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Showing posts from June, 2014

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…

Coming off the bench...

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Tonight I had the opportunity to go and watch a Timbers game. Now, it's not that the game is so unusual, I get many opportunities to go and watch games. What made tonight unusual, is that many of their regular players didn't play, rather, many players came off the bench.

Names I had never heard of, players I couldn't recognize. It was an unusual kind of game, cheering for players who I didn't know, looking around the field trying to identify players skills and the current combination of positions being played. Cheering when goals were scored, cringing when fouls were called.

It made me think about the times in our own lives when we come off the bench. We may be the ones along the sidelines, practicing for our big day, never knowing when that might come. We will all be called on...be asked to step forward and perform at the big show.

Coming off the bench requires us always to be ready. We prepare, play our game, know that we may never hear our name heard. We have the sk…

Celebrations and Sorrows...

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This has been a strange week...a week of celebrations and sorrows. On Tuesday, the high school in my school district experienced a school shooting and two were killed, the victim and the assailant. Both boys were freshman, just 14 and 15 years old. It was just one day before the school year was over...finals had just begun.

Although this has happened around the US, one never feels that it will happen close by. Although I am not at the high school, I am moving up there next year. The community gathered around and hugged the students, staff, parents. The district handled that aftermath beautifully and local agencies were impressive.

I was thinking about when I was at school as a young woman that we never had to worry about these things. The scariest things  that I knew about were fights, occasional bullying, but never guns...that was beyond thought. The world has rapidly evolved and I'm not sure that it has been in a good way. School has become a place where fear resides. We practi…

Building community, waiting in line...

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Today was an unusual day...I went to interview for a summer job at the high school and ended up staying all day. This week has been a strange one...the last week of school, preparing to move to a new building, a shooting at the high school. Since Tuesday, many in my district have been shaken to the core...students, families, teachers, the community. Although we are a part of the greater metro area, we are a small community...this week I have been reminded.

On Tuesday, after evacuation, families waited in line. Waiting patiently for their children to get off the bus, to see their faces in a flood of faces in the parking lot of Wood Village Fred Meyer, they stood. It was sweet being reunited, but it was the beginning of the wait. There has been more than one scenario this week...when evacuated, students brought their backpack or purse with them outside of the building and were required to leave them outside or students left whatever items they had inside the building and it remained the…

Too exhausted to write #notonemore

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I teach in the Reynolds School District. We are now nationally known as the "Oregon high school where there was a shooting." 
I teach at one of the middle schools. Today was my last Tuesday at middle school because I am moving to the high school...the same one whet there as a shooting. 
There were so many parts of today that my head is still swimming. I am actually writing this on my phone. I'm too tired to lean over and turn my computer back on to blog. My body is made of lead. 
We hoped 11, 12, 13, and 14 year olds stay calm when they were worried about their siblings at the HS. We taugh the lesson that social media is not the best to get your news but rather a place to possibly start but not believe until confirmed by tha authorities. We talked about safety and why decisions were beng made while quelling the concern as to whether someone could make it to our school, a hundred blocks away, before we knew about it. 
We talked about responsibility, we carried on as usual...s…

Mean people suck...

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Today was one of those days...the last Monday of the year and it was definitely a Monday. This week brings a torrent of emotions...leaving my dear friends at my current job to the excitement (and nervousness) of my new position. My job is exhausting...my students can be exhausting. Those who are figuring out that they are sorely underprepared for high school (and not sure what to do about it, nor have they decided that they care) are blowing out...with their attitude, their behavior, or both.

This morning I was told that my assignment was "stupid," that I should quit talking to them about the fact that I care, that they didn't want to hear that I was concerned about them. A co-worker was rude, then I spent the next few hours crying. I am at my emotional end...two years in the making, I am exhausted.

So many think that teachers have it easy...we just tell kids how to do work, the they do it, right? Wrong...at least that is not been my experience. It is like herding cats, …

Grit...

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Tonight I went to a Portland Thorns soccer game. I am a season ticket holder and I love watching them play. I missed my opportunity years ago to get season tickets for the Portland Timbers, our beloved MLS team, and have been sorry ever since. Anyway, I ramble.

Tonight I went to the Thorns game and there is nothing really to be said except it began as a giant cluster. During the first half, the goalkeeper, Nadine Angerer, was called for a foul and a penalty kick issued. Arguing from the team ensued, players, including Angerer, argued with the ref and was given a straight red card. This means she had to leave the field, her team may not be able to adequately recover. It was a disaster...there is no way to candy coat it, but what happened in the second half was pretty amazing. The team came out from the locker room (ok...the other team scored a quick goal) and dug deep..they showed grit.

 They started communicating, they pulled together, they began to cover the space that was open from t…

Polished by the flame...

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Fire hardening, is when you take a piece of wood and put it over a fire. slowly changing it's properties. The hardening, also known as fire-polishing, draws the water from the wood, changing its structure. These changes turn the wooden tip and make it like a knife, with sharp edges, and makes the wood more durable.

Going through a change in life is similar to being polished by fire, you change, leaving some part of you behind. The flame burns hot, altering your structure deep within. Patterns that have been established, touch points along your routine, now have to be put away to make room for your new role.

Tonight I went to my mom's retirement dinner...she was honored, people spoke nice words about her, her impact on the community of educators clear to all who listened. My sister and I joked that she will be back, that her retirement may not sustain. When you have been a teacher for thirty-eight years, it is hard to imagine doing anything else. You entire being is "teach…

The Perks of being a Wallflower

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I am nearing the end of my career at the middle school where I teach and moving to high school once again. I was one of these kids. I grew up relatively poor, with a mother who was half crazy, half hippy, thriving at school while dealing with home. Now I see that I was a pretty resilient kid, something that I wonder about. School was where I could be someone new, someone I wasn't at home, someone I was creating. Although I made poor choices, shady drug deals of speed in the woods by the school, out late with my friends, it was always to put food on the table for my brother and I...trying to make our life "normal."

I was the grown up in the house and that responsibility weighed heavily on me. My brother was young, my mother, in so many ways, a child...how, at 14, I saw that there was a light somewhere else, I will never know. Well, actually, I credit my teachers...a few who saw more. They paved the way.

So here I am ready to move to the next phase, baffled by some of our …

Today is the day...

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Today is the day...the beginning...the start. Today is the day where we begin... Today is the day to remember how awesome you are. I read amazing article about Admiral William H McRaven's Commencement Speech that all should read and consider...lessons learned from Navy Seal training.

There are seven more days left of school. Seven days before the next chapter of my teaching career. I am moving back to the high school. I am going to work with ninth graders, hopefully change their trajectory, move them forward, show them that they can do it.

Every day can be "their day." Each morning when they wake up, they can start again. They just need to do three things: Wake Up, Be Awesome, and Go to Bed. Easy...anyone can do it!

My new classroom will be filled with quotes, filled with encouragement, filled with awesome. I want students to come in each day and see that they can do it, I believe in them, the future is open for their success.

We will be a team...Team Awesome. We will r…