Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Celebrating My Garden Fairy

Monday evening. Busy day at work. Pizza box in the car.  Kitchen table waiting to be cleaned and dishes in the sink waiting to be washed. Car parked. Engine turned off. I raise my eyes and look towards my front door.


My neighbor fairy has been working again!

I left this morning thinking that when the next warm day comes, I will have to start getting my plants winter ready. Now, in order for you to  understand why this idea often stays as an idea until the next spring, you would need to know that I love planting in the the spring. I even like watering my plants during summer. Weeding, cleaning the plants, trimming, clearing for winter...I don't think any of those words are even part of my vocabulary! Well, I might know the words, but somehow knowing them never translated into action.

My wonderful neighbor, Ruth, however, considers these above mentioned words to be part of her daily action words: If there is too much grass growing between the rocks in my garden, she will roll the rocks out and weed! If the morning glories are getting a little too wild, she will find a trellis for them, and lift them off the ground. If I forget to water the plants in the back, she will do it for me!

So, back to today. As I gazed at my front door, I noticed that there were no more morning glories! My Rose of Sharon had been trimmed. The grass next to the house cut down! A couple of empty hanging baskets on my steps--now even those are being stored at my neighbors.

My neighbor fairy has been working again!

I am blessed to live next to wonderful neighbors! Ruth makes my garden look so much better than I even could! She comes up with ideas to make my plants (still remember that I actually like planting?) fresher and more abundant! I am not sure if Ruth even realizes how much she blesses me year after year.

So here is a BIG thank you for my neighbor Ruth! You are an angel who takes care of my garden like a magical fairy!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Finding what you are made for

Are you made to be a teacher?
Maybe a mother?
Are you made to be a mentor?
Maybe a friend?
Are you made to be a good neighbor?
Maybe a coach?
Are you made to be a singer?
Maybe a song writer?
Are you made to be an administrator?
Maybe a principal?
Are you made to be a chef?
Maybe a family cook?
Are you made to be a chauffeur?
Maybe a bus driver?
Are you made to be a writer?
Maybe a blogger?
Are you made to be an athlete?
Maybe a runner?
Are you made to be a caretaker?
Maybe a nurse?
Are you made to be an artist?
Maybe a painter?
Are you made to be a listener?
Maybe all of the above at times.

This past Sunday, I was listening to a sermon about what we are made for. I sat at church thinking about my life as a teacher. Am I where I need to be at this time of my life? The answer is, "YES!" I am a teacher, at my school, with my specific students. I am doing what I am supposed to be doing at this time in my life. Could it be, that there is even more for me?? I don't know. But for now, I am content to be a teacher, an educator, a blogger, a friend, a coach, a mother, a listener, a mentor, and all of the many things that being a teacher means.

Frederick Buechner defines vocation: "Vocation is where your deep gladness meets the world's hunger." I was asked to think what I am passionate about. Well, the answer to that was easy; I am passionate about English Language Learners! Making sure that they learn English, succeed in school, become contributing members of our society, and find their own vocation--their own passion for life.

I am also passionate about writing when my students write, giving them an example. I am passionate about reading when my students read (during quiet reading of course), so that my students will see a teacher reading, not just correcting papers. I am passionate about finding ways that I can help my students learn. Sometimes this means that I need to learn something new--like how to use my new smartphone:) It is also knowing that this is my calling that brings great satisfaction and joy to my life. I don't think that I would be an educator if it would not bring joy into my life.

What are you made for? What are you passionate about? What do you feel called to do? I would love to hear your thoughts.

If you would like to listen/read the message that I listened this Sunday, you can find it here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Places to Visit and Fruits to Grow......with Padlet

We have had a couple of days off from school. I have been researching technology in light of needing to buy a new phone. I came across padlet. I wanted to create something both fun and useful. Below are some places that I would like to visit in my lifetime. Next, I wanted to figure out how I could make padlet a bit more academic in my classes. Perhaps a simple activity with my ELLs to see where the fruits that we eat come from. (Could not yet figure out why the places moved to wrong places on the map after embedding the wall on my blog. I guess there is still room for me to learn more.) Perhaps I could add pictures of the fruit with my students in class. Students could also have their own maps to label as we look at the big map on the smartboard. I am starting to see the rewards of using padlet as it provides both visual and textual support that our ELLs need. Have you used padlet?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Starry Morning

Monday morning.
Bags are packed; handouts are printed.
Lunch is made--or bought ready.
Vitamins taken? Check!
Teeth brushed? Check!
Car keys? Check!
Gym clothes? Check!
It is so dark. Do I really need to leave this early?
Drapes opened--there just might be a little sunshine wanting to meet my indoor plants today. I have watered them (irrigated--if you know what I mean). Photosynthesis now just needs the sun food.
I wouldn't mind a little sunshine either.
All the bags with me? Check!
Door locked? Check!
Are there really so many stars?
I stop and look up again. So bright. Not just one or two; a multitude.
If I was Elsie, I would have had my camera ready. Obviously, I am not and I didn't.
But I had a moment to marvel the creation of a starry sky. It brought light to my dark morning, a reminder that things are often darkest before daybreak. It gave me hope.
Music was blasting in my car and the driver was singing along. There was joy this morning. All because of those bright stars that shone on my morning.
Joy this week? Check!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

House on Mango Street, another on Hummus Street, a third one on Tabouli Lane, and one more from Masala Avenue

In light of us soon starting our "House on Mango Street" unit, I had to imagine a few different scenarios with my students--as they do not all come from Mango Street.

There is Anna who comes from Hummus Street. She is tall and loves to laugh. She really wanted to be a dentist until she realized that being a dentist involves blood. Anna is now looking into new possibilities that do not involve blood as part of her job description. Anna also loves math, but history is a subject that she could do without. Anna might come from Hummus Street, but it is purely American Hersey's chocolate that Anna loves as her lunch. And not just any chocolate, but cookies & cream is her must have.

Matt comes form Tabouli Lane. He has been in America longest of all the students in my class. Matt is usually always on time. His uniform is perfect--with only a few adjustments to his tie are needed before he can sit down. Matt's best friend in my class is a tissue. It could be that Matt needs to stretch his legs more often than the others. Matt is also always cold. "Ms, can you turn the temperature up?" Matt's skills of observation have not yet reached the level that he could see that "Ms" is quite warm, and thus will not turn the thermostat up. Although, Matt must be good at math as he is always trying to calculate the age of "Ms" based on any and all details that he remembers "Ms" mentioning about herself.

Drew form Masala Avenue is a new student. I have not learned as much about him yet. Drew is quiet, but always willing to offer an opinion. Of course, he also always raises his hand before speaking--a fact that some of  my other students have not yet mastered. Drew will ask if I would be willing to help him during lunch or study hall with an assignment in a different class. He is ready with an explanation of what he needs to do and why he was unable to do it at home. It also appears that Drew's mother has something in common with my mother. Interesting, as the two women never met, and always lived on different continents.

What is Your Mango Street?

The names of the students have been changed to guarantee their privacy on their home streets:)