Friday, November 21, 2014

Middle School Versus High School

Three months into teaching high school after eight years of teaching middle school, and I can't say I've looked back much except to say: teaching high school is amazing!  Middle school made me who I am, and I am grateful for all the experience I had teaching sweet sixth graders, trying-to-figure-it-all-out seventh graders, and already-grown eighth graders.  I have moments when I share with colleagues that "I come from middle school," as I count down for quiet, teach the students how to give thumbs up/thumbs to the side/thumbs down as a formative assessment, or instruct the class on clapping it up to celebrate an otherwise overlooked success.

And there are times when I say "I had a middle school moment," as I flashback to the sunflower seeds  (see post here) that I found on the plush carpet of the Lincoln Center theater where my sixth graders had just finished viewing a Shakespeare play, or when I think of the time when my scrawny, 11 year-old runner ran off into the crowd outside of the Museum of Natural History.  In those moments, I have to remind myself that the trauma of middle school is over and the beautiful parts-- the handmade decorations with stickers, markers and glitter; the apology letter in the form of an essay with a quoted piece of text evidence from the Bible that I got after a minor incident; and the Holiday gift exchanges and luncheons complete with table clothes and chip appetizers that we used to have in my self-contained days--  will forever be part of me.

Already there have been, and I am sure there will continue to be, many times when my middle-school-teacher skill set will serve me well.  I guess it's time for me to revise my four-word teaching story from "self-contained, six years" to something that does my experience justice more so than "I survived middle school."  Until then, I'm happy to be with students who are past that stage of intense hormones and figuring out all the newness that translates into unpredictable, stressful-for-adults behavior.   And I'm realizing daily that high schoolers are just as playful and wanting to learn as middle schoolers.  They also still tell it like it is, though they may be a little less mean harsh.  Nonetheless, I am grateful to continue having the opportunity to learn as I teach and to witness academic and emotional growth of many.

Love.
Miss M

Monday, November 17, 2014

Shades of Blue

Happy Monday!

These weekends are flying by, but good thing are happening and more good is too come.  Here is any outfit I wore recently.  I pulled out my J.Crew denim pencil skirt from deep in my closet, paired it with bright teal tights and the rest is history. 

 Old Navy sweater, Uniqlo oxford shirt, J.Crew skirt, Hue tights, Frye boots and J.Crew Factor necklace.

I am working on my eyeliner hand, and let's just say: practice brings improvement.  Sephora liquid eyeliner, MAC blush in "Fever" and Sephora nude gloss.  Peal earrings from Express.


Until next time,
Love.
M

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Gift: Playing with Style

Happy Friday!

Here are some quick photos that I took afterwork recently in my effort to document an outfit that I really enjoyed.  My students enjoyed this one as well, and let me know it!  


Flannel button down from Target, Bow sweater from J.Crew Factory, tweed pencil skirt from J.Crew, polka dot tights from J.Crew Factory, brown leather pumps by Frye.


Accessories: Ruby Woo lipstick, Warby Parker glasses, Guess gold watch and side pony-tail.  Yup, hair style can definitely be an accessory.


What are your plans for the weekend?

<3
M

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Teaching Mindfully

Happy Wednesday!

Something that I am consciously practicing this month is mindfulness.  I was fortunate to have the opportunity recently to attend a two-day Mindfulness training held at the ABC Home store in Flaitron.  First off, it was my first time in that space-- a unique, beautiful, commerce-meets-social-change, art-space-- and it is absolutely gorgeous, thoughtful and very expensive.

As for the Search Inside Yourself training, a.k.a. SIY, it was right on time for me.  Ever since I read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle some time ago, I have been working on living in the present.  I tend to be "in my head" a lot, and an over-thinker, so the idea of living mindfully really resonated with me.  But busy as I am-- graduate school, commuting to a new school, balancing my personal life and maintaining a social life-- I was largely in go mode, just getting things done and making it look effortless.

