Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A World Awaits

It's Tuesday.  Two Writing Teachers are hosting Slice of Life today.  Stop by and join the conversation by reading, commenting, or sharing your story.  

"Remember the book we used to read:  Goodnight Moon?  I feel like I need to go around the house and say goodbye to everything this morning before I leave," my daughter said as she got ready to move her carload full of "must haves" to college.

How could I forget?  I'm pretty sure I read that book to her five times each day while she toddled around the house all of those years ago.  I smile to myself at the memory that seems long ago and like yesterday all at the same time.  Where has the time gone?  Bringing myself back to reality I scan the house to see if we have forgotten to load anything.  The day is sure to be a long one full of lifting, putting together, and getting settled.

Though I know I will miss her, I'm also excited for her.  I make a conscious effort to let the excitement win the battle for my attention.  After all, I still remember the first day I drove onto Ohio State University's campus.  It was as if I knew there was a world of possibility right in front of me.  For the first time, I felt as if I were in charge of the direction my life would take.  To this day when I drive on the campus, I am reminded of that feeling.

It isn't long until we are on the road with a van packed full of clothing, bedding, organizers, and essentials (I use that word loosely).  She sits in the back with everything packed tightly around her.  There's no time to waste upon arrival as times to stay parked in front of the dorm are limited.  There's much to be moved and put away to get her settled into her new space.  We arrange furniture, find places for everything she's brought, and put the finishing touches on the room by hanging a few pictures in her space.

Soon she seems satisfied with all we have accomplished.  I remind myself of all the opportunities she will discover here.  For the first time, she's fully in charge of the direction her life will take.  I remind myself of this as I say goodbye to her and head home.  Goodbyes like goodnights are only temporary.  Every goodbye is followed by a hello and goodnights are followed by new mornings.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Poetry Friday: Lost

It's Poetry Friday.  Today's event is hosted by Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading.  Stop by today's round up for more poetry.  

In a week I begin a new journey as I move from my first grade classroom to a reading intervention position in our building.  It's the first time I've been without a classroom to arrange, a class list to call my own, or a classroom community to begin to build.  It's a little unsettling.  I'm excited about this new opportunity and am beginning to rethink my community --- it's just larger.  Find my class list --- it's the classes I will be working with in the upcoming year.   I stumbled upon this poem this evening that seemed fitting as I find my way in this new place.  

by David Wagoner from Collected Poems 1956-1976 © Indiana University Press.  

Stand still.  The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost.  Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The rest can be found here:  The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor

Here's to a new journey as I discover my new HERE.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Slice of Life: Savor Summer

Today I'm joining a Slice of Life hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by for links to this amazing community of writers. 

Recently Jill Fisch posted this on her Facebook page:

Jill Fisch's new blog:  I Notice, I Wonder

For me, summer hasn't been slow.  It's been busy.  Though I've been out of school since the beginning of June, it wasn't until July 16th, that my professional work took a bit of a break.  Every week since school ended I've been involved in meetings, professional development sessions, completing work related to school, and catching up on professional reading.  Now, granted, the schedule has been a bit more slowed, but it's still been full of professional work.  Finally on July 16th, I decided I was able to find the time for a two week break (sort of).  

In one of those paused moments in the last few days, Jill's post caught my attention as I read …. "to recapture that relaxed, slow feeling of summer in the middle of the school year."  On her new blog, she is sharing pictures of little moments in life she is able to enjoy in the summer because she takes the time to slow down to notice and wonder.  Just reading her post made me slow down a bit and take a nice deep breath.  It reminded me to slow down a bit in these next few days to take time to notice and wonder.  

As I looked through my photos, I realized that even in the busyness of obligations, I was able to find little moments to slow down and savor summer.  In the coming days I plan to do much more of this, but I hope to remember that it is possible, even when I'm busy with school, to find moments to slow down to savor.  

I've been wanting to play with Animoto so here are few of the moments I've savored in recent summer days.  Thanks, Jill, for the inspiration - and new lens.  

My Video

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Slice of Life: My Inner Diva

Today I'm joining a Slice of Life hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by for links to this amazing community of writers. 

"I'm headed into town," I called to my husband as I opened my car door.  "Do you plan to use the gas points for the truck?  It's the end of the month so we need to use them today or we'll lose them.  If you don't need them, I'll fill up my car."

