To Look Away Or Not?

From The Desk Of The Retired Teacher

If you have come across my blog, you know my walks are a great time for reflections and thoughts that I get to share with you. My most recent walks (squeezed in between short reprieves of unusual downpour, here in Los Angeles), simmering with many ideas, bubbling up and out!

And so back to an idea of bare bones/benign neglect vs hovering helicopter adults/micromanaging. Thinking in terms To look away or not! I’ll go out on a adults we need time to reflect where we are, looking at this as a continuum. We probably have a little of both sides in us. Depends on the circumstances and who we give our “unsolicited advice” interference or “turn and ignore” magnanimity.

In a world where I wear many hats (mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, teacher and colleague), how I interact and what I do has great potential for over stepping boundaries or a miscue of neglect.

I think of this as well in terms of watering my plants, those I ignore and those I over water or recently, as nature is doing.

This miniature orchid has lived on my windowsill for 3+ years. It lies dormant most of the time and once in awhile I water it..seems to bloom every February or March. Here is benign neglect at work in nature.
These two trees, one is a lime, produce fruit with just the right amount of care/watering. Now with our unusual downpour the leaves are turning yellow and show very little fruit. Too much “micromanaging and hovering,” I’ll add.

And now you ask, “Where is she going with all this?” I’m curious how we decide what to do in a given situation? Do we jump in? Do we wait, watch and listen? If yes, what holds us back? Are either of these intentional decisions or programed in our lived experiences that we’ve found detrimental or useful? Are we on automatic pilot at times?

I think back to the times I’ve jumped in, being the fixer. I think back to the times I wish I had done something differently. I think of the do overs that are not possible. Then I remember the many, many times I have made the right choice. Hovering to protect, to pave that road more accessible for others has both successful and detrimental outcomes, I know. When to let go is always difficult whether as a parent or teacher or any of the hats we wear. And at the same time looking away, bare bones/benign neglect commitment also has positive and negative outcomes.

So I’ll end this post adding that making on the spot decisions are at times happenstance. We get lucky with some, others not so much. A guideline is knowing who is in front of you whether, they’re asking for or needing help or a good listening ear?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you you manage this quandary!

This is a post I wrote 3 years ago.. still thinking about this topic , I see.

I found some interesting articles and here are the links.

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Hangin’ On And That’s Ok

Hangin’ on ain’t so bad. Hangin’ on ain’t so sad. It’s a way from here to there. It’s a way, a mainstay.

Hangin’ on there’s music in the air. The birds chirp, drilling on the street, they all compete.

Hangin’ on, give it a chance. Hangin on, come to the dance! What ever you need, a waltz, a cha cha, a samba, a swing or two.

Hangin’ on ain’t so bad. Hangin’ on gives me a chance: To recalibrate, to regurgitate, to reflect.

Don’t beat yourself up, don’t hide in shame. Stand proud, you’ve made it so far!

Hangin’ on is where I’m at.

Whether alone or with a friend, a talk, a question to explore. Hangin’ on not to convince, but to learn, how you are you and I am me?

So much noise, so much distraction staying the course what’s your reaction? Life in Flux , no guarantee. Hangin’ on, be the voice I’m meant to be.

What we uncover when we seek to learn.
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A Poem For Our Times

At home with much on my mind. I ruminate and wonder why?

Life on the road, not what you think. More in my mind, then on my feet.

Life on the road, not in a car. Thoughts percolate, driven by my heart.

Having time to think things through, having time to weigh the pros and cons of what I know, or don’t.

Is knowing too much a road to misery when hands are tied and changes don’t exist? Is knowing too little a sign of neglect or a shield to protect.

Does the tit for tat, the “whataboutism” hold me back?

A life on the road, maybe there’s a way to do what can be done, no matter how little, you start as one.

A life on the road, outcome not foretold, screaming be bold, don’t cower, don’t fear, a stand begins here.

As the sun sets where I live, a new day begins somewhere in the world.

