Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Aunt Leanne

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I have said it before, and I am sure I will say it again, the hardest thing for me about living overseas is missing memorial services. Today many are gathering to celebrate the life of Leanne. To me she is Aunt Leanne and I will miss her, though I am thankful that she gets to hang out with Jesus and be whole.

I have loads of memories of Aunt Leanne over the course of my life, but I want to share three.

One isn't about a specific moment, but about how she engaged with people. With Leanne you didn't just say 'hi' and carry on, rather you sat and entered into life together. There were always stories and questions and she would use your name as she talked to you.

Another is about a Christmas runner she made for me and gave to me during a time when life wasn't easy for me. It comes out each year, covering the coffee table (under a pile of picture books, which were also a love of hers), and reminds me of the special woman she is - now was. (Ah, this good bye stuff can be hard!)

The final one I want to share is the small, heart-shaped box pictured here. I was married on a ferry with a view of 'my mountain', (most people call it Mt. Rainier.) Shortly after our wedding she gave me this box. It is the perfect size to hold my handbell pendant when it isn't on a chain around my neck.

The box sits on my dressing table and I think of Aunt Leanne every time I caught a glimpse of it. For the past 9 1/2 years that has reminded me to pray for her and her battle with breast cancer. Now I smile and think of the joy she is experiencing AND I pray for those that miss her everyday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Glimpses, Overheard, and Other Sensory Moments

SEEN

I saw a dead rat, literally. My daughter and I were headed to school. There are a very long set of stairs that border between two school campuses and run perpendicular into ours. Really it is an ongoing collection of sets of stairs. I haven't counted, but there are more than 100. The stairs are wide, maybe 25 - 30 feet. They are regularly cleaned by the ground crew of one of the schools.

Anyway, we were about halfway down, trying to avoid the puddles after a hard rain, when I notice something on a step a bit in front of us. I edge over to the left, my daughter holding my left hand, as I try to avoid it. As I am maneuvering us I am realizing that it looks like a dead animal. Without breaking stride, and continuing the conversation with the five year old, who has yet to notice, I realize it is a dead rat, belly up. About this time we are passing said rat and my daughter asks what it is. I tell her. She comments, matter-of-factly, that it wasn't very nice for someone to kill it.

I then explain that it was probably in one of the pipes that the rain comes through and most likely got caught in the deluge and drown, being swept out with the rain water.

She hasn't said another word about it.
The image has stayed in my mind.

HEARD

I was headed across campus. Right now I don't remember why, headed to the office for some reason. The three year olds were on their playground so the gates were closed and I, like others, had to walk around. I found myself behind two five year olds. They were each carrying a plastic bottle of milk - part of their classes snack for the day. They had no idea I was behind them and continued with their conversation.

"We are the nannies today" said the girl.

"You're right! We were sent to get the milk" responded the boy.

"You are even wearing a nanny dress!" she exclaims to the boy in a white and light blue striped shirt.

Wow was all I could think, shaking my head, about the perspective these kids have on life. (I did stop to tell the Early Years Principal what I heard, leaving it to her to consider the implications of my overhearing.)

TASTED

Chili is something I enjoy making and eating, especially with corn bread, cheddar cheese, and lebnah smothered on top and then mixed in. I usually prepare my chili in the Crock Pot, leaving the flavors to mix throughout the day. I have learned that corn meal is hard to find in the Middle East and bring it with me. While I was purchasing things from the grocery store the last time I was in the States I saw some no salt chili seasoning packets and bought two brands to try. It is a good thing we have a full spice rack! After one bite I can tell you the packet is not the way to go.

FELT

A dense mass of congested, intertwined hair turned to silky smooth ribbons as I used the 'magic brush' on daughter's long tendrils.

SMELLED

Onions sautéing in olive oil to bring out the flavor before adding (insert other ingredient here) filled my olfactory.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Job Evaluation

I realized, as I had two minutes for a bathroom break in the midst of back to back to back twenty minutes parent/teacher conferences, that these conferences are truly the evaluation of my work.

Does that sound backwards? Most would offer the portfolios as an evaluation of student work. The portfolios are actually just a portion of a conference.

What I realized is that a twenty minute conversation with parents reflects on if I truly know their child, as a person and as a learner. Can I share what makes them joyous and what turns them grumpy? Do I know what they are working on to strengthen their reading? Can I share what their next step is in order to raise the level of their writing? Am I able to articulate how they approach word problems in math?

If I can’t show that I know a child thoroughly nor demonstrate that the child has opportunities to grow as a learner and as a person than I am not doing my job well.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Just Sitting There

I sat at my desk, working on my computer, for nearly an hour today. Sounds innocuous, right?

Here’s the kicker, my students were in the room.

An unengaged teacher trying to catch up on things? Not in this case.

Thanks to Google Docs and Hapara Interact I was engaged with my students the entire time either as individuals, groups, or the entire class. I could comment on their work, follow the changes they were making, see their conversations amongst themselves, send chats to individuals or the entre class, see the screen they had open, and even see a list of all of their open tabs.

Big Brother? No. Efficient observation and effective communication.

I find that these tools allow me to better see what lessons need to be taught or re-taught (like citing sources), what they have mastered (how to imbed images), and where we might be moving next (screen casting).

Monday, October 27, 2014

What Are You Reading?

“It’s Monday! What are you Reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It is a chance for book lovers to share their reading accomplishments as well as what is on the proverbial nightstand. She even does a giveaway. Subsequently Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts added an opportunity for those reading kidlit to join the fun. Since I read both I will post to both. Check them out, join the conversations, and discover more great books.

Books marked with an '*' I would put in my classroom library.
Books marked with a '#' would be in an middle or high school library.

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

 The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

 Wildwood by Colin Meloy

 The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

 The Maze Runner by James Dashner

 Gypsy Girl by Rosie McKinley

 Frozen by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston

 Inhuman by Kat Falls

 Heaven Is Paved With Oreos by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

 Rebel McKenzie by Candice Ransom