"The truck doesn't need gas so you can use them," he replied from the garage where he was busily tinkering with the mower, "but you should take a couple of the gas cans."

Somewhere from decades long gone my teenage self resurrected,  "Ugh.  The gas cans.  Do I have to?"  Realizing that sounded a bit ridiculous I added, "I don't want my new car to smell like gas."  So maybe my car is two years old, but it still feels new to me.

"You don't have to," he gently nudged, "but every can is saving $5.00."

It's not fair when he appeals to my common sense side.  In our area we earn points off gas by shopping at the grocery story.  These points can then be used to save on gas purchases.  With gas prices ever-climbing per gallon, this savings can be helpful at the pump.  We had a dollar that had to be used as it was the last day of the month, but I did not want to hassle with the gas cans.

He had me.  I knew he was right, but I didn't like it.  "You are really pushing my OCD side," I moaned as I went to grab the cans.  I decided to go inside to get trash bags to wrap around each in hopes that would decrease the likelihood of spilling gas in my car.

Dramatically placing the gas cans in my trunk wrapped in plastic garbage bags, I headed to the grocery store.  It seemed with the hot temperatures I should fill up my car and the dreaded gas cans before shopping so I could get my cold items home in a timely fashion.  Muttering to myself I popped the trunk and placed the cans on the ground.  I filled the car and then started to fill the cans.  I worked carefully to keep gas from overflowing out the top of the can.

Finally they were filled.  I started to put the caps on and realized I needed to turn the spouts so they wouldn't spill.  Geesh.  This was challenging to do without getting gas on me so the muttering started again.  As I heaved the cans into the trunk one of the cans began to spill pungent liquid out the top.  Though I had wrapped the red plastic container in a green garbage bag, I was still worried about gas getting on anything in my trunk.  I pulled the bag up quickly to keep it from getting on the carpet.  "The sacrifices I make for my family," I grumbled.  Knowing the truth was that I was motivated by saving a buck.  Ok, five bucks.  Two cans, ten bucks.

This really wasn't a big deal but somehow, at this moment, it felt like there was no greater sacrifice than filling the gas cans.  I was taking one for the team.  As I worked to get the cans situated so I could shop, I realized there was nothing OCD about my reasons for not doing this.  Apparently, whatever girlieness I had left in my bones was coming out.  Ewwww, the smell of gas.  Ewwww,  I didn't want to touch any part of those cans.

My grandma would have been proud.  I was her first granddaughter after having three boys and I'm sure she had great hopes of dressing me up and teaching me all I needed to know to be the best girl ever.  Unfortunately, it wasn't an easy task.  For the most part, I gave up dolls by second grade and dresses before fourth grade ended.  The most cooking I could muster back then was a grilled cheese sandwich.  Getting me to brush my hair was a challenge.  In my defense, I could have brushed it and would have looked the same.  An attempt to teach me to sew just didn't work out.

You'll still rarely see me in a dress.  I may never overly think about fashion.  My makeup will likely always fit in a bag smaller than a child's hand.  I don't mind getting dirty pulling weeds in the garden.  I don't over think the decor of my home, but when it is time to load the gas cans in the back of the car the girlieness will rise to the top and this diva has to draw the line.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Poetry Friday: Pitcher

It's Poetry Friday.  Today's link up is hosted at Check It Out.

So I'm a little hooked on fantasy baseball.  One of my pitchers, Mat Latos, is back with the Reds.  Yep, I'm writing this in hopes of sending the power to him to strike out my son's players on the other team.  Oh, fantasy sports.  

The pitcher
touches his hat
looks left
chin touches shoulder.

The ball
goes behind his back
he stares
at the hitter.

He moves
the ball
to his glove
and stares again.

He winds
sends the ball
toward the batter.

The batter
but the ball
smacks the catchers mitt.


© Cathy L. Mere, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Teacher's Summer

Today I'm joining a Slice of Life hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by for links to this amazing community of writers. 

Today was my first day without school related responsibilities even though school ended nearly two weeks ago.  Since that time I've been packing my classroom as I'm switching to a new position next year and attending professional development meetings.  So this morning, I thought I'd stop for a cup of coffee at Starbucks in celebration of all the possibility in a day without a schedule.  The barista handed me my coffee and said, "You have the summer off now."

