Thursday, October 17, 2013

We win at partying!

We love to jump around get down in my class. We sing and dance all the time. Our animals dance, we dance, and sometimes our letters dance (though they are not supposed to...those naughty things).

We've jumped and danced the alphabet, our morning greeting and we've danced with Cosmo (a very cute song). We've danced to the crocodile rock and the Gummy Bear song. Last Friday we even danced to One Direction.

We like choreographed dancing and Ms. M is not a choreographer, so Youtube is a good friend of ours. It turns out that there are tons of videos on youtube where someone just ripped a dance from a wii console and posted it, so we dance with them. The funny thing about doing a dance that is ripped from a wii is the part where the kids forget it's a video...and not an actual game.

Last week we stayed in for recess because of the rain, but Ms. M insists that we get some kind of exercise so we did some dancing before we took out our toys. We danced and danced and at the end of the video, there was a part where "Player 1" "scores points" for dancing so well. The kids saw the points meter go all the way up to the top and congratulate them, and they actually started jumping and cheering because they were so excited about having "won" the "game."

Little minds, man...they are hilarious.

Your impact is priceless.

I know I haven't posted in a while -- it's been a really busy year! But I couldn't help but share this story because it got me a little choked up.

The past two days this week we had parent-teacher conferences. Conferences are great because we get a chance to talk to parents about how their kids are doing and what we're learning this year. Conferences are exhausting because you sit in a chair and talk nonstop for something like 12 hours and most of what you say is something that you already said 20 minutes ago to someone else. Have you ever given the same speech 18 times in 2 days? I did...and then I ate half a pint of double-chocolate ice cream. (Don't tell my trainer.)

Most of my conferences are pleasant and not terribly emotional - except for two this year. One I will not mention here but the other made me seriously re-think my thinking.

About two weeks ago my little friends and I were learning all about composing and decomposing numbers. Being the ridiculous, theatrical person that I am, this unit involved imaginary school buses, animal sleepovers, letters from aliens, and a full-fledged birthday party for our bovine friend Sr. Vaca. Since 10 is such an important number, I told the kids it was his 10th birthday. (Based on when I got him, he's actually 11...sssshhh!!!! Don't tell!)

The birthday party for Sr. Vaca happened on a Friday. The previous Monday, our little friend M told us during morning meeting that her birthday was the day before. Since she joined our class a few weeks after the other students, I didn't have her birthday on my calendar yet and I was completely caught by surprise. Yikes! So on Friday, in honor of her birthday (and to make up for my not realizing it) we had a joint birthday party for little M and Sr. Vaca. There were fruit loops, skittles, tootsie rolls, two kinds of koolaid (blue and green), balloons, noisemakers, a cake and 10 candles. We sang to our cumpleaneros and as is a tradition for most of our families, M blew out the candles and then picked a friend to smush her face in the cake. The pictures are quite cute. When they left for the day, we gave her the leftover treats and some balloons to take home.

I thought this was no big deal. In fact, I was kind of annoyed at myself that day because I thought I'd overspent on the supplies for the birthday party (who breaks open their piggy bank to throw a birthday party for a stuffed cow? Me, that's who. Apparently).

When M's mother came to conferences, I showed her her daughter's little poster that she made about the number 10 at the party. Her mother's response was, "Yes, she told me that you had a party for her and the cow. We were sad because we couldn't throw her a party this year. We told her maybe next year. But she said to me, you don't need to throw me a party, mom. I had a party at school."

I. Almost. Cried.

Here I was, thinking that it was no big deal - just a regular over-the-top math lesson. In fact, I was annoyed by the number at the bottom of my grocery store receipt. All the while having no idea that making 10 and celebrating with Sr. Vaca meant that a child who would not otherwise have had a 7th birthday party at all got to have one with 17 of her friends, a blow up alien, a stuffed cow, and a cake.

20 years from now, who knows if she'll remember me. Or how much time we spent learning about the numbers five and ten. Or how great my learning targets were or how well I differentiated my lessons. But maybe, just maybe she'll remember the day we threw her a birthday party.

