Tag Archives: change

Signs of Spring: SOL23 Day 22

There are those out there who would say it’s ridiculous to look for signs of spring where I live–they might even say there are only 2 seasons here: spring and summer. But those people would be wrong.

It’s funny, but since the “official” change of seasons on Monday, it seems like signs of spring are everywhere (in spite of A LOT of rain this week). The tree in front of my classroom has pulled on its gorgeous light green dress of leaves…that green that seems only visible in early spring. Just a week ago I was noticing a few leaves popping…and today, it’s showing its full glory.

The succulents in my backyard, those that don’t get very much attention at any time of the year, are suddenly showing off. While always pretty in their own succulent right, right now they are sporting new buds and blossoms-to-be.

The air too is different. Even though storms have still been rushing through, the temperatures are noticeably warmer and I find myself opting for lighter jackets and relishing the warmth of the sun on my shoulders when it pokes its way out from behind the clouds.

Are you experiencing signs of spring in your part of the world? What do your signs looks like, feel like, smell like, sound like, maybe even taste like?

Hierarchy of Need: SOLC #24

There were a ton of things on my to-do list this morning:

  • Whole class Zoom meeting with students
  • Second COVID vaccination (hopefully with no side effects–no time for that!)
  • Get those report cards done!!!!
  • Lesson plans for next week–and for coming back to a full classroom after spring break
  • Figure out how to fit 25 students in my classroom seated 3 feet apart (it was 4 feet last week, but change is the watchword this year!)
  • Respond to student work, especially the poetry that we are starting in anticipation for National Poetry month in April

Once I got through the Zoom meeting and driving through the livestock barn at the local fairgrounds for my second Pfizer vaccine, the only thing I could focus my energy on was rearranging the classroom.

So instead of fighting that urge and heading into report card writing without a true focus, I decided to just commit myself to the physical task, knowing that once done I would have space in my mind (and a lowered anxiety level) to buckle down to the other tasks.

There were so many tables! The room felt tight, with no room to breathe. Something would have to go. I’m not really good at envisioning space–I just have to move stuff, and then move it again until I get it right. So, I started dragging tables from here to there, folding over the area rug for easier movement, and considering just what I could live without.

After smashing my finger between two tables (it’s looking a bit purple on the knuckle), emptying the big kidney shaped table to move it across the room, and throwing my sweatshirt onto a chair, the space started to come together. Once I had a general vision that I thought would work, I texted our custodian, asked him to bring his measuring tape, and requested his assistance.

I tried the kidney table in its new position–but no, everything still felt too crowded. With C’s help, we determined in addition to losing the kidney table, I could also get rid of a student table and still have adequate seating (distanced) for 25. We measured and checked, pushed and pulled until things fell into place. Now there are walking spaces, working spaces, sitting spaces, and distance. I think this will work!

Obviously in my hierarchy of needs, getting this physical space right superseded the report cards and lesson plans. And now that this physical work is done, I know what lies ahead of me for the next few days. I will have some long stretches attached to the computer, entering grades and writing comments in preparation for the parent conferences that will come at the end of next week. The lesson plans are already dancing in my head as I look forward to having students do their school work in the classroom full time instead of at home part of the time.

I’ll get those report cards and lesson plans done–they always get done. But I do feel better now that the space is organized.

Writing and Photo Invitation: Change

Change happens.  Sometimes when you least expect it.  It’s still warm and sunny and shorts are my go-to weekend attire, but on my beach walk Sunday I was thankful I had grabbed my sweatshirt.  The breeze was chilly…and honestly, it has felt fall-ish all weekend.

On my way to work each morning I drive along the coast.  Lately I’ve been noticing the field of pumpkins, bright orange and framed by the row of palm trees.  I read something today that informed me that these are grown by people at the Self Realization Fellowship (located just to the west) and they become a magnificent display of creatively carved jack-o-lanterns on Halloween each year.


Seasonal change is subtle in San Diego.  I’m starting to see posts and photos by friends who live further east and further north.  The trees are turning and color is dominating the natural landscape.  Instead of brilliant reds and oranges, I am noticing that the beach is wide open with many fewer tourists visiting and maybe many locals occupied by piano lessons and soccer games instead of those long lazy summer days on the shore.  I love this time of year with the sun warming my shoulders, my feet in the surf, and long stretches of open space in front of me.  The shore birds seem to enjoy it too, less skittish as I come near with my camera.


