Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thank You Speedy Solutions!

Final exams started today.

They were completed a bit differently.

On the track during first period.

The exams today were speaking tests, requiring only listening, comprehension, and speaking from the students.  As there were many, many exams to be given and I was concerned about being able to fit them into one period, I sought the advice of my trusty colleagues.

One suggested bringing the test to the kids; therefore, avoiding 8th graders wandering through the halls, with passes, missing another class for a longer period of time, etc.


I met with the PE department about the idea, and they were fully on board!  Before they headed out to the track, I completed three exams in their office.  Then the fun began...

As the students walked, I'd call 2-4 over at a time.  I'd assess one, while the other waited 6 lanes away: perfect distance for confidentiality.  After I sent one back to PE, I'd call 2-4 others over, and the cycle repeated.

The result...today was the smoothest speaking final exam day ever!

Thank you to my brilliant colleagues for their ideas and support!  Thank you to the others who allowed me to pull kids for 5 minutes from their classes, too.  Thank you to my students for their flexibility and positive attitude! 

Now onto 2 more days of exams... I wonder what other sensational solutions and moments of gratitude will emerge.

For what are you grateful at this moment?

Share with me, as we celebrate being grateful!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Thank You Dumpster Donations!

I'm a proud member of this group...

Over the last 7 years or so I've scored: a kitchen table, four dining room chairs, an antique dresser, a credenza, four more dining room chairs (donated to a friend), a small table my parents love (though my Dad initially groaned when I brought it back ...), and my latest great find...

a 2-step stool, all wood, with a loose screw or two.

A few months ago it was just sitting next to my regular dumpster, when I scrunched up my nose and thought.. "Do I really need that or am I just picking it up to have stuff?"  I wasn't quite sure, but it called out to me enough, so I hauled it back to my storage room (a 60-second walk if that...).

It's been hanging out there, recently supporting sand for school projects, all the while I thought it would be used with a future mentoring project until...


My parents came for a visit and mom brought a plant.  I was told the plant needed to be outside, so I put on shoes and grabbed my keys.  My parents were perlexed, and told me it could sit on the ground. 

30 seconds later, the stool was out, the plant was on top, and my parents were "oohing" and "ahhing."  When I noted the loose screws, Dad pulled out his pocket knife and made them all better!

Thank You to those who have been kind enough to donate their stuff to the dumpster gold mines!  Thank You to my folks who have patiently accepted my love of trash hunting, and who have developed an appreciation of it!  Thank You to all who continue to recycle!

Oh...and here's my happy mint plant on the free stool!

For what are you grateful at this moment?

Share with me, as we celebrate being grateful!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thank You 4 Gs and 1 Amazing C!

We celebrated our principal today. 5 weeks and 2 days before the last day of school. When June ends, she moves on. To be "her boss" of a specific group of elementary schools. For the last four years I've had the privilege of learning and working with her.

As the party wound down, I waited patiently to ask her a question, as I have so many other times before. As she headed to her office, I asked if she had a moment for a question for next year. Though she wouldn't be our boss, I knew she'd guide me with a balanced heart-and-head as she does.

I pitched my idea at her, asked about the concerns that were brought to me about my idea by a colleague, and listened as she gave my to do list so the idea would be successful.

Right after our impromptu meeting, I met with another colleague to ask about the logistics of purchasing some things I'll need for this venture. She gave me the go ahead, and told me she was pretty sure it would all be able to be funded.

So to the 4 Gs and 1 amazing C (my partner in this crazy adventure who called and brainstormed as I write this)... Thank You!

Thank You God for Your eternal guidance, support, and comfort! Thank You for showing me the way, and for all that You do!

Thank You G-boss (as in her last name). Thank you for your wisdom, your understanding, your time, and so much more! May your days with us be as peaceful as possible, and may every step of your new job be filled with the love, compassion, and support you have shared with us and all!

Thank You G-lady (as in her first name). Thank you for your belief, your follow up, your knowing that a moment was needed. You're one of the best we have!

Thank you other G-lady (as in her last name). Thank you for your speedy funding resourcefulness, and your willingness to listen at a lightening moment! 

