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Buy-Nothing Day

23 Nov

As a person, and now as a teacher, I am constantly trying to “define” myself. Who am I, really? What is important to me?

Today, “Black Friday,” is a big part of who I am. Because, instead of waiting in line at 4 am (or even overnight) in order to get the “best deal” on things I really “need,” I celebrate Buy Nothing Day. The main concept is to pay attention to what is really important. As I mentioned on Wednesday, I think the more you concentrate on what you don’t have, the more you lose sight of what you do have. What I have is amazing friends and family. A roof over my head. Enough to eat, clothes to keep me warm and dry, and a great university program in which I am learning to become the best teacher I can be.

Last year, I worked retail on Black Friday. I got up at 5:45, and worked for 8 hours, selling things to people who had waited in line for hours. I didn’t even have it that bad. Some stores open even earlier, and this year many large stores were open on Thanksgiving night, so people could “get their deals” even earlier. Let’s keep in mind that retail employees usually arrive at work 1-3 hours before a store opens. Which means, if you really need to buy your discounted TV at 8pm on Thanksgiving night, the employee who sold it to you probably missed dinner with his or her family.

Ok, but what does this have to do with education? A lot. As a teacher, I hope to give my students a sense of pride in what they have, what they can do, and who they are. A big-screen TV doesn’t define you, a good deal on the hottest video game doesn’t define you – your actions define you. A grade doesn’t define you, the work you put in to earn that grade does.

I am also well aware that it is likely I will be teaching the children of parents who are expected to give up their Thanksgiving to ensure a good retail turnout. As a teacher, it will be partially in my hands to remind these students that they are important in this world. As William Ayers says in the final chapter of To Teach:

The fundamental message of the teacher is this: You must change your life. Whoever you are, wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done, the teacher invites you to a second chance, another round, perhaps a different conclusion. The teacher posits possibility, openness, and alternative; the teacher points to what could be, but is not yet. The teacher beckons you to change your path. (p 161)

Whoever my students are, I want to be a teacher who helps them to know that they can change their life. And that they can change the world, simply by changing their own path.

I am thankful today for all the people who do have work. The people who gave up their holiday (or the day after) to sell or cook or serve things. The people who don’t have a choice, but who work hard to make sure their families are taken care of.

I am also thankful for the people who choose not to participate in the craziness of the day. It’s a small act, choosing to sit out of this retail madness, but I think it can help define who we are as a culture – are we people who care about others, or do we only care about ourselves? Can money really buy happiness?

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – His Holiness The 14th Dali Lama

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It’s almost Thanksiving! (Giving Thanks, day 20 & 21)

21 Nov

Yesterday, I left my house at 7:50am and didn’t get home until 10:30pm. And I survived! I am thankful for that 🙂

Today I’m thankful for this 5-day weekend. I was going to get right into the homework swing, but I haven’t. And that’s ok, because I have four more days (well, 3 and a half because I plan on doing nothing but eating tomorrow afternoon). I am thankful for the awesome show I am working on, which has a preview on Friday night. I’m thankful for professors who take time to chat about stress and workload and who give good feedback – but most importantly make me feel heard.

I’m thankful for the fact that my awesome man-friend went to the store for me yesterday so I didn’t have to go today. I’m thankful for friends who are hosting a “Friendsgiving” tonight. I’m thankful for my awesome ridiculous, extended family – many of whom I’m not actually “related” to (by blood or by law), but who provide me with support and inspiration every day.

With that said, I’d like to ask you something. Can you try, in the frenzy of “The Holiday Season” that is rapidly approaching, to remember the things that are really important in your life? Can you tell your friends and family how much they mean to you, give the waitress a tip, and the bookstore employee a smile? Can you think about those who have less than you, those that have to work on Thanksgiving in order to pay rent, those who can’t afford gifts for their children? I’m not saying you have to drop everything and go work at a homeless shelter, but just remember to be kind, and thankful for what you have.

