Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Me, Myself and I-- Personal Narrative

  Let me introduce myself.  My name is Barbara Kay Brown.  My maiden name was Barbara Kay Long. I am a white female.  I am 47 years old and have been in education most of my adult life.  I am a member of Shawnee Heights United Methodist Church.  My spiritual life/journey is a significant and important piece to my life.  I enjoy working with kids and being an instructor in the classroom!  I graduated from Baker University with a Master's of Education in 2005.   This school year I will get the fantastic opportunity to teach 8th grade language arts.  Yesterday I worked with my 2 new department colleagues and collaborated a little with our brand new Principal and Instructional Coach.  I am very excited!
  My immediate family is my husband, Jeff, of 25 years.  We have 2 daughters, Aley and Erin.  Aley is 22 years old and Erin is 18.  Both will be attending KU this fall.  Aley is in her last full year at KU and will be graduating with a business degree and emphasis in  human resources.  Erin will start KU this fall and has already been accepted into the business school program, also at KU.  Rock Chalk JayHawk!!  My husband has worked about 19 years at Payless Shoe Source.  He is an I.T.  (information technology) manager and manages several teams at the Payless Corporate office.  Both my parents are alive and live up in Hoyt, Kansas where I grew up.   My parents are divorced.  My sister lives there also with her husband.  Both of my sister's boys, my nephews, are grown up and married and they too live in Hoyt, Kansas with their wives and children.  Everyone lives there but me. 
  My friends are varied.  I think my very best friend is  my husband of 25 years.  Probably the reason we have stayed married so long, is because we are good friends. I have friends that are colleagues that I currently teach and work with, and friends that I have worked with in the past.  I have some childhood friends that I still keep in contact.   I have friends in my  neighborhood  and we get together, particularly during the holidays and celebrate life in general.
  The hobbies that I like are walking and running.  I try to get my Fitbit to hit 10,000 steps each day and I usually make it.  I also like my dogs and love to play with them, although I'm not sure that is considered a hobby.  I have 2 dogs named Barney and Oscar,  I  also have a cat named Rosie.  I have a beautiful yard that I use to love to plant and take care of everyday.  I seem to not be as interested in my gardening in the yard and I'm not sure why.  It feels like sometimes that it is just one more thing in my life that I'm required to do and I'm not sure I want to mess with it any more.
  I hope this short narrative helped with you knowing me a little bit better.  I know that when we ask students to write this, it is great to start the assignment off with an example. This is my example.  I am happy with knowing what next year will move towards and also thankful for my family and for the fun career I have chosen.  It is a great day to be a Shawnee Heights teacher and to get to work with the great students that attend Shawnee Heights Middle School.  It promises to be a great and fun filled school year!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Summer of 2014-The Summer of Phog

