Saturday, August 30, 2014

Moderate Levels of Caring

When I was running Ragnar, I saw a van that had written on it a message that perfectly encapsulates my current philosophy of racing: "We don't care, but we care."  That's basically the whole thing.  I sign up for these things, and I'm like, this will just be a fun way to stay in shape.  And it basically stays that way, but then I also like passing people and finishing in the top quarter of the race and stuff like that.  I don't care, but I care.

So anyway, my A race this summer was the Urban Trail Half Marathon.  I've been wanting to get into trail running.  Even after my surprise appearance at Ragnar the week before, I was really excited to get out there and try out single track running.

I knew it would be hard, so I reminded myself many times that I was "running, not racing," in order to really hold back at the start.  I enjoyed the varied terrain and the camaraderie and the excitement of trying something new.  Here's me running, not racing, down some steps on to a new trail.  I stole this photo off the website for the event. I am the person in the pink shirt and gray shorts.


As the race went on, I was still running, not racing, but I found myself picking people off.  I'd just look up, fix my eyes on a woman in front of me, and calmly run her down.  It kept things interesting. I think I passed about 15 women between miles 7 and 11.  None of these people passed me back. I'm going to be honest admit that it was gratifying.  So much that I managed to eek out a smile while also looking awful running past the photographer at about mile 12:


You can imagine my surprise, then, when I crossed the finish line and noticed several of the gals I'd passed milling around drinking water and chatting.  What the heck? How did they get there?

Well, turns out a bunch of people missed a critical turn around mile 10.5.  This missed turn resulted in them running 11.5 miles rather than 13.1.  Of course, on the results sheet, these people, whom I've identified in the many, many race photos by number, appear AHEAD of me in the results.  Even though I painstakingly passed them one-by-one in a considerable "I don't care, but I care" effort.

The race promises to sort out the results, probably by using the photos, as I have done.  Maybe they'll post results for the 11.5-mile people?  In any case, it's not a big deal, obviously.  Except that it is.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Locks

The biggest obstacle for some of my sixth graders has been their locks.  Combination locks.  As you may know, you have to turn the lock clockwise, counterclockwise, and then clockwise again.  Some of them can't remember this requirement.  Others have forgotten their combinations.

After I tried one lock twice with no success, I said, "Let's look up the combo."

"I KNOW it's 22-7-17," said the kid.

"Let's just check," I said, locating the information.  "Okay, it's 7-22-17."

"OH!"  Problem solved.

Later, a kid said, "My locker won't open."

"Let me get you the combo," I said.

"But I have the combo," he said, producing the original slip of paper with the exact combo written on it.

"Okay," I said, approaching the lock.  Luckily, I happened to glance up at the locker itself, on which I'd hung a locker sign with the student's name. "Hey," I said, "this locker isn't yours!"

And sure enough, that was the problem.  He was trying to open someone else's lock.

At the end of the day, two of my advisees said the locks were the worst part of the day.  I suggested that those two take their locks home for some extra practice.  I think they'll do it.

It's Go Time

The sixers were in yesterday for orientation, and I have to say, I got a lot of positive comments about the room.  Kids and parents wandered in and out all the day, and they mostly said, "Hey, I like this room," which was gratifying, indeed.

Room, view from door
One kid really loved the yoda in the reading area.

I especially like the hanging lanterns and this bulletin board, the idea for which I found on pinterest.


Now we're on for good, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be awesome.

Room, view from back corner

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I Rock Mom Jeans

We're up to day four.  We've had meetings like you would not believe.  Meetings on very important topics - connected learning, 1:1 policies, digital citizenship, mitigating stereotype threat, democracy and education - but meetings straight for 3 days.  You might not know this, but teachers really want to get into their classrooms during this pre-school time.  No matter how many cool ideas we're presented with, we can't really process and internalize those ideas right now.  We have to get ready for the kids to actually arrive in the building.

This is a perennial problem in back-to-school weeks.  Balancing the teachers' desire to get their rooms and lessons ready, and everyone's desire to learn cool new ideas and necessary information about the start of the year.  For instance, this morning I'm learning about empathy.  Who wouldn't want to learn about that?  Everyone would!

But, I also want to sort school supplies, make clipboards with hall passes, finish a bulletin board, finalize some lesson plans, and review the material I need to present to my advisory on MONDAY MORNING.

They're coming.  And I'm not ready yet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

All About That Bass

We made it through the first day of workshops.  In my mind, that should be a walk in the park, Kazanski.  But, it's not.  I had to lead a book discussion group, give a presentation, and be on my best behavior from 7:30am to 7:30pm, following the Back-to-School BBQ.  Next year, I'm going to try just showing up without volunteering or being asked to do anything.  Just walking around and smiling at people and being friendly.  Can't that be enough?

Today, I'm leading a couple of more workshops.  It was my goal to develop my leadership skills, but so far, being a leader is cramping my style of being a nodding and smiling audience member.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ragnar, Again

Last year, I did the Ultra Ragnar, and it was a difficult and triumphant experience.  I was excited for Dan because he was going to do the relay this year with most of our same team from last year.  I was staying home, and I was happy about that, too.

But then, yesterday, I got a call from Dan about a calf injury he sustained.  He was out.  Super frustrating and disappointing for him.  Also, the team was in need of an alternate.  I was, in fact, the alternate; so I drove down to the race, switched places with Dan, and started running.

During the first leg in the hot sun, I said to myself, "But I said NO to this."  And yet. After the 7-miler, I got in the van and reported to Liz that luckily, I'd actually been training on hills more this summer than last, even though "I'm not doing this."

To be honest, the team was a little lo-mo with the struggles they'd already encountered, so I set to being cheery and pleasant.  "Enjoy this gift," I told myself.  "Feel grateful that you're able to run."

We continued on through the normal highs and lows of the race (my favorite part was running three legs overnight, picking off runners ahead, whom I reeled in by watching the blinking lights on the back of their reflective vests) we completed our morning legs, and then it became clear that one of our pals was getting progressively ill.  Liz pulled over in the van in front of me and said, "We're stopping."

"Great," I said.  I got in the van, called Dan to come and pick me up.  We were all good with this excellent decision.  Our pal was ill and needed medical attention.  We'd all accomplished plenty.  We celebrated the fact that we can run, and I celebrated that I got to go home early and watch tv in bed.  Now that Pal is home, healthy and resting, I feel like it's win-win, except for Dan's calf injury.  Maybe he can try again someday, if he feels like it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

This is the End

We're winding down here.  I have to go to work today to meet the new teacher I'm mentoring.  I'm inordinately excited, of course, and I'm going to have to temper my natural reactions and responses, lest the poor new teacher thinks I'm a unmitigated lunatic.  I'm going to try my best.

Before we start for real on Monday, I wanted to write about a particular summer memory.  When Mac is sitting opposite you at a table, he'll probably say at some point, "I'm dancing, but you can't see it."

This is your cue to guess what tiny dance he's performing.  He might be wiggling his toes, bending his thumb, jiggling his knee, or something else.  Basically, he's dancing.  And you can't even see it.