Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Tuesday Slice: Double whammy

We have a delayed start this morning due to icy road conditions.

And there's a full moon.

A double whammy for us teacher types.  Many students were already off-kilter yesterday as the front blew in at noon.  We dropped twenty degrees in an hour.  By quitting time, the raindrops played a staccato wind-driven beat on my windshield, a backdrop for my surprise of forty-one degrees on the dashboard readout.  I knew when the phone rang at 10pm with an 877 prefix that the district was robo-calling.  I left my bed with a whoop of happiness to inform my husband of my delayed start.

Cold weather energizes me.  I love hunkering down with a warm drink in hand and getting productive.  It was the first evening in ages that I crossed nearly everything off my to-do list.

This morning, I slept in an extra forty-five minutes.  I'll drink an extra cup of coffee as I check the late-start schedule, and answer emails about missed library visits.  I'll get a decent workout, without the excuse of too little time.  And then I'll steel myself for classes who have had indoor recess, and students who don't handle changes in the routine well, especially under a full moon.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Tuesday Slice: They miss the library

Have you seen this meme floating around the Internet?  It's from one of our local restaurants.
Image result for image i spent my whole adult life chasing the high of a scholastic book fair
As an elementary school librarian, I don't have to chase the high.  It chases me down twice a year.

I just wrapped up running my thirteenth book fair.

I say "wrapped up", because the carts and boxes are packed and ready for pick up, taking up a sizable chunk of real estate on the reading side of the library.  They don't get picked up until Thursday.  It will probably take another week for me to finish the financial forms, get a check disbursed, and truly wrap up the fair.

I am grateful for the outpouring of support from the volunteers (and an artsy assistant) who turned the library into a bookstore wonderland this week.

I am grateful to my administrators for supporting our efforts, to my colleagues for allowing students to shop in the middle of the day, to parents braving before school "rush hour", standing in line at our three registers to buy the books their children wished for.  The funds raised from the fair will help pay for author visits and books for our students.

What am I most grateful for?

My favorite question this week:

"Ms Margocs, when do we get to come back to the library to check out books?"  

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tuesday Slice: The chain

The tradition started years before I had children of my own.  

Number recognition and comprehension was an oft-cited IEP goal for my resource students, and holiday celebrations were a bright spot in our school year; somehow, I got the idea to make a hundred-day countdown to Christmas.  Our classroom countdown consisted of a number line, hand-drawn and measured out on several sentence strips, posted above our door and down the hall.  Each day we would step out and attach a construction-paper holly leaf and berry over the next largest number.  The kindergarten teachers from around the corner would pause on their way to lunch each day and have their students read the last number showing, too.

I quit teaching when I got pregnant with our firstborn. Our preemie was quite verbal by the age of two, and by three was asking the requisite number of questions that preschoolers must ask every day (somewhere in the hundreds, I think). When the timing of Christmas came up, I decided to resurrect the countdown in the form of a paper chain, with a loop taken off each night.  

"How many days until Christmas, Mommy?"
"Is the chain short or long, honey?"
"It's long."
"Then it's a long time until Christmas."

After a few years of making and remaking the paper chain, I got the bright idea to use pipe cleaners...and our chain got more elaborate.  The days until Halloween are orange and black circles; Halloween to Thanksgiving, brown and gold; Thanksgiving to Christmas, red and green.  Sometimes the last ring is a fancy mix of the two colors.  The chain is hung over the children's bedrooms from pushpins that never come down, a parade of colorful loops taking up that side of the hallway.  It must be adjusted every ten days or so, as the dangling end gets too high to remove a loop.

Our children are grown now, one in Japan, the other in college four hours up the road.  But every September 16th, I'm compelled to make the chain, if only for my own countdown needs.  I take a loop off each night, mentally noting the length remaining, marking the time until we celebrate as a family once again.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Tuesday Slice: Stellar solitude

I slip into a sweatjacket over my workout clothes
Quietly closing the front door behind me

Hands cupped around a warm mug of lime water
My toes in flipflops encounter the chill

I pad into and down the street
Away from the influence of street and porch lights

Head tilted back, scanning the sky
For signs of moving targets

I squint at the crescent moon
My level gaze landing upon Orion

Smile at the Hunter, my constant companion
His shoulders and scabbard burning bright

I see no streaks of light.

Shrug my own shoulders
Take one last look at the stellar display

I sip at my mug
Walk back to my door, shattered pecans popping underfoot.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tuesday Slice: Things I don't miss

The schools in our district are on day two (of two) of parent conference/ staff development days.  Yesterday, freed from an anticipated task on campus, I had a day to catalog books, answer emails, complete my benefits open enrollment, work on library finances a bit, chat with colleagues, and finagle last-minute author visit details, including a major snafu involving the author's books we ordered.  I am coordinating that visit for four campuses, and the book problem affected us all.

The last of those items had my blood pressure boiling as I left work.  I know this to be true because I checked my blood pressure on the machine at the grocery store pharmacy while I waited to get my flu shot.  I haven't seen it that high since I was delivering my son twenty-some-odd years ago.

While I was venting over my morning's change of plans (I could have been at another library event) and dealing with the book orders, my teacher colleagues were cycling through one conference after another.  The upper grades were running student-led, two-part conferences.

I don't miss parent conferences, the frustration of no-shows and confrontations.  I don't miss grading (mostly done at home), or writing and updating IEPs, or detailed lesson planning for the multi-levels of learning in my previous resource room.    

I do miss my former students.  But I have over twelve hundred students now, each deserving of my attention in the library.  It's a joy to teach information literacy and connect kids with books and stories that light up their imaginations and hearts.  I get to support my colleagues in ways I couldn't as a teacher.

Despite the blood-boiling events of yesterday, I don't miss the old days.  They just made me better at being the teacher-librarian  I am today.  

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Tuesday Slice: Out of sync

Eight days into October
To-do list grows daily
Time being swallowed
in large bites by meetings
and projects and fundraisers
committees and deadlines

The urge to yell "STOP" is strong
To stick to the basics:
A good night's sleep
Drink coffee, exercise
Teach, plan lessons, leave work after nine hours
Return home, time and energy to spare
for housekeeping, cooking, reading,
breathing fresh air,
personal plans and pursuits

It's October, and I feel out of sync. 

We've been talking a bit about "Shocktober" in my teaching circles.  For varied reasons, this month is heavy on work obligations, making it harder for a work-life balance.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Tuesday Slice: Facing my money issues

I have a date with a spreadsheet on the last day of each month.  We're getting serious, this spreadsheet and me, meeting for eight months now.  I'm thinking long-term relationship.

Our trysts last for about an hour.  I pull up my accounts--bank, loans, credit cards, retirement--and enter the numbers in cells.  Some go in assets, others in debits.  I know enough about spreadsheets to make the magic of addition and subtraction happen automatically. 

We've had our ups and downs.  I'm still cringing when I stare at the credit card numbers, my shopping habits on display.  (What this spreadsheet doesn't know is that I'm two-timing it.  While my weight goes down, charted on a colorful spreadsheet hung on a wall by my scale, my spending has gone up--one bad habit replacing another.)  But then I look at my loan amounts, steadily decreasing, and my savings, on the rise little by little.  I note once again that my retirement amount isn't accurate because website is under renovation and the information is frozen until they complete the update.

The final number crunch ends our meeting on a high note, my net worth growing from one month to the next.  It's a cautious celebration; my credit score has room for improvement.  The spreadsheet and I part ways, to meet again in four weeks.
Calculator and Pen on Table
Image from Pixabay, no attribution required.