Our Morning Routine

 

Z and I have a morning routine that when it works, works well. I get up at 5:30, dress, have a cup of coffee, pack our lunches, then sit for 5 minutes and maybe try to catch the weather. Around 6, Z calls for me and I go pick him up if he’s not ready to be awake, or he trots to the living room. He eats a light breakfast on the couch, a homemade muffin or Cheerios usually while I finish my coffee. I coax him to get dressed, we brush teeth, bundle up, grab a favorite toy, and coffee (always coffee!) and we’re off!

This is our vehicle of choice along with this for warmth. We have one car and I don’t really drive so we walk. Rain or shine, snow, bitter cold or blistering heat, we walk. It’s my favorite time of day. These are the things we just have to stop and visit. We live just outside of Boston so it’s a busy street. Lots to see!

More pictures are also here.

All snuggled in!

The road ahead!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Lights!

 

Keep going, Mama!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

We always stop and look at the stuffed creatures in this store window.

 
 

Choo-choo tracks! The best part.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The bell tolls 7:00.

 
 

Construction site. Almost to school!

Musings on a Monday

As I emerge from the mountain of grading the end of the term brings and the four IEPs I have to write along with the progress reports, my mind wanders to my weekend. I’ve decided to write about it instead of my work as our IEP Writing system program is down. Oh well.

 Such a nice weekend. Beautiful warm weather here for January. Z and I took lots of long walks and got treats and coffee at our local bakery. We played outside for hours with dried beans and little toys and threw a basketball around. We visited choo choo tracks and waited for a train. He took a long nap so I got to read the paper, write a little bit, almost finish up a hat. The warm winter here has made me itch for spring. I’m so excited to start our garden in our little yard this year. Last year was a trial run.

 The day’s almost over here and it went pleasantly quickly. I want to rush out of here, grab groceries and go home to the mayhem that the house turns into with “boys’ day”. When Papa is in charge the dishes pile up, the toys are everywhere, there is no nap. But I get a wonderfully sleepy, happy little boy at the end of the day. Sometimes you just have to bite your tongue and let it be.

Walking Meditation in a Winter Wonderland

I’ve read a bit on walking meditation as I’ve always been a dedicated walker due to being not much of a driver or into “working out”. So this type of meditation always seemed to be one I could see working for me. Sunday, after battles over snowsuits and appropriate winter attire, (No, you cannot wear your yellow hard hat instead of your warm, winter hat in 20 degree weather!) we set out to explore the newly fallen snow. (Finally, snow!) A toddler is a master lesson in walking meditation. Z was totally focused on one step in front of the other in his boots as he explored snow on bushes, climbing curbside mountains, scooping snow up with a wooden spoon. There was little conversation, just quiet. We wandered into the local park and he unburied favorite toys. It was amazing to watch him take in the newness of the familiar world around him. Before I had a kid, I did not look forward to the snow as it made traveling where I wanted to go difficult for me. This year, I was disappointed how long we had to wait for the first snowfall. Without it, winter is just cold and gray and dreary. The whiteness of the snow sparkles everything up. Later that afternoon, after a two-sandwich lunch, he conked out for a long, winter’s nap. After seeing him, I’d like to try a walking meditation myself being mindful of the world through the eyes of a toddler.

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Grading, Grading, Grading

It’s near the end of the term here so as you can guess, I have a stack of grading to do. As I write down my 73%s and maybe an 85%, I feel a little sad inside. Grading a group of special education students is difficult, because how do you grade them? Especially with writing when they ALL have some sort of disability that makes writing hard for them. Do I grade them against their best work, what I know they can do? Do I grade the kids who strive to be in a regular ELA class against regular education kids so they know what they’re up against?

It’s tricky because if I grade too hard, they lose confidence. However, if I grade too easily, they become complacent. I would prefer not to grade at all and just write more extensive comments but they strive for that number, that measurement. And sometimes the kid who does no work, makes no effort really needs to see that F. I think often special education students expect to be pulled through, to pass, even if they are not willing to put in the effort. I often tell parents I can’t modify your kid’s work until I see what he can do. And right now he’s not doing anything. How do you modify nothing?

Tonight was one of those nights I’m not proud of. Z is phasing out of his nap and hasn’t napped for three days. Although I miss the time, bedtime has been quicker and he’s slept better at night and a little later in the morning. Today at daycare, he napped and had a great day but came home and was whining and complaining nonstop. He would not take no for an answer but would just ask for the same thing over and over again like a broken record. Finally when he was watching his nightly video and complaining about THAT, I lost it. I said no movie, go to bed. Not my most mindful moments. What toddler takes no for an answer and I should know it’s hard to hold it together all day. Of course, he’s going to lose it a little bit at home. But there’s something about listening to middle schoolers (and sometimes other teachers!) complain all day and then have to listen to it at home too that can wear on you after a while.

