Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday SOL Summer of healing

This is a Tuesday Slice of Life for Two Writing Teachers
Check out their website for many more reflections on teaching.

Summer is delightfully underway and
I am immersing myself in many daily pleasures -
reading and writing,
gardening (weeding!),
painting outdoor furniture,
walking and bicycling,
cooking and eating well.
This year, my summer is an amazing eight weeks long, and
I am trying to savor each day.
I know how extraordinarily lucky I am to have this much time for rest and reflection, and
it is much needed.

In the midst of my son's health challenges this spring,
I signed up for a workshop to jumpstart a summer of healing -
Basic Mind Body Skills for Alleviating Anxiety and Trauma with Robin Carnes.

As is true with all that I do, see, read, experience,
I thought so much about my preschoolers during this workshop!

It seems to me that 
I have more students showing signs of anxiety than
I used to have.
I don't have any empirical data to support this,
just a gut feeling.

I wonder,
are families more stressed?
are parents more preoccupied?
are children's lives more structured, with higher expectations for performance? 

I don't know.

I see children who
worry a lot
continuously scan the room for changes
seem unsettled
avoid interacting with others
have nervous tics
cry a lot
tense up unexpectedly and frequently
seem uncomfortable in their own skin

and it is my job as classroom teacher to help them
feel safe, loved, welcomed,
to help them feel a strong sense of belonging.

I came away from this workshop with ideas
not just for myself and my family
but ideas to enhance my teaching -

lots of physical movements to weave into my daily routines,
helping to ground and orient children's bodies;
new breathing exercises, to help us calm and focus; and
new understanding and acceptance of anxiety.

Perhaps the most powerful "take away" was Ms. Carnes' repeated reminder to
work with ourselves and others
gently and compassionately...
experience what is,
be with ourselves,
in the moment,
just as we are,
gently and compassionately.

Ms. Carnes suggested that we lose one admonishment of ourselves, of others -
lose the command
When we try to fix,
the body resists.

work gently and compassionately,
experience what is -
that is how things begin to shift.

Happy summer, one and all!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday SOL Thoughts about Charleston

This is a Tuesday Slice of Life for Two Writing Teachers
Check out their website for many more reflections on teaching.

I am finding it impossible to think or write about anything other than the horror of what happened in Charleston, SC last week.

Nine innocent, beautiful people were killed 
in their own church, 
during bible study, 
simply because they were black.

Simply because they were black.

Simply because they were black.

Careless Gardeners

This racism, this terrorism, this hate
is growing in the midst of so much beauty and good, 
like a pernicious weed in my garden 
emerging so similar in looks to neighboring flowers, 
tricking my eye and avoiding my trowel, 
unbeknownst to me, 
ignored, invisible, irrelevant, 
until I see it has begun to strangle my precious peonies and bleeding heart.
Am I a careless gardener,
hastily pulling off its lengths,
and simply smoothing out the soil about the plants,
oblivious to the multitudinous runners 
coursing every which way, 
still rampant?
Or do I dig down deep,
eliminating roots,
nourishing, cultivating, enriching,
turning over the soil?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday SOL This year's "Let's remember" poem


This is a Tuesday Slice of Life for Two Writing Teachers
Check out their website for many more reflections on teaching.

almost unbelievably,
today was our last day of school.

We have had a great year…and so much fun these last few days, including 
a fabulous shadow puppet show about Eric Carle's The Tiny Seed, created by one of our early childhood families,
a field day where we played all sorts of running games, and 
a water play day, running hoses next to our local community center. 
Last, but not least, we had a fabulous Learning Showcase to celebrate this last trimester, sharing the children's science journals, artwork and stories inspired by Eric Carle, and end of the year self-portraits. Yes, we have had so much fun!

Now, summer begins!

Here's what I slipped into each of the children's portfolios, to help them remember our year together….

  Let’s remember . . .

Hello, everybody, it’s so good to see you
Marble Art
Painting with nature
Hiding bears in the Magna Tiles
Sand and water at the sensory table
Making books at the writing table
Playing sick in dramatic play
How does your story begin?
Dancing to “Let It Go”
Ramps, blocks, balls, cars, and airplanes
Climbing on playgrounds, rolling down the hill
Building with blue blocks in the cafeteria
Engineering with recyclables
Eric Carle
Our Kindness Tree
The Airplane Song, Freeze Dance
These Are My Glasses
Collecting and exploring found objects
Cardboard castles
Walking to the Rhode Island Metro
Our Farmer’s Market
Engineering houses and boats, creating inventions
Cooking on Fridays
                                                         Sharing boxes
Caterpillars, pupas, butterflies, and science journals
Growing green beans
 “The Goodbye Song
 “My heart to your heart, I wish you well”

Happy Summer! My hope is to do lots of writing. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tuesday SOL We are ending the year!

This is a Tuesday Slice of Life for Two Writing Teachers
Check out their website for many more reflections on teaching.

My apologies for several weeks without a slice. My son is back home and on the mend...we are calling this the "summer of healing." Thank you for your many caring words!

Over these past few weeks, rushing back and forth to the hospital or to doctor's appointments, I have taught many partial days. I am so thankful that my school permitted me this flexibility. But here is the real bonus: I have been lifted up by spending time with my preschoolers! Truly, I know I am in the right line of work: when I spend time with them, I am energized, centered, and smiling. 

Let me share our fun today. As we end our school year, I am going down "memory lane" with the children, reading favorite books, singing favorite songs, re-doing favorite activities.

Today, a very warm day in D.C., was just right for remembering our long, snowy winter. I suggested we go ice skating!

I put on some fun instrumental music, and passed out two paper plates to each child - one for each foot. Around and around the classroom they went! Oh, what fun they had! 

Ice skating complete, I read a favorite book from our snowy winter:  The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

Yes, a great day.