I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Now is the Time

Oh, hey there. It's me...still me...just me.

Ready for 2015?

I'm getting there...slowly...

In fact, I've started a list (as well as a Pinterest board) of things/goals to strive for in 2015:

1. Be on the lookout for God moments (and spend time in gratitude for them, using my gratitude journal regularly).
2. Drink more water.
3. Stick to marathon training (aim for 4-5 days of running/gym per week), even when the going gets tough...or the roads freeze over. (And sign up for the Flying Pig 2015 marathon...)
4. Go to Wednesday evening Mass (or Thursday adoration) at least once a month.
5. Pray a decade of the Rosary every day.
6. Read books. For fun. And for teacher education/learning.
7. Learn the guitar...one chord at a time...
8. Stress less...breathe more...
9. Drink less coffee/caffeine...one morning cup is enough!
10. Be a better listener/more present.
11. Stay calm in the classroom and try not to raise my voice.
12. Cook more meals/real food.
13. Eat chocolate...in moderation.
14. Send birthday cards...on time.
15. Make a schedule (& goals) at the beginning of each week to plan activities, school-related commitments, etc. accordingly.

The list will go on, but for now, that's a pretty good start. Perhaps blog regularly (or, even daily) should be on there? Hmm...

Many blessings to you and yours in the new year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

But They Can't Come

As mentioned previously, my 6th grade homeroom won a movie and hot cocoa/popcorn party for winning the door decorating contest.

So, we had the party yesterday...
And I invited the other 6th grade class...
And then my class got upset.


Me: Let's turn the tables - Wouldn't you want to be invited if they won the party?
Student A: But they didn't win.
Me: Let's pretend they did or that they will in the future.
Student B: But the class that won last year didn't share with the other 5th grade class.
Me: Well, I wasn't your teacher last year.
Student C: That's not fair that they get to come.

And so forth...

Ultimately, the other class came over, and they all ate their popcorn, some had hot cocoa, and they enjoyed their movie.

But I just don't know if the message I was trying to send sunk in.

As I was thinking to myself (not meaning to get deeply religious or anything), I thought about the idea that nothing really belongs to us - things and people are ours to take care of while we walk this earth, but, in the end, you can't take it with you. So, who am I to say someone can't use something or be included or whatever, when I turn around and take other people's (like my roommates) things (e.g. couches, tv, etc.) for granted as my own.

Isn't that hypocritical?

Anyways, I'm not trying to be a downer before Christmas. We did have fun, their concert last night was lovely, the parents were gracious, and I was home before 8 p.m. (in time to grade the final Hobbit quizzes and Advent make-up quizzes).

Today is a half day for the students - 15 minute rotating classes for middle school followed by their holiday party and dismissal. (And then the teachers are treated to a luncheon at a local restaurant - lovely!) After that, I'll come home, finish throwing things in my suitcase, and be on my way home for the holidays.

Safe travels to all! And happy (early) holidays!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Elfish, Not Selfish

Apparently, it pays to "be elfish, not selfish" - the students won the door decorating contest! (I can't take credit for the idea - it came from a lunch expedition to Tijuana Flats over the Thanksgiving holiday break.)

The kiddos are supposed to get a popcorn & movie party as the prize, but, unfortunately, their behavior after the schoolwide announcement was less than stellar (or so I was told - they were in Math class)...so, they clearly can make signs but possibly not take them to heart, as I would call their behavior "selfish" instead of "elfish."

Regardless, I think the decorations turned out great and the kids seemed to have fun making their "elfies" and putting ideas for how they can help others over the Advent season. Check out some photos below:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

It's a Hobbit

When the students started reading Hobbit about a month ago, I had a few doubts about how they would take it. But now, as we've passed the mid-way point, I realize that those fears were largely unfounded. While the book can be challenging (content- and vocabulary-wise), it truly is meant for all ages, especially tweens and teens.

Personally, I had never picked up Hobbit or The Lord of the Ring series until it was time to read it with the kiddos this year. (I guess there are some perks for teaching middle school Language Arts/Reading, eh?) But it's very compelling, and in helping the students explore close reading strategies with it, I'm reading it closer too...and it is full of great characters, foreshadowing, lucky escapes, and more.

Sometimes good books sneak up on you when you least expect them to, and you spend some time wondering why you waited so long to read them in the first place. Thank goodness for times like those.

Speaking of books, tomorrow my school is hosting a book fair fundraiser, and teachers have been asked to do read alouds in the store. I invited my sister, so in our best voices we'll be reading "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" - should be a ton of fun!

Well, that's enough for today. I'll leave you with a unique version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" (see below) - it's worth the watch:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mid-Day Break

After sending the 4th & 5th graders on their way back to school post-Advent retreat, I started setting up for the 7th & 8th grade one that would follow in about 20 minutes. There wasn't a lot to set up, but I also didn't have time to go grab my lunch, bring it back, and scarf it down.

As good fortune would have it, our director of Religious Ed came down to the basement and invited me to have lunch with her and the priests upstairs - they had ordered Panera as a simple "thank you" for the priests who had come to assist with hearing confessions. Well, the food would have been lovely in and of itself, but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation (albeit a quick one) with the priests. It was nice to just take a few moments to sit and be present with other people during the midst of a somewhat busy day. They spoke a little of their parishes and where they came from, and I talked a little bit about my experience with the ACE program and my time in Chicago.

Conversations that involve true listening and presence are the best ones. Too often we are swept away by the necessary things we feel the need to complete each day that we mostly tune out any interactions that would be on a deeper level because we just don't "have the time." But we need to make time because it's exactly those kinds of conversations that allow us to get better glimpses of human nature and to better understand the presence of God in one another.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

All I Want For Christmas...

...is it to feel like Christmas.

I believe I'm doing everything right:
The Christmas tree is up (though there are no lights or ornaments yet)...
Christmas lights line the streets and the store windows...
The weather is chilly (even though there's no snow)...
The Advent wreath and decorations are up (and I get plenty of Advent reflections delivered to my inbox) to serve as reminders of the Church season...
I'm seeing two Christmas shows this week (A Q Bros Christmas Carol & some Christmas extravaganza with family in Michigan)...
My roommate busted out the first Christmas movie Monday night...
Christmas music plays nonstop (with no commercials!) every evening on the commute home...

Ok, so I haven't bought Christmas presents yet or sent out my Christmas cards...but I have to wonder, what is going on? What am I so wrapped up/preoccupied with that I'm moving through my favorite season (Advent!) without truly experiencing all the graces and wonder it has to offer?

I guess I don't expect an answer...I just hope to find some way soon to better enter into the spirit that everyone else around me seems to be exuding...