Loving the first week of school! #VVVikings

Time flies.

Where did the first week go?  New names, lots of hugs and smiles and so much to learn about my new school.  Each day just flies by!  I try to eek out as much learning as possible.  What are our systems?  What’s that boy’s name again?  Hi, I’m the new principal.  Great to meet you!  Observing awesome classrooms and teachers that love their work.  Answering emails and sorting schedules.  It’s a whirlwind.

A solid smile.

You just can’t help but smile!  After umpteen introductions and new faces and names, I’m still smiling.  There’s something about the start of school that’s exciting, anticipatory and happy.  And what happens when you smile?  Kids smile back and parents feel comfortable with a new face and everyone relaxes just a smidge.  Yes, my cheek muscles are dying but how can you not smile?!?!  School rocks!

Crazy tired.

Have you ever felt so tired?  And so full of the goodness of your work?  It’s great.  Legitimately tired from hard, good, right work for kids.  And then up at 5 to do it all over again.  Yah!!

A to-do list that’s four feet long.

Oh my gosh.  Yikes.  Duck and cover!  To-do lists are mandatory.  Prioritize, act, revamp.  Because one day’s priority is not tomorrow’s priority.  It’s a juggle.  And rarely does an item need attention RIGHT THIS SECOND.  Most things can sit for a few hours (or a day) while kids come first.  Worth repeating: The to-do list never trumps kids.

Weekends and family make all the difference.

As much as I love my work, a break from school is required.  Baseball games, grocery shopping, movies together and soccer practice keep me sane.  Sad to say, it’s true.  Science homework, band notes to sign, mom taxi duties and dinner out help me keep balance and sanity so that I don’t turn into a workaholic.  Who wants that?!? Not my family.  And yes, as we go about our family time, I’m occasionally Mrs. Haugen around town but they roll with it.  They get it.

Bottom line?

School rocks.  I aspire to balance.  Smiles are the best.  Enjoy every minute.  Get a good night sleep.

Summer Learning Reflections… thank you Edsel Clark.

It started with a Follow on Twitter.  I like to check out the people who follow me: work, location in the world, family (if they mention it), recent Tweets… it builds a real person in my mind and thereby a potential relationship.

@edselclark followed me yesterday.  I went straight to his blog, http://whatifschools.com/, and read a bit.  His June post, Summer learning gains, caught my attention.  And then I came straight here to consider my own sons’ summer learning and how I encourage, impact and foster the lag or gain from these ten weeks off.

Old Cars and Cuba

Joshua and I were heading across town to his soccer practice.  An auto shop at the end of our road had four old cars in the yard.  Joshua launched into a series of questions about these cars: Why don’t cars look like those anymore?  I think they’re cool; could I use one of those for an everyday car? Are they more expensive that modern cars? Why do they look so much more interesting than our cars? and on and on.

We talked about aerodynamics, fuel efficiency and pure numbers of cars on the road in the 50’s versus today.  We talked modern amenities: electric windows, backup cameras, choices of interiors, computerized everything.

And then I brought up Cuba (what little I know).  That’s when Google entered the conversation.  He scrolled through images of Cuba’s streets and old American cars.  He scanned an article on “the Cuban Thaw.”  That led to questions about the United States “giving Cuba the silent treatment for fifty years” (Josh’s interpretation).

Talk about summer learning!  All this on a 15 minute ride to soccer practice.  The conversation picked right back up with his dad two hours later.

Minnesota Humidity and Time Zones

Jacob inherited my old phone this summer.  He’s our “connected kid.” He loves to interact with friends and family via Facetime and texting.  Joshua barely knows where his phone is from day to day.  Jacob has it in his pocket without fail.

We traveled to Minnesota to visit family.  Needless to say it was outrageously humid for most of the trip (typical).  Jacob became our weatherman, “60% humidity today, mom.”  Thanks Jacob.  “Chance of showers today, mom.”  Thanks Jacob.

At some point he decided to compare.  “Why isn’t it this humid in Petaluma?” <stumped mom look> Weather is not my forte.  Thank you Google.  So each day (or a few times a day), he’d make a comparison and read about humidity.  Thankfully some other relative got to hear all about it.

The other standard question from Jacob, “What time is it at home?”  “Subtract two hours,” was the response he got every time.  Every. Time.  And yet he’d keep asking.  “So we’d be asleep now?”  “So lunch is over?”  “So we’d still be asleep?” He just couldn’t wrap his mind around something different happening or some different time of day happening back at home.

This led to other distant location questions.  What time is it in Australia?  It’s tomorrow in Australia.  <stumped Jacob look>

Legos on the Floors and Another Invented Game

This doesn’t happen as often as it used to.  The floor covered in Legos, the search for the right piece, building vehicles and playing an elaborate game.  I listen in and haven’t a clue what’s going on.  “You need wings that would really fly.  Those won’t really fly.”  “I just made a cool droid. Want me to make you one?”  “The cargo stops here first.  Then it can continue on to the port.”

It’s a beautiful interaction that consumes an entire morning.  Building, discussing, trading, moving, arguing, agreeing, rebuilding, “flying,” and laughing.  In school terms, this has the 4 C’s all over it.  From a mom’s point of view, the creativity takes the cake.  No plan, just their own imaginations and buckets of Legos.

Summer Learning Rocks

I’m lucky enough to have a lot of time with my boys over summer.  The learning just never stops.  Neither of them has read a single book this summer.  No joke.  Not one book.  But boy have they been learning!  And reading!

The experiences (big and small) lead to interesting conversations, Google searches and even more questions.  And the best part is that we are all learning!  About questions we have, about ideas in the world and about each other.

With the time I have with my boys over summer, I make big plans: places to visit, hikes, day trips, food experiences… and it never pans out as I’d envisioned.  I sometimes get back to work feeling disappointed that I’ve “wasted” our summer days.  But I realize that big plans can become awesome moments, conversations and Google searches.  It’s about quality of time.  I get to participate as a concept is struggled through and grasped, as a question is posed and explored, as a light bulb turns on.

All from one Follow.  This is what my PLN does… sparks my thinking, asks good questions, challenges my assumptions.   So glad Mr. Clark is a part of it.

Happy Summer!  Back to work tomorrow…