Saturday, May 23, 2009

weekend plans

After spending last weekend with good friends who live six hours away, we decided to spend this holiday weekend at home. And what a beautiful and productive day it has been. I attended a workshop this morning, then came home and spent the rest of the day in the garden weeding, mulching, cutting my first harvest of herbs and digging up dead bushes. This is some of the most rewarding work in the world and I love the tiredness I come in with at the end of the day. Homemade pizza and a shared beer followed by a bit of plucking my guitar. A pretty fine weekend indeed.

I particularly like long weekends because of the room to breathe they give the kids. For them, today included a playdate and a streamwalk with friends, on top of some animal chores (guinea pigs, caterpillars), a bit of laundry and some room cleaning. It's so good to know that we won't have to rush them through chores tomorrow but can take two days to alternate work with bike rides, walks to the ice cream parlor and reading books in the hammock. Can't wait till summer break!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

nine months

Sometimes my learning curve as a teacher is painfully slow. But I'm always greatful when the answers I'm looking for come to me in the end.

From the day I started working at our school, I've asked the question what my role is as a subject teacher. In most situations the answer would be to teach a set of skills, in my case a language. It turns out though that it is so much more than that.

As a teacher of a small number of children in each grade, my primary goal is to support their class teacher. Yes, I teach a language. But in my classroom I have the opportunity to be another caring adult in the often difficult world of adolescence. Frequently, especially in seventh grade, it takes the children a really long time to settle into our routine. Like nine months.

This is how long it has taken me to finally understand what one of my most challenging students needs. On the surface he is a gregarious kid with not much of a care in life, always disrupting with jokes and laughter. A child who truly enjoys derailing lessons and preventing others from learning. All year I have wondered what is behind this behavior, I've taken this student into my meditative life, talked to other teachers, pondered. For nine months he remained a puzzle to be solved. Finally, last week the lightbulb went on. Since the connection to children does not occur in a linear fashion, I can't quite put my finger on what suddenly gave me insight into this child. But last Thursday I woke up knowing exactly what I needed to do to help him. For the first time I walked into the classroom being completely sure what I needed to say and in what tone so he could hear me. And once I spoke with him, for the first time this year I looked at a child who did not protest and had a glimpse of relief in his eyes.

It took nine months to get there, but it was totally worth the wait. I don't know where these insights will lead, but I am so greatful to be working with children in this way. Let's hear it for Waldorf Education and it's incredible wisdom.

this post has made my week

I think we can all use a little reminder of it once in a while:

Enjoy one of my all time favorite posts from here

Saturday, May 2, 2009

say aaaaah........ achoooo!

My research paper is done, so I feel I finally have some time to get back to writing about more trivial things than what has occupied me in recent months. Unfortunately I am currently in a state of constant brain clog and sneezyness because of the insanely high oak pollen count in our area. One more week, and I should be able to go outside again.

Aren't you thrilled you got to read this today? It appears my writing muscles have atrophied. As, apparently have my teaching muscles. With a visitor in my classroom this last week, it soon became painfully obvious that my mind has not been on providing the children with a quality experience in weeks. The paper that never seemed to end eclipsed all else, and now it's time to clean house, sit down and plan, and get back to the things I do well more consciously. Oh yes, and like my husband mentioned, perhaps it's also time to getting back to being a wife and mother. Ouch.

So where have I been? Knee deep in Steiner of course, reading up on all things concerning love, relationships, karma, marriage and so on. This has deepened my understanding of anthroposophy in many ways that are still emerging. It also allowed me to look at my own relationships through different lenses, and has given me some new (much needed) skills in that area, I think.

One question that continues to occupy me is how training institutions for Waldorf teachers can help bridge the transition to a life informed by anthroposophy in a way that may be experienced more gently than is perhaps the case for a lot of people. It would be lovely if some courses included work on one's relationships in the context of anthroposophy, how to bring along or work with a partner or spouse who may have a very different spiritual path. Hmmm, this will continue to percolate for a while.

But spring is here, new beginnings, new projects and hopefully some new energy - as soon as the sneezing stops!