To all of you who spend your own money on your class, who take time outside of work to plan great lessons and exciting activities, whose Lakeshore and ABC Zone and Discount School Supply bills are 10 times higher than what you can write off on your taxes...remember this. The money that you spend is trivial, but the impact that you make on that child's life is priceless.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Crazy PD lovers

I was just reading this adorable blog called mybilingualclassroom and the author said something interesting: "I'm crazy. I actually like PD." It was kind of funny that I read this today because I was recently re-reading Harry Wong's book The First Days of School and he talks about how great teachers like meetings and don't complain about or get annoyed by them.

I happen to work in a district where we have meetings all the time. We do an incredible amount of meeting and PD-ing and training and clustering and PLC-ing and focus-grouping and session-ing and whatnot. The sheer number of hours we spend in meetings would probably blow my mind if I actually counted.

Anyway, I'm writing about it because I just read that blog and the book, and also I just spent 6 days (yep, our workshop week was a day longer this year) attending meetings and trainings and related things. And I can say with confidence that teachers do not actually hate meetings, and we do not hate being professionally developed. (WHAT?! SHOCKING!! You don't believe me? Well I'll explain to you why I'm right in a minute.)

Think about it: teaching is a job where you get paid to talk all day. Also, most teachers are women, and women (stereotypically, anyway) really like talking, especially to each other. So if you think about it, meetings are times when people who like talking sit around and talk to each other about things. And yet...they make so many teachers feel like this:




Why is that, you ask? Well, I'll tell you.

What bothers us isn't the existence of the meeting. What bothers us isn't the new learning. What bothers us is inefficiency. I imagine this is true in any industry and/or company, but it's especially true for teachers (I say that because I am one). Sometimes meetings are longer than they need to be for you to learn the information or finish the conversation. Sometimes the information isn't new or isn't differentiated enough to be meaningful to you. Sometimes you spend a lot of time doing independent reading of an article or a teacher guide or a book excerpt and not enough time discussing and applying and planning. Sometimes it's summer and you really just wish you were at the beach. And sometimes (or most of the time), you're thinking about how much needs to be done in your classroom, and you can hear the mental clock tick-tick-ticking as your shape-cutting and pencil-sharpening, and crayon-picking-up and book-choosing and lesson-planning and flipchart-creating time float away. And when those things happen, you get tired. And cranky. And hungry. And distracted. And hot (especially if the building doesn't have air conditioning).

We don't hate meetings. We don't hate PD. We like accomplishing things, and we love to learn. (I mean, we're educators, aren't we? Learning is what we do.) So when you have a really good session or a really helpful training (like one I went to last Friday) or a really meaningful discussion or a great opportunity to apply new information, or just a really productive conversation that ends when it's done (and not at an arbitrary scheduled time), it's like a breath of fresh air. And you leave better for it.

I'm back!

Oh man, it's been so long! I am happy to be back at school. I only had ONE back to school nightmare this year, so I'm getting better... the weird thing is, even though I stopped dreaming about sleeping in and forgetting to go to work and leaving my precious darlings teacher-less for a whole hour on the first day of school (I feel like First Day Jitters was written about me!), I've still been having weird dreams this whole month.

I dreamed about massive insects running around my house. With shoes on. On the walls.

I dreamed about my coworker, though I can't remember what she was doing.

I dreamed about more weird bugs. Possibly in my classroom.

Maybe I should lay off the sushi and ice cream?

Happy school year!

If you tell a kid a story...

If you make up stuff when talking to your students, don't forget to make up an explanation to go with it.

One of the things that I love about first grade is that I can spend the entire day saying totally ridiculous things and my kids ALWAYS go along with it. Every inanimate object is animate, superheroes hang out in our classroom when they are at home, and Ms. M is over 100 years old. (Okay, they sometimes question that last one.) The problem is that sometimes they ask me why things are they way they are (in my invented first grade world), and then I have to come up with an explanation that logically follows the thing I just made up that I hadn't intended to explain (oops).

For example, we were working on letter formation today, because we're not so great at it. And I was explaining that letters don't have wings and they don't have claws, so they don't float in the air (above the line) and they don't dig in the dirt (below the line) they just sit on it. Except then we started writing lowercase g's, and I had to explain that lowercase g's and j's have roots, like plants, or are friends with the worms or something, so they like to hang out below the dirt. And why sometimes uppercase J wears a hat, and sometimes he doesn't feel like it. And how the little i doesn't touch the sky because it's the big I's baby, and the big I is its dad (or mom?) and so it doesn't have a hat, just a little dot. And then I said that uppercase I has a gorrita y zapato and then someone had the nerve (ahem) creative curiosity to ask me how he takes his shoes off since he doesn't have hands and so I just said he wears them all the time.

