This time of the year, I crave rest. I crave those moments when I can let my mind be and not think of deadlines and all I am expected to do.
This time of year, I feel emptied and long for time during which I can recharge. I know that Christmas is near and that the preparations for this celebration are often exhausting. And yet I look forward to getting ready for this day. My preparations are simple and centre around my family. For me, this day is one of togetherness and rest.
This time of year, I look forward to the break from work. I look forward to the time when I am not preparing lessons, juggling my work obligations and my home obligations, thinking of my students’ needs. I find that I need the 2 week break to gain my energy once again for the next stretch.
This time of year, I crave rest. And am now counting the days until I am able to do so.
The fingers of the naked trees reach up to the cold, blue sky. Birdsong has been silenced; the sounds of children at play in the park has lessened. Winter is approaching. And, with it, the desire to burrow into one’s home. As the fingers of Old Man Winter creep around buildings and humans, animals hibernate. Smiles are hidden, as are the joyful gaits of those who enjoy the warmth of the summer sun. Yes, winter is approaching and, with it, the retreat into oneself.
As I have stepped into my classroom during the past week, I have admired the new, shiny floor. It has certainly given my old room a face-lift. In order not to scratch the floor, the old chairs that do not have protectors on the legs, have been taken out of the room by the caretaker. After a week, the only marks on the floor are those that have been made by the movement of children as they go about the business of doing their daily activities.
This week I am grateful for the new floor. Even though the children no longer pay attention to the new look, the memory of the old floor still lingers in my mind.
If we were having coffee, I would greet you with a big smile. The weather is mild once again – though I am sure this will not last for long. We have been promised a typical Canadian winter, so I will enjoy the mild weather while we have it.
The beginning of my week at work began with moving furniture from my classroom. Why? The carpenters and tilers had arrived to retile my floor. My furniture was placed in the hallway and I moved some notebooks and my rolling board into the library. I set up in the carpeted space and organised some seating for my students. The library became our ‘home’ for two days. The children were a little unsettled at first but soon followed their routines.
On Wednesday morning, I moved my things back to my room – and then spent the 45 minutes before the school bell rang setting up my room in preparation for the children. The floor looks beautiful – but we still wait for the painters to come around and paint the walls!
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the rest of the week went smoothly. I gave my students their first opportunity to self-evaluate their work and, after co-constructing some success criteria for the neat copy of their writing, I can see an improve in some of their work. I am hoping that repetition of this exercise will encourage my students to take their time when doing their neat copy.
Yesterday after school my daughter and a couple of her friends came into my classroom to help me with some filing and writing of songs. I still have a lot of work to do but, with their help, I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this is the last weekend I give myself before I begin getting ready for Christmas. This year we have school right up until 23 December, so I will need to get all my shopping done before then. I guess I need to start thinking about those Christmas presents!
The Gold Reef City theme park in Johannesburg, South Africa, has been modelled on the structures of a Johannesburg long gone. Riding the train around the park, I took this photo from my seat. The time period seems magical and as you stroll around the re-invented streets, you can almost imagine what it would have been like living there decades ago.
Do you enjoy strolling through the streets of a time long gone?
Last week was hectic with trying to see all of my students’ parents. It was good, however, to touch base with the parents and discuss the progress of their child. Some conversations were more difficult than others but all ended on a positive note. I enjoyed seeing the face attached to the email address – so many of the children are bussed into the school and I never get the opportunity to see most parents face-to-face. In addition, the parents came to learn of the expectations I have for their child and what I feel the next steps should be to improve their child’s learning experience.
This week I am grateful for the opportunity I had to meet with parents. An evening and day were set aside for this and it was time well spent.
After my daughter spent a weekend reading the book on the sofa, I decided that Unwind by Neil Shusterman might be a novel I could enjoy – especially after reading the blurb. The novel centres around three teenagers (Connor, Risa, and Lev) who are running for their lives. They run because they do not want to be “unwound”, a process whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different recipients.This process is legal and came into being after the Second Civil War which was fought over reproductive rights.
This dystopian novel grabbed my interest from the first page. My teaser comes from the first section of the book and refers to Risa’s experience:
“And in this choas, Risa has a sudden realisation.
This is not part of the plan.
The system might have a million contingencies for state wards trying to screw with things, but they don’t have a plan of action for dealing with an accident. For the next few seconds, all bets are off.
Risa fixes her eyes on the front door of the bus, holds her breath, and races towards that door.” (p27, Simon & Shuster, 2007)
This read was as good as my daughter claimed it would be. The author captured my interest from the first page – and kept it right until the final paragraph. This is a must-read if you enjoy dystopian novels, or anything that will keep you gnawing on your fingernails. If you have a reluctant teen reader – then this book will certainly keep them engrossed!
Now I am reading the second novel in the series – and I wish I could put my feet up and immerse myself in Shusterman’s world.
What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments.
When I arrived home on Friday, I was tired. A good tired. I had done a lot over the week and had achieved some of what I wanted. I made myself a hot drink, prepared a small snack and decided to watch a movie. As I scrolled through the choice on Netflix, I settled on Deadpool, a film that was on My List only because I love watching superhero movies.
The humour was a little unexpected but good after a week’s work. The ‘romantic’ scenes made me remember a song that I loved when I was in senior high – Careless Whisper by Wham! I used to play this song over, and over, and over again until I could sing along with George Michael. I am sure my mother grew tired of listening to it!
Even now I sway to the music and am tempted to sing along.
What song were you reminded of when watching a film?
A word that should be so easy to say. And yet at times we hesitate. We hesitate when saying ‘yes’ takes us out of our comfort zone. We hesitate when we need to learn something new. We hesitate when we think others will laugh at our efforts. We hesitate when we fear we are not good enough.
And yet this is when we should agree to the challenge. Saying ‘yes’ can open doors for us and bring along new opportunities. Saying ‘yes’ can help us get out of that rut that we find ourselves in. Saying ‘yes ‘can help us grow in ways we thought would not be possible.
Our hearts beat a little more rapidly. We spend moments in bed lying sleepless with worry. Thoughts and fears whirl around in our heads. And yet once we have committed to making the ‘yes’ a reality, we often realise that it was the right thing for us to do.
I look back to all those times in my life that I said ‘yes’ to the big things in my life: my first teaching job in an unconventional school, working on a curriculum development project, buying my first place, getting married, having children, moving to another country. All these events in some way have had a large impact on my life. If I had not said ‘yes’, my life would have taken a different path.
A word that should be easy to say. A word that can bring about life-altering changes. A word that can help us grow.
What have you said ‘yes’ to that has changed your life?