Thursday, December 31, 2015

My #OneWord for 2016: Mindfulness

In my mind it seems like a buzzword right now.

I've seen it on Twitter so often I am surprised I haven't yet seen it in the One Word universe.

  1. 1.
    the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
    "their mindfulness of the chaos of the kindergarten classroom"
  2. 2.
    a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

I learned about it...can it really be 2 years ago now... (WOW)... from my therapist. Yep. I had one. And truth be told, many of you need one. Let's face is hard. Throw in a couple traumatic events, add all the fallout, mix in a toddler, don't forget to add in the broken relationship, and you need one. 

Having a therapist doesn't make you weak. In actuality, it shows you care enough about yourself to seek the advice of others. And even if you have a great mom like me, you know you need someone who is unbiased (who doesn't know just how great I really am :). 

So I went.

My mind is the one they made that meme for, you know...this one

It's true you know. Talk to me at any given time and the conversation goes from teaching, to archaeology, to family history, to the bird at the the bird feeder in a matter of nanoseconds. I can be hard to follow.

Mindfulness is taking hold of that process and shutting down the browser...literally. Mindfulness causes you to focus on the air, your body, your breathing, outside noises and then...letting things go.

I liked the analogy shared with me: It's like you have a puppy and the puppy is jumping here, and jumping there, and wants to do this and that...all at once, and you have to stop and redirect the puppy to what it needs to pay attention to: nothing but the very being of being. 

So why is it my One Word? It calms me. It reminds me to breath deeply and helps me to focus. So on the days when I wonder if I am meant to teach, if anyone likes me, and if my clothes even match, I need to remember to breathe. I am fantastic. I am perfect. Because I am me and I am alive and well.

That said mindfulness has a second meaning which is basically: being present. So when I go to the park with Sierra...I am at the park with Sierra. When I go to the movies...I enjoy the movie. I enjoy the little things before they are no longer there.

Which reminds me about talking to my grandma last week...she is 95 and lived life to the fullest. I was telling her how I wish she could come visit for Christmas (she still resides where I grew up in SoCal). She mentioned she hadn't been on any trips lately, but that she has a big one coming up. "Really?" I said. Dumbfounded. Then I realized what she was talking about...the trip after life. The one we all have to make. Good one, Grandma. I am sure I get my great sense of humor from you.

Be Mindful, my friends. 

The end comes too quickly.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Most Terrible Week of the Year

It's here...that week that goes on forever...the week before winter break.

If you are a teacher, you know why. It's not that we are eager to finally focusing on Christmas ourselves (I don't even recall the gifts I have already bought and hidden...(where? who knows. hopefully I left myself a note...somewhere)) but due to the kiddos excitement for the holiday themselves.

I typically describe the week before Christmas break to my student teachers as the week the kiddos act like they ate cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, even though we (A) know that is not true and (B) keep being told by "researchers" (real definition: people without children) that sugar does not impact behavior. Oh, Mr. or Mrs. Researcher, please come into my classroom after the doughnut day breakfast. Sugar impact is real.

So...It has seemed a little longer than normal...strange, and I have counted and it's still 5 (Kindergarten joke Image result for emoticon for laughing out loud)

but other than that, this week has been pretty fluid, pretty calm (not counting the chaos of loading donations into bags for the Community Food Bank), and pretty enjoyable....what's wrong with this picture?

I'm pretty sure it happened last week instead.

We had Christmas related theme all week. We wrote our letters to Santa. We made reindeer (at least I think we's all kind of a haze...) and we had our Christmas program. Last week also included the Creation Station teacher flip out and subsequent hiatus of said center.

It went something like this...see if you can relate...
Scene: All kids are thoroughly enjoying Creation Station (making cards for loved ones, making hats, making super hero bracelets. It's like a Makerspace for K including paper, tape, staplers, and stickers.)

Scene 2: T sings the, "Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Do Your Share" song.

Scene 3: All kids continue to make things.

Scene 4: Sing again, with added freezing to secure listening.

Scene 5: 1 girl starts cleaning, 10 continue working on what they want, 8 wander around the room because the mess they just made wasn't "MY mess."

Scene 6: T begins to threaten the lose of privileges of CS.

Scene 7: No one cares. Not one iota. They are seriously in an alternate universe where I am their maid and rules do not apply. (Note to kids--I know this scene because I personally dream about it daily--It ain't happenin.)

Scene 8: Me and Student Teacher clean up with about 5 kids who are now so riddled with guilt they have to help. The rest still oblivious. Highlight: S.T. telling kids, "We don't need to unroll the whole roll of stickers to get one since they are all the same sticker." Ya think?

Scene 9: Announcement is given in crabby teacher voice: Creation Station is on hiatus until we can remember what we do as respectful, responsible students.

Scene 10: Crabby teacher takes out class and eats peanut butter cups to feel better.

What was missing last week?
*regular routine
*regular curriculum lacking any real bells and whistles
added to:
*excitement for winter program, class party, and gifts for parents
 (Did you ever think math problems would become part of your vernacular while you were sitting in math class in high school? Me neither.)

Teaching is about reflecting, realizing, revamping. I was reminded during my National Board cohort meeting last night...and it all came together. I have never explored Christmas until the last week of break. Since we did it last week, and moved on to gingerbread stories and Venn diagrams, we are much calmer...and most importantly...I haven't had to replace my Reece's peanut butter cups.

Live Life. Love Life. Lead Life.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Square Dancing

It was second grade with Mrs. Chormicle. His name was Jeff and he had blond hair. We were partnered up for square dancing, which, in second grade, I thought was the absolute bomb. I'm pretty sure Jeff was my first crush. Unfortunately, the school I attended, Roy R. Marriott, was considered too old to be used any longer and the end of second grade signaled a new school for everyone there.

I thought of Jeff last night as I wrote a note for my daughter...
"Mom, write love, love, love Sierra, love, love, love, love, love love. I'm pretty sure someones mom is looking in a backpack at this time and wondering if my daughter is a stalker. The card also included a list of random words which made no sense whatsoever. My only thought: she wanted to see how they were spelled.

She then got an old boy toy, a pseudo spy watch from Carl's Jr, wrapped it in a paper sack, and attached the card to it.

When I asked why she wanted to do this she said, "My teacher says we are all family in here and I love my family."

"Ok, so do you want to make out any other cards for others?"
"No," she said, "just his."

Later today I asked if she gave him the card and gift. She said yes. When asked if he liked it, she said he thought it was, "awesome."

I don't think I need to worry about my daughter. She has more gumption in kindergarten than I even have to this day...:)