W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, August 30, 2023
It is Wednesday and I am feeling ducky. I am five days into my twenty-fifth year of teaching and feeling like a duck on dry land, or perhaps skewered on a car antenna.
I spied these rubber duckies on a car antennae a couple of Saturday’s ago while volunteering at Loaves and Fishes. The car’s owner is a regular and she lifts us up with the joy she shares with the world through her personality and her sticker adorned car.
I noticed the rubber duckies were a new addition and I talked to her on her way out. She shared her story of how the week before she’d been on a trip with her family and collected more than a dozen rubber duckies playing a game and decided to skewer them on her car’s antenna.
A new school year is full of joy and excitement. It’s also change from the carefree life of summer break and audition for retirement. I inched a little closer this year to retirement this school year as I began my twenty-fifth year of teaching. Interestingly, this year also marks the fiftieth anniversary of my own year as a sixth grader, time marches on.
This morning I am more than just ducky; I am filled with joy and passion and excitement for learning. Today is going to be an amazing day, it just might be a million and six times better than yesterday. I get to teach kids and share my passion and curiosity. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count, one day at a time, exploring, learning, and being curious.
Twenty-one years ago, this morning, I was welcoming my seventh graders into my geography classroom. It was early in the year in the year, and we were building routines and learning. I was learning their names and faces and the lesson for the day was the water cycle.
I don’t remember the first two classes, but I do remember when a counselor came into the classroom towards the end of the second class, about 9:20 AM or so. She waited until the class ended, the third period class had entered, and settled and until after the bell had rung and then she made the announcement that earlier in the morning America had been attacked. Her message was scripted and every classroom in our school go the same message at the same time.
I don’t remember the exact text of the message, but I can close my eyes and go back to room B111 on September 11, 2001 and picture the layout of the room on that morning.
On nine-eleven two thousand one, I was 39 and my students were 12.
This past spring, I began volunteering regularly at Loaves and Fishes on Thursday after school. I had been volunteering on Saturdays since early 2020, but I decided to add a new day. Soon, I had been asked to be the lead volunteer for my part of the operation on Thursday afternoon. Loaves and Fishes is a wonderful place, and I am thankful to be part of an organization that helps people in need, especially when the cost of groceries and gasoline have increased significantly. I have also discovered a community of people who care about others, and I have met several parents of former students who volunteer for the organization. It’s a small world.
It was the last day of school and summer had begun when I walked into the market at Loaves and Fishes for my Thursday afternoon shift.
I saw Michelle and we greeted each other, and she shared a story with me. It went something like this:
Michelle – you teach at Scullen, right? Me – yes, I do. Michelle – Do remember Judy? She was the nurse. Me – Yes, I remember Judy and I remember having her son Joey in class. It’s been a log time. Michelle – I was at a going away party last weekend for Judy. She’s retired and moving to Wisconsin, and I mentioned I had me you at Loaves and Fishes. She remembered you and we were talking, and Allison overheard us and joined our conversation, do remember her? Me – yes, I do. I do remember that name – it was our first year at the school and we were all new. Michelle – well, she remembers you. Me – WOW. Really? I remember her, too. I hadn’t thought about that name since she was in my class. That’s a long time ago. Michelle – yes, it was and she does. She told the two of us that every year on 9/11, she remembers being in your class and being scared and that you were calm and reassured her and the class that everything would be okay. Me – WOW (and at this point I am beginning to tear up) Michelle – Ally’s married and has two kids and lives in the area. Me – We all grow up, thank you for telling me this.
That’s how I remember our conversation and it’s stuck with me since.
This summer I started my baseball trip in New York City. The first game was Sunday at Yankee Stadium and after the game I drove to Washington, D. C. for another game. I returned Tuesday for third game and the possibility of visiting the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the time I was in New York City. But I figured I could at least visit the Memorial before I left for my Philadelphia and game four.
Tuesday night I set alarm for early Wednesday morning, before sunrise. My plan was to walk to the memorial which was less than a mile away from my hotel. It was early morning twilight, and I was surrounded by tall buildings blocking much of the light. New York City was beginning to waken, even though I suspect the city never sleeps, it’s always moving. Cars, buses, and trucks were beginning start the day and few people were walking with me. Some going to work and other heading home.
It is Sunday morning and my last day at the lake for this trip. I’ll be heading home tomorrow morning to focus on my summer to dos. I enjoy my time by the lake, and it serves its purpose: I am rested, relaxed, and getting closer to the restoration that I need after a year of teaching.
I was up well before the rest of the house. It was a beautiful Michigan July summer morning; temperatures in the upper 40s, fog hanging close to the still mirror-like lake, and clear blue skies. The past few days began the same with highs in the low 80s. It promises to be a beautiful day.
Today is also Day 38 of summer break with thirty-six days remaining. I keep track of the days only to remind myself that summer is finite. Yesterday was the tipping point of summer. It was the point at which the first part moves into the second part or the first half changes to the second half. Summer is an arc, either way it means that I am on the downward side of the arc. Continue reading Tipping point→
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, May 25, 2022
This week for my W^2 post, wonder.
I snapped this photo yesterday in class after four straight demos of the scientific principle,
As temperature increases, the volume of gas increases. As temperature decreases, the volume of gas decreases.
