An Addition to The Morning Routine

I am informed to add vitamin C to my daily dose of vitamins. I decided to go the natural way and make my own vitamin C rich juice. I had options, to buy oranges and squeeze every morning, which would add to my morning routine or to just buy tablets. I chose the former.

Whilst squeezing my oranges this morning, I had many thoughts. I found it a very soothing but time consuming activity.  Maybe I can find a juicer that can make this less strenuous and messy? Or could I make the juice the night before?

This morning, in a rush, I squeezed about ten oranges, watching the clock, I made two half glasses, one for myself and another for P. Kept them in the freezer to have nice and chilled just before setting off. After rushing through my routine P and I enjoyed an extremely refreshing start and a good boost to our health. The new routine continues, early tomorrow morning.

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Letting Go

Throughout the first semester, I have taken on creating and deciding on the contents of my class’s weekly Newsletter.

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After Spring Break I decided to give my fourth graders the opportunity to create and design the Newsletter. I was surprised by the enthusiasm of the group of ten or so students who volunteered to take this on. As there were many of them we put them in two groups. The first group were to create the first Newsletter and the other the next week’s. They spent their recess working and made sure they collaborated with each other, giving each other roles and getting it developed.

All I had to do was engage our Innovation and IT teacher who set them up with a graphic design tool they could use. They shared it with me and got on with the work, missing a number of recesses to get the job done. Their Newsletter has relevant information, they remembered all the different activities and events and chose the ones they wanted to share with their parents.

This shows maturity. Volunteering and wanting to miss their recess to work on this project was really impressive. On my part, I realized that the students were ready to take this on, although I was skeptical, I let go. I believe there is so much they learned from doing this, team work, writing, editing, choosing appropriate photographs and even the talk around developing it.

As an observer, I was truly impressed with the know how, coordination and reliance on each other. I continue to learn that we have to give students opportunities to learn or fail, then they will be able to apply this to all other situations.

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Two Roles

I had planned the day perfectly and was hoping to achieve my goals set for the day.  P had started complaining about a pain on our drive to school. She seemed better when we got to school but I still took her to see the school nurse. She was sent to class until lunchtime when I was summoned to take her to the hospital.

Leaving school was like looking behind me, whilst running. I knew I had so much to complete but I had to leave. I could not return to school as the day was almost over. I was going to miss a meeting my planning for the next day, editing my reports and marking my students’ writing completed that morning.

My guilt was torn into two. I had to play my two roles perfectly. All the two demanding hundred percent of me. In the car I kept thinking about all the work I had left behind and was hoping for P to be well. She has to get better, I hope it is nothing serious. In the car you could see she was in pain, holding on to her tummy and groaning quietly. What could this be? What could be causing this? I felt her pain, I told her she was going to be fine.

I decided not to think about the work I had left behind and the work I had to complete but focused on getting P better. Being a teacher and a parent puts you in a dilemma at such times, although ultimately you know you have obligations other than work.

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An Interesting Discovery

We had to walk over twigs and mounds of sand down the worn path to get to the area where B was being buried. It was rather solemn. Some of us had quiet tears in our eyes. Why did he have to leave us so early? In our sorrow we sang a couple of hymns, piping faintly but beautifully. Nature must love music, amongst the trees we sang like angels, it sounded rather soothing. After that, the priest shared a few words and prayed.

On our way back uphill, moving carefully, looking down to make sure there was a safe spot to step, one foot at a time, Y noticed two tree trunks.

“Look at the trunk of that tree!” she shouted.

“It is different.” I said.

“Oh I remember how you notice trees.” I reminded Y.

A few years ago Y visited us. We lived in a house that had an interesting tree, she was so fascinated by it, so this comment reminded me of her love of trees. Again she took photos of our new discovery and this time I joined in. Nothing was blocking my view. I took a couple of photos.

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We moved on, walking interestingly. Gripping the ground with our sandals at the same time holding on to whoever was ahead of us on that steep slippery path. The roots of some of the trees had extended to the path. That actually helped cause some friction and stops. Parts of the path looked like nature’s stairs. A lady watching us, standing a short distance from the special tree explained;

“This is the African silk cotton tree.”

