Sparks

Reading with my local group of students, on Zoom yesterday, my colleague decided to begin with a riddle.

One of the children read it aloud, this sparked them all up. I was glad to see a screen full of lively, passionate children, each of whom wanted to share their solution.

Of course they had similar answers, some of them thought deeply and came up with more complicated combinations of ideas to solve the riddle.

The very quiet, passive students popped up, very animated and had the hands up reaction on.

This has never happened before, with so many students wanting to share at the same time. Siblings prodding each other and having their own discussions before unmuting.

As an observer, I was excited to notice the interest the children showed in trying to find solutions.

Could it be because the riddle had a familiar subject, animals and something they have experienced before?

We question and reflect, especially when the response to our delivery causes a different reaction. Before sharing the answer with the students, my colleague mentioned the examples that were closest to the right answer.

I took the opportunity to share with the students how I solve such problems: by drawing the steps, I explained. I pretend the story is a movie and draw it to help me process what is happening. My colleague said she also visualises the story.

We concluded by stating that all the methods help readers monitor their understanding of any text, especially when the story or text is long or complicated just like our riddle.

#SOL21 #SOLSC

This Week: 5 4 3 2 1

I found this structure from my TeachWrite Notebooking group earlier this year:

It is a very good way to reflect on your week and yourself, looking ahead

with purpose.

5 things that made me smile

My students’ words

Being with students face to face and starting to enjoy teaching ‘physically’ again.

On screen messages from my boys

My power walks with K

Friendship with colleagues: We had a brief masked birthday party, danced a little, ate a yummy cake and worked!

4 words to describe my week

Busy

Packed

Rushed

Intense

Tranquil

3 things I plan to do this weekend

Enjoy my healthy food

Work: I have an all afternoon PD

Write: I have many writing groups and some challenges to fulfil

2 things I learned this week

‘Silence is golden’

That you can’t do everything or take on all the load.

1 goal for next week

To be positive and give myself the opportunity to notice “stars.”

#SOL21 #SOLSC

My Dear Friend Jo

A deleted WhatsApp message refreshed our friendship!

My friend Jo did not know which Julie it was. She told me later she was sending a message to another friend called Julie and realised she had sent it to me by mistake and deleted it, quickly.

Well, that was how our one hour conversation started when she phoned later.

I met Jo for the first time a couple of years ago at a seminar. I had watched her on a local Television program and thought what a dynamic lady she was.

Jo was one of the leaders at the seminar.

At the end of the meeting, on the windy morning, she saw me off. It gave us the opportunity to stand outside and enjoy the breeze. We stood chatting for over an hour. We have a lot in common and conversed moving from topic to topic.

The phone conversation was just like the previous time we met. She indicated she had thought about me recently.

Our conversation went on and on and was like a junction with many turnings. We drew from each other, sharing ideas, topics and solutions.

That was a real treat and welcome reunion, for my morning, (although we were miles apart).

#SOL21 #SOLSC

Hello Teacher, Hello Mum

“Hello Ms. Juliette,” beamed from the lady whose eyes shone above the mask.

It was the end of a school day here, in the scorching heat after the long flight down the stairs, from our third floor tower.

Our route down the narrow stairwell at the side of the building, cleverly earmarked for second and fourth grade students, to keep us socially distanced.

Following the green arrows plastered on the pavement, that takes us to the assembly area for each grade: I trotted to my station along the raised paved path where students walk in line to their cars.

On my trot, I heard a faint, “Hello Ms. Juliette.”

I stopped and noticed my student, with a woman that looked like his mother, (a parent I have chatted with on Zoom a couple of times) and his sister.

This is the first week of face to face school, it is also the first time his mother has seen me, away from the screen. I’m sure O had tapped his mother;

“Mum this is Ms. Juliette.”

Mother had a smile in her eyes and whispered daintily, “Thank you Ms. Juliette.”

As sweet as her son, I could tell where he acquired his passion and love of people and school.

It was a few seconds and a few words but that meant everything. I waved, mimed, “thank you too” and ran off for my duty.

#SOL21 #SOLSC

My New Joy

I met them and since that day, I visit most days. My love for plants has grown immensely.

Now I find so much joy in being around plants. Almost a year ago I wrote about my Mothers’s love for plants and that passion which my sister R inherited. R’s garden is heavenly, a public space that is evolving.

I steal time after work most days, convince myself I’m going to see R, but end up visiting my friends. They look quaint and the assortment just engulfs me. It’s a serene and beautiful space, which is rare in these parts.

I take walks through the garden, visiting, exploring and trying to spot new addition. Recently I told my friends it is my therapy. The attractive mini-lawns , the lone plantain tree which found its way in the flower pot and many more. The summer hut that is adorned by the hanging plants and many more engrosses you in their mainly green beauty.

Maturity delivers many gifts. I have never been green fingered but now I want to be surrounded by plants. I notice the beautiful flora everywhere I go. I’m glad to say this will surely be added to my pension duties.

Many interested ‘house proud’ young adults are drawn to the “Loading” sign. The sign symbolizing or better still advertising the new garden.

