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Showing posts from 2014

Thankfulness for technology...one machine at a time

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I know that the title sounds a little Dr. Who-ish and maybe one might expect a Dalek or other type of machine to hop out in front of you, but truly as a parent of a medically fragile child, one learns to not only appreciate but rely on the machines in our life.

It is ironic to read about those who sleep away from their child for the night find it quiet...the whoosh of the ventilator becomes white noise to us, ever present. It is comforting, know that your child is receiving the breath of life...through the night while they sleep. Their body is resting, strengthening while the machine does the work, filling their lungs.

The suction machine becomes ones closest friend. Without the ability to cough up secretions fully, my son is in danger of choking, blocking his airway. The suction machine clears the secretions quickly and efficiently...many times people don't even realize what has happened.

Last night, Javad really started showing symptoms of a cold. Yesterday he was pretty punky, …

Gratitude in spite of...a burger and a shirt.

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Right now I am feeling a bit bummed...my body hurts from the accident, my car is a wreck, I'm tired all the time from the accident and now...I have a cold. It's like the universe just said, "Shannon...here...gonna dump it all on you right now!"

I sort-of want to scream, "uncle," but, as you know, that's not my style.I forge forward...I keep at it. That is the attitude that has helped me to be who I am with Javad. Even when times are rough, you just keep going. I like to think of my friend Julie when we were walking a half marathon. It was not long after "Finding Nemo" came out and we would find ourselves saying, "just keep swimming," but also we knew at the end that we were getting a burger and a shirt, so that became our mantra...As we were walking up the hill, tired and ready to give up, we would start chanting, "a burger and a shirt...a burger and a shirt." That's sort of where I am right now...looking for the mantra…

Sleep...a thought of thankfulness

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It's not that I don't think about the things I am thankful for during the years, but I do love expressing my specific areas where I am thankful during the month of November. Today, it is easy...I am thankful for sleep.

Anyone who has a medically fragile child knows that sleep is a commodity that is in rare supply. Now, frankly, any parent knows that sleep can be in rare supply, but when you have a medically fragile child it seems that the most frightening things happen at night, when you are groggy and it is important that you are able to make life and death decisions. 
We have never had nursing during the night, which makes many of our friends shake their head in disbelief. It started with my desire to work and the limited nursing hours we had needed to be used during the day so I could stay employed. It was a bit of a circle...keep the job to keep the nursing to keep the job. Comical beginning to say the least.
Now, after all these years, we still don't have night nursi…

Thankfulness: My students

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#mtmcnmthankfulnessinitiative

Day 4: Sometimes being a teacher gets a bad rap...let's face it, the American public thinks that we aren't doing enough, that the students are lazy, that the rigorous education of the past is gone, that we are raising children who are screen-induced zombies...

I am not going to lie...the education system has some issues, but this is not the time or place to get on my soap box about how we are over testing and underestimating our youth. Yes, they are different than children were twenty years ago, but they are still children who, overall, desire to learn.

Over the last thirteen years, I have witnessed some incredible kindness in my students. Each year I tell them about the littlest and let them know that I sometimes am called away due to health issues. They ask about him...students who have been mine years in the past keep up on him, celebrating success. It is heart warming beyond belief.

This past week I was in an accident...my students worried. Yes…

Nursing our mental and physical health...

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MTM-CNM Thankfulness Initiative Day 3: When you have a child that is medically fragile, you have to make concessions...time, freedom, friendships, family, sleep, and sometimes even your sanity..

Many of these concessions come slowly...you don't see them coming until they have blasted through you, leaving you breathless and sometimes flustered, not knowing what just hit you.

In our case, Javad was a surprise...on so may levels...but his birth, and lack of health, was a big shock. Everyone assumes that your child will be healthy...we assumed the same...until it wasn't.  I vividly remember one of the NICU nurses, Ron, telling the Neonatologist that we could benefit from home nursing and her response essentially being that it wasn't going to happen. At that time I had no idea what that meant, but now I realize that they were sending our sweetest boy home to die...nursing wouldn't be needed. He had other plans....

After five months the insurance decided that it was more econ…

Patience and breathing....sigh

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Today was one of those days. It doesn't matter what your profession...it was one of those days...one where everything is irritating. By the end of the day, a ball of aggravation and anxiousness was inside. I felt like I was having a panic attack.

My students had gotten under my skin...

