Saturday, September 26, 2015

Celebrate This Week {9-26-15}

Sometimes, celebrations come to you in a whisper...

* Spying a hot air balloon in the sky on my way to school.

* Seeing a rare albino Whooping Crane eating breakfast in the field.

* Blackberries still fruiting in the garden.

* An amazing sunset.

And sometimes they come to you in a roar...

* My daughter sticking true to her choice to go to homecoming with someone, even though some of her "friends" have been giving her a hard time about her decision to go with this boy.  I am proud of her for going with her heart on this one.

* The book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert arrived in my mailbox on Tuesday and I have hated to put it down.  I'm not sure....but I think this book was written specifically with me in mind.  There are so, so many words that speak directly to my heart and mind contained within the pages of this book.  A must read for everyone!
Thank you, Ruth Ayres, for opening up this space for celebrations both quiet and loud.

Have a great week!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Are You Smart?

Last year, I dabbled with teaching my 4th graders about growth mindset.  We practiced adding the word "yet" to the end of most everything we said and by the end of the year, my students became quite good at it.  I've heard that some of them even carried this vocabulary on with them to 5th grade, which is awesome to hear.

This year, we are diving full force into growth mindset and it is very exciting!  As part of this, we are learning about the brain and how it works.  Learning about the brain and growth mindset must go hand in hand.  Students need to understand that the brain is constantly changing with each learning experience.  If they struggle with something, lots of practice can actually alter the structure of the brain until it is no longer a struggle.

Who would have thought that a bunch of 4th graders would be learning about things like neurons, synapses, malleability, and neuroplasticity -- and actually understand it well enough to be able to explain it to someone else!  I know that I wasn't learning about this when I was in 4th grade way-back-when....But I wish I would have.  It may have changed my life.

Last week, I gave my students a short survey to find out what they knew about the brain and learning, a sort of pre-assessment.  Their answers were astonishing and have given me much food for thought. There was one question that received the most answers and I wanted to share some responses with you:

Question:  Are you smart?
*   No, because my brain thinks slow.
*  No, because I am not good at math.
*  No, because every time I let info in, other info gets out.
*  I am smart only when it comes to reading.
*  Yes, I am smart and I believe others are too.  Everyone is smart at something!
*  Yes, I am smart and I am going to keep getting smarter and I am proud of that.

I hope you can see, as I quickly did, that there is plenty of room for growth mindset here.  These last two students demonstrated that they already have a growth mindset hard at work, and boy what a difference it makes!

Have you taught your students about growth mindset?  If so, I'd love to hear how it's going!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Celebrate This Week {9-19-15}

For the past 100 weeks, Ruth Ayres has provided us this opportunity to reflect on and celebrate our weeks.  It is quite a milestone.  Thank you Ruth!
Last week, Ruth wrote about getting rid of the word "should" in our lives.  Maybe you know that word and the effect it has on you.

I sure do.

This week, I listened hard for all the "shoulds" that I keep telling myself.  I never realized exactly how often I said this word to myself as a way of trying to make myself do something--and then feeling guilty when I don't.

     I should make something for dinner other than pizza.
     I should go in early to finish those plans.
     I should not be watching TV, but should be reading instead.
     I should really get going on that science unit.
     I should get the garden cleaned out.
     I should be doing something other than just sitting tonight.
     My school day should feel normal by now.

Now that I'm aware of how often I use that word, I can do something about it.

Be gentler with myself.

Release myself of guilt.

Recognize the choices I have.

Reclaim my power.

Understanding all of this has been completely eye-opening and actually quite freeing.  I am so thankful for Ruth's words last week.

And for this, I celebrate.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Waiting for the 'Flow' {Celebrate 9-12-15}

I'll be honest....the beginning of this year is kicking my butt.

Getting back into the swing of things at school, figuring out my daily schedule, making sure there is dinner to be had and that laundry is done,  standing all day, keeping my students all headed the same direction, trying to plan engaging lessons...all of it is making me want to head straight back to summer.

But I can't.

I know this happens at the beginning of every year, but just like the pain of childbirth, I tend to forget about it after it passes.  And it's probably a good thing that I do, otherwise I probably couldn't bring myself to repeat it every September.

The good news is that I know that soon, everything will click.  Soon, everything will make sense as I can head out the door and go through my day without having to think about these things too much.  My brain will be freed up to focus on different, more creative and exciting things. I won't come home exhausted and cranky.  My feet will be used to standing all day and walking around in something other than sandals.  I will have found my groove.

I know this will happen because it happens every year.

The 'flow' -- this good stuff -- I remember.

I am glad that I do.  And for this, I celebrate.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Summer is Over {SOL 9-08-15}

Labor Day has passed.

     No more lazy mornings.
     No more endless days.
     No more afternoons at the pool.
     No more playing in the garden.
     No more shorts,  all day PJ's and white shoes.

  Summer is officially over.

Labor Day has passed.

     Cooler, crisper days are ahead--
     Trips the orchard or pumpkin farm,
     Bonfires where friends gather to keep warm,
     Sweaters and boots become the uniform,
     Comfort food cooks all day on the stove,
     Rich reds, oranges and golds please the eye.

  Summer is officially over.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Celebrating this Week {9-05-15}

Thank you, Ruth Ayres, for offering this space every week for celebration.
As I was considering my celebrations for the week, I was drawn to look at the pictures on my phone.  I seem to capture my celebrations to hold them forever in pictures.

Here's what I found this week:
My 16 year old daughter still gets out the sidewalk chalk to add some unexpected color to life.
These three stopped me as I was on my way out the door on the first day of school to be sure that I snapped their yearly photo.  Surprising...for a bunch of teenagers!
Hannah (our exchange student from Germany) and Kara are becoming very good friends.  They even sometimes dress alike!
I love this picture I took of the girls as they rode X-Flight at Great America last weekend.
Having a tremendous fear of rollercoasters, I celebrate that my daughter does not share in this trait.
I just love this little planter I put together to put near my desk at school.  
The little birdhouse tops it all off.  Every time I look at it, I feel peace and happiness.

What are you celebrating this week?