Thursday, December 29, 2011

One Little Word: Reflection and Selection

Way back at the beginning of 2011, I took my inspiration from Ali Edwards's blog and picked a word for the year instead of making a New Year's resolution that I wouldn't keep anyway. The word I picked was opportunity, and what a year of tremendous opportunities it has been. The first opportunity was presented to us on January 2, and it just kept going from there. As I expected, not every opportunity was positive or happy, but each one taught me a lot about myself and helped me become, well, more "me".

So what did my opportunities look like this year?

- I had the opportunity to learn. I learned from some amazing people, I learned in a new setting, and I learned through class just because it was important and interesting to me. I'm starting to find my passion, and I recognized just how important and fulfilling learning is to me.

- I experienced tremendous loss this year and had the opportunity to grow closer to my husband. We're both still working through this and trying to become stronger because of it, but it is still quite painful for him. I imagine each holiday and landmark will get easier as time passes, but it won't happen quickly.

- I had the opportunity to make some marvelous connections! Oh the amazing people I have met and the things they have taught me about learning, thinking and connecting. I'm looking forward to making more connections and growing even more this year. Thank you to each of you for giving me the opportunity to connect with you!

- I had the opportunity to experience a tremendous change this year. I left the school where I worked for 13 years and moved to a brand new building, into a brand new grade level, with a brand new teaching structure, as part of a brand new faculty and a brand new team. It certainly hasn't happened without growing pains, but I am proud of how I have worked through the change and learned how to work with different people.

- I had the opportunity to travel and see some beautiful places and some beautiful people. Between our summer vacation and a Christmas trip, my husband and I covered the entire east coast of the United States from Acadia National Park in Maine to the Gulf of Mexico in Alabama.

- I had the opportunity to realize that sometimes the best things in life aren't things. The best things are the moments: those times when I was helping others, surprising the ones I love, and spending time with the people I care about. I have the memories and love that I will carry with me forever!

These certainly aren't all of my opportunities for the year, but you get the point. I wish I could keep the word opportunity for 2012, but in the true spirit of One Little Word, I've chosen a new one. The word I picked is GROW, and I think it's a great word that will build upon all that started with my opportunities in 2011. I'm looking forward to sharing how I grow during the upcoming year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What's Your Challenge

As I was taking my daily, after work trip through my Facebook newsfeed I ran across a post from PLP that caught my eye. My wonderful Year 2 community leader, Lani Hall, shared the following TED talk:

Last year I followed Ali Edwards's suggestion and picked One Little Word, and I'm really looking forward to finishing my reflection on that next week. I love the idea of picking something and focusing on it for 30 days just to see what I can do - a year's worth of growing and changing in 12 manageable chunks.

I suppose the first step is to decide what I would most like to try or do that I haven't had the courage or willpower to try or do before. One thing that pops into my head is 30 days without potato chips. Like Matt's post 30 days of no sugar picture, I fear my day 31 may look like that, but it is definitely worth a shot. I need to think more about this and decide on some challenges for myself for the year.

What would YOU do for your 30 Day Challenge?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Sad Day, A Big Change, A New Beginning

Today my students and I said goodbye to my amazing student teacher, and there were lots of hugs (and autographs! HA!) being handed out as everybody left at the end of the day. Sara was a tremendously important part of our classroom, and while I hope she finds a job, I also hope that she continues to be part of our class through her space on our blog, subbing, and some visits and volunteering.

Things are going to change dramatically in my classroom. After three months of sharing responsibilities and splitting up the jobs everything will be back on my shoulders. I'll admit there is a bit of that "first day of school" excitement in my tummy to be in the classroom all by myself - it's a fresh start. At the same time I can't help being sad because not only have I been a mentor during this time, but I have also learned so much.

One of the biggest things I learned was how to really listen and ask good questions. I won't lie, this was a big part of my Connected Coaches course, but working with Sara allowed me to practice those skills in a real life relationship. She asked me fabulous questions which forced me to reflect upon why I did things in my classroom and why those things were the best for kids. She also asked me questions which helped me practice listening, paraphrasing and asking questions back. I really tried not to always give her the answer - I forced her to think about what she would do and then do it. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it bombed, but in every situation we both learned from the experience and were able to improve what we were doing for the kids in our class.

And yes - it's be OUR class. She was an important part of our family and a wonderful teammate, and we will all miss her.