seemed to stand still a bit. Sunday would normally be filled with preparing for Monday, lessons to be planned, papers to be graded, but today I just was. The sun stays out so long now that time is hard to judge. It seemed like I looked up and it was already 7:30. "Where did the time go?," I asked my husband. I hadn't even started making dinner and was planning baked non-mac and cheese. (Gluten free, dairy free, everything except delicious free!) This spring break it is time to reclaim by body. Two years ago, after spring break, I restricted my eating and ended up losing 50 pounds that I had been lugging around. My best girlfriend and I did it together with great success. Last spring I had finally reached my goal, bought the cutest capris ever and was prepared to go into this year feeling fit. Toward the end of the year I was rear-ended and my inactive summer let almost 20 pounds find their way back to me. UGH!

So my best girlfriend…

A Slice of Life...

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I have a new routine in my life thanks to the Slice of Life Challenge that I have been participating in all month. I have become a follower of blogs. Each night, before I get settled in to write, I go to the various blogs that I am now following. It is almost like checking up on friends. When they haven't written yet, I worry, and feel relief when I see that they were just late bloggers (I should know..I am one!) So, tonight, I followed my same routine, except today was the first day of Spring Break, so I am feeling more refreshed than usual, but less filled with ideas!

Today was a great day...It was sunny and (somewhat) warm, but I did not spend the day basking. I spent the day sleeping. Yes, on this beautiful day, I was blissfully napping on my couch off and on throughout the day. I was exhausted.

Tonight I was talking to another teacher friend of mine, and I was sharing about my sleep-fest for the day. I keep telling people I just need to make it to June. It has been a particu…

Growing up on the Pharm...

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My Grandfather (who would be turning 96 this year) was a pharmacist. He was a conscientious objector during World War II and served out his duty by being a pharmacist at Ft. Lewis in Washington State. He met and married a pharmacist's daughter in college, bought out her father's pharmacy and ran it as his own. He worked long hours and was thoroughly committed to taking care of the neighborhood's needs.

Working at the pharmacy was a kind of rite of passage. My dad and uncle worked there, although then they had a soda fountain with the old time stools and ice cream bar. By the time I started working there, it was just a run of the mill neighborhood pharmacy. People had charge accounts, I learned to navigate by doing deliveries, and could have a free soda and candy bar during my break.

I started working at the pharmacy about my freshman year in high school. It was a great place to spend time with Grampa as well as earn some extra money. The best part is that he worked around…

The MD of Me...

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Eleven years ago when my son was born a new world opened up to us. Having had a normal pregnancy, we were surprised when our son clearly had something going on. I remember asking, "Why isn't the baby crying?" and my husband assuring me that he just needed a little oxygen (he wasn't breathing, although years would go by before I knew that gem). I was a Science major in college with a special interest in Genetics. I had studied rare diseases, although what my son has is so rare, you wouldn't even look for it unless you knew about it. I had been a Special Education teacher and, now, here I was with a son with something medically worng, and I was at a loss. In eleven years I have earned my medical degree, of sorts. I am more of an expert on Myotubular Myopathy than most doctors. I can stand on my two feet when it comes to carrying on a conversation laden with medical-ese. Although I never attended Med School, I feel like I can hang! Tonight has been one of those nigh…

The New Year's Owl...

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Today was a day that my mind has been full...all day long, I "notice" things about my life and wonder, "Is this what I will write about tonight?" Every evening before I write, I read some really great blogs...tonight I was reading "Self, Good Day" , which was a tribute to her mom, and I was thinking about parents, and my personal grab bag of the lot. Then I was reading Family Trove, a commentary of education on Finland, and I thought..."Naaah...been there." I remembered that today was the anniversary of my step-father's death long ago. Maybe I should write about him. Or that my newcomer who barely speaks English, after only six months in the country was just a single point from meeting the benchmark (which had me jumping in excitement!). So many possibilities.

Then two things happened....I remembered that my husband (who is from Iran) reminded me that today was his New Year (and I remembered that I needed to tell my student from Iran, "…

Where the Magic Happens....

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How many of us desire to have the "magic" happen in our lives?

This sign is from my daughter's office. She has just accepted a position as a graduate assistant in Illinois. I know what you're thinking...first, you can't believe that I have a daughter with an office and second that she is going to Illinois of all places. (If you are reading from Illinois, I hope I haven't offended you...I have actually never been there.)

Anyway, my daughter, who is now moving to Illinois this summer, is a (super) planner. She would like people to believe that she is laid back and impromptu, but really she loves to know what's next. She makes lists, organizes her ideas, and wants to know what is happening in her future, especially when she is nervous about something. This is a girl at 13 who told me that she made major decisions in her life by assigning them number values and putting them in the Quadratic Equation. That was my first clue (that she was a little nerdy) that …

Welcome to Crazytown...

