Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Really really

Good news. This morning ND told me, "I really really like my new school."

But it gets better. I came to pick her up that afternoon during extended care when the leftover kids from all the classes are playing in a small gym together. (Yes, my ND is one of the first to arrive and last to leave her school.)

While ND was nursing I heard another girl say she "really really" liked something. 

"Is that girl in your class," I asked ND on a hunch, and discovered that, in fact, they're rather good friends.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Continues to amaze me...

We're in the days of awe.

When I was learning with my Chavruta the other night, she told me that some have the custom not to speak at all, except in prayer, during the month of Elul. What a cool custom, I thought. If only it were practical.

Today I'm home sick with no voice at all. I get to try it out. Wow, G-d. You make my wishes happen even when I'm not sure I want them.

I felt the cold coming on during Rosh Hashanah. In fact, I had some very awesome davening, filled with emotion, and now I realize part of it might have been a symptom of the oncoming illness. Do I write that emotion off or receive it as another gift? I'll go with the gift.

As for work... I was asked specifically last year to try to take fewer sick days this year. I'm willing to try it. In fact, I'm determined. So on Monday I could have stayed home and might have avoided all of this, but went in anyway. Had I stayed home would the cold have gone completely away? Maybe, but maybe not.

Instead, I came and continued to take full control of my own classroom, not yet willing to delegate to my assistant. I felt sick but not weary or anything for several days. Then yesterday, my voice began to fail.

It was kind of fun. I wrote a letter on the board telling the kids they'd need to:
-listen the first time I say something
-help each other follow directions
-read body language
-think about what to do instead of just asking

These are all skills I wanted to stress to them anyway and they got the point given the circumstances. Beyond that, when we went to recess, I designated a few "yellers" to help call the kids in. One in particular did a magnificent job of rounding kids up efficiently and they all came right away! 

More importantly, this gave me time to sit back and give up some control to my assistant and to watch the kids more closely. By sitting back and observing, I learned quite a bit about two in particular and was able to work on my relationship with them and help them participate rather than try to control from the front of the room.

Finally, there's that humility again. Some lessons we have to learn a thousand times. Some we already know but need reminding.

1. I know I'm a fabulous teacher and can give my all.
2. But I know there's a price to it too. My body wears out and I get sick.
3. I know that some people can work through illness but that mine is a little different. I need to give it that extra attention.
4. I know that I can't change this ever no matter how tough I feel and that I have to take the time I need.

And what I may not know yet, but am learning, is that maybe it's OK if I try to push a little, the way I came to work on Monday anyway, and see what happens. Maybe it's OK to rediscover it again and again.

Like doing teshuvah every single year in the month of Elul.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shanah Tovah

So much blogging to catch up on...

Since a couple of posts ago was kind of sad, I'll just follow up with that. Every morning ND has cried, "I don't want to go to school," gradually has cried less and less until not at all at school. The past two days she was clearly happy. This morning she said, "I don't want to go to school" again, but smiled when she said and waited for me to say, "Oh, come on, yes you do. You're teasing me."

Also, my mom has a custom of making challah doves for Rosh Hashanah. I was doing the challah too early to call and ask for help, so I improvised a little.

A good year to everyone!

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New Year, New Classroom Arrangement

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day Weekend Hole-In-3

Check out her setup technique

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Friday, September 04, 2009

New For ND

ND is at a new school. I was really excited about it when I first signed her up, but right now I don't like it.

Let's see how I feel in a week.

It's hard to be the one on this side of the teacher-parent relationship.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Green Success!

Today was huge for me!

I teach at a wonderful vibrant and growing Yeshiva. It is very educationally progressive with warm and wonderful teachers who are always working to exhaustion (writing about my current state now) to be the best we can be.


whether because of the culture where we live or because of something in the Jewish community or because of logistics with a fairly new school in a fairly new building... we're just not that environmentally responsible.

It's been hard for me to deal with that for years. When I first came to the school it was one of the biggest shocks to me to see the differences in environmental sensitivity between here and Portland.

I complained. I yelled. I approached the administration whose hands were too full. I actually laid awake at night worrying.

And I felt helpless.

But things are turning.

My main focus throughout the years has been to try to get the administration to make changes. And they understand my concerns, but I've discovered it takes motivation, power, time and know-how to make things happen at this level, and most of the people I encounter have only 1-2 of those 4 things. 

Our principal was approached by a person from Canfei Nesharim, an organization that uses a Torah-based approach to spreading the green message. I already work with this person through that organization for my shul, so it was easy to just continue our dialogue. More importantly, when she approached the school, the principal then asked me to start a committee.

I thought about a committee quite a bit and just didn't know how anyone would find the time or where we would start. So I tried a different approach... I'm starting a Yahoo discussion group just for the faculty and staff of the school.

Here's how I introduced it...

I got up in front of the entire 1-5 grade faculty (pretty scary, and they're not even the ENTIRE pre-K through 8 school which would be close to 100 people)! I brought from the staff room several packages of the styrofoam cups we use for coffee etc. and showed them how many cups get used in a single day IF each person on the payroll uses one cup per day. (Keep in mind that some use more than one.) I then showed how many cups a single person uses in one year (about 175) if they use one cup per school day... this doesn't count inservices, extra cups etc. I went through the statistics... that at this rate we buy one new case every 10 school days, how much that costs per case and that, in the end, at this rate, we spend almost $800 on cups alone. I pointed out we could buy a LOT of chocolate for that.

(We had just had a long meeting about routines in the classroom including healthy snacks and someone said, "How about healthy snacks?" which cracked up everyone.)

I then told them about Canfei Nesharim and about the group. I gave some examples of how we could use it from passing on classroom items we didn't need, to giving suggestions to one another. I gave the example that I was hoping to ask the parents in my room on Back To School Night to consider purchasing stainless steel water bottles for their children instead of relying on disposable plastic. A number of eyebrows went up when I said that as though my audience liked the idea.

Hands started shooting up with other questions about recycling in the school or with suggestions and I was able to gleefully tell them that all of this could be dealt with the new group and that their was no commitment necessary other than the time it takes to read or write an email, and attitude. 

I had been afraid that people would roll their eyes about me getting up there, but the energy in the room was extremely positive. It felt like people cared about being environmental but just needed a structure to work together more. They laughed, were animated and seemed genuinely willing to give this a try.

I feel great that I'm not asking someone to join a planning committee, but simply to open up a dialogue within a community. Best of all, whatever we learn together, we can pass on to our students. Every person who takes this seriously can affect every child that s/he comes in contact with throughout the school day, and they can take it home to their parents.


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