Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Little Engine that CAN

Sorry to hit you with such a bummer post last night. I try not to take things my students say and do personally (especially since so many of them are not mature enough to make good decisions about their words and actions 100% of the time), but it's hard sometimes. I'm happy to say that this morning I am feeling much better, thanks in part to this:

I have a a confession: I don't like Starbucks very much. But come fall, like many, I am all over the pumpkin spice latte. I can't help myself!

Did you know that today is the first day of fall? Last night, B and I celebrated by making a very fall dinner, Heather's Roasted Acorn Squash Chili!

I think I roasted my squash a little too long because it was very mushy and kind of fell apart when I stirred it into the chili, but overall this was a really yummy dish. I especially love the roasted squash seeds on top!

In other fall news, I picked these up at Safeway last weekend:

Hello, lover...

I'm planning to make a batch of Pumpkin Blueberry Muffins this evening. Yum!

As many of you know, I teach junior high English. This is actually my first year teaching at the junior high level - for the last three years I have taught high school, mostly 9th and 12th grade. Teaching junior high has been fun, but also challenging for me. I have to be a lot more sensitive when I am giving student's consequences for bad behavior because they get their feelings hurt very easily (and I have a tendency to be sarcastic). There are also a lot of touchy-feely community-building activities that we are expected to do with our Advisory class (it's kind of like homeroom and meets once a week), and I am not a very touchy-feely person. 

Yesterday, we had one of those activities. I went into it thinking, "Well, at least the kids will be occupied during Advisory!" but it actually ended up being a really cool experience. Basically, the kids were given strips of paper and were instructed to write down things they are good at on each strip of paper. On one strip they had to say one activity they were good at, on another one academic thing they were good at, on another what their family would say they were good at, and on another what their friends would say. Then, they linked all their papers together to form one long chain that I put up in my room:

The idea, of course, is that we're all good at many things and that we are all connected somehow. Very touchy-feely. :)

As I struggled to stand on the top rung of my ladder and staple this massive paper chain to my wall (all the while thinking, I am totally going to fall and get hurt and no one will even know because my classroom is hidden and no one ever comes out here), I thought about how neat it was that my students had the opportunity to reflect on positive things in their lives. Their strips said cute things like: reading, making people laugh, listening, playing soccer and funny things like: doing my hair, texting, riding a bike with no hands, eating pizza.

We focus so much on the things we can't do. I can't run a sub-8 minute mile. I can't swim in open water. I can't do math. I can't find the time to get all my laundry put away before I have to do another load. It's kind of a bummer! Today I am going to celebrate the things I can do.
  • I can be a great wife.
  • I can teach 150 seventh graders how to write analytical paragraphs (it's hard!)
  • I can cook a lot of things.
  • I can be in control of what my family eats.
  • I can run a half-marathon.
  • I can read really fast.
  • I can, I can, I can...

What can you do/What are you good at?