Life matters. Life is good. I spent a whole summer running from one PD to another, immersed in gifted education classes and good books, like The Book Whisperer and Teaching Like a Pirate. I learned how to participate in educational talks on Twitter and I read 75% of the SSYR books for the 2014-15 school year, along with some other really good historical fictions and YA novels. I discovered ecofiction. I discovered some amazing blogs, which encouraged and celebrated a teacher’s summer vacation as a time to relax and renew. How short our time is, and how quickly it is gone. Here we are at the brand-spanking-new school year, and my head is spinning with ideas (and, darn it, if they are different than the ones I started out with at the beginning of summer).
In the Altensee’s family, there is little time to actually relax. There’s absolutely no time to split the proverbial infinitives. Time matters. Our summer started with Fred’s graduation from APUS with highest honors (and awards, too) with his Master in History. He made a big decision to work toward imminent retirement. We worked on editing, publishing, and marketing his book and, in fact, it’s just happened FINALLY. We’ve been prepping ourselves for how busy August and September and October and November will be with the elections, as well as the myriad of activities that our three teenagers are involved in. There’s karate (our school) on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There’s yoga teaching (me) on Sunday. There’s my daily Crossfit Milk District visit (where I WOD like today with a partner or myself). There’s dance on Thursdays with troupe practice with Blue Caravan.
I even have fallen passionately in love with paddleboard yoga. And in these, day-to-day activities, we do renew. I actually decompress with my own interests, passions, and hobbies. And I just don’t know how to separate reading, writing, and thinking from all of that, because I just love them. The teaching, the planning, the doing it myself.
The blog I’ve been following, reading, inhaling, etc. (currently my fav) is Two Writing Teachers. I awoke this morning to plan my writing instruction for the next two weeks and ended up setting up my Edmodo class (although I learned all about Moodle this summer), a new blog (A Slice of Irresistible) for the SOLSC, and getting lots of housework done today (Saturday) so I could do my lesson plans tomorrow. With all this training, the Common Core is making me rethink my teaching. I’ve always wanted my students to be readers (like I am), but I also want them to be writers (like I am?). I’ve resolved giving up the control (which many of these blogs are about) and letting the students experience what it is to be a writer. It is messy. It is exhausting. It is exhilarating! It is time-consuming. Writing matters. Writing is good.
My SOL today involved watching my buggy bug test for her black belt, sweating and crying and getting up again and again with intensity and ferocity. My SOL today involved the gamut of emotions from anxiety to love to pride to uncertainty to anticipation. My mind is like my closet, stuffed full of all sorts of garb–belly dance, winter clothes, shorty-shorts, maxi skirts, fancy dresses, shoes for all occasions, and the cutaway to the master bedroom’s shower (supposedly for easy access). I’ve folded about all I can fold and put away all I can put away, but I still have a laundry basket full of stuff to hang up or put in another closet and its not happening tonight, and that is okay. I have a clear idea of where I want to go and hopefully won’t get side-tracked too badly, but if I do, I have a plan.
The plan is just this: amid our day-to-day musings, our too-full plate, and our work and family obligations, there are special times, like Nina’s black belt test. These come but once. I’m going to enjoy them and not sweat the things I missed (certainly not the pre-first-day-of-school laundry or my dancing hafla/party). I only have my 5th grade students for one school year. I really want to cultivate a love of reading, writing, and learning. Discovery and big “ah-ha” experiences don’t come all the time, and maybe they only come but once, but they are definitely the seeds of tomorrow.