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Shift Into Gear

From The Desk Of The Retired Teacher

It’s been quiet on the blog. Not that I haven’t had much on my mind that I could write about. But sometimes I just question why? I don’t have many blog followers. I do share my posts on Twitter where I think more people read them. And I do post them on Facebook. Sometimes I share with colleagues or my school administrators directly. Mostly I believe if one person goes, “Hmm I never thought of that.” Or “Hmm maybe I’ll try that.” Or “Hmm, don’t agree, maybe I’ll write a comment on the blog or Twitter or Facebook.”

So where have I been these past weeks of no blogging. Last post was almost a month if you missed it. Since then I came down with a terrible cold, not covid just an awful sore throat, cough and runny nose. Sounds like a kid you might have in your class? All kidding aside it threw me for a loop. On top of that car problems meant no driving for a week as it was being fixed. Did manage to get well enough to squeeze in a wonderful visit to my family in Dallas. Celebrated my daughter and son-in-laws 20th wedding anniversary and my granddaughter’s sweet 16. An added bonus was seeing my middle school grandson’s team win their basketball championship!

He will be going to high school next year and being part of a championship team was a thrill for him. I’ll fill you in a bit here. He’s a smart kid. Loves school, outdoing and a great friend. And basketball has been a passion for him for quite sometime. I’ve watched him play these last two years and he is known for his strong defensive moves. Blocking shots and passing the ball, rarely trying for a basket. I know it weighed on him but he was hesitant to take them, worrying that he’ll disappoint his team if he didn’t make the shot. So he found his niche on the team and his coach and teammates knew that he was there for them. He was hard on himself when he felt he didn’t play well and he didn’t accept platitudes of “great job” “you blocked so well and your passes were amazing.” On the playoffs which led to the championship game (with a hour break between the two games), something clicked and he found his pace, his groove and his incredible fortitude to “go for it!” At a point during the game, he didn’t take a shot which was his to take. Fear held him back. His coach spoke to him. I only could imagine the coach’s words, voice of disappointment and laid into him. This after all is a coach’s job, but I know sitting on the sidelines, this grandma/Bubbie cringed and prayed it wouldn’t upset her boy. And it didn’t. It spurred him on to take the shots! He played the first three periods; the whole time! He made two (or three, a matter of debate) three pointers from the corner (for basketball aficionados, a biggie), and two pointers right after each three pointers. Altogether he made seven shots in the finals. Fourth period he sat out. He done good as all the cheering attested to. The onlookers were applauding wildly and as I looked and listened my heart swelled with pride. My grandson showed courage, determination, spunk, resilience and team spirit. He was in it for the team and that was never questioned. The bonus was he was a “shining” star in his own right!

Now a bit about my car. Wait, wait the connection to basketball and to education coming up! My car just stopped! A big bang and I thought I hit something, but no, it was my transmission. My little red car is old..I bought it in 2009. It’s served me well and takes me where I need to go. So a chain of events led me to fix the transmission and not look for another car. It happened as I was just getting over my cold and able to do errands on my own. It happened a week before my trip and it happened when I just didn’t have THE MINDSET TO make a drastic change!! My decision to make and I chose one that caused me the least stress. So I left the car to be fixed and off I went to Dallas. And now to the gears. When I picked up my car the mechanic asked me who else drove my car since the breaks in the gear system to do with the transmission (I know even less about this than sports), seemed as if a teenage driver wasn’t letting the car go into gear before riding off (either in drive or reverse). The mechanic was surprised and a bit incredulous when I told him that I was the only driver. So he explained that when I drive the car to give it a second or so to get into gear..this is an automatic car with an automatic transmission, so listened carefully to understand. For this car with a rebuilt transmission I need to remember to slow down and feel the car go into gear. I need to take time to do what’s right for me and my car. I can read all about automatic transmissions and how they go into gear without thinking or worrying about automatic pilot “:a state or condition in which activity or behavior is regulated automatically in a predetermined or instinctive manner.” But that would be fool hardy when I was told otherwise.