  I have another dog in my life. That officially takes my dog count up to 3.   Her name is Phog and she is a miniature dachshund.  She belongs to my oldest daughter who could not take care of her for the summer due to an internship.  My husband and I agreed to take her in for the summer.  She is currently five months old and full of puppy energy.
  The things I have learned from Phog so far this summer, are numerous!  Everything happens for a reason and Phog was needed by me, to laugh and heal up a little bit this summer. Heal from what?   I don't know and I'm sure there is something specific but I don't want to go there right now in this blog.  Thinking that much will hurt my brain during the summer.  Isn't avoidance fantastic?
   Phog found her tail this summer.  She literally chased the thing for a solid day.  She then transitioned to lightening bugs.  She discovered lightening bugs in the back yard and they were the most wondrous things for her to see, chase and try to catch.  Does anyone remember the excitement as a kid chasing lightening bugs, catching them, keeping them in a coke bottle and then turning them all loose in your bedroom that night?  Phog's experience chasing those lightening bugs made me remember.  It was a good memory to remember.  It was fun.
  Phog also likes to chew everything.  I had some bridge work done in my mouth this summer.  It has been a 2 1/2 year journey on trying to figure out what to do about my missing lower left molar.  I now have a bridge, or artificial tooth, that allows me to now chew on the left side of my mouth.  I understand why Phog likes to chew so much.  I know she's a puppy and her teeth and mouth are growing and changing and she needs to chew and so do I.  I get it when she chews on tennis shoes that have been left out in the middle of the living room floor.  Lesson learned about leaving your shoes out:  pick them up!!  No, I am not chewing up shoes but being able to chew food on the left side of my mouth is wonderful.  I now get the chewing thing more than ever.
  One of my favorite things learned from Phog is our cuddle time.  She loves to cuddle on the couch with me especially if I have out the blue Jay Hawk blanket. She is a natural Jay Hawker.   Napping is important,  especially when you are a growing puppy.  Cuddling and napping should take high precedence in not only a puppy's life but mine too. When you work or play hard, you should rest easy and often.
  Another lesson from Phog is to dig in the dirt.  Dig as many holes in the dirt as possible and often.  It is therapeutic and a natural remedy for boredom and the blues.  I too realize the importance of some good dirt digging and have added to my lovely yard some more beautiful flowers.  I feel much better about my life after digging in the dirt.  My purpose is to beautify my yard while Phog's purpose is to find something to pull out of the ground, shake it til its neck snaps and then give it a toss in the air.  I think this miniature wiener could be on to something?
  Last but not least, Phog's love and joy for everything is contagious.  I needed to remember this summer what that was like.  What it felt like.  I needed to see it and practice it from throwing a ball for Phog, to catch in the back yard, to taking a long walk on a sunny day.  There is fun in everything if you look for it and I think Phog has found it by the wiggle of her tail as we strut down the street together for a morning walk. She likes me and I like her.  I needed to feel that this summer.
  It will be difficult in August to giver her back to my daughter when she returns from her internship.  Phog belongs to my daughter and Phog loves to face time her by use of my IPhone.  They miss each other and in August I will tell Phog good-bye and hand her back.  She is a dog of the 21st century as she looks for my daughter in my IPhone, beside the IPhone and behind the IPhone during face time.  Phog looks at me during face time as if to ask, "How did my Aley get in that phone and how will we ever get her out?"  I will miss Phog but there is a reason for everything and I will not forget this summer and the lessons I have learned from Phog the wiener dog.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

In My New Classroom

  I am changing from being an Instructional Coach the last four years to going back to the classroom this August.  I have been hired to teach 8th grade Language Arts in my school district and I am super pumped about the challenge that lies ahead.  I have missed working with students for quite some time and I can't believe I am finally getting the chance to go back and do what I truly love.  I did enjoy Instructional Coaching and will miss all the great relationships I have been a part of and all the mentoring and professional growth that I have gotten to be a part of, in teacher's everyday classroom lives.
  With that said, I am pumped about getting to work with students again!  Yea!  It sometimes feels unreal to walk into my classroom and start setting it all up. (I sometimes wonder if it is real and if the bottom is going to fall out of this whole thing.) It is truly like riding a bike and amazes me how my brain kicks back into where will this happen in the room, and how will that work, and would students really get it if I do it this way.  Walking into that room must be like what an artists feels like with a blank canvas laid out before them.  My mind races from here to there and I get distracted easily with the new books I have purchased for my corner reading area and the new technology that I will be using for the first time. There is also the part of my thoughts that asks myself what am I going to leave for my students to do so that they take and feel ownership in this classroom.  It needs to be real for them, for me, and not picture perfect but a work in progress. What's going to work in this room for all of us?
   My brain feels exhausted this evening as I write but it is a good exhausted.  It felt right for the first time in a very long time being in the classroom today.  I can't wait for those first couple of weeks when we really get to know one another and figure out how we will collaborate and support one another as we grow and learn together. The road has been too long and I am ready to move on and have some fun with an 8th grade crew.  I hope they are ready for me!