A new semester. A new procedure.

Interactive notebook


It was with vexing dismay that I realized that my job as teacher was consuming me.  That awareness was the catalyst for a bit of rearranging of my classroom procedures.  I started with what is probably the least important assignment that causes me much consternation: students’ interactive notebooks.

Middle school students are basically disorganized even when told exactly how to organize something, such as a notebook.  Some of my students’ notebooks are in such disarray that I despaired of their successfully studying the contents.  Whereas I was a student who relished learning and inhaled the scent of new notebooks, folders, and writing utensils, many adolescents today mutilate their notebooks beyond usefulness.   As I strove to create hyper-organized notes and table of contents, some students were writing  love notes and resharpening broken pencils to nubs so they could scribble pointlessly in notebooks.  For these students, earning a passing grade on a notebook check was an impossibility.

Today, I transmitted the sole responsibility of notebook organization to my students.  For the rest of the school year, students are responsible for what they choose to record in notebooks.  Each week, I will give a mini-quiz over the information we have covered.  It’s genius really.  Instead of gathering raggedy notebooks to pore over, I will recoup some much needed time for myself; I don’t have to cry at the sight of strangled, de-boned spiral notebooks anymore.

With this new tactic, I predict that I will save myself about twelve hours of grading and TOC-making  over the next several weeks.

Time rearranged = 12 hours

Rearranging stuff

My sister, creator of StoneLeaf & Co., has been rearranging stuff for a long time.  Each necessary shift has positively impacted her and her outlook. She wrote yesterday about how she has been on a journey searching for a purpose and voice for her writing.  She has accepted that her current story to tell is about our mother and the uncomfortable journey of Alzheimer’s.  I respect my sister’s strength to accept her current role.

I am therefore inspired to accept opportunities for growth as 2015 begins.  I don’t know what will need to be rearranged first, but I suspect it will be something mundane: hanging up clothes, painting the edges of the walls in my kitchen, clearing out all the bins I have collected in 12 years of teaching, finishing a book, redistributing my fat to muscle ratio, finding more time to spend with loved ones, etc.

I will probably rearrange some furniture sooner or later too.

I do know one thing.  I am not good at keeping “new year’s resolutions.”  So, this year, I am going to trust God first.  Then, I am going to set 24-hour goals and see what happens as stuff gets rearranged. I hope the result is a better me.

T-shirts folded and rearranged.

T-shirts folded and rearranged.

Today I saw… A Mother’s Joy

Today I saw a mother’s joy.  She cried with pride as she told us how much her daughter loves her teachers.  The mother cried more as we assured he that her daughter has impressed us with her creativity and positive attitude.

I am not a mother, but I think I can understand the depth of love an pride a mother feels for a child.  My own mother still encourages me and tells me she is proud of me.

Mom and beth

Mom and me