Back to school…for the first time?

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Well, I’ve wanted to post about a million pictures of my classroom, but I think I have pretty well contained my enthusiasm and have only posted a few.  This post, however, will be chock full of them, so be prepared. :)

I’ve spent the past two days in my first ever official teacher workdays – staff meetings and small attempts at collaboration all included.  I spent the better part of five hours today solidifying my classroom set-up and my plans for tomorrow and the next day (which were changed from my original plans due to the rally and tour schedule announced during staff meetings).

I have had a lot of fun setting up the classroom and I am attempting to incorporate as much eye candy as possible so that if I do end up with students who would rather look around the room than talk to their classmates or to me, they have something educational and/or inspiring to fill their little minds.

So, without further ado:

Welcome to my classroom

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“Middle School Survival” kits set up alongside student planners – idea stolen here:

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My “office” area:

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Student point of view:

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Clock ( edit: I know the You’re is wrong :)  It’s been fun having the kids find it)

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Reading area from the floor perspective (I was so tired, it was nice to sit)

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Assignment Collection area:

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Writer’s toolbox and extra tools cart

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Quotes Everywhere ( evil laughter….):

Classroom (13) Classroom (14) Classroom (11)

 

Honestly people, I think I’m pretty happy with all of this – there are a few things I will add in the upcoming months, but once there is student work on the walls, I think the classroom will look rather well loved and lived in.

Thanks for touring with me – now, I’m off to attempt to sleep before my first day of school!

Go YG Warriors!

(on the way out the door:)

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So many different versions of me….

“Somehow,’ she told Diana,’when I’m going through here I don’t really care whether Gil – whether anybody gets ahead of me in class or not.  But when I’m up in school it’s all different and I care as much as ever.  There’s such a lot of different Annes in me.  I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person.  If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” – Anne of Green Gables ( L.M. Montgomery) p.194

I have been ravenously reading this summer – I think I’m on book number eleven.  I’m attempting to read books that my students might read in 7th grade this upcoming year and while I have had Anne of Green Gables on my shelf for ages, I apparently never read it before now.  (The Hobbit may share this same fate, though I can’t be sure – reading vs. knowing story lines sort of blends in my memory from childhood until now – it gets confusing)  Back to the point:  Anne is fantastic and I think that maybe we could be kindred spirits.  This quote above is just one of many that I’ve marked – about one per page so far – that draw me to believe that her character and mine are intrinsically linked in the world that exists between reality and realistic fiction (it’s a real place, I swear).  She is just such a relate-able character for anyone whose imagination has created haunted woods or dryads who live in small farm ponds and this quote especially resonates with me as I attempt to balance this life I’m stepping into.

Such a lot of different Annes……Such a lot of different Rebeccas:  daughter, sister, mom, wife, friend, yarn fanatic, knitting teacher, theology connoisseur, baker, writer, musician, English student, teacher, planner, INFJ, Enneagram 9 –

Montgomery created Anne as a girl with unending imagination and it is Anne’s ability to overcome any situation with the crazy optimism that the same mistakes won’t be made twice, that life must have a limit to mistakes to be made, and that each day brings a magical beauty and each person holds some unlockable knowledge of wonderful new and never before experienced expectations of ways to live, love, speak, write, and most importantly – dress for tea.  Anne takes time to notice every moment and expand the time within a second so that it holds so much more than just a single passing moment and instead is full of a deeply described memory – a flowering tree named  Snow Queen can make every morning seem magical.

Anne makes me wonder at what point in my life did I stop noticing the immeasurable expanse of a moment – when did I stop stopping to notice the flowers, or the way the wind moves the dry grass and shakes the leaves so it sounds like they  are whispering?  When did the laughter of a brook become only a metaphor to describe the passing laughter of a small child?  All of this, and how do I begin again to wonder at the wonders and to share the wonders of life as expressions of self – how do I incorporate the many different Rebeccas into the many different perceptions of the reality laid at my feet.  Each day is magical, living into that is just the beginning of balancing the different Mes into one never fully definable person.  It’s not so bad to always be someone new after all, as long as each new me is just the same version as before – only better – less mistakes, more imagination.

 

Frolicking Fancies for a Saturday Afternoon

In a dance – a dream – reality peaking through the glittering edges of the sunlit glass. Angles of times and place and future presence, revealed in a moment, causing hope to linger in this empty room. Full.
Full of papers strewn by children running through this life, trying to keep up – with what?! And we just can’t wait until Summer – but why not right now? How can we choose not to linger and look into the eyes of the people we love – linger in the sun breaking through – the light illuminating pale, tired faces.
Step back from the day to day and focus.

