Saturday, January 16, 2016

Finding the Celebrations

I'm grateful, as ever, that Ruth Ayres asks us to pause on Saturdays and share a celebration from the week. Boy did I need it this week. Check out Ruth's blog HERE

This week I had a moment of a panic. Not a full-fledged panic attack, mind you. I've had one of those and they are awful. No, this week I had one of those moments when you are hit with a realization that you have too much to do and not enough time to do it in. It was horrid.

I'm taking two college courses this semester. It's a long story, but essentially I would like to teach middle school one day and I realized this fall that I didn't have the endorsement. Beyond two middle school classes that I would need to take this summer, I also am short six hours of language arts (when you exclude any ELA I took for teaching.) So, I enrolled in two courses.

My first moment of panic came when I discovered on Monday that the classes started (online) that day, not after MLK day like I had assumed. Deep breaths.

I looked over the syllabus for each class and another wave of panic crashed. This was far more work for two classes than any of the last grad school classes I had taken for my last master's degree. 

Then I sat down and listed out everything I have to do in the next few weeks... finish reading the 50 nominees for a state book award, attend the meeting for that award, work on a table of contents and two chapters for a possible book. All of that is beyond the side jobs of tweeting for Choice Literacy, writing for Choice Literacy, scheduling for Nerdy Book Club, and my real jobs of parenting and teaching. Oh yes, and we've decided to remodel our kitchen. All the while, Luke's basketball schedule is wrapping up in the next few weeks while Liam's is beginning...


More waves of panic crashing.

And then I took a breath. Maybe two. I decided I couldn't do this if I kept looking ahead, but just to look at this semester a week at a time. What did I have to do this week? Also, and more importantly, how could I use these classes to help my students?

I'm taking a English class on creative writing in fiction (my weakest area of writing) and a Lit class on Intro to Fiction. I had to read half of A Christmas Carol this week and complete an essay quiz on it by Friday. I shared the first page of the text with the kids, my essay quiz, and how I responded. We talked about what a syllabus was and how you read one. They had a lot of questions, so many good ones, and I left our conversation hoping that they had just a bit of insight into the world of higher ed than they did before. One student came up to me and said she thought it was interesting that the college professor asked me to quote directly from the text and explain my thinking just like I ask them. I had to smile.

In my writing course we had to write an essay about who was a writer that has influenced us. I wrote about that the other night at home while Liam read over my shoulder. He commented that I should ask our class to complete the same essay, that he thought it was an interesting idea to think of what writer has influenced us. I turned and asked him who would he pick. Without missing a beat, he replied, "Phil Bildner who wrote A Whole New Ballgame. I want to write like him." My heart soared. I love this kid and how much he has grown in the past few years - especially in regard to reading and writing. 

This week was crazy. I felt like I was treading water for so much of it. My head stayed above, but I saw the storm coming. And then, it didn't. Slowing down, looking at small goals, selecting parts of this crazy journey to share with my class, finding the room for celebrations helped. Maybe this journey won't be so bad after all.