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October 2013
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December 2013

November 2013 entries

Birthday Road Trip!

Gabrielle Rebekah is 7 today! She wanted to return to The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, NY for her present. It's been a fun day (we are on hour #6 right now)!

As I watch other people and their children interact, I am struck by how awesome our kids are, if you will allow me to brag for a moment. Gabrielle and Aidan are always helping younger children and even Liam is great about sharing and using manners. I know they are young, but I am proud of who they are becoming already!

And Ellie-- 7?! How did that happen? What adorable, intelligent, and creative little girl we have!

Birthday Road Trip!

Birthday Road Trip!

Birthday Road Trip!


Gratitude Letters: A Late Night Text

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I have to share this late-night text I received from a student: "that thank you letter made my dad cry, I'm really glad you had us write those letters because It made me realize how much I mean to them. Thank you."

Another student actually wrote her gratitude letter to me this year! It was one of my theatre kids who thanked me for seeing potential in her and who said that her life would not be the same without me. What a humbling thought!

On this beautiful day, I am entirely thankful for my health and family and freedom. I'm thankful for my job and the opportunity to influence the lives of young people.

Have a blessed day!


Advent Wreath

Tonight at church we had a moms group project of making an Advent centerpiece. The big kids had piano lessons so I went alone and made my first decent-looking live arrangement, thanks to the guidance of a local nursery owner. She encouraged us to say a prayer for our families with each branch, and so I took my time and contemplated the many blessings in my life. Advent should be a time of waiting and stillness and contemplation. (Despite corporate America's push to make Christmas start November 1...)

While Advent doesn't start for a couple of more weeks, I am looking forward to lighting the candles of our wreath together as a family as we try to stay focused on the true meaning of our holiday seasons.

Advent Wreath

Advent Wreath

Advent Wreath

Advent Wreath

Advent Wreath


Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

I love this time of year in B206. Each November, I assign an "Attitude of Gratitude" letter to my English classes. I try to impress upon my students that we tend to take a lot of things and people for granted in our lives. We watch a couple of thought-provoking videos about the power of gratitude. (Did you know that the #1 contributing factor to happiness is how much gratitude you express?) We brainstorm about what about and who to write to. ("Mrs. Connor, is it is OK if I do more than one letter?")

Today, their rough drafts were due. I read each letter, commenting on their work, making suggestions. I love that by this time of the school year, my students feel close enough to me to share personal stories and struggles with me. Their letters were great. I am always pushing my students to "support their claims with evidence," and I'm happy to report that even in these thank-you letters, my students' writing is rich with details and illustrations, from heart-warming stories of cookies with Grandma to heart-wrenching letters thanking mentors for being "the father I never had." My Honors English 11 students are reading Jeannette Walls' stunning memoir The Glass Castle, so their appreciation radar is beyond sensitive right now. After reading about the serious neglect and poverty of the Walls children, my students have voiced a heightened awareness of how truly fortunate they are.

The next step is for my students to polish their letters and have them ready for delivery over Thanksgiving break. I tell them that they can blame any awkward moments of "Uh...I wrote you this letter" on their crazy English teacher who made them write a thank you letter. Some students mail their letters, some hand-deliver them, and one or two writers over the years have made a trip to the cemetery to read their letters at the gravesides of loved ones.

When they return from break, I ask them to write a journal reflection about their experience -- how did it feel to express gratitude? how did the recipient of their letter respond? how did this assignment change their outlook on life?

Maybe it's not on the Keystone Exam for English, but I find this assignment to have a lot of merit and meaning in the lives of my students. Many of them said something along the lines of, "I really should not have waited until now to tell you this..." or "I know this is for an assignment, but I really mean everything I wrote in this letter. I am who I am today because of you." If I can help my students appreciate those in their lives who love them and who make sacrifices for them -- then I have done my small part in making this world a better place.

And for that, I am truly thankful.


Liamisms

Me: "L-I-A-M. What does that spell?"
L: "Meeee!!"

M: "Liam, what do you want to do when you grow up?"
L: "Eat food."

M: "Liam, what do you want to be when you are bigger."
L: "You! I'm going to be a mommy."

M: "A mommy? Are you going to have a baby in your belly?"
L: "No!!! I'm too tiny."


What a Run!

We had a really successful fall play this year! I had a lot of young actors in the cast, and I am very proud of what they accomplished. Many members of the student body came to the show as well, and we were very well received.

Our next drama projects include a one-act version of James and the Giant Peach as a canned food drive for St. Anthony's soup kitchen, and of course, the spring musical Pippin.

What a fun year!!

What a Run!

What a Run!