Monday, July 25, 2011

Last Week of July

It's Monday, my last unscheduled day for a while, and I'm already creating lists. There is a value in planning, setting goals and looking towards the future. There is also value in having down time. July is quickly coming to an end, August is only a week away. There is so much planned for the weeks between now and the start of the new school year, I know the time will fly by. My summer list hasn't been completed (are they ever?), but I've managed to accomplish a lot from it.
August, a time to savor the last few weeks of summer with family time in places far from home, pack up the kids and send them off to school, shop the back-to-school sales and enjoy the glorious "Dog Days" of summer.
I'd like time to slow down, but it never does. The kids are grown, attending college and building futures that will take them away from here. I'm sure my mom felt this way too. I don't remember. From my perspective then time didn't move fast enough. I was always in a hurry for the next step from high school to driving to college to moving in to my own place. I understand better then ever that old Simon and Garfunkel song 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy.)
What I need to remember is to slow down, even when it's September and I'm beginning another year with a new class and my list has grown in length. I need to take the time to savor the moments, connect with my students and others, and feel "groovy."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mid Summer Planning

It's hot today, too hot to be outside weeding or mowing the lawn. I'm inside and find myself working on ideas, resources and plans for the upcoming year. Yes, I know it's over a month away, but I just can't help myself. Most summers I spend some time in my classroom, reorganizing and reflecting. This summer I can't as the school is under construction and I won't be able to work there until the week before the start of school. Perhaps I'm a bit anxious about getting my room ready to welcome my new students. Perhaps I'm just avoiding the projects I should be accomplishing around the house. Whatever the reason I've found myself creating new Flipcharts for my interactive whiteboard, reading educational journals and selections from books and trying to come up with a beginning of the year theme to hook my students. While the time I spend on this isn't helping cross items off my "to-do" list, I know it will be worth it. It's a bit like growing a garden, you need to weed a bit and fertilize too if you want the best results.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Old Videos - Windows to the past

It's summer, so I have less structured days. I teach fifth grade and from the middle of June until the middle of August I have time to tackle projects that have been put off during the school year. This summer, as I created my "list," I decided it was time to finally move all of our old videos into a digital format to preserve them.
I was amazed at the hours and hours of video that I found. Tapes in boxes and on shelves seemed to multiply as I attempted my task. After importing a video, I would watch to see what was truly worth preserving and what could be left behind. Each tape provided a glimpse into the proverbial "rear view mirror" starting with our wedding. I was able to see not only how I changed, but how others did as well. I cherished the opportunity to look on in fast-forward at our kids growing up and to see once again loved ones who are no longer with us. Sure we look older, have added a bit of weight and extra laugh lines, but the most remarkable discovery was our non-scripted conversations. These conversations spoke volumes about who we were and who we would become.
We are all on a journey, our learning never comes to an end. We grow and change. Our experiences help shape us. It's good to look back through the windows of the past to see where we were and allow us to reflect on that journey and what may lie ahead of us on the road to the future.
I am not nearly finished with this project. It has taken hours and hours already. I've learned along the way how to import video from various tape formats, how to clip movies and the steps required to move them to a DVD format. 1987 - 2000 will be preserved before mid-August. It's my goal. I'll need to save the rest for next summer.
As I wait for yet another DVD to render and burn I began to think of how this process parallels the learning in my classroom. Looking back to beginnings in September, first steps and how we have grown over the year helps us look ahead too. These windows to the past help us reflect and celebrate. We determine what we will do next based on our past experiences. Life is a journey, not a destination. Our teaching needs to reflect this too.