Archive | January, 2013

Picking up

27 Jan

broken_heart

 

Without going into detail, my world shattered in late December. Though things have “settled” a bit, I still find myself, in the middle of one task or another, suddenly standing still, wondering “How on earth did I get here?” and “This is NOT where I am supposed to be.” And to be quite honest, I’m having a hard time focusing on anything, from cooking (which I love) to school (which I usually love).

This happens to students all the time. Parents lose their jobs, or divorce, or even die. Families move across town, across the country, or across the world. Shootings. The fear of shootings. Violence at home, or in the neighborhood. Bullying. Family members who fall ill. Numerous other events that happen every day.

Just like me, these students – these children – are expected to go on as if nothing has happened. Rarely are teachers even aware of what, specifically, is affecting their students lives – but usually they can tell something is going on. Students lose focus, act out in class, neglect their homework, and otherwise “act out.” At this age, they are not capable of putting their feelings into words, they only know that something is wrong, so they do these things, to prove that life is not working right for them.

I have been lucky these past few weeks, to discover who my real friends are. Family members and friends have provided support, encouragement, and help, as I struggle to pick up the pieces. As teachers, we must be a rock for our students. Even when we don’t know what is wrong, it is our job to sift through the clues, be the glue and the support, and help our students “fix” their lives, as best we can.

It’s not all about teaching reading and math. As John Spencer says, it’s about love. “Real love. Muddy love.” Really, that’s what life is all about, isn’t it?

National Day of Service

20 Jan

In addition to being the day we celebrate the official beginning of our president’s second term, tomorrow, January 21, is also Martin Luther King, Jr Day. In 1994, congress designated MLK day as a “national day of service” – in an effort to “make it a day on, not a day off.” The spirit of the day is based on the belief of Dr King, that anyone can serve.

Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

I would like to make an addition to Dr. King’s belief – you don’t need to be wealthy to serve. Many people believe that volunteering or otherwise helping a charitable organization is something that only the wealthy can afford to do. I believe it is something that all of us must do – we can’t afford not to.

Tomorrow, my day will mostly be spent working on homework and lesson planning, trying to get a little bit ahead, so maybe I won’t be behind by the end of the quarter. I’m going to be getting ready for my first official lesson observation, for a week of classes, and for taking on more teaching duties. Though I may not be working with an official volunteer work party, it is still service. Or rather, preparation for service.

In the past, I have spent MLK Day cleaning parks, serving pancakes, organizing toy drives, and building school gardens. In the future, I hope to do these things with my students. Yes, MLK Day is a federal holiday, which means no school. However, it also means that many of my students will be home alone – because many of their parents will still have to work. What better way to ensure my student’s safety than to organize a day of service? Maybe I will have to give extra credit. Maybe I will have to receive special permission from my principal, the district, and the parents. I am sure there will be hoops to jump through and paperwork to file.

It will be worth it.

Creating a sense of community responsibility and teamwork is a vital part of being a teacher. Working together on a service project of our own creation could be a powerful way to build towards these goals. Whether on and official Day of Service or not, teaching my students that they can have a positive impact on the world around them – that they indeed have that power – what textbook can teach that?

Here’s a video about the meaning of MLK Day of Service:

For more information about the National Day of Service, check out their website.

Back in the swing.

15 Jan

Being back at school. It feels overwhelming and amazing and scary and exciting.

My mentor teacher was out this afternoon, and I survived two hours with a sub. It was tougher than I expected. Apparently, I don’t “have this” yet. Although, I think whenever I can say “I’ve got this – ” well, then what is there to learn anymore?

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