Back In The Game

What a weekend!!! It is as if my life is starting again. Saturday morning my Saturday morning English conversation group started again after a 14 month break due to COVID. Four Hispanic friends came, two from Cuba and two from Mexico. We did an intercambio, exchange, mostly of me helping them with English, but they also helped me with Spanish.

Saturday afternoon I hosted a retirement party at my church for my colleague for my morning class. We managed to surprise her. We had students from my morning class, my colleague’s family, people who she worked with at other schools, and people from the school my morning meets. We had SO much good food and a lot of fun.

This morning the same four Hispanic friends came again for my Sunday morning group. We did an intercambio again and also listened to some worship songs in Spanish, It was also the first Sunday morning I enjoyed worship service in person.

This afternoon I will try to catch up on blogging. The past week was so busy with finishing up my morning class. But what a weekend it was.

How was your weekend?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

End of this COVID School Year

It’s a wrap. This morning is the final class for the school year for my morning class. This crazy COVID year is coming to an end. This morning we will have a celebration with all of the students being in the classroom and there is so much to celebrate.

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I am so proud of the moms in my class. They began the year feeling uncertain about many things but they stayed with it. They learned a lot of new tech programs such as using Zoom, Google Quizzes etc. There English levels improved noticeably. They helped each other and the sense of community actually got stronger among them.

My assistant was awesome. We had an adventure together and she handled all of the unexpected things well and even tolerated me. 🙂

This school year has been unlike anything I have experienced in my over 20 years of teaching. I am so proud of my students and my assistant for not only making the best of a difficult situation, but for excelling during it too.

I am so thankful for Jesus helping me through this year, for my morning times with him, for how he helped me through his people, and for everything.

It’s a wrap. Looking forward to a better 2021/2022 school year.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Surprise During A Baby Shower

In my morning Family Literacy class, when one of the moms is expecting a baby, we have a baby shower for her. We have been doing so every year. This year one of the moms will have a baby in July and since tomorrow is the last day for our class, we had a baby shower for her yesterday.

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The other moms brought gifts and one of the moms took them to the expectant mom. She opened the gifts while we watched via Zoom. She was about half way through the gifts when those of us in the classroom had a surprise. It was fire drill time. The fire alarms went off and we had to leave the room for about ten minutes.

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I laughed inwardly thinking it was a fitting end to a crazy year. Having class during this past year of COVID has meant having many moments of needing to be flexible. No harm done. We came back after the fire drill and finished the baby shower.

Tomorrow we will have an ice cream celebration in class. All of the students will be in class. Hopefully no fire drill tomorrow. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Empowering My Teaching Assistant

Tuesday morning during my morning Family Literacy Class, we had someone from the National Council for Family Literacy observe our class via Zoom. This happens a few times a year. The NCFL opened an office in my state and my class is funded by them.

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I believe in giving my assistants experiences they can draw from in the future, so when I set up the breakout rooms, I looked at my assistant and said, “Hannah I am going to place Jessica, the NCFL person, in your breakout room for 15 minutes.” I might have neglected to let her know ahead of time I had been planning to do that.

My assistant did great just as I knew she would. Now she has that experience to draw from in the future when she is a teacher. I believe in empowering my assistants and volunteers and letting them rise.

My assistant will move to Texas later in the summer. She is applying for teaching jobs there. We have had a great year together. I have been trying to convince her to stay, but it is difficult to compete with the fact that her boyfriend soon to be fiance lives there. 🙂

My morning class ends in a few weeks, It has been a year unlike any year in my twenty plus years of teaching. Jesus blessed me with the perfect assistant for a year like this.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

The Morning Routine of This Teacher

Yes I am definitely a night owl, but I do have a morning routine when I arrive at the school where I teach in the mornings. Mind you that by the time I arrive there I have already had two cups of coffee breakfast, and gotten ready, so I am mostly awake. However, many mornings as I drive to the school I am already thinking about a nap because mornings are dreadful.

When I arrive at the school, I stop to tell a quick joke to the security guy at the front door. Then I take the elevator up to the second floor due to a bad knee. Then it is a walk through the school library where I tell the librarian a joke on my way to my classroom.

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After getting things ready for my class, I go to the small teacher’s lounge on the second floor to get a cup of coffee. On the way, it is a quick knock on the window of the reading specialist’s classroom to wave hello. As my coffee is being made with the Keurig machine, it is time to quickly say hello and a quick joke for the teachers whose classrooms are near the lounge.

Come to think of it, I am getting close to the end of the 100 Jokes I was given. Time to search for more material to brighten the mornings of my colleagues. I wouldn’t want to disappoint them.

Not only do I make my coffee, I also make a cup for my assistant. I might exaggerate the part of how it hurts to walk on a bad knee but I am there to help her when she comes into the classroom when she walks in.

Then I am all settled in and ready to greet my students and teach class..

There you have it. That is my morning routine.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Twas The Friday Before Spring Break

I will NEVER forget the Friday before Spring Break for my morning class last year. We heard COVID was in a few places and no one knew what to expect. I thought maybe it would be like the flu season, but was I ever wrong.

The Friday before Spring Break last year, all of us teachers in the building said to each other, “See you after break.”