As we were amazed at it’s size, she announced;

“The biggest tree in Ghana is on the way to Akim-Oda.”

That statement triggered a memory. I replied,

“Oh yes, we visited the tree when we were young. My father took us to see it, as it is on the way to my mother’s hometown.”

That was about forty years ago but I can still remember the experience clearly as it was just captivating.

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The Revealing Ride

Our drive to Larteh revealed attractive views. A very hilly area, we drove along windy roads that exposed many heartwarming sites. We could not stop showing our appreciation for nature.

“The vegetation is really lush.”

“It must rain here often.”

“I could live here.”

G continued to take photos snapping as if she was going to create her own movie of the place. I was actually wondering what she would be doing with so many photos but did not bother asking.

I just watched her, from the back seat. We were on our way to bid farewell to our dear mate. A solemn occasion that revealed this gem of an area most of us had never experienced. The picture taking carried on for a while, G had the best view as she sat next to Y who was driving.

I thought, ‘I can slice about this.’

I took out my phone and tried taking photos from the back seat. Of course there were many items distracting my view, the driver’s mirror, part of the front seat, the shoulders of Y and G, I tried to place myself to record the mesmerizing view but it was proving difficult, especially with my seat belt locking me in place. G continued to snap, clicking away, whilst I was trying to position my phone somewhere, a place that I could not find. It suddenly struck me to ask.

“G. can you send me some of your photos?” I asked.

“Of course I will,” she answered.

Late in the evening I received a number of photos, that were really magnificent. She had captured parts of the ride so well. I was pleased I had a reminder of the enchanting ride. The day was full of many wonderful memories, slices I hope to continue to write about. But for now I had this view that I had tried so hard to capture.

Larteh is an area in the Eastern Region of Ghana, West Africa.

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The Lonely Pot

“I have never noticed this plant before.” I mentioned to my colleagues.

There it stood a lonely potted plant growing interestingly, set against the classroom wall. The ends of It’s branches scattered daintily with bright orange flowers possessing layered petals that don a yellow interior. The flowers looked as if they would fall at the appearance of a heavy wind. This was an interesting plant even though the tired green leaves, drooped under the rays of the sun, the flowers glowed interestingly.

We walked along the pavement, leading from one campus to another continuing straight down beside a set of single story buildings. We took this same route weekly. Trudging down a few stairs which would take us to the compound where the very young students ‘live’.

This week however, it struck me that I had never noticed this particular bush. Could it be because we were always rushing to get to our sacred meeting on time? Or were we always deep in thought when we were passing beside it? We never even noticed it standing there. Could the flowers have just bloomed, calling for admirers?  We were able to shout, ‘Here We Are!’ Like an exquisitely dressed model on the catwalk the plant swayed gently. We stood for a few minutes, the audience at the show and stared. We would have clapped if we were there long enough to admire the prolonged beauty of this lonely plant, it brightened the spot, where it stood.

Like a beautiful ornament it adorned the exterior of this building, the image was endearing, a photograph had to be taken in haste. Taken because maybe next week the delicate orange flowers would have torn off, leaving a boring, lonely green plant in it’s concrete painted pot.

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A Different Lesson

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We decided to celebrate a departure and were sent packets of colorful balloons. Most children, no matter what their age is, get extremely excited when they see balloons, especially when they have to blow them. Attempting to blow the balloons the students spoke;

R  – How big should mine be?

B  – This is my tactic.

R  – It is impossible!

S  – Can you help?

S  – Almost no one can do it.

B – Except R.

R – I just keep blowing really hard.

S – How do you blow it?

S – Show us.

Watching the students from a distance, I decided to record their thrill. As I was writing their conversation down, they asked each other questions, offered help to one another and showed off their strategies. R was able to figure it out and shared her strategy. Although R said it would be impossible at the beginning, she persevered.

I suddenly connected their conversation to some of our Math lessons, and how students feel when they are introduced to new topics. Most wonder how to approach the calculations and similar conversations ensue.

