Foster Parenting

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.