Thursday, December 30, 2010

Giving Thanks for All That 2010 Brought

1.  Being an aunt (for the first time) to a beautiful, loving little niece.  I love every moment with you, Allie!
2.  Making progress in the adoption process....each step has brought us great joy.  I'm blocking out all of the frustrations and focusing on all we have learned and grown.
3.  Learning that I can survive something I doubted I could.  When my husband lost his job last April, all of the times I had said, "I don't know what we would do if that happened to us," flashed before my eyes and I could hardly breathe.  We got through it just fine.  We are stronger and smarter for it.  And, God showed us....yes, you can do it!
4. Spending an awesome week's vacation with our extended family.  Time together is so valuable and the laughter we share is a priceless blessing.
5. Taking Reed to Nick Saban's Football Camp.  Watching my son have that much fun, and spend his first few nights away from us was both a blessing and a struggle.  That camp experience was one where we all grew!
6.  Growing closer to God with my children.  I am so grateful for my faith and for the faithful, loving hearts of my husband and my children.  To know that my children love the Lord and trust Him, is the greatest of all gifts.  And, to share life with a mate that loves and trusts the Lord as I do...wow-I can't imagine life any other way.
7.  Sharing saturday afternoon football games with our big, football loving family and our friends.  We have so much fun and we laugh and have fun....win or lose!
8.  Watching my husband LOVE his new job.  God works in mysterious ways and we didn't know the blessings he had in mind when we suffered the loss of his job months earlier.   We tried to be thankful for the struggle while we were in it....but thankful feels differently on this side.  We thank God for bringing this new, better job to him.
9.  Realizing, unfortunately through tragedies in friends lives, what an amazing community we live in and how lucky we are to be surrounded with incredible friends.
10.  Watching young children trust and learn and explore and grow and question and create in my classroom.   I'll admit that in a room with nineteen 5-6 year olds, there are times I want to pull my hair out.....but there are countless moments every day when I look around the room and think-this is awesome and the fire inside me to teach and mentor young learners is reignited!   What a gift!
11.  Lastly, the joy and gratitude I feel for so many things..... friends and family that show me love and kindness and loyalty,  a job that I love, my church family that I love and grow in Christ with, and recognizing God's hand in all things.   Feeling gratitude is the BIGGEST part of all blessings.   Thank you God for another wonderful year....all of the ups and all of the downs.   I know that 2011 will be another great year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One Year








My friends and family know how much I love my children, my family, my friends, my job....but one year ago today I was blessed with a beautiful niece and became an aunt.  My sweet Alex was born one year ago today and has filled our family and hearts full this year.  Growing up I always pictured myself with at least 4 kids.  But God always has a better plan than we can even dream.   He blessed me beyond measure with the most incredible son in the world, has blessed us through the adoption of our sweet, doll of a daughter, and he gave me a niece that is only 1 mile away.  In the past year I have rocked her, sang to her, read to her, played with her and now am chasing her.  She is an angel!   Even when she is tired and a little grouchy, I can start singing Patty Cake or Wheels on the Bus and she stops to listen and then a huge smile forms from ear to ear.    She is a smart, beautiful little girl and it is such a gift to be her aunt and watch her learn and grow.  I love you, Allie-poo!!  I hope you have the happiest of birthdays!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The World Would Be a Better Place if......

There are many things that could complete this statement that would make it true.  But one thing has been bothering me for weeks now.  In our area, SEC country, there has been major controversy over Cam Newton and a NCAA investigation into possible violations.....blah, blah, blah.  This has been a national story as well, but here, it is crazy!  People who know nothing of this boy either want to tear him up him or bow to him.  The news has been very negative....stories of stolen laptops, cheating on papers, possibly taking money to play, etc. so it is natural for people to presume that something is up.  It's human nature to hear all of these things and assume some of it is true.  I don't mean to the point of making signs or even arguing with others about it....but believing some of it.

What has been most surprising to me are the fans who have professed undying love and support for a boy that they don't know, with this type of press over several years.  I am all for giving someone the benefit of the doubt, and I do so in this situation.   What is sad to me are the folks that I know personally who 'dog' other adults, for FAR less....they berate people they work with, children, family members, etc.  yet they shout undying support for a college quarterback they don't know at all.   What a better place this world would be if those same supporters rallied around young children, their neighbors, their coworkers, their family members.  How great would it be if people professed the same love for Jesus?