Later on that day, there were more balloons to be blown. As soon as they were taken out of the bag there was a scramble for them. A couple of students successfully blew theirs and shared their completely different methods. Interestingly, I realized as I matched the words to the students, the words each particular student spoke showed the way they approach their work in class. Blowing Balloons… Math?

 

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Steps

They took alternate, identical steps, walking away from us, reassuringly. Their friendship brewed over time. I had gently encouraged and worked on building these friendships to help Don (a made up name) come out of his shell. That visit left me truly elated.

In the past Don was not interested. An introvert on most occasions, sucked in by his interest in art. He spends hours or days creating these abstract images, real images some unbelievable. Images that shock you at first glance but gradually adjusts to one’s admiration for this talent that is somewhat unbelievable.

Now I can see a change, a positive change. One that seems to be breaking the quietness into an independence I admire. Don has now matured, into a young lad. Impressed by the growth at boarding school, the maturity has also been phenomenal. Who ever thought this would happen?  On visits he always says;

“Mum it is time for you to go now, I have a lot to do, to prepare for tomorrow.”

He does not need my invisible hand now, he has grown to trust and connect with others. The image of Don walking away with his friends, is to me a great achievement, or is it maturity?

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Voices

On our first day back at school, from our Spring break, there were many stories, adventures, experiences and sightings to be shared.

During our morning meeting, we decided to talk and listen. Students found a partner and had ten minutes to talk- talk about the Spring break. They alternated, one talks the other listens and vice versa.

Then, they had to choose a different partner and share. The third partner was the last and this seemed to go on forever. The class was filled with a wave of sounds, loud voices, excited and inquisitive voices. The students asked each other questions whilst listening. This was a frenzied activity. Nobody was quiet, even the students with little English or no English were not left out, they were encouraged to sketch and label as their partner did the same for them. I realized that images and illustrations have power if you allow them to. They have clear voices if the chance is given to them.

With that in mind, we had to make our words visible, so students were encouraged to sketch-note either their own stories or that of their friends. The voices still ringing in my ears, my students were filled with pride and could not wait to begin.

That is when I said to my teaching partner,

Everybody enjoys talking about themselves and their experiences.”

“We have to allow students to talk more and make their experiences visible.”

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Having A Plan

I read about the comment challenge and decided to join it. It took me forever to find Lanny’s post. After an email and a short wait, I opened the post and realized we were to comment on sixty posts.

“How was I going to do this?” I worried.

Fortunately, I came up with a plan, I would complete half on Saturday and tackle the other half on Sunday. I started and managed to complete the thirty comments on Saturday.

Reading the posts was extremely enjoyable. I found a few with similar themes but written completely differently, with different approaches, from different perspectives.

I learned a lot of ways I could use some of the ideas to match the genre I would be covering in class. Although taxing, I learned many new words I have never used, some I had read in novels but never used when writing. Saturday was fine, I managed to scatter the commenting throughout the day and had breaks in between. This made it quite enjoyable and easy to complete my plan.

On Sunday however, I had a very packed day; many visits were planned, I had no time to sit and read the comments but I needed to persevere. The delay for me was also because not only did I read the slice and comment but after posting my slice, I would read some of the other comments. I did not want to be influenced and needed to give my meaningful comments without bias.

I visited church, my son at school, my sister, visiting brother, my mother in law and got home late in the evening. At that point I had my thirty comments to complete. I knew I would and could. I read many posts and as I was in the swing or had gained some rhythm, this was getting done. If felt like a lit candle, the wax was melting slowly. My tally marks were like barn fences looking stable and sturdy. It was when I got to the forties that I felt drained. I had many thoughts:

Should I give up now? Can I do this?

Whilst reading posts I was learning, learning from other writers, learning for me and my students. When I got to fifty-two I felt rather proud. I was almost at the end of the road, I kept trotting, till I got to the finish line, panting. It was very late in the night. A wave of achievement swept over me. I did it! I had ‘pushed’ myself, as I was advised in one of the posts during the week. My plan worked!

What triggered this post was after I read and commented on the post by, mschiubookawrites.wordpress.com/2019/03/11/eye-on-the-prize

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