Sunday, November 23, 2008


Often I am not aware just how many of my feelings, views and reactions are a matter of choice. Today I have chosen:
- to take a nap instead of continuing to feel overwhelmed by all that I need to do;
- to laugh at Elf's knock-knock jokes for probably the 100th time;
- to spend time reading Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom;
- to accept that I probably won't get all of it this time;
- to forego an unhealthy food choice and have tea instead;
- to clean up other people's messes without grumbling;
- to let the Wizard be in charge of Thanksgiving - it's better for everyone this way;
- to spend a few minutes with the children without thinking about my to do list;
- to stop on my way to the basement to scratch my dog's ears;
- to remember my friend J. by trying hard to bring more kindness into my life.

I hope you had a lovely weekend with lots of goodness to choose from!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

a counting game

I introduced a new game with my 8th graders yesterday. It is always hard to know whether a game will be a hit or a flop, so I was surprised by the enthusiasm with which they received this very simple activity.

The instructions are very simple: the students are to count a range of numbers, say from 1 -20, 100 and up or whatever you choose (I am also planning to use letters of the alphabet, simple German verb conjugations etc.). Instead of having an order of which student goes when, they are to say the number out when it feels like it's their turn. The only rule is that if two students speak at the same time, they have to start over.

As I was watching the 8th grade, I saw just how deeply this game meets the children. For one, it is a rhythmical activity which helps them relax into class. They also have to get very still, listening to each other. This prepares them extremely well for the rest of class. Finally, the children love a challenge, and this game sets the tone for trying to do better all the time, an element that I have found can be challenging for some of the students.

So this one was a winner which we will be playing regularly.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Balancing Act

I just spent the weekend cleaning the house with help from the Wizard. It feels so much more like home this way. During the week we are all so busy that things just tend to end up all over the place, which makes me sad. I always thought that my house would be cozy and inviting, but all too often it's chaotic and messy.

I used to be a full time homeschooling mom, and my house looked a lot cleaner. Now, with me back at work and both children in school, we're away so much and I've had to adjust my expectations. This is becoming a theme. I think in general we humans are not very good at predicting the unintended consequences of our decisions, the costs of the cost benefit equation. It never occurred to me that going back to school for my teacher certification would mean less time with my family on the weekends. I had no idea that going back to work would mean less time with my children. Maybe I'm just not very smart that way, but I see this inability to predict consequences elsewhere as well, such as meetings at school. It's remarkable, really, given that we are all people who strive to live our lives consciously. I wonder how and at what point experiences guides us in this way?