Argh...I hate when that happens!

I was feeling pretty good when the day started...I was wearing my newly purchased Flash Gordon socks for Homecoming "Crazy Sock Day..." I had arrived (almost) on time, had coffee, made my copies and was on my way. Upon arrival to my classroom, I found students already inside (ugh!), I had a student get huge attitude because I asked him to get his work out (tragedy), then had to explain to said student that the attitude was not really required.

The next classes made the day seem like it was going in the right direction...the students were polite...we got work done...we did a warm-up on how many candy corn would fit in a jar...all seemed good! Then my freshma…

Teacher Crush in 3 Acts

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Awhile back I discovered the 3 Act Math tasks. If you haven't checked them out, you should...even if you aren't a math teacher. They are really cool and a fun way to get kids interested in excited about math. Last weekend I went to the Northwest Math Conference. Although I realize that being at the conference doesn't bring you all to the same level of excitement as me, it really was amazing! I mean, really, how often do you get to see a teacher crush, meet a few more, see some friends, and, most of all, see some really great speakers!

Dan Meyer is an incredible speaker and the creator of the 3 Act Math tasks. AS a young teacher, he realized that the way he was teaching math wasn't reaching his students, so he created something else...something that he thought would be better, something that would reach his students, get their creative juices flowing.

Sometimes, I'm sure in every career, you get to meet your idol...this was one of those times. At a young age, he wa…

Rehab...

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I have a classroom full of addicts...they are addicted to formulas. It seems that they can't do math without them. These students, extremely bright...in an advanced math class looked at me like a deer in the headlights. Today I was giving a quiz and it began...

S1: "I don't remember the formula."
Me: "You don't need the formula...look at the picture...do the math."
S2: "But it wants us to find the Surface Area...I can't remember the formula."
Me (exasperated): "You don't need the formula to find Surface Area...think about it...WHAT IS SURFACE AREA??"
S: (Blank stares)
Me: "Look at this prism...when you need to find Surface Area, what are you trying to find? I mean, really you guys, do the math. I want you to think. This is not about the formula...this is about learning WHY the formula makes sense...doing the math without even knowing the formula..."
S3 (in jest): "Gasp!"
Me: "You guys are junkies. You…

Today I write...even if it's long...

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It has been a long gap in my blogging life...probably the longest since I started writing a few years ago. For those who check up on me...thank you...

I started teaching at the high school this fall. It has been good. This is the first time in my teaching career that I have had the opportunity to have students for a second time. There are many that I had in 8th grade and now have again in 10th grade. They are different...I am different. This group...the group of 10th graders was a special one...some groups are. It fills my cup to have them again. I feel strong and inspired...for the first time in a few years.

It has been a strange beginning...good times and bad. My cousin, who I grew up with but have only kept in touch with through Facebook and occasional family gatherings, had startling tragedy this fall with the sudden loss of her 22 year old son. Seemingly healthy, he was jogging and had a massive heart attack. When I went to his service, I had a strange response...this young man w…

Like the Phoenix...

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There have been many stages to my teaching career...it has gone in a weird group of segments. The first segment was the one where I was still married to my ex-husband. I got my first job and then he joined the military. This meant I left to follow him to his next destination, California. After two and a half in California I came home. So the first segment was an (almost) five year stint.

Then I returned home to Oregon, daughter in tow. After six months of healing, I began subbing until I found a part time job. This began the second portion of my career. Four more years and the second portion of my career was done.

The third portion of my career began when I was hired in my current district. Now on my fifteenth year, I am in my third "rotation." I have almost done it all, alternative HS, middle school, and now high school. Each of these positions have brought me a spark. Getting the first job (a job I thought I didn't want) turned out to be a gift I didn't even know I…

What starts here changes the world...

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Today I was watching the 2014 University of Texas Commencement Speech by Admiral McRaven with my students. It doesn't matter how many times I watch it (or how much of a military girl I am not), I love his speech.

One of my goals this year is to build a strong sense of community within my classes. I have been preaching that we leave "no man or woman behind." The inspiration for this is my class from four years ago, this year's seniors, a group that built a community of learners and, for me, created on of my most powerful teaching experiences.

I have had the best start this year than I have for awhile. Every day, I drag my exhausted, but exhilarated self to my desk. I stand through most classes, walking my small strip of carpet while I talk. I see many old faces and many new. Seeing my old kids is inspiring...seeing how they have grown into young adults is amazing!

