Tag Archives: teaching

milestones and May 2020

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.

early morning view of the lake – each hour is a little different

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.

Continue reading milestones and May 2020

hidden

It is a glorious day. The sun is brightly shining through a cloudless sky.

I’ve been up since six this morning. I have been awake since before five this morning when I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. I gave up trying to sleep after almost an hour of tossing and turning in bed.

Through my bedroom window I could see the faint outline of the trees as earth came back to life early this morning. I remembered reading that three planets: Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars were aligned and visible in the early morning. So, I climbed out of bed, dressed, and started the coffee.

deep blue lake, predawn

The lake was still, and the lake was shrouded in a deep blue hue in the pre-dawn light. Along the southeastern I could see one planet with the naked eye and could faintly make out the other two. I quickly snapped a shot and then used an iPhone app – Skyview Light – to visualize the early morning sky.  What my eye could see, my phone could not – not enough light.

But the three planets were there – hidden in the light.

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” Henri Bergson

Continue reading hidden

Asynchronous

I love complex words. I am teacher and a learner or a learner and a teacher. The two go hand in hand. Learning never ends.

I began blogging at MakingtheDaysCount dot org almost ten years ago when I was teaching 7th grade English Language Arts. Really 7th grade ELA was my teaching assignment and I was really teaching kids. Teaching 7th grade ELA sharpened my curiosity and honed my knowledge of words and word parts……

chron means time, -ous means full of, syn- means with or together, a means without or not

asynchronous – without any particular time or timing or as Merriam and Webster defines it, not simultaneous or concurrent in time

A few years after my first blog post, I was reassigned and moved to science and a new grade level. I embraced the change because that’s who I am – curious, positive, passionate, resilient, flexible, and determined.

 

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Yesterday’s walk in the woods – fresh air and sunshine – good for the heart and mind #makeitaGREATday

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Last week I learned I was moving again, this time to 6th grade. I’ll will be teaching science (and social studies) but most importantly I’ll be teaching kids. Continue reading Asynchronous

Tuesday’s Tune – Everything’s not lost

It’s the third week of self-quarantine and I am as hopeful as I was when I penned my last post, Abundance.

Yes, I AM hopeful. Positive. Confident. Certain.

When I started writing and blogging at Making the days Count almost ten years ago, it was a choice.  It was a choice to make my day better every day, even when I failed or fell, or came up short. I chose to look at the ways I could do better. I am still learning.

After I clicked PUBLISH on Abundance, I called upstairs to my wife, B,

“Church at 11,” I made another cup of coffee and went upstairs showered and dressed for church.

It was a bright sunny day. It was a big blue cloudless sky. When I started the car, Coldplay’s song “Everything’s not lost” began to play.

My car’s radio and my iPhone connect and sometimes a song from iTunes begins to play when the car starts. iTunes selects a random song, most of the time I stop the music, that morning I let the song play.

….If you ever feel neglected
If you think all is lost
I’ll be counting up my demons yeah
Hoping everything’s not lost

The church we attend is a short drive and the song, “Everything’s not lost,” was almost over when I parked the car. Chris Martin crooned,

I don’t let it stand in our way
‘Cause my head just hates when I think of
The things that I shouldn’t have done
But life is for living, we all know
And I don’t wanna live it alone

That Sunday’s church service was uplifting, and I left church knowing that everything’s not lost

Since that service on the Ides of March, we’ve been to e-church and we will continue to do so until the COVID19 crisis is over.

my favorite stained glass window – there is light and everything’s not lost

In full disclosure, I started writing this post yesterday, and I am finishing it today on Wednesday. I am not playing an April Fool joke on you by posting a Tuesday’s Tune on Wednesday. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – Everything’s not lost

Abundance

It has been a strange week, rather it’s been a challenging year or so.

A week ago, I was in Mississippi helping my elderly stepmother transition from her home to an assisted living facility. I spent almost half of February in Mississippi. My last two posts were from or about my trips to encourage and assist my stepmother.

Even further back, one year ago I was mourning my mother who passed away after a brief illness on March 2, 2019. I wrote about it last year in my post, Where do I start?

