Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lately-ing.

Lately, I've been...

...reading and discussing The Scarlet Letter with my juniors, and Fahrenheit 451 with my seniors.  This week we're shifting to The Great Gatsby (juniors) and Pride and Prejudice (seniors).  I am ALL for spending my days with Gatsby and Darcy.

...making cards using the new Little Flyers stickers and Sidewalks line from October Afternoon.

...longing for a new camera.  Any ideas for a decent replacement for a Canon Digital Rebel XTi (and ideally in a similar price range)?

...oohing and aahing over the September JBS kits.

I just received mine, so I wasn't able to contribute to tonight's gallery reveal, but I will be gleefully churning out some projects to share at the mid-month gallery reveal on the 10th.   I am beside myself, looking through the gallery at times; I am so honored to be on a team with such talented and insanely creative people.  It's amazing to see what happens when we all look at the same product and interpret its possibilities in various ways.   (ETA: The gallery was having some technical difficulties, so check out this post for now for some glimpses of what the team has done.)

...participating in Design School at Two Peas in a Bucket.   Each week features lessons and layouts relating to two principles of design.  As I worked on the layout below, I focused on what is easily my favorite principle: repetition.
More details about how I applied this principle may be found here. 
I also have another layout featured on Two Peas.  This one is a back-to-school layout about my favorite freshman.  I so love back-to-school supplies -- even the scrapbooking kind! 
Isn't she cute with her Converse?  Classic.  
You can find out more details about the layout here. 

...waiting ever so patiently for the new seasons of Psych, Modern Family, and Gossip Girl to begin.  In the meantime, I'm liking the current seasons of True Blood and Flipping Out.   I had almost given up on True Blood after the last few seasons, and the first episode of this season had me thinking it really was time to call it quits, but then, miraculously, the show drew me in again.  It must be the extra helping of Eric this season.   The more, the better.  

...listening to Mark Ronson.  My daughter discovered him recently and shared the love.  

...indoctrinating my daughter.  In return for her enlightening me as to the funky wonder that is Mark Ronson, I'm doing some sharing of my own.  Over the next few weeks she'll continue her education in John Hughes 101.  We just watched Sixteen Candles the other day.  Today on the radio the DJ made a reference to Long Duck Dong and she totally got it.  She laughed, then gasped, her eyes widening, and she looked at me, and we both knew in that moment that she had become far more awesome than she had been prior to watching the film.  Next on the list?  The Breakfast Club. 

...looking forward to the three-day weekend.  An extra hour or two of sleep each night would be wonderful.  Why did I ever fight sleep as a kid?  I'm far, far wiser now. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Care to Chat?

Today I'll be chatting about my Miss Art's class, if you'd like to stop by and say hello!  More information can be found here.

ETA: For your entertainment...here is a partial recording of the chat, in case you want to observe my quirky eyebrows at work, or my giggling self try to shape thoughts into words.  I know it looks like I'm talking to myself, but I'm actually interacting with questions posted on live chat.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Week in the Life

This month not only marks a return to the classroom for me, but it's also "Back to School" month on the Jenni Bowlin Studio Inspiration blog.  Today's post was by yours truly, featuring a layout that came together day by day last week.  
I brought my camera to school with me and, with my daughter's help, snapped a few pics at the end of each day (which is when I tended to remember that I had the camera in my bag).  
The journaling is a simplified version of some of the events and tasks of each day.  
I think the highlight of the week was discovering that my AP syllabus had been approved by the College Board. I worked so hard on it, and I was worried that it would be bounced back for additional revisions. I definitely pulled out my happy dance when I received that confirmation email! 

