* TToT: 2019 is almost over!

Thanks to Kristi and her co-hosts for this week’s Ten Things of Thankful. 2019 has been a tough year, with a record number of trips to the emergency room, lots of job changes, surgery, and illnesses. A wise man once said that we should be thankful with the cards we’re dealt; there may be some Jokers in the next hand. Well, he didn’t say it quite like that, but I’m ready for a new hand of cards.

I’ll begin my ten things by saying I’m glad to have recovered from a nasty sinus infection (#1). And my dearest teaching widower (DTW) created a silver lining by looking after me (#2), keeping me outfitted in tea and chocolate (#3).

We are going to see the Star Wars movie tonight (#4) and because of all the cough syrup I’ve taken (#5), I won’t disturb the crowd.

On the home front, I was well enough today to chase a herd of deer out of our front yard (#6) but it was too nippy to add seeds to the bird feeders (#6 minus 1…oops!). I have a special Christmas party planned for a special student tomorrow! It’s gonna be fantastic (#6 again, plus #7).

Another benefit of being ill is binge-watching TV with my precious teaching widower (#8). I’d highly recommend Blue Bloods, a fine series about the (fictional) Irish-American Reagan family and their commitment to law enforcement (#9).

If you’re a sci-fi fan, you may enjoy The Expanse as much as I do (#10). My DTW has deserted me on this one. It’s a gripping series about life on Earth, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt (centuries from now). I think my DTW can’t stand that flashlight technology will never improve….

Both Blue Bloods and The Expanse are streaming on Amazon.

It’s great to be back in the blogging saddle. Thanks for joining me!

* And the award goes to…

Pete Springer!

Pete is a new blogger and author of a terrific book about his teaching experiences, “They Call Me Mom.” For those of you who haven’t checked out Pete’s blog, you’re in for a treat. He is a retired teacher who has always dreamed of writing children’s books and has one for middle school students on the way. Pete also continues to serve others through his volunteer work, helping to support literacy and teachers who need a boost.

The Liebster Award is especially for outstanding bloggers who are are new to this online world. It is given in recognition of super posts, while encouraging the author to hunt down other new bloggers and share the award.

Pete, you just need to answer these questions and then find two other bloggers who are also deserving of this award. You can create your own questions for them or use the ones below.

  • What led you into the world of blogging?
  • What has most surprised you about this online world?
  • How do you decide what to post? Do you have a schedule or routine for your blog?
  • Tell us one thing about yourself that we would never have imagined.
  • What has been the greatest difficulty you’ve faced as a new blogger?
  • What would you tell someone who is considering starting a blog?

Be sure to head over to Pete’s blog and congratulate him on his Liebster Award!

* Victory before the victory

What on earth is ‘victory before the victory?’ Is it systemic cheating as featured in the movie Bad Genius? Is it positive self-talk? A new type of name-it-claim-it hysteria?

No, no, and no. Thank you, Kendrick: victory before the victory is a faith-based moment (or even years) when I praise God without knowing the outcome. For me, it’s giving over but not giving up. Praising Him no matter how miserable things look.

I had a serious knee injury at school that left me in a wheelchair for years. I HATED being in a wheelchair (although I did love racing through the hallways). I couldn’t walk more than 20-30 feet on my own. After the first year of despair and much prayer, I said, “Jesus, you bought my body with your own. This is your knee so it’s your problem. I want to be healed but if I must live this way, it’s up to you to keep me. Keep me from bitterness and angst and despair.” I should have added, “And impatience!”

Despite knowing that this was His knee, I perpetually complained about the school wheelchair and grocery store wheelchairs and being below eye level and people staring at me and people asking me how I was doing and people thinking I was healed because I could walk a short distance. I was bugged by relentless kids who said said, “Aha! I saw you standing up!” And I was bugged when I got my wheelchair stuck between tables in the cafeteria. Duh!

But I was content with the disability, even if getting around was a hassle. If this is how things were going to be, God was still in charge and promised to work it for good. Not my problem to fix.

My dearest teaching widower (DTW) and I made three annual trips to the beach after my injury and surgery. My DTW tried to pushed me through the sand the first time and was smart enough to realize that wouldn’t work the next time.

On the third trip, I decided to make it to the stairs by myself. He asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?” I was a bit grouchy as I explained that I couldn’t go too far! Duh!

So I made it to the sand. Very slowly. I walked 30 feet, then 50. I called my DTW and said, “Uh, I can walk!” He asked if I wanted him to come with the wheelchair. He cautioned me to call immediately if I collapsed. I kept walking. I called him back after I’d walked a quarter of a mile and over his objections, I walked another quarter mile with a big smile on my face. Miraculous!

Yeah, God is still working on my impatience. Duh!

the ultimate love. — Song Bird Songs

There was one that loved once. Loved enough to leave all and come, begrimed and dirty, into this world. To venture to an ancient stable, to know dirt, and cold, sickness and pain. Yes, lots of pain it cost him, one who had never so much as pricked His finger before that day he lay, […]

the ultimate love. — Song Bird Songs
Thanks to Claire for her inspirational posts!

