Shhhh…I missed a day of the Slice of Life Challenge. It was one of those days–rare in my teaching career–when I couldn’t get myself up and out to work.
On Tuesday night, after a long day and a late meeting, I headed to bed feeling chilled and achy. I’m pretty good at sleeping, so I figured I would feel better in the morning. I felt myself toss and turn throughout the night, trying to find a position where my head didn’t hurt, where my body felt relaxed. I woke up before my alarm feeling the heaviness of a dread I tried to push away.
As I wrote on Tuesday’s slice, I had great plans for Wednesday! We would be creating wire fish, a project including science, engineering, math, technology, art, reflection, creativity… So when I woke up with the horrendous headache and body that felt on the verge of collapse, I pushed back. Of course I could go to work, I would will myself to feel better.
I stumbled to the shower, sure that the not-too-warm water would ease the pains and refresh my mind. When I found myself sitting on the shower floor trying to muster the energy to stand, I knew work wasn’t a possibility for me.
But now what? I texted my favorite sub with crossed fingers, hoping she didn’t already have a job for the day. All the while my pounding head was searching for what learning opportunities would replace my plans–plans that exist only in my brain. Flat on my back–the only position I could bear–I texted my team partner. Did she have some kind of a math lesson she could easily pull together for my sub? My phone on my stomach started to buzz. Yes, my sub could come in, but would be late since she wasn’t yet dressed for the day. Okay–that could be handled. Another buzz…of course a lesson could be prepared. Appreciation and relief flooded my still pounding head. I am so fortunate to work in a community of educators who pull together and support each other.
I’m not sure when I moved that phone off my stomach. Once my class was covered and my mind was at ease, sleep was the only option. By about 1:30pm, my headache had eased and I could finally lift my head. It was 4:30pm by the time I finally got out of bed.
My feeling of dis-ease left as suddenly as it came. In less than 24 hours, I felt sick and then not sick again. I missed my teaching day on Wednesday, the afternoon time when I had planned to work on report cards, and had to cancel an early evening meeting…and of course, my slice for the day.
It feels like I have been playing catch up every day since. But shhhh, don’t tell anyone that I missed a day of my month-long challenge! (Maybe I’ll have to write two slices on another day!)
I couldn’t take my eyes off the sky. Our usual monochromatic blue or gray skies were replaced by deep blue textured with white. My first view this morning was as we headed off to run errands. We have this quirky spiky tree near the driveway that I am obsessed with photographing. It always makes an interesting backdrop to photos of the sky. This morning I noticed the tree was beginning to get leaves (again–this tree gets terribly confused with year-round spurts of spring and summer weather) as I looked up into sun infused clouds, with the neighbor’s palm tree in the background.
Later, after the errands and some shopping at the outlet mall, my husband offered to stop along the coast in San Clemente so I could get out and take some photos. My eyes were drawn to the contrails playing with the clouds against the brilliant blue of the springtime sky.
The coastline is always beautiful, and today was no different. It was high tide when we stopped and I picked my way down close enough for photos–but trying to avoid another oops like I experienced yesterday! The sky appeared to have stripes…and you can’t really see it in this photo, but the sea had dozens of sailboats in the distance. I like the way the white of crashing waves echo the white of the contrails and clouds in the sky.
Even the traffic couldn’t ruin the day. Accidents and heavy weekend traffic made a 30 mile trip take more than 90 minutes, something that is unfortunately all too typical. (I suppose it is a price we pay for living near the coast.) Our too-often-brown hillsides were wearing their springtime best and bursting with lush and vibrant green and so many yellow flowers…you can almost feel the softness with your eyes!
Although I missed the photo opportunity as we left Costco and headed back home, my eyes took in yet another playful interweaving of contrails and clouds. I looked up and noticed an enormous hashtag in the sky. #skyview
Ah! The briny air filled my lungs as the gentle spring sunshine warmed my back. There is nothing better than a walk on the beach at the end of the work day.
I wondered at the beach goers in bathing suits more than waist deep in the still cold Pacific ocean. (Even in summer, 72 degrees is warm water–refreshing when temps are in the 80s. Today’s water temperature of 60 degrees is hardly balmy.) Low 60s do not constitute bathing suit weather in my opinion. I was thinking about how San Diego is really not a spring break destination. We’re often mistaken for a tropical location, with warm weather year round. In reality, we are a temperate climate. It’s seldom too hot here, and we don’t even know snow unless you drive high into the local mountains. But March is predictably sweatshirt weather–and I almost always wear shoes on the beach at this time of year because of all the rocks.
I digress. I walked quickly, trying to have this clear-my-head walk count as some kind of exercise in a week that left too little time to move my body. I found myself on the uncomfortable slope of rocks thrown high by the surf as I climbed to avoid the waterline, slipping and sliding on the uneven piles.
I’m never bored along the coast, there is always something to see. Today I watched surfers, dressed in their black wetsuits, as they headed out into the glistening sea. There is seldom a day without surfers around here, even when the weather and waves are less than ideal.
Looking up I noticed a modern day pterodactyl, our native pelican, gliding on the currents.
At my turn around point, I got bold, walking further out away from the rocks. Walking on the sand just felt so much better than slip sliding on the rocks. I knew I was taking a calculated risk–walking in my jeans and relatively new tennies so close to the water. I know all about rogue waves and watched as I was walking. About halfway back to my car, I could see it coming. Just as I reached the point of no return, I saw the wave rushing toward me. I spied a rock jutting up higher than the sand and jumped on it. Seconds later I felt the cool salty water rush over my feet, my ankles, wicking up my pant legs. With nowhere to go, I stood, waiting for the water to recede.