Kids and their pesky adorable questions...at least they'll remember the uppercase B, now that he has a cabeza y panza.

Leave a message after the tone...BEEP!

Today I did something I've never done before.

I did not ignore a call.

I did not pretend to be my voicemail and ask someone to leave a message after the tone (although sometimes it's tempting to do that).

What I did was say "Just a minute, please, excuse me" to a parent who walked into my classroom unannounced and interrupted me in the middle of my sentence as I was explaining to a child how to count money.

And I felt a little bit bad, because parents are important people. And I also felt a little bit annoyed, because children are also important people. And because I have 25 children, not just one. Not just yours. And because you walked into my room in the middle of learning time and you want us to stop learning so you can talk to me. And then you want your child to stop learning so you can talk to her.

I know there are only a few days left in the school year and it should be no big deal, but...learning time is important! AndwearelearningsomethingtotallynewbecauseIdidntgettoitearliersodonttellmybosslolbutreallythough!

Eek...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Math, man. It's serious business.

My kids and I have been working on reading fluency. And naturally, that means we get to read cute poems and sing fun songs. I found this one on youtube, and they love it.





El reino del rev├ęs is this hilarious kingdom where everything is backward and silly. The kids cracked up when we first read the lyrics (and several times after that), especially when we got to the baby with the beard. But no matter how funny it is when the dog "falls up" instead of down and spider rides on a chess piece, when they say that 2+2=3, everyone simultaneously shouts, NO!!!

We can joke about babies with beards and dogs falling up and invisible chimps, but in my class, man, math is serious business. Incorrect facts are no joke. (So they tell me.)

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cinco de Mayo: Day of the Underdog

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo. It's a little like St. Patrick's Day in that a lot of people it doesn't apply to celebrate it, and a lot of the people who celebrate it have no idea what they are celebrating. They just enjoy the festivities (and the discounted drinks...).

Being a person who does actually happen to know the history of the day and happen to thoroughly enjoy holiday celebrations of most kinds, I decided that I was going to do something festive.

Given that I am a big fan of latin music and dance floors, I ended up at a Mexican restaurant where a live band was playing! (Pa' que lo bailen bien...) As I was taking a short break from twirling around the floor, a random guy asked me to tell him what Cinco de Mayo was about. I started to tell him when I realized that the guy on the other side of me was both Mexican and a friend of mine, so I figured he'd probably tell it better than I would and asked him to explain instead.

Good thing, too.

My explanation would have involved all this background information about the wars and the debts and France wanting their money and Benito Juarez as well as what happened at the Batalla de Puebla. Very teacher-esque, I imagine. My friend, on the other hand? Much more simple. All he said was, "Cinco de Mayo is about the day when we fought France and kicked their a**."

He's absolutely right. Even though Mexico was in debt and struggling and France came to demand money the Mexicans didn't have (and they lost to them later), la Batalla de Puebla and the subsequent annual celebration really aren't about all of that. They are about the underdogs winning and kicking France's...well, you know. Derriere.

A veces, la importancia de un suceso viene de como te hace sentir.
(Sometimes, the importance of an event comes from how it makes you feel.)

Viva Mexico!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What School Is

As you have probably noticed, the media doesn't particularly like school or teachers right now. Neither do politicians. And as a result, the general public doesn't seem to either. Normally my blog is full of cutesy stories about how awesome my kids are (and they are!!) but today I have to get on my soapbox for a minute. *Clears throat*

I've recently come across an increasingly frustrating number of Facebook posts, news articles, poems, memes, etc. in the past weeks and months about "what schools don't teach you", "how schools fail to educate students", "what your teacher didn't tell you", "what teachers/schools are doing wrong", or some other iteration of the failure of school to teach you everything about life that you (or politicians, or test writers) think you should know.

Here, in a nutshell, is the reality of schooling. Put your listening ears on, okay? Sit up straight, criss-cross applesauce, and look at the speaker. Ready?

School is not designed to be the beginning or the end of your education. School is simply a jump-off point for you to go and educate yourself. It is virtually impossible for teachers to teach everything they are supposed to teach you, everything they want to teach you, and everything you want to learn in the brief time they have to spend with you. The most important thing school should teach you is how to educate yourself. 