Speaking of excuses for happy dancing, Miss Art's Papercrafting School is offering a FREE class.   Here's the info: 
The kids are heading back to school and you should, too!  
The headmistress at Miss Art's knows that new backpacks, school supplies, and first day apparel can reduce a crafter's budget to milk money, so for this weekend only she is offering you a tuition free class.  Beginning on Friday,  August 26th, you will have 3 days to check out one of our most popular classes for free, no subscription needed.  In "The Secret Garden," the talented Stacy Cohen teaches you how to create a shadowbox effect on your layouts by adding dimension through layering and creating beautiful floral clusters. Stacy even earns a little extra credit by providing you a step-by-step demonstration on how she creates her trademark crocheted page accents. We hope to see you in the classroom, and if you enjoy our class, that you'll be kind enough to leave an apple or a comment for the teacher.
Here is a peek at Stacy's class:

I have worked with Stacy on two design teams, Shimmerz and Lily Bee, and I can attest to her crazy talent!  She really is amazing -- especially when it comes to creating unique handmade accents -- and knowing Stacy, this class will not disappoint.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Call and the Response


Today all of the Catholic schools island-wide gathered for our annual back-to-school Mass, which is always followed by a guest speaker.  This year's guest, Father Ken Templin, was the best kind of speaker -- hilarious, vibrant, and inspirational, with a meaningful message: Nemo dat quod non habet. 

That is, you cannot give what you have not got.  

That may not seem like an inspirational message to some, but Father Ken really put into perspective the fact that teachers do not fuel themselves, time alone does not carry schools forward, and students do not grow and mature independently of communities.  What drives us forward is faith. 

There is a call that we must answer if we are to move forward and make a difference; the call demands that we recognize what our vocations ask of us.  It involves giving what we can give, and giving of ourselves genuinely.  I don't think this applies just to teaching. It is a gift, to be called to a particular vocation, and it is a gift we give in return when we say yes, over and over, in our words and actions, with our lives and livelihoods.  

No written contract can adequately define what it means to be a teacher, or what this vocation really asks of those who say "yes" to it.  However, Father Ken did share something that does make progress toward that end -- a retooled version of the Beatitudes: 
  • Blessed are You who are called to teach, for you walk in the footsteps of the Master.
  • Blessed are You who sow peace and harmony in the staff room; yours will be the joy of the Lord.  
  • Blessed are You who plant seeds of hope in youthful hearts, for you will inherit the dawn.
  • Blessed are You who are sensitive to the cries of youth today, for they yearn for the coming of my Kingdom.
  • Blessed are You when you share your faith with others, for your name is written in my heart.
  • Blessed are You who anguish now because your students are difficult, for one day they will thank you for loving concern.
  • Blessed are You when efficiency is moderated by compassion and empathy, for the deeper secret of education is yours.
  • Blessed are You when you reach out to me in your students, for you will surely find me and rejoice.
  • Blessed are you who lead your people in paths of justice and peace, for you will shine like stars for all eternity.
  • -- Raul F. Muyong, Ed. D. 
Even a teacher in a non-parochial school, or anyone who teaches in any capacity, really, can find themselves in these words.  Faith comes in many forms, and it need not be linked to religion.  It is a different kind of knowing.  I think we all teach from faith, if we are truly teachers.  After all, take faith out of the equation, and what is left?  Teaching becomes...a job...a paycheck (and you KNOW that no teacher does this for the money)...a routine.  And if teaching is just regarded as a job, then what's the point?  Where's the passion?  Where is the hope and the investment and the vision? There can be no learning under those conditions, just as there can be no life without the heart, and no gift without a giver. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

BusyBusyBusyBusyBusy

After watching The Race to Nowhere last year, I swore that I would not become a "pusher" parent. My daughter, though, has her own mind and seems to be interested in everything these days.  She does know her limits, however, and realizes that if she is stretched too thin, there's no point in participating in anything.    She's chosen her commitments carefully this year.   In fact, her balancing act is the subject of a layout that I did for this week's October Afternoon challenge: 

Kinsey, that crafty genius, came up with this "one of everything" challenge, which I found to be both brilliant and horrifying at first.  Me? Use only ONE of each item?  No way.  When it came down to it, though, it turned out to be an awesome challenge.  I found myself thinking really carefully about which supplies I used, and why.  Every single item on the layout helps to tell a story.  If you're looking for a real challenge, this one is definitely worth attempting.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

She Lives!

