Monday, December 31, 2012

Buh-Bye 2012!

So I'm just about T-minus seven hours away from the official start of 2013 and I feel compelled to write some sort of reflective genius about the year.  Hopefully you are reading this post with a drink in hand.  I definitely sound much more brilliant if you've been drinking.  True story.

You guys, 2012 was rough.  ROUGH!  While you know I have a flair for the drama, the highs and lows of 2012 put my natural tendencies to seek out drama to shame.  I didn't have to seek it out, it found me, slapped me in the face and then laughed about it while calling me fat.  For real.  Both professionally and personally, I am keeping my fingers crossed for a much more even keeled 2013.

If you've been reading for awhile, you know that I have basically been involved in a five year quest for professional Zen.  Much of my struggle to find said Zen stems from the daily ridiculousness that goes down each and every day in our public schools as well as my public-school-teacher-ingrained- manner of being perpetually unable to strike anything related to a personal/professional balance.  (Did you guys know that you are actually supposed to go to the gym?  Evidently it's not enough to carry that little thingy around on your key chain.  Who knew?) 

Some personal struggles this year forced me to have a new perspective on my life as a slave to education.  Without actually saying "Don't sweat the small stuff" (because that sort of phrase makes me want to pour salt on an open paper cut), I learned to stay cognizant of what really matters.  My family, my own philosophy of what it means to be a good teacher, and those projects that truly make me happy. Yes, I still engage in hours of paperwork and other miscellaneous bullshit that is a complete waste of my time, but I try not to focus on it as much.  Very Jedi mind trick, very Zen. 

With this attitude in hand, I gratefully will say goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013.  May 2013 bring joy and professional happiness to us all.  (Spoiler alert: Mrs. Mimi is going to be getting her Happiness Project on and I hope you all will join me!)  For me, that definitely means more time over here on the blog.  This will only be my 20th post this year and although much of this year was too dark for me to even contemplate looking at a keyboard, I have missed you.

Without further ado, here are the top five viewed and commented on posts of the year.  In other words, the posts that totally kicked ass/struck a chord with all you lovelies out there.

Number 5: Heroes

Number 4: Just Another Manic Wednesday

Number 3:   Where Do I Begin?

Number 2: I Went Running.  What Did I See?

Number 1:  You Put Your Whole Self In, You Put Your Whole Self Out...

Happy New Year!  I raise a glass to each and every one of you. 

Mrs. Mimi

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I am sitting here in front of a blank computer screen attempting to write curriculum, to focus on the Common Core, to be mindful of my looooooming deadlines.  But then...

My mind drifts back to the recent tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.  As a mommy, a teacher and a CT-girl, I just cannot wrap my head around what took place on Friday.  And yet, I can't think about anything else. 

Although I am horrified and write this with tears streaming down my face, I have never been more convinced than I am right now that teachers are heroes.  We are heroes.  Those men and women working at Sandy Hook Elementary were and are heroes.  I joke about Super Colleagues zipping through the hallways with capes on their backs as they go about changing the lives of the children they touch each and every day, but these people, Vicky Soto, they are truly heroes.  With or without the cape.

If I struggle to process what has happened, I am not sure how those most closely involved can even begin.  I have read that when Fred Rogers was a boy and would see scary things on the news, his mother would say to him, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." 

So for today, I am going to focus on the helpers and the heroes. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Nerd Out: Stand Up And Wave Your Nerd Flag

My Teacher Bag is a thing of mythic proportions.  It is big.  It is heavy.  It is strategically packed.  It is a thing of beauty.  Over the years I have refined my Teacher Bag so that it is no longer something that mocks me from the corners of my living room ("Why haven't you opened me and graded all these assessments yet?  Grey's Anatomy Shrey's Anatomy...I'm watching yoooooouuuuu.") but is something with which I can effectively finish up remains of the day, tweak my plans for the next and, in all honesty, probably Macguyver you a new alarm clock.  I'm just sayin'. 

One day, before a looooooooonnnnnggg field trip which required an even loooooonnnger (think epic like red sea epic) bus ride, one of my friends glanced in my bag and gasped in surprise. 

"Mrs. Mimi, what's that?!" he said increduously.

Panicked I glanced over, mentally steeling myself for a conversation about tampons when I discovered that my friend was pointing at my book.  Not my math manual or the tome of tests I had yet to grade, but my personal reading book.  (Yes, I always have a book with me.  Always.  I HATE waiting and a book makes me feel less stabby when I have to.)  I actually even remember what book it was.  It was the first book in the first book in the Twilight series.  (I know.  I know.  And they weren't even that cool yet...I know.)

"Oh, that's my book."

"The book you are reading to us?  That doesn't look like Judy Moody."

"It's not.  It's my own book.  That I read for myself.  On the train or before I go to bed."

"You read?" (blink, blink)

"All the time."

"What's your book about?" (still suspicious)



I don't think that particular friend will go glancing in a teacher's bag again, however, word of this insane reading nonsense spread around the room like wildfire.

Psssssttttt....Did you know that Mrs. Mimi reads every night before she goes to bed?

Hey....did you know that Mrs. Mimi is reading a book that she hasn't shared with us?  It's about vampires!

And that's when it hit me.  My friends had never seen me read.  Sure I read aloud to them every day, I read their books, I read with them, I read from the board, but in their presence, I never read for myself.  (I mean, I would actually have to sit down and take a breath for that to happen and we all know that that is a luxury teachers don't often had.)  While I knew that I was never going to be able to sit and read while they read (because she-who-shall-remain-nameless would flip her Weave and we all know I wanted to avoid that like the plague), I realized I had to share my reading life with my class.  Show them the book I was reading.  Talk about my reading.  Wave my nerd flag and wave it proudly.

Chapter 5 of The Book Whisperer advocates for just that.  That we share our reading lives and our love of reading with our students.  Because we can't fake it.  They are too smart for that and I agree with Ms. Miller that authenticity is everything with kids. 

It also means reading the books our friends are reading.  Have you ever had this happen:

Teacher: How is your reading going?
Student: Great.
Teacher: Can you tell me about the story so far?
Student: (Launches into long and detailed explanation that sounds pretty good but honestly, you haven't read the book and they could totally be pulling one over on you, but what are you going to say because, without reading the book, you don't have a leg to stand on....)
Teacher: Sounds fantastic!  (Ugh.)

Can we read every book in our classroom libraries? Probably not this year.  Should we be reading the books our friends are reading?  Hells, yes.  I'm not sure how else you do it. 

I love these last lines from the chapter.  They remind me how important it is to bring your authentic self to the classroom each and everyday and how critical that we turn lists of strategies and requirements and standards into something truly inspired.  "The reality is that you cannot inspire others to do what you are not inspired to do yourself." 


Who's Peeking?