We teach you to read so that you can read novels, memoirs, blogs, newspapers, magazines, subtitles, financial reports, legal briefs, or movie scripts and look at them with a critical and/or appreciative eye. We teach you to write so that you can write a book, start a blog, or become a journalist or professor. We teach you mathematical concepts and skills so that you can balance your budget and manage your finances when you start your own company (or run someone else's).  We teach you history so that you can understand the present, avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, and forge a better future. (We teach you literature so that you'll know it was a book before they make a movie out of it.) We teach you art so that you can see the beauty in the world around you, and create beauty in places where none is apparent.

You are in charge of your own choices and no matter what your school experience, it's up to you what you do with your life. So take the foundation you got from your schooling, combine it with your dream and run with it. School doesn't change the world. That part, my friend, is up to you. 

*Steps down*

Friday, April 19, 2013

I'm rich!

At 2:00 pm each day, I send a fourth of my students to after school activities, a third of the remaining students to parent pickup and drop the rest off at their buses to go home. The ones who stay after school have this adorable habit of bouncing back into my room at every available moment between 2:00 pm and whenever they go home (or I do...or do I? Sometimes I feel like I should just set up a cot next to my desk and call it a day). 

Yesterday, M bounced in and asked, "Ms. M, are you rich?" I wasn't quite sure how to answer, which was fine, because she answered for me. "Yep, you're rich," she said, "because you have markers, and notebooks, and pencils, and folders, and books, and cubes, and paper from the school." Wow, man. I didn't realize how valuable notebooks and folders were to a little person. 

I can honestly say, though, that every so often, at least once a day, I stop and look around the room. There are kids writing, kids reading, kids counting and drawing, telling stories, laughing at stories, and playing together, hugging me and hanging on my arm and showing me their loose tooth again, and I truly do feel rich. The abundance of love from my little people each day makes me feel like a millionaire. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Accountably Hilarious Talk

So I've been teaching my kids accountable talk--how to converse with each other. They've actually made a lot of progress in the past week or so, which is really exciting.

Today I had two girls, M and A, sitting with me talking about place value--what the one in 14 means, and what the 2 in 24 means. M was struggling, quite vocally, with the concept that the one didn't mean just one thing. She kept changing her mind over and over. She'd say, "I think the two means thirty. No, it means fourteen. No, it means two." Then I'd ask A, what do you think? Before A could get a word in edgewise, M responded, "I disagree." I said, "How can you disagree with your friend, if she hasn't said anything?" Her response: "I disagree with myself."

I couldn't help but laugh.  Children are hilarious.

Oh--and she figured it out (as did her friend). The one means a tower of ten. Smarty pants!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Trying New Things

I had the opportunity to observe and chat with some awesome teachers recently, which set the wheels in my brain spinning. It inspired me to make some changes to the way I teach math. It may be April, but hey--no time like the present, right? I wanted to move toward a more constructivist math class, so I tried it out this week. I'm really excited about the results, so I wanted to share!

First, I dug into this great book:

 

Then I decided to try something they suggest, which is teaching the majority of concepts through story problems. The cool thing about doing that is that you are teaching multiple things at a time: reading comprehension, how to show your thinking, writing in complete sentences, using composite strategies, explaining your strategies, and self-evaluation all at one time.

I wanted my kids to work on their doubles facts and use known facts to solve story problems, so here's how we did it. First, we used this poster to learn how to talk (and listen!!) to each other. 

In the far right corner, that's supposed to be a question mark--it got cut off. Sorry!


Then we read this book together:

(My sight-translation skills are getting better...)


 and we learned the definition of the word duplicar, which we reviewed daily. We solved lots of 2- and 3- addend story problems with doubles in them. Then I gave them some number strings with doubles in them. Every day we spent time talking with each other in partners, small groups, and large group about our strategies.

As we worked together, four amazing things happened:
1. One of my shyest, most struggling children stood up in front of the class and bravely explained how she solved a problem.
2. Another student who is similarly shy and has trouble with math jumped from counting by ones to independent composite thinking, just by talking with a friend.
3. My kids have these intense debates with each other about what they think and why--the moment I'm done writing the problem on the board.
4. My students went from doing this:





to  this:



to this:




In. One. Week.