Truly, presentation is half the battle of most things.  Look the part and the rest will come.  Or maybe that's just the style blogger, fashionista in me talking.  Either way, mindfulness, the state of being aware, is something I strive to do.  This is all to say that having two days of learning how to tap into awareness, practicing meditations, and reflecting on who I am and what's important to me, was just what I needed.  I think when it comes to learning about things that aren't tangible, it's helpful to be open to the process.  I was very open, so I learned a lot.  Ironically enough, the training touched upon the five components of emotional intelligence--self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills also referred to as leadership-- something that has recently become a significant, and named part of my teaching philosophy.

Something that I learned early on in my career is that I need to be aware of my emotional and mental states at all times, because teaching brings out all of who a person is whether we care to admit that or not.  I learned this while struggling through my early years of teaching self-contained classes, and had to learn how to empathize with students while maintaining my joy.  I also had to learn how to leave my personal life at the door, and do my best to be present to the students and adults who I encountered.  I didn't have the language for it at the time, but these were the beginnings of my spiritual journey.  Those were the days before I learned the power of deep-breathing exercises that got me through my last toxic work environment-- seriously people would ask how I was so happy, and really few of them knew that it was truly work for me to be that way.  I would say things like "Today is a good day," and "I will do my best, no more and no less," and I will handle all situations that come up effectively and "in this moment I have no problems, I am okay."  I would also take deep breaths upon entering the building and climbing the steps to the third floor.  I would also greet people genuinely, spreading good energy, love and light around me as I moved through the space.  I would smile even when I didn't feel it.  It may sound unbelievable, but it worked.  I made it through, and in a way, thrived.

The teacher, and person really, I am today embraces the power of affirmations and breathing practices, as well as physical movement like yoga or biking to release stress and other energies.  Whereas in my last job, I posted affirmations behind my desk just for me and my co-teacher to see and use, I now have large affirmations posted in my shared office for all to see, and some specific ones for my students.  One that I refer to often in talking with my colleagues, as well as students is: Always do your best.  No more and no less.  When one of us is trying to do too much and stressing outI literally point to the sign.  When one of my students has just finished talking his exam and is worrying about how he did, I point to the sign and say, you're doing too much right now.  It's amazing how quickly you can teach and reach people through example and keeping it simple.  Students are carrying some of what they learn in the space I created along with my awesome, kindred-spirit, office-mate into their other classes.  The teacher I am today also claims space as a positive space, no longer just through what's said and takes place inside of a room, but literally on my door this year is a sign that reads: This is a positive space and I honor that with my words and actions.  I chuckle to write that, but this is just me being myself and knowing what works for me and in turn those that I encounter.

I continue to be aware that my professional life mirrors my personal life, the common denominator being me and what I bring to all situations.   Prior to experiencing the Mindfulness workshop, I wasn't fully aware of the depths of self-awareness.  It's not just knowing the emotional and mental components of yourself, but also knowing your values, your triggers, your strengths, your weaknesses and being good with it all.  I truly believe that all educators people would benefit from that kind of learning of self and how to navigate the social-emotion stuff that is a huge part of our work lives.

What are your thoughts?

Love to all.
M

Monday, November 10, 2014

Inspired Through Dress

Happy Monday!

I am committing to maintaining a schedule for my blog.  I will be posting three times a week-- Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

To start off the week, and yet another busy day of work followed by graduate school, here are some photos of an outfit that I wore and loved recently.



Once again I am all buttoned up!  My look this fall in addition to the fun socks and tights, is the button down under everything.  Seriously, I wear button down shirts, buttoned all the way to the top under dresses, sweaters and sturdy shirts.  Here I'm wearing one of my favorite chambray shirts underneath a simple, structured dress.


What I love about this dress is the detailing!  It's a simple, navy dress with a zip up back which makes for a nice silhouette, and it has pockets.  I love, love a dress with pockets.  



I love these tights by Hue, my favorite company for tights for two reasons-- they fit like they're made with my body type in mind and they have all types of prints, like the houndstooth print I'm wearing here. 

As for what I'm wearing: dress and blazer from Target, Old Navy shirt, Hue tights, Fyre boots, scarf was a gift, Madewell backpack, jewelry from J.Crew Factory and Baublebar.



Oh, and I kept my makeup neutral with Exhibit A blush by NARS and a nude lipgloss by Sephora.


Looking my best and showing up to life inspires me to do my best work, literally at work and as I move through the world.  What inspires you all?

<3
M