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As a middle school teacher there are many things that you "endure." Hormonal, pre-pubescent boys and girls exploring relationships, friendships, and learning. This experience is how you get to Crazytown. There are so many factors that can increase this level of craziness...the full moon, the end of the quarter, assemblies, vacations...you name it.

So, here we are...the final week before Spring Break (oh..did I mention that we are testing too? Yay team!), I have been absent 4 of the last 8 days, due to a variety of reasons including school visitations, Dr. appointments, and illness. I feel that all the work that I have done this year to create an environment of learning has essentially been thrown out the window and, instead in it's place, Crazytown!

Vacations, at my school, typically cause all sorts of issues. They do not bring to mind a road trip or fun with family for most of the students. Many of my students come from homes where chaos reigns, so the predictability o…

This is only a test...

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Testing...this is a topic that all teachers dread...Tomorrow I begin State Testing and I have plenty to talk about on that topic. We all know that testing does not show our students true abilities...it doesn't test all the elements of our mind and person. There are so many elements of ourselves and our students that are never touched by the so-called test. Many of these have been deemed unimportant or extra skills, rather than critical to success.

If we really look at it, life is the really big test. We, as teachers, are helping our students along toward their ongoing final exam. Preparing them for the real test...not the one that the state or even the nation thinks is so important, is ever so important.  For the real test, their life, they will need all the skills that the "test" doesn't measure. They will need persistence, enthusiasm, courage, and leadership, to mention a few. The sad part is that these are the exact skills we are not teaching them.

The other day …

Creating a new life...finding greatness

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Some nights I sit at my computer wondering what words I might put together to create my message. Tonight has been one of those nights, with my thoughts scattered across the page. Today I have been thinking a lot about choices that we all make which form the paths our lives take. Eighteen years ago when I moved from California back to Oregon, I made such a decision to change. I was going to "start over."

It is a powerful thing to remake who you are into someone "new." I made a decision that I was going to become the master of my own life, not letting people or circumstance dictate my choices. I had been living in reaction or response to others rather than actually living my life for my future.

We, as humans, have incredible power to create and recreate our lives. Each decision that we make along our journey can affect the rendition of the life we are creating. I think about my decision eighteen years ago and recognize that this decision to change my path, was liter…

Finding your person...

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Tonight I had the opportunity to go to a friends wedding...she married her ex-husband. It is an amazing story of love, work, commitment and dedication. They started dating in high school, had a child, she graduated, they got married and had another child. Rocky times came and circumstances tore them apart. Seems like a story ending, and yet...it is really the beginning. He was her person...the one her soul loves. She was his too, so through those times, when they were apart with a broken marriage, they each worked. This is what love is really about. When times are hard, you work, not run.

So here I was tonight, as their two handsome sons walked their mother down the aisle to their smiling, waiting father, at the marriage of these two people who are reaping the rewards of their work. They are reuniting their family, showing the fruits of their labor, that love really can really conquer all, if you are committed to it.

I looked at pictures of their high school smiling faces looking up …

Dear Albert...

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Dear Albert...

Today is your birthday...it is the 134th year of celebrating your birth...I wish you were here to celebrate. I think you would get a kick out of Pi Day and honoring you! Thanks for having big dreams because today I am also honoring those!

Years ago, when I was in high school I met this amazing teacher named Mr. Boring. I know...a teacher named Mr. Boring seems comical, but let me tell you, he was NOT boring! He was amazing. Mr. Boring became the template for which I would frame my teaching life. He was accessible, kind, understanding, rigorous with high expectations, friendly, and most of all, caring.

Albert, Mr. Boring taught me to love science. I didn't really consider myself nerdy before then, but after having Mr. Boring as a teacher, my love for science flourished. More than anything, I wanted science to be a part of my life. Mr. Boring took a stand for me when I couldn't fit choir and AP Biology in my schedule, so he and the choir teacher (Mr. Baker...anot…

Happy Pi Day....

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For all you math nerds out there (and now newly recruited into math nerdiness), March 14 is Pi Day. Get it??? 3.14?? LOL! Anyway...It is also Albert Einstein's birthday! Normally I would tromp out to my local WinCo (huge, cheap, grocery store) and buy the most of whatever Pi-ish items I could get for my classes. One year it was fruit Pi's, one year Moon-Pi's, and so on. This year I just don't have it in me!