My walk the rest of the way was of the squelchy variety as my wet socks and wet shoes squished with each step. I was less careful at that point. I was already wet, so I took the easier, if wetter, pathways on my way back to the car. I had to laugh at myself, maybe I should have just taken my shoes off and walked barefoot for the entire walk. If I were more like those bathing suit wearing beach goers, I wouldn’t be squelching my way back to my car!
But neither wet pant legs or squishy shoes could take away my pleasure and delight in my beach walk. There is something healing and rejuvenating about a walk on the beach!
Now back home, my shoes have been rinsed, the insoles removed and are sitting on the spare bathroom counter drying. I wonder how long til they’re dry enough to wear on my next beach walk?
When was the last time you used a protractor? Drawn a circle? Measured an angle? We spent time earlier this week doing all of those things in my classroom. There’s nothing like a new tool to pique students interest…and the protractor did just that. Students were fascinated that protractors also have rulers on them, they couldn’t wait to experiment with them!
We used those protractors to draw a half circle on the fold and then open the full 360 degrees of circle. Each student then had to measure an angle–one randomly assigned–and cut that angle out of the circle. The cut out angle became the mouth of an “angle fish,” the piece removed became the caudal fin. Some designing soon resulted in a whole school of individual angle fish!
Why bother with angles and protractors? Simply for a cute crafts project? You probably know me better than that. My students are just beginning to pay attention to angles, to recognize those perfect square corners that measure 90 degree. To understand that triangles exist that are not perfectly equilateral, with equal angles as well. They are starting to understand that attributes can categorize without diminishing the diversity of possibilities within those categories.
I hope geometry lessons can teach ideas that transfer far beyond polygons, sides, and angles. I want my students to recognize that each of us brings our experiences, genetics, family backgrounds, and opinions to who we are. That they will learn to see diversity and difference as opportunities to enrich their own experiences, to add value to our world, to push beyond their own status quo. That they will step outside the comfort zone of sameness, and consider the view from another perspective.
I’m pretty sure my students understand the categories of acute, right, and obtuse angles…the rest will continue to be a work in progress. After all, I’m still working out my angles too.
Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one struggling to balance the demands of work with the pleasures of leisure. More often than not, work wins, creeping into my mind, occupying my thoughts, even when I am sleeping. And I’m lucky, I love my work. It gives me purpose and satisfaction…and a fair share of frustration.
It’s report card time, the time when I most feel the tug threatening my balance. My shoulders start to knot, carrying the unspoken conflicts of the mechanism of reporting student progress. Somehow my students are also feeling the tip too, rocking like those weeble dolls of days gone by, out of sorts and out of focus–just when I need them to be so much more.
Walking on the beach on the weekend, I noticed some other people seeking balance. I watched an engineer/artist drag quite a few rocks over to a large algae covered boulder facing the low tide seas–the perfect canvas for this temporary art. With careful precision each rock was placed, with an eye to both balance and beauty.
Nearby another person sought to achieve balance of the body. Crouching low and tipping forward, lifting first a toe, testing the raising of each foot until both feet were raised and balance was achieved–if only for a few seconds.
Instead of planning assessments for tomorrow, my students will be making wire fish sculptures. Using floral wire and buttons, they will bend and crimp, thread and fold until beauty emerges from one long wire. Ultimately, they will create a mobile, seeking to balance their wire fish on a piece of driftwood with the help of fishing line. I’m pretty sure their efforts to create balance and beauty will create an oasis of balance and beauty for me too. I’ll tackle the report cards later.
Some days I find myself with my head in the clouds, my mind floating on thoughts of projects to be done, problems to solve, reflections on what happened before. Like a helium balloon, I float on the air currents, directed by my inner monologue. When my head is in the clouds I risk missing what is right in front of me.
Like most Mondays, today was a day for laying groundwork for the rest of the week. The hours pass like minutes, the minutes like seconds and time rushes through my fingers like a waterfall…not stopping to pool at my feet as it disappears, just out of reach. I get into the hurry up mode, chasing time ideals set in my plan book. I get impatient with my students, wanting more from them as I feel the pinch of time. Trying to find the perfect ratio of time to learning.
When the bell rang ending our afternoon recess, I headed out the classroom door to pick up my students from the playground. My head was already running through all we would accomplish while still leaving time to clean up, pack up, and gather before dispersing at the dismissal bell. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a lizard, sitting on the sidewalk, soaking up the energy and warmth of this amazing almost-spring day. I almost rushed by–feeling the tug of time. But instead, I stopped. I watched and noticed. I crept closer, wondering if I would capture an image of this grounded creature. I snapped from afar, then crept closer. The lizard seemed to keep an eye on me, unwilling to relinquish the warmth coming up from the sidewalk and down from the sun.
That lizard reminded me to take a breath and appreciate the moment. And also to remember to appreciate all those moments that students need…to tell the seemingly unrelated story in the middle of my lesson, to ask question after question–and then the same question again, to need directions…again…and my patience and encouragement, even when I feel like my own well has been emptied. I need to spread my toes and grip the ground, feel the earth beneath me grounding me, giving energy and reminding me to use those roots to connect and grow and to support my students as they connect and grow too.
I guess I have another ratio to work out…the ratio of head in the clouds to feet on the ground!