Thank you C!  What a journey it has been. You've shared with me ideas, dodge balls, hula hoops, the entire gym, and more! You've encouraged me to go beyond my Spanish roots, and into the land of PE!  Ahh... With you, we'll make this happen! 

Thank you for the phone call during this blog, and reminding me of what is needed to help this idea succeed!!

For what are you grateful at this moment?

Share with me, as we celebrate being grateful!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thank You Mature Students!

When you teach middle school, you never know what you are going to get from one moment to the next. Yesterday I had a mix of wound-up and wound-down students. The happy balance I sought for optimal learning was hidden beneath a cloak of why-are-we-here-ness?

Today I had two classes of Level 2 students work respectfully and thoughtfully on some reading and grammar activities.  The later class arrived so well-focused that I allowed them to choose the order of their activities.

They all chose to complete the written-turned-speaking activities first and then head outside.  As it was in the mid 70s and this class was right before lunch, a few minutes in the lung-rejuvenating air was the perfect "thank you" from me to them.

We played a fierce game of "Hunde o Salva" aka Sink or Save and I heard just how much vocabulary was cemented in their cerebros!

As a bonus they learned some amusing phrases in Spanish that they said in English, I translated, and they repeated in Spanish!

My Level 1 classes demonstrated their dilligence with food pyramid learning.  They partnered up or individualed it with determination and focus.  Many commented that they were shocked at how much they completed in a period.  Hmm...

So while only a few more weeks of 8th grade remain for these stellar students, I'm forever grateful that they showed their maturity on their learning.  They will do great things one day, and their foundation is quite strong.

Thank you, students, for your focus and dedication! Thank you for your listening and teamwork! Thank you for putting forth effort even when yesterday so many of you asked, "is it summer yet?"  I'm grateful to learn with you.

For what are you grateful at this moment?

Share with me, as we celebrate being grateful!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thank You Yoga Teacher Training ABC Style

Two days before my birthday I embarked on my life long dream (somewhat noted on this blog): yoga teacher training. When I started it I nearly quit.  The first night was rough.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to complete it.  I had massive doubts, which I shared with a co-trainee during a listening activity on the second day.  She was shocked. 

During my interview for the program, the director asked me what would make me quit.  I listed off a few things, and she responded something to the effect of, "What I'm hearing is that you would quit if you got in your way."  I confirmed that.  I can be my best support of my worst nightmare.

A few weeks ago I still didn't have a clue as to why I was completing the program.  I knew I needed to, but something was missing. The more I pushed on, the more I stayed present, the more I accepted and learned.

I'm not quite half-way through the program.  It has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life, and also one of the most profoundly humbly and rewarding.

Without further ado...the ABCs of gratitude- yoga teacher training style.

A- apples and almonds (the best snack food ever)
B- breathing exercises (one of the best things I've learned and shared with others!!)
C- courage (to follow one's dream)
D- discipline
E- ease (the proverbial balance to strength)
F- family (the trainees have formed a tight family)
G- growth
H- heart (it's all about that baby!)
I- inspiration (when you listen to the stories, you do certain activities, and you reflect, you know it's pure inspiration)
J- joy (it's almost like freedom doing this thing...)
K- kindness (my fellow trainees and teachers offer it often)
L- laughter (oh, so many classes are filled with it!)
M- memories (a lifetime in a few weeks/months...)
N- new sense of normal (that's what this is)
O- offerings (our nightly treats.. yum!)
P- patience ('nuff said)
Q- quinoa salads (mmm... dinners!)
R- rest (for this I have new found respect)
S- strength and simplicity (see ease)
T- teachers (we are blessed with some of the...if not THE best!!)
U- understanding (for myself, the tradition, the practice, and all involved)
V- victory (the big and the little..each class is filled with many)
W- water (my good friend that keeps my awake in class)
X- x-tra soft bolsters (on which to lean during some classes)
Y- yearning (what my heart does for this experience)
Z- zany noises (let's just say the program is often in a busy city...and during calm times it's normal to hear pounding music, emergency sirens, conversations from the street, and more)

For what are you grateful at this moment?

Share with me, as we celebrate being grateful!