Monthly Archives: February 2014

Looking for Inspiration

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Inspiration is a powerful tool to help people of all ages move on from difficult or challenging situations.  I know I use words and quotes to inspire me to try harder, have a renewed outlook and to stay positive in sometimes negative situations happening in the workplace, family, or the world.  It was a week ago when I had the brainstorm driving to my workplace, a fourth grade classroom in an elementary school…it is hitting almost fourth quarter and we are all feeling the stress and anxiety of the approaching standardized test. My brainstorm was to ask each student to select a quote, write in down correctly, and write the name of the person.  The quote needed to be personal to them, inspiring, and remind them to finish strong for the remaining part of the school year.  I was crossing my fingers behind my back and hoping a few students would attempt the task during their study time on that first day.  I modeled the task by taking a card, sharing my quote and excitedly posting it beneath my picture on the front bulletin board.  I peeked around the room looking for their reactions and hoping they would take the challenge.

It was close to the end of the day, when Larry came up to me and said, “You know those quotes you told us about, I think I might have one!”  “Really, ” I responded slowly, “tell me about it.”  Larry continued, “you know how I am researching Yogi Berra, well, there was a quote on his website.”  I said, “tell me more.”  Larry continued, ” Yogi said, it ain’t over ’til it is over!”  I started to giggle and almost cry.  Larry had really got it, he understood the challenge in his own way.  It reminded me that the year is far from over and every minute counts to the very end.  Thanks Larry and even more importantly, Yogi Berra.

The next day another student came up quickly and held up a piece of paper.  “What is this?”  I asked.  “That quote,” she responded.  “You know that chapter book you gave me to read, well, can I write a quote that inspires me from the story?”  “Oh, my gosh, I couldn’t believe it, my fourth graders were understanding this in a big way!”  I thought to myself.  “You bet, you can quote from the book,”  I smiled at her. 

What an inspiring day for a teacher!  Sometimes, we just need to give a spark and our students can make a beautiful light.  Now we have six beautiful quotes posted on our leadership board.  Can’t wait to see how it unfolds in the next few days.

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Power of Forgiveness

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My Monday seemed like a usual day.  All the school seemed in a buzz to find some sense of routine and so-called normal after almost a week of snow days at home.  It felt good to get back in some kind of usual mode.  My fourth grade class was bustling to get to lunch on time and we had to pause waiting for the younger class to find their usual place in the lineup.  The last kindergarten class full of hungry students were rushing to keep up. The teacher was urging them to go at their fastest walking speed.  I gently called out to encourage, “Walking please.”  I don’t think I said it mean or loud or any different than usual.  However, there was one young girl having trouble keeping up with the pace of the line and walking at the same time.

 It was one of those moments, you yearn to tell someone about immediately,  It made the ordinary day extraordinary in a way.  It only took four small words from a very short person,  “will you forgive me?”  I was taken back at first and quickly responded, “you bet I will.” Those words drifted in and out of mind since that moment.  “Hmmm, ”  I mulled over the response as I made my way to the teacher’s lounge with the balancing act of food, mail and drink.   “Forgiveness, it is important for the relationships at school, too.  I just had never heard it from a student.” 

These four simple words from this little voice changed my outlook on the day.  Only if adults could remember these words throughout the day.  We all make mistakes as we are learning to be better.  I thought about how important forgiveness is in order to move on from a situation.  Well, I thought to myself, take my extraordinary moment and use it today when forgiveness is needed.  Sure enough, it worked its magic today.  It was the afternoon writing workshop time and we heard loud giggling from the girl’s bathroom.  Well, we are right across the hall.  I made my announcement at the door leading into the bathroom, “Girls, stop by room 29 when you finish, please.”  The three girls realized what I needed as soon as they entered our classroom.  They told me they were sorry and then I pointed out to the twenty-three students looking toward the front of the room.  The girls automatically chimed, “Sorry.”  I walked the girls to the door and whispered, “we forgive you, try to be quieter in the bathroom.” 

I can’t wait to see how quiet the girls are tomorrow in the bathroom.  I really can’t wait to meet the young kindergarten girl again at lunch.  Her four words shifted my thinking.  It made me think differently about forgiveness and how important our role as teachers can be each extraordinary day at school.  Try forgiveness this week not just with our students and colleagues, but with ourselves.

Memories of Chocolate Chip Cookies

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“Mom, can you make chocolate chip cookies!” asked my daughter. “Sure,” I replied. I thought to myself, “Well, it is Valentine’s Day and we love chocolate chip cookies.”

I dug out the old local church cookbook and turned to the page with all the brown chocolate chip stains. We had used this recipe alot over the years and I knew this was a moment to treasure. Those simple things you remember as a mother and as a daughter. It took me back to when I was young and I held a different role in the chocolate chip cookie experience.

One of my favorite memories was stepping in the back door after riding on Charlie’s school bus for almost forty-five minutes. My senses could detect it as soon as I hit the inside of the garage; “mmmm” the smell of chocolate and sound of the oven buzzer bell as I stepped inside Mom’s kitchen.

“I made you cookies,” mom would exclaim as she lifted them off the cookie sheet dressed in her ruffled apron. She really knew how to make me feel special as she poured the glass of milk for me. It was so much about the timing, the conversations and the loving feeling in that moment. That was just yesterday to me, but realistically it was almost 35 years ago.

I realized then it was the love, not that just the cookies that made those memories so vivid and powerful. I pray I pass along those special memories to my own children. Memories can be so powerful and moving and it only takes something as small and simple as a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

Happy Valentine’s Day!