* Pick of the litter

Thanks to Kristi (Ten Things of Thankful) for her post and video of dog helpers. That reminded me of my most recent experience with the sweet folks who support these assistance dogs-in-training.

I was at an event to recruit volunteers from a local university and my table was right next to THE best nonprofit around, PAWS With a Cause. Okay, I’m a dog lover, so when I saw this adorable face next to me, I forgot all about my puppetry organization!

Look at this face! She’s watching me eat a peanut butter sandwich, hence the avid stare. Still in training, I think. But the fireworks really started when a very young pup-in-training showed up.

* TToT: welcome to my neighborhood

Thanks to Kristi and friends for hosting the weekly Ten Things of Thankful blogging challenge. I’m a tad late but happy to share news from my world.

(#1) I’m so grateful that my dearest teaching widower (DTW) is back from New Orleans! I’m always discombobulated while he’s gone. I’m also wildly proud of him: He does so much to advance his field of child forensic interviews. Giving hurt kids a voice is HUGE.

(#2) During my DTW’s absence, I was both fascinated and annoyed with the bucks who roamed our neighborhood. Despite all the deer repellent I’ve sprayed lately, two big boys chased one another around our house. I managed to get a photo of one and then spotted a younger buck down the street (#4).

(#5) I have enjoyed walks around the neighborhood, carrying my phone for quick photos. This week I had an eye exam and was told I have “short eyes.” So grateful I also have long legs (#4). I don’t enjoy the pupil dilating drops but look how cool that is! Zombieland? (#6)

(#7) My Fantasy League experience has been much better than last year! Sadly, I am on the losing side right now, but we’ll see…. (Does that mean I’m back at #6?)

#8, #9, and #10: Thanks to clarkscottroger‘s Secret Rules (1.3?) which allow me to sink into gratitude for completing this challenge! Whew! See you next weekend, TToT’-ers.

* “They Call Me Mom”

They Call Me Mom,” by Pete Springer is a real gem! Don’t be fooled by its easy readability; this book is jam-packed with powerful advice. What makes “They call Me Mom” so special? First, Pete Springer’s passion for teaching lights up the entire book. His core values are clearly articulated. But the real treasures in this book are revealed through thoughtful, funny, and honest anecdotes from his 30 year career.

Springer’s book is divided into the main issues faced by both new or experienced teachers: how to organize your class, work effectively with students and their families, and work collaboratively with colleagues. The chapters on frustrations and humorous events are yummy icing on the cake.

Pete Springer is not just a great teacher, he’s a natural writer. “They Call Me Mom” would make a perfect Christmas present for your teacher friends (or your kiddo’s teachers)! His blog is also a great read, with news about his successful efforts to publish, volunteer, and support educators. He tells some powerfully encouraging stories of the many reasons to be grateful in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Thanks again to Sally at Smorgasborg for introducing us to this awesome educator!

* Love that wild one

I know for sure that many teachers are now struggling with at least one wild child, a child whose behavior is disruptive and annoying and perplexing. They had hoped by now to have wrestled, coaxed, or shaped this nuisance into compliance. They are now also aware of the complexity involved: perhaps a chaotic home life, serious learning challenges, habitual defiance, and more. To make matters worse, these wild kids are hardly ever absent, because no one wants them at home, either. And when they are absent? The classroom breathes a collective sigh of relief.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Remember that you are not in control of ANY child. You only control your reactions. Do what you can to manage your fear, because walking on eggshells is not going to improve anything. Breathe….
  • Use videotaping to capture everything. Look for ways that you can once again modify the environment and your responses.
  • Get help. Recruit volunteers. Ask for a mentor. Get specialists involved.

MOST OF ALL:

  • Love this child. No, you’re not the parent and you’re not paid and you’re not hopeful and you’re sick of the whole thing. But love this child.
  • Find ways to spend quality time with the student. I did a lot of after school volunteering with my hardest kiddos. I also attending sporting events, made myself at home with the unwilling family, helped them financially, etc. Make so many home visits that everyone thinks you live there. Take goodies, cool teaching stuff. It’s worth the investment.

When the wild child becomes jealous of your attention in the classroom, you’ll know you have their heart. And when you smile from your heart as the wild child walks in the door each day, that kiddo knows you love them. Love trumps all.

* National Board renewal!

I am going to renew my National Boards this year! Yea! I was initially certified as an Exceptional Needs Specialist 20 years ago and have already renewed once.

As I approach my 7th decade, you might wonder why I’m doing this. My reason is simple: I want to continue improving my teaching skills. Teaching is a lifelong commitment for me. I take and facilitate classes, cannot seem to retire, and LOVE my students. I started blogging because I wanted to encourage teachers and parents as they navigate the educational waters.

I have over 600 followers now, many of whom are not formally in education. But how important it is to think about how our brains work and how our attitudes affect others. Many readers will face issues of funding at the voting poll. Others will have young relatives who struggle with math. And others may want to find a great book or magazine subscription for Christmas.

Whatever the outcome, I am delighted to continue my National Board adventure. Once I went through this rigorous process back in 2000, my understanding and practice of my profession was changed for the better. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has been a game-changer for thousands of professionals and I’m proud to be a part of that group!