Tricked

Eight years ago today, my husband and I went on our first official date. He tricked me into going out with him. We were both teachers at the same school in Philadelphia, and he randomly called me one Sunday to ask if I wanted to go with “us” to see a comedian. The “us” is important because that’s where we disagree. He claims that it was clear that it was a date while I have long maintained that it was implied that others were also going. I have always told the story that he tricked me into our first date.

Here’s the part I’ve never told him: I hoped it was a date. I still claim that he said us on the phone, but I wanted it to be just the two of us so badly. I had long had a crush on him, but as soon as he asked me out, I got nervous. We worked together, and I really didn’t want things to get awkward between us if things didn’t work out. Or worse, I didn’t want them to be weird if they did work out. So, when people asked me about it, I just made it seem like he had tricked me. At that I point, my heart had recently been broken and my ego desperately needed a boost. It also made it ok if it didn’t work out. He had tricked me; it’s not like I was at all into him.

Eight years is a long time. Yet, there are moments that I remember like yesterday. Here are eight of my very clear memories from our early dating days.

1. I remember the first time I saw him. He bound into the gym during summer professional development. He had on a backwards baseball hat and tan cargo shorts that are probably still upstairs in a drawer somewhere. I asked my friend who the cute guy was. I had a boyfriend, but something made me notice him right away.

2. I remember when he put his hand on my leg during a funny part of the comedian. He got all sorts of embarrassed and apologized for it.

3. I remember when he got gum stuck in my hair. It was almost a deal breaker.

4. I remember when he ordered the trout (which I thought was weird) on our second date, and he got a cobb salad instead. He was so polite he ate it anyway.

5. I remember him not having text messaging. He had to use some sort of aluminum foil wrapped antennae to get messages to me when I went on vacation to Florida.

6. I remember him waiting for me and my girlfriends to come home from going out on the tailgate of his blue 4Runner. I warned him the next morning they would all be coming in my room to visit as soon as I heard voices stirring, and he didn’t believe me. Sure enough, we were soon surrounded by all of them on my bed.

7. I remember him making a comment about me being “older”. He thought I was several years older than him. No darling, just more mature.

8. I remember telling him I loved him way too early in the relationship. He told me not to say it if I didn’t mean it. I absolutely did and still do.

As my sister so brilliantly said in her maid of honor speech, “May today be the day you love each other the least.” She was absolutely right.

I couldn’t be happier that he tricked me eight years ago.

Currently

Reading: Chasing the Milky Way. I’m reading with a teacher and a group of fifth graders. So far, so good. It is definitely a reminder to why you should ALWAYS read a book before you read it with students. The bipolar mother’s choice of words when she is about to come down from a high is less than ideal.

Eating: Some chocolate popcorn cakes. They basically taste like chocolate cardboard, but they give me my sweet fix.

Doing: Looking for ideas for our new kitchen on Pinterest. It’s so overwhelming. I have the hardest time making decisions, so a new kitchen full of decisions is almost too much for me.

Wearing: My black yoga pants. I have several pairs that are part of my weeknight evening uniform. The pair I’m wearing at the moment are so worn out the bottoms are starting to fray.

Learning: How to crochet. I’m teaching myself how to do it. I don’t really don’t have a lot of time to do it, but it relaxes me, so I try to fit it in when I can. I finished a very simple scarf, and I’m now starting a blanket.

Working on: Reading Lucy Calkin’s Unit of Study on memoirs for upcoming collaboration meetings with 5th grade. It’s an interesting idea to have 5th graders write memoirs to wrap up their elementary career.

Watching: The season finale of Girls. It took me a little while to get into it, but it is such a smart show. Plus you have to respect Lena Dunham’s outlook on life.

Feeling: Tired. Mondays are always exhausting. I’m looking forward to snuggling with my pillow tonight.

Loving:  Being a part of this writing community. I’m so glad I decided to join the Slice of Life Challenge.

What are you currently doing?

Dear First Year Me

I’ve always wanted to write something like this. It has taken so time, but is something I will certainly look back on in the future.

A letter to myself when I first started teaching…

Congratulations! You have a job. As you begin this journey, I want you to remember a few things…

You’re going to learn a lot here in southwest Philadelphia, but most of it won’t be about reading or math. You’ll become a master at classroom management because you’ll have to be. You put the buzzwords “mutual respect” and “building a community of learners” on your resume, but now you truly know what it looks like, and why it works. Make every child feel safe in your room. You’ll look back later and realize it might be the only time they really have someone care about them. You can’t change their whole world, but you can be a light in their world.

You’re going to learn to stretch resources, and you’re going to spend money you don’t have on your classroom. DON’T EVER FORGET THIS! Eventually, you’ll be in the position to have more resources than you can now think possible. APPRECIATE THEM! Don’t judge others if they don’t, but just remember that you can do with far less because you have.

