December 29, 2013

Reflection on 2013, Goals for 2014

Happy New Year's Eve!  In keeping with my tradition from the past few years, I'd like to look back on my goals for 2013 and set some new (big!) ones for 2014.  Here's how I did this year:

2013 Goal: Finish Grad School & become a licensed reading specialist
Outcome: Partial Pass!  I "graduated" (aka got my diploma in the mail) with my Master's degree in May from Olivet Nazarene University.  In July, I passed both tests necessary to get my reading specialist license.  I never actually applied for the license...mostly because it just doesn't seem super urgent!  I will get around to of these days!
Studying away for my tests!
2013 Goal: Stay uninjured (minus lingering ITBS) and foam roll like a crazy person
Outcome: Pass!  I managed to make it through marathon training without any real injuries.  Sure I had aches and pains, and I had a little bit of plantar faciitis, but nothing out of the ordinary for that volume of mileage.  
Foam Roller + Chocolate Milk = Happy Muscles.
2013 Goal: Run a race for charity
Outcome: Pass! I was so pumped to get to run for Autism Speaks during the Chicago Marathon.  Making the commitment to the charity and running for a cause I believe so much in was a huge motivator during training.  I was able to raise over $3,200 for Autism Speaks, making my marathon experience that much more special and meaningful!
 2013 Goal: Apply to have a Girls on the Run site at my school for Spring 2014
Outcome: Partial Credit.  Two other teachers and I talked a lot about GOTR with our principal, but in the end we decided it wasn't the best fit for our school.  While I LOVE GOTR, the financial committment is steep for girls who participate.  In the end, we decided to use a different program, Fit Girls, that focuses on healthy living, running, and also reading/literacy.  We will be starting the program in March and choosing a local 5K to run with our girls.  I'm looking forward to figuring out in more detail what this will look like when we return to school!

2013 Goal: Spend less and save more
Outcome: Pass!  In July when I decided I wanted to have Lasik, I went into full-on budgeting mode, FINALLY creating that budget I've resolved to do for years.  I stuck to it, too--at least long enough to save enough to make Lasik happen for me!  (Worth. Every. Penny.)

2013 Goal: Blog more
Outcome: Eh--partial credit.  I definitely went through phases of blogging more, but there were also phases of no blogging.  In the end, I don't really care.  This blog has always been adn will always be a fun outlet--if it ever feels like a job, I won't post.  I already have a job. :)

2013 Goal: Try to find a bigger apargment
Outcome: Partial credit.  I tried...and then decided that any improvement I could find without destroying my budget just wasn't worth the effort.  Maybe next year...

2013 Goal: Donate my hair to Locks of Love for the second time
Outcome: Fail.  I became completely attached to my hair this year (probably in part due to the fact that I fell in love with my curling iron), and will not be parting with it any time soon!
I got attached to my long hair...
2013 Goal: Run a marathon!
Outcome: PASS!  Woohoo!  This was the big one, and I couldn't be prouder that I accomplished it!
Look how scared I was this time last year!

In 2014 I will...

*Continue learning sign language*

*Finish my second marathon and set a PR*

*Complete an Olympic Distance Triathlon*

*Incorporate EdModo and/or Blogging into my classroom*

*Try 12 new recipes*

*Run a trail race *

*Try clipless pedals on my bike*


That's about it!  Short, sweet, and to the point. 2013 was a beautiful year filled with beautiful memories.  
2014--bring it on!

13 in '13

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!  Today I am linking up with Kristin from A Teeny Tiny Teacher for a 13 in '13 linky party.  (As usual, I am a little late to the party...)

Oh gosh...I think the article I wore the most this year was my legging jeans from Gap.  I LOVE these skinny jeans.
1969 legging jeans
But I also just bought a pair of red patent leather heels that I am kind of in love with.  Goal for 2014: wear these as much as possible.
Catching Fire takes the cake for this one!  I didn't see a ton of movies this year, but I finally saw this one last week and love love loved it.  What a terrific adaptation of a fantastic book!  I can't wait for Mockingjay!
Thanks to Netflix, this is a tough question!  This year I discovered so many great shows.  Parenthood, Parks and Rec, New Girl, Mindy Project...I think of those new shows, Parenthood is my favorite.  Although Top Chef is probably still my favorite show.  

