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Sparkles and Perspectives

I might have mentioned, a time or two, how I’ve been struggling of late.

This year has already been filled with various challenges…more than I can remember since I began teaching in 2010.

I do not adjust to change very well and like things to be ordered neatly.

I also have trouble understanding the logic that people use to explain their behavior.

I’ve been reading my way through a devotional series on one of my phone apps and came across the reading you see below…

Oh yeah…the struggle is real alright.

I’m hard on myself, professionally and personally, so it’s difficult to deal with weaknesses I find myself wading through.

I’d had a rough morning yesterday but had ended the day well.

My students may be turning a corner.

I say “may” because one can never tell with teenagers.

I left work a little earlier than usual because I had a nail appointment.

I wanted a design that was both feminine and sparkly.

My nail tech generously obliged, even adding a pearl to the center of each flower.

She spoils me.

Because I was the last appointment of the day, the shop was very quiet.

The other girls had left, so my tech and I were by ourselves.

That’s when she opened up to me about some personal struggles she is going through.

Oh word, but I hurt for her.  Just that morning, she had learned of her cousin’s unexpected death.  She’s heading to the funeral in a day or two before she goes to Atlanta for an intense CPA preparation course.

I’m not gonna lie.

I was humbled.  God put me back in my place, let me tell you.

I heard His gentle voice reminding me that the crap I’d gone through that morning was nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Losing a loved one…well…that falls into a league of its own.

As my tech and I talked, we discussed God and His plan for His children’s lives.  Although she and I have different philosophies, it was a healthy dialogue.  I pray that God was speaking through my carefully uttered words.

We talked for at least an hour after my nails were dry.

The Chinese takeout I’d ordered from next door was growing cold.

It didn’t matter.

God was giving me some new perspectives from which to reflect upon life.

He reminded me that He is on His throne, no matter what’s going on in life, be it petty issues at work…

Ahem

Or major life-changing events such as what my friend experienced.

I have got to learn to stop worrying about stuff or people that 1) I cannot change and 2) I cannot control.

For a teacher, I can be a slowwwwwwww learner.

At least I’m looking pretty with my sparkles while I’m in this school we call life.

Only As Young As the Hodgepodge

Sorry I skipped the Hodgepodge last week.  Life has been a wee bit busy here in the education world.  I’m here this week, though, so let’s get going!

1.  I’m celebrating a birthday this week so a question relating to aging feels appropriate. Douglas MacArthur is quoted as saying, ‘You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.” Would you agree? If not why not?

I agree.  I think that age is largely mind over matter and has everything to do with confidence.  In other words, age is a number only, if you allow it to be.

2.  What remarkable feat, interesting piece of trivia, or historical event occurred on your birth day and month? Not necessarily in your birthyear, just the same date/same month.

I enjoyed this question because I got to read about a lot of interesting things that happened on my birthday, March 29th.  As a lover of history, I enjoyed reading that in 1867, Congress approved the Lincoln Memorial.  What an amazing legacy he left!

3.  Describe a time or circumstance where you wanted to ‘have your cake and eat it too.

Oh, I always want to have things my way…and only my way.  Why not?  I want a new car but don’t want to give up fun money to save for it.  That’s just one of many things I could share.

4.  What’s something you do that makes you feel young? Something that makes you feel old?

I teach, and this, I believes, keeps me young because I’m interacting with teenagers all day.

I teach, which makes me feel old, because I see when they don’t know about things like typewriters and hair crimpers.

5.  When did you last do something that was ‘a piece of cake’?

I started knitting a new pair of socks.  Despite the cables, which look complicated, the pattern isn’t really that difficult.

6.  Beef, wine, and cheese all improve with age. What’s something else you’d add to that list? (not necessarily food or beverage).

People, shoes, and blue jeans all get worn in and more relaxed the older they get.  Funny but true.

7.  If I were to have a giveaway when we hit Volume 200, what should I give away? By my calculations we’ll hit Volume 200 on November 26th, the day before Thanksgiving, which means whoever wins would have whatever it is in time for Christmas.  

