Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mental Goodness

Just 4 weeks into the school year, and I am taking a day off tomorrow.  Mental Goodness Day.  My plan was to climb outside, but with 60% chance of precipitation, I am rained out.  Too bad.  So now it'll be a Boulders day, which is just as well.

It's not that I'm burned out, or tired, or need a break from work or a break from the students.  In fact, I am still on a roll looking forward to every day I get to work with two of my closest friends.  Those two - Ms.Matson and Ms. Jorgensen, still make my teaching days dynamic and special.  We are down to 50 eleven-year-olds now, which doesn't mean anything with a class of 50 anyway.  And you would think that after our field trip on Friday, I would need a day off, but as I said earlier, I don't.  I'm taking a preventive day off to maintain my Mental Goodness.

The field trip I referenced was a trip to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the Science Festival in the amazing Discovery Building - a state of the art building in every way.  It was well-organized with engaging activities and I know our students had a good time there.  But a field trip on the Metro with 50 students (split between two buses), is just hard on everyone.  Kids in mobs on a city bus just don't seem to have the manners to ride in public - at least not yet.  I told my friend, James Mills, about the trip and with an expression of both respect and incredulity, he said, "I can't even fathom that - I really can't.  And I appreciate you for doing that.  I mean that sincerely."  He did mean it, and in the midst of receiving that public appreciation, I actually felt important.

As part of the teaching profession, I feel the disdain and disappointment and judgement from the public.  It's a difficult thing to feel, especially when there is such good teaching and strong students coming out of our classrooms all the time.  It can be a hard thing to repel, so in consideration of the profession I love, and in the spirit of student learning, I firmly support days off to build up capacity for continued Mental Goodness.

I'll be doing what I love - this time climbing indoors, and hopefully next month, climbing outdoors.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fill the Desks

At the beginning of the school year - just two weeks ago - I was unfazed by our class list of 51 sixth graders.  On one hand, it is not unlikely that the numbers will change.  But like any parent, teacher, or administrator, I hope the number goes down.  On another hand, 51 students in one class is not unlike my early experiences as a teacher in the Salt Lake City School District.

I taught a class called, "Teen Living," at Northwest Intermediate School and it topped out at 58.  FIFTY-EIGHT!  Students were sitting on the heater, six students shared one common table that really only had space for four people, and one student was actually assigned my desk chair.  I made it work, although I doubt those students remember anything they learned.  Still, picture all those bodies and little 'ol 26-year-old me, with a spill-over of 58 students in a room.

Just the boys while the girls are in a separate location for science.
Today, I feel unfazed by 51 students in a class because the model at Sherman Middle School makes it doable.  And not just doable, but pleasurable.  I am in the most fortunate position of teaching with two of the smartest, wisest, and strictest women these little sixth graders will probably ever encounter in their middle school tenure.  Perhaps another blog will go at this in more detail, but lets just say that "strict" and "traditional" is what makes this large class work for us.

I envision a year of hard work.  It is proving already to be challenging since just about every day I've been back in the workplace, the weather has been perfect for climbing.  I look out at the eager faces of 11 year olds and wonder how many are thinking of places they'd rather be, or what they'd be doing if they were not in school.  I don't really have that kind of mental space to set aside during the day, but I do know that when 2:37pm comes and the bell rings, all I can think of is either climbing or running.

From filled desks at 7:37am to empty ones at 2:37pm, I am feeling pretty good about this school year and hope the goodness translates to energy for climbing and running.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pay Back

My life was changed forever when Misa and John-Pio were born.  I wasn't sure how I would manage to continue climbing at the same pace and intensity.  Yet somehow I managed - but not without the support of Brad and my friends.

Today's climbing at Devils Lake brought back memories of times when the kids were young.  Stacey and Pat came up with Zoey.  It seemed like the most natural thing in the world to have kids up at the crag, and with Zoey, it was all the more special.  I was reminded of the hundreds of days when some of my best friends kept the kids at bay while Brad or I took a turn on rope, or a boulder problem.  Some days were better than others, but everyone seemed to be doing more than just tolerating the kids - they were and continue to be so present to them.

With Zoey's good natured little self, it was a joy to watch Brad make her laugh while Patrick and Stacey got in some routes.  Here's to paying it back.  Thanks friends!

Monday, September 5, 2011

One of My Favorite Days

I have been having so many favorite days lately.  Today was one of them.  Brad and I were married August 31 in a civil ceremony, and then again September 1, in a community setting.  So we claim the Sunday of Labor Day weekend as our annual day of celebration.   It always seems to turn out as another one of my favorite days.

We started with a bike ride to the Arboretum, kids in tow.  After a mid-day hike and glass of wine, we dropped off the kids with Auntie Ruth, and went out to Sardines Restaurant.  The inscription on Brad's card to me sums up his sentiments, and it is one I share, too.