Well, it's not really a restaurant, but the place I frequented most in 2013 was probably Jimmy John's!  I went there constantly this year, especially during marathon training when I couldn't get enough of their super salty kettle chips.  Can't beat the veggie sub!
Post-20-miler sub + TV + bed...
This one is a tie.  One of the BEST new things I tried this year was running with a group!  I was always way too shy to try group running, but I got a free membership to a training program with a group through my Chicago Marathon charity team, so I took the plunge in June.  The women that I trained with this summer became true friends, and there is NO WAY I could have made it through months of marathon training without them!  
We are still running together post-marathon and planning our race calendars for 2014!
 Another AMAZING new thing I tried this year has been learning sign language!  I have three students in my classroom this year who are deaf and hard of hearing, and since the first day of school I have become absolutely enamoured by sign language.  One of the DHH teachers in my school has been working with me on learning sign, and I LOVE IT!!!  I can't wait to continue learning!

Signing my Morning Song with my class!!!  
Hmm, this one is tough.  For my birthday back in April, my dad, my childhood best friend, and I went to see the American Idiot musical.  Green Day was my favorite band in high school (I had a little punk phase back in the day), and it was such a fun blast from the past to see the Green Day-inspired musical with my friend and my dad.  
Bestie and I downtown and ready for the show!
JUST ONE???  Impossible.  Some of my favorites:
lentil soup
This Lentil Soup recipe...YUM.
Cookie Dough Greek Yogurt - add 1 tbsp nut butter, 1 tbsp sweetener, 1 tbsp mini chips, and 1/4 tsp vanilla to Greek yogurt. SO GOOD!
This yogurt "recipe" borders on life-changing...
And lest you incorrectly think my life is all about cooking (HAH!), a beautiful pin I just found the other day...
lakota prayer  >beautiful
Hmm, I don't think I have any favorites that stuck out in my mind this year.  I enjoyed writing about guided math this summer and liked my management monday posts, but no shining stars in the bunch.  One post I did really enjoy writing was this one, "Do Teacher Prep Programs Really Prepare You?" because it was an opportunity to reflect on how far I've come and what I've learned as a teacher since the first year.
This year, this is an easy one.  I ran my first marathon!  For me, this easily is one of my biggest, proudest accomplishments in my life thus far, not just this year!  Crossing the finish line at the Chicago Marathon in October after months of training and fundraising reminded me that with a whole lot of faith and a whole lot of heart, anything is possible.
That's gotta be this one from the Triple Threat Half in Massachusetts.  Don't mind the "do not copy"...

A few runners up:
With a wonderful old friend on the Cape
Laughing with Beautiful Niece at Thanksgiving
This one has to be again crossing the finish line at the Chicago Marathon.  I know, one-track-mind.  But seriously, nothing beats that.
Close second is spending the day in Disney World with my parents, my brother and sis-in-law, and my sweet niece this Thanksgiving.  I've been to Disney so many times, but this trip was the first one with my niece since she has been old enough to love the rides.  We just has such a blast!

So many--I will do a whole post on them later this week.  My biggie though is to complete an Olympic Triathlon--double the Sprint Distance I've raced a few times in the past two years.  Eeep!
This has been my "word of the year" in my classroom since fall, and it is a good reminder for me too.
No matter how hard things are, no matter how big the obstacle or tough the race, no matter how frustrated and stressed I may feel in the classroom...just persevere.  Keep on keepin' on.

December 20, 2013

Top Ten Signs You Need Winter Break NOW.

Sadly, all of the following things have happened to me in the last two weeks--HOW MANY HOURS LEFT?!?!
^Oh don't worry, we are still teaching full-steam here up until the last minute.
Meanwhile, I am quietly losing my mind...

1. You asleep through your alarm by two hours, only waking up when a co-worker texts you to ask where you are and if you are okay.

2. Mid-math lesson, you realize that students need volume 2 of their math journals.  You search the room, co-workers' rooms, and even check in the library, only to find them later that day in the first cabinet you checked earlier.

3. You find yourself peeking into teachers' classrooms mid-afternoon to just check what they're doing with their classes because you are out of ideas.