I'm all for 2nd chances (and even 3rd, 4th and 5th chances-thank God I've been given many) and I'm all for seeing the best in someone and giving them the benefit of the doubt.  I'm far from perfect but it is my nature to believe someone is good until they show me otherwise, and they don't have to score touchdowns to do so.  It is the greatest commandment, and something I work towards daily.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:30-31

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful

I am thankful for so many things this Thanksgiving.  Above all, I am thankful for a Lord and Savior and Heavenly Father that always loves me, endures all for me, and has blessed me beyond measure.  I have a family that is perfect in spite of all of our imperfections, a son that is smart and funny with a heart of gold, a daughter that has a soul that is wise in spirit-who knows what really matters in life.  I have been blessed with a husband who supports me, respects me and loves me unconditionally.   I have parents and in-laws that are always there for me, brothers and sisters who make me laugh and are my best friends!  And, I'm blessed with the most beautiful baby niece.  I have loved every minute of being her aunt!  And, I am blessed with friends that make the world a brighter place each day, by just being them!

I've been a parent now for almost 14 years and I can't help but think how grateful I am for the parents I have.  They are not perfect, but what pressure it would be if they were!  I thank them for teaching me how to be responsible, to accept the word NO, and to know when not to accept the word NO, to speak proper English, to value education, that it's not all about me, to respect and care for others, to Love the Lord, how to handle disappointment, to go to bed at a reasonable time, to live with hope, to buckle up, to keep my room clean, to live within my means, that the truth is always the best way, and that people matter more than things.  I know, that not all people are lucky enough to have parents that teach them all of these things-I encounter them daily.  I am so thankful for these things!  I love you, Mom and Dad!

We all are blessed with so much!   And, most of the time, the things we feel we have to go "without" are truly blessings too.  Most times, we don't know what is good for us.  Thanks be to God for having the perfect plan, for giving me the perfect parents for me, for blessing me with the perfect family and friends for me and for blessing me with a spirit of hope and peace and joy!  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Christmas Card Offer from Shutterfly

I have been loving Magic 96 this week and humming Christmas tunes, buying new decorations, thinking of great gifts to purchase....it IS the most wonderful time of the year.  I love every minute of this season!  Now, Shutterfly has made it even better!

Shutterfly is offering 50 free Christmas Cards to bloggers.  This is an awesome offer!  I have purchased my Christmas cards from Shutterfly for the last 6 years and love them!   It is so easy to use photos to create a personal, adorable card.  They have every style imaginable and I am always so pleased with the quality.  I LOVE Christmas cards and don't mind spending money on them, but how awesome is it to get them free!  I usually order 75, so this will save me a considerable amount.   Check it out and take advantage!

The only problem now is choosing from all of the great designs!  These are two of my many favorites.










































So many cute cards!!  And, while your at it, check out their awesome products you can create with your favorite photos.  I have created personalized photo mugs, mouse pads, photobooks, etc.  These make awesome gifts for grandparents.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kindergarten Poets

In yesterday's post I told about the magical moments that lead to a beautiful poem composed by my whole class.  I love this group so much.  They are brilliant, adorable, compassionate and truly are so excited about learning.  They love to learn and get so excited about life in our classroom.  I love them!

I promised to share their poem with you, so I got one of my sweethearts to read the poem for you.  I have known and loved this little one since before she was born!  Her mom also teaches kindergarten at my school and is a dear friend.

First a still pic.....


