I’m Here!

Sort. Pack. Stack. Load. Unload. Sort. Store.

Scream.

Yeah, so we’ve all moved before.  I’ve moved (at last count) 12 or 13 times. But this summer had the added excitement of not only moving my and my husband’s household (which is still in-process), but move my parents’ household and sell their house, AND move my mother’s room from one Alzheimer’s care facility to another one.

And our combined five cats.

While I’m preparing for a new teaching position, with totally new courses, in a whole new part of the state.

The fact that I’m actually using a computer in my new home, hooked up to internet, with a coffee mug full of coffee that was actually brewed right here and isn’t from a Starbuck’s paper cup (not that there’s a Starbucks here in east-central rural Minnesota) is a testament to all the hard work done by my husband, my father, our loyal and selfless friends and family members, and my in-laws.

So, while I have a minute (I’m taking a break from my course planning, as classes start in THREE DAYS [gasp]) I’ll share some of the truly lovely things I’ve noticed about my new town, new school, and new life living with “my guys” (my 87-year-old father and my husband, and, again, our five cats).

I love, love, LOVE my new house. Seriously.  It’s so great that all the consternation over getting it (see previous entries) is worth it, several times over.  I’m undeserving of this, and so very, very lucky. I’ll share some of my favorite snapshots over the last couple of weeks so you can see what I’m talking about.

My backyard, during a light rain. Seriously. I live here.

 

Having breakfast with my husband in the gazebo.

Scandinavian collection on mantle on one of the TWO fireplaces.

A fibromite's dream bathroom!

I love my new town; everyone I’ve come into contact with from the hardware store to the grocer’s to the pharmacy to the cell phone shop have been delightful and extremely helpful. I’ve been enjoying the farmers’ markets around, and natural resources.

Behind our woods, there are forest trails!

Farm Market Café, in Onamia, MN...uses all local ingredients from local markets.

I love my new school!   The administration and faculty and staff have been some of the loveliest and most helpful people I’ve ever met. I’ve laughed with my colleagues, and been included on gatherings, all week during in-service, and my initial reactions to the school during my interview (I thought it was welcoming and happy) have been borne out. I’m excited to begin my new professional life here.

 

My new universe. 🙂

Don’t Clip My Wings

There’s been a lot of ink (digital or otherwise) sacrificed over the last few months about teachers’ work. Their hours, their work ethics, their supposedly exorbitant pay and pensions (don’t even get me started). So many times, we see outsiders quantify our work with the number of days we’re on official duty during the year, making it seem like we’re part-time employees.  Those who are teachers, or who live with teachers, know that the job (read: obsession) of educating goes far beyond contract days, and, like with many professions, just because we’re doing other things in life doesn’t mean we’re not actively planning and organizing for new and better lessons.

Case in point, this blog entry from one of my favorite inspirational sites, “Learning Like a Hurricane,” by Marsha Ratzel. Her stated experience of spending June reflecting and August honing is recognizable to most of us.  I like having an afternoon commute because it gives me time to mentally sort through what worked, and what didn’t, during my day, and plan ways of directing the next day’s lessons.  The last couple of years have been even better because I’ve gone to and from work with my husband, so an actual, exterior dialogue happens daily on school events and lessons.  While that won’t be happening in my upcoming teaching year, I’m quite capable of having quite vociferous internal dialogues of my own, thank you very much!

I’ve often thought that teaching is like art in many ways; everything experienced, seen, heard, felt becomes fodder for lessons (or parts of lessons). Just as we now realize that part of the reading gap in young children is due to not having the varied life experiences that carry with them vocabulary and frames of reference, so, too, would teaching come hard to someone with a very narrow focus and little imagination.  To be effective, one needs to be able to view things from various sides, transcend disciplinary boundaries, speak on many levels, and balance content and method.

As Ms. Ratzel exhibits above, the catalysts come at the oddest moments.  Anyone who’s ever lived with, or spent time with, a teacher will recognize that spark when the eye brightens, the back straightens, the tail twitches (okay, okay, this latter is probably just because I live with cats…). The teacher has an IDEA. And…she’s off and running.

This is another reason why I could never teach with a canned curriculum, or scripted lessons. I want the freedom to bring in my own fodder and relate it to the objective of the lesson, based on current events, my personality, and, mostly, the personalities of the kids whose butts are in my classroom and their eyes on me. Just as art exists in the space between artist and viewer/listener/reader, so, too, does education occur in the interaction between teachers and students (and that education is multidirectional, mind you).

Having my ability to shape content clipped would, indeed, keep me–and my students–tethered to the ground, when so much of life is elsewhere.

P.S. Thanks to Marsha Ratzel, and I wish I were a student in her classroom!  What an amazing teacher!  More thanks to Clay Burrell, also linked, who’s long been an amazing voice for quality education.