Sunday, November 28, 2010

Finishing Strong

Today I'm saying thanks for the Southern California sunshine that makes it possible to enjoy outdoor activities in the end of November. Yesterday was sunny and cool and perfect for hiking, so Tom and I headed to Cowles Mountain in Mission Trails Park. While not the most rigorous of hikes (there were chihuahuas and five year-olds scrambling up alongside us), it felt good to start the day with some exercise and fresh air.

The views were well worth the trek to the top.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the last week and am so thankful that I have a job that offers such abundant vacation time. This past week had the perfect balance of activity and vegging and with another three-week vacation in sight, I will head back to school tomorrow with renewed energy.

With just three weeks to go in the semester, I am trying not to think about all of the things that we didn't get to and all of the things that my students still can't do and don't know. Instead, I am going to celebrate the small successes and bust my ass to keep the enthusiasm level up as the end of the semester looms to show the kids the importance of "finishing strong." One of the teachers at my last school used to ignore casual Fridays in favor of dressing in a full suit and tie at the end of the week. He told his kids that he dressed up on Fridays to remind them that that people won't remember that you got off to a rough start as long as you finish strong. Some times I think that my job is more about teaching life lessons than English lessons.

The truth is that my classroom is like a giant fun house mirror; the students' attitude is always a distorted or exaggerated reflection of mine. If I am tired and impatient, they are hyper and distracted; if I am enthusiastic and cheerful, they are cooperative and engaged. So instead of starting my usual end-of-vacation inner whinologue about how I don't want to go back to school tomorrow, I am going to go write an awesome lesson plan and get the week off to a kick-ass start. I know I've let my attention to lesson planning slide over the past month or so, but it's on now. Finish strong, baby, finish strong!

{I fear this picture gives the impression that I am going to awkwardly punch someone... That was supposed to be me flexing.}

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