all in a week’s . . .

August 17, 2014

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Sometimes the most effective lessons don’t start as a plan. This week I stumbled into one of the best start-of-the-year ideas I’ve had as a teaching librarian.
It began with a Pre-Kindergarten lesson in what to do and not to do in the library. I used a popular children’s book about what a child gets in trouble for a lot at home, and what he then learns about how much his mother loves him in the midst of the scolding. For each of the scenarios, I acted out a library-version of what he might get in trouble for. This led to some laughs, as one might imagine. I ended, however, on a more « serious » note, telling them how much I love having them all in the library, and how excited I am for a new year of library class.
What got a bit more interesting, for me at least, was when one of the upper elementary classes came in. At the last minute, I scrapped the lesson I did have in mind. Instead, I played up how « old » and « experienced » they all were now in the ways things work around here . . .
You guys are now the TOP DOGS of elementary, aren’t you? You already know the way things work. You don’t need to hear all the rules . . . But you know what? I bet you guys would do an awesome job teaching those little kindergarteners all the things you know—wouldn’t you?
A series of eager nods ensued.
Why don’t we pretend now that you all are showing them how it’s done? Let’s read a book to to them — imagine all those cute little ones sitting right over here — and use it to show THEM all the things you already know? 
I then proceeded with a production that looked very similar to the one done for the littlest ones . . . except this time my antics provided a great deal more amusement to the audience.
What I realized, after the fact, was that this was probably the most effective way I could have begun the year with this age group. They would likely have had a short attention span for any proper rule reminders, thinking that indeed they already know it all. But with some being new to the school, this allowed me to sneak in all the rules, for the newbies as well as for the « oldies » who just might actually need that rule reminder after all :-)
Today at fellowship we talked, in the kids’ room, about things we were « asking » for this next school year. I « asked » for the wisdom to know what I do best, as a teacher and a librarian, and the confidence to do it. Perhaps not a standard way of interacting with ones’ own students but I don’t mind. When it comes down to it, I think that little ones need to see us being real. We all, for that matter, need to see each other being real.
After fellowship I requested that we all sit in a circle for a photo op. They asked me why I wanted a picture of their feet and I admitted that I wasn’t sure why I did . . but here we are :-)

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in the midst

August 10, 2014

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In the midst of a stress-filled workday, consumed by my worries over not being prepared enough, qualified enough, mentally ready, for the first week of school, I am comforted by your email. The thought of you, better and better-ing, eases my heart and gives a much-needed dose of reality – reminding that the real things of importance go so much deeper than the school day deadlines.
I wrote these words in an email this week. The words were true, and from the heart. The manner in which I wrote them, however, I must admit to have been rushed . . . and as much “in the midst” of that stress as I was trying to write to counteract. Knowledge, you see, so far as how frazzled I feel, does not seem to equate to an ability to counter that frazzled-ness. So I find myself wondering: how do you maintain sanity in the middle of it? Or, perhaps, if you must become insane, how to you do so in a manner true to who you really are, insane and all? The reason I’m thinking about this , in this particular fashion, is that some of the time I suspect that people end up sucked into others’ stresses and, at times, even, running in circles with the rest of the crowd without necessarily accomplishing much of anything. So how, I wonder, do you maintain a firm grasp on what exactly is your responsibility? What should you focus on? What do you do best?
Lately, I’ve been struggling with a severe sense of inadequacy. I look around me at the teachers I work with and wonder how in the world they manage to get everything in order so seemingly effortlessly? But after struggling with that feeling for some time, with no one else catching on to my comparative inability, another question enters my mind. Is it possible that others are laboring under the same sense of inadequacy as well? What if we are just all in this figuring-things-out game together? And the more I mull over this suspicion, the more likely it begins to feel to me.
Perhaps, just now, on this Sunday evening, my particular responsibility [considering the fact that lesson plans are in order and classroom set up, so far as I can tell] is to sit with my husband. Perhaps I should focus on repenting for the impatience I have displayed as I let my stress out on the one who least deserves it. Perhaps what I can do best is to be the quirky, creative soul that He made me to be, and not try to figure out who else I should try to be . . .
In the meantime, the sun sets outside our home. Standing over the sink, washing the last of our dinner dishes, I see the glow. « Ah, » I think, getting my camera to snap the shot. « This makes it all worthwhile . . . »