Now the reading......isn't she a doll??


video


I hope you loved it as much as I did!  Thank you to Cynthia Rylant for your brilliant words of inspiration that set these kindergarten writers on fire!  Here's to endless possibilities.....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Magical Moments in the Classroom

As a teacher, I cherish those magical moments when a class loves a book as much as I do and like wildfire, the class has developed its own incredible lesson.  This happened last week while I read In November by Cynthia Rylant.  It was amazing and an experience I couldn't wait to share with some of my colleagues that value these magical moments as much as I do!  If you don't know this book, you should!  It is amazing and full of mesmerizing verse and inspiring personification.  I always tell my students, I love it when I read a book and it leads me to think about something in a way I never have before.  This is one of those books.  It begins by describing the earth as covered by a blanket and the trees with the outstretched, boney arms of a dancer.  (forgive me for paraphrasing-I don't have the book at home with me.)  And, it ends with magical words depicting "mother earth" as kissing her children's heads and tucking them in until spring.  I am not doing it justice....you'll have to read it!

The real magic happened when my students were as awe struck as I was by Rylant's words.   They began to share their own ideas for personification and describing the change in seasons.   One student proclaimed that trees in fall are "going bald because it's like all of their hair is falling out."  There were so many ideas flowing I grabbed the chart paper and started to write them down.  Then, one student declared we needed to write our own poem about November.  (I love it!)  So, we looked at our word choice again and worked together to change 3-4 of the words to more interesting words.  Then, we organized the ideas that went together and wrote them all in order.  The poem is incredible!!  A group of students later worked on painting a large piece of paper to publish the poem.  The finished product is simply a treasure!!  I left my camera at school, but I will post pics this week.....maybe even a video of a student reading the poem.  Stay tuned!

Once again, I am humbled by the brilliance of young children.  I learn as much (if not more) than I teach. When we are open to learn, the possibilities are endless.  

Friday, October 8, 2010

What a difference a year makes

At school today we celebrated one of my favorite people in the world!  Melissa is a friend, colleague and and my Elizabeth (she knows what that means.)   July of 2009 she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was such a hard time.  She was so strong and we were all falling apart around her, because we felt so helpless and wanted so badly to help our dear friend.  She has endured so much and is a survivor in every sense of the word.  She had a double mastectomy, developed blood clots as a complication, had 4 blood clots in her heart and had to have open heart surgery to remove them.  The night before her surgery, I stood in her ICU room with 3 other dear friends and prayed with her and tried not to cry because I didn't want her to be scared.  She has such a strong faith and I admire her so much.  God rewarded her faithfulness the next day.  Doctors all say that she should not have lived with those clots in her heart.  They had never seen anything like it and doctors from all over came to talk to her and see pictures.  She is truly a miracle.  She is a wonderful friend, wife, mother, teacher....I could go on and on.  God knew this world needed Melissa longer and I am so grateful.

Today, we celebrated her at school with lots of PINK surprises and tomorrow we will walk with her in the Race for the Cure.  Our team at HES has raised over $1200.  Yeah!!!   It will be a special, special time to spend with my treasured friend!
 The best group of Kindergarten teachers-EVER!  Love these girls!

     I made these pink pom-poms to decorate over her teacher table before she came in the room. 
Lots of pink!

 Me, Melissa and Katy

We had these shirts made and a lot of the teachers bought them to wear today.  It was a great day!  Such a difference from last year.   Thank you, God!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where were you?

On this day, nine years ago, I thought I lived in a land where a "9/11" wasn't possible.  Everything changed that day.  I was the director at St. Mary's Episcopal Church Childcare Center and one of the dads came in the door that morning and asked if we had a TV.  He said that something just happened to the World Trade Center.  Seconds later we were standing in front of a small television with tear-filled eyes, trying to understand what we were seeing...hoping this was all some mistake.  I kept going to the phone, calling my mom, my husband, my best friend, Bridgette, and asking them what they knew.  Every time I talked to them, more happened....tower 1, tower 2, the plane in Pennsylvania, the Pentagon, the towers falling.   It was so scary.  We honestly didn't know where terror would strike next.   My son, Reed, was 4 years old and in a classroom down the hall.  I went to his classroom, sat in the floor with him and his friends and just hugged him and wished I was at home with my whole family together.  For days, I was glued to the television's endless coverage, tears flowing without ceasing.  Complete shock and disbelief and heartache filled the days and nights for all of the those searching the rubble for loved ones...for all of those rescue workers, for the people trapped for days.

