Thursday, September 25, 2014

Stress Eating

This is the list of books I read this summer for graduate school and in preparation for my new job:

The Accidental Teacher by Eric Mandel
Drive by Daniel Pink
Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
Everyday Teacher Leadership: Taking Action Where You Are by Michelle Collay
Effective Supervision: Supporting the Art and Science of Teaching by Robert Marzano
Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of the Great American School System and a Strategy for America's Schools by David Kirp
Multiplication is for White People: Raising Expectations for Other People's Children by Lisa Delpit
Reframing the Path to School Leadership: A Guide for Teachers and Principals by Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal
Interactions: Collaboration Skills for School Professionals by Marilyn Friend and Lynn Cook
The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn from Each Other by Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
Purposeful Co-Teaching: Real Cases and Effective Strategies by Gregory Conderman, Mary V. Bresnahan, and Theresa Pedersen

(A side note for nursing moms: download the Kindle app on your iPhone. Load all required reading onto said app. If you're nursing 6 times a day for roughly 15 minutes each time, you have just gained 90 minutes of quiet reading time. Make sure you make an eye appointment, however, as it is guaranteed that your vision will deteriorate at a more rapid rate thanks to the constant eye strain.)

 A stack (or in my case, a Kindle home screen full) of books can provide useful tools to these important conversations.

But sometimes working together for a common goal can be difficult. I'm learning how to communicate a shared vision and support and serve teachers in a new capacity, but I'm only a few weeks in. I struggle with hoping I'm doing a good job. I'm not sure if this is people pleasing or being a reflective learner, but either way, it can lead to one eating one's own weight in candy corn. Not me, of course. It's just a possibility of which one should be aware.

This evening, as I sit tensely on my couch enjoying the fermented fruits of California while I pray my daughter will settle herself to sleep and thus my blood pressure will return to a healthier level, I am thankful for the opportunity to grow.

As I coached my students, no one has yet arrived. In my classroom, I attempted to create a safe environment in which mistakes were accepted and viewed as springboards for change. But that advice can be hard to swallow. The vulnerability required to humbly grow is challenging. I hope I can work to create the safe environment that allows for meaningful change.
Struggle by Krissy.Venosdale, via Flickr

Monday, September 22, 2014

Balancing Act

Well, friends, for those of you following along at home, we have just completed month one of my New Job.

I spent six wonderful and challenging years as a classroom teacher, but this year, I was given the opportunity to work four days a week and coordinate our magnet  program and also work with intervention.

There's thankful, and then there's thankful. And that is how I feel about this new opportunity.

I love teaching, and my heart will always be in the classroom. But this is also my thesis year, and my girl will only be this little once, and I needed to take a break. The thing about classroom teaching, as I'm sure you all know, is that it is rarely confined to the hours of 8 am to 3:30 pm. The hours spent on parent conferences, extra duties, lesson planning, grading papers, writing report cards, and general worry for each child can be exhausting.

Friends, I can't tell you how good it does my heart to have time. 

This weekend, I met a friend at a park. I bought bread and sweet potatoes at the Farmer's Market. We went on three walks and played on the swings in the backyard and also made two batches of pumpkin muffins. I did not grade a single paper or plan a single lesson.

 It wasn't all sunshine. I had to wake up two hours before my family on Sunday to do my grad school work. There is still a huge pile of laundry that is not folded, it's just relocated.  This little one was super fussy. The darling hubs and I had an argument. But we had time to connect with her and work out our conflict and go to bed Sunday evening with peaceful hearts (and a mountain of laundry that has yet to be folded).

There are seasons of life, I know (thanks Ecclesiastes and the Byrds), and I'm hoping that this is one of balance.

Monday, September 1, 2014

How I spent my Labor Day vacation

Last night I was awoken at 1am to the familiar sounds of my daughter fussing. For those of you who know us, Joel and I seemed to have bred an energetic spitfire who doesn't take to sleeping on her own. Yes, I have tried that and no it did not work.

The funny thing is, I was rejoicing because she had slept from 7:30pm to 1am, the longest stretch I have gotten in a few weeks. Imagine my surprise when I was met with every bodily fluid- we had to change pajamas twice. How nice.

Of course, being the nervous mom that I am, I was terrified that she would puke again and I, in my sleep deprived stupor, would not hear it. So naturally, I kick Joel out of bed and make a baby safe area for her to cuddle up sweetly as she drifted off to sleep in the arms of her loving mother. 

Well, that was the plan.

Instead what happened was no less than 2 hours of Crazy Baby climbing all over me, kicking me in the chest, and literally jumping on the bed. 

Some of you know I used to sleep with her. For three months straight she slept upright on my chest, easing what I now know to be common colic. In month four, I returned to work and she slept in the crook of my arm, which sounds idyllic when Dr. Sears describes it but was a nightly battle to make sure I didn't lose circulation to my fingers. 

I remember wistfully thinking of the day when she would no longer want to cuddle, reminding myself that "The days are long but the years are short." That day came approximate five months ago. This kid wants her freedom. 

So, at 3:45 in the morning, I relented and set her down in her crib, where she slept for the next 3.5 hours until something deadly escaped into her diaper.

Needless to say, we both got showers this morning.

As I was typing this, my daughter was allowed to eat apple snack sticks (read: sugar coated apple flavored chips) for breakfast because shut up. That's why.

And to top it all off, I spilled coffee onto our beige couch, thus presenting the current dilemma: 
Do I spot clean that area, leaving the rest of the couch to look dingier by comparison, or do I leave said coffee stain in hopes people will think there is a permanent shadow on our couch?

Today was supposed to be a date day for Joel and I. We don't get out much and I can count on one hand the times the two of us have been on a date in the last year. We carve out time here and there, but with the two of us working and in grad school, it's not so easy.

On this Labor Day, I want to acknowledge all those mamas out there who are covered in puke, folding their third load of laundry this morning, and succumbing to the sweet silence that an episode of Curious George can bring. 

We may not get a day off today, but...

I don't have advice. I just have commiseration.