I have on of my old students who is coming into my room during lunch, then goes to his math class after. …

Projecting forward...

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One of my most recent mantras is to practice kindness and gratitude. The idea that each day should be approached with these two gives an entirely different meaning to every moment. Being grateful and acknowledging it brings a smile to not only others but also makes my heart sing.

As students begin to attend, I want to continue this practice while also acknowledging and encouraging each of them to do the same.

Assuming the best in others and treating them accordingly often causes people to rise to expectations. I have started on a personal healing journey this summer, trying to heal some of the wounds from the past few years. Healing is a process that has had me re-examine who I bring on a personal level, professional level, and emotional level. I want to find myself...I have been lost. The person I have been showing recently can be likened to an injured animal in the corner unable to function, unable to put a person forward that I could be proud of.

I am committed to re-discovering th…

Planting Trees...

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Education is similar to being gardener, you plant the seed, then wait to see the results. I have been teaching at the middle school for the last seven years, planting seeds, then walking away. You may get glimmers of success, maybe even glimpses of failure, but you often don't get to see the final product per se.

Today was our first day back to work...I met my girlfriend for coffee and we caught up, but the strangest part, for me, was when we were getting ready to leave, it really struck me that we weren't going to the same place. I have officially moved.

I am moving to teach high school, a place where I will get to see some of my kids again...a bit like revisiting the garden that was planted years ago. I am not going to lie, it will be a bit gratifying, getting to see some of what I built long ago, but I also realize that I am still just a place to pass along their journey. I may, or may not, get to see them get to their destination, but I know that I have been a stop along t…

Fanning the Flames...

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I have already begun having back to school dreams. This is a little scary considering my room is nowhere ready for student occupants. It is a giant disaster, filled with boxes which are filled with stuff.

This is a room that I want to be a place of inspiration, a place where students find their way.

I am taking this year especially seriously...I have left behind my friends and students I love to help create something positive. I am excited and terrified.

The last few years I have done these things with my partner in crime. Working with her strengthened me and my teaching. It is a strange thing to have one person impact my teaching practices and attitude at the level it has. It will be strange not to see her in the halls, after school, with the kids. She is the one who has helped me open my mind...re-discover my love. She is the one who was there during the depth...throwing a rope with the promise of being at the other end. I am taking the fire baton that she has passed and creating so…

Give an inch...build a mile...

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Today I went to see the Portland Thorns play their final game of the season. It was a must win in order to go to the playoffs. As you may know by now, I am a big time soccer fan. The World Cup at my house is a time of reverence...getting up early or staying late, whichever needs to be done, but soccer isn't really what this blog is about...it's about wanting something so bad you can almost taste it and fighting for it.

I am working on a new class for incoming Freshman with a group of other teachers. It is an interesting experience beginning to form a team with people I have never met. This class may become one of the most integral classes that freshman at our high school take...an opportunity to learn skills that they are lacking, study skills, coping skills, problem solving skills.

I want this class to be a foundation of something that they see in their future and work hard to achieve. Similar to the Thorns today...a goal in mind, hard work, and then success. These are skills…

Looking inside...starting anew...

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Once you have opened up and let people into the rabbit hole, it is hard to know what to say. I am here...I am moving forward, I am building something new and fresh...

I am ready to begin this new stage in my life...

Down the Rabbit Hole...

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The loss of the comedic icon Robin Williams this week has brought about much conversation around the subject of depression and other types of mental illness. Today it was released that he may have been suffering from early Parkinson's Disease.

Sometimes it takes someone who seems to have it all, the riches, the life, the connections, to bring forth the ideas of mental illness. Some people don't like to use the phrase "mental illness" when talking about depression or similar issues, but the reality is that they are mental illnesses, they are wired in the brain and professional help is often needed to find some level of relief or resolve.

I, myself, have struggled in this arena. When my daughter was young, I was in a pit of despair. I took medication that gave some relief, but realistically it did not pull me from the dark place. Those years were rough...I feel bad for my daughter, looking back, I was not able to give her more of myself. My memory is a bit like swiss ch…

Reaching out to the Gum Lady...

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I write to help me process. I write as a way to think. I started this blog over a year ago for both reasons and, in return, it has given me so much more...It honors me that people choose to read my words...it also gives me comfort.