I’d love something like an Amazon gift card or a gift card for the making of a keepsake blog book (where you have blog posts bound into a book…a dream of mine).

8.  My Random Thought

It’s Wednesday.  I’m already looking forward to Saturday.

Why?

Because Saturdays are when I get to snuggle with my babies…

Being woken up to this girl’s face makes the stresses of the week melt away…

Dear Allison van Diepen

Dear Allison van Diepen,

It’s just your #fangirl, Auburnchick, with a little shout-out to one of the best YA authors around!

I wanted to share a story that I thought would make you smile.

First of all, you may remember that we exchanged emails in the spring after I wrote you to tell you how one of my students fell in love with The Vampire Stalker.  I blogged about it here.

I’m thrilled to tell you that I am raising another group of van Diepen fans in this year’s classes.

Today, when my sixth period class entered my room, one of my girls, “A,” stopped me and said, “Mrs. Auburnchick, I finished my book!”

I excitedly asked her to tell me the title.  I teach sixty students and often forget who has which book.

She proudly pulled out a copy of Snitch.

Our conversation continued:  “Mrs. Auburnchick, I’m going to have to read it again,” she said.

“Oh really,” I said.  “Did you enjoy it that much?”

She responded, “Well, parts of it confused me, so I need to read it over.”

My.

Jaw.

Dropped.

You see, I teach high school Intensive Reading.  I provide reading instruction to students who need extra support so they can pass our state reading exam and, thus, graduate.

For a student to recognize that he/she didn’t understand something and to take it further by coming up with a plan to improve comprehension is HUGE.  It’s what I, as a reading teacher, strive for.

The conversation didn’t end there.

She said, “I want to do research.”

I asked the obvious question, “Research about what?”

She said, “What made her write about gangs and drugs.”

Oh.

My.

Word.

I’m sorry, but in my world, students do not often research such things unless a grade depends on it.

#realtalk

I was beyond floored.

She asked me for help, and I told her we would work on it during the class’s silent reading time.

You should have seen her eagerness as we did bell work and fluency.

She sat on the edge of her chair and held up her book a couple of times…just as a reminder.

Finally, it was time, and I told her to pull up a chair.

The first thing we did was pull up your website.

She.

Was.

Amazed.

She immediately decided that the next book she wants to read is Takedown, which I own.

Duh.  I am, after all, a #fangirl.

Then, we started looking for information that would explain why you wrote the book Snitch.

We got distracted by the study guide we found, and I printed it out for her.  I told her that if she answered the questions from the guide, to check for comprehension, I would give her bonus points on a test.

She was thrilled.

Next, I asked her if she had Twitter and told her how awesome you are about responding to Tweets.

Her mom is somewhat strict and doesn’t allow her to Tweet.

#proudteacher

Still, she really wanted to ask you a question…immediately.

So, I pulled up my Twitter account…for educational purposes (in case Big Brother is reading).

I showed her how I “follow” you, and I typed my question.

You haven’t responded as of this writing.

I forgive you.

You have a family to take care of.

Just don’t wait too long.

I promised I’d share your response with her.

;)

Next, I suggested that she find you on Facebook.

Don’t be surprised if A starts following you there.

As we sat, she told me how she loved that you wrote poetry for the book, and that she connected to it personally because she likes to write poetry too.

Ms. van Diepen, do you know how monumental this is?

We have been working on making connections when we read…something struggling readers have to be taught explicitly to do.

Oh word, but my teacher heart was overjoyed!

Then, she spoke words that I insisted she share with you on Facebook.

She said,

She makes me want to write a book.

I.

Kid.

You.

Not.

Take a look at the sticky note I used to record her words…

Ms. van Diepen,

Thank you for writing relevant teen fiction.

Does it have cursing.

Yes.

Does it talk about gangs, drugs, and turf wars?

Yep.

Do my kids want to keep reading more and more?

