2018, 2019

I was at a conference a few weeks ago (VSTE), and one of the speakers talked about how blogging helped her be a better educator–kept her conscious of her choices, gave her an opportunity to reflect, and helped her connect with other educators. So, here I am, with a goal for 2019 of reviving this space!

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View from my hotel at VSTE conference

2018 was a crazy year, as they all are, I guess.

We lost both Malcolm and Lucky (beloved cats), which was (and is) rough. Malcolm had been ill for several years, and his passing was as calm and gentle as it could have been, but Lucky’s death came as a huge shock. We miss them both and their sweet natures. We did, however, gain two new kittens, Chicken and Gracie, and they are both incredibly sweet and gentle and fun. We have been extremely lucky in the cat ownership department.

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Malcolm
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The kittens

I had the best summer I’ve ever had–didn’t do any camps, so I had a lot of time to read and rest and write and do therapeutic work that is difficult to do during the school year. I started exercising regularly and eating slightly healthier, and while the last month has seen that all slide away, I think I can pick it back up in the new year. It felt good to be taking better care of myself.

Dan and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in May. !!! We had a fun night out on the town, playing pool at a cool little place and spending the night away from home. Dan has been my rock since pretty much the day I met him. His humor and thoughtfulness are a light.

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Paintings on the wall of the nifty pool bar

 

I read a fair amount this year. Goodreads tells me I read 74 books in 2018, but that includes a number of graphic novels and middle grade books, so isn’t as impressive as it might sound. These were my top titles (ones I gave 4 or 5 stars and that stuck with me; the starred ones are the ones that I liked the most):

Books for adults:

*There There by Tommy Orange. I learned a lot from this book, on top of being blown away by the writing. I want to re-read it at some point because I know I missed things.

*Heavy by Kiese Laymon. Such a brave story, so well written. Laymon’s honesty and vulnerability in writing this book are a model for me with my own writing.

Fight No More by Lydia Millet

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

The Nix by Nathan Hill

The Witch Elm by Tana French

Books for kids/YA:

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon. This is just a really fun read!

Sanity and Tallulah by Molly Brooks

Emergency Contact by Mary Choi

Beavers by Rachel Poliquin

*Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka. So well done, and so moving and real. Captures the complexity of family life.

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin. This is a bizarre book that I resisted at first but ended up being totally enamored with.

*The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis. I want this one to win all the awards. Curtis is a masterful writer, and I just can’t even express how much I loved this book.

 

Work has been good. My days start at 7:30 a.m. with a pile of kids waiting at the door because they want to use the Makerspace or get books first thing, and I just haven’t gotten immune to it. I’m moved every time I see that crew waiting, and often the day just flows from there. I’m happiest when I’ve got a lot of classes coming and the library is humming with activity and just a touch of chaos.

I feel like I’m in transition, or the library is in transition, as the curriculum changes in the English department and I’m trying to find the best way for the library to support and integrate with the new curriculum. I’m also trying to better integrate visible thinking routines into research instruction, which I think I am making harder than it needs to be. To a great extent, I feel like I am getting in my own way sometimes by wanting to perfect things in my mind before trying them out, when I know that the only way to make progress is to just get out there and try things. When we come back from break, we are starting a new unit with 5th grade that will be a chance to try out some of these ideas on a large scale, and I’m hopeful about how it will go. Part of my goal to blog again is because it’s a motivator for me to try new things–it gives me something to write about and reflect on!

On the home front, we have a senior in the house, which is so bizarre! An adult! The college process was easy–one advantage of a stubborn kid? She applied to two schools, got into both, got scholarship from her second choice (U of South Carolina), and is going to go there. Fairly simple. Paying for it will be less simple, but we’ll work it out. This last year has been challenging for the kid in a lot of ways, but she continues to make us laugh pretty much daily, she’s got a great group of pals, and she is making her own way in the world. I used to think I had a clear sense of what she’ll be like as an adult, but now I think I have no idea. It’s an adventure, parenting this strange creature who is so much like me in many ways and yet so incredibly NOT like me in many others.

Mostly, I feel blessed. I have interesting, fun, and supportive friends and family. I have a job I love that continues to provide challenge and room for growth. My health is good. I have love in my life. My country is falling apart around me, and that can’t be ignored or minimized, but my corner of the world is a blessed corner. For today, that is what I will focus on.

Goals for 2019:

  1. Push myself to take more risks (in my writing, at work, in therapy).
  2. Figure out the financial picture in light of college expenses.
  3. Be more generous.
  4. Listen and think before speaking.
  5. Assume best intentions before reacting.
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