Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Quilting as a Metaphor for Teaching

When Kara (now age 14) was born, I took up the hobby of quilting.

I did this for a few reasons...

1.  It was therapy for me.  I did some of my best thinking with fabric and needle in hand, the hum of the sewing machine drowning out screaming kids.  Or maybe it was that I COULDN'T think while quilting -- for fear that I would sew my finger to my fabric.  It's probably the second one -- quilting forced me to forget all things except the very moment at hand.

2.  It was a creative outlet.  Being a stay at home mom didn't allow for much creativity aside from which Thomas the Tank Engine layout Ryan would ask for assistance to create every day.  Let's see...do we put the bridge after Cranky the Crane or before him today?

3.  I felt productive.  I could see the small pieces of fabric come together into a beautiful whole.  It felt good.  It made me proud.

4.  It was challenging.  I never shied away from a difficult pattern.  I taught myself how to quilt and hand applique. I could look at a pattern in a magazine and figure out how to piece the block.   I'm happy to say that I think I was pretty good at it.

Now that I have been teaching for six years, I'm sad to say that I don't do much quilting anymore.  Most nights, I am asleep on the sofa around 8:30 or my Puggle wants to sit in my lap which doesn't make it easy to stitch.  I find myself needing more instant gratification.  Some of my best quilts have taken me over a year to create and quite honestly, I just don't have that kind of time these days.

There are times when I find myself really missing my quilting.

And then I got to thinking...

The same things that drew me to quilting, also drew me to teaching.

1.  It is therapeutic.  Sure, there are some rough days.  Really rough.  But there are also lots of days when I leave and can't wait to come back the next day.  Thankfully, the good out weigh the bad.  Nothing feels better than hearing a student say "Ohhh...." when they finally "get it" or to hear the "YES!!" when they do well on something.

2.  It nurtures my creative side.  Creating for my classroom -- whether it be a unit of study or a poster -- brings out my inner child about to begin a project with a new box of crayons (the 64 pack with the sharpener on the back, of course!)  Ask my teammates -- if they need something "cutsiefied," they call me.

3.  I feel productive.  Flipping pages in my lesson plan book from week to week is not enough for me.  I also am constantly challenging myself with professional reading and with staying in touch with other professionals through blogging.

4.  It is hands-down the most challenging thing I've ever done.  Each student in my class is an individual with unique needs.  My goal is to reach every learner and give them what they need to be successful in our classroom and beyond into life.  I guess you could say that they are the fabric squares that fit into my larger quilt.  Sure, some are not quite even, some may even be raveling, but it is my job to work with them until I make them fit together into a thing of beauty.

And that, my friends, is what it's all about.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rude Awakening

The alarm went off at 5:07 this morning, signaling the end to the past 79 days of having it my way -- summer vacation.

I hesitated to get out of bed.  I knew once I did, it would really be over.  I smacked the snooze button, threw my arm over my eyes, and waited.  My husband lay gently snoring beside me, completely oblivious to the torment I was going through.

Maybe it was a dream.  Maybe it was really only the middle of June and I still had two glorious months ahead of me.  I mean, summer flew by so quickly that it could have been a dream, right?

No more lounging around in the morning, reading any book I could find.  No more afternoon naps, my faithful Puggle snoozing loudly by my side.  No more grabbing a snack whenever I felt hungry. 

No more summer.

I took a deep breath and decided I needed to be brave.  I mean, millions of people go to work every day.  I threw back the covers, turned off the alarm, fumbled for my slippers, and headed for the shower.

Only 189 more days to go until summer returns.

Friday, August 23, 2013


The thing about sunrises is that they are constantly changing.  They begin with just a peek, a soft light that dares to grow beyond the horizon.  Pink has to be the bravest color.  It dares the darkness to end as it pushes forward into day.  The beauty is most brilliant at the break of dawn.

Soon the pink softly fades and is joined by peach, yellow then turquoise blue.  The sunrise stretches across the morning, becoming less intense by the minute.

Stop and watch.  Soak it in.  This sunrise, on this particular day, will never exist again.  It is nature's gift to those who tackle the day by rising early.  There could possibly be more beauty in that sunrise than there is all day.

If you dare to look away then look back and everything has changed.  The color is wider, less vibrant by the minute, yet still beautiful in its own way.  Listen to the birds who now sing to the dawning sun.  They have awakend to join you in  this glorious day and the beauty that paints the sky.

Sunrises are God's way of reminding us to slow down, to realize that there is something greater than we are, to just be.

I'm glad I was able to be present for this moment today.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

{Slice of Life} Summer Evening Air

The air this late August night is absolutely perfect.  After a scorching day, of which we haven't had very many of lately, the evening is cool and calm.  Inside the house, it is stuffy and still, almost as if the cool air outside refuses to enter through open windows.

Walking through the backyard, the air feels soft and fresh on my bare arms.  It makes me want to keep walking so I can soak in as much as I can.  In no time at all, we will be covering up with heavy sweaters and long pants, trying to fend off the winter chills. 

The days of summer are getting shorter.  The sun sets lower in the sky and birds that I haven't seen since their spring migration are suddenly resting in the pond on their return journey south.  This morning, I passed by a family of Sandhill Cranes eating their breakfast from the ditch on the side of Clover Road.  The once-auburn feathers on their back are now fading to gray -- sure sign that they will leave soon.

I live for nights like tonight.  I wish it would be like this always.  I wish that I had nothing to do but sit on the patio and stare at the sky, soaking in the beauty through my bare arms.