I had a great summer.
Like a really, really great summer.
And even though it is coming to an end I do not feel sad. We literally completed EVERYTHING on our family summer bucket list and I leave the season feeling refreshed, energized and fulfilled. If this summer had a hashtag it would be #summersuccess.
As summer ends and the beginning of fall and a new school year approach, I am grateful for the return of routine in our life and the opportunity to meet a whole new class of Kindergarten learners.
Just like with any change in season, I have paused this week to reflect on what positives and life lessons/reminders I will take away from this summer. And in that reflection I have realized how much of it I will take and apply to my teacher life.
Here is what the summer has taught me...
1. Patience, moving slowly and being quiet are all things I need to get better at.
I got hooked on building rock stacks this summer.
I am not a patient, slow or quiet person by nature. And my go getter-ness, impulsivity and voice have had wonderful impacts on my life. BUT, I need to practice patience, calmness and keeping quiet more.
Building these rock stacks this summer on our travels meant that I had to slow my mind, my body, my breathing and my voice in order to accomplish my goal of building stacks that were tall, strong and long lasting.
I am committing to practicing pateince more throughout my Kindergarten days. To slowing down. To enjoying calmness and stillness when it creeps in. To LISTENING to my students more and speaking less. To calming my mind and filling it with my passions when I feel overwhelmed. If I want to make strong, long lasting connections and relationships with my kiddos I KNOW that I need to practice these skills more.
I collected rocks all summer to bring to my students. I plan on showing them my rock stack pictures during the first week and then taking out my new rock collection and challenging them to stacking them in the classroom with me. Hopefully it will be a lesson in patience and passion for them and for me.
Thank you rock stacks.
(PS... My 7 year old stacked these rocks this summer. This imaginative, off balance and quirky stack taught me a lot as it stood proudly beside my super neat, balanced, symmetrical stack. So many lessons in a pile of rocks...)
2. Passion Projects are important at any age.
This girl. This is my Molly. Her determination astounds me. She spent hours and hours of our family vacation making her own fishing rod. Has never fished in her life. Has never touched a real fishing rod or a fish for that matter... but she did it. Line, bobber, hook, bait... all things she found by the cabin or the lake. And then spent hours trying to fish and catch something with her handmade stick/rope/shower hook/ styrofoam rod. Sometimes I find it hard to know how to foster her gifts but I am working hard at supporting her resourcefulness, her creativity and her strength.
And just as I try to support my own baby's passions, I commit to doing this for my Kinders too.
I do a DNA (dreams, needs, abilities) inventory every year with my kiddos. I like to use their answers to connect with them. But this year I want to take their passions (their dreams) and use them to direct their learning. To create projects for them. To engage them. To help them dream BIG.
Molly became so engrossed in this project that it consumed her for days. I never had to convince her to go work on her rod or to try fishing again or to make adjustments and improvements, she did that all on her own because of her growth mindset, her determination and support from the adults around her. It never occurred to her that this rod wouldn't work. And THAT is what I want for my students. Their voice and choice and passion needs to take priority over mine. Period.
Thank you Molly.
3. Sometimes, all you need to do is ask.
This is my boy Casey and his buddy Jamie. Jamie is kind of a big deal in our house. You see, he is a country music singer who my Casey has fallen head over heels with. Jamie Woodfin is my kid's hero.
Casey turned 6 in August. This basically meant that he started planning his birthday party in February. At that point in the planning process he did not know EXACTLY what he wanted to do but he KNEW he wanted his friend Jamie to be there.
Now, Casey has met Jamie before through a school project and through mutual friends and we have been lucky enough to see Jamie play a few times. I knew I could get a hold of Jamie but I wasn't sure how to break the news to the kid that I couldn't see inviting Jamie to his party. So for months, I figured he would just "get over it" and forget about inviting Jamie but little did I know that he continued to dream of his buddy Jamie Woodfin showing up to his party.
Fast forward to July...
Casey and I are finally sending out invitations to the baseball party he has decided to have and he pulls one out for Jamie.
I decide that I am finally going to have to break his little heart. I explain that Jamie is a lot older (HA! You know what I mean Jamie... not like OLD but older than a six year old...) and he probably has plans because summers are busy for him and he lives a half an hour away and he maybe is on vacation and blah, blah, blah...
I literally had the Kleenex box ready to go...
But, with the sweetest little voice Casey says "We don't know if we don't ask.. right Mommy?"
Now... I never did get the nerve to ask Jamie. But a week before Casey's party I went to see him play a show with some friends and I tell him the whole situation NEVER expecting that he'd come but...
He totally showed up.
I should have taken Casey's advice weeks sooner and just asked. Not assumed. Not made excuses. Not been a chicken. Just asked.
Amazing things happen when we dream BIG and ask. This picture will be the perfect reminder to me this school year that sometimes all it takes is an ask even with the things that seem impossible to achieve.
So, I commit to dreaming big, encouraging my learners to dream big and to reach out and ASK. We are sure to get some "NO!"s but we just might get some people show up to our party... I can't wait to see what we get up to this year.
Thank you Casey (and Jamie!)
And thank YOU summer 2017! You were so good to us. I appreciate the time with my family, the lessons I have learned and the opportunity to get to take these lessons and commit to doing better with my learners this year.
I'll let you know how it goes...