New Year’s Eve!

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I’m back. I could pretend that my summer was horribly busy, or that I made a conscious decision to unplug from all things internet, but both of those reasons for the lapse here would be a lie. The real reason for the lag in blogging…I got to see most of the people (all four of you!) that read this blog to keep up with my life. That and my summer life consisted of running (go half marathon), laying out to achieve the perfect swimsuit-less tan for Elyse’s wedding, and dogsitting. All of these three are not that interesting to blog about and also difficult to do while blogging. There was a last hurrah road trip (sidenote: if you get married, I will try to make going to your wedding into a road-trip) in which I saw my dearest college friends, but over all this summer was relaxing to the extreme.

After all this relaxation, I was ready to run the race marked out for me. Not. Going back to work was tough. It’s amazing how quickly I adjusted to doing nothing all day. I’m still wondering how to fit all my nothingness into my full-time work schedule.

After frenetically making to-do lists on my giant yellow posts with sharpie only to cross tasks off seconds later, I stopped to think a little about this upcoming school year. This is a fresh start with no mistakes in it. So I made a list on the post-it. And I can’t wait to start crossing things off.

1) Listen more. As a naturally quiet and observant person, I am a decent listener. But I could be better. Even though I don’t love listening to an entire plot of yet another Percy Jackson novel (seriously, Rick Riordan…stop writing these), I don’t regret the time I spent listening to a student narrate a story they feel passionately about. And if I really stop to think about it, I get a little goose-bumpy when I think about how excited they are to be sharing something with me. How often do you really get to gush about something you love? (If you’re me, it’s every time you go home and tell your family all about the latest books you’re reading).

2) Celebrate more. Granted we have a birthday just about every week, but I still think there are more things to feel festive about. I’m not sure what this looks like, but I know that mini festivals bring community and joy to what can be mundane.

3) Cultivate peacefulness. I do not want my students to be completely silent all of the time. But even in the midst of noise, there can be peace. My favorite moments in the classroom are when everyone is earnestly doing their work. This has probably happened three times since I started teaching. But truly, there’s nothing happier than twenty-two eleven-year-olds furiously drawing a map of Paris and plotting the quickest way  to the Place de la Révolution from The Temple. The class seems to be most at peace when I am most at peace, which I suppose means when I am the most organized and engaged in the present moment.

4) Continue the snack healthiness. I read Bringing up Bébé (book about French child-rearing) over the summer and French kids snack once a day. My kids snack once in our school day (10 a.m.), and our healthy snacks last year were legendary. They ate the weirdest healthy foods. All because they were constitutionally bound to eat healthy snacks four out of the five school days.

5) Introduce Dickens to 6th graders again. It has been my privilege to introduce my students to the inimitable Charles Dickens for the past two years. Kids get Dickens. They like coincidences. They like melodrama. They instinctively like the goodness of Joe, and they see Estella as distant and inconstant as winking stars. When Pip encounters Estella for the first time, he is just about their age. This meeting forever changes him. Although they’ve never explicitly said this, I think at some level they continue to see Pip as a twelve-year-old for the rest of the novel. Whenever I remind them of Pip’s actual age as the story progresses they are always shocked. I hope, perhaps foolishly, that they are somehow learning from Pip and can avoid the mistakes that he made. Or maybe more importantly, I want them to take away from this story the truth that even when mistakes are made there is grace heaped upon grace. And on a much shallower level, I want them to learn that Dickens wrote good stories. Just as good as Suzanne Collins. Or Stephanie Meyer. Or whatever other YA fiction author is lurking around the corner.

And now off to bed. Because being at work by 7:30 is not for the faint of heart or the exhausted.

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4 thoughts on “New Year’s Eve!

  1. I love you, Bethany, and I also want to read Dickens every time you talk about him. Which is a great compliment to you, I am sure. Let us spend many, many summers roadtripping around and seeing each other again in the future. I find it most delightful.

  2. 🙂 Around here, we love any excuse to celebrate. The boys get so fired up for any occasion, like “Wear Blue Day” at school or – the latest and most hyped – Reptile Week on Wild Kratts.
    On another topic… I was curious about the book you mentioned, Bringing Up Bébé, so I looked it up and read the summary. I find it hysterical that someone wanted to imitate French parenting based on the premise that French children are “far better behaved” than Americans (!?!?!?!). My experiences as a 12-year-old exchange student (and various other encounters since) have shown me otherwise. I do believe that a frantic new parent could see the laissez-faire attitude of French parents and mistake it for “easy, calm authority”. I am NOT claiming that American parents have the French beat, by any stretch – just that the French are not obviously superior in this arena. However, when it comes to snacking, I concede!
    Hope you have a wonderful school year 🙂

    1. After reading the book, my mother and I both agreed that the author was a terrible, overly permissive mother. I think the book is meant to be a reaction against pockets of America in which the child has to be the center of attention all the time.

      You should have seen the sad faces when I said we wouldn’t be having an afternoon snack (lunch is done by 12:15 and school gets out at 3:15).

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