school decor.


At my school, there is a planning room for each department where all the teachers have a work station. They’re made of this funky-colored blue fabric (the top half is magnetic and the bottom half is made for push-pins) that I used all of last year but decided I wanted to change for 2013-2014.

I bought some purple fabric from JoAnn’s and spent two hours attaching it with LOTS of duct tape. Since I’ll have a classroom this year, I could move a number of things from my desk in this room to my desk in the room. It’s not nearly as cramped anymore, which is something I’m also really into.


one little word.

I started using the one little word” concept in 2012 instead of attempting any sort of New Year’s resolutions.

It was fantastic. And much more effective than any sort of specific goal has ever been for me.

I decided to use this concept for an assignment with my seniors. I was hoping a few of them would come up with good words after reading through the idea and that maybe one of those few would actually use it for some deep reflection and take it forward in 2013. It might seem silly to consider 1/63 a success, but I like to prepare myself to not be disappointed.

I couldn’t believe the words they came up with!

A number of them were absent the day we did this (because of some serious weather issues), and we had a snow day on the day they were going to write their short essay about why they chose the words they did. However, as a starting point, I’m so unbelievably happy and excited about where this could go.

I created a Wordle with the words of the students who were actually there so that they can see what their classmates chose. For anyone who doesn’t know how Wordle works, words appear larger as they’re typed more frequently. Those that are bigger in the image were typed in the most times.

I told them that “cherish” was my word for 2012 and wrote a sample essay for them about why I chose the word I did for 2013. I plan to write a more thorough reflection on how cherish impacted my year as a whole and explain my goals for the next twelve months in the next few days.

I’m excited for a few days of Christmas celebration, especially now that we have snow on the ground. I haven’t really embraced the typical December attitude, so I’m hoping that we can make it happen in full force over the course of the next few days. Lots of Christmas music playing at our house from here on out!

change in plans.

I think I’ve told most people in my life I needed to about my new “plan” for the future. Up until a week ago, I was going to move to Kansas City, MO to teach for two years. I was accepted to a program that puts teachers in communities across the country that need energetic people. I loved the idea of moving to a city that was comparable to the Milwaukee I grew to love over the past few years, and I loved the idea of knowing I didn’t have to face the reality of the real world until 2014.

I also liked the idea of running away. For the past three years, I’ve faced a number of challenges here that made me want to pick up and leave. I wanted to be able to start a new life by myself where nobody had a clue who I was. I wanted to leave everything behind. I wanted to create a happiness that I felt I was faking for the benefit of everyone around me. I had adopted a mentality (probably not the healthiest choice ever) that I needed to get the heck out of dodge to have a genuine smile and laugh on a daily basis. I had told myself in 2009 that I needed to run, and that idea had turned itself into everything I lived by.
In the past few weeks, I had a revelation: I didn’t know what I was running from anymore.
I realized that I’ve been happier than I thought possible over the course of the last year. I’ve taken ownership of a life that I’ve dreamed of for what seems like forever, and I’ve begun to create everything I wanted. Here. In Wisconsin. Who would’ve thought?
Long story short, I started to panic. What the heck was I doing trying to run away to something that might not be as good as what I’ve started to lay the foundation for here? I went to visit Kansas City thinking maybe being there again would re-energize my desire to go there for a while, knowing I could always come back afterwards if I wanted to. But I hated every second of it. I know that’s not the most positive attitude, but all that hate and anxiety made me realize I didn’t need to run away. I could be here. I could figure out what to do with my life because I want to, and I don’t need to worry about everyone else’s thoughts on the entire process. It took a lot for me to make the big girl decision, but holy smokes did I feel good afterwards.

I’m not quite sure where I’ll be working next year. I might not for a few months. I don’t know what city I’ll be living in. I don’t know anything really. But the one thing I do know is this: I made a choice for me, for my own happiness, and I am so unbelievably excited to see where it brings me.
I’ll keep cherishing. Because I love being a Sconnie. And I love being happy. But what I love even more is the idea of continuing that happiness in Wisconsin.

a calling.

I’ve had this weird realization lately: I’m outrageously blessed.

I don’t mean this in the “I have so many opportunities that others don’t have” kind of way. And I don’t mean it in a “I grew up in a community with a family where I was made aware that I could do anything in the world I wanted to” kind of way. I don’t mean it in a “I’ve been to Disney World/Disneyland/on Disney Cruises seven-ish times and some kids only dream of going there once” kind of way…. Don’t get me wrong, I’m obviously grateful for all of those things and a million more that have gotten me to this point.
I mean I’m blessed that I know exactly what I want to do with my life. I’ve always known. I was put on this big, beautiful planet of ours to be in school forever. I’d say I’m not supposed to be taking tests every day, not supposed to be the one doing the learning between bells. But that would be a lie. I get the opportunity to learn every single day. I get the even better opportunity to learn from people younger than I am. Unfortunately, the majority of those people will always be taller. Perhaps more unfortunately, I will probably always be more innocent/naive than those people too.
It’s hard to explain to everyone who says, “why would you ever want to do that to yourself,” how I feel being in a classroom every day. It’s harder to explain it to people who saw me have a less than stellar attitude about all of my own school work (oops). I often find myself responding with a simple “I love it.” I wish I could help them feel what that really means. I wonder if I’ll ever actually find words to describe how much I loved my life in Room 310 from 7:30am-2:40pm every day this past fall, how much I love my life in random classrooms from 8:20am-3:00pm right now. Maybe I will. Or maybe I’ll just be the lucky one who gets to feel it every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
There is this vivid memory I have of the Dean of the College of Education talking about how teaching is a calling the very first time I saw him in the flesh. At that point, I didn’t know how much of an impact his words of wisdom would have on my life for 3 1/2 years. But I also didn’t truly grasp what this calling was. I kind of did. I knew that I always wanted to teach in some way. I knew that it wasn’t a hard decision to choose a university based on their pre-service teaching program because I was confident I wouldn’t move around anywhere.
What I didn’t know was that I was one of the lucky ones. I had a calling. I got to begin answering this calling at age 18. I get to continue to answer this calling for the rest of my life. As much as I wish I could find words to describe my love for teaching, I wish more I could describe my excitement about now being paid to do something I’ve loved paying to do since Fall 2008.
At this point, I have no idea what my classroom will look like next fall. I have no idea where I’ll be living in six months. To be honest, I’m pretty clueless about my life in general any farther in the future than a week. But for some strange reason, I’m still happy.
I think this is what self-discovery must feel like.