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But we did not. We ended up 100% remote learning. We did not see each other in person again until August last year. We had to adapt on the fly. Our lives were lived out in ZOOM. By the way, the strangest thing happened. People panicked over toilet paper of all things. I still don’t get that one.

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So here we are one year later. In my city we saw the risk dial go all the way up to red and stay there for two and a half months. It has come down to yellow now which is great.

Today as I interact with my fellow teachers and my students I will again say, :See you after break.” But this time I feel confident we will. The vaccine has been given to thousands in my city. We have also stayed in the yellow for a month now

The teachers are so deserving of a week off. They need Spring Break to refresh for the final 10 weeks of the school year I had thought about surprising them with more bananas today, but they will already be excited about a week long break. So I will surprise them the Monday after break to help them get started again.

When a break for teachers comes where you live, remember them, be kind, do small things for them. But please don’t go crazy buying toilet paper, 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

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When God Smiles Upon Us- A Long Awaited Day

Ever have a day where it seems God is smiling upon you? You know, the kind of day when God lines up blessings for you. I had one of those days yesterday. It felt like sunshine was upon me all day.

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I received an email Wednesday that our Country Health Department wanted to schedule people from Cultural Centers in my city for vaccination. I filled out my registration and got scheduled for yesterday at 2:45pm.

Yesterday morning in class I noticed progress by some of my students. My student from Sudan is doing so much better with her writing. Two of my students from Guatemala correctly translated for themselves how we use the have verb. Seeing students succeed always makes my day.

When I came home from my morning class, I checked and saw that I have been approved to be a substitute teacher. I will probably start subbing after Spring Break in March.

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When I went to the place in my city where they are vaccinating, everyone volunteering and working were so positive. I saw some of my colleagues from my job at El Centro de las Americas that I had not seen in person since last April. One of them commented, “Matt really misses being around people.” That is so true. I was almost giddy seeing them again. I also saw some former students who are now working at other cultural centers.

When I left the vaccination site, the sun was shining and it was 54 degrees farenheit, 12 degrees Celsuis, so I walked to my car carrying my jacket. I drove home without wearing my jacket.

When we have a day it seems like God is smiling on us, we should savor the moments like there are an oasis in life. It has been a long year since last March and I am beginning to feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Today is payday for my work with El Centro and one of the pastors from church is buying my lunch. Perhaps today is another day it will seem like God is smiling upon me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

In The Zone?

This picture is of me starting the Zoom session for my morning class before the remote learners join. The projector is on so it gives a cool look behind me. Am I in the zone? Maybe I have been partially absorbed into Zoom like in the old movie Tron when a man gets absorbed into the video game Tron.

This school year has been unlike anything I ever experienced before. Starting my day consists of arriving in my classroom, getting my laptop connected to the projector, starting the Zoom session, greeting in class students as they enter, while simultaneously letting Zoom students in.

Finding the balance of giving attention to in class students and remote learners during the same class period has been a bit of a juggling act. Even more so helping the students keep the sense of community among each other when half the students are remote leaners.

I am not unique. This has been the experience of educators everywhere. Some teach 100% remote and some teach blended classes like me. All educators have had to adjust A LOT.

I share my experience to help those who read my blog to understand what teachers all around the world are experiencing at this time. So please be kind to teachers. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Bright Spot of Joy for My Class This Week

My first Family Literacy class began in November 2009. It has been my privilege to teach moms from diverse cultures over the past eleven years. Each year at least one of the moms in my class either has a baby or becomes pregnant and has the baby during summer break.

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During this COVID year it seemed like even a new baby coming into the world would not happen. It is a joy the moms share in. They get excited for the mom who is expecting. We have baby showers for the expectant mom. But this year it seemed the streak of eleven years of at least one mom in my class having a baby was in jeopardy.

Two of the moms who join remotely are from Burma. Thursday morning one of them let us know the other is going to have a baby. She is due in July. The announcement was such a bright spot of joy in a difficult year.

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The mood in the class, both in person and in Zoom, suddenly brightened as we clapped over the news. That along with the news that my city moved down to yellow on the COVID risk dial seemed to lift everyone up.

It would be wonderful to have the dial go down to green by May so we can have an in person baby shower. If not, we will do another one in Zoom. We did that last summer with the moms bringing a gift to me at the school. Then I delivered them to the expecting mom. The same day we had a Zoom meeting to watch her open her gifts.

So my streak of eleven years of at least one student having a baby in intact. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Fun in School During COVID

The school where I teach in the mornings has a system of Gold Tickets. Gold Tickets are given to the children by any teacher or staff member who sees them do something kind to others or show good behavior. The classroom that leads in Gold Tickets gets to have the Eagle in the room. Of course even it needs to be safe during COVID.

One of the fifth grade classes is the proud host of the Eagle.

For my part, I try to have a brilliant joke ready each morning to share with other teachers and staff. This morning I let them know the new health directive if a child has an injury playing peak a boo. Take them to the I C U.

As I brought the bananas into the teacher’s lounge yesterday, I found out some are speculating as to what I would bring if the COVID dial gets down to green.

I told them it is top secret.

The moms in my Family Literacy class like to joke with me. Yesterday they asked me how old I am. They laughed as I reacted to their guesses. When I told them I am 22, one of the moms used Google Translate and read to me, teacher is lying. 🙂

We are trying to find small ways to keep school fun for the children and for us during this time of COVID.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.