Perhaps they noticed that I had actually had a few good nights of sleep since completing report cards, finishing end of year paperwork, and preparing things for the end of the year.  They know me well in there.  We laugh when I say, "No skim today as I need a high-test cup of coffee so I have energy for this day."  Sometimes they look at me and suggest, "Perhaps an extra shot of expresso."  I always assure them that no one could tolerate me with extra expresso.

So when they smiled and suggested "school's out for the summer" as if the party were about to begin, I smiled and nodded to make things easier.  How do you explain to someone a teacher's summer?  Yes, my schedule might be a little more relaxed and my alarm might not be set for 6:00 a.m. Monday - Friday, but summer isn't really "time-off."  School has been out for 9 days and I've been working unpaid for each one of them.  Over the coming weeks, I'll read professional books to help improve my teaching and prepare for my new position.  I'll attend Summer Academy classes offered by my district.  In July I have two professional development conferences in which I'll lead sessions in addition to co-hosting the #cyberPD book talk.  In August, I will attend and lead a session at ILE Ohio.  Not only will August be spent preparing for school, but I will also co-host #pb10for10.

Last week I read, "How To Stop Obsessing About Work When You're Not There," shared by a colleague.  Honestly, that's a little more complicated if you love what you do.  I look forward to the time in summer so that I can catch up on professional reads.  I look forward to the time in the summer so I can meet with colleagues to discuss learning and consider changes for the new year.  I look forward to summer so I have time to think about how to make things better.  I look forward to summer so I can spend time learning more about the ideas I want to pursue.  I look forward to summer so I can have time for professional writing and reflection.

As a teacher it's true that my summer schedule slows down a little more, but there's still much to be done during this time.  I love what I do and choose to spend much of my summer improving my craft.   How do you explain to someone a teacher's summer?  I'm not quite sure, but know it isn't all spent by poolside.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

You Might Be a Hoarder If...

It's Tuesday!  Today, and every Tuesday, Two Writing Teachers hosts The Slice of Life Challenge (today's link).  Thanks to everyone at Two Writing Teachers for establishing and supporting this amazing community of writers.  

This week I spent my days moving from my first grade classroom to a small room I will be using as a home base while supporting primary readers.  I've been teaching more years than I care to admit; just a little over a quarter century.  Actually, that sounds worse than saying I've been teaching for 26 years.  I've taught everything from kindergarten to 6th grade, as well as worked as a Reading Recovery teacher and as a Literacy Coach.  Though I've held many positions, I've always been in the classroom for part of my day.  So, I've collected some stuff.  That's putting it mildly;  I've collected a lot of stuff.

It took days to sort through everything, separating my materials from those belonging to the school.  I had to think about what I would still need in this new position.  I had to decide if there was room for it in the small room I was moving into for next year.  My sweet husband came with his truck and loaded the boxes, mostly book boxes, back to our house.  Twenty-six years is a lot of books.  As I sorted through I laughed at some of the things I have collected.  I've decided I might have hoarder tendencies. If you're a teacher, I know you know what I'm talking about.  You just never know what you might need.

Signs You Might Be a Teacher Hoarder
You have post-its in every shape, color, and size.

You have enough magnetic clips to hang every piece of paper you've ever touched.  You have silver small, silver medium, silver large, magnetic people, and even magnetic frogs stored away.

You have rubberbands in every size and color….bags and bags of them.

You dedicate file cabinet drawers to folders.  Yep, you can't have too many folders.

Pencils?  Everyone needs pencils.  Small, large, skinny, fat, with erasers, without erasers, striped, starred, red, yellow, blue, colored, regular…you get the idea.

Created bulletin board materials circa 1988 which haven't been used for decades - you have kept them.  Lamination makes them timeless.

You eyed the shredded paper, resulting from standing in front of the shredder for nearly a half hour, thinking it could be used for something.

Those BINGO dobbers your grandma used could surely be used for math, reading, or some crafty activity.  You better keep those.

You have drawers dedicated to tape:  fix-it tape, highlighting tape, book tape, packing tape, scotch tape, duct tape.

Speaking of tape, you do have rolls of electrical tape for lining smooth surfaces.

Those magnetic stove covers from the 90s can do more than cover burners.  They're magnetic after all.

I've laughed as I've talked about my disorder with other teachers.  I've discovered it's a silent problem no one wants to talk about.  I now know friends who have used entire closets in their houses, bedrooms, basements, garages, and even rental spaces because one just never knows when those materials might be needed again.

Well, my classroom is clean and the new small room has things packed (tightly) away.  Now, about this house.