Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Different Kind of Pumpkin

When I was seven, I was a Brownie. I was the proudest beanie-wearing girl in our whole apartment complex. And I couldn't wait to be a Girl Scout! At the end of my Brownie tenure, I remember the Flying Up ceremony where we walked beside the "reflection pool" (a large piece of mirrored glass on the floor) and said some magical words that were going to turn me into a "Girl in Green." I spent hours dreaming of those badges accumulating on the sash (could you get a better adornment for a child bursting with OCD tendencies than multi-colored, same-sized badges lined up neatly in rows?!) We saved and saved, and I could picture the whole outfit right down to the green socks with the tiny gold emblem...

Unfortunately, life doesn't always work out the way it does in a little girl's dreams. The Brownie leader ran off with the funds (I think today that might be called theft!) and my family didn't have the resources to pay twice for dues and pins and little green socks.

For decades I have admired Girl Scouts...and funded more than a few chapters through hundreds of boxes of Thin Mints that have never helped with my diet. These days, I rarely have Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts in my classes, and it has been ages since I have seen the tell-tale badges or socks.

So I was surprised to learn that this year I have four Girl Scouts in sixth grade and they are all fabulous kids. These girls have already been involved in several activities and projects, and this week I was the recipient of some of their efforts.

When you work at the same school for almost thirty years, everyone knows a lot about you, so I wasn't completely to be greeted by four pumpkins lined up on the table.

But these pumpkins were painted PINK. And they sparkled with glitter and ribbon. Three remain at school, but I snuck one out of my classroom to have at home.

Beautiful, yes? My mom was a breast cancer survivor for many years. And my sister reflects strength and courage daily as she celebrates over ten years as a Pink Ribbon Wearer. What a wonderful way for this group of aspiring leaders to combine holiday fun, community outreach, service to others and LOVE.

So, on this day, in addition to admiring ghosts and goblins, and eating more than my fair share of Kit Kats, I send up a wish and a prayer for all of those whose lives have been touched by breast cancer... for those who have battled the disease and for those who have supported them.

And I smile at the fact that although I still wish to have been one of those Girls in Green... I can also delight in the good thoughts and works of those four Girl Scouts who will be smiling back at me today...

Monday, October 29, 2012

October Currently

As I type this on a likely-to-be-sunny California morning, I am thinking good thoughts for my BlogFriends on the east coast and sending them good wishes and prayers for safety while Hurricane Sandy inches closer.. Be safe, dear friends! 

Three days left, but it is still October! Thanks, Farley, for always keeping us connected with your Currently link-ups! My addition will bring Farley's October total to 334 posters. Isn't that amazing? Click on the button below to check it out. And it's not too late to add yours too... just remember that Rule of Three...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Back to School... Back to Blogging!

Hello Bloggy Universe!

I have been away from Blogging for a while, and I am so excited to be back among such wonderful friends...

Graphic from DJ Inkers

This has not been my easiest year, but it certainly has been among the most interesting!

We started the year with record heat waves--the hottest day being 107 degrees. I recognize that plenty of teachers teach in that kind of heat, especially my pals in Florida, Texas, and several other southern states. It is a bit more unusual for us... there are thirty-six sixth graders squished into our little classroom--and our school is not air conditioned.  We were reduced to "minimal impact activity," (AKA no outdoor recess) and left in search a cool place to sit. The door handles in direct sun were too hot to grasp and the water in our water bottles was too warm to drink. I have to admit, most of us watched the clock and thought of cool things to do when we got home. We all now know the meaning of the vocabulary word, sweltering.

Along with the temperature, the "temperament" of my classroom changes each year (like everyone's, I'm sure). Some years, the kids are quiet and thoughtful. Other years they are rowdy and hard to control. Some years the kids are giggly and immature. Other years, they are mature (physically and emotionally) beyond their age. And this year... Well, I guess I am just not sure yet.

We have a LOT to work on.  I will leave out the scary stuff and instead focus on one troubling characteristic: At this point, they are just not "participators." They don't raise their hands to offer comments or answers to questions. They don't get involved in discussions. They don't volunteer to help other teachers or other kids. They don't work in cooperative groups. And they don't always treat each other kindly. Of course, there are exceptions to those generalities, but overall, many of these students are simply... removed.

Aside from Common Core, we have a lot to work on. I am not used to such widespread apathy and I hope to eventually find ways to engage them. I am not sure if I can teach them to care about their schoolwork, or each other, or their school, or their world--but I am sure going to try. There are a few amazing kiddos in the bunch and I am going to count on them to help me as we change our focus to leadership, service, and academic excellence. The clock is ticking and I'm READY!

And, before I go, I wanted to thank each of you who stopped by my blog when it was stuck interminably on those garage pictures. Thanks for wondering and worrying about me. I can't tell you how much it warmed my heart to come back to BlogLand and find those sweet comments and e-mail messages. I am anxious to visit your blogs and see what YOU have been up to. Again, thanks for checking in on me. I am so glad to be back.