With that, a reminder from one of the most influential people of the 21st century:

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.   – Oprah Winfrey

Giving thanks, day 19

19 Nov

I had a hard day.

I’m thankful for 2 day weeks and long holiday weekends. Thankful for friends who check in with me when they see I’m upset. Thankful for hot showers, macaroni and cheese, and flannel sheets.

Thankful that tomorrow is a new day.

Thanks-vember 17 & 18. Oops

18 Nov

Well, I’m embarrassed. A few days ago I wrote about how I am a writer because I am writing, every day. And then yesterday, I forgot.

It’s not like I didn’t want to write. It’s not that I couldn’t find the willpower or the time or a subject to write about. I just forgot.

I didn’t even do anything important yesterday. Ok, sure, I did some homework. I had rehearsal for that Christmas show I’m working on. But I also took a nap and watched an old episode of How I Met Your Mother. Not exactly an A+ workday.

Because of that, I owe you not one but TWO things I am thankful for today:

1) I am thankful for naps. When I was a child, I refused to take naps. I hated being forced to lay down in the middle of the day, when there were so many other exciting things to do. In college, I rediscovered the power of a power nap. The joy of a snuggle nap (with a pet or someone you like to cuddle). The necessity of a nap after a late night (of studying, of course). I learned to fit in sleep whenever I could grab it – after class, in the library, in my car. Now, thankfully, I am not in school AND working full time, but I still enjoy a nap.

2) I am thankful for all the resources available to teachers today. It can be somewhat overwhelming, but if you know how to weed through it, Pinterest, Twitter, WordPress, even Facebook, can all be amazing resources for teachers. I have been writing lesson plans for class, and have been pulling ideas from fellow teachers from all around the world. The internet allows for global collaboration, in a way that has never before been possible. I communicate regularly with teachers in other cities and states – and even have a friend who teaches in Dubai. However, it’s not just the internet – go to any bookstore and check out the Education section. I’m not saying all the resources out there are great – I’m sure there are some books and websites full of terrible advice for teachers. But, part of being a functional member of modern society is knowing how to pick out the good information from the bad. I’m just thankful that I ‘m not alone in this.

Additionally, I am lucky enough to have resources in my classmates, professors, and mentor teachers. Each one of them provides a unique view on education and teaching. No one is telling me to “drink the kool-aid” and swallow one specific ideology whole. I am trusted, as an adult, a learner, and a teacher, to find what I think is best.

Thanks-vember 13

13 Nov

I don’t want to write tonight. I want to go to bed. I went to school, came home, planned two lessons, ran to the library, went to a rehearsal because two months ago agreeing to stage manage a Christmas show sounded like a great idea, came home, finished planning the lessons, and now I just want to sleep.

But I set myself a goal. To write one thing a day that I am thankful for. To blog, every day. Because the one thing that makes a person a writer is to write. I don’t care if anyone reads this (but I’m always happy when people do!), and I don’t care if I never become a famous writer (though I wouldn’t turn it down). What makes me a writer is the fact that I write.

That’s an important thing to teach our students. Writers write. Mathematicians do math. Artists create. Scientists experiment. No one says you have to be the best. No one says you have to do it perfectly. As long as you do it, that is what matters.

So I’m thankful today for the fact that I am a teacher. I teach. I may not be done with my program yet, I may still have a lot to learn, but today I got to teach. I worked with a first grader in reading, and a group of 3rd graders in math, and I taught. And I am so thankful for that opportunity.

Thanks-Vember 12

12 Nov

Today, I’m thankful we had the day off. I’m thankful for coffee shops and study sessions, and for late lunches with a friend.

But most importantly, today is Ryan Gosling’s Birthday. And I’m thankful for things like this:

 

And this:

 

 

…and this:

That’s all for today 🙂

Cursive

13 Sep

In 3rd grade, students learn cursive. Cursive? Cursive. I think I know what I need to practice.

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