Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Final Entry

If you have been wondering how my retirement is going, here is my final update.

I had a haircut on the first day of school at 9 a.m.--I was the only one getting my hair cut.  Next, I got groceries.  I probably got more than I needed because there was no one in the store with me.  Nice!  I was invited to a friend's home for lunch, so relaxing!

On the second day of retirement, I went to the Indiana State Fair by myself!  I ran into lots of people I knew and went to all the buildings I didn't always get to see.  I purchased ratcheting pruners (which work very well).  I sat by a girlfriend at the "Happy Together" concert that night.  We decided being the top row in the back was good because we couldn't see how old the performers looked.  It was like living my teenage years over again:  Gary Puckett, Mark Lindsay, The Turtles, the lead singer of Three Dog Night, the Cowsills, and Spencer Davis.  The audience stood up and belted out, "Joy to the world, all the boys and girls..." Then we sat down.  We stood up often, but always sat down soon after.  There was a steady line of people headed to the restroom, too.  I texted my daughter when I got home at 10:30, as was expected.  See, just like being a teenager.

On Friday evening, I hosted my children for dinner as usual.  Funny, they looked pretty exhausted, I was fired up.

I went to lunch with a great group of retired Lutheran teachers one day!  Time was no object!

So the days have gone.  Today I visited my daughter and we walked to beautiful, downtown Acton, Indiana, to the Dinner Bell Market.  We all got slushies, walked a couple of blocks, and settled on her front porch.  You can see the picture below:

We are planning to hit the apple orchard next week for some apple cider slushies and playground time. 

God has been so good to me!  I am blessed to have my families close so I can help them out and I can call on them for help, too.  Thank you, dear readers, for indulging my verbosity and adventures.  God be with you all and be kind!

Monday, July 11, 2016

How's it feel to be retired?

Friends and family often ask me how it feels to be retired.  I think I won't feet the full effects until school starts on August 9th.  I have scheduled a haircut for that day at 9:00 a.m., because I can!

I have had three reality checks this summer. 

Check 1:  I was in Meijer getting groceries, glanced down the school supply row, and saw clearance tags.  I turned to go down that aisle and stopped myself--no, no, no.  I smiled.

Check 2:  I was headed downtown on a Saturday to meet my California cousins who were here for Junior USA volleyball tournaments.  I realized I was not rushing to run all my errands on a Saturday and wouldn't have to for most of the Saturdays in my future.  I smiled again!

Really BIG check 3:  If you're not a teacher, you do not realize that the Fourth of July is a very sad day.  It signals at least the midpoint of summer vacation.  Truly a much more relaxed day for me this year.  This time I had a smile and a sigh of relief.

I will probably report back to you faithful followers after school starts.  God bless you all! 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The 5:30 Alarm is Off!

There is always a ceremony in my mind when I turn off the daily alarm for summer vacation, but this year I heard the Hallelujah Chorus as I turned off the alarm.  (I did chuckle a little as I set my alarm for that time on Race Day!)

Even though I might not necessarily sleep late,  I enjoy the pleasure of waking up slowly.  That entails no immediate shower, an extra cup of coffee, and a leisurely reading of the newspaper.

The last week began with my retirement open house.  I had the option of choosing what type of celebration I wanted.  This was it.  We had a light lunch, cake, and good company.  I was blessed with visitors from my three church homes and so many other friends.  One of my friends said, "Thanks for retiring so I could see my old friends."  That was what I wanted--a chance to talk and reconnect. 

By the end of the week, I felt like that athlete who retires and must be greeted at each stadium visited during the final season.  It was a very uncomfortable. 

Please don't celebrate me.  Celebrate our God who took a girl from Nebraska who used the talents He gave her to tell His story and help His children learn how to read, write, and discover who they are.  It's all on Him--I flew by the seat of my pants so many days.

What will I miss?  I will miss the good people I taught with each day who lifted me up in prayer and had my back.  I will miss the look in a little child's eyes when he or she discovers, "I get it!"  I will miss the adrenaline that flowed when the "Back to School" ads come out.

Now, I say, "Thanks, God, for using me to glorify you." 

Let the next adventure begin!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Field Tripping

Last week, we went on our annual trip to Environmental Adventure Day at Southeastway Park.  The children used nets to catch tadpoles, dragonfly larva, and a crawdad.  They planted a tulip tree in the park, got within a few feet of a hawk and several types of owls, used binoculars to watch birds, and tried shooting an arrow from a bow.  The parks department goes all out on this day and I love the science the children get to experience.  If you know me, you know science was not my favorite class in school, so I work really hard on it so my students will learn to love science.

Monday, one of my students asked about my favorite field trip.  That was easy.  Many years ago, one of my parents invited us to the railroad yard in Beech Grove to watch the circus unload.  A carny guy latched onto us and explained how the animal cages were designed to protect the animals as the traveled.  He told us who lived in which train cars.  Pretty soon, a local television celebrity, Cowboy Bob, came and asked us to stay.  He was pretty excited that we were there.  They filmed us and we were on his next show.  This got an appreciative reaction from my current class.