However, my church or rather my faith has inspired this morning’s post. My mother was a woman of faith – she had to be. Raising three boys single-handedly – all born within three years of each other and getting all three of to adulthood could be considered a miracle. But she had help, her faith. For the past several years, my church has asked parishioners to write a Lenten reflection to be shared daily. This past Tuesday morning, this year’s post landed in my In box and I re-read my Lenten reflection. It is my second piece of published writing. My first piece was published in 2017 – you can read (or re-read) it here.

I wrote the reflection while sitting in my stepmother’s hospital room glancing out the window at the vase of yellow daffodils. It seems as if the theme of yellow has been in my life subtly for several years. Below is my Lenten Refection.

God will provide

Last spring when our mom passed away, my brothers and I gathered to plan our mom’s memorial service. The church provided a funeral service planning document with the order of the service with suggested Bible passages and hymns. We had so many questions, what would mom want? What were her favorite hymns and Bible passages? What was mom’s favorite color? What kind of flowers would she want? And so on. We had no idea. It was overwhelming. Continue reading Abundance

Home

I took the photograph below somewhere between Memphis, Tennessee and Chicago, Illinois. It’ was Saturday evening’s sunset from a little more than 30,000 ft or 10,000 meters above Earth.

sunset – Saturday, 2/22/2020. 30,000 feet above Earth

I was on my way home Saturday afternoon from a week in northern Mississippi helping my stepmother who had been living by herself since my father passed away in July 2009. It was my second trip and there are likely to be more trips in the future for my brothers and me.

Our flight attendant interrupted the quietness of the cabin to call attention to the evening’s sunset. I was seated in the middle seat and my seatmate to the left had to pull up the window shade to reveal the setting sun. I was struck by the beauty of the colors along the horizon.

The weather had been delightful on the last few days of my trip to Oxford. We had an early morning frost on Friday and Saturday morning, but the sun shined brightly and warmed to the upper 40s (about 10C) at the height of the day. Skies were cloudless Friday and early Saturday allowing a brilliant night sky I am unable to appreciate at home in Chicago.

I’ve been home for a more than a full day now and I am back to school this morning. I have missed working with my students and I am looking forward to a fresh new week full of excitement and learning. I know it’s gonna be a great day – full of curiosity and wonder, and a little catching up, too. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one day at a time.

What is going to make your day count today?

Fall day…

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post, I am out of practice. Somehow over the past year, I’ve fallen out of my routine of writing. When I began writing making the Days Count dot org I embraced the writing routine. Writing is a healthy habit and I am thankful that my fall from blogging hasn’t been a health issue, but rather a time issue.

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it’s a beautiful sunny day – gonna make it count! #makeitaGREATday

A post shared by Clay Watkins (@makingthedayscount) on

A year ago, last summer, I had my right knee surgically replaced; six months later in December 2018, I had my left knee replaced. My writing took a back seat to recovery and almost a full year later, I am fully healed and pain-free. I can’t tell you how much better I feel and how much easier it is to move. This past summer I was able to do things I couldn’t have imagined doing before the two knee surgeries.

This afternoon my son, W, and I went for a walk at the Morton Arboretum. Continue reading Fall day…

W-squared – chance

I caught this sunset by chance. I had stayed late to watch the 7th grade girl’s volleyball team and the game had gone late – they won in three thrilling sets – and I was late leaving for the day. 

Sometimes, things happen by chance, or for a reason. Or both. Today is going to be an amazing day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time. Sometimes by chance, sometimes by choice.

less words for a Wednesday

Happy Wednesday! It’s the final Wednesday in July and the back garden is in full bloom. Late July and early August are the most colorful months of B’s garden.

It’s been a summer full of hard work, reflection, and good amount of rejuvenation and restoration.

This morning as I began my day, as I skimmed through e-mails, I was inspired several blog posts for Wordless Wednesday. I decided to post a picture for word less Wednesday, but I can’t do it without words, so I’ll do it with LESS words. Perhaps next week will be a true wordless Wednesday.

Last summer, B found pictured coneflower and brought it home for our garden and planted it. Monday morning, I was surveying the garden and discovered them. I love the brilliance of coneflowers and how they bring bright color to the garden in mid-summer.

I’ve been working on a new post for several days, but I am wordless at the moment, so I’ll press publish and jump in to the day because today is going to be a great day, I know it and I can feel it. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one photograph, one memory of summer to hold on to in winter.

What stands out to you in a garden?