And while my students watched the demonstration, some understood, but some are still wondering what happened and how that balloon got inside the glass. Is it magic? No, it’s science.
It is Wednesday, the middle of the week and there are as I sit and type FIVE more days of school this year and then it is summer. I can’t wait, they can’t wait. But we are going to make those five days count.
I know it is going to be going to be a great day. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, making the most of every day and trying to compress learning just like air particles can be compressed.
It’s Sunday morning and I am sitting at my summer office, knowing full well ‘summer’ is another nine months away. The days are numbered on the summer office with a few more days left in August. Soon it will be too cold, too wet, or both to sit outside and work. But,
I’ll make hay while the sun shines. Farmer’s wisdom
The birds are flocking to the feeders, and I watched three hummingbirds hash it out over at the hummingbird feeder. Sorry, no photo, those birds are just too quick.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor E. Frankl Austrian neurologist, Holocaust survivor
There has been a lot of talk in the media about learning loss. The pundits love to point out deficiencies in public education because it’s easy to point out what’s wrong. It’s much more challenging to find what is good and that is what Making the Days COUNT dot org is all about. Always has been. There is far more good in the world than the media is apt to share. So, that’s why I have tuned it out. The loudest sound in the room isn’t always right, it’s just loud.
It’s Wednesday and Day 64. The past week has been my last full week of summer break. The school year restarts for me this coming Monday and Thursday for our students. I am excited and a little sad as I am every summer when school restarts.
“The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.” ― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
The past couple of nights we’ve had severe weather pass through the area. It’s that time of the year when thick humid unstable air masses cause thunderstorms to develop late in the day. Monday’s weather spawned six tornadoes which touched down to the west of us in mostly rural areas causing damage trees and minor damage to structures. We got very little rain from the storm.
Last night’s storms rolled through the area bringing more rain, but no tornadoes.
Yesterday, our school hosted an event for our incoming sixth graders. Even though school hasn’t started I went in to help and be a welcoming face, answer questions, and help supervise. I met many of my new students who likely will remember me more than I will them, there were a lot new students wandering the hallways. Continue reading Days of Summer: Week 9 and crickets→
It’s Wednesday again, somehow that happens with quite a bit of regularity and without prompting. Wednesday follows Tuesday and precedes Thursday, always.
It’s early in the morning and my coffee has yet to take full effect, but it seems as if the past week has been fluid, but when I look back at the daily Instagram photographs, there were distinct events, moments which mattered.
The back yard is in full bloom. My wife’s planning and hard work are evident. My role is garden assistant and enjoyer. Nature has cooperated by providing ample sunshine and rain.
We started with a few students coming back to school. The change was immediate. The change happened because our building became a school again where children’s laughter filled the halls and the classrooms. School isn’t school without a little bit of shenanigans and tom foolery, now and then. Making the Days Count recognizing that a little tom foolery and shenanigans boost the soul from time to time.
Today is going to be an amazing day and it marks several milestones.
It is the first week of my summer break,
It’s the last day of May,
It’s been over eleven weeks our state closed schools until early April, then early May, and finally for the year,
I’ve been living and working by the lake for nine weeks,
It’s been five weeks since my last post, AND
I’ve been blogging for ten years and two days.
It’s also the last day of my Coronavirus protest beard. The last day I shaved was the last day I went to school – Friday, March 13th. When began my protest, I anticipated being back in school in a few weeks. Today, after I press ‘publish,’ the beard goes.
The final day of the 2019-20 school year ended Wednesday. It ended awkwardly and with uncertainty. Many of my students embraced shift to e-Learning, but sadly many did not. The ones who did are the students who had good habits and strong learning skills. The ones who didn’t, are the students who need the routine of school and even with being in the classroom these students struggle with learning or completing learning tasks. Looking back, it’s these students who are the reason I gravitated to teaching and middle school. I was one of those students who struggled in the classroom in middle school and early high school. It wasn’t until I was a junior that I figured it out.
Summer break began Thursday morning but living along the lake for nine weeks has allowed me to enjoy the benefits of remote teaching and learning remotely as well as the benefits of summer break while living and working. I’ve been fortunate to take advantage of the wilderness around us – the forest, the lake, and walking and hiking trails. I’ve taken some amazing walks through the forest trails, along the river, and along the lake shore. Most of all it’s the movement and the freshness of the air that has lifted me in the isolation of quarantine. It’s the balance of nature rising with the sun and resting with the sun’s setting that has made the biggest difference over the past elven weeks.
It’s been five weeks since my last published post, but I’ve started writing posts, stopped and didn’t finish. Mostly because I had teaching – preparing, assessing, and communicating – my primary job that took precedence. I have other jobs which kept me from writing – husband, father, son, brother, friend, dog owner, and self and each of those had multiple tasks – cook, housekeeper, and gardener to name only a few of the many roles I (we all) take on and try to keep balanced.
Walking and Hiking Since the quarantine began, I’ve been walking and hiking more. Surely the weather has been a factor as spring began and temperatures became warmer and the days got longer.
Hartwick Pines State Park is a short drive from the lake, and I’ve enjoyed the many hiking trails through the park. My favorite hike is the shortest hikes – a little less than two miles, but it’s the most peaceful, even though it’s likely the most popular trail in the park. The hiking trail is through a virgin pine forest and there is a chapel along the route to pause and reflect. The trail passes through a former logging camp constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.