Friday, June 6, 2014

slightly bewildered by summer

End-of-year gift from a student

LOOKING BACK: Some musings, now that I'm 26 kids lighter:
  • Closings are important. So I planned for our last day a "toast party." To tease my students, I drew a piece of toast (the peanut butter-jelly kind) on the board with a caption stating, "no, not that kind of toast ..." I lugged 4 bottles of sparkling apple cider in a cooler bag with ice packs and a stack of itty-bitty 3-ounce plastic cups to school, and invited the kids to write a toast either about their year in 4th grade or their hopes for 5th grade. Not everyone chose to make their toast public, but I think it was a fun way to close our time together.
  • Note to self: for the next toast party, pack a bottle opener! I ended up prying open two bottles with my classroom key, which was an exercise in patience.
Some people see faces in clouds, but I seem to see faces in blobs of cookie dough ...
  • Note to self II: baking under pressure = burned cookies.  I decided that I would make each student a chocolate chip cookie, accompanied by a handwritten note using a free printable I found that read "Congratulations! You're a smart cookie." This was the first time that I've burned cookies - I'm a moderately successful baker, usually. Next time I will hit Costco, buy a pack of prepackaged cookies, and not stress myself out.
  • In the last weeks of school, I kept thinking that things would slow down. They didn't. I realized that if I wanted my students to have some quiet time to reflect, I needed to carve it out. I put together a worksheet with some questions and gave them time on the morning of the last day to fill it out. One of my students in particular astounded me with her thoughtful, honest, deeply personal responses. Her paper was turned in to me with a note at the top saying it was not to be shared with anyone else.  It made me really happy that she trusted me to see her reflection (I had said that students didn't need to turn it in). I wanted my students to take their reflection home, so I went through the papers that day, putting checkmarks at the top, but for hers, I wrote her some encouraging comments and returned it to her. I would like to make reflection a regular part of my classroom routines, and I also realized how satisfying (and information-packed) it can be to communicate with an individual student in this way.
  • Speaking of reflection, what's good for students is good for teachers, too! This blog post suggested that I write myself a letter about my school year, and that's on my list of things to do. Preferably in a comfortable coffee shop with an iced latte and something delicious to nibble on.
    It's been admittedly ... odd to close the school year. I'm still making the transition from "I need to plan for this lesson and grade this set of papers" mindset to the "hmm ... it's a beautiful day, what should I do?" attitude. 
    What I've accomplished so far: 
  • I've worked hard for the past few days on a gift for a departing colleague. I'll post a picture once the gift is given.
  • I've happily returned to early-morning aikido classes.
  • I want to make 5 minutes of meditation a part of my classroom's daily morning routine, so I need to establish my own daily practice (this is long overdue). I've been sitting each day for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Lots of couch time with a book or just for an afternoon nap. :)
     I'm looking forward to more reading, picking up where I left off with the lessons from "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain," and crafting/sewing. In particular, I find myself longing for a breezy, sheer kimono top. I'm hoping the perfect one will pop up on a thrift store rack, but if not, it seems like a pretty simple DIY project. I also have a simple taupe scarf that's crying out for some whimsical trim, like hot pink pom poms.
    *** What's something you're excited about doing in June?


  1. I'm sure your kids loved the idea of writing out their reflections on the year and their hopes for the future. I know I adored teachers that went that extra mile and took interest. I think I would have liked you as my teacher : )

    I've heard so many people that do well with meditation. I need to try it.

    For June I'm hoping to spend some serious time on the hammock in the backyard with a cool drink not far away and my pug at my side : ) After our horrible winter I need to make sure to enjoy the short summer we have.


  2. Birthdays are always fun, Kat! Happy birthday! I hope you are treating yourself to something pretty ... I admit to buying myself a few nice things for my birthday every year. :)

  3. A hammock, a pug, a cool drink ... that sounds heavenly, Suzanne!
    Meditation is something I've been long interested in, and I've found a lot of value in attending a weekly class. An aikido friend recommended it to me, and I really enjoy sitting with a group - totally different feeling from sitting alone. The teachers are also great about checking/adjusting your posture, sharing some philosophy, etc. Now the challenge for me is to make it a part of my daily routine! Ideally, I'd like to meditate first thing in the morning, but I am really not a morning person ... so for now I am trying to be flexible and just get my 20 minutes in when I can.


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