A-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y.

It’s not because of the cursing, although that makes it more authentic.

It’s because of the subject matter and the way you paint realistic pictures.

Students think, when they enter my room, that they don’t like to read.

They quickly discover, through in-touch writers like yourself, that they’ve never had the right books placed in their hands.

Please keep doing what you’re doing.

You are making a difference in countless children’s lives by fueling a fire that feeds what I hope will develop into a lifelong passion for reading.

Sincerely,

Auburnchick

P.S.  I like the old cover of Snitch much better than the new one…grabs the kids’ attention.  You should tell your publishers this.  ;)

A DWTS Monday

Today was special.

I left work pretty early considering the massive amounts of to-do items that are constantly on my list…

I began getting antsy around 5pm…

Yep.  It was that time again…time for fringe and booty shakes.

In other words, it was the premier of the new Dancing With the Stars show!!!!

I’m not gonna lie.

I think I already have a favorite…Carlton from Fresh Prince

 

He was amazing!!

Poor Lolo…her arms…her body…they are gorgeous from her Olympic training, but her dancing…egads!  Poor girl.

Sadie Robertson was precious, with a Capital P, though.  I’ve never watched her family’s series…yes…I’m from the South.  Sue me.  I think her youthful innocence will, once again, allow people to see what living a Christian life is like…

Tonight’s episode was a much needed respite from work stress that seems to overwhelm me lately.

Did you watch?  What did you think?

 

Positive – A MUST Read

I love to follow authors on Twitter.

No, I am not a stalker.

I might be a bit of a fangirl.

Ahem.

One of the authors I follow is Jay Asher.

This man writes hysterical Tweets.

If you’re not familiar with him, you MUST acquaint yourself.  He wrote the much-acclaimed Thirteen Reasons Why, which my students cannot put down.

A couple of weeks ago, he tweeted a shout-out to Paige Rawl, author of the book Positive.  After reading a summary of it on Amazon, I immediately ordered it and began reading it the day it arrived in the mail.

First of all, Jay Asher’s foreword for the book is incredibly touching.  This man is gifted, let me tell you.

Then, it was time to read Ms. Rawl’s words.

Oh my gosh.

This book.

Its message.

Oh word.

Positive is an autobiography that describes Paige Rawl’s young life…her struggles…as a young woman born with the HIV virus.

She is candid about her dad’s death from complications from the virus.  There is a picture in the book of the last time she saw her father the day he passed away.

I cried and had to put the book down.

It was deeply moving.

This book will shock you when you read the details of the bullying she endured after she innocently told her best friend that she had HIV.

You will be angry when you read about the injustice she suffered by the very people who should have been her advocates.

This is a story that every single teenager should read.  I’m telling all of my friends about it.  Adults should read it too.

I plan on reading this book to my students as our Read Aloud after I finish the book I’m currently reading.

I know we will have a lot of meaningful discussions about misconceptions about the virus, bullying, and empathy.

I am planning on having my students do some research.  I’m praying for other ideas to incorporate into my classroom as we read this.

It’s that good.

I tweeted out to this young lady after I finished, and she RESPONDED!!

I might have mentioned that I could be a fangirl.

:D

Buy the book.

Share it with a friend.

You won’t regret it.

Still Plugging Along

I am still here, everyone.

Like most teachers this school year, I am completely overwhelmed by a new test I don’t know a lot about but am trying to prepare my students for, new mandates from local and state education officials, and the new-to-me personalities of my classes.

Molly is getting tired of my lonnnnnnggggggg days.  She and I try to spend quality time together each morning while I’m getting ready for work…

I’m busting my tail (literally and figuratively…see below) to come up with engaging activities for my students.  I borrowed an idea from another reading teacher for a Text Features foldable and made a template for it.  My students are very particular about lining things up so their work doesn’t get messy, so I thought a template would make things easier…

I spent Friday afternoon and late evening grading and finished up when I got up today…

Then, I spent another nine hours creating my lesson plans for the week…

Yes, you do see football going on the TV behind my computer.  Please don’t ask me for a play-by-play.  I couldn’t give you one if I tried, except for the Florida/Kentucky nail-biter.  I was too focused on my lesson plans.