Last night I went to the hospital to see my Grama. She was admitted yesterday due to edema in her legs, fluid in her lungs. She has a combination of pneumonia, edema and congestive heart failure. I am not delusional...my Grama is 95 years old.

My Grama is one of the strongest women I know. When I was a child, she and my Grampa would come and pick me up almost every Wednesday and Sunday for church or youth group. We would spend the day (or afternoon) together, eat, play games. I waited each week for these days...they were special and unique. I was the center of the universe these days...the most important person around.

After church services on Sundays, my Grama, lovingly known as "The Gum Lady," would let children choose from her magical bag...gu…

One step forward...

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I have finally gotten all of my things out of my classroom at my old school and it has been moved to my new building. To quote my custodian, "Your crap is here!"

I am having mixed feelings...this is the closure of one chapter of my life and the turn of the page into a new chapter. It is both scary and exhilarating.  I found out that I have a room with a window (awesome) and I don't have to share (cool). I am teaching a variety of classes, from freshman to juniors...it is all off to a good start.

It is still strange...the people that have been "my people" will be at my old school...I will need to find new people. In a staff three times the size as my old school, I will be looking for those I can trust, those who share the same goals.

The summer is rapidly coming to a close...my head is swirling with things to do, people to see. I have templates to make, things to send, organization to be had. There is a whirlwind of things to be done...all of this while trying t…

Returning to normal...

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I sat at home while the funeral was happening. My daughter would send me an occasional message, I would return one of support. My heart was heavy, thinking of my friends and their heartbreak, their daughter who is angry with the world for taking her brother away. There is nothing I can do for them, which breaks my heart...I wish I had the power to take the pain away...not only for them, but for all the families that have had to bury their sweet angels. It never gets easier...each one as painful as the one before it. My hope is that the time before we find a cure is less...it happens sooner rather than later.

Tonight I got a call that my Grama, who had a stroke recently, may have had another episode. My parents came to pick me up and we went to visit. She has pneumonia, is feeling crappy, and is in isolation because she is contagious. My Grama is my "person," you know...the one that grounds you. I want her to get better. I know that she is no spring chicken (she's 95), bu…

Tiny caskets...broken hearts...

Tomorrow is the funeral. I wish I could be there to hold my friend's  hand, to be a shoulder. Tomorrow they have to say goodbye to his earthly body, look at the tiny casket...one far too small. There is never the right size casket when it comes to burying your child. They are always too small, too constraining, too wrong.

The family saying goodbye for the last time...hearts breaking, cries out for understanding...understanding that will never come. There is no rhyme or reason to this disease...one never knows how it might affect one or another. This is why it is especially scary...one never knows if your own family may be in the cross hairs.

Over the last ten years there have been too many of these days...too many tiny caskets. With so few affected, the sheer number lost is overwhelming. Over one hundred children lost...each one shattering the community, each an irreplaceable piece of our collective heart. Each day we get closer to a cure and yet each day comes on borrowed time...…

Reflections from a MTM Mother...a year later, more of the same...

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This week has been a rough one on so many levels...personally, professionally, emotionally. I write to process, to speak to my own soul. Yesterday my writing spoke to many...I am overwhelmed...I am grateful that I have touched the hearts of many, yet I only want to truly touch the heart of one...One mother that is grieving the loss of her son, a loss totally unexpected, a loss that has shattered her heart to the core.

"What do I do?" was her question to me "How do I do this?"

I wish I had the answer, but then knowing how to survive the loss of a child would mean I would have to lose mine. As I said before...I am selfish. I never want it to be my turn. My son is turning 13 this year. He has made it past many milestones, farther than many, including some in my own family, ever suspected he would make. I don't blame anyone for being a realist...I have never been...not when it comes to my son. A year ago I wrote Reflections of a MTM Mother. It is a journey...for on…

Another angel gains his wings....

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Tears are falling down my face...I can't control them. My eyes just keep leaking.

The news that another MTM boy gained his angel wings last night breaks my heart...the news that it is my dear friend, Lindsey's son Louie, crushes it. At the conference last summer I met this sweet family. They struggled, like we all do, to come to terms with this diagnosis and what it means. Their daughter, Emily, is a doting and special girl, a big sister filled with love. She is comforting her parents now...dealing with this unspeakable loss in the only way many children know how...love those around them.

