Thursday, August 20, 2015

New School Year, New Adventures

Teachers report back tomorrow in my school district, so it will be a day full of meetings and preparing for the new school year.  Of course most have been going in all month to set up their classrooms, plan lessons, and get ready for the new group of students.   I haven't!  I officially retired on June 3rd, after teaching for 28 years, 25 of them at the same school.

People have been asking me all summer, how it feels to be retired, and I have been saying, "It feels like summer."  Now that my friends are talking about setting up their classrooms, it is beginning to feel like retirement.  It is very odd to see the pictures my friends are posting of their classrooms, and to not be part of that.

To be honest, I thought I would be sadder than I am, but I am pretty excited about the new adventures I am beginning to embark on.  I have spent the summer gardening.  I grow a lot of perennials, and this summer I had the honor of having my yard declared the Yard of the Week.  Well I was excited and honored at first, then it began to feel like pressure.  There is always more mowing and more weeding to do.

My back yard has a vegetable garden that gets a little bigger each year.  I already have plans to expand it more next year.

One of the great bonuses of being retired, is that when everything becomes ripe and needs to be canned, I will actually have time to do it this year.  I just made my first batch of sweet pickles earlier this week.  We also had our first corn from the garden.  This is the first year that I have tried growing corn.  I am a city girl, but I feel like a pioneer when I grow my own food.

Retirement also gives me more time for all my other hobbies.  I spend a lot of time knitting and I have been taking knitting and crochet classes all summer, and yesterday I just bought a brand new sewing machine.

It will be so nice to have more time to devote to these creative pursuits.  Earlier this summer I turned the background fabric from my bulletin boards into these pillow cases.

I think they turned out pretty darned good.  I was also impressed with the fact that the fabric had not faded.  It had been up in my classroom for the past 12 years.

While I have left the fourth grade classroom, retirement does not mean I am done with education.  On Tuesday I finished taking an online class about teaching online.  This is one of the OLLIE classes offered by our state Area Education Agency.  OLLIE stands for On Line Learning for Iowa Educators.  This is the 4th class in a series of five, that I have taken.  This one was about facilitation of an online class.  I learned a lot, and I may teach online in the future.

My newest adventure is volunteering at the school where a friend is the principal.  This is a much more diverse school than the one where I have been teaching.  In the next few weeks I will be working with students on reading and writing skills.  There are 38 different languages spoken by the families that make up this school.  I have asked to be included in some of the ELL staff development, because I have little experience in this area.  I have a lot to learn!  Later in the school year, it is also likely that I will fill in as a substitute teacher, both at this school and at the one where I have spent the past twenty-five years.  I also hope to do some of my digital story telling with students at both schools.

I wonder if I can fit all this stuff in?  "Retired" I may be, but once a teacher, always a teacher, and if you are a teacher, you are always a student as well.  So I am still learning and still taking notes.  My classroom has just moved.  This school year is going to be a lot different than the last 28, and I am very excited about my new adventures.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dream House

For a creative lesson about being yourself and living your dreams, I love the book, The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater.  I've had this little book since the days when I taught first grade, which was more than 17 years ago.   I wasn't sure if it was still in print, but I found it here on Amazon, if you are interested.

Mr. Plumbean lives in a nice neat neighborhood until a bird drops orange paint on his house.  Instead of repainting his house to look like his neighbor's house, he creates the house of his dream.  As Mr. Plumbean says,

This book provides a great opportunity to discuss theme, and what the author wants us to learn.

We designed the houses of our dreams. Here are a few.

We had a lot of fun with this.