We went to his room and after a little crying and fussing and a goodnight talk from Papa, he surprisingly turned it around and we had a lovely time reading stories and singing songs together. When I left the room, I heard the pitter-patter of feet and some chatting, but now it’s quiet and I’ll go shut the door soon. I think he was begging for me to put him to bed.

Now for knitting mittens and Modern Family and early bed. I hope!

Mindful Moment

This morning was one of those rushed, get out the door type of mornings. Last night I went to a Mindful Schools seminar. The presenter mentioned that when a toddler has a tantrum, often we try to change the feeling. (Wanna cookie?) He suggested acknowledging the feeling and not trying to change it. It totally worked!

This morning Z. (my son) freaked out and was starting to tantrum because the balloon he had gotten the day before had run out of helium and so it wouldn’t float to the ceiling. I asked him if he was sad and if he wanted to feel sad together. He said yes and we sat and felt sad for about 10 seconds and then he said he wanted to go brush his teeth which is what I had been trying to get him to do anyway! It worked really well.

Of course we had another tantrum right before he left because he wanted “bookies”. No idea what that is. This was combined with my husband trying to rush us out the door. Hence, meltdown!

Top 10 Pieces of advice for being a Teacher who Moms

In no particular order…

1. Don’t be afraid to leave right after school and arrive right before school (some days). Ignore the twenty-year olds who arrive at 6 and leave at 6 (and talk incessantly about it.) Ignore the evil eyes of the ones who are two days from retirement. If you’re set to go for the next day, leave.

2. Use your prep periods and your lunch. Gone are the days of chatting and wiling those away. Use those times for what you need to do so you can follow piece of advice #1.

3. For breastfeeding moms-this was the hardest for me and I confess do as I, not as I did. Try to pump in your classroom or be vocal about being provided a place to pump. Don’t end up in a gross staff bathroom (or worse yet a student bathroom stall) with angry teachers knocking down the door. Believe me, it sucks.

4. Try not to bring work home. Especially weekends. You won’t do it and you can’t always count on naptime. If you are in a busy grading time and you have to bring work home, try to bring the mindless stuff and structure a time to work on it. When I was in IEP progress note time, I told myself I would work on hour a night after my son’s bedtime. It really helped.

5. Leave any frustrations with students at work. Try to switch your mind over to just being a mom. This can be the hardest and most important. It’s hard to have demands made on you all day and then face more of the same at home. Try not to think about your students at home and focus on your kid.

6. Take an afternoon off for yourself every once in a while. Leave right after school, go get a coffee, go get a haircut, something so you’re not making the teacher to mom switch in ten seconds.

7. Put up pictures of your family at work, especially if you’re just coming back after maternity leave. It helps.

8. Be assertive about your limits…but remember you’re not the only teacher who moms out there. Chances are, there are many women you work with who have gone through it. But cut back on the committee volunteering and dance chaperoning at least while you have the super young ‘uns. Most people will understand.

9. Be grateful! You’re not doing the 9 to 5 grind and picking up your kid at 6. You get summers off and any teacher who says that isn’t a huge perk is a big liar by the way. You can take your kid to the park in the afternoon and do the stay-at-home mom thing in the summer.

10. As every parenting advice article or book will tell , get into a routine. Especially in those late afternoons before dinner. Even if it involves some tv shows.

New Readings of Old Books

The past two years I’ve been teaching ELA to a group of students with IEPs.  I’ve been teaching for almost ten years so many of the books I teach in this class, I’ve taught before.  I noticed this year that motherhood has really changed my perspective on this literature and I wonder how much it’s affected my teaching (I hope for the better!)

For example, one of the books, actually a play, is The Miracle Worker by William Gibson.  If you haven’t read it, it’s the story of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan and how Annie Sullivan taught Helen Keller language (hence the “miracle”).  I was in this play in high school and I always found it kind of melodramatic, especially the part of Helen’s mother, Kate.  If you watch the movie, you’ll see why.  Lots of crying and screaming.

But this year when I taught it, I caught myself feeling so sad for Kate.  I was trying to explain to the kids why Kate lost and gained a child at the same time and why she would be grieving for Helen when Helen was still alive.  A couple of them got it, most of them looked at me blankly because probably it really wasn’t really the main focus of the play and I was getting a little worked up about it.  Still, it was interesting to have the total opposite reaction to this character.

We also read The Giver by Lois Lowry.  This is a more science fiction-y novel and in it a baby is in danger of being killed.  Even though I had taught the book before and knew the ending, I was so worried for this baby and I kept wanting to rush out and get to my own baby.  I don’t know if it’s maternal instinct or guilt or what but it was one of the strongest, most primal, feelings of protectiveness I’ve felt in a long time.