I had the opportunity today to go and visit a class at another local middle school who has made great math gains. It was inspiring. They have similar demographics and yet, behavior and engagement was totally different. This should tell you all you need to know...my sub texted me to let me know that 9 kids were refusing to work (did I mention this was the beginning of the day? Who knows what happened later?) I called the school and spoke to said children about their behavior. Meanwhile, I am watching other children behave, bring their supplies, work hard, etc. I want…

My Invictus...

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Where emotional night is never ending
Where darkness stretches through halls.
I am more than grateful that
there is calm in my soul.

Through circumstance, not choice
for those I love despair abounds
I will weep for spirit lost, joy felt
I hold my head though beaten around.

This place where tears and frustration have been shed
finds me hopeful for a future to come
where love has been lost and anger arisen
I will not succumb

It matters not the direction we go
how difficult the road...
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul

~Shannon Mashinchi (2013)

Life is short...live fully...

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Have you ever had one of those days? A day when you wish you could just go back and hit restart? Last week I had one of those days...

Today was a new day, fresh and clean...a day when I realized who my friends were, who are the people that support me, a day when I looked at myself and said, "you're okay."

We only have one shot at this life and we can either worry through it or we can live it fully. Think of those you might know who are always grumbling about their lives...who are they kidding? Do they think that they get another chance when this one is over? This is it...our one chance to live.

Being happy (or at least satisfied) is really the only option. I think about earlier years in my own life when I was miserable...a nearly nervous breakdown in my 20's, led to a depression that wasted a year of my life. A year that I can't get back. I look at that time, at that self, and I feel sad. Sad that I was willing to give up on being healthy in exchange for being s…

Courage...

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Courage

What does it mean to be courageous? Sometimes courage is knowing when to stop..sometimes it's knowing when to move forward. A person's courage cannot be judged by another since we cannot look inside and see what demons are within. Sometimes being courageous means getting up in the morning and moving through the day, other times being courageous means going above and beyond.

I see courage in all areas of my life. Courage embodies my youngest son's life. Courage embodies many of my students lives. Every day my students get up and come to school. Many of their homes lack food, warmth, security. Many of their parents work two jobs (or more) leaving the middle schoolers to assume parental roles for younger siblings.

What does it mean to be courageous? According to the dictionary, courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, or pain without fear...How many of us make decisions out of fear? How many of us live in fear? We sho…

A gift not for return...

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Today I officially joined a writing "group" called a Slice of Life. It is put on by Two Writing Teachers whose blog I have found during one of my late night writing quests. Many many know by now that I don't really sleep well. I have always had issues with insomnia and going to bed late, but this has been exacerbated since the birth of my youngest. When he was born 11 and a half years ago, our sleep pattern forever changed. My husband, who is an early riser, now sleeps in the evening, falling asleep on the couch at 6 or 7pm, while I stay awake. I, on the other hand, take the night shift, going to bed often after midnight...taking care of his evening care, watching TV, and, of course, blogging. My sweetest boy has gotten the best of both worlds, he is a night owl and a early bird. He just wants to see it all.  This has been our normal for so long it is hard to remember what it is like to go to bed at 10 and awake at 6. Even though I feel sleep deprived...he is totally wo…

The Lorax, a teacher of trees...

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"I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees because the trees have no tongues."

Have you ever seen the Lorax? He was all about the trees. Caring about their growth and existence...speaking for them. The Lorax was one of my favorite movies growing up. My mom loved the movie too and we would sit in our living room when it came on TV once a year and watch it together. I loved the idea that there was a thneed...a magical thing that solved every problem and could be used in any way, but also a conflicting issue about cutting down the trees that the Lorax was fighting for. Right now in my life, I am feeling a bit like the Lorax. I am fighting for my students, my trees...I am trying to speak for them. This can be a dangerous and sometimes difficult process because sometimes when you are trying to do the right thing, the wrong thing is the result. You are standing alone in the forest...speaking loudly where no one is listening.

Tonight I had a very special conversa…

New possibilities...

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We all like to carry our life with us...all the troubles of the world on our shoulders. Each night we come home with our backpack filled full of the days issues and troubles and unpack it in the corner. It stares at us wondering what we will do with it...acknowledge it's presence, work with it, repack it in the morning and take it to our new day? Each days troubles meld together in the pile, intermixing. Sometimes when we are feeling especially overwhelmed, we might separate these troubles, put them in piles and line them next to each other, comparing the stacks...

There comes a time when it is time to unpack the backpack and let the troubles go...move forward. Carrying them around each day crushes our spirit, our body, our soul. We need to let these things go. Carrying the troubles with us serves no purpose other than to cloud our judgement for the new day. Frustration and anger can consume us like a fire coming from within. Instead, we want to to treat each day as a new beginni…

I'm a hurdling through here...

