A chance to breath- Thanksgiving weekend. Four days that every teacher and student desperately needs. Once November hits, the days are dark, the work is hard, and everyone is getting ready to buckle into the next three months of winter. You can feel it in the hallways and classrooms. Sleepy students in the mornings, tired teachers in the afternoons.
I sit this Thanksgiving weekend and prepare for a winter different than I've ever had. In three weeks I say goodbye to my students for three months. In three weeks, my own child will join this world and I will hold her in my arms and love her and begin my own journey as a parent. But it means leaving my classroom, something for which I am terribly nervous and anxious about. I know these students will be fine and they will be in capable hands. It's just..." teacher", as an identity, has been who I am for five years. Yes, I've learned to balance that role with things like friend, daughter, wife, etc. But always, as an overarching theme- teacher.  Now, I am going to let "parent" take a front seat. When I return to school in March I will have to find a new balance in my passion and love for this job and for the new role I am about to take on.

I'm excited, nervous, and happy. And oh so Thankful this long weekend is here to allow time to think, rest, reflect, and get ready for my new journey ahead.


Weekend Work Well Spent

When I started at my middle school four years ago, the school had just taken on the challenge of become a Middle Years Program school under the IB program. At the time, just happy with a job, I thought little of it. I set up my classroom and focused on surviving my first year in the school.  I've spent the last three years talking about the program at staff meetings, sharing the stress of authorization, and trying to make sense of all the pieces of such a large program. Still, it didn't feel as though I had figured out what this MYP thing really stood for.
So, when a training made it's way in to town I jumped on it. How could I pass up a chance to get formal training from the IB program, from the people who know it best and understand all the pieces and philosophies? It meant giving up a weekend, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
And what a weekend it turned out to be. I really REALLY read the IB mission statement for the first time. Not just a glance as I poured over documents- but a really good look at it:

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
To this end, the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.
These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

As our presenter said-- it's unabashedly optimistic. That phrase, "unabashedly optimistic", pretty much sums up my attitude towards public education, and reading the mission statement almost made me feel like I had found a kindred spirit. Suddenly, it hit me. This is not just one teacher I found to talk about how the world can be better through education- this is an entire global connection of educators who not only believe this, but have worked to make it a systematic and implementable thing

So, for three days, I just absorbed. Words I felt like I've just been floating in for the last three years became tangible and real. Ideas that felt unfocused and out of reach in my past MYP work became focused and doable.

I got the energy surge.

The surge. The desire to work, work WORK until I get this right. To go to work early, to stay late, to think, to struggle. The desire that drives me when I know something must be done because I can make things better and brighter for my students. I can make things stronger and learning better- and when I suddenly realize I have the tools and knowledge to do this, I can't rest until I do. How could I?


never ever ever

Today I remembered why I never ever ever ever let 8th graders pick seats. Seating chart ALWAYS. That doesn't mean I don't sometimes sit kids with friends or what have you. I just never ever ever ever let them pick their own. 
Today, because of strange circumstances, I did. 

Now my head hurts. 


Saying the same thing all day...

Parent/teacher conferences are over. Whew. All went well. Really well. Until the last hour... why did the crazy family sign up to be the last family of the day. It makes it all the harder to remember that we had 11 other hours of conferences WITHOUT crazy in it.



The weeks get long through September and October. There are few breaks and by October the honeymoon period passed long ago and we are truly into The Grind. Days end with me sitting in front of a desk covered with stacks of things I just don't want to deal with.
But then, there are these moments. These sparks that keep me going. Right now I'm well into a unit I particularly like. Square roots, Pythagorean Theorem, distance on a coordinate plan... some really wonderful topics that I've come to love teaching. Not only that, I believe I've become really GOOD at teaching this particular unit. I have a groove, a flow, a method to my madness.
So today, as we are working through problems, kids with mini whiteboards and me running around the room offering help, checking in, and having an all around good time, a student says, "It just really seems like you WANT us to learn."
Yeah. That felt good. Suddenly my tired feet were not so tired. Today, I just felt the good vibe in the room- like the students picked up on my desire for them to learn and love math and that vibe moved through them and radiated back to me.
And that's the spark that will get me through these next few dark and rainy weeks. Because, today it was a spark... but tomorrow... who knows?