4. You laugh hysterically when support teachers ask what books you will be using for guided reading groups when we come back in January.  January??  HAH!  I don't even know what I'm doing 5 minutes from now!

5. You spend less and less time on planning and grading after school each day, and more and more time snacking in the teachers lounge.

6. You roam the school for twenty minutes in the morning searching for someone who you can bum a K-Cup off of for the school Keurig because you forgot your coffee and literally cannot imagine facing the day without it.

7. You wake up on the coldest morning of the year to a dead car battery...

8. Math homework starts to consist of "flash cards" every night instead of an activity because you have lost the will to find and copy meaningful homework practice.

9. Your desk begins to more and more closely resemble a pile of rubble and you start shoving the student gifts that start tricking in in random cabinets throughout the room rather than organize them.

10. You are not only dreaming of school, but are talking about it in your sleep.  (I was apparently talking about Helen Keller in my sleep recently after reading about her with my kids. Kill me.)
What signs and symptoms of needing winter break have you been experiencing lately?

December 17, 2013

Keep On Keepin' On

When I started blogging, I promised myself that I would never apologize for not blogging--my job is stressful enough without needing to stress about writing here too!!!  But because I this is the longest I have ever gone without blogging (at least since I started about 6 years ago) and because I have gotten a few comments asking if I'm okay, I wanted to post a quick one...
Still here, keeping cozying up with my computer and a blanket in the winter wonderland that is the Chicagoland Area these days!
I'm alive.  I'm okay.  I'm just trying to survive the last few days before break.  I put blogging on the back burner in November, thinking I'd get back to it when things calmed down...silly me for thinking they would calm down just when the holidays were approaching!  But don't worry, I'll be back soon--for real--after this last week of school is finished.  I hope I can remember how to blog!

Because I'm out of practice...any suggestions of posts you'd like to see here?  I have a million and one book recommendations for you (okay, like 5), some new race goals, and some pictures of me and my beautiful niece.  I don't have as much to say about teaching these days, but if you'd like to hear more about something I've mentioned in the past, please let me know!  Maybe it will help with the writer's block  (or writer's apathy?).

Anyways, hope you all are well--miss you, my blogging friends.  Be back soon, I promise.

November 6, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday: Connecting the Dots

The Book of SomedayThe Book of Someday by Dianne Dixon
Goodreads SummaryThree women. One stranger in a shimmering silver dress. Whatever binds them together has already destroyed one life. It just might consume them all.

Someday, Livvi Gray will break free from her past. Someday, she will escape her recurring nightmare about that stranger in a shimmering silver dress. Someday, she will have a family of her own. Now she's found Andrew, and someday seems to be right around the corner. But there's so much Livvi doesn't know.

Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, she will come face-to-face with the stranger from her dream-an encounter that will alter Livvi's future and crack open everything she knew about her past. Livvi is swiftly moving toward the ultimate turning point in her life-and she's not the only one. Linked by an unforgettable mystery, photographer Micah and young mother AnnaLee are also being rapidly drawn into a web of devastating secrets about the unexpected ways in which we choose to protect-and betray-the people we love.

My Thoughts:  A friend gave me this book over the summer, and it collected dust on my shelf until I found myself with nothing to read last week.  I'm glad I re-discovered it!  The Book of Someday is a sweet book about three women whose lives are connected in some unknown way.  That kind of plot always hooks me in from the get-go--I love that kind of thing.  I read through the book fairly quickly (for a grown up book...) because I wanted to find out how these women's lives would intersect.  However, the individual stories were definitely not strong enough to stand on their own.  The characters were a little unrealistic, and there were many times when the dialogue just seemed fake.  However, I did enjoy the book, especially Livvi's story as she figured out what she wanted for herself in her adult life.  The ending left something to be desired, though--it just kind of...stopped.  All in all I'd recommend it, but it's not getting my, "Rush to the library NOOOOW!" stamp of approval like some of my recent reads.

3/5 stars

What have you been reading this week?  Books?  Blogs?  Articles?  Magazines?