So now connecting the dots. Basketball, my car, my grandson and education. My grandson shifted his “gear” when it become solidified for was time, it was something he was ready to do!! It takes time to get into gear (this metaphor encompasses many fields) before you go. Remembering not to rush what doesn’t need to be rushed. The learning experience results in ownership and understanding by the learner. Let kids make it their own. Learning, and all that it entails, is different for everyone.

Internet search helps put thoughts into words so succinctly
The process of learning, when we give ourselves opportunities and permission to try, without fear of failure, and then the success in doing, becomes a strength.

Reflections and connections work for me in understanding life and the what’s next. The teacher in me will always go from the space of a learner. Hand in hand..teacher and learner..learner and teacher. However it works for you I’m here to listen and learn.

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Tired Has Me Thinking

From The Desk Of The Retired Teacher

As the days wane and the nights are longer I am startled with the realization that I am tired!

Not sure what that means, for the here and now. Not sure where this will lead. Is it the tiredness of body, the tiredness of spirit or a musings of the “whys?”

I sit reflecting on two weeks of subbing. The kinders’ wonders are stronger then ever in me. The 3s and 4s energy fills me with laughter and look at quiet time as a respite for both kids and adults. Early childhood and the children show us theirs is a world to explore, to learn.

My worry does not lesson, the burdens to bear when the world turns upside down: yet once again with misunderstandings and hate. Do we shield our kids within the walls of “school?” (My focus as an educator always at my side.) Or do we pave a road through our shared stories and experiences?

The world is different now. Technology has brought us closer. I see you and you see me. But I’m not sure how much either of us know about the other. For in so many spaces we are “othered.” A previous post comes to mind here If we look only for who’s “right” or “wrong,” we’ve ignored the nuances of life. And that’s where and how many of us see the world.

The beginning of the year leads us to different holidays and celebrations often shared in schools. Where you go to school depends on how much one focuses on certain holidays. There are US federal holidays that students are exposed to wherever they are in schools (as in many countries). Then there are holidays and celebrations honoring the various cultures in one’s schools. How inclusive they are depends..(I’ll leave it at that.).

But what I will say as Maya Angelou so eloquently said…”when you know better, do better.”

And in our school when we celebrate cultural events and holidays with music, food and art activities, the door opens to each of us as we learn about the neighbors in our midst.

We learn that some holidays, move around the calendar and some are the same day each year..a lesson in why, is an added bonus. Lol

December: Christmas
October Day Of The Dead
January: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
January: Lunar New Year

As we head into February, and around the corner spring, there will be many more opportunities to come together as a community. Teaching and Learning cannot be limited to text books and standards. I hope that’s true for all of us.

As I sit and think and write, I do know I’m not ready to give call it a day. I may be tired but I do have the “luxury” to say “No, I’m sorry I can’t sub today, but the tomorrows await.”

I have written about “shared stories” before here and here if you’d like to take a look?

I’m always ready to hear from you, with questions or comments. The journey continues on the road traveled, or not yet.

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From The Desk Of The Retired Teacher

My #OneWord2023 stares me in the face…I will be subbing in kindergarten next week from January 9 through January 13. So here’s the reveal..with GRACE AND GRATITUDE.

Giving one grace when a mistake is made. Giving one grace when words hurt (unintentional as they may be). Giving one grace when, I don’t or didn’t know, just couldn’t be said. Giving one grace when redos can’t happen. Giving one grace when passion’s unyielding voice overwhelms a different choice. Giving one grace as the future unfolds.

Looking with gratitude at one’s bounty. Looking with gratitude at being here. Looking with gratitude at family and friends, who have been there, and to those who still are here. Looking with gratitude at memories and history, the fortitudes, resilience and joy to embrace. Looking with gratitude at unexpected turns in the road that brought me here.

Looking with grace and gratitude at the foibles encountered, not mired by nature’s force. Whether attitude or strong will, my guiding light, to see what the years ahead behold . .

Subbing In 1st Grade: GRATITUDE

I have read many joyful, inspiring, thoughtful #oneword2023 choices. I look at this as an exercise, not in reaching a goal (like a New Year’s Resolution) but as an opportunity to ponder, wonder and reflect on how it’s going and where the “untraveled” road leads.

