The Big Day

The day had finally arrived. I’ve had it marked in my calendar with stars and exclamation marks for over a month. Today is the big day. I got ready quickly, jumped in the car, and headed out. I drove quickly, but was careful not to drive too fast. Can you imagine getting a speeding ticket and having to delay this special day for another minute? I pulled in the driveway. The door opened. There he was. My dad, all 90 years of him framed in the doorway. He said, “Come on in!” I haven’t been through that front door and inside my dad’s house in over 13 months. I started to put on my mask and then remembered that it’s been 14 days since my second shot. I am now vaccinated. So is my dad. No masks needed today. I walked up the path to the door. It felt like it took hours to go just a few feet. He reached out his ams. I reached out mine. It was like a slow motion scene in a movie. He pulled me into his arms, and I wrapped my arms around his waist the way I’ve done so many times in my life. He hugged me tight. I hugged him back, tighter. And then the tears pushed their way up and out of my eyes. I was sobbing. Overwhelmed with the idea that I was finally able to hug my dad again. Such a simple and once ordinary gesture. Now so filled with importance.

Taking a Break

Today is the first day of our April vacation. I always look forward to a week off, but this year I really need a break. I need a break from Zoom. I need a break from all day mask wearing. I need a break from constant worry. And so, I am taking one. I’m taking a complete break from school.

I’m planning to read books (not professional ones).

I’m going to write (for pleasure).

I’m organizing (because it gives me a sense of control).

I’m cleaning (see above).

I’m paying bills (I’m behind.).

I’m going to take care of appointments (has to be done).

I’m driving with my husband to visit my sister-in-law and her family. It’s been 18 months since we’ve seen her (to return to some sort of normalcy now that we are all vaccinated) .

I’m going to sand, prime, and paint a chair (I have time to complete a project.)

I’m going to do some gardening (It gives me hope.).

I’m taking a break and hoping to return to school next Monday with energy and optimism to finish out one of the hardest school years ever.

Planning a Unit with a Colleague

In our district, we use the Teachers College Units of Study as our core curriculum. We have a pacing guide that is usually quite tight. We often find ourselves having to modify units here and there to make sure we get to all of our units by the end of the year. But this year is different (I know. That is quite the understatement!). This year when we created our pacing calendar, we were still in a hybrid setting and not sure what would happen next. Would we shut down in a few weeks? Would we be fully remote? Would things work out and we would return to a full schedule? Who knew? So we created a pacing calendar that had more time for each unit (since we were only in school for half the day and that meant a bit less time for everything we needed to do).

Fast forward a few months: We have been back in school full time for about a month now. That means there is some room in our pacing calendar. So, our second grade team decided to add a unit on poetry. We have a writing unit, but we needed to create a reading unit. One of my second grade teachers (and fellow Slicer) asked if we could find some time to map out this unit together.

I got out my professional books (Calkins, Heard, Routman, Fletcher) and looked through them for some ideas. I found some of the poems I have saved in folders. I remembered a series of Shared Reading lessons with poetry we had done last year. We met. We talked and shared ideas in my office (This hasn’t happened much this year!). Elena shared her vision for a virtual poetry cafe so that families would be able to visit their children and celebrate their learning. (She’s a teacher who is finding ways to make things work this year.) We talked about how we might get there. We brainstormed some lessons; a bit of inquiry, some comprehension strategies, and, of course, some fluency work.

We shared. We created. We planned. It felt so good!