September 11, 2001 was a day when I became a little less naive.  That sense of security was replaced with fear.  I remember having to fly on the 6 month anniversary of the attack to visit my grandmother who was ill.  I was scared to death.  Eyes scanning the crowd and other passengers.  I could not stop thinking about how all of those victims on those planes that day were just going about their normal lives when terror intruded.  Years later, I flew into Boston at the same airport some of the 9/11 terrorist had flown out of that morning.  I couldn't help but think about the unsuspecting passengers flying with these evil men that morning.

Today, I remember and I pray.  I pray for those who lost their lives and the heroes we lost that day as they tried to fight fires and rescue others.  I pray for those who lost their loved ones.  I pray for those that live with hate-filled hearts, that God will touch them in a way as to remove this hate and evil from their hearts and souls.  I pray for our country and our leaders and pray that they do what is necessary to protect us from terrorist.  I pray for our military men and women who risk their lives and sacrifice time with their loved ones to fight for our freedom and security.   I thank God for every day I have with those I love.  I pray that we never see another day like 9/11/01.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I'm So Glad I Asked

Assuming is not always good, especially with little children.  So many times we assume that we understand what they need or want or are trying to say....but more times than not, we don't know until we ask.   Every time I take the extra minute and ask why? or inquire a little more with my kindergarteners I am pleasantly surprised.  So many times kindergarteners seem to say things that are completely unrelated or off topic.  But if you ask a few questions, they will explain how they reached that point.

Most recently in math, we have been working on attributes and sorting.  After some whole group discussion and work I sent the kids to their tables to work with manipulatives and sort.  They could decide on the attribute they would use to sort.  As I walked around the room, I could see who obviously got it and who obviously did not.  As I stopped to work with those who were confused and made my way around I encountered a student who is very bright and very "with it" but appeared to be making long lines of random colored cubes.  There were 2 different colors in one line and several different colors in the other lines.  I stopped and knelt down and said, "Tell me how you are sorting and the attribute you chose."  She responded, "I am sorting kinds of colors.  These are the dark colors, these are the medium colors and these are the light colors."  I smiled and was so impressed, and was so glad I asked.

Sorting kinds of colors-light colors, medium colors, dark colors
I was also able to learn more about another student.  He was making stacks of colored unifix cubes.  I could have assumed that he was sorting by colors, marked it in my notes and moved on.  But I am so glad that I didn't.  I asked him to tell me about his work and he said, "I was going to sort these colors but then I decided to make small buildings and tall buildings and then sort the buildings and the attribute is how tall they are."  Wow!  I love hearing all of their thinking and reasoning.   So, once again, I'm so glad I asked!

sorting tall buildings and short buildings
Such amazing kids and I'm looking forward to a year of endless possibilities!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Top 10 Best Things About Teaching Kindergarten

1.  Where else can you go to work and be told that you are beautiful and loved at least 5 times a day?
2.  Whenever you dance, 5 year old think you are cool!
3.  A band-aid or bag of ice solves most ailments.
4.  There are always laughs.....a million a day.....one day last year, a student across the hall walked in to the room one morning and exclaimed, "Okay, who was in my dream last night!!?"
5.  Five year olds still believe they can do anything you believe they can.
6.  It's easy to think you're a comedian when your audience is 5.
7.  The world through the eyes of a 5 year old is an full of wonder and awe.
8.  I doubt many people work with a room full of people who consider it a prize to get to sit by you.   I do!
9.  Children are resilient and forgiving and loving and are peace-makers by nature.
10. I have a great excuse to sing silly songs, read great books and go to recess EVERY day!

I could go on and on.  I work at an awesome school with fabulous parental support, surrounded by loving, dedicated teachers.  I'm blessed to begin another year doing what I love!  Everyone should be so lucky!  Happy new school year to all of the kids and teachers out there who will soon begin a new year of learning!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wish they all had a start like this....


At only 7 months, she is listening to stories and turning the pages of the board books.  The best part is that when you finish a book and close it, she cries (without tears) in protest and stops immediately when you begin another book.  This is music to my teacher heart!   Between the 3 adults here Saturday night, she was read about 15-20 books (many repeated several times with which she was thrilled) and she expressed this dislike for the end of reading time and contentedness when reading resumed each time.  It was incredible!


