Sunday Lately Week 1/2019

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Sunday Lately is a weekly linkup hosted by the Blogger Tribe!  We e-hangout every Sunday, sharing a small glimpse into the past week of life in our own worlds. We’d love if you could join us!  Simply link up below with your blog post!  Not able to make it to your blog this week?  Not to worry, you can link up your #BTSundayLately Instagram posts too!

Obsessing…

Over Christmas break I was able to spend more time in my new house and if there’s one thing I love it’s the amount of natural light that streams in.

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Just look at it! It really is to the point of obsessing over it. I never really noticed how much natural light would come in on sunny days until here lately. I can already imagine how it’s going to look in the summer.

Perusing…

I’ve recently started training for a half marathon. The question is what half marathon? I know there’s two in May: the Pittsburgh one and the Ogden one. In the first one I would have to run & there’s kind of set times you need to be past or else it’s open to traffic again. I’m not entirely sure if my short legs could have me running 13.1 miles. The last half marathon I did I walked. Walking I can handle easily. The past few nights I’ve spent perusing three or four different HMs that are either in May or later. If any of you have suggestions for half marathons leave them in the comments please.

Praising…

God. This morning while sitting in church listening to the sermon I felt this indescribable calmness come over me. For the past few weeks it I felt like I was going through the motions of going to church but never really listening like I had been. That changed today and I walked out of there feeling so much happier and….relieved. I knew the Lord was still residing in my heart. It wasn’t that I questioning my faith. It was more like I felt like I was stuck in a rut. But listening to my preacher’s sermon I felt a familiar fire flicker in my heart. Tonight I’m feeling quite content and more importantly thankful. 

Sunday Lately is a weekly linkup presented by the Blogger Tribe.  Add your Instagram / Blog link for this week’s share so we can see what you’ve been up to lately!  Next week’s themes: Embarking, Enjoying, Experimenting.

 

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2019 Goals

Yes, I said goals. I find that I’m able to hold myself more accountable when I set goals versus resolutions. We’re only four days into this new year but I’ve already started working on them.

Goal 1: One word project

My fourth grade students did this assignment on their first day back from break. I provided them with a list of close to 60 words. Once their words were chosen they had to write their word big and centered on bright white paper. Some of words selected were: joy, glow, faith, grace, and be. The last one was picked by my student with anger issues. They have been trying better this year and curiosity got the better of me once I saw what they written.

“Why did you choose that word?”

Well I want to be better. Be nicer. Be a leader.” 

That right there made my day. I do recognize any time they make the right decision and try to avoid the things and people that make them angry. This lead to them asking if I would be picking a word. I nodded and told them that my word for this year is persevere. 

per·se·vere
/ˌpərsəˈvir/
verb
  1. continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.

Which leads to goal 2…

Goal 2: Lose weight & complete another half marathon.

In 2016 I decided to sign up for a half marathon. That way I had a goal set and a reason to continue going to the gym. I put in five months of training and working in a small group. My workout routine would be Monday for 3 hours, Tuesday for 2 hours, Wednesday for 2.5 hours,  and Thursday for 3 hours. Yes, it was intense and yes I was sore in the beginning. I was eating healthier, drinking more water, and losing weight the correct way. The half marathon was a success and I didn’t feel exhausted or pained until Mile Eleven. I was happier, healthier, and right on track to continue slimming down. Until August when my grandfather passed away and it hit me hard. By January I had gained half of that weight back. I tried to go back to the gym but then I was hit with back to back respiratory infections that screwed up my breathing. There was no half marathon in my future for 2017. I sporadically attended the gym and then 2018 I said I would do the half marathon then but my lungs hadn’t completely healed from those two infections. Yet again-no half marathon.

Wednesday morning I decided that I will complete a half marathon this year. That night I did tabata for the first time in months. Yes, I was sore afterwards but at the same time I felt so good!  Thursday I went and did 2 hours that night. Zumba was leg night and involved a lot of the same muscles I had worked the night before but I survived. But then TRX was next and I hadn’t done that class in ages! I asked Sarah if she was going to kill me and she just smiled and I knew then that she was. Sure enough that class involved 3 rounds of burpees which I loathe. But I set my jaw and told myself that I had done this kind of training before and I can do it again. This is why I chose my word.

I know I have a long way to go before I’m back to where I was in May of 2016 but I know I can do this.

Goal 3: Read More Books

Last year I only read a total of 21 books. That number is super low for me and almost unacceptable. But there were events that led to me being busier than usual during the summer. I’ll still be busy this summer but there will still be time to read. Plus I’ll have my new swing to sit in and enjoy the hummingbirds and butterflies when they stop by to say hello.

Here’s to 2019! Do you have goals or resolutions this year? If so, you’ve got this! 

