Saturday, July 19, 2014

The days are drifting away....

Summer break has been extra long this year thanks to furlough days.  I traveled to California's Central Coast in early June. We saw the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas (and I either made a life long friend or was being yelled at---I am not good at deciphering the body language of the elephant seal.)

We made it to Cannery Row in Monterey.  It was a beautiful day--gorgeous sky, delicious lunch, and not overly crowded.  It seems that the older I get, the less I enjoy being jostled into strangers.  ANyone else feel that way?  We didn't have time to visit the aquarium, so I had to be content with looking out at the bay itself.  While I didn't manage to spot any sea otters in the water as I had hoped, my husband pointed out the wildlife on the rock.  At first I thought he was just showing me the birds, but then I noticed the seals.  Can you see them?  They blend in well.

We made our way back down toward Cambria via the 101.  Somehow I managed to convince him to let me take a quick detour to one of the few California Missions I had never seen--Mission Soledad.  Back when I taught 4th grade, in my much younger single days, I took an extended trip and visited all of the California Missions.  However, Soledad was only open a few days during the week at that time, so I wasn't able to see it.  Driving by it is not the same as stepping back in time as wander the grounds.  

On Moonstone Beach in Cambria, we saw vultures. Unfortunately, I touched the wrong button on his camera (I am much better with just one button--like the one on my phone) and all of the pictures ended up being black and white.  I was truly surprised by how red their heads are--not that you can tell in the photo.  We never figured out why they were hanging around, although, in hindsight, it is probably better not to know.

Our final stop on the way back home was in Pismo Beach.  More wildlife at our hotel--pelicans!  It seemed like this vacation had turned into an animal expedition.  We had a great view of the pier from our room.  In the morning, I picked up some cinnamon rolls from a place in town a fellow teacher had told me about (it is called Old West Cinnamon Rolls.)  She told me to be prepared for a wait, but I must have arrived at just the right moment--got a parking spot and the line was super short.  Isn't it the best when that happens?!?!  And the cinnamon rolls--they were even delicious hours later when we finally reached home.

I had a giant list of things that I wanted to accomplish this summer, but I haven't been as productive as I would have liked.  However, the most important thing that I have ended up doing wasn't even on the list.  Usually I have a plan for our vacation:  where we will eat, what we will do each day, etc.  But this year, I went without a plan (except for the hotel reservations) because we left right after school got out, and I didn't have the time to do all the research.  And not only did we survive, but we had a great time.  It made me realize that I really need to spend more time relaxing and to enjoy the moments as I am in them.  So I have been reading more, experimenting in the kitchen, seeing old friends, exploring Southern California, etc. The list will always be there......the moments are fleeting, and if you miss them, you can't get them back.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

A new adventure

 It is so hard for me to believe that I have been teaching for over 20 years.  I remember my first "official" day like it was yesterday.  I was just out of college and was hired just 4 days before school started.  I was young and excited, ready to try out everything I had learned in college---not realizing that one could never learn enough in college to deal with 30 4th graders.  Thirty minutes in on my very first day, I knew that my career was going to be quite an adventure.  And it has!

         Teaching was different in so many ways back then--chalkboards, no standards, one computer that used 5.25 floppy disks, overhead projector, ditto machines.  Chalkboards were replaced by whiteboards which have taken a second fiddle to an interactive one in my room.  Standards are out, common core is in.  A world without technology is unimaginable to my 6th graders---they stare at me in horror when I describe how I had a rotary dial telephone when I was their age.  Our rooms were upgraded to be 21st century classrooms 4 years ago--skylights, a sound system, interactive whiteboard, computers,  a document camera, matching furniture, etc.  (That document camera is my favorite--it truly has made teaching and learning easier.)
       However,  the one thing that has remained constant is the kids.  Some are eager to learn and others have to be dragged to new ideas, but they show up day after day and it is up to me to figure out how to teach them.  Some days--some years-- are harder than others, and some days you realize just how amazing teaching can be.  

      I love reading educational blogs--teachers have so much knowledge and wisdom to impart.  Back in that first year, I thought that my way was the best way---as the years have progressed I have realized how foolish that notion was.  There are just so many "best ways" out there---they are as varied as the learning styles of the kids that I have in my classroom.  And the internet has really allowed teachers to connect in ways that I never would have dreamed to be possible.  Joining the blogging world will hopefully help me continue to be a better teacher---something I am always striving to become.  One of my favorite things, which happens, inevitably, every year, is when a child raises his or her hand and announces,"I have two questions."  I don't know why I find it to be so amusing.  Maybe because it is always proclaimed clearly, as if I won't allow a second question without proper notification.  But that statement never fails to bring a smile to my face.  And as I begin this new blogging adventure, I wanted it to start with a smile.