I fell behind in my writing these past few days. The last week of school before Winter Break is always a crazy time. Christmas is near and when you are five, that is all you can think about. I teach twenty-four kindergarteners and learned many valuable lessons over the years. I learned to adjust my lesson plans for this amazing week in a child’s life. I know that I must remain calm above all else, speak in a quiet voice, and don’t make any quick movements. If I allow myself to show any amount of energy or passion, the little bodies in my room will explode. I am not totally successful in this as I am also feeling the excitement of the season. But I am the adult and should know better. So I now make valiant attempts to integrate students’ writing into making greeting cards for all their family members. Then I let them go full steam ahead in making their gifts and wrappings for their families using as many varied art supplies and techniques as possible. This is what kindergarten used to be. Exploration. Creation. Developing fine motor skills. Having fun. It is gone from the classrooms of today. We must now teach to the test. Yes, we have to do that even in kindergarten. It is tragic, but that’s what administrators and legislators demand of the classroom teacher. So we must. But this last school week of the year, I stand up for what I think is best for children. I trust in my instincts and revel in the joyful sounds of children at work.
The first three days of this week are dedicated to making one gift a day. The students can decide who each gift is for, with guidance from me making sure their primary caregivers are taken care of. I use the fourth day, Thursday, to tie up loose ends and the afternoon hour is spent watching a movie, of my choice. This year Leroy handed me “Mary Poppins” as I was rushing out the door. I don’t have a large selection of “new” movies for kids and didn’t have time to borrow one. But I trusted Leroy’s suggestion and pulled out of the driveway with Mary’s umbrella peaking out of my bookbag. I was saddened that only three of my twenty-four had seen Mary. But it was magic watching them discover her. The beginning of the film is a bit slow for today’s audience, but once Mary arrived, it was sheer genius. They were quiet, laughed heartily, and were disappointed when we had to stop before it was finished. They came bustling in on Friday morning begging to finish the movie. As Friday progressed, as always, my little ones found it harder and harder to focus. By the time they came back from P.E. in mid-afternoon, it was hopeless. They were so excited for our class party and to get on with their preparations for the Magic Day, they were no longer listening to me. I am sharing this as my feeble excuse for not writing. I fell asleep around 7:30 each night this week. But as I look back on this post, I see the glimmers of my responses to the last three prompts sprinkled throughout my week.
December 16 – Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)
Leroy, my husband of 31 years, is my best friend. When I’m in a pinch, he is there. Whether it’s making coffee for an early morning or finding the right video, he never lets me loose into the world unarmed. We have grown up together and ventured out into the world as one. We worked together for over thirteen years touring to schools doing plays and workshops for preschool and primary-aged children. I became a teacher just ten years ago and he continues on with the theatre work. It is here that my friend is leading me to change my perspective of our world.
Last year Leroy began auditioning for “adult” plays. It’s not what you think. I guess I should use the term “grown-up” plays in contrast to the shows he does at the schools. He missed acting for adults and so he auditioned. He was cast. Since that first show, he has either been performing in a play or in rehearsals for the next one without a break. He is amazing and flourishing. Here is where my new perspective comes in. We are no longer working on the same “project.” We are now forging ahead on different paths. This is not to say we are diverging from one another. The opposite is true. We now have things to talk about at dinner since neither of us was with the other all day. We are sharing a new found wonderment of art. We are becoming artists, each in our own way. He is an actor who still writes. I am a teacher who is becoming a writer. His absence, since he is gone most evenings, has forced me to step out of my own comfortable existence and start exploring the world through my pen. We are not straying from one another, but bringing new experiences to the table, enriching each other as individuals and as a couple. The roads we are taking curve and wind and weave together and apart giving us the luxury of experiencing the world in a whole new way.
December 17 – Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)
This hearkens back to my wise woman musings a few days ago. I am proud that I am taking a stance, small as it is, to believe in myself as a teacher and do what I know is good for my students, at least occasionally. I am listening to that wise woman. I need to do it more, in all aspects of my life.
It took a trip into the mountains and knee injury to make me realize I am my wise woman in all I do. I will listen to her with a more focused ear. I will trust her because she doesn’t make ridiculous decisions. She may not always make the perfect decision, but it will be hers and hers to own. And she needs to take herself much less seriously and enjoy the life that has been given, a wonderful and beautiful life.
December 18 – Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it? (Author: Kaileen Elise)
Oh, this is easy. I am going to continue to write for me. When I get into the mindset of wanting my work to “go somewhere”, I start to feel it as a burden. When I want my plays to be produced or win contests, I get depressed because that never happens. But when I sit down and read what I’ve written, it’s almost as though I can’t remember writing it. I surprise myself sometimes that I could write with such words. It makes me happy that I can create with just little marks on a screen. But that is only the beginning.
I took two classes last year to continue my growth as a writer. One was how to use Photoshop Elements. The other was with the Center for Digital Storytelling to make a story into a short movie. Mix those two together with being inspired by two friends – Deb Daley and Ken Crost – who work in digital photography creating beautiful pieces, and I am on my way to learn how to combine my writing with digital art. I will simply be posting this work on my blog as my way of sharing. I love creating.
One more thing…I will continue to meet every week with the Wednesday Afternoon Writers. These friends amaze me with their courage to share their writing each week. Don’t tell them this, but I’m going to encourage us to create a Facebook page to share our work. Shhh! I don’t want to scare them away, but I think we’re ready for it.