I wish all parents understood how important early literacy is.  This sweet baby girl is my niece, Alex.  She is very fortunate to have wonderful, loving, educated parents who have been reading to her since before she was born.   Along with loving parents and an aunt that is a kindergarten teacher and absolutely head over heels in love with her -Alex is covered when it comes to enjoying books.   All children deserve this start!  Early reading not only is a comfortable, bonding time with young children, but it also advances cognitive development.  It helps a child to develop language, vocabulary and concepts of print.  The kids that have these early experiences begin school with everything they need to learn to read.  And, as a kindergarten teacher, you can quickly tell who has been read to and who has not.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Inspiration

I am now reading a great book, A Place of Wonder by Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough.  I learned of the book over at Creative Literacy and couldn't wait to get started.  I've only just begun and am already loving it.  In the first few pages, I found a poem that I need to read each morning before teaching kindergarten.  Teachers are so often carrying so much responsibility on our shoulders that it's easy to inadvertently stifle the joy and wonder of childhood.  This poem was written by the author after she was disheartened by what she saw while observing a class of kindergarten children.  It speaks volumes about what we need to hold dearly at the heart of the important work we do each day.

Straight Lines


All the kindergartners
walk to recess and back
in a perfectly straight line
no words between them.
They must stifle their small voices,
their laughter, they must
stop the little skip in their walk,
they must not dance or hop
or run or exclaim.
They must line up
at the water fountain
straight, and in perfect form,
like the brick wall behind them.
One of their own given the job
of informer-guard of quiet,
soldier of stillness.
If they talk
or make a sound
they will lose their stars.
Little soldiers marching to and from
pretend
their hair sweaty
from escaping dinosaurs
their hearts full of loving the world
and all they want to do
is shout it out
at the top of their lungs.
When they walk back to class
they must quietly
fold their pretends into pockets,
must dam the river of words,
ones they're just learning
new words that hold the power
to light the skies, and if they don't
a star is taken away.
One star
by one star
until night grows dark and heavy
while they learn to think carefully
before skipping,
before making a wish.

This poem helped me to form a few goals for this kindergarten year: to insist on more skipping, more exclaiming and to let the pretends flow freely.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Disappointing Irony

While I was at school today to get a jump on mountains of work, I saw some of my favorite people (my fellow teachers) and we were discussing the "changes" in store for us this year.  (It's a running joke in the teaching profession....don't like the way we are doing this now?  don't worry-they'll make us do something new next week).

Then tonight, I was browsing some of my favorite teacher blogs and came across an awesome video by Alan November.  (He's awesome!)  It was inspiring and really got me thinking about the new school year, the endless possibilities and all I want to do to help my students be self-directed, life-long learners who collaborate, question, and search for answers.   They have a natural wonder and drive to learn....they don't have to be told to do so.   How ironic that teachers strive to prepare students to be life-long learners and collaborators that are well-prepared for the 21st century workplace and are in turn told what to teach, how to teach, how many minutes to teach it, in what style to teach it.....what "program" to follow-and that the program that costs lots and lots of money must be followed to "fidelity."   Where is the room for teacher choice, student directed learning, collaboration with colleagues, questioning, searching for answers?   Instead of spending time collaborating with teachers about student learning and literature and projects, we spend our time learning a new math program, meeting about a new core map, discussing a new standardized assessment.   If teachers were allowed to be the 21st century thinkers that we strive to help our students become, the world would be a better and much different place.  I understand that there need to be requirements and goals to be accomplished in each grade and I understand that there are "struggling" teachers, just as there are struggling students.  Why not meet with these struggling teachers in small groups....help them to develop.....instead of pouring millions of dollars into a "prescribed one-size-fits-all program" that ironically dumbs-down great teachers.    Let us be the productive, self-directed learners we help our students become!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Goodbye Summer....Hello School Year!


