Sunday, February 11, 2018

Dances With Books

I get so much LOVE from the children I work with. I am regularly treated to real hugs and genuine smiles at school. Even the other night at the most unlikely time and place, as I crossed the parking lot from the nail salon, a young voice called out 20 or so yards away,  "Hey! Is that my library teacher? Hey! It is my library teacher! Mrs. Tazerouti! Hey!" I wave and smile and say hello, relieved that this time I am not being spotted coming out of the liquor store.  It is dark and I can't make out who it is. But I see the car, an older car that could use some work, parked in an accessible parking space. The young boy triumphantly shouts now, louder, across the parking lot, "I am reading a book! It is amazing!" He gives me a thumbs up. I yell back, "That is great! Keep reading!" I am joyous. Be still my heart!  I recently re-watched Dances With Wolves, and it reminded me of this scene with this shouting declaration of love across the distance. 😆

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I moved last year. If there is one thing that will show you that it is time to declutter and get rid of a few things, it is packing them all up and hauling them to another place. In the unpacking part of the move, I was determined to get rid of several boxes of stuff and not have to move them again.

How does one end up with so much stuff? In my case, much of it was inherited. Dishes, glassware, boxes and boxes of pictures, books, clothes. Some of it belonged to my mother who passed away in 2010, and some of it belonged to my aunt who passed away in 2001.

Sorting through these belongings and deciding what to do with them was necessary, but not easy. Discarding, donating and selling my aunt and mother's things sometimes felt like throwing away memories of these people I loved, memories that thin and blur with time.

I made several trips to the Habitat for Humanity store and the Brown Roof Thrift store.  I also posted items on an app called Offer Up.  Dishes and glassware and clothes were easy to get rid of, but other items were not so easy to part with. In some cases, the experience of the items finding new owners was joyful and rewarding. Selling my aunt's gleaming silver coronet was a fantastic experience that I will never forget.

The coronet was one of the items that I held on to for a while before deciding to sell it.  It was beautiful. My aunt played it in the Fitch High School marching band in Groton, CT.  After high school, my aunt became a barber and then went on to become a highly regarded animal control officer. The coronet spent years in the attic of my mother's ancestral home in Mystic. I listed the coronet on Offer Up which allows you to deal locally with people who are nearby and hand deliver your sale item. It was fun to meet people and hear about their plans for whatever it is they are buying from you.

Eventually, I got a notification on the app that someone wanted to buy the coronet. We set up a meeting at a nearby grocery store. The buyer was purchasing the instrument for his son, a school band director who collects instruments and their stories. He wanted to know about the original owner of the coronet. It made me happy to tell him about my aunt, but he also wanted to know if the instrument worked, and I had no idea if it did. After texting him information and sending links regarding my aunt, he sent me a video of his son Kevin playing the coronet. (see below) It worked! The sweet music that flowed out of the instrument, last played by my aunt, sent tears streaming down my face. And it just so happened that my mother adored the song he played, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".  I know that both my aunt and my mother would have been overjoyed to hear the rich music pouring out of the old coronet.

I have enjoyed telling this story to family and friends.  My other auntie -Pam, encouraged me to write about it after I accidentally told her the story twice. That video is such a gift, a greeting from heaven. Even better, Kevin played the coronet for his middle school students and they loved it. How did he know that is one of our favorite songs? I think some angels told him.


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Feeling the Love

This past week at work was pretty good. I have begun reviewing the previous week's picture book with the children. I am amazed at how much they remember. Reviewing is an excellent vehicle for practice with literary elements, analysis and discussion. I wish I had thought to do this sooner.

This week we read Mother Bruce with the preK-third graders.  The children easily predicted what was going to happen throughout the book and were able to give evidence to support their predictions. For example, the title, "Mother" Bruce is a good indicator that the Bruce the Bear will turn into the goslings caretaker, and the cover picture of the goslings walking all over the bear can be used to support the prediction that the baby geese will not stop following Bruce. My partner Cheryl found some good extension activities, and the students wrote about or drew what they would have done if they were Bruce or drew the things that Bruce liked, versus the things that Bruce did not like.