There is lots of change in store decor these days too.  Supermarkets are filled to brim with pumpkin flavored this and that and those pop up Halloween shops are opening.  A trip to Home Depot over the weekend revealed lots and lots of fall flowers.  The bees were happy, flying around and doing their pollinator thing, regardless of the change around them!

fall flowers and a bee

And all change isn’t seasonal.  My teaching life is profoundly changed this year too.  After 23 years co-teaching a multiage class, I am on my own with third graders this year.  I am adjusting to the change in workflow and loving the intimacy of time alone with my students.  The rhythms are different, but the work is familiar and fulfilling.

img_8389What does change look like in your place, in your life?  You might consider the seasonal changes…or not.  There are lots of changes that we experience, some because of the change in the weather and some because of other changes in our lives.


Share your #change this week, in images or words…or both. You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #change.

Take a look around and notice change in your life this week.  Pick up your camera, phone, notebook and pen and document all that you see and experience.  Be sure to share…I look forward to seeing and thinking about your change too!



Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

Tonight was Open House at my school, that wonderful evening of celebrating all the learning that has happened all year.  The third graders (and their parents and teachers) are feeling a bit melancholy, realizing that the end of three years is in sight and there is change in the air.

In addition to spending time chatting with families we currently teach, we also met many of the students who will be our first graders in the fall.  Those shy, unfamiliar faces will soon be a part of our learning community.

Tonight’s Open House featured MACville–our student created community made up of twelve 32 x 32 inch grids.  Each grid was planned by a group of four students working within the constraints of a building code.  Here’s a peek at our cardboard community.


And when I got in my car to head home after a very long day, the sea and sky called to me.  The weather forecasters have been predicting rain, but we often get a chance of rain in the forecast that comes to naught.  But with the sun setting into the ocean and storm clouds gathering, I headed toward the beach with my phone in my pocket.  As the wind whipped my hair and my jacket billowed around me, I snapped shots of the amazing colors of the sky and sea.  No editing was needed, the light and clouds and water did all the work.


So where is the change in your life right now?  In the weather?  In your classroom?  In your personal life?  In your art?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!)

I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #change for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Change is the air for me right now.  What change will you capture through your lens?

A Change in the Weather

The weather in San Diego is regular…regularly mild and as the weather reporters on the nightly news say, “Night and morning low clouds, with afternoon sunshine.”  Or something to that effect.

So when our weather changes, it is an event.

Today started out cool and overcast.  One of my first graders told me how freezing it was as we walked to the classroom this morning.  She was dressed in a short sleeved t-shirt, jeans, flats without socks, and a faux-fur lined vest.  In contrast, I was wearing a cotton sweater with a corduroy jacket and a windbreaker-like jacket over the top of that and a knit scarf around my neck…along with my slacks, short boots and socks.  I’ve learned over the years to layer since mornings are cool and the day usually warms up.

When I left my school at midday to head off to the university for the other part of my job, I carried my jacket and scarf…but knew I would bring them inside with me when I arrived.

And I’m so glad I did!  By the time I left the university it was raining!  I pulled the hood up on my jacket and tried to figure out how to capture a photo of the rain.  (It continues to look invisible through my camera lens).  Students walking across campus had their sweatshirt hoods up…but there were no umbrellas in sight!

As I got into my car I was hoping that I was ahead of the rush hour traffic.  Remember, the slightest moisture in San Diego brings out the crazy in drivers.

The rain had diminished before I got very far down the road…but as I got closer to home the clouds were mesmerizing.  Big, white clouds were layered with gray clouds that looked like the stuffing from grandma’s quilt.  As I drove, I was thinking about where I could get off the road to try to capture the beauty of the clouds.  (And it is not okay to stop on the freeway!)

I pulled off near my school, watching the streaks of sun shining through the clouds along the coast.  I drove to a spot I see most mornings where tall thin palm trees stand like sentinels overlooking the sea.


And I captured this view looking out to the ocean where the sun was getting ready to set on this short December day.

Change in the weather also means a change in the view…and it was spectacular this evening!  I like the way that change brings a new energy with it.  I can see it in my students when we change up the routines or like today, embark on a new topic of study.