Grace and Peace and Love. Repeat.

Broken Walkways

(a poem today just to prove i’m still alive over here in teacher training land – all of the grammar and punctuation mistakes stem from my rebellious side (yes, i do have one, i swear) – I know they’re wrong and i’m ok with it.)

Drowsy

Deep seeded madness

Glaringly apparent.

Instantly – instinctively ignored.

A blending- blurring of daily life and fantastical dreams – no end. no beginning.

Increasingly introspective – hoping for the invisibility that life might offer if one were to blend into the cement walls

Or the broken crags in the brick walkway which stretches its long fingers hastily between the dying grass of the drought stricken park and

The hard asphalt

Melting in the sun

Stretching as if to wrap itself into the very fiber of any natural resource still struggling to prove life.

Wearisome wandering and strange wonders

(Afterthought: Stream of consciousness blogging today – you’ve been warned)

Because I am broken I can see the cracks in a world created so carefully.

Cracks in the earth, cracks in relationships, cracks in our goals, understandings and beliefs; foundations. Cracks that become crags; that become seemingly unbridgeable and insatiably discouraging canyons.  Canyons are capable of making us broken people wonder whether the land on the other side even exists – did we dream the land across the divide?  Was the beauty an illusion in the desert?  Drowning in the dust of this life, we often forget the creation we are meant to be.  We forget our capabilities, we forgo our ambition and succumb to the failure, falling into the cracks.

And then there is this.

A friend posted this to me a couple of weeks ago and I can’t get it out of my mind:

Ecclesiastics 1:8-10 (NIV)

All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.

All things are more wearisome than I can say…

I have been in classrooms this quarter in which groups of teachers attempt to solve the problems of our students by attempting to figure out how to motivate them.  How to help them recognize and reach their goals.  Wearisome.  Attempting to come up with something new, we search through tomes of previously published works by psychologists, educators and parents.  We compare our own students to studies. We  study and compare notes about how we have attempted to motivate the students.

Motivation is more than the reasons behind choosing to do something.  Motivation involves the ability to take risks and fail.  To fail and recognize that it is not the end of the world.  Motivation means being flexible. Motivation takes inspiration – and we are back full circle to my focus a little over a year ago where I focused on finding my own inspiration.  At that time, I came up with this:

The drawing in of breath.

I don’t know if that definition has the same tone in your reading as it does in mine, so I will attempt to express the way I interpret it.  The drawing in of breath is literally what makes us continue to live – to breathe is to live and to willingly step into the next moment with the presence of mind (or subconscious realization) that that drawing in of breath will need to occur over and over again at infinitum in order to guarantee that life continues. (http://wp.me/p2D1vn-46)

Breathing – stepping forward willingly and recognizing the need for constantly doing the same thing over and over again – Nothing new under the sun

How do I pass on this idea?  How do I choose to do it myself?… recognizing that each day may bring the same conversation, the same attempt to inspire, the same need to instill motivation….

Oh my goodness.  When realizations hit, they hit hard and humble.

Friends:  I complain a lot.  It’s easy and I can blame it on my humanity or my socio-cultural background or the cultural and economic expectations that society places upon me.  I can blame it on false expectations of what it means to be community.

Yikes.  Community.  That is where I’m being hit hard right now.

Choices and friendship and willful release.

I live and function within a community of people who are constantly coming and going. University towns are not meant for continuous habitation.  People come to school, or come to research -and then move on.  Likewise, many in my community are in some way or another attached to the Air Force base nearby.  Also a community of people not meant to stay long.  I complain about this constantly.

I complain because it seems, when you do plant roots and make a home in such a place, everyone is always leaving and we are left to start again at the beginning.  – wearisome

and a reminder:

“The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
 what has been done will be done again;”

Never enough breath – never enough beginnings, endings, meetings, parting.  Perhaps, a complaint that can turn into a thankful moment in which I get to recognize the constant flow of inspiration placed at my fingertips.  Hammering out the habits of complaint.  hammering out the cynicism.

How can I hope to inspire when I am stuck in my own canyons, willfully denying the paths to bridge the divide?  I still do not know how to motivate or inspire, but I suppose my ability to teach these traits might be caught up in my own ability to own and practice them.

Hammering out the feeling that i’m doomed to failure before I begin.

Building a bridge across those canyons.

Recognizing the beauty within the broken.  The light streaming through the cracks.

Lost in a circle

Sometimes I feel so lost.  Can a person be lost though, when walking in circles?  Different tasks, same reactions.

Write this essay

– what if it’s not good enough?