 

Sunday Lately

 

Sunday Lately is a weekly linkup hosted by the Blogger Tribe!  We e-hangout every Sunday, sharing a small glimpse into the past week of life in our own worlds. We’d love if you could join us!  Simply link up below with your blog post!

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2018 has been a blur. How has 52 weeks flown by?! I’ve kind of slacked off in the blogging department it seems this year. I’m going to try to be better about this in 2019. Now let’s get to our prompts:

Embracing…In the last few days of my break I’ve been embracing all of my free time before I jump back into work on Wednesday. I know when I go back I’ll be starting the test prep. Part of me dreads the second half of the school year simply because of this reason. My Christmas break has consisted of zero work related “chores”. Instead I’ve spent time with family and working on the house. Yes, I said house. This past year I’ve embraced being a first time homeowner. Granted this house is very special to me as it was my grandparents’ house. Over the past five months the house has started to become more of mine thanks to splashes of persimmon and sky blue paint.

Hugging…Family and friends. If there’s one thing that 2018 reminded me is that I hate goodbyes. No-I loathe goodbyes. Granted I’m not much for hugging but after May I found myself wishing I had hugged her more. Anymore I try to make a point of hugging the people around me whether it’s my family, work family, the original 204 class, or  church family. Sometimes I’m surprised by the intensity people hug me back but I welcome it and at times feel like it’s my Mam giving me a sign that this is kind of a hug from her too. I know that last sentence may seem odd but it’s true.

Repeating…Speak up! 2018 taught me that I have a voice. February and March I made sure my voice was heard. Whether that was in my hometown while standing along the highway with my co-workers or in Charleston in the Rotunda.  Words cannot begin to describe the feelings I felt standing in that room hearing hundreds of teachers chanting and singing just trying to have all of us heard by our representatives. Next year who knows what I will have to speak up on.

Heartbroken & Disbelief

‘This is a startling moment’: Jewish writers on synagogue attack.

‘There Is Still So Much Evil’: Growing Anti-Semitism Stuns American Jews

These headlines leave me speechless. It’s 2018 and yet it seems history is repeating itself. It’s a scary time in America and it’s slowly turning into a nation that, quite frankly, embarrasses and worries me.

On Saturday a man entered a synagogue and killed eleven people and injured six. These people were there for a celebration. They walked in expecting laughter and the making of wonderful memories. But instead of a celebration they were subjected to terror.  One of the victims was a Holocaust survivor.

I never thought I would see these kinds of headlines in the news. I sit here and as I’m about to have a serious discussion with my students I’m actually not sure how to begin to broach this subject. I have an Elie Wiesel quote written on the whiteboard.

Just as despair can come to only one from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.

But I do feel it’s important that I discuss this with them. In tomorrow’s post I’ll try to talk about how it went.

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Overworked and Over Testing

I swear I haven’t taught anything this year. I’ve gone over third grade skills-yes. Have I introduced any Fourth Grade skills? No. Well maybe a few but it seems like every day I’ve been assessing my kids on something.  Just yesterday I checked my school mailbox and what did I find? A packet of papers that’s a reading assessment with the instructions of TO BE COMPLETED ASAP. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when I read that. The packet was ten pages. Three of the pages were the answers but STILL they expect my kids to read a four page story and complete questions on it. They aren’t ready for this & I honestly want to throw my hands in the air over all of this. I already know how my kids are going to react when I break this news to them. They’re going to pitch a hissy fit!

You know that GIF of Sheldon tossing the papers everywhere in the air? That’s how I feel and how I predict I will react the next time I get a stack of assessment papers. They expect these kids to write high school level essays. I never wrote this much in Fourth grade and I don’t know why they’ve changed the rules so much.  I’m fed up honestly.

 

Little Victories

My students just finished their October STAR Math test. They completed their Reading STAR test yesterday. It’s that same test that my happy-go lucky student was cursing the last time.  I was able to compare their numbers this time and while a few went down in their scores several went up. One girl in Reading went up +239 points. She rocketed from red all the way up to the top level of yellow. In Math this same girl rocketed from Red to Blue! That right there was worth celebrating.  I celebrate these little victories with them. Oh and my happy-go-lucky student? He’s the top boy in Math after this month’s testing. I’m super proud of all of these kids right now. They sat there, took their time and tried their very best.  Their reward now is to pick out new library books. They have brand new reading levels and a world of new possibilities.

Butterflies

Rain steadily falls outside and it’s soft pattering is slowly lulling me to sleep.  Steadily it begins raining heavier while Debussy plays quietly in the background. As my thoughts wander I begin thinking of another rainy day. A rainy day back in March where I had a rare day off.  If only I could go back to that day and redo it. Don’t misunderstand me. I wouldn’t change anything about it. I would just like to be that content again. If I were to change one thing about that day it would be that it lasted longer. Why are fleeting moments of pure happiness so rare? The quote by Henry David Thoreau is true I guess.