My birthday was Monday. One of the best birthday gifts I received was getting a group hug by an entire first grade class. It started with one student giving me a birthday hug,  and then grew until I was being hugged by several layers of students.  Such warm and sincere joy and love emanated from these little nuggets. I could feel the love. It was the best hug I have ever received!

I enjoy checking out the bulletin boards as I walk the halls in my school. I spotted this one on Thursday and it made my day.  The hearts covering the bulletin board gave shout outs to recess and teachers, technology and the library!

"This school is awesome because of the helpful librarians." 

As exhausting as working in an elementary school can be, there is lots of love flowing through our school. That is what keeps me coming back. It recharges my teacher batteries.

 "It's enough to make kings and vagabonds believe the very best." 

"Infuse your life with action. Don't wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen... yourself, right now, right down here on Earth." Bradley Whitford

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Super Fantastic Friday

Today was a fantastic day in the library. It was super fantastic, and here's why:
  • It was a four day week. I have so much more energy on four day weeks. 
  • We began our latest makerspace activity - LED Valentine's Day card making, and the children were excited about it and made some cute cards.
  • Two boxes of new books arrived! :-) 
  • The classes we had were well behaved.
  • We had book check out and making going on at the same time. I think that kind of activity blend makes me happy. It feeds my creative side.
  • Students made hearts with their favorite book titles written on them for our bulletin board. 
Here are some photos from our library today.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ryan and Craig a Good Choice for Story Time Pinch Hitters

This is my second year doing story time - reading picture books to students in preschool through grade three during their library visit. I love it, and I think the majority of the children do as well.

I used to ditch story time on days when I felt unwell, but then my friend Molly shared Story Time with Ryan and Craig with me. I now use their YouTube channel to pinch hit for me when I can't manage to read aloud - which is rare.  The kids enjoy these guys. Have you ever searched the YouTube story time for read aloud videos? SNORE! Finally, I have found something comparable to the animated reading I provide to my students.

Watching Ryan and Craig do story time, I have been inspired to include some their techniques, such as including my own exaggerated response to the action in the story or talking to the characters about something they have just done.

I have to say that I would like Ryan and Craig to know:
1. I am very thankful for your work. You two are awesome!
2. MY library story time is not quiet and sleepy as referenced in the intro video.
3. Can you guys read The Legend of Rock, Paper Scissors? I think you would do a fantastic job with it.

Here is one of my favorite Ryan and Craig videos.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Growth Mindset and the Zero Gravity Yoga Class

I recently joined a yoga studio with the goals of increasing my strength and flexibility, finding a community of like minded people, and stress relief. This is the first step on my journey back to fitness. Enthusiastic and optimistic, I signed up for a variety of yoga classes: restorative yoga, yin yoga and hatha yoga. I posted to Facebook about my new found yoga studio, and texted my friends.
“It even has one of those classes where you hang from the fabric like Pink!” I texted my friend Lori. Though at the time I had no intentions of ever joining one of those classes. 

However, after perusing the studio's course listings I changed my mind.  The description of the antigravity restorative yoga class for all levels sounded appealing even to someone who hasn’t been exercising regularly for the past year. Words like: no prerequisites, gentle, healing, levitating meditations, and floating sivasana lured me in. The real clincher was the phrase, “It offers accessibility to students with physical limitations”  Perfect! Just a click and I was signed up for the class. 

Up until the moment I walked into the studio, I was excited about doing this new thing, taking risks and being brave. I was plucky and proud. 

I checked into the studio, stowed my jacket and shoes and began to wonder exactly what I was doing taking this class. Nervous, I tried to chat up some of my fellow students, many of whom seemed to already know one another. They sat in the fabric hammocks that were suspended from the ceiling as they chatted. I stood off to the side, noticing that I was older and heavier than most of these people. Confidence shrinking now, I asked one of the students how long she had been doing the zero gravity classes. “Oh, three or four months” she said with a serious and unfriendly face. “You don’t belong here!” said the voice in my head.  A few other people trickled into the class and everyone took a fabric hammock as the teacher took her place at the front of the room. 