We joked last summer that Louie was Stesha's boyfriend. They had an immediate and special bond. He would smile and flirt with her. She would hold his hand and talk with him...even though she was years older, these little angels burrow themselves into our hearts.

I hate this disease...I hate that it takes our children like a thief in the night. The last few deaths have been swift and unfo…

From One Nerd to Another...

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I have spent the last few days at the Oregon Math Leaders Conference...now, I know that you are so excited and wish it was you.

I admit that I am a nerd, geek, whatever...I love to learn...Each day presents itself a new and exciting opportunity. This year I am looking forward to being reinvigorated. 
I have been under a cloud for some time...Even my closest friends have not been able to help me clear my head.
It will happen...step by step, but I am looking forward to clarity and rebuilding...rebuilding relationships, rebuilding my joy for teaching, rebuilding the things that I love.
I look forward to finding my path...

Where the Wild Things Are...

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Incoming Freshman...what can I say? They are a special kind of animal. I have forgotten what they look like after being away from high school for the last 10 years. There is a lot of whining, sighing, and eye rolling.

There is also good questioning, excitement, pride in work well done.

Pulling, pushing, prodding...I am not sure if I am a teacher or a circus trainer.

The future of our world is reliant on these students...it is both frightening and awe-inspiring.

They are waiting to be led in the right direction, seeking guidance, afraid of success, afraid of failure. Giant balls of emotions, moving in all directions, scattered around.

They are Wild Things...waiting to find their way...I am Max...I want to lead them...to help them find themselves...

She did it anyway...

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She sat around, watching others...she felt joy, happiness, elation. She ran amok in the willows, she laughed, she cried. Wandering amongst the leaves, the smell of rain fresh in the sky...

Although there were hurdles to be jumped over, obstacles to be avoided...she ran anyway. The breeze flowing through her hair...heart pumping, tears streaming from her eyes.

The world spinning around her, colors blurring...

Even though the signs said she should stop, the path was blocked, the challenge overwhelming...she went anyway.

Voice unheard, screaming, yelling, crying...silence in the air, pulsing.

The wave of sound vibrating to deaf ears...

When life became difficult...she did it anyway...

When things unbearable, she did it anyway...

When the cup runneth over, she felt it anyway...

When there was nothing, there was everything...

She saw it, felt it, lived it, loved it...absorbed it...

Overflowing and empty, she was present and absent, it was all and nothing...

She did it anyway...and it was

Foundations...

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There have been many times growing up that I looked to find my foundation, my rock. I came from a set of divorced parents...my father having gone to court to gain custody three times with no success. It was a time when mothers always got custody, a time when the best parent wasn't necessarily the one who took the child home,

My father is a good man. He worked hard to create a place for me where I felt loved and cared for. I cherished the times that I got to spend time with him...baking bread, hiking and camping, reading in the sun...I looked forward to each weekend, week, month that was ours.

I was especially lucky because my grandparents were also foundational in my life. Every Wednesday and Sunday, they would pick me up from school (or home if it was Sunday) and take me to church.  Youth group on Wednesday, Sunday School on Sunday. For me it was partly about church, but really it was about having time with my grandparents. I loved seeing them. On Wednesdays we would go to dinner…

A bit of joy for your day...

Sometimes I just shake my head...at my own life. I mean really, who could make this stuff up?

My husband has declared himself to be Catholic because he thinks the Pope is awesome...

I am housing two cats that we are trying to find a place for...

My daughter is stuck in Phoenix with the ever delayed plane...

Sometimes....we just don't know where we are going, what we are doing...we are just living...

So here's some joy for you tonight...Weird Al..."Tacky"

The Joy of Learning...

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In education we don't get to see enough of the unadulterated joy of learning. This is especially true when you teach math, like I do. Let's face it...many people would rather have a root canal than be in math...it just doesn't bring out warm fuzzies in most people, but today was different. Today I got to see and hear the joy! It was beautiful!!

We are reaching the end of the Ninth Grade Counts program, the bridge program I teach math in during this summer. Our main project has been to build Sling shot Cars. They have had to work together, make decisions, make modifications and, today, do their first set of experiments (Distance and Time). The next steps are to modify one thing, test again and, then, finish off with a lab report.

Today, when the kids were testing their distance, I heard actual squealing! :) I walked in to find kids high giving one another and screaming...their excitement evident! My heart was both filled with love and filled with joy! What they were working…

Being Invisible...

