In spite of all the educational chaos and cuts occurring across the country, I’m still finding hope. Hope in the small things. Two things, to be exact. A bird feeder. And heart pencils.
In my geographical area, budget cuts are looming. It looks bad. Really bad. As in, ‘veteran-teachers-out-of-work’ bad. However, I am choosing to look towards the future with hope rather than fear. You see, I’m moving forward like I’ve been hired for my dream job next year. I’m reading books about brain research. I’m planning my summer rowing schedule with Boulder Community Rowing around this dream job that lives in my head. I’m creating class accounts for social media & SMS messaging, thinking about quad blogging partners, sorting through iPod apps for classroom support ((Dream big or go home, eh? Get a job AND a set of iPod touches or iPads.)), planning daily blocks of time, inventing some new ways to use Daily 5 with math, making lists of what resources I will purchase ((Edublogs and FASTT Math top the list right now.)), and thinking through the first day of school ((I’m already working on a mini John Hancock focus to help students get excited about putting their names on the top of papers…. and trying that out with my 2nd grade reluctant writer.)).
Those things are mostly cerebral. No visible evidence of that hope and positive thinking. There are two physical objects that have come to represent this hope for me. The first is an awesome window mounted bird feeder that my parents donated to me. It doesn’t fit in the windows of their new house. It doesn’t fit in the windows of my house either. But it’s set aside in my basement for my classroom. It makes me smile every time I see it…. I imagine students getting to observe and learn about birds by seeing them up close and personal. I find myself looking at the window configuration of different schools as I tour and interview. When we were homeschooling, winter birds were a magical addition to our learning time. My students right now are watching the Hornby Eagles for the first eggs to appear in computer lab- I project the feed onto my screen, while we go about our business of learning or working on a project. As cool as the webcam experience is, real life is better. That bird feeder represents excitement, learning connections, and hope for my future classroom.
The other object is sillier. I was torn between feeling excited or foolish when I pulled it from the post-holiday discount bin. Or them, I should say. I am the proud owner of 40 Valentine’s pencils. Flashy, foiled, red, pink, and white pencils. I bought them for my students next year. They came in packages of 20, and I figured I needed more than 20. So I got two. I made sure some would be acceptable to the boys in my class. Or the tomboys. And also that some were ‘heart-y’ enough for the most princessy of girls. They’re sitting on my desk at home, as a little symbol of hope. I chose to turn off the ‘foolish’ feeling, and go with the excited part. That $2 expenditure is helping me think about the future in a very positive manner.
Do you have hope for the future? What reminds you of that hope? If you’re not hopeful, can you think of a simple purchase that might re-ignite that feeling?