Foster Parenting

Friday, August 10, 2018

Celebrating #PB10for10

 This is one of my favorite times of the year.  The beginning of school always brings feelings of excitement and anticipation.  Add to that a bevy of picture book ideas and what more could you want?  I am happy to join Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek in their annual Picture Book 10 for 10 event.

This summer, I had lots of time to think about work I began during the last school year around Rudine Sims Bishop's 1990 Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors. I want my students to see themselves represented in the texts I read to them.  In the same way, I want to provide "windows and sliding glass doors" where students can see into those lives that are different from their own.  It is through that lens that I base my list which you can see below.  There are so many books that I want to add to this list, but I had to narrow it down.  If you have other books that fall under this category that you love, leave a comment below. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Powdered Sugar Donuts

I am joining TWT's Slice of Life Tuesday where writers share stories from a slice of their lives. 

When I was a little girl, my family would spend vacations at my grandparents' cabin in Geneva, Ohio.  Most of the time, it was two or three families smushed into the 2 bedroom cabin with the kids all piled in the loft above the living room.  The days were filled with swimming in the river, playing cards, water fights, going to town to the five and dime store. 

The weekends were extra special because that's when Grandma and Pop would join us and Grandma always brought Hostess powdered sugar donuts - the small ones.  Pop started the day early, sitting on the swing that overlooked the river, his yellow coffee mug in hand.  On those days, I got up early because I knew I could grab the box of donuts and bring them outside with me.  I would hop up next to my grandfather and we would swing back and forth, eating donuts, the powder coating my fingers and clinging to my lips.

This morning I woke up early and snuck out of the cabin where we are vacationing in PA.  At first it was just me, the birds, and frogs sitting out under the pergola, book in hand, mug of steaming tea nearby. 

It wasn't long before I saw Destiny peek around the corner. still in her pajamas.  I had an idea.

I went inside and grabbed the box of donuts I had bought last night.  She poured herself a glass of milk and together we headed back out to the pergola.  As we ate donuts, I told her the story of my grandpa and me.  It was a glorious morning filled with smiles, stories and powdered sugared lips. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

#CyberPD Being the Change: Listening with Love

I am joining the summer #CyberPD community as we read and discuss Being the Change by Sara Ahmed.  

I was thrilled when I learned that this book was the one chosen for #CyberPD. This is a topic near and dear to my heart especially in our state of current events.  It is more important than ever that we are agents of change and support our students in doing the same.  Sara quotes Peter Johnston on p. 31, reminding us that the actions we want our students to take begins inside their heads.  We learn over and over throughout this book how important our language is and how messy this work can be.  Chapter 2 especially had an impact on me.

"If we want our kids to truly respect one another we have to meet them where they are, consider interactions from their perspectives, and find teachable moments along the way" (p. 31).  

This is hard but necessary work!  Not only do we need to consider others' perspectives, we need to create space and opportunities for our students to learn how to appreciate others' perspectives.  Sara makes a great point in using the word "mentor" instead of "teach" (there's that language thing) because she says, it's important that we are practicing these skills too. I would add that we practice these skills both inside and outside our classrooms.

Listening with love, the title of this chapter elicits powerful emotions inside of me.  Living the last 2 years with  foster daughters who have traumatic backgrounds has opened my eyes to the importance of listening with love and considering their perspectives during difficult situations.  There were many times that I was quick to come to a conclusion (usually negative), that changed when I came to better understand what was going on in their minds.  As I look forward to the next school year, I will have students in my classroom who also come from trauma.  Their needs are different from typical students and I want to make sure I provide a safe environment for all.  Listening with empathy lays the foundation for creating a space where all feel safe to communicate their beliefs and feelings. 

I appreciate the activities, sentence stems, and ideas for addressing tensions that are provided in this chapter.  I've highlighted so many parts of this chapter that I want to remember.  Here are a few:

  • Social comprehension is not always comfortable.  It strives for awareness and understanding, not consensus and compliance.
  • Consider:  Are there other ways to see this?
  • This work is messy because it is authentic and it deals with human beings.
  • Listening requires us to consider and utilize perspective, evidence, and language, connecting the new to the unknown, and we evolve as a result.
  • Our goal is to treat listening as an act of love.
  • When heated talks arise, we need to listen better.

I am looking forward to delving deeper into this book and continuing the conversation with others.  

Friday, March 30, 2018

Words of Wisdom #SOL18 30/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.

"I don't have any words of wisdom.  I come to understand."  

Those were the words she said to me as we sat down to process this week's events.  She came to me in her role as the literacy instructional leader, but more importantly, she came as my friend.  Her words made me stop and I laughed, saying that they were profound words...words worthy of splashing across a sign to hang where everyone could see.  However, I wasn't joking.  I meant it.

"I don't have any words of wisdom.  I come to understand."

What would happen if instead of coming to the table with all the answers, we came to listen and understand?  I know it's something that I work on every day as a wife, a parent, a friend, a teacher and literacy coach.  It's not easy for me.  My natural tendency is to come up with a solution immediately (or even come to a conclusion before I understand the whole problem...not really a very good trait).  I have a million not so pretty stories of this character trait not working out so well for me.  

What would happen if we all gave each other the benefit of understanding and assuming best intentions?  So many hurt feelings would be avoided.  

Each morning, I begin my day with meditation, writing my gratitudes in my journal and setting an intention for the day.  I learned about creating a "to be" list from another teacher leader and friend.  I ask myself, "What or how do I want to be today?"  If there is something going on with the girls, my intention is often to focus on being patient.  Sometimes my intention is to be present in the moment and enjoy what comes my way.  

Today my intention is to listen to the message my friend gave to me.  

I want to understand for the sole purpose of gaining insight to what others are thinking and feeling.  

I don't need to have any profound answers or solutions.  

I will come to understand.  


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Family Squeeze #SOL18 27/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.

This afternoon didn't end so well.  

Tonight was better.
Keith wrapped me in a hug.
Then Autumn burrowed in close to me and threw her arms around me.
Finally, Destiny jumped on the three of us shouting,
"Family Squeeze Time!"
We all wrapped our arms around her and squeezed as tight as we could.

Family squeeze time was just what I needed.  

Monday, March 26, 2018

Classroom Stitches #SOL18 #26/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.

Today, I use Eileen Spinelli's Poem of the Month, "Winter Stitches" as a mentor.  I had just happened to pop into a third grade classroom when they were getting ready to write their Slice of Life stories.  I quickly went to get my computer and settled in next to them.  Oh, how I miss writing with young writers. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Farewell to Spring Break SOL#18 25/31

I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  I appreciate this space for writers to tell their stories and connect with each other.

Dear Spring Break,

I want to take a moment to say thank you.  Thank you for time to take a break from the ordinary and slip into a different world for a just a bit.  There's nothing like traveling to warmer weather and seeing flowers blooming and leaves on the trees.  It gives me hope for what's soon to come back here at home.  

Thank you for the opportunity to see the world through the girls' eyes.  Autumn loved the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter, especially at night.  Destiny loved the ghost tour and was disappointed that we couldn't check into the haunted hotel.  I hope that these memories stay with them forever.  

Thank you for the ability to slow down just a bit.  Time to read, time to play, time to explore.  It was time we all needed.  And now we are ready to get back to our normal routine.  Sometimes we need these breaks to appreciate the ordinary moments of our lives.