Monday, August 27, 2012

My Educator Self

Education is not a product: mark, diploma, job, money–in that order; it is a process, a never-ending one.”
– Bel Kaufman

            A co-worker of mine asked us to think about our “Educator Self” and come up with some artifacts that tell the story of us as an educator.  Since I will be with my NHS kids tomorrow morning and have to miss the literacy lab where these will be presented, I wanted to get my artifacts out on paper (so to speak).

  • My first artifact would have been pretty hard for me to carry out of my classroom, as it is my ever-growing ­bookshelf.  I still remember when I started teaching, wondering how in the world I would ever fill even one bookcase up with books.  Now as I begin my seventh year of teaching (wow—is that even right?!  I can’t believe it has been that long!), I’ve filled two large bookcases, a shorter one, and have nine crates of books/audio books!  I feel this helps represent me as a teacher because I feel that reading is so important, both in my personal and professional lives.  I teach and encourage my students to be good readers and to read often.  I do self-selected reading with my classes and love that, by the end of the year, reading becomes a habit to them.  They go back and get their books even when I don’t make them!

  • Another artifact that represents me as a teacher would have to be my graduate school diploma.  Along with being a teacher, I consider myself to be a lifelong learner.  I feel that those two roles go hand-in-hand.  Getting my degree in Teaching of Writing helped me grow as a teacher.  I feel better-equipped to teacher writing in my class.  It also gave me a reminder of how it feels to be a student.  I try never to ask my students to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself. 

  • I’m unsure whether my third artifact should be a pen or a keyboardJ  The pen seems more traditional.  However, in a technological world the keyboard seems more relevant.  At any rate, you get the idea.  Writing is such a huge part of my life.  It’s also an important skill for my students to learn, regardless of their chosen paths in life.  As a teacher, I try to not only teach my students about writing, but show them.  For the majority of my writing assignments, I write along with my students. 

  • As all teachers know, sometimes we need to be reminded of why we are in this noble profession.  Behind my desk, I have my wall of pictures.  On this bulletin board (which is starting to run out of room!), I have pictures of my favorite classes/students.  Mixed in with the pictures are little notes and drawings from my students.  This board reminds me about how much I care about my students and how much they care about me.  Since this is the top reason why I love to teach, it’s an important reminder.

  • Finally, I would have to include my pink St. Louis Cardinals mini-bat.  As you all know, I had quite the fight last school year.  While at first glance my fight with cancer doesn’t seem to be teacher-related, I have never felt so close with my students.  It was important to me to be the best teacher I could be last year, even though I had a lot going on personally.  I was open and honest with my students and co-workers.  My students showed love, compassion, and maturity well beyond their years.  One morning, one of my old students who often visits in the morning came in armed with my pink bat.  They are often handed out at the Mother’s Day Cardinals’ game since that game is used for breast cancer awareness.  My student though I needed oneJ  It’s my reminder that I’m a fighter, both in the classroom and out.  My students better watch out, because I don’t consider failure an option!

“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” 
- Socrates

Friday, August 10, 2012


“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” 
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

            As I approach the beginning of school, I thought I’d do a quick updateJ  I have been so busy lately that I haven’t had much time for writing and I’d really like to get back into it.  I know as I get going into the school year, I will have plenty of professional topics to write about and discuss.  Plus, my daughter is a never-ending source of inspiration.  However, just to get back in the swing of things, I’ll let everyone know how I am.
            First of all—I’m doing great!  People keep asking with this slightly scared look on their face.  The short answer—I really am feeling well, I promise.  I’m starting to get back in the swing of life.  My body is finally feeling good post-surgery.  My energy level still dips by the end of the day because of chemo, but I’m getting thereJ
            As I’m sure everyone knows by now, I had two different check-ups in June—one with my oncologist and one with my surgeon.  Both check-ups went well.  My oncologist put me on a drug called Tamoxifin, which changes the way my body deals with estrogen.  It will help cancer never return, which would be my wish, of course.  I’m also on a heavy dose of vitamin D at the moment, since my post-chemo bloodwork showed that it had dipped extremely low. 
            Since my check-ups went well and chemo ended in May, I got to celebrate with close family and friends at the end of June.  It was a great party and, as always, I felt so loved. 

            The Monday after my party, I was back in surgery—this time for something more positive.  My tissue expanders were replaced on July 2nd.  Surgery went well.  However, I’ve had a couple small issues.  I got a rash after surgery from the antibiotic, but when I was taken off of it, I got the start of an infection.  I was able to fight it off with a different antibiotic.  I also have some issues on one side since there was not much skin to work with.  It will be a slow process getting that side to stretch out.  I said I was finally feeling better after surgery.  I mean that both physically and emotionally.  For some reason, I had a hard time mentally with this past surgery.  Part of it, I know, is that I had such bad luck with the tissue expanders last time.  I’m terrified of getting an infection that will send me back in the hospital or back into surgery.  Those things take me away from my baby girl and I don’t deal well without her.  Also, this surgery is for me.  So, as I was sitting at home by myself recovering with Grace at daycare, I felt extremely selfish.  At any rate, I’m finally feeling better.  I had a check-up about a week ago with my plastic surgeon.  I don’t see him again until the second week of September when, hopefully, I get to start getting fills.  If the skin on my one side cooperates and I have no more complications, I should get implants later this year.
              Now it’s just time to pray for my check-ups next month—one with my plastic surgeon, of course, and one with my oncologist. 
            Thankfully, I recovered in enough time to take two great trips.  My first one was to New Orleans for the READ 180 conference.  I hated to be away from Grace.  However, I have always wanted to go to New Orleans, and when else would I get a chance to get paid to go?  It was an amazing conference during the day, where I learned a lot to bring back to my classroom.  I also had a great time exploring the city each night with my co-worker/friend, Amanda Moore!

            This past weekend, Grace got to go on her first vacation!  Josh and I took her to Branson, MO.  We also got to take her Aunt B (my sis), Aunt Jacque, Uncle Jeremy, and Alex (my nephew).  She had such a great time.  Grace LOVES water and she got to go on a “boat in the wawer,” so she was one happy camper.  When Grace is happy—Mommy is happyJ

            The rest of my time this summer has been spent with Baby GirlJ  We play all day, every day.  We go outside to play in her little house or on her swing set.  We have play dates.  We visit my Grandma Betty on the farm, play in the hose, hang out with Dada, and visit family.  And- we spend a lot of time laughing, dancing, giggling, and hugging.  OH- and one of the best things ever—She has learned how to say “I love you” this summer.  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything more magical in my whole life!
            Well, school starts back next week.  I’m sad to see my extra time with Grace end, but part of me is ready to go back.  I do much better with a schedule.  Now that my surgery is done, I need to get back to walking like my oncologist wants me to.  I also need to get back to eating healthy, which I don’t do well when I’m home all day.  So… it’s back to school, back to walking, back to weight watchers.  And- I will still get to spend a lot of time every night and weekend with my familyJ  Hopefully there will be more snow days this year;)