All of the hammocks closest to the door were taken. No easy escape for me. It took me three or four tries just to get myself hoisted into the hammock like everyone else. The teacher came to each student to check the height of their hammock. It turns out mine was too high for me. Relief flooded my mind. She lowered the hammock and I hoisted myself up. Now I was swinging around just like the others! Hooray! 

Our first instructions were to lift our right leg up and over to straddle the hammock like a saddle or a giant wedgie. I lifted my leg as high up as I could, and I put it back down and looked around to see that everyone else had managed to straddle their hammock. I shifted myself in the hammock and tried again. Eventually, I resorted to trying to grab my right foot as I lifted my leg. It took me three times to catch my foot. After considerable struggle, I was in the correct position. This was going to be interesting. We didn’t stay in that position as long as it took me to get into it. 

Visions of Lucille Ball trying to keep up at the chocolate factory flashed in my head as I did the best I could to follow along.  Everyone seemed to fit in their hammocks with ease while mine felt like spanx. Despite my clumsy pulling and tugging of the hammock and having to make several attempts for each pose, I was able to do some form of about three of the seven poses. Eventually, the teacher came around and lowered the hammocks to about a foot off the ground. I stepped into the hammock, terrified that my weight would pull the thing all the way to the floor leaving no room to swing. It didn’t touch the ground! Alright! Now I would be able to do all of the poses, I said to myself, nearly tripping, as my foot got stuck in the hammock. 

One of the poses involved sitting in the hammock and leaning back, letting your shoulders rest on the floor. I got into this pose successfully.  Hanging on to the hammock with both hands like a swing, we hoisted ourselves up for the next pose. Use your feet to push yourself four steps back were the next instructions. When I was doing that, I lost traction and began to swing forward in my hammock. I tried to stop myself with my Flintstones feet brakes as I clawed at the fabric of my hammock trying to pull myself more upright, but my body kept swinging as my feet slipped and slid below me like a wet dog scrambling to get out of a bathtub. There I was swinging out of control, trying desperately to stop myself as my still classmates gracefully curved and turned and bent in their beautiful poses. I can still hear the sound of my feet sliding around on the floor as my hammock slowly came to a stop.

Thankfully, I was able to get myself into the position for floating sivasana, our last pose. Lying flat, in the hammock, like a cocoon. The teacher came around and offered to swing us in the darkened room. It was lovely. Tears of joy, relief and humiliation rolled down my cheeks as I drifted back and forth imagining myself one day being able to gracefully go through all the poses. But for now, I did it. I tried this new thing, and I think I just might try it again.  After class,  I texted my friend Lori. "Guess what I just did?!"  Pink would be so proud.  

“I’m learning to be brave in my beautiful mistakes.” PINK

Friday, January 5, 2018

Highlights from 2017

What? It has been over a year since I have posted here!? Wow. The new year has lit yet another fire under me and here I am again, grateful as always. Since it has been a while I am going to list the highlights from this school year so far.  I am finally feeling at home in an elementary setting.

In addition to the highlights below, story time has been much better, and I feel more confident about how to select the best books for story time and get the most out of the books I share with the students. Making curriculum connections is now easier since I am more familiar with our elementary standards.  One of my favorite books has been The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors. I  also enjoyed reading chapters and passages from Wonder to classes.

We had an intern! It was amazing having Molly with us for a semester. We really miss her. Having Molly join us forced me to be more thoughtful of my practices. I have made a few changes because of this experience.

    Our Super Reader program has more participation this year and we've added online review forms and Schoology badges!

Students created land bridge models, LED cards and gingerbread houses in the makerspace!

Students enjoyed this fiction/non-fiction book sorting activity. This was a good springboard for locating informational text features in the non-fiction books.

Hour of code week was so much fun! We broke out the ozobots, our new osmos and utilized our activpanel in addition to using the hour of code website activities.

The movie release of Wonder was the perfect opportunity to revisit this book, read aloud passages and chapters to classes, and have a Choose Kind day at our school.

Grandparents breakfast was followed by library time. The warm, fuzzy goodness of seeing students being read to and playing games with their grandparents makes my heart sing.

This is one of my favorite bulletin boards of the year. I like it because it allowed for teacher, student and parent participation.