November 1, 2013

Teaching Perseverance

I have a poster up in my room that says, "It's okay not to know.  It's NOT okay not to try."  This week, I felt like maybe I need to put that quote on the desk of half my students--maybe even all of them.  Or maybe wear it around my neck on a giant sandwich board.  Do you ever find yourself working with a group of students in math or reading or whatever, asking them to do a task, and finding yourself ready to shake them because all you're getting is blank, helpless stares?  Yup, that was me this week.  I promise to always, always be honest and never sugar coat on this blog, so here it goes:

I pretty much LOST IT some of my kids this week.
*sad face*

We started a math intervention block where we break off across the grade level into ability groups for a half hour of intervention/enrichment, and I work with one of the most struggling groups.  Some days it can be a real challenge.  Tuesday was one of those days.  We have been working on finding factors of a number for about two weeks (maybe even more), and as a warm up, I asked my group to create a "factor rainbow" for the number 30 on their white boards.  My group got the factor pair of 1 and 30 down on their boards...then stopped.  Many of them knew 2 would be a factor because 30 was even...but then just gave up.  If it wasn't on their multiplication charts, they couldn't figure it out.  I prompted them to think about some of the strategies we've used (arrays, skip counting, drawing groups...), but still...crickets.  

Finally, my patience ran out.  I let them know in a Viola Swamp-ish way that I was NOT impressed with their efforts.  I found myself saying over and over, "It's okay if you don't know the answer.  It's NOT okay if you sit there, waiting for the answer to appear in your head, and not doing anything about it."  I was so frustrated that they were just sitting there HELPLESS!

Yikes.  Luckily I had my PLC right after the math group and had a chance to regroup and reflect a bit before our regular math class.  I know in my heart that teaching grit and perseverance to my kids is as important as any of my content, so I decided to start my shared math lesson by revisiting our math class norms:
Specifically, that second one and the word "PERSEVERE."  I use this word all the time with my kids, but I hit it super hard that day.  We gave examples of what it means to give up when a math problem is tricky and what it means to persevere.  I stressed that persevering doesn't mean always arriving at the right answer--it means working hard and using every tool in your box without giving up.  It means asking questions and taking risks to TRY SOMETHING.  It means refusing to shut down and quit.  We modeled the body language that goes with giving up and the body language that goes with persevering.  

My regular math lesson called for a partner problem-solving activity--the perfect opportunity to practice perseverance (and of course our ongoing goal of teamwork!).  I challenged them to work with their partners and persevere through the activity.  I was so pumped to see an immediate difference in the kids and their approach to the concepts.  This just reiterated to me the importance of taking time to teach those things we expect.  If I expect my kids to be able to persevere, I need to teach them how to do that.  They may never have had a chance to develop that "grit" at home; maybe they have become so used to shutting down that it's their default when things get hard.  I am doing them a disservice if I allow that to continue...

...but I'm also doing them a disservice if I just get upset and frustrated when they do shut down.  Like I did this week.  I decided to make a new affirmation for my classroom:
Edit: I realized after the fact that this poster is spelled wrong!  Whoops, teacher brain!  Oh well, if my kids notice I will give them a prize for spotting the teacher's mistake... ;)

This is our new classroom motto as of this week.  It goes for me, too--when teaching gets tough, I WILL PERSEVERE!  I've been referring to it every day and continuing to talk about perseverance.  One morning during our classroom community time (aka the 5 minutes before we immediately switch to groups) I had the kids visualize running down the street towards a destination and being faced with a giant brick wall--I asked the kids, what would you do?  They answered, climb it, jump over it, break it down, bulldoze it over!  We talked about what that wall might be in math or reading and what tools they have to help them bust them down.  It was some powerful talk!

After talking about perseverance the last few days, I really can say I've noticed a difference in my class!  I've noticed a couple of the kids giving themselves some awesome positive self-talk, like on girl saying, "Okay, I'm not going to quit!" when we were working in a math group.  Other teachers on the team have also commented that the kids have been talking about perseverance and saying similar things.  YES!  Amazing what taking the time to step back, explain, model, and teach my expectations can accomplish.  If they can carry this one thing with them into next year and outside my classroom, the ability to persevere in the face of obstacles, I will be able to rest more easily at night.
How do you teach your kids to persevere?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...