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Sometimes I think about those that we interact with...how do we treat them? How do they treat us? Are we in the same room with some and make them feel as if they are invisible?

Being invisible is a strange sensation...you know that you are there and yet...you are floating about unseen.

I think about high school (or middle school, or whatever school) and there are people all around. Some are visible for all to see, everyone knows their name, their face, their presence. There are others that weave in and out through the crowd, invisible...some by choice, some by chance.

I think about my own high school experience, which overall was a great experience, but going to a reunion reveals so much. There are so many that I don't know, faces I don't recognize, names unheard...I wonder, what I really there? Did I treat people poorly? Did I make them feel invisible? I hope not...that would never be my intent...maybe I'm clueless, have a poor memory, have the ability to compartmentalize…

Lessons from the World Cup...

This has been an unusual week at school...first we had the C to J, then Brazil's loss to Germany. I'm not sure which of these two events has had a bigger impact on my students...I guess time will tell.




 We have talked a lot abut soccer this past few weeks at school. It's a natural thing...I love soccer, my students love soccer. It has been a topic to bond over, but nothing prepared me for the game between Brazil and Germany.  It was a bloodbath with (spoiler alert!) Germany scoring five goals in 29 minutes. That is only part of the story...not the important part...the important past was Brazil's response to the goals being scored...they quit. The expression on their face after the second or third goal was clear...they were defeated. Sure there were brief moments where there was a streak of almost brilliance, but most of the rest of the game was Brazil chasing Germany around the field, almost getting in their way. At the end of it all, they lost 7 - 1, with the single B…

Having a little C to J...

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Sometimes as a teacher you have to have "the talk" with your students. By "the talk" I don't mean the "birds and the bees" talk, I am talking about the "Come to Jesus" kind of talk. I'm sure you know the one...the one where you explain to them how this is their chance, their opportunity, they are the creators of their own destiny.

As I have said before, the students I teach are primarily low income. The program I am teaching this summer is targeted at students who are academically at risk or had issues with attendance. They are students needing a boost, a bridge from Middle School to High School.

Today's conversation was direct and truthful. In some ways, it pained me to tell them that they were already behind other students who have had more opportunities, more exposure to enrichment activities, just more in general. Explaining that they are the ones who make their decisions for their future, they are the ones creating this path, th…

Son of my Heart...

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Twenty-one years ago, my second youngest son was born. I wasn't there...I didn't participate in the birth. I didn't actually meet him until he was four. He was a tiny boy, mop full of curls, shy and unassuming. He has lived here with us for the last thirteen years and it has been amazing watching him grow into a man. There have been roller coaster years...years when he has struggled to find his focus. It is hard growing up...no doubt about that, but it is even harder when your father is from another country and has extremely high expectations. When you are the one who has protected yourself by laying low, tried to stay out of the way, waited behind the scenes, it is difficult when you feel that you aren't meeting expectations.

Each of our children is different and I feel lucky. I have had the opportunity to parent four amazing children, two of which are the children of my heart, two of my womb. Some might think I would love them differently, yet my love for them is the…

The Fervor of the Game...

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As I have shared before, I love the World Cup. There is something about playing a game to show your love of country that is fascinating. As in any sport, there are expected winners and expected losers. There is the "Group of Death" and the "Group of Champions." There are teams that somehow managed to qualify (by means that no one seems to know) and they are just happy to be there, wearing their colors, hearing their national anthem.

But a strange thing has happened this World Cup...the expected winners aren't winning. Everyone is guaranteed three games in Group Play, but then, if you make it, comes the knock out round where the winner moves forward and the loser is done. Some think that soccer is boring, twenty men running back and forth with the possibility of no goals being scored but I seem to look at it from another perspective. Soccer is a game of grit and persistence. It is where those who want it most, often succeed. It doesn't always happen, but, m…

Moving Day...

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I need to pack my classroom...I admit, though, I am in the avoidance phase right now. I began right after school ended, but since the start of summer school, I haven't even been to my old school. In some ways it feels like ripping off a band-aid that I have been protecting for years. This has been my home, the place where my heart is, the place where I do good work.

In many ways I feel like I am floating about...somewhere in the middle. I am straddling two worlds, my middle school home and my high school future.

So many think that I am finally "moving up"...I have never felt that I was "down." I came from high school, I know what I am getting into. Teaching ninth grade is not necessarily a giant leap from eighth...same kids...three months older.