Sadly, the sweet, lazy days of summer are quickly coming to an end.  I love my children and my family and we have had so much fun....beach fun, pools, lake fun, skating, movies, shopping, playing, reading, camps, anniversaries, birthdays and hanging out with friends and family.....ahhhhh, the time and freedom the summer allows us is such a blessing.  I have the best of both worlds.  I get to be a stay-at-home mom in the summer and all of the school holiday breaks and I get to do the work that I love the rest of the year.  Teaching is truly a passion and honestly, I spend a large part of the summer reading and working on "teacherly" things that I don't seem to get to during the year.  You know you love your job when you work on it during your free time.  
Yesterday was our summer registration at school.  It is always so much fun to see all of the familiar faces I know and love.  The excitement is in the air for all of the hopes and dreams for a new school year.   As teachers we are truly given the gift of a brain break each summer and a chance to start new and fresh each year.  The next few weeks will be exciting and exhausting, but energizing all at once.  It's hard to explain but the hardest and most anticipated part of the year is fast approaching.  And although I mourn the end of lots and lots of time with my family (and the time to keep my house cleaned up) I can't help but look forward to and dream of the fun year of teaching and learning ahead.  
I was fortunate to meet some of my new students yesterday and have some that I already know.   They are all precious and I can't wait to spend a year of learning with them!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Readicide

Readicide:   Kelly Gallagher has defined this as the systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind numbing practices found in schools.

I finally have marked enough things off of my "to-do" list that I felt that I could devote an afternoon to a book that I have wanted to read for a while.  I am half way through the book and have shouted "Amen" several times, jotted down ideas to take back to school in August and my mind is racing with ways to stop this movement....to kill the love of reading.

This book has me reflecting on my own reading life.  I loved books as a child.  I had a mother that read to me, an amazing kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Abernathy, that read aloud to us throughout the day and talked to us about books.  During nap time, she would read us stories of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and friends and do all of the voices.  I can still remember laying on my peach beach towel and hanging on every word.    This continued through the next several years and then was lost.  I remember "the middle years" filled with the awful chore of reading a book and doing a book report or a project.  Then, a wonderful teacher in Chesapeake, Virginia, Mrs. Woolery,  turned me back onto the magic of reading in the 10th grade.   Each night we read assigned portions of novels and the next day we discussed them in class.  We all got to share our "take" on what we had read and no idea was judged or rejected.  It was an awesome escape from being told what to think....and I remember enjoying reading each night and looking forward to that class daily.  From that day on, I continued to read for enjoyment and now can't ever find enough time to read all the books that I would love to read.

My own experience reflects some of how teachers unintentionally kill a child's love of reading.  As adults, we read and think and then love to discuss these thoughts with others who have read the same book.  Just recently I was with a group of my girlfriends, going to see Eclipse.  In the car, we were having the all too familiar Jacob vs. Edward discussion and were giving our reasons by siting the text and things that occurred to draw us to one side or the other.   As one person supported their thought, another would chime in and say...."see I totally didn't get that from that part, I thought..."  And, my teacher brain kicked in and I thought, this is what kids need.  I dare say we would have all enjoyed presenting a shadow box or poster accompanied by a written report, but we loved analyzing, supporting and sharing our thoughts.  We have to remember this as teachers and give students lots of interesting books, magazines, articles, etc. to read and then give them authentic ways to share their thinking and their experiences with the text.

I can't wait to read more of this book and revise my teaching practices to help to nurture a child's love for reading and not squash it.  The book shares lots of ways to stop the movement and turn it around.  I'll be sharing more!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

We have so much to be grateful for....and celebrating the 4th of July at the lake with family, friends, food, boating and fireworks is one of them!  The kids had a great time and we enjoyed relaxing and having fun!  Thank you to all of the men and women who give their lives to protect our freedom! Happy Independence Day!



















Monday, June 28, 2010

appreciating the struggle

Through no choice of my own, the theme of my summer has become 'appreciating the struggle.'  I first became aware of this concept listening to Peter Brunn discuss allowing students to struggle with a concept so that they are able to construct their own understanding.  This was a light bulb moment for me...I've always viewed struggle as a negative.  Seriously....who wants to struggle?   But it is so true.  Things we are told, we may remember and we may apply them to our lives in some way, but it's the things we struggle with that change us and help us to grow.   As the summer has gone on, this theme of struggle and growth has also popped up in discussions with close friends who are going through divorce and infertility.  Both of these issues breed struggle....but I am fortunate enough to also witness growth in both of these beautiful friends and it is inspiring.  I am currently reading the book, Plan B and am involved in a book study at church.  This concept of struggle was part of our discussion on sustaining faith.  I think God sometimes allows us to struggle so that we learn to lean on Him, grow closer to Him and realize what really matters in this world.  What an important lesson.  Our sunday school lesson yesterday also addressed this concept with Job.  Wow...he struggled!  But he never lost his faith and was rewarded for it.

