One Angry Bird #sol21

April 13, 2021

I have to admit I’ve always loved robins. What’s not to like? Harbingers of spring. That adorable red-orange breast. The way they hop along the lawn stopping to listen for worms and grubs under the service. All in all, they are in my top ten birds.

So yesterday when I began my encounter with this guy, I was a little taken aback, but let’s start the story from the beginning (ish).

I haven’t been spending much time in the literacy center of late, but yesterday afternoon I was determined to shelve returned books and generally tidy up.

As I neared the K/L section near the window, I hear a thud as if something hit the window. When I turned, this guy, our robin was casually sitting on this branch of the crabapple tree right outside the window in our learning courtyard.

Hi, robin! I thought, leaning close to the window to admire him. Yesterday was chilly and he puffed himself out. He looked right in the window. I smiled to myself considering him to be good company and continued about my way, sorting and shelving books.

I continued to hear this thud every few minutes, but when I turned, I just say the robin dropping to the ground. At first I didn’t connect the robin to the thud. Then I saw him strike the window with his claws. Again, I thought perhaps he was trying to light on the top of the window or the gutter above and missed. Maybe he was trying to sit on the white plastic surrounding the window.

But then… it continued happening. Over and over again, the robin struck the window. Is it making a nest?

What is going on?

Does he look angry? Do birds actually have anger?

Busy with my tasks, I continued and when I turned off the lights and went home, I didn’t give it another thought.

But this morning,

I dropped my coat and handbag on the table, turned on the lights. I caught a glimpse of the robin through the window and then,

The robin attacked. Over and over throwing itself against the window. I was on a zoom call when I finally said, do you mind holding a moment, this robin is attacking my window. I have to see what’s going on.

I went around the hallway and unlocked the courtyard door. On the way, I said to the occupational therapist, did you hear that robin throwing himself at my window?

I went outside. The robins was casually sitting in the tree.

What’s up? I said.

No response from the robin.

No sign of a nest in the gutter or on the ledge of bricks above my window. The sun shone and all seemed right with the world.

I returned to my call. But I could hear it. The sound of bird claws striking the window.

What is this???

An internet search suggested that he sees his reflection and thinks he is attacking a rival. Ok, well that’s the one window I do not have a shade for, so plan B.

Thud.

Thud.

The next advice says to put up gel clings or stickers on the window to break up the window view. So…

I sent an email.

I received these replies:

and this

The lovely butterfly was dispatched to the window. Mr. Robin did not appreciate this. He then began to throw himself at the window in earnest… (sigh) I took down the butterfly.

The window/bird incident was the community talk. I received more advice, some visitors to view the angry bird, but not much success.

This afternoon as I write, he is not to be seen, but there’s always tomorrow.

Further research…

Superstitious Beliefs about Birds Flying into Closed Window from the internet.

In some cultures, it is a sign of impending doom when a bird hits a window.

Other traditions believe that the bird hitting your window is just a messenger.

Some believe the bird carries a goodwill message, while others believe it’s a message of death.

So generally, according to all traditions, a bird hitting your window signifies change.

Change?

As Sheryl Crow says, a change might do me good.

back to school #sol21

Back to School #sol21

April 6, 2021

The cars slowly pull up in front of the school.

Initially, except for the balloons and more people out front, it seems like any other Monday. But as more and more students exit the cars, the feeling begins to grow. The parents are smiling. The children exiting the cars shimmer with anticipation. I hear someone call my name and as a car pulls up, a caregiver calls with relief, here you are for —– first day of school! Oh, I am definitely here for —- first day of school!

Here I am for the first day of school in April.

Could there be a better time for renewal that this spring day?

As I continue to open car doors and call Good Morning, I get choked up. A lump forms in my throat.

What is it?

Is it relief?

I’ve been so hopeful for this day, this reality, but now, I’m overcome with emotion for just a moment.

Bubbling up from deep within… joy.

When the halls fill and the classrooms do as well, I exhale.

As I move around the room with a kindergarten teacher, checking supplies, greeting eye smiles with eye smiles.

I am so happy for them… for us.

We have a week full of special days planned. Ask me About… Monday. Book Recommendation Tuesday. Spirit Wednesday. Rainbow Friday.

But today… today is actually,

The More we are together, the happier we’ll be.. Monday.

That’s exactly how I feel… happier.

Change Eve

Change Eve

April 1, 2021

Today I will not stress over things I can’t control.

Today I will not stress over thing I do control.

Today I will not stress over things you control.

Today I will not stress over things no one controls.

Today I will not stress over things.

Today I will not stress.

Today I will.

After writing every day for a month, I couldn’t quite quit. So here is a little poem to begin poetry month on the brink of another seismic change in our pedagogy delivery model. I took a quote from my phone bank and manipulated the words to create this freeform poem.

My History of Women #sol21

My History of Women #sol21

March 31, 2021

On this last day of March, I consider Women’s History Month.