Moving to the ninth grade has been intentional. There is a problem. Almost fifty percent of them are not making it to their senior year. They are dropping out in droves, giving up on their ability to be successful. So m…

School's (not) out for the summer...

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I am teaching summer school...during the World Cup! Agh! Today was the first real "work day" for my students. It was interesting. I had a project for them to work on that involved some activity, moving around...it was insight into what kind of student they want to be.

It was an interesting scene...some kids getting right to work, finding a partner, connecting, while others sat around talking, playing around, doing nothing.

The purpose of this program is to give them a head start...a jump into high school. Today I saw the work that really needs to happen...I need to create more structure to create more success.

It is an interesting scenario...I know that these kids are on academic priority, attendance priority...some of them truly understand that this is an opportunity to move forward...an opportunity to change their habits of the past...

I want to figure out how to bring encouragement, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of pride...

I hope to figure it out....soon...

The Crisis of Success...

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I am teaching summer school for incoming Freshman and after Day 2, I can see that many of them are having a Crisis of Success. I look into their eyes, some of them averted, others almost desperate, and finally the last group, hopeful. For many of these students there is a cycle going on...they try to be success, they fail, they give up, then they get hope from someone and the cycle starts again.

My goal is to help them believe that they can do school, give them skills, and send them along their way. During the year there will be mentoring, continued skill building, and yet, there will still be a Crisis of Success. Each time something goes well, the following will usually be bad. I encourage, then things move forward and so on...this cyclical cycle can move on and on.

This is where we are...ready for a major breakthrough...ready for the next step...ready to show ourselves our most open minded self!

My World...

Tomorrow I start teaching summer school...I am tired but excited. I will have the opportunity to meet about 100 freshman, some that I already know, others that are new to me. I made a slide show to introduce them to me, get to know me. So here it is!

The Land of Love...

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Tonight my husband and I went to a "Longest Day of the Year" party. It was both a celebration of the Summer Solstice as well as a celebration of a wedding, my friend's. Their wedding was low-key, family at the courthouse, a ten minute ceremony, with a celebration, not a reception, today. My friend is a woman I work with, one of my favorite people. She is mellow, sarcastic, pragmatic, a straight shooter. These are all things I enjoy about her...she is essentially drama free. There are not many people that one meets that fit this criteria. I am indeed a lucky person to know her.

I am not good at keeping friends. I actually have a hard time making deep connections. I think that I am a good friend, but I never learned how to maintain friendships when changes occur. So, I am moving to another school, away from my friends. For the first time in my life, I am concerned about my personality flaw. I have good friends, good people that are in my life that I want to keep. I don'…

Open mouth, insert foot...

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I am told that I need to work on my filter. Sometimes, when I am uncomfortable or not sure what to say, I blurt out whatever is in my head...which usually could do some wordsmithing so that it sounds a bit better. I had one of these moments last fall, words tumbling out of my mouth to a friend who is more like a sister than a friend. I was caught off guard, my feelings a bit hurt by the situation and there I stood with my entire leg in my mouth. It was one of those moments where you wish you had a Tardis or Hermione's time turner, to go back, with the knowledge, and re-say what was said, in a far more kind way.

These two words that tumbled out of my mouth, changed our relationship. It strained it...often making it uncomfortable and strange. In a year when I felt that I was adrift, the lack of this grounding even made it worse. I had deeply hurt the person that was one of my anchors. I floated...trying to find my footing all year. I kept hearing my mother's biting words come ou…

Lowering expectations...

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It is World Cup time...the time when I stop and watch. Watch game after game after game. I love listening to the crowd, the whistles when they don't like what's happening, the cheers when they do. Two countries, putting their best on the field, battling for a win.

What happens, though, when the "clear winner" doesn't win? Does one lower expectations?

This seems like it has been the World Cup of upsets. The Netherlands beat Spain, the defending champions, 5 - 0, Mexico tied Brazil. It is when guts and grit overcomes the desire for glory. Don't get me wrong...celebrations happened, joy was seen...coaches walked miles in their coaching boxes while wringing their hands, while hugging others over goals scored.

But the story here isn't in the victories...it is in the defeats. Spain...the leader in the world for soccer, the gold standard as to what is means to play futbol, gave up. When they played The Netherlands, their discouragement was evident...once they we…