Teaching rocks. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Love!

In honor of Valentine's Day (which my little people reminded me several times is coming in two days), I am writing about lovely things! In this case, I am writing about lovely teammates.

I recently had a really, really horrible day. I received some terrible news that made it quite difficult to get through the afternoon, and that afternoon just happened to culminate in a child wandering off and finding himself temporarily misplaced at dismissal time--all on my brand new volunteer's first day with our class. (Welcome to first grade...I'm promise it's not like this every day!)

Well, it was one of those days when chocolate was an absolute necessity--and also unavailable. Gah! I meandered into my teammates' room looking for some, and their stash was unfortunately empty. So I went back to my own classroom and just sat and stared for a while. (I admit it...not all of my prep time is spent grading things and making anchor charts and cutting out game pieces. Shhhhh don't tell!)

Anyway, the next day, I was sitting in my room when my two fantastic teammates walked in with this beautiful card and plate of double chocolate cookies, baked the night before especially for me because they knew how crappy my day had been.















(There were a lot more cookies before I took this picture. They were delicious.)


Best. Teammates. Ever. 




Monday, February 11, 2013

Chocolate.

One of the things that is super great about teaching is that it's mostly female, so people totally understand the necessity of chocolate as part of daily work and life.

The other day I was observed. I'm not a huge fan of being observed, particularly because the kids get really distracted by the crowd of unknown adults walking into the room in the middle of class, but it went fine. The great thing about it though, is the feedback. I do appreciate getting feedback, both positive feedback and impovement areas, because it reminds me of things I sometimes forget. There is a lot to remember in teaching, and sometimes I know to do something but it doesn't occur to me at that moment, and I appreciate the reminder.

My favorite thing, however, about my observation, was that my feedback form had a piece of chocolate attached to it. Not just any piece of chocolate, either. Ghirardelli white mint and dark chocolate. Hea. Ven. Ly.

Made my whole day.

Sometimes, it's just the little things...

Cravings

This is one of those posts I very occasionally write that has nothing to do with teaching at all. It happens. (WHAT?! There is life outside of teaching? Tell me more!) I know, right? Shocking.

The other day I was craving Chinese food. Does that ever happen to you? You just absolutely have to have something really specific at that moment? Anything else, and I wouldn't have been happy. I really really wanted Chinese food. But not just any Chinese food, mind you. It had to be Chinese buffet food. (Random, anyone? Yep. That's me. Random. It happens.)

I texted a friend who had already eaten, so she invited me to the Timberwolves game. Do they have egg rolls there? I think not. So I had to turn her down. 

I texted another friend who was busy. What? Busy? That's ridiculous. What could possibly be more important than Chinese food?

I was starting to think I'd have to settle for homemade pasta (sigh...) when I got a last-minute text back from a friend (new bff?) that made my day. His response to my randomness: "If you're craving something, you might as well indulge yourself. Let's go." 

That's friendship right there, man. People who indulge your cravings with gusto.

Guess who got her fill of sesame chicken and wontons? Yep, that's me. Even my fortune cookie was awesome. 

Sometimes indulgence is just the best thing ever. (That and cheese wontons.)

Zumba!

Since it's been so cold lately, we have had to find fun ways to get the kids active even though they haven't been able to go outside. Some days we have normal inside recess where they get to make cool things out of legos and manipulatives, but I wanted to give them a chance to use their large motor skills too (in ways that aren't against the rules...).

We've been doing Adventure to Fitness, which the kids LOVE (and so do I!). You can find out about it here. 

We went on the castle adventure and now we're in the middle of the dinosaur one. Our recess isn't quite long enough to do the whole thing, so it's been kind of nice to just do it in little pieces, even as just a warmup in the morning when they come to school sleepy. 

Anyway, during sharing time one morning, I told the kids that I frequently go to Zumba class. The kids found this very amusing and one of them said that he goes to Zumba with his mom at church. I was chatting with my Zumba instructor after class and she actually volunteered to come and teach my kids for half an hour. You wouldn't believe (or maybe you would) how ridiculously cute it was to watch 24 kids try to dance to Starships by Nicki Minaj. 