Unexpected post inspired by @cherylabla and #WDYThink Wishing all of us a year to replenish whatever we need. Any thoughts, comments welcomed.

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Distraction And Procrastination: Symbiosis

From The Desk Of The Retired Teacher

A tweet and a tag on Twitter had me thinking. And with New Year’s 2023, right around the corner, a few hours away, a post, that to me, seems apropos!

Distraction and procrastination and how they go hand in hand. Might be like a symbiotic relationship. Come have a read. And to fill you in to the Tweet have a listen. Then the thread

A friendship formed to benefit us. An excuse, a way out when it’s needed. And isn’t this the time of year to reflect. As I look back, take stock what was needed to be done, what I did, what didn’t get done and then the big Why Not!

Here in lies the congruence, the convergence the distraction and it’s friendship with procrastination. The question which comes first may come to mind? Does distraction lead to procrastination or does procrastination lead to distraction? Or are they parallel roads? Is this where the symbiosis (nature ) comes to play. Are we aided by this relationship?

We can lay out our arguments quite successfully, I think. Eventually we make choices and get things done. Or throw them in the waste bin of later (procrastination) or the sink hole of upheaval (distraction).

And just maybe, although in the past my #oneword journey has lead me to empowering, forward moving choices for the coming year, I might lull here in distraction and procrastination, for awhile.

Wishing all a year of good health. A year filled with joyful experiences. A year of hope and peace.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and where this post may lead you. Do you have a #ONEWORD2023 to share?

The beauty of sunsets that leads into the tomorrows.
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Power of Books – between the covers

From The Desk Of The Retired Teacher

So I sit here thinking about childrens’ books from a very different perspective..stories of animal friends like in Charlotte’s Web, Elephant and Piggy, Winnie-the-Pooh, The Mitten (Jan Brett) and more. We read these books to our students. We discuss friendship, moral quandaries and a slew of other concepts. What a wonderful conduit these book are to understand diversity, empathy, getting along (given differences and similarities), hope and aspirations.

So I wonder how, when and where as adults we forget what these stories (that we held so dearly) have gone astray in our outlook on life, now. This post reminds me that we tend to be overwhelmed by the vagaries of life/living, on a day to day basis. That minutia confines us and we forget to look at the big picture. The forest for the trees comes to mind.

I think of this now before the Winter Holidays. It was a very busy week at my school and I subbed two days for the Lower Elementary art teacher. A worry at first since I had not done that in quite a long time. But needn’t be! Books to read to the different classes and follow up art assignments explained beautiful in the lesson plans. So a worry became a great experience! Although this seems like a detour from this post, I’ll connect it now. I’ve written before of my love of books and read alouds and every time I am in a classroom I am thrilled to read to the students. In these art books we can look at diversity in a different light and encourage the students to use their own ideas as a reflection and empowerment to who they are and strive to be. From feelings book to their artistic reflections on making a snowman to creating with “hands” definitely a connection. Some students finished their art, but most will continue after the break. It was an interesting experience for me to observe their process in the works. Many of the children I knew from previous subbing days. And I think there was a comfort zone for us as I reached out to those students I did not know.

In the art class I found the support that makes challenges doable. Kids asked questions, helped each other get materials they needed, were silly, excited (remember holidays just around the corner) and talkative. Each book included wonderful discussions that reflected in their art making. The stories were the conduit for the work!

And now back to the original idea of this post. I choose to look at animal fiction stories. Hopefully you’ve been exposed to this genre and the volume of books out there. Treat yourself, libraries are our friends. I often look back at these books and see how “problems” arise, often occur through misunderstandings, and how the animal characters help and support each other. Are there solutions to all the problems (no), are there ups and downs (yes)? There are tears, anger and sadness. But also joyful happy outcomes.

And that’s what I want to reflect on. We can make a difference, we can be available. We can make place for everyone who wants to join us in this space!! As always I’d love to hear from you and how your experiences reflect in your work.