“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things it will come and softly sit on your shoulder.” 

Don’t get me wrong I’m happy with my job, the house, and my family, but the happiness that I’m thinking about here is an entirely indescribable kind. It’s left me with butterflies in my stomach (even after all this time) and the feeling of still being flustered when they get too near. However I wouldn’t change a thing.

Observations

Silence reigns supreme in my classroom right now.  All of my students are sitting here half worriedly working away on math problems.  Some of them are honestly stressed out already while others sit here and look completely calm.

One girl sits calmly and quickly writes each problem. She’s confident and I know she knows the content already. Move one section over and there’s another girl. She has a determined look on her face. I see her whispering to herself the algorithm for this particular problem and hoping she’s finding the correct answer. She hunches over to double maybe even triple check her work. She’s my most competitive student this year. Across from her sits a boy who looks like he’s just hoping that he’s getting close to the right answer. He’s even using his pencil to type the answers into the answer box. He’s my happy go-lucky student. “I’m just going to go eeny meeny miny moe to find the answer,” he whispers.  Once he’s chosen his selection he presses his face closer to the screen only to find the next problem to be worse than the last. “Are you kiddin’,” is the exclamation I hear.

What they don’t realize is that I hate this test prep just as much as I do. I want to be doing the fun stuff but first I have to set their benchmarks to sort them into their math and reading groups. In order for that to be done I need to have them complete these less than fun tests. At least this is the last test. Oh and update on my happy go-lucky student: he’s got a half smirk on his face and he swears I’m the one coming up with these test questions. I had to turn my laptop around just to prove to him that I am NOT coming up with these questions. And I’m pretty sure now he’s cursing his computer because I look up and see him whisper yelling to his laptop and shaking his pencil furiously at it. As if he thinks doing that will suddenly make the computer give him the answer. Oh if only life could work that way and not just on benchmark tests.

Final update on my happy-go-lucky student: his eyes just widened and he’s resigned to the crossing the fingers and spinning one finger down to letter A B C or D. Fingers crossed that he’s correct.

A Clear, Blue Day

September 11, 2001

I’m sitting in Mr. Croasmun’s literature class. He receives a phone call to turn on the tv. We all begin thinking it’s going to be a movie until we realize that everything we were seeing on the screen was really happening. We sit there in stunned silence and watch as the towers burn and people are running in and out of the buildings try to save people. Before class switches we gasp at the sight of the South Tower falling. At that point Mr. Croasmun turns the tv off and told us it was time to go to 4th period. From that point on every time we switch classes it was so quiet & if anyone were to talk they did so in a whisper. When I got home everything was quiet still and mom & I just sat there and watched all of the coverage. We couldn’t bring ourselves to turn it off no matter how intensely sad it was. 

It’s now been seventeen years since that day. For the past four years I’ve taught on this day. Every time it feels so weird to cover this particular day with kids who weren’t even born yet.

This year 9/11 falls on a Tuesday and as I wrote the date on the board this morning I couldn’t help but feel a small twinge of fear. In the time we’re living in right now our news and our world is a little scary. At 8:46 and 9:03 I had my class stop what they were doing and sit there silently. At 9:04 I asked them if they knew why I had done that. From there we began talking about 9/11. Several of them had questions and I tried to answer them. To them it was a historical event-much like Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassination was to my classmates.  One of my boys said that he would like to build a time machine to go back to that day and watch it. I didn’t say anything but did raise my eyebrow. A few minutes later as we were watching the CNN 10 video he looked at me and whispered, “I don’t want to build a time machine. This isn’t cool to watch at all. I’m sorry for saying that.” I just nodded my head and told him that’s why I raised my eyebrow. One of my girl’s asked why they didn’t just rebuild the Twin Towers in the years following. I went on to explain that several hundreds of family members did not find their loved ones. And that the reason they didn’t build new Towers in that exact spot was out of respect for those who lost their lives that day.  The one question I always dread answering was asked again this year. One of them asked what happened to the people who were above the impact zone. Their expressions when I told them they were trapped nearly broke my heart. One student whispered no while another just shook their head. One part that really surprised them were the amount of EMTs, police, and firemen that showed up that day that weren’t even on duty. I asked them why they did they that and one answered because they wanted to save people and that was something that was a deep feeling in their heart. That answer right there made my day.

As the day ended and I was dismissing them each of them stopped and gave me a hug. Another moment that made me smile on this somber day. A few seconds later my kids from last year came up and gave me hugs. One came up to me and said, “Ms. B, we talked about why today is so sad. I liked it more last year when we talked about it.” I asked why and they replied, “Because you let us ask questions and tried your best to answer them.” Another hug and he was gone.

I always wake up today with a heavy heart and while my heart is still heavy tonight there’s a glimmer of hope around it. For these kids-last year’s class and this year’s class give me hope. They have big hearts and the world needs a little more that.