While I love to read about strong, brave women in history and share these stories with my students, the brave women who set an example for me daily will not be found in those books.

These are the women I come from.

I come from settlers and immigrants. Women leaving homelands and settling out on the prairie in sod houses.

I come from working women. Women with purpose contributing to their families and each other.

I come from sisters not my own. My grandmother’s sisters, my aunts, teaming together planning, supporting, loving, and doing.

I come from strong sisters, my father’s aunts, who stepped up when his own mother passed away. Women with compassion for others and a strong sense of family.

I come from a busy kitchen, the heart of a home, filled with my grandmother finishing one task at a time, busy, busy throughout the day. Her perfect penmanship scrawling across letters conveying love and daily news, a life line for those homesick wanderers.

I come from a sea of women educators spanning decades. Women who taught me, encouraged me, and put me back on the path when I was in the weeds.

I stand with my current band of women, changing the world. Changing the world with their daily actions, their small acts, their example.

I have a history of women. A rich history.

One full of inspiration.

So Much To-Do #sol21

nearly 8:30 pm. Sunday evening

So Much To-Do #sol21

March 30. 2021

Nearly every day I make a morning to-do list. Filled to the brim with good intentions, it rarely meets completion.

In order to end the day with some sense of satisfaction, I put something on the list that I know I will and can accomplish.

Most of the time, these are purposeful items. On Saturday, I might add a yard work item to get me outside and moving.

On Sunday, usually laundry. However, laundry doesn’t seem to give me the sense of accomplishment I crave on a Sunday night after two days “off”.

This Sunday, I was really behind on my regular chores. I spent all day outside working in the yard on Saturday soaking up one of our first truly spring days. So on Sunday night, I felt a little depressed about my lack of accomplishments.

I made my asynchronous lessons for the week and prepped for my synchronous lessons online for the last time this year. I had a few more computer based tasks on my list, but I have some strict rules about the amount of screen time I give myself on a Sunday.

As I make my way up from my lower level office, I head into the kitchen. There on the counter is the flour I left out at dinner time intending to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

Cookies are truly my to-do list super stars. Talk about a sense of accomplishment. For less than thirty minutes of effort in most cases, your house fills with the satisfying smell of baking. The clean up is minimum. I have the recipe for chocolate chips memorized. So off I go to complete one more task on the to-do list. And then…

Right before bedtime, those warm, chocolate-melty, perfect little circles of cookie perfection.

So take my advice, if you bust your to-do list, add making cookies to the bottom of the list.

You’ll feel like you’ve really accomplished something.

Disney Magic #sol21

Disney Magic #sol21

March 29,2021

I believe in inspiration and aspiration

along with

observation, data, reflection

and magic…

I recently heard that Walt Disney said that magic was just reality that has exceeded expectations.

That’s my reality nearly every day of the week. I am adding magic creator to my resume.

As educators, we set out every day to create a reality, a reality with some pretty steep expectations.

So many days, those expectations are exceeded. I want to expect and do see that magic every single day not because my expectations are low because my belief in those moments is ridiculously high.

Every seed is a promise. Every moment is an opportunity.

Like last week when Michael read The Mess and then hugged me out of sheer joy.

Today, when that kindergarten could rhyme every single pair I put in front of him.

When that other kindergarten read that Baby Animal book that I thought was A level, but in fact, was level B, without any errors.

When that fourth grade spontaneously said, I’m reading a great book that Mrs. Kennedy loaned me.

When I was sad that sweet pie didn’t know any of the names of the letters, but consistently told me each of their sounds without prompting.

That was just in the last three days.

So yes, my life is filled with reality exceeding expectations.

Just call me a magician.

Thanks to Cornelius Minor in this podcast, Water for Teachers for making me think of my magic through his eyes and the eyes of Walt Disney.

Pivoting while Moving #sol21

Pivoting While Moving #sol21

March 28, 2019

I chose the word pivot as my one little word for 2021. I try to make it a habit to check in once a month with my word and see how I am doing. It seems appropriate the check-in is now for looming on our learning community horizon is a ‘full return to school’. While I could definitely get into the weeds right now splitting hairs about what full return might be…

This is a story about pivoting while coaching…

When the pandemic began and we went into full closure and then fully online learning in the fall, I struggled to think about my role as a coach and what in the heck it might look like. Before the pandemic, I met with teachers in coaching sessions and co-taught with them in their classrooms meeting with small groups, teaching whole class lessons, developing tools, conferring, all the coaching things you might imagine. When we went fully remote, at first everything went silent… on both ends.

Then I thought, what would I need if I were teaching remotely… resources, strategies, techniques, and sometimes a straight (man) or an extra hand. For some, I became all of those things or some of those things. I met with students in small groups online with sign ups. I met with teachers after ‘class’ talking about what might be next, what it looked like students need, what tools I had tried or seen or even heard of. We discussed how to write together, how to read aloud, how to check in. It was wonky, but it sort of worked. I had scheduled times to check in with classes, kids, and teachers. I made tools. It was a lot and not nearly enough.