In one of my first years of teaching, Pastor Bickel asked me to have my class do the service at the nursing home for him.  I loaded all ten of my first and second graders into our 1968 Pontiac Bonneville and off we went.  We recited Bible verses and sang songs we had memorized and came back.  I don't remember if the parents even knew.  In those days, it didn't matter.

There was an in-house trip that I remember.  The Kroger pharmacist had student pharmacists from Purdue come into my class to talk to the students about safety issues concerning medicines.  I remember one in particular.  He walked in, showed his scrapbook of football pictures, and then showed the class his Rose Bowl ring.  I was impressed, I'm not sure about the kids.

Another one that stands out for me was just two days after John's funeral.  We went to Survive Alive! which is an outstanding fire safety class for the children.  I have gone so often, the firefighters greet me with hugs and, "Hi, Sandy!" when we walk in.  That particular year, they asked me if I would like to try on the firefighter's gear.  Are you kidding?  You can see the picture of me wearing the gear in the October 17, 2015 entry. 

I remember one field trip from my own first grade, too.  The teacher read us a poem about a jack-in-the-pulpit plant.  I said that we had them in my yard, so we walked the block to my house to see it.  My mom was pretty surprised to see us.  We could not do that today. 

Why take field trips?  Here's your answer, they create great memories and learning experiences for students and their teachers.  You can't measure that with a standardized test!  So there!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Power of a Sticker

I have found stickers to hold great power in the classroom.  I have little charts hung up and when they are filled, the child gets a new chart, no prize or certificate, just a different chart. 

Here is how to get a sticker in my class:
     Turn in your reading paper on time and receive two stickers.  Turn it in by the end of the day, receive one sticker. 
     My latest addition is to give one sticker if a child gets one or zero incorrect.  This has boosted work habits immensely.
     Follow the directions of the reading volunteer, get a sticker or two.
     Say your memory work and claim two stickers.  If a student has to go review the verse, he or she receives only one sticker.
     I walk around the room and hand out stickers for being on-task.
     When I realize that everyone is following directions or walking down the hall quietly, extra stickers!
     When an another adult gives the class a compliment--stickers!
     When a student overcomes a learning obstacle or makes an extra effort:  sticker or two.

You may think that this only works in lower grades, but I have found that when I enlist eighth graders to help out they never refuse my offer of stickers.

St. John students receive special stickers on their baptism birthday.  My students treasure those stickers and wear them proudly.

I was thinking that maybe adults should receive stickers, too.  The world might be a kinder place.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

How to Draw a Crowd

There are several tried and true ways to draw a crowd in a classroom.

An injury:  this takes at least three students. You have the injured party, the witness, and those who are helping the injured child over to the teacher.  Most injuries can be cured by a bandage, a drink of water, or a walk around the playground.

A tattle:  this can take a small army.  You have the culprit, the slighted, the witnesses, and those who have heard what happened and who can testify about the culprit's reputation.

A dropped box of crayons:  students who ordinarily sit stone-faced, will jump out of their seats and fly across the room to assist.  No matter how many students help, it will take waaaay longer than necessary to clean the mess up.  (Parents wonder why I limit the number of crayons and markers needed in school.)

Spilled milk:  any number of students will rush over to stare at the milk as it flows off the table and puddles on the floor.  There will be some who rush to get the super-absorbent paper towels always dispensed in schools across America.  It will take unlimited trips to clean it up.

A lost pencil or crayon:  this requires one child to find it.  The finder will wander all over the room to ask each child if it is his or hers.  Students join in the parade as it progresses only to find no one will claim the pencil.

A clod of mud on the restroom floor which looks like poop:  I have a small toilet in my classroom.  The entire class can crowd in when someone comes out and announces what he found on the floor.  I was the hero in this event when I used a paper towel to pick it up.  My announcement that it was mud was greeted with cheers.

Vomit:  students will stand and watch the child vomit and hold their noses.  Brilliant comments are made such as, "If I look at this much longer, I am going to be sick."  I have also had a child announce that he didn't feel well and proceeded to throw up all over my desk.  He was the hero because no one had to finish their work since all papers were unrecoverable.  Yes, we discuss over and over that if they feel like they are going to upchuck, run to the trash can, sink, or best option, toilet.

My favorite crowd draw is a song.  One child will start singing, pretty soon we all join in.  My favorite was "Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama."  We all were up dancing, clapping, and singing and then we went back to work.  I wonder where that child is now and if he knows how fondly I remember those moments.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Teachers are sneaky!

Today we were a little low key in class because we had a musical tonight; an awesome production I would say. 

We were playing word BINGO.  I give the students words to cut out and glue down on a bingo form.  I call the first game, circling the words called on the smart board.  If you have watched anyone play bingo, you know that many repeat what is called while they search for the word.  Whoever gets the first bingo, reads back their words and gets to call the next game.  When game time is up, students have read and reread the words many times.

In the midst of the concentrated game, one student said, "This is really fun."

I said, "Yes, it is.  I am a sneaky teacher."

Those twenty-one shocked, innocent faces turned to me saying, "What?"

The answer, "We are doing reading.  When we first started you had trouble with some of these words.  Now, you are reading them very well."

I got lots of nods, but they don't know the rest of the story:  this activity means there are no papers to grade!

Yes, I am a sneaky teacher!