Friday, September 17, 2010

Summertime and the livin’ is easy........

Jillian Walkus is our guest blogger today. Who is she? She writes: I am doing the job I was destined to do. One of most exciting parts of the job is that lightbulb moment- we all know the one- when you see that a student "gets it." Personally, that is so rewarding and has such an addictive quality to it. I have been teaching for 15 years on the beautiful North Island. I have lived in Alert Bay, Port Alice and Port McNeill. I currently reside in Port Hardy, where the ocean is our front yard, with my husband, our two younger daughters. My adult stepchildren live in Campbell River and Courtenay where they are pursuing their work and postsecondary passions. Last summer we brought a soft-coated wheaten terrier home and I relish the daily forty minute walk on my lunch break.

Anyone feel like leaning against my photocopied hand? [See Jillian's strategy here.] I sure do! I survived the first week and if you are reading this not only did you survive, you have managed to eke out a few moments of time at the computer. Congratulations to you!

On Friday I grimaced and confessed to my colleague, "I think I bragged a little too early about how well things were going in my English/English First Peoples 10 class. My lesson today totally bombed! I was asking inquiry-type questions and nobody was answering. Maybe my questions were too hard." Karen, my colleague, smiles politely as I continue on. "I don’t know if this was too new for them. I had to give them a few (too many) prompts. I hope they are not expecting a worksheet and boring old questions! You know the kind. The worst ones--the lower than the between-the-lines kind. I can’t do that!"

[Aside #1 ] I spent good money on Jim Burke’s new book What’s the Big Idea?
[Aside #2 ] I just spent two fascinating days stretching my mind about assessment at VIU and man do I ever have some great insights and new ideas to try.

"On Wednesday and Thursday they were dialoguing, volunteering ideas, think-pair-sharing, relocating to sit with new people. I just know I jinxed it when I told you every single student stood up and read aloud on Thursday."

[Aside #3] Shelley mentioned no opting out so I created a safe lesson where students would feel comfortable to read out another student’s 4 line poem.

Karen smiled again and began to speak. I was prepared to eat crow although my appetizer had already been a steady diet of self-flagellation.

"They’re tired. Everyone is tired."
Don’t you love Karen? It was true! So simple and so true!

It makes perfect sense to me. I am tired. My students are tired. Why wouldn’t we be tired? I think it is important for us to recognize the transition from summer to work. September has a crazy way of sneaking up and disappearing on us. If at all possible take some time to honor and acknowledge the transition. So many times we plow forward at break neck speed only to lose ourselves and our focus. It may surface as the “back to school cold” or the sore back that comes out of nowhere. We have had the luxury of sleeping in & staying up late as well as, reading, eating and drinking whatever we want. Is this why the transition is so hard?

Or is the transition hard because we hit the ground running? Maybe I hit the ground so hard I winded myself. I have decided that my personal goal for this month is to slow down and be mindful. When I am in the classroom, I will be in the classroom-- I will not worry about the next period, tonight’s dinner or who needs to be driven where after school.

There is a difference between physical exhaustion and mental exhaustion. I can sleep to combat the physical; I can be gentle with my thoughts and myself to combat the latter.

Fish are jumpin'....
Right now at the Quatse River the fish are travelling upstream. I watched this on Saturday with my family. We walked the nature trail and picked huckleberries. I enjoyed every second of it.

1 comment:

  1. Jillian
    Sounds like you are providing your students with an awesome opportunity to think and learn, not just listen and get information.
    Lucky students.