My favorite part, though, was when she asked them to freestyle in the middle of the circle. The kids really wanted to hear "Opa Gagnam Style", so she played it and every kid (and one mom!) spent the next five minutes bouncing up and down, Gagnam style. Naturally, I caught it on video. It was incredibly cute! 

I wish I could post it here, but since I can't, here's a cute video of some babies doing it too.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Recess.


So it's been a very cold January, and the kids and I have spent quite a bit of time indoors during recess time. And so, every day at 12:15, we have the exact same conversation. "Aww, Ms. M, por que no vamos afuera?"  Bueno, amiguitos, porque hace mucho frio y se van a convertir en cubos de hielo. Yo quiero ninos en mi clase, no cubos de hielo. "Oh."

("But WHY can't we go outside Ms. M?" Well, friends, because it's cold and you'll turn into ice cubes. And I want a class of children, not ice cubes. "Oh.") 

And then finally, after all this time, the weather decided to give us a break and the bring the temperature above zero for a day. (Shocker!) When I told the kids we were going outside, they erupted in cheers and one of them ran over and hugged me. Not one of those kids who is normally hanging on my arm, but one who is usually off in another galaxy, so it was pretty out of the ordinary for him. I guess he was really excited. 

Also, there is a headless, body-less snowman outside. I guess he's just a giant snowball. And yet, he's still endlessly entertaining. Yay snow! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Well, hello, Wednesday. We meet again.

Today was our first day back to school after Christmas break. I was pretty bummed that the district cut our break short this year after having two full weeks off last year (that was heaven!). But of course, I love my kids, so once I'm actually out of bed, going to work isn't so hard.

On the first day back after a long break, I get a mild case of those "first day jitters" that I always get in August before the first day of school. (Yep, that's right, no waiting til after Labor Day for us.) I'm not quite sure, what will happen. It turned out to be a pretty good day. Here's the un-good, the good, and the adorable.

The un-good: Today is Wednesday. Imagine that--starting school on a Wednesday. No big deal, right? Short three-day reintroduction to getting up at 5 am, time to ease back into routines. Weekend is in two days. All that good stuff.

Problem is, Wednesday is not Monday. Why is that a problem, you ask? Because when one side of your brain knows it's Wednesday, and the other side of your brain thinks it's Monday, you have a tendency to frequently find yourself confuzzled. And thus, my predicament today. I got an email saying, "See you at the meeting this afternoon." My first thought was, What? That meeting isn't til Wednesday...OH CRAP IT'S WEDNESDAY, ISN'T IT? Oops. Good thing the meeting was in my room...Then later I saw another teammate who said, "See you at the meeting tomorrow." I said, "Um, aren't we meeting on Thursday?" (Pause for dramatic effect...) OH CRAP IT'S WEDNESDAY! Yep, again. Sigh...good thing it's almost the weekend.

The good, which is also the cute:

- It snowed, so we took my little ones out to play in the snow, and I got really adorable pictures of them rolling down the hill and making snow angels.

- When reviewing our classroom rules, we talked about why it's important to take care of books. "Why don't we step on them and rip the pages?" I asked. M raised her hand and said, "Because if you rip out the pages, you won't know what happens in the beginning. And if you don't know what happens in the beginning, the story won't make sense." (SEE? I KNEW we did a million story trains for a reason! Yay retelling skills! *pats self on back*) I love it when they learn stuff.

- Smiles. When my kids walk in the door at 7:15, and their little faces light up when they see me, waking up at 5 is totally worth it.

Happy January!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Loving the New Year

Happy New Year, everyone!

I know I've been gone for a while, sad times :( But I'm excited to be back in Blog Land!

It's 2013, can you believe it? We all survived the 21st--the Mayans were wrong, thank goodness.

I woke up this morning gushing with gratefulness for everything in my life. Even though I've recently had a few trials (some of them self-inflicted, unfortunately), I am so blessed I can hardly stand it. Even in the midst of my trials, I am surrounded by favor and goodness!

2013, for me, is the year of love. My resolution is simply this: to love. To love my family more (and make sure they know it), to love my friends old and new, to love my students more (is that possible?), to love myself more (and allow myself, therefore, to be unapologetically imperfect), to rest in the amazing love of God, and to spend more time doing what I love (which is part of why I'm back on Blogger -- I love to write!).

 Many people have a resolution, a theme, a goal this year. Mine is just to fill the year with love. What's yours?