Sing this song

– I’ll sing quietly so other voices can be heard above me.

Tell your story

– I’d rather hear yours.

Explain why you’re good at something

– I’d rather tell you the ways that I recognize I need to get better.

I’m running in circles and seeing the same trees, all the while trying to reach some destination and I’m not sure what it actually looks like.

I need to go running.

Heart pumping, body moving. . . focus. . .

Where would it get me though?  2 hours of focus and then back to the path – carved deep now by my circles.

Circles of self-doubt; circles questioning direction, questioning decisions, guilt and worry.

Deep footprints on well worn soil – and I know the path by heart.

This path that is so well walked..

..run

…crawled upon

that I begin to find comfort in the mud caked under my fingernails as I try to drag myself up the now canyon walls.

It is so easy to accept my inabilities – to dwell on what I know I am not good at or capable of.

More difficult to look at the things I’ve accomplished and be proud –

and feel that I could possibly be capable of more –

that I can be confident in myself and ultimately succeed.

I questions constantly whether this is really a bad thing – if I’m able to recognize what needs to change, will I not be better prepared to change it?

The funny things about this current state of circle walking is that I have had so much practice thinking about my thoughts, thinking about the different directions that these thoughts lead, that I’m not longer scared or worried or stressed.

I feel like I should be and recognize that feeling as a reaction that would be completely unhelpful to my productivity.

Finishing the teaching credential assessment (PACT), I’m worried that it’s not good enough and simultaneously accepting that I really think it’s the best that I can do and that if that’s not good enough, maybe it’s not what I’m supposed to do.

Peace does not surround this thought, it’s just there – weighing down my ability to try harder.  That thought feels more like resignation – more like a voice telling me that once again I’ve chosen the wrong path, and I refuse to accept it.

More for my own processing than your readership, I write to convince myself that I truly do love teaching.  Self-confidence is not my forte because I have constantly pushed against confidence in favor of humility and while I can reason myself into seeing that the two can exist together, it’s harder to put that reason into action.

I love lesson planning and thinking of all of the fun activities that could trick my students into seeking any kind of knowledge.  I just have a hard time conforming to the idea that students need to know certain content – I want them to have realistic ideas of what life is like and to be able to take those ideas and apply them to how they will function as adults.  Responsible for their own paths.  I constantly want to counteract what society tells them is acceptable and expected – I want them to question authority and rules and at the same time I recognize that by doing this, I am setting them up for feeling like they’ve failed.  They haven’t failed!  They just don’t know how to find a success that speaks to their own humanity rather than the expectations of what they perceive the world around them holds…

And yet, here I am, still walking in circles, talking myself in and out of self acceptance. Still unable to convince myself that societies expectations do not fully matter….maybe another round will reveal a varying path.  One which can be used to lead.

Time will tell.

Imposition

Begin with a definition.

imposition (noun): an unfair or unwanted burden or demand.

My alarm was set later than normal yesterday.  I don’t know why, but I felt that I would need twenty – three  minutes more sleep when I groggily checked the time at some dark hour of the night when a child or a cat had made some noise that interrupted my sleep.  So, the odd time of 6:23 chimed and my alarm read: high school.  I put the phone alarm down and rubbed my itchy forehead.

Oh.  Ashes.

cross

Waking up with ashes on my forehead happens voluntarily once a year – the day after Ash Wednesday, and I always struggle with the fact that I will be washing them off as I begin my day.  So I laid there and  intentionally reminded myself of the evening before – thinking about the words and the songs and the idea of ashes being an imposition.

How can something I voluntarily choose to do be called an imposition?

Why choose an unwanted burden?

 There is something beautiful about a physical reminder that we are people loved by a God who came and lived our very existence.  Tempted by the wonders of this beautifully broken world.  One who refused those temptations, but died a criminal’s death so that our giving into those temptations could be forgiven.

He chose the imposition of death, we choose the imposition ashes.

Reminders are important.

I nearly made it through the Ash Wednesday service without bawling, but the music got me.  There is something about a song/Psalm that speaks in the first person about a people so broken and so loved that speaks out of my mouth and directly into my heart.

I rewrite the lyrics today, tears again, just to remember:

Psalm 126

chorus

Although we are weeping

Lord, help us keep sowing

The seeds of Your Kingdom

For the day You will reap them

Your sheaves we will carry

Lord, please do not tarry

All those who are weeping will go out with songs of joy…..

Imposing Ashes and denying  temptation for 40 days.

Verbal, tactile, and visceral reminders of our own brokenness and of the Grace offered to mend it..

Happy Friday, Mindful Lent.