Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Complaints from a Weary Fellow Traveler

Deep in January the sun doesn't rise early enough for me and the night arrives way too early.  The landscape without snow is damp and dreary and bleak. The bare trees split the predawn sky and I am gloomy.  So I channel Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music and start to think of my favorite things.

My hot coffee in a travel mug,
Brahms or Bach or Beethoven playing on my favorite radio station,
My family-all healthy and happy and safe,
My students who come to school ready to learn, and
Yoga-for all it has taught me about being grateful and in the moment.

I begin to feel better, but still there is a nagging sense of discontent, a moodiness that lurks underneath. As I drive on my usual route, I spot the man that I have seen many times over the years.

He crosses the street with abandon, physically disabled he uses crutches to make his way over to where the bus stop is. He too is on his way to work in the early morning. His struggle just to cross the street causes me to stop my rumination. His long legs twitch and spasm as he struggles to send them in the right direction. What I appreciate most about this man is his moxie.  He crosses the street where it is convenient for him-straight across the street disregarding the crosswalks or the traffic signals. He is a man with a mission and the traffic be damned!

What is my take away from watching this man for 15 seconds as I wait for the light to change?
 My life is great, I don't struggle physically to get to work and so I should stop whining and be grateful.
As I drive by the silhouette of the man I am happy and content. That is until an idiot cuts me off and I am mad again.
 Yours in all things techie,


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Getting Down the Mountain- an analogy

Years ago, I started skiing.  Initially I didn't take any lessons. I muscled my way down the mountain ending the day exhausted and drained. There was no joy in this.  One day as I got off the lift I noticed in front of me two young skiers full of enthusiasm. They flew off the lift and clicked their ski poles together overhead and yodeled a "Yee Haw" as they flew down the mountain.  I turned to my husband and I said, " I need that! I want a Yee Haw day"

"Perhaps a lesson would help", my husband suggested.  I agreed that that would be a good idea. The next day I met up with my instructor. He was a wizened Austrian who lived for the snow and the winter.  When I explained my difficulties he concluded that what I needed was a technique that would make me feel confident getting down the mountain.  Yes, that is exactly what I needed. I needed instruction so that I could get down the mountain with confidence. He started where I was and added a few things so by the time the hour was over I felt confident on different terrain and steepness.

Since then, I have taken many lessons and have enjoyed many amazing days of happiness skiing down the mountain and yes, every once in a while I have a "Yee Haw Day" where I click my ski poles together in joy.

As I have been incorporating Common Core and PSSA prep into my ELA classes this story came to mind. When teaching reading comprehension I first have to teach the students  how to get through the text with some joy.  This has to start with where the students are and then I can add on to their technique so there is confidence and some ease. I hope that this approach serves my students as it has for me. Happy skiing and reading!