All of these discussions and thoughts have lead me to reflect on my personal struggles....there are a few. :)   Adoption is a blessing, but also a huge struggle.  Especially when you are adopting a seven year old little girl who loves and misses her birth mom.  She knows nothing about the situations which lead to her mom losing custody (that will all be for a much older, sweet girl to understand) and she naturally loves her.  She loves us too and she is so happy.  We want her to love her mom.  But, for me, this has been a struggle.  I have had to control myself and have learned things about myself and have grown (and hopefully will continue to do so) through this internal struggle I have with her feelings for her mom.  I can't explain it.  It's irrational.  I know she loves her....I want her to love her....I care about birth mom too.  But sometimes I am done with it.  I want her to be out of the picture.  I want us to have our family and that's it....be "normal."  But, I whine to my mom and my husband here and there and keep this to myself.  It is getting easier.  This is the life God has chosen for us, this is the way it is.  No one person belongs to another....we all belong to God.  I have to continue to pray, hand it over to God and remember that I am doing what He wants me to do and enjoy each day and each blessing for what it is and not what I wish it was or what I had planned it to be.  God knows so much better than I do.   And, I do give him thanks and praise for all of that I am blessed with, for His love and for the miracles he gives us daily.  Struggle=growth!

Friday, June 25, 2010

MidSouth Reading and Writing Conference

For the last 8 summers I have had the great pleasure of attending this conference.  Once again, I was not disappointed.  Richard Allington was the keynote speaker on Friday and spoke quite plainly about the things that need to be changed when working with struggling readers.  He pointed out that children have not changed, we have.  Instead of finding a way to help these children, many now label them and define them with titles like ADD, LD, etc.  Although these are real issues, the labels have been overused and often assigned to children who did not deserve them.  We have to stop making excuses and do whatever a child needs to help them progress.


Saturday was a another great day of learning and thinking lead by Peter Brunn. He spoke about the intentions teachers have to keep in mind while fostering thinking.  Many times we praise and judge student responses during discussions and in turn squash the chances of other students sharing their thoughts because they are afraid they are not going to share what "we" are looking for.  We simply need to say "thank you" and leave students feeling validated and others feeling safe to share a thought that may differ from a fellow students.  I do this!  I'm a thought squasher and I didn't realize it!  ugh... It was unintentionally, but I do this!  My thinking is not the only thought on any book or poem.  I left Saturday a changed teacher.  This year, I will strive to plan lessons and discussions that foster questioning and thinking in an environment where all students feel safe to share their thoughts, support their ideas and share ideas that may be different from their peers.  I can't wait to finish reading Peter Brunn's book The Lesson Planning Handbook.  It is great!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

add another to the list

Another shortcoming....I have been a bad blogger!  My mom and one of my sweet friends teases me about it and I mean to get back to it, but the more time that passes-the bigger the task of catching up appears.  So, I revamped it and I am going to do better!  I think one reason it was hard was because in the beginning I set it up to share our adoption journey.  Then, we got our sweet girl and had so many things to celebrate-but many struggles as well.  It was hard to blog about the hard parts.  I didn't want to disclose too much info with her mom's rights not yet terminated and I didn't want to discourage others who were lead to adopt through foster care and I didn't want to whine.  After all, I had been asking friends and family to pray about this for us for months and months.  How was I to "complain" now?  Well, I will share snapshots of our journey here and there, but I opened up the blog subject to include all parts of our life....family, teaching, faith, friends...life in general!  Life is full of lessons....they keep coming each day!

Adoption update for those that don't know....birth mom's rights were terminated in February and we now wait for the judge to bang the gavel to finalize the adoption.  It's only a matter of time now!  We are overjoyed!