Back to Life, Back to Reality…

Happy New Year!

So, Winter Break is over.  I literally did not leave my house unless forced or the sun was shining. (15 days, with 5 days of sunshine, need I say more?).  For some people. the idea of vacation involves packing bags, loading cars and making flights.  For me, vacation means, not leaving my space. Christmas Day was the exception.  I played with my 83 year old mother (she has dementia, she loves word games, she’s freaking crazy about her new tablet: “Technology is so… amazing!”), I wandered the complete length of Wacker Drive one day when the temperature was actually 56 degrees (really?) and did a bit of shopping, I went out just the other day, bought 3 new coats for less than $300 and discussed world politics with a homeless man before slipping a $20 bill in his cup.  I did some people watching.

While at home on the gloomy days, I read 3 books, watched the entire Star Wars saga twice (I think I mentioned this before), played Clash of Clans with a co worker and several of our students (I’ve died several times and was threatened to be thrown out of the clan if I didn’t get it together), I’ve assessed closets, then ignored them. I updated the class website in preparation of two BIG projects of Water and Climate and Meteorology and did some minor redecorating in the bath room.. and I slept.  Alot.

The sleeping was good.  It has prepared me for the long, now present winter ahead of me (expecting 11 inches of snow the morning after I write this) and for the ever present reality of education: the testing season.  My team and I spent the morning texting each other, preparing for this week and what we know we need to focus on as we prepare for our reality:  the children need to be prepared for the test.

Here’s some reality for you: I don’t like the test.  Everyone that knows me, knows this.  So, my plan to make this palpable for me has been to incorporate as much INTERESTING, CONTENT RELATED reading, writing and mathematics into this cycle as possible.  I’ve found great nonfiction science articles for the students to read, analyse and write about.  I’m challenging their thinking about what it means to have and have not where math is concerned as they look at water on Earth and our climate.  I’m even going to check with the social studies teacher to see how we can do something together to help ELA and Math do what they need to do to get the kids where they need to be.  That’s MY reality.

Some more reality:  Our children need to be aware of their “privilege”.  So, in March, as part of Women’s History Month, we’re going to read “I am Malala”.  I think this one will open eyes that have been closed a very long time.

A wee bit more reality:  We haven’t forgotten about our family out there that needs ducks and chickens.  J.R. sent me a note on Twitter to remind me, we need to raise the $60 for the family in Africa.  They need to support themselves, we can help.

Just a bit more reality:  I’ve purchased Post It notes in bright colors.  Tomorrow afternoon, after all the students leave, I’m going to leave notes for them on their lockers.  I’m going to tell them how awesome they are, how amazing their minds work, how great it is to be their teacher, how alive I feel when they’re around.  They need to hear it. I need to say it.  I’ll let you know how this one pans out.

Our Reality:  There is more to life than living. There is more to education than testing.  There is more to living in this world than focusing on the small circle of our existences.  There is more to our existences than what we deem important.

So, as YOU get back to life, back to reality, consider what you want your students to learn as you move forward: how to pick out the main idea in a paragraph, how to apply the slope equation, or something static and mundane like that, OR do you want them to see the world, their place in it, and learn to give a damn about it all, applying what they DO learn in school to making a change in THEIR reality?

Time to dance.. get up now.. NOW… However do you want me?  However do you need me? Back to life, back to reality…

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