Endings 25 May 2017

The end of the school year always makes me pause. I’m ready for it, and yet I’m really sorry to see my students leave. As part of their final, I asked them to write some reflections on their year and I was thrilled to see how many of them wrote that they came into the year feeling like they didn’t know how to write, but now they have more confidence and are proud of some of the work they did this year!

The end of the school year always cracks me up. Students get nostalgic, suddenly, about how great a teacher you are, even though two minutes earlier they were whining about how hard your class is! They tell you that you are their favorite teacher which is news to you. And you smile and nod and know that when the school year begins again in the fall, they won’t even smile at you in the hallway.

The end of the school year leaves me thinking about how to do things differently the next year. I think about what I can do to better engage my students, to build relationships with them, to help them see that they are incredible thinkers, writers and readers. I want them to understand how much they have to give the world to make it a better place, a joy-filled place, a safe place to be who they are meant to be.

The end of the school year is all about beginnings.

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Transitions 23 May 2017

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I harp on my students about using transition words to help their writing to be smooth, and then, once they get it down, I want them to move away from: first, next, finally. It is a difficult concept for most of them, no matter how old they are to grasp the fundamentals, let alone be more sophisticated.

I got to thinking about transitions in life and how difficult they can be. Is it because they are too abrupt or too overused? Would it be easier if they were deeper or embedded somehow so that we would barely notice they were there, but they would still move us right along to the next place we needed to be or the next thing we needed to do?

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Maybe.

I’m in the midst of a transition to full-time on-line teaching work. This is my last week of commenting 120 miles a day to teach at Brush High School. It’s been a difficult transition for me, even though I made the decision several months ago. Keeping my teaching jobs this year has been a challenge. Even so, goodbyes are difficult.

I’ve tried to combat this some by delving into summer hiking season as a transition. Elaine and I have already planned hike number one and I look forward to all our mountain adventures, of getting back into altitude shape, of discovering that together we can do more than we ever thought possible, of long conversations with short wind to solve the problems of our worlds, and of friendship that feeds the spirit.

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One Way 15 May 2017

Many people go to brunch on Mother’s Day or make their mom/wife breakfast in bed or there might be flowers or favorite little things. My wish for Mother’s Day was to be in the field running an antique tractor and one way disc plow and it was wonderful. With the rain we had last week, it wasn’t a sure bet.

It took me two trips to get both tractors and one-ways up north where we needed to work while my husband checked all the cattle. We made a few rounds before eleven and then had to stop and let it dry a bit more while we went home and managed some other work. The day was beautiful and we had such a great time!

Not to be outdone by brunches and lunches out, we had our favorite supper: grilled salmon and popcorn. Blessings to all you mothers out there, and those of you who have been Mom to me!

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Super Power 11 May 2017

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As my freshmen students have decided to check out and it gets more and more difficult each day to keep them engaged, I had them write about super powers. I shared this:

If I could have any super power, I’d want to have the ability to fly. I’d spend hours soaring like eagles just to feel what it’s like. I’d fly to things like graduations so it didn’t take so long to get there and I could stay for cake and to visit. I’d fly off to meet a friend for dinner or coffee or a movie so I could see my friends more often.

I’d also fly to places I’ve always wanted to see or want to go back to and enjoy more. Places

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like: Paris, Ireland, Scotland, the national parks, DC, and the Macinack Bridge to name a few.

Teleportation? This would also be a sweet super power if you didn’t want to sight see and you’d have the element of surprise. But, wouldn’t want to read people’s minds-too many stray thoughts I don’t want to see!

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Heroes 8 May 2017

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We are in the middle of our hero unit, studying the monomyth, reading the Odyssey, and thinking and writing about real life heroes and what makes up a hero. It’s been an eye-opener as it always is, but more so this year as my freshmen can’t really name any heroes. They aren’t sure how to quantify a hero or define one. Heroes are not real to them. This week, we’ll begin our final writing project on heroes in our lives. I am hoping to open some hearts.

I asked them to write about someone they know and would consider a hero. And I shared this:

One person I would consider a hero is my sister, Julie. She is brave and honest and lives

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with integrity. She puts anyone in need over own needs, caring compassionately and passionately for others and giving as much as she can and more.

She is a prayer warrior. She has probably prayed for you without you even knowing, except

that you found that unexpected blessing in your life one day. She has a heart for the people of the middle east, traveling to Syria and other places for mission work two or three times a year.

She loves her family like a mother bear with cubs, even when we annoy her beyond belief. She takes care of our sister, Jana, tirelessly. She sees what can be in each and every one of us and pushes us to be our best, even while she works to be her best.

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My definition of a hero from the writing warm-up a few days before I wrote and shared this one with my students:

A hero is a “legendary figure endowed with great strength and ability, noble qualities and achievements, shows great courage, daring, self-sacrifice and they are bold. (Webster) I would include that they are humble, willing to take a risk, see someone in need and jump into help, thinks of self last, they can see past today, learn from yesterday, and try to make a better future. They will rescue a baby from a raging flood of any kind and get a little kid’s frisbee unstuck from a tree.

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Respect 4 May 2017

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I asked my students to write about someone they respect. Most of them wrote about their parents, but I had to look the word up and write the definition down before I wrote. It opened my eyes to the meaning of a word we use so often in school. According to Webster, respect means: to consider worth of high regard, to regard highly and prize accordingly. So in that sense, what I respect relates to what I value, and when I see those traits that I value in others, I respect them.

Then I had to ask myself what I value or esteem: honesty, a strong work ethic, integrity, creativity, graciousness, a willingness to give back, to help others, and to lift up among other things. This finally brought me to writing about someone I respect-and there are many!

I have a lot of respect for our neighbor and friends, Marlin and Sharon. They have lived their lives with integrity, worked hard for what they have, and they always take the time to help others. They will drop what they are doing to sit and have coffee most anytime we

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happen down their driveway. They are generous to all and live their faith in action everyday.

Even though they are ten miles away, I know that if I needed help, one or both of them would drive over. They often call to make sure I’m okay when my husband is on the road or the weather is bad, or to see if we are ready to go out for pizza and some ice-cream. We recently celebrated our first anniversary with them. I hope to be like them when I grow up.

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What is love? 1 May 2017

Everyone has their definition of love. Love is sharing a life. It is looking forward to doing the things you love to do together, and having other things you love to do yourself but you can share that experience with your other. I love to write, read, play guitar, to anything horse, going to plays and musicals, running, teaching, learning, farming, cattle and so much more. Does that mean my partner has to love all of that? Of course not, but I can share my experience of those things with him and he can share the things he loves with me.

Love is sharing a life. Being comfortable talking, knowing there is trust and sharing something significant, caring for and going the extra mile for that person. Encouraging them to be their best, knowing they aren’t perfect but loving them for who they are, even when they annoy you. It is looking forward to seeing them, to watching the sun rise or set together, to notice the layer of frost on the trees, working beside them, going out to spend time together, or staying home to watch a movie with popcorn and a RC Cola.

Love is sharing a life. It is companionship, belonging, shared interests, adventure. Love lifts you up instead of trouncing you. It isn’t all hunky-dory all the time. It means saying “I’m sorry” after the storm passes. It means forgiveness and healing. I believe in love, in the richness and fullness of it, in the gift it is from God.

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