In the fall, we went to a new model, hybrid. Again, we could talk about what that looked like, different time/place. Suffice it to say, some kids were in the seats, some were on the screen and that switched every other week. Some kids were permanently at home and so were some teachers. There was plexiglass and distancing, masks and restarting all the time. Again, how would my pre-pandemic or even my early pandemic model of coaching help anyone in this situation. Reinvention and reimagining ensued. I met with teachers. I met with students in real life and on screens. Sometimes I showed up in classes and conferred, read, taught, assessed and observed. We developed a rhythm and it was a lot and not nearly enough.

A week from now, the students will return to live school. The schedule will change, some students will join, some staff will return. I think… how will my pre-pandemic, my early pandemic, and my mid-pandemic coaching help with students and teachers in this new phase…

And then it hit me… there are the same key points to coaching, no matter where or when or how. You show up. You offer to listen… and then to help. You fill your bucket with cool water and you offer a drink to the thirsty.

My coaching words are not profound. They aren’t all new and shiny. Often they take revision.

What they always are… heartfelt, sincere, followed by action… and reaction.

I have moved books. I have found tools. I have hunted for resources and sometimes invented them.

Mostly I have encouraged. I have noticed. I have celebrated.

It’s the same coaching, no matter the consequences. A lot… and not nearly enough.

A Moment #sol21

A Moment #sol21

I come around the corner with my cart. I’m thinking about the kindergarteners I’ve left and the meeting approaching. There in front of me coming down the hall is Andrea, she’s smiling. Next to her is one of her readers, Michael, clutching a paper book like it’s the most important thing in the world.

Immediately recognizing that look, that feeling, I greet them.

Hello, readers!

Mrs. Kennedy, we are so glad we found you. Do you have time to hear Michael read his book?

I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.

Of course! Michael do you want to come into my room to read?

Michael has never been inside the literacy center so he peers in skeptically.

Ok, he says.

Where should we sit? How about here?

The two of us sit side by side at my moon table. For a moment I think, when is the last time I did this?

His teacher sits a few feet away at the next table.

Michael spreads the book out in front of him. I recognize it right away, a decodable book called The Mess.

Oh, The Mess, Michael! That’s a great book. Let’s hear it!

Michael begins to read.

His voice is a little shaky. He halts frequently, looking up at his teacher, who nods encouragement.

She says go on, her voice brimming with love and pride.

Word by word, phrase by phrase, he points those small fingers firmly under each word.

I can see the white spread out in his fingertips from the pressure.

He takes a breath. He keeps going.

Time suspends and the three of us are joined in this moment, this activity, this accomplishment.

Word my word, phrase by phrase, a page turn, Michael continues to read. Each word just right.

Until then, the last word on the last page.

I sigh. What a perfect moment. How fortunate I am to share it with him, with her.

I think, I would high five, but that’s out. Then what?

I’m not sure he’ll know a forearm bump. Finally, I clap.

He looks up beaming right into my face. He jumps to his feet.

He rushes forward in one swift movement and…

HUGS me… tightly.

We all gasp.

Arms around my neck, I feel the joy seep in.

I want to weep, I’m so happy.

Happy about the reading, his joy, and…

the first child hug in so, so long.

Unbroken #sol21

Unbroken #sol21

On my way to work,

stretched thin from lack of sleep,

replaying the long, long to-do list in my head, shifting the priorities

and wondering what is really possible.

The phone rings as I near the parking lot and I smile.

Hey bud, I saw you called, what’s up?

Nothing really, I say. Just checking in.

And check in we do.

We are stretched apart now, no schedule of when we see each other and yet…

We remain constant.

Silky threads of experiences float across

back and forth

Her parent conferences

My online kiddos

Our shared joy at being with those young people day after day.

We discuss practice… and theory

and restaurants soon to be visited

of future plans

and current routines

I miss her

before she hangs up she says…

love you

like she always does.

and now I feel just a little less stretched and more whole.

Teach Me #sol21

Teach Me #sol21

March 25, 2021

She’s been talking more lately. Calling me before school.

Dropping by when her student teacher is there.

We would have gone together to NY to the Reunion,

but the pandemic has kept us from so many of our routines.

Yesterday she texted me in the morning. Are you free at 12:50?

For you, I’ll be free, I thought, but I texted back a thumbs up.

She came down at 12:50. She had her computer with her.

She sat down across from me at that moon table.

… and began to teach me all the things she learned at the reunion.

Just like the conversations we would have had so many years before…

…as if nothing had changed between us or around us.

For twenty minutes or so, she taught me about one idea and another,

stopping to talk about how we might use this new knowledge.

I had that feeling that you have when sunshine surprisingly pours over you,

that feeling you have when you get a strong hug,

that feeling of a tiny piece of you fitting back into the place where it belongs.

When you come around the curve and you can see a familiar stretch of road ahead.

I did learn a little more about teaching and learning yesterday, but …

I was restored by friendship.