Reminding us we can shine a light! Be that light!

Wishing all a holiday season that brings you peace comfort and joy.

I’ve written about books and read alouds before. Here I’ve included a post from my archives.

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Life’s Meaning

Sitting here in Dallas winding down my nine day Thanksgiving visit with my daughter, son-in-law and two of my grandkids. (The oldest is on a gap year in Israel, studying and contemplating what’s next for her.) There she is my 18 year old granddaughter doing some “adulting!” I am proud, as I wonder and worry. I had a wonderful visit with my almost 16 year old granddaughter and 14 year old grandson. Just spending time together is what we all needed. It’s been six months since my last visit for my oldest granddaughter’s high school graduation. How lucky am I to be with them for their special events, traditions and rites of passage. I have written about this here and here here .

I am that person who keeps track of milestones . It’s how I’ve always marked my life and it has served me well. The ebb and flow of life are in these milestones. The yin and yang, the full circle of the balancing act of the good and the bad. All in relative terms, I know, but these have been mine and have been part of my back bone and resilience that has been past on by generations of strong women. To them I give thanks and now come to see that as well in the next generation of my family tree.

Life is filled with the push and pull of needs and wants. Tempered by obligations that cannot be ignored. Heading back home is such. I will miss my stay in Dallas and have some more visits in the works! I look forward to being home with family (son, daughter-in-law and grandkids), and friends. And opportunities to sub. I know I keep saying I’ve retired and that’s true, but I have left the door open to sub and loudly proclaim, it was such a great decision for me!

I end this post with thoughts of gratitude to what is and tinged with a regret of what might have been (had my husband not past away six years ago). And yes, life goes on and this blurb on Viktor Frankl’s memoir Man’s Search for Meaning has me spellbound as I contemplate and reflect.

Raising and being part of a family has filled me with unmeasured joy. And I knew there was more. My work with children, teaching and learning, has been part of a meaningful life for me. I once had a conversation with my mother as we discussed what I was meant to do and be in this world. I knew with pain and sorrow, life had to have meaning. And I knew it was different for everyone. Never a value judgement (I hope I have been true to that belief)!

A will continue as I have, finding ways to create time for all that has meaning for me. Hoping as we head to more holiday celebrations and the end of 2022, we find comfort and meaning in what we do!

I saw this at a Starbucks I frequent when I’m in Dallas.
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A Day Of Discomfort

Out of my comfort zone,

Out of my wheel house,

A time to discover once again who I am?

You and me, we can be brave. You and me, we are brave!

Pushing myself, you wonder why, pushing myself to give it a try!

Knowing you have my back, makes it a go. Knowing you have my back, I give it a try.

You’ll let me wonder, you’ll let me explore, you’ll be my right hand person and make it doable, mistakes and all.

So a call to be a sub in a new grade. Would I, could I, should I, give it a try? What’s the upside, the down side begs the question, Why do it? It’s not a must do! Is there something to prove?

Curve balls, mysteries, life goes on. Standstill or give it a try?

Timid, unsure enter the room, smiling faces ease the way, smiling faces reassure! You’ve got it you said before to those who wonder, unsure, timid but willing to try. You’ve encouraged them and look around they’re here, supporting you.

It makes it okay, it makes it doable when the “village” surrounds knowing they’re here for you.

We’ve done it for the kids in our room, we do it for all who enter our room. A day of discomfort, they’ve turned it around, you’ve turned it around. A light stepped departure knowing with comfort when challenges are faced with courage and grace.

A short reflective piece on my hesitancy in subbing in a second grade classroom. The teacher absent along with the teacher present (we team teach at our school), made this a wonderful positive experience for me. Some of the children I have known since they were toddlers (having subbed in previous grade for them). The ground work was set, they knowing me and me them. The curriculum framework familiar whether content was or not, engagement, encouragement and a listening ear continues to be a driving force towards positive outcomes. These constants resonated with me throughout the day.

This short post to share a happy journey in my learning and teaching.

And when the day includes read heart is full!
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