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This letter could be to anyone...it could also say Dear Terrific Boy...

The point is...we all come across hurdles. Today was one of mine. Being a teacher is a hard job...showing up every day with a positive attitude ready to conquer the world and all those teen aged hormones can be a challenge. We are humans, with our own human emotions, our own lives weighing heavily on our hearts.

I had a really rough day...one where I wish I could turn back time and not get up. I am under a weight and I should have recognized where I was...tomorrow I go meet with lawyers about a lawsuit against my insurance for refusing to pay for my son's nursing care, this week I had to go to the doctor because I am having substantial tremors in my hands (which are moving to my face) to get testing to see if I am a carrier of my son's rare genetic disease or if I have MS or who knows..maybe in the end nothing major, but something is going on. I am emotionally at the end...I am holding on to the knot in m…

Lead, lead away...

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Being a leader can be difficult...everyone looks to you for the answer before you may know there is a problem, people look to you for the answer when there is a problem, people get frustrated with you when you can't solve the problem.

Almost everyone has been in some sort of leadership position during their lives. If you come by leadership naturally, the frustration of things not working out as you may have planned can be especially frustrating.

There are many important qualities of a leader...vivacious personality, a go-get'm attitude, energy, respectful, but most of all, as a leader, you must have the pulse of those around. If you are not aware of what is happening with those around you, it can be difficult to move forward.

When leading a group of people, there will be times where you have to leave others in charge. You need to be able to trust that they have the same vision and will support it in their work. If not, then destruction can happen in your absence. Words from th…

Drama Queen...

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Today I brought puzzles to school again. I finished the puzzle last night that my students had destroyed. Even with pieces missing, it turned out pretty cool. I am going to glue it together and hang it on my wall, clearly labeled, "First Puzzle." The missing pieces symbolize how this year is going...we almost have it together, but we don't! We are a little broken.

As I am looking at my life, as well as those of my students, I realize that things are a bit crazy. Work is crazy, school is crazy, life is crazy...

I have spoken with some students about who they are surrounding themselves with, who they make time for. Using the puzzles as a way to work together, I am trying to encourage them to make good choices, surround themselves with others that will help them get to where they want to be. I think this can be a lesson for all of us. Who do we surround ourselves with? Do we get caught up in the drama or do we find a few that we can really trust, that make us laugh?

The spr…

Hear Hear...

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Conversations with others...how many times are we listening so that we can just respond? We all so this. I have done it to my students, co-workers, my boss, husband, and children. I have seen it happen to me with all those same people.

Sometimes we can see that the person we are talking to is listening the words that we are saying, but it is clear from their response that they are not hearing the words! It can be a frustrating time that we find ourselves repeating what we are saying, getting the person to focus on us...

I think of the times that I do this with my students...I am watching them talk and I realize that their words are floating into the air, but I have no idea what they are talking about. I find myself apologizing and asking them to repeat themselves...What kind of message am I sending? Occasionally I can apologize that I have many things on my mind and I wasn't truly paying attention, at which time I have to focus on them, drown out all the other noise, then listen …

Persistence...a skill of the future

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Tonight I was working on a puzzle that I brought home this last week from school. In my absence last week due to sickness, the students destroyed it. It seems that any day I was not at school, they would throw pieces on the floor (to be swept up by the custodian) or tear them up. I finally brought the puzzle home to complete it myself, knowing that some pieces were gone.

This week I feel like I have been on a mission to complete the puzzle. Last night I spent hours working on it and tonight after coming home I spent even more time on it. Although I am clear that there will be giant gaps between some pieces, I am excited for every piece I place correctly. It is a cross between being a bit OCD and persist.

Persistence....this is a skill, for young people, that seems to be fading into the past. I have noticed over the years that my students have less and less persistence...they are more inclined to just give up without trying long at all...

When I was a child I loved Legos. I would spend…

Repairing our youth...

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Recently in our community (the school community), a vital organization that gave our students a place to go after school had to close due to a lack of funding...As a result things have been a little crazy. The Boys and Girls Club has committed to take over and reopen, providing crucial services to our low income community. Hundreds of our students go here after school to play basketball, get help with their homework, hang out with friends and so forth. The uneasiness of the situation has definitely impacted our community this week. At school we have had unrest, students acting out both in and out of school, and general chaos. As teachers, we normally begin to prepare for Spring at this time where love is in the air and it is harder and harder to sit when the sun is shining. Needless to say, the Spring attitude is seeming to come early this year. I feel like I've been trying to just tie the kids down.

I think of our students (and so many others like them across the nation and the w…