I am still a S-L-O-W lesson planner.  I know I make things harder by creating a Smartboard file to accompany each week’s lessons, but that weekly file helps me see things from my students’ perspective.  Plus, I export the files as pdf files and email them to my parents on Fridays (or Saturdays, depending on when I get the chance to do it).

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m taking on more of a leadership role at school.  I attended my first leadership meeting this past week and walked away with this book…

It’s one of those “teacher” books.

Let’s just say that I’m about to learn a LOT about PLCs (Professional Learning Communities).  Thank heavens I watched a lengthy video on teachingchannel.org and have a good friend who worked at a school where she helped create common assessments for her department.  I have a somewhat elementary knowledge of this new-to-me collaboration and have much more to learn.

Despite my crazy life, I did manage to finish a YA book this week…

This book has been around a while.  It was published in 1971 and tells the incredibly sad story of a young woman who struggled with drug addiction and mental illness.  She wrote this diary, although her name is omitted from the book and cover.

It’s very raw and unlike anything I’ve ever read.  Many of my students have, surprisingly, read it already, and one spoiled the ending for me.  Grrr.

Speaking of books…I received my first order of the year…

I peeked at Tupac’s book of poetry.  It.  Is.  Amazing.  What a talented young man.  His early departure from this world is a tragic loss.  I am going to read and discuss his poems with my students.  It’s part of my plan to have my students love me forever.  :D

I also created a new incentive to encourage good behavior.  I stole this idea from a teacher at a different school.  To earn five minutes of free time at the end of my ninety-minute block, tables must avoid getting three Xs for behavior THEY listed on the poster you see below.  A couple of years ago, I had picked up the magnetic white boards you see.  Because I don’t have a large white board in my room to keep tallies on, I thought the small ones were perfect!  Tables who earn three Xs have to spend the five-minutes of free time writing me paragraphs that explains their behavior choices and their plans to rectify them in the future.  :)

I managed to do a few things non-teaching related.  I started a new project…

…and finished it…

Ready, Set, Ruffles with Red Heart Sashay yarn

I also fought symptoms of a fractured tailbone…

I’m pretty sure I broke it when I caught major air on a steep slide that Rooster and I went down on Labor Day.  I’ve been suffering for nearly two weeks and was in a LOT of pain the end of this week…worse than right after I did it.

Meanwhile…we had a pretty rough storm today.  I thought it was your average thunderstorm…until I walked outside to let the dogs go potty…

The pictures don’t really depict how LARGE those branches are!  The one on the left came off of the tree below.  If you look closely, you can see where it snapped off.

Oh, and I’ve been having fun ordering dresses from ShopHopes.com.

Check out this one…a new favorite, I think…

That’s about all I’ve got for now.  My fingers are crossed that I’ll be able to do more planning at work so I can indulge in activities that will help me maintain more balance.

Ahhhh…who am I kidding?  I give up my brain and all of my energy from August through May.  To think otherwise is to delude myself.  :D

The BIG 25

Jut a quick shout-out and Happy 25th Anniversary to the Mr!

This has been one incredibly challenging start to the school year, so please forgive my lack, thereof, of posts lately.

The Mr., trooper that he has been over the years, proved, once again, to be very understanding and thoughtful and sent two dozen roses to me at my school…

Thanks, Honey, for sticking with me through a lot of tough times.

I would NEVER have made it through the crap that was my life before I met you, nor the tough times that entered our lives over the last couple of decades.

By God’s grace, we have raised two successful children, engaged in challenging yet fulfilling careers, and though battle-weary, are stronger and mature than when we started this journey.

We’re in a pretty good spot now, and I thank you for your patience and fortitude.

Love you more than you know and much more than I say.

<3

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