You’ll drink a lot of wine your first year. Remember not to drink it alone. Share it with the teachers who were once strangers, but will quickly become friends. The friendships you form with other teachers will be long lasting. You’ll attend weddings and baby showers and comment on Facebook posts long after you leave the corner of 56th and Chester. You might even marry one of them. (SPOILER: You do!) Keep forming these friendships as you move through your career. Long days (or years) will be made easier in the company of good teacher friends.

You’re going to make mistakes. I’m not talking about the big mistakes, but I’m sure you’ll make those too. I”m talking about the small moment mistakes: when you snap at a child, when you make a poor teaching decision, or make a coaching choice that feels wrong. It’s OK to make these mistakes, but learn from them. Reflect on how to handle the situation in the future and practice what you will do. Remember these moments. You learn so much more from them than when you do everything perfectly.

You don’t know everything. Though you may have days that you finally have this job nailed, know that is always more to learn, another way to get better. As time goes on, what you need to improve on will change, but the idea that you should want to improve should remain constant. If you ever think you’ve learned all you can, it’s time to retire.

Question what’s happening around you. Ask questions when you don’t understand. Don’t be afraid of looking stupid. Ask questions when you think that students aren’t getting what they need to be successful. They are your #1 priority. Ask questions when you want to improve student learning and are ready to help make those changes. The more information you have, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed choices.

You’re going to have leadership opportunities. Embrace them, you’ll find you’re pretty good at them. You’ll also need to learn a lot, especially about how others view you. You’re going to have to get over the notion that everyone needs to like you, because they simply won’t. Be more concerned that they respect you and your ideas. Respect them as well.

There will be times when you will have to make decisions about the direction your career or your life will take. Think carefully, weigh your options, but above all, trust your instincts. Don’t be afraid to fail at something new. You’ll welcome the challenges that change brings and look forward to it.

This letter could go on forever with all you need to know as you begin your path in education. If you remember only one thing, remember this…every single day you have to opportunity to impact the life of a child. You have no idea how far your impact can reach. Don’t let even one day pass you by where you forget this. It is, after all, why you stated teaching in the first…for the children.

Having Faith

Yesterday a friend and I talked about a career move for her. She seemed so confident in her possible decision. At one point in the conversation, she mentioned that she had prayed about it, and she felt that she is doing the right thing. The feeling that I had at that moment is not one I’m proud of. I was jealous.

I was not jealous of the career change or the confidence she had. I was jealous that she was able to get there through prayer. That is not something I do. I realized that what she was saying is that her faith is strong enough that she relied on it to help her make important life decisions. This is not something I have.

When my son was born 5 weeks early, a good friend told me she was praying for my new little family. I remember be thankful that she was doing that because I knew she knew what she was doing. I prayed as well, but it felt foreign to me. It had been a long time since I prayed in a time of need, and I wasn’t sure if anyone was listening.

I wrote a post a while back about writers writing to change things. A reader commented that she writes to change herself. I’m going to agree with her on that. I am writing this post as a commitment to change. If I want to be person that has more faith in God, then I’m the only one who can start that journey.

Amazing Alphabet

Tonight I was completely amazed by my son. Both my husband and I watched him and were in awe. For a few weeks now, I’ve been using an app for him to match letters. He has tried it, but never really grasped the concept. He and I would play around for a few minutes and that would be that.

Tonight, it was like he had been doing it for years. Matching letters with ease. Even saying a few out loud which blew this mama away. How did he all of sudden know how to do it? And do it well? He was on fire.

Image result for endless alphabet

At the young age of just 20 months, my son can completely impress me. I can only dream of what the future holds for my little genius.*

*I do not actually believe my son to be a genius, though it’s possible. 🙂

Onion Snow

Onion snow. Apparently that is what is in the forecast for tomorrow. I had to do some research to figure out exactly what the term means. According to a few websites, onion snow is a term used in Pennsylvania to describe snow that comes either after spring onions have been planted or when they should be planted.

Where I’m from in Maine, we call it “winter isn’t done yet” or more simply, spring.

Change and Inspire

Just this weekend, I was folding laundry and watching a TV show during nap time. The main character in the show is a writer, but she had recently quit writing. She was asked what made her start writing in the first place, and her answer stuck with me. Her response was “to change things”.

Is that why I write? In essence, yes. I am hopeful that some of my ideas change the thinking of others. That I am able to open someone up to a new way of thinking or new ideas. I have also starting to think that if I can keep this blog going after the Slice of Life Challenge is over. Keeping the the focus on literacy, maybe I can help change how reading and writing are happening in classrooms. Maybe the ideas in my teacher brain can connect with someone else’s teacher brain and amazing things can happen.

This all connects to an idea I first heard at IRA (now ILA) last year. Douglas Fisher was giving a speech on text dependent questions. Ultimately, he explained that the goal we have for students is for the text they read to inspire them to do something. Reading something should make you want to DO something. Maybe it’s blog about it, talk about it with your peers, argue against it, shave your head and join a cult. Ok, maybe not the last one.

What will this text inspire you to do?