I take many photographs as soon as I visit and hoping my therapy touches others I send them to. My sister in law , in another continent is also entranced by the plants. I gift her the photographs I take she is always extremely grateful.

#SOL #SOLSC

Back Here

Today I decided to write couplets about being back at school in person with the students.

We’re back here again, making it seem as real as possible

When the old ways are invisible.

Standing on the stage

They open a page.

Weary of the time

They all decide to mime.

Today is the day we start

Until the time we part.

#SOL21 #SOLSC

Sensory Memories

A whiff on our early morning drive to the mountains one weekend, reminded us of our childhood days, when we spent our holiday with Auntie Rose.

The morning aroma of breakfast being cooked on a coal pot, the smell of the charred wood mixed with the caramelized smell of our local rice porridge, wafted through the air.

As soon as I mentioned the aroma, R (my sister) turned towards me and replied,

“This smell is just like when we were at Auntie Rose’s house in Kumasi.”

I nodded and smiled as that was exactly what the whiff reminded me of.

We were very young when we spent part of our long vacation with her, but that sweet aroma stayed with us.

Auntie Rose lived in a large storey building. It was a communal house where the young ladies would cook a large pot of ‘rice water’ as we called it.

We would line up with their bowls and be spooned thick blobs of the porridge. In those days, we did not think about using sugar sparingly. We would douse the porridge with creamy, canned, concentrated milk adding many cubes of sugar.

It was delicious, very much like a rice pudding and we would eat it with buttery rolls of freshly baked buns. Breakfast was a meal we looked forward to.

#SOL21 #SOLSC

Memories of School #1

I’m remembering many tiny memories as I write the #MinuteMemoirs with TeachWrite members in my notebook.

A very long hall with approximately two hundred students sitting in long rows, in their stiff, purple and white uniforms.

All four of us, contestants, stood in line facing our house members. In front of me I could see four columns with students sitting in fours for each column. I was a champion at spelling and was not going to let my house down. We had been given twelve words on the Monday to memorize for this Wednesday morning’s ‘Spelling Bee’.

I stood there, Mrs Amissah the elderly Nursery Teacher and then Elementary Deputy Principal called my name:

“Juliette,” my heart skipped a beat. My heart was pounding and I broke out in tiny beads of sweat.

“Your word today is , sophisticated.” I had a photographic memory, then.

I could visualize the word written in front of me, I spelt the word.

” Sophisticated, s o ph is ti ca ted, sophisticated”

A loud burst of applause hit my ears, my green house members started jumping up and down. Of course we had won again. I was their “sure banker,” I’m not sure where that phrase came from, but they knew that if I was there they would surely get the points they needed to win. I was shaken, the beads of sweat turned into bigger beads and my armpit was getting sweaty. It stained the edge of the armhole of my school uniform, but I was not embarrassed, I had caused a win! I mopped the sweat on my forehead with my ever present white handkerchief and walked with a sashay proudly to my seat. I knew I would do it again. This was why I got so popular at school.

#SOL21 #SOLSC

Something New

I had many ideas this morning. Thoughts of writing about gems (my children), whispers (my thoughts) or peace (to elaborate on what I wrote with Rupi Kaur in January).

Then I read this blog that shared a poetry form that caught my attention. It was made up by a Poetry Friday participant. This suddenly moved me to write something short. I scribed one (LAmiPoFri) very quickly, I ‘ paused, took a look around me and shared the moment.’

NOW

Whirr of the fan

creates it’s breeze

touches my shoulders

Cools me down

Out of the window

Sun peeps

Over the roof of

Mr. Neighbor’s house

Crow up above

Caws

That sound

repeats

Every now and then

Drawing the morn to noon.

#SOL21 #SOLSC

Our No Reward Day

When there is no reward, would you carry on regardless?

Would you take the plunge anyway?

Today our ‘Fit-bit” or the recording or collating of our walk did not work. Our 6 or 7km walk was not in vain we encouraged each other (my walking partner K and I).

“We’re still benefiting from the ‘power walk.”

The good thing though is that we have all our trails mapped out and measured. We now know where one km begins and ends and have an idea of our average pace when we take those long strides.

Walking religiously for over eight months and challenging each other with our different gadgets and Apps:

Fit bit with App on the phone

Fit Bit watch

Our Group Challenge App on the phone

All the above have held us in check, motivating us to keep striding.

So yesterday was a disappointment as we are always set to add to our annual challenge. We have calculated it so we have our weekly and monthly goals. When the App refused to reload yesterday evening, during the walk, we were surprised, this had never happened before.

We missed the sound of Ms.Somebody on the gadget, announcing at different intervals, the kilometres, pace and amount of time we had walked. We ‘ammed’ and ‘ahhed’ but chose to walk regardless. With our already mapped out course, we know approximately how many steps and kilometres we trudge daily. We made it yesterday.

Motivated not by the reward, and driven by the health benefits, we disregarded the App’s mishap. Our bodies were the winners.

We decided that we do not always need extrinsic benefits to show or push us to achieve. At 50 something, we are determined to keep walking. With our commitment, we are still leading the young’uns on our challenge. So our mantra now should be:

Even when there is no reward, we still walk.

#SOL21 #SOLSC