Swimming & Snow

The most sought after summer accessory as a kid was the brightly colored wristband that gave the wearer the right to navigate the deep end of the pool.  With this, you were no longer restricted to the shallows and instead were allowed free reign of the diving board and slides.

Before you could obtain this treasure however, you had to pass THE SWIM TEST.  This involved swimming a certain number of laps, being able to jump off the diving board and not need rescuing and the most dreadful of all, treading water.

On the surface, treading water seems the most innocuous of all the tasks, after all, all you have to do is keep your head above the water.  No real skill, style, or bravado needed.  After even a short time of treading water though, it is clear that this is the most trying test of them all.  It’s not long before your arms and legs start to tire and your chin gets closer and closer to the water.

So what has me thinking of swimming and summer when I’m surrounded by the nearly three feet of snow that has incapacitated our area and cancelled school for the past three days?  It was a comment Jessica made about how we should be back to blogging by now but that she’s been feeling she’s treading water in her classroom and that it’s taking all she can to keep her head up.  Of course, if I can liken teaching to sky diving like I did here, I can pretty much tie anything to teaching.

The parallels are there. Diving off the board is like the beginning of the year when you can’t wait to just jump in. Swimming the laps is like when you’ve found yourself in a little bit of a groove and things are going well.  And the rest of the time, well, that’s when you are just keeping your head up treading water.

But as I’m starting at the mounds of fresh snow out the window, I’m wondering if treading water isn’t the most important skill of them all. How bad it is if, every once in a while, we dunk under water.  As long as we don’t drown, being immersed can be refreshing, a reminder of why we got in the pool in the first place.

It is with this perspective that I’ve decided a few things:

  1. Treading water is essential to becoming a strong swimmer and enjoying the deep end.  Feeling a little like it’s taking all we can just to survive is proof that we can do plenty but that we don’t have to be perfect at it all, all the time.
  2. Since we don’t have to be perfect at it all, it’s ok to share when we are feeling a little under the water.
  3. It is time to get back to blogging!


Duct Tape Dining

I could not live without duct tape.  I found that out this morning when I came into my classroom and sat down to breakfast.  My oatmeal kept sliding around on the table every time I put my arm on it for balance.  I finally figured out that someone had kicked the paper out that kept the table balanced. (AGAIN)

table legDuct tape to save the day.  I realized that I needed a more permanent fix for the table and Duct tape came to the rescue.  We no longer have to keep putting a folded piece of paper under the leg, it is fixed in place and we can keep our food in front of us instead of it sliding around the table when we try to eat.

Food table with broken leg

Processed with RookieSoL

Battle of the Books 2015: Part 1: The Awakening

Inside of me lives a monster.  A monster that thrives on competition, obsesses overs perfection, follow stats and condones violence.  This monster compels me to paint my nails, my face and my body to show support for a team.  This monster values sacrifice and bravery. This monster has no problem starting fights. This monster has a name and it is Sport Fanatic.

“Monster?” you say, “Surely she is exaggerating.”  I am not. I realized I had a problem years ago at a football game.  I was there to support my friend’s daughter who was cheering.  I had no stake in the game and no knowledge of the teams.  I wasn’t even there to watch the game.  Yet, I still found myself right there on the sidelines, and when it looked like there was going to be a runaway play, found myself screaming at the defence to “BRING HIM DOWN!  DOWN TO THE GROUND!”

Then I came to my senses and it registered that this was a midget flag football game.  In no other setting would I ever ask one five-year-old to harm another and even in that setting I really should not have been doing so.  That’s when I realized I had to do something.  That’s when I realized the monster needed to be locked away.

And I have locked the monster away.  I avert my eyes in restaurants that play sports channels.  I change the station when they start talking sports on the radio.  I don’t even follow my old teams anymore.  I think I have made a recovery.  I think I have beaten the monster.  The monster is just a specter that lets me enjoy sports movies and who I sometimes let out during the Olympics.

But then…

The other day we had a two-hour delay due to icy road conditions.  I woke up and was ready at my regular time, but did not need to go into work as usual and did not really want to be driving in the dark anyhow.  I felt purposeless, as there really wasn’t enough time before sunrise when I would leave for me to get anything done and I knew that if I tried going back to sleep I would just wrinkle my clothes and most likely end up being late.  So I sat on my couch and did my newest obsession, read teacher blogs.

I came across this:

Book Battle Inspiration

Thanks to the Brown Bag Teacher for sparking the flame!  For more information about how she runs her Tournament, check out her website.

And the monster awakened.  It awakened and has mated with the mild-mannered book nerd that was it’s cellmate inside me.  It has made friends with other people I work with, people who seemed normal but obviously have a little crazy inside of them too.  The monster is coming out to lead a school-wide Battle of the Books.  There’s no stopping it now.


The monster is back.  Stay tuned for updates on the havoc it produces, the relationships it ruins and the chaos it creates.


Squiwh, Swipsh, Swoop: Labeling Happiness.

Squiwh. Swipsh. Swoop.  Squiwh. Swipsh. Swoop.

It’s hard to describe how comforting that sound sequence is.  That’s the sound my label maker makes.  Yesterday Jessica and I posted about 10 Things Nobody Told You Your Classroom Needs But That it Absolutely Does and my label maker made the list.  It’s something that I came in to early to school this morning to use.  Extra early, in fact, because I already had to come in early for an IEP amendment meeting this morning.

I brought it in to label the drawers of the new organizers I found at Goodwill that now, along with my new tables, replace the black holes that were student desks. I also thought it was important to do this:

Labels, tables, organizers, early morning productiveness.  There’s so much to be happy about.