After a week of being AWOL from the blog, I'm finally posting.  Sorry about that.  Where have I been, you may ask?

I survived the first week of school!   I've been in teacher mode all week. Getting back into the groove and ensuring a smooth transition requires that I spend my days fully focused and my evenings overplanning (or, in other words, in a constant state of panic).  Thus, the lack of blog love this week.

I love my students.  They're so bright and eager.  Let's hope it lasts!

My feet, on the other hand, aren't feeling very loved.  I tried to break in a new pair of shoes on Thursday.  Heels, in fact.  They were SO comfortable and way too cute in the shoe store, but five minutes into my school day, I knew that I had made a terrible mistake.  Never again.  Ugly teacher shoes it is.  Cute is a luxury.   Heels are for Carrie Bradshaw, not Ms. Sprott.

Anyway, the weekend is here, and I made some time for a little cut-and-paste in my life, and boy, did I need it.  I'll have two pages to share soon!

In the meantime, I'm happy to share this mini-album, which I created using the Jenni Bowlin August project kit and some August kit odds and ends.  It's the perfect size to house one of my favorite prayers, the Prayer of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.  I'll keep the album  in my desk at school, so that I can turn to it when I need to center myself or refresh my perspective.

I actually discovered this prayer written in a student's book at the end of last year.  As a graduating senior, she had donated her books so that other students might be able to use them, and when I went through the books, I noticed that she had written something in the inside cover of one of them.  It was this prayer, and it just overwhelmed me to know that these words had touched her heart as they had touched mine.  She kept the prayer near to her by writing it in one of her books, so I will keep the prayer near to me as well.

I can't believe this weekend is almost over!  I'll try not to be a stranger this week!

P.S. "The Words to Say It," my class at over at Miss Art's, is now open!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Four Days Away!

In just four days, my first class EVER will be available at Miss Art's Papercrafting School. You can find out more information here.  Here are a few more sneaks from the class:

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Good Run

I've said my goodbyes to summer...
(More details here).

and for the past two weeks, I've been gearing up for the new school year, attending classes and meetings, planning lessons, writing syllabi, reading book after book, and compiling materials. Most of all, I've been wondering about my students and praying that I will do right by them.  

Among the recurring themes that have emerged during our faculty and staff back-to-school meetings was the importance of building relationships  My back-to-school goal is to foster more meaningful relationships with others, and to really try my best to know my students and to see them for who they really are.  

One of the worst (and probably one of the best, in retrospect) comments I've ever received from a student in an evaluation was "talk to us, not at us."  Ouch.  Had I become the very teacher that I was trying to avoid becoming?  It was a wake-up call, however, to the fact that I may not have been reaching some students because I was not reaching out to students enough.  Being naturally shy -- and living in my own head too often -- it has been a lifelong challenge for me to overcome my introverted tendencies.  I have come far, but I know that I still have important work to do.  Hopefully, this school year I will make even more progress. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Moving in a Still Frame


Today's Tuesday Tutorial post on the October Afternoon blog features step-by-step instructions for how to assemble this frame, by yours truly.  It's kind of a landmark moment for me, as I rarely venture into the world of altered projects.  When it came to this project, however, I sort of fell naturally into it, since I had been piecing it together in my head for some time.  When I held the new Farmhouse collection in my hands, I knew that it was finally time to attempt this project.  My sweet husband even contributed to the effort, generously playing errand boy by locating the frame, spray paint, and screws for me, and making sure that I did not inadvertently take my own life with the screwdriver.  His steady hands definitely earned their guest spot in the tutorial.

Since the post went live this morning, I've received such positive feedback, and I've even seen the frame popping up on Pinterest here and there.  So not only is it a kick that the frame actually exists outside of my head now, but it's also affirming to know that so many people seemed interested in actually trying this.  It's not overly ambitious or difficult, and it can easily be adapted to fit one's personal style.  The tutorial just provides the framework.  Har har.