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I found myself in a weak moment today.

I was interrupted from my morning lesson planning

by a knock on my classroom door.

A former student and her two younger siblings.

“Mrs. D,” she said.  “I brought you this note I wrote you.

I didn’t know yesterday was your birthday.”

She handed me a folded sheet of binder paper,

decorated with purple hearts, my favorite color.

I’ve received notes from students before, but none like this one.

I’d like to consider myself a tough teacher.

I hold in my laughter and sense of humor often.

I try to be strict.

My parents would tell you I’m the teacher who never smiles.

But as I stood and read this note,

the tears welled up and there was no stopping them.

I hugged her and thanked her,

and almost accidentally shooed her away and closed the door.

I wasn’t ready to let a student see me cry.

29 was a good birthday, but not the best.

After that note though, it was better than good.

Thanks to students like Alexa, a little extra sunshine brightened up this birthday.

I hope I never forget this day.

alexa

Beautiful, Beautiful Books

photo-21This picture was my happy place today.

No time in the school day brings me more joy

than our moments after lunch when we read our chapter book together.

My class is about two thirds of the way through our last novel of the year,

Holes, by Louis Sachar.

The best part is, I actually have a class set of this one.

My heart does a little pitter patter every time I see my students

get comfy with their copy as they follow along.

One girl loves to rest her chin on her desk with her eyes on the text.

Another boy likes to rest his forehead on the desk with the book in his lap.

Another is literally consumed by his book because it practically covers his face.

Just when I think I’ll catch one off task, I realize, they’re just getting in their cozy spot.

They’re bonding with their books!

So as we read today, I had a lightbulb moment.

Wouldn’t it be cool to see all the books we’ve read together in one big stack?

As the students traded turns reading pages,

I did a quick rummage around the room to collect them all.

Eight in all, and what a beautiful pile of books!

I wish you could have seen two of my girls who sit in back

oohing and ahhing at the sight.

Those are our books!  We’ve read them all this year! one whispered.

Wait, let me count them! the other joined in.

I’m telling you, books have bonded us together.

As I look at each title, I am reminded of a different time frame of the year.

It reminds me of the journey we’ve taken through this school year.

And it makes my heart feel so full.

There’s already a countdown in the teachers lounge

for number of school days left until sweet summer begins.

And I’m not going to lie, I’m more than ready.

But today, that stack of books brought me the bit of joy I needed.

What will be your Space Jam?

Inspiration comes from funny places sometimes.

This week marks our first week of state testing

and I have to say, I feel just as exhausted as the kids.

Not to mention, stress levels are a little high around campus.

So in an attempt to hide from the negativity and the stress

I hid in my classroom, threw on some Iron and Wine Pandora,

and checked my email.

And there was this happy little gem of inspiration.

The perfect encouraging video to brighten my day.

Today I showed this video to my kids

as a method to lighten the mood amidst the anxiety of testing

and remind my kids life goes on beyond this almighty test.

I have to admit, as I sat at my back table, and enjoyed this video with them

I did get a little teary eyed.

Every kid was glued to these words from Kid President

and genuinely enjoyed every minute of his words.

Sometimes when we feel like giving up,

its the exact moment we just need a little push to keep going.

A little bit of inspiration from an unexpected place.

Thanks, Kid President.  Thanks for your pep talk.

Coming Soon!

photo-2

Tonight is the night before the first day of our state testing.

Which means…

Summer is quickly approaching!

Which also means…

that my Summer Bucket List Edition 2 is right around the corner.

Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’ll be dreaming of the sounds of the ocean

and all the other fun things I hope to see and do this summer.

Dreams of Disneyland

 I spent my lunch with another teacher

and all our students who had earned “Community Lunchbox,”

a reward students can earn for doing their homework all week.

Just as I was about to finish eating,

a group of girls came to my table area and began asking,

“Miss Friedrich, can we come to your wedding?

Can we come over to your house and hang out with you after school?”

(There are two girls from this group that ask me this on a daily basis.

I don’t think they get that teachers and students don’t hang out

and have play dates like they do with their friends.)

Of course I said no to both, but with a smile.

Our banter about them coming over has become a daily joke.

Soon, they began asking questions about my ‘future husband’

and the pictures I had up in the room of he and I.

When I pointed out a picture of us at Disneyland,

they immediately began asking,

“If we can’t come over, will you take us to Disneyland?!”

My quick wits gave me a great idea.

“Sure!” I proclaimed.

Their eyes lit up and smiles spread across their faces,

“Really?!?!?” they asked.

“Yes.  I will go to Disneyland with you when you graduate college.”

My thought was that the likelihood they’ll actually contact me

after their college graduation could be slim,

and it sounded like a fun promise if it ever actually came true.

We laughed and joked about how they’ll need to Google me

to look up my contact information when the time finally comes.

“It’s a deal!” one said.  “But we need to shake on it.”

I complied, shaking on the deal.

As they excitedly ran out of the room to recess,

bragging to anyone who walked by,

“We’re gunna go to Disneyland with Ms. Friedrich!”

My team teacher and I looked at each other and laughed.

She warned me that in about 13 years

these girls actually could be calling me.

And you know what?  I’m okay with that.

If the memory of this pact does anything to motivate them in school

I’m completely okay with that.

I’ll let you know in about 13 years or so if we make it to Disneyland.

And to tell you the truth,

I’d be delighted if this dream really does come true.

Evens and Odds

 2012 was a good year for me.

Even numbered things are usually good for me.

Years.  Birthdays. The list goes on.

Even numbers are just lucky for me.

My birthday is on the 2nd.  Even.

My birthday month is the 10th month of the year. Even.

My soccer jersey number was always 20.  Even.

My apartment number is 2.  Even.

And years that end in even numbers are always good ones!

Take 2012 for example.

My two greatest highlights from this year had to do with even numbers.

Ran my best half marathon time in 2 hours and 2 minutes.

Got engaged on the 20th of December. 

And one important thing that came with this even year of 2012,

I started teaching the best class I’ve ever had. 

From the first week of the school year,

I’ve known this was a special class.

But today was one of those days that I knew they were really special.

It was our first day back to school after winter break.

The students had been assigned a book report project

to complete over the break and bring to school today.

Last year when I gave this project,

the end results were a little disappointing,

so believe me when I say I held my breath this morning

when I imagined what types of disasters could be turned in today.

But instead, I was pleasantly surprised with nothing more than amazing work.

I think the best was their faces as they proudly marched their projects 

from our morning assembly to the classroom.

It’s hard to find words right now to describe how it feels as a teacher

to see that your students really listen to what you say

and start to love what you love when it comes to school.

I harped on them and reminded them each day of December,

“I want to be ‘Wow’ed.’  Create a project that is going to make me say,

“WOW!”

And let me tell you, there was WOW’s all over the place!

The work that these kids put into those projects,

and the pride and satisfaction you could see on their faces of a job well done,

man, that’s when teaching becomes the best job in the world.

 

I ooh’ed and ahh’ed as I looked at each one after school today.

“I can’t wait to grade this stack of projects,” said no teacher ever.

Except for me.  Today.

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I’m telling you! Even numbers ROCK!

2012 was a good year.

This year brought me a class of students of a lifetime.

Today I was reminded that I need to cherish moments like these with my students.

Time will fly.  And then I’ll be reliving these moments in my mind.

So though 2013 doesn’t mark an even year,

it has set me up with a resolution I can live for.

To make this odd year a memorable one:

Enjoy the Moment.