Thursday, June 27, 2013

Home for the Summer

In the last 24 weeks since the turn of 2013, I ran hundreds of training miles, discovered new artists and replayed some oldies, read a few books, managed the family, and finished out the school year strong - among other things of course, but those are just the highlights.  Since summer officially started just this week (last week was filled with professional development classes and a meeting), it feels good to be home.

I first heard about "nesting" years ago when I was pregnant with Misa.  Someone told me that that instinct would kick in and when it did, to take advantage of it since life with a baby would change my home and everything.  Admittedly that urge never took hold during pregnancy, but every now and then to this day, the urge to purge, straighten, re-do and refine shows up on my nesting ground.  Lately, I've shaken hands with some of my once hard-to-let-go material goods and moved on trying to purge the things that take up space all the while noting some important things:

John-Pio still burns a hole in the right knee of his jeans. 

Misa still introduces her stuffed animals to new sights and new ideas. 

Emma's smile turns to a belly laugh when old Winnie-the-Pooh movies somehow make it into the DVD player.  

Those are precious things to witness.  Those are the types of things I get to attend to as I settle into the season and nest in this quieter time when home for the summer means being present to what I don't get to notice throughout the busy days of the year. Little things that surprise and move me. Hidden, subtle or masked actions, behaviors, ideas, and interactions that easily slip away like morsels of crumbs - tasty things I want to remember but don't.

But now I will.

Hello, Summer . . . It's good to be home.

Monday, June 10, 2013

What's Your Everest?

It's coming down to just two and a half more days of the 2012-13 school year and it might be the one school year that I honestly don't want to end quite yet.  There's something good about looping with middle schoolers.  I've had these same kids for two years so basically from the time they entered Sherman barely 11 years old, to now, some now 13, a few 14.  It's a unique thing we have going, especially with curriculum as we've been able to go full circle and reminisce and expand on themes we started two years ago.

In fact, Fall 2011 I taught a unit on "Adventure," where the essential question was "What is the price of adventure?"  Students researched various people ranging from extreme sports figures to daring mountaineers to intelligent photographers, and one even studied a prominent musician who had an impact on the world through his lyrics and activism.  Fast forward to Spring 2013 - students created a film titled, "Youth Rising," a culmination of student voices expressing thoughts and feelings about instruments of change and inspiration.  It was like unwrapping a gift of accumulated knowledge, where bits and pieces of significance fell together signifying the kinds of ideas that feed hope and possibilities.

To mark the spirit of adventure and to bring my year with this team of students to a close, Brad presented his "Cowboys on Everest" slideshow last week.  Novel to anyone in this generation were his trays of slides and his decades old projector.  My students were mesmerized by the mechanics of such ancient equipment, and as Brad's story unfolded, the kids  attention turned to a unique and inspirational experience - one not just about the expedition of climbing Mt. Everest, but a cultural, geographical, political, and geological lesson as well.   I hadn't seen the show for several years yet Brad's lesson of "finding your Everest" had actively resided in me as I found different ways to express that pursuit after first hearing this story 13 years ago. 

Today I asked my students to write Brad a letter thanking him for his presentation, and while it's clear by their letters that they were inspired, there were a few funny highlights and several others that stood out . . . 

" . . . it's okay that you didn't get to the top of Mt. Everest.  That happens sometimes."  

My "Everest" is education, I want to have a future that I can be in control of . . . 

"You inspired me to go after my "Everest" and now, I want to be more out there and brave, plus write and share more poetry . . . " 

" It was interesting even at 8:00 in the morning when half were very tired.  I can honestly say - that it kept me awake.  You definitely have bragging rights . . . "  

 "Something that I found interesting is that even though you didn't reach the top, you didn't regret it because you got so far.  That reminded me of a quote that says, 'Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you will land among the stars . . .'"

"I think that my Everest hasn't been found yet.  I know I want to go to college but I don't know what I want to do with my life yet.  You really got me thinking about options in my life in the future and now . . . "

I love it when students write authentically and from the heart.   I also love this team of students because they were a group truly affected by others who brought them the gift of inspiration.  Now it's just two more days before our heartfelt "so longs . . . "