As I look for new photo opportunities, I appreciate change even more than ever.  A fresh view, a new angle, a different frame, a change in the light…they all offer opportunities for photographic magic.  Just like change in the classroom creates new spaces for learning magic…and routines serve as anchors when the seas get rough.

I love the regularity of our weather here…and I love when it changes.  And I still need to learn how to capture a photo of rain…  Now to wait for another one of those rare occasions…

Rain and the Common Core

October in San Diego is often a hot and dry month characterized by Santa Ana conditions, creating a high risk for wildfire.  We’ve already had many “red flag” warning days.  These warm, dry October days are both wonderful…an extension of summer…and terrifying, having lived through some horrific urban wildfires in the last decade or so.

Rainy days are a rare occurrence here.  We average less than ten inches of rain a year…and I can’t remember the last time it rained!  (Was it in May or June?  Or even before that?)

With rain in today’s forecast, my students were dressed in an odd assortment of post-summer attire: shorts with sweatshirts, boots with tank tops, hoods and hats…  Like having one foot in summer and one ready for the impending storm.  Students were excited, edgy–some complaining of cold (in the 60+ degree temps), others in sleeveless tops running happily in the almost-weather.  The blustery conditions hinted at “real” weather–weather that didn’t arrive during the school day today.

An hour or so after school ended for the day, the much anticipated rain arrived.  Not just the drizzles the we so often get, but real soak-the-ground kind of rain.


Meteorologists, through the media, announce our “severe weather” and the roadways are a mess with spin outs and collisions caused by slippery conditions and out-of-practice rainy day drivers.  And yet, we need this rain.  We need it to ease the fire conditions that come with the parched earth.  We need it to lessen the demands on our over-stressed reservoirs.  We need it to water our lawns and gardens and native foliage.

And the rain is a reminder that change can be a catalyst.  In a place where the weather seldom changes, it’s easy to see rain as inconvenience.  It tangles the traffic, scares customers from the local farmer’s market, and causes many events to be canceled.  (Like I said, rain is rare here!) But change, like rain, is an opportunity to rethink everyday routines.

At lunch today, some of my colleagues and I were talking about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the stormy conditions they are creating for many teachers.  They feel threatening like severe weather (or a rainy day in San Diego)…requiring a change in the ways teachers think about instruction and classroom routines.  It will take more than pulling on some rain boots to create an environment for deep learning, a place where students make sense of concepts rather than memorize facts and procedures.  Change feels hard and scary, but like the rain in San Diego, we need it.

And like my students on an almost rainy day, some teachers are ready to embrace the change and rethink their instruction and consider new ways to support students to more critical thinking and in-depth analysis.  And others will make more cosmetic changes, renaming old practices and repackaging old projects.  There will be an odd assortment like the tank tops and boots and shorts and hoods my students wear–a mish-mash in our educational system–as we figure out just how to deal with the change.

I’m choosing to embrace change and see it as an opportunity rather than an inconvenience. We need the rain in San Diego…and we need change in our educational system.

Building Rhythms

As we enter the fourth week of school, I can feel the rhythm settling in.  It’s not the dulling thrum of never-changing routine, but the strong heartbeat of a community in progress.  You might think that because two thirds of our students remain the same each year, that the beginning of the year would be seamless.  But in fact, we feel the transition even with so much remaining the same.

Each year students take on a new role in the classroom. Those veteran third graders, who have already spent two years in the classroom with us, are figuring out just how to be a classroom and school leader.  They are considering how to provide support to their younger classmates while still maintaining their emerging “cool” image…not an easy balancing act!  Second graders, who used to be those “little kids,” are wrestling with stepping up to the demands of the being in the middle–no longer needing as much support, and yet grappling with no longer being the youngest.  And our brand new first graders have spent the last several weeks trying to figure out what it means to be a part of our multiage class.  A place with a history–a legacy of shared learning that pops up regularly, and they feel left out of.  They are learning to work with others, to accept help from their older peers, and to risk adding their contributions to our classroom learning.

This week feels like the turning point.  We are feeling like a cohesive community learning together.  Students are taking risks, supporting each other, and settling in…with the calm hum of learning-in-progress filling the room.

I can feel the rhythm building and soon the melody will come into focus.  I look forward to our voices blending and harmonizing as we grow together.

I love these moments of teaching.