Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Great Gobs of Giggliness!

Seventh graders are weird! I'm just putting that out there. For those of you who have worked with middle schoolers, this will come as no surprise to you. They are just great big goofballs...and they know it. And, quite frankly, they enjoy it.

So did I, today.

I have a very lopsided class this year: 26 girls and 8 boys! The silliness today had nothing to do with gender...it was just all weird. I got called over to one table because Ali wanted me to hear Dylan speak in a weird voice. Another table called me over because Shelby needed to share her random fact of the day with me (apparently this is a tradition with her). Just to be clear, everyone was getting plenty of work done...we were just having plenty of fun while we worked! Nothing wrong with that, right?

At one point, I interrupted them and said something to the entire class. What it was, I can't remember. I do remember using one of my weird voices. I did not expect to be imitated by someone I had previously thought was the shy, quiet type. It got very quiet, very quickly. I looked over at this poor child who was turning bright red and said, "Kalena, did you just imitate the teacher?" And she started giggling.

Well, I lost it. I started laughing so hard while at the same time trying to maintain my control and not laugh...can I tell you how hard that is to do?!! The trying not to laugh just made my eyes start tearing up and before I knew it tears were streaming down my face.

In the front row, poor West hadn't heard what had transpired, so he kept repeating, "What happened? What'd I miss? What's so funny?" When I could breathe, I said, "West, you kinda had to be there."

West cried out, "But I WAS there!!"

I almost had to leave the room after that. Seriously...I couldn't breathe!

Not a bad way to spend a day, wouldn't you agree?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Let Us Begin

It is that time of year, once again. Time for the whining to begin anew. "But I don't wanna go back to school!!" "I just got out of school, it can't be time to go back!!" "Please, oh please, can't I have a few more weeks?!" And that's just the teachers!

Yes, even teachers whine to their mothers. Somehow, whining to someone who is retired about having to go back to work just isn't all that fulfilling.

I'll admit it...I'm not looking forward to going back to work. I enjoy sleeping in, getting dressed only if absolutely necessary, eating lunch at a time other than 12:15, and, in general, being a lazy bum. I loved doing a little traveling this summer, a whole lot of learning, and meeting some of the most wonderful people I've ever known! (even though I knew them before I knew them!) I loved watching television, reading magazines, visiting bookstores, and having long chats with friends (online and on the phone), all without having to worry about the lengthy list of items that need to get done for school.

But I am most definitely looking forward to seeing all of my friends on Tuesday; the people who help create the wonderful community at our school; the people who keep me sane on a daily basis...or at least try to. It is for their sake as well as mine that I make the following statement:

Each day, upon waking, I will remind myself that I am a person of value. I have something wonderful to share with the people in my life, including my students. My attitude is my choice. I choose to begin each day feeling positive about life. I choose happiness.

Now, it is very easy to say that from where I sit at the end of my summer vacation. I know it will be much harder to maintain after, say, Tuesday morning when the alarm goes off for the first time in two months. I'm sure I'll need help in maintaining my positive outlook. Fortunately I have some wonderful friends who will help me with this whenever I need it, either with a supportive shoulder or a good swift kick. They always seem to know the right thing to do or say...even if I don't want to hear it.

But I thought I should have a back-up plan for when my friends aren't nearby; something to go to and find a bit of positivity when I'm in desperate need. So I Googled it. "Positivity," that is. The first site listed was The Positivity Blog by Henrik Edberg, a "30 year old guy from Sweden" (his words) who managed to make some pretty significant changes in his life, the first of which was to move from "a generally pretty negative attitude to a much more positive one." Well, that's exactly what I'd like to do. So I think I'll check out his blog from time to time (or whenever he adds a new post!) There are several blogs linked on my blog that I haven't viewed in quite some time. Why is that?

Actually, I think the question should be why do I take so little time for myself during the school year? Why don't I ever make the time to do something I love to do? Do I really think that I hold so little value as a human being that the needs of everyone else should come before the needs of this teacher? Those of you who know me well already know the answer to that last question. But I'm working on it.

My dear friend Teryl put out a question to our PLN (Personal Learning Network) the other day: "What do you do well outside of education?" As teachers we spend so much of our time (yes, even during our summer vacation) consumed with all the things that need to be done for our students, for their parents, for our school, that we can get lost in the process. But when asked that question, "What do you do well outside of education?" the answer should not be, "Umm..."

That was my answer, by the way. It's not that I feel I don't do anything well other than teach. That wasn't the problem with my answer. The problem was I had to think about it! "What do you do well...?" could also be interpreted as "What do you love to do?" That should not be a question that requires a great deal of thought. That should be the easiest of questions to answer.


Ok, Teryl. I get it. We all need to have something outside of our careers that makes us happy. Just us! Something that we do only because we love it and it makes us feel like we are a person of value. Or it's something we do because it's a challenge and we know we can overcome it because we want to. I need to start exploring ideas, look at potential hobbies, try something new. Try something positive.

Umm...I'm open to suggestions.


One quick side note. I was out running errands today and was struck by the number of people who crossed my path on this beautiful Sunday morning who seemed to be in wonderfully cheerful moods. It was infectious. From the mother and young daughter who were having a rather amusing debate in Target over which small whiteboard was "cuter," to the clerk who rang me up and just really seemed to be enjoying her day, to the young woman at the drive-thru window at Wendy's who, when I pulled up, greeted me with a very cheery, "Welcome to Wendy's!" She had the biggest, most genuine smile on her face. It was beautiful!

"Oh, um...thank you," I chuckled.

She handed my lunch to me with a, "Thank you so much! Have a wonderful day!!"

"Thank you!" I chuckled again.

She was just so cute! And sweet! And so sadly unique. At least that's what I thought at first.

As I drove away with a smile on my face - happy people will do that to you, if you let them - I started thinking that she really isn't all that unique. Kind, good people like this young woman whose name I did not manage to notice are really the norm in life. There are far more of them than I think most people want to admit. We seem to want to believe that mean, unhappy people outnumber the rest of us. Those are the people who make us miserable at work or who take the last parking space in the lot as we waited patiently for it; the people who hurtle themselves down the freeway at breakneck speed and cut you off and then make rude gestures at you. They aren't bad people, per se. Just unhappy. Or unknowledgeable. Yes, I know...I'm making up words now.

But think about it...of all the people you had to deal with last year - co-workers, parents, students - how many of them caused you grief? Which party represented the greatest majority? Those who were easy to deal with or those who were not? Of one hundred people in your working life, how many would you say negatively impacted your life? One? Two? Five? Ten? Even if it was ten out of one hundred people, that means that ninety percent (90%) of the people you worked with in one capacity or another last year were good people who positively impacted your life. I can live with that. How about you?

Try this experiment. The next time you go out to run errands, greet everyone who crosses your path with a cheery "Good morning!" (or whatever time of day it happens to be) Hold the door open for people. Let someone else go ahead of you in line at the supermarket. Sure, you'll get a few stares from people who might be thinking "Oh, crazy woman! Just smile and walk away!!" But for the most part, happiness will be met by happiness.

Try it. And let me know what happens. More importantly, let me know how you feel afterwards!

William James said, "The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes." What would happen if many human beings altered their lives by altering their attitudes? What kind of change would we be able to make in our world if we just believed we could?

So, here's to a new school year! May it bring us joy with little sorrow, playfulness with little toil, and a wonderfully positive outlook with little negativity.
The sun shines and warms and lights us and we have no curiosity to know why this is so; but we ask the reason of all evil, of pain, and hunger, and mosquitoes and silly people. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson