Tag Archives: reflection

My Last Ten Books

I’m a reader. Always have been, always will be. But just like anything, there are heavy seasons and there are light. I’m in a heavy season at the moment, devouring books quickly, picking up a new one as soon as (or before!) I finish the old one. Since January 1st, I’ve read 10 books.

Since this week is Literacy Week (My favorite week of the school year! More on that next week.), I figured I’d write about reading. I learned a unique strategy for a reader’s notebook entry from a colleague a while ago. It’s called “The Last Ten Books I’ve Read and What They Say About Me as a Reader.” Here we go.

This book was given to me by Michelle. Michelle and I always recommend books to one another, and any time I go home to visit, she always has a book or two to pass on to me. I really enjoyed this one due to the author’s voice; I loved the honest and quirky comments from Eleanor. Since realistic fiction is one of my go-to genres, this one fit in my wheelhouse. This book will be made into a movie soon, so I had to read it, as the book has to be read before watching the film. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an unconventional love story.

Working in an international school has opened my eyes to many cultures and broadened my views of how children from different cultures interact with one another. I ordered this book from Amazon since I thought students at my school would connect to it, as it explored an Indian child’s start at a school in America. I enjoy reading Young Adult literature so that I can keep current with what students are into, plus it’s easier to recommend books to students if I’ve read them. This book was a quick read; I liked the short chapters that alternated between the two boys’ perspectives. I would recommend this for students in fourth to sixth grade and upper primary teachers.

Okay, can I just start by saying…I LOVE THIS BOOK! This one is another recommendation from a friend. Over the Christmas holiday, Shags texted me to tell me she was in the middle of a book that she just knew I would love. And boy, was she right! I picked up a copy at Half Price Books, but since I was reading another book, I had to wait a bit to start it. I began this book on the plane ride to Bangkok, where I attended a job fair for 4 days. Despite my busy schedule, I found time for reading. I couldn’t put it down, and finished it by the end of the trip. I love a good coming of age story, and if you do too, you will love this book. I also enjoyed the way the story was told through a mix of narrative and emails.

Three Young Adult books in a row…I’m sensing a pattern. But I just can’t resist! And this one has won so many awards that I had to give it a go. I enjoyed the unique storytelling style, told through poetry. The intense topics addressed in the book are made more intense by the word choice, line breaks, and lack of text. As I read this book, I made many connections to The Hate U Give, a book I read a couple of months prior. If you liked THUG, you’ll enjoy this one.

This is one I listened to rather than read, and I’m so glad I did! Hearing the author read her own memoir is so much better than reading it on my own. You get so much more from the tone of voice, inflection, and pacing than simply reading the words. On Audible this book is 19 hours, so it took me a few weeks of listening as I got ready for school in the morning, on my morning commute, and before I fell asleep. Memoir is another favorite genre. I think memoir speaks to my soul since I value storytelling so much. I enjoy hearing a person’s story, seeing how experiences in their life have shaped who they are. And Michelle Obama is someone who has done so much for women and girls in America. I would highly recommend this book, especially the audiobook.

This one ticks a few boxes. Realistic fiction (well…sorta realistic)/mystery, it’s soon to be a movie, and it’s told in a unique way, through a mix of emails, texts, letters, documents, and narrative. Once I picked this one up, I couldn’t put it down. I just had to know what happened to Bernadette! This one is now our Book Club book, thanks to my recommendation. I hope my friends like it as much as I did.

Something I struggle with is getting everything done on my to-do list. Spoiler alert- I never do! When I start working on a project, I can fly through it if I’m super into it, but if it’s something I’m not interested in, I can procrastinate and dread even starting it. I picked up this book to hopefully get some helpful tips for overcoming this issue. While some of the tips were things I already knew (and don’t do), many of them were new ideas to me and ones that I hope to put into practice soon. If you struggle with procrastination, I’d recommend reading this book.

I know what you’re thinking already. She totally jumped on the Marie Kondo bandwagon. Yeah, I admit it; I did. Michelle and Linner both recommended this book to me ages ago, so I downloaded it on Audible. I started it, but could never get into it. To be honest, I think it has more to do with the narrator than the content; she nearly put me to sleep anytime I listened. After a few failed attempts, I abandoned it. But after watching the Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, I tried out some of her lessons in my own house. I found that it made a big difference, so I gave the book another try. While I appreciate her methods and many of her tips, some of it is hokey to me. I don’t think I learned much more listening to the book than I did watching the show so I wouldn’t really recommend this book; just watch the series instead!

Yep, another Young Adult/Teen book. But in all fairness, I didn’t know it when I bought the book. I actually bought this one based on the cover. Once I started reading it, I fell in love with Finch and Violet, with their imperfect and complicated lives. It deals with heavy issues, such as suicide, so if you are looking for a light read, this isn’t it. But I really loved it, despite the heaviness.

After Milk and Honey, I was convinced that all Rupi Kaur’s other books would be a letdown. There’s no way she can write another book of poems as beautiful, I thought. Well, she proved me wrong! The Sun and her Flowers spoke to my soul in ways I didn’t know was possible. It’s definitely a book I’ll reread again and again. The passion, vulnerability, and honesty in her poems hits you in the face. If all poetry was like this, I’d read a lot more of it. I highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates good poetry that deals with real issues.

In addition to the books I’ve completed this year, I’m also in the middle of a few others- The Power of Inquiry by Kath Murdoch, Culture Map by Erin Meyer, and How to be a Travel Writer by Lonely Planet.

If you have any must-reads, please leave them in the comments.

Advertisements

One Little Word 2019 #olw2019

New Year’s Resolutions don’t work for me. Making these grandiose claims about how I’m going to drastically change my life by doing this or stopping that doesn’t feel right for me. I know will eventually break my resolutions, which makes me want to just give up. So instead of resolutions, I try to find a word to guide me through the year. Finding one word to focus on for the year gives me room to breathe, allows to me make mistakes but get back on track, and makes it easier to forgive myself when I mess up.

The process of discovering my One Little Word always begins at the end of the year with a brainstormed list of all the possibilities for the coming year. I allow myself to jot down any and every word that comes to mind, no judgement. After giving myself some space, I revisit my list, reading the words aloud, marking the ones that resonate with me, narrowing my list to about five choices. Over the next little bit, I try them on for size, aiming to find the word that I keep coming back to, the one that seems to choose me. When I’m ready to decide on my One Little Word, I reread my list again, looking up the definitions of the top contenders, ensuring that I find the perfect one for me. Sometimes this process happens quickly, but oftentimes, my One Little Word doesn’t find me for a few weeks. And that’s okay.

This year, my top contenders were nourish, consistency, ignite, transform, and joy. While I liked each one for different reasons, one word stood out above the rest, a beacon for the direction I would like to take this year. After much consideration, my One Little Word for 2019 is JOY!

Joy is defined as:

    The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires
    A state of happiness or felicity
    A source or cause of delight

Over the past year, I’ve lost that spark, that intangible feeling of sheer joy and happiness. While I certainly had moments of happiness and excitement, upon reflection, I realized that I tended to dwell on what I was lacking, what I didn’t yet have or what I hadn’t yet accomplished. I desire to invite joy back into my life, focusing on improving my health and well-being, and in turn, my happiness will grow exponentially. I want to cultivate a life of gratitude. I have so much to be thankful for, and by expressing gratitude for the people, experiences, and things I have in my life, I can discover joy in the ordinary moments.

This quote speaks to me, and I want to live this out in 2019. It’s so true, isn’t it? Aren’t we all drawn to those people who exude happiness and joy, finding any reason to smile, not sweating the small stuff? I know I am! I want to be a magnetic force others are drawn to.

In order to align myself with JOY, I’m going to invite more exercise, celebrations, gratitude, travel, and discovery into my life, while letting go of complaints, excuses, competition, comparison, being stuck, and the idea of ‘busy’. I’m going to find joy in the journey and the ordinary moments of my life.

What is your One Little Word for 2019?

When the Slice of Life Challenge is Over #sol18

I got this idea from a fellow slicer, and thought it was the perfect way to reflect on the Slice of Life Challenge. In my eighth year, I am a seasoned slicer and deeply cherish this gift of writing and community, and today, the last day of March 2018, I am sad that it’s coming to an end.

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
get back to my normal exercise routine

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
deeply miss the daily interactions with the SOL community

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
spend time planning my summer travels

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
miss writing every day

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
have more time to catch up on the work I’ve put off

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
be a better friend to those I’ve neglected

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
try to find a happy medium with my blogging (it doesn’t have to be all or nothing)

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
finish that puzzle I started

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
spend more time writing in my writer’s notebook

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
focus more on my goals for this year

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
miss reading about what karpenglish, shaggerspicchu, elsie, standingtall47, angelina’sgarden, and tomasevichtales are up to everyday

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
read more books

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
strike a better balance

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
have a hard time letting go

When the SOL Challenge is over I will
look forward to next year’s challenge

On Photography #sol18

As an avid traveler, photography is one of my budding hobbies. I haven’t taken a class (I probably should ) and I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I try. That’s what counts, right? 🙂 Today, as I swiped through the photos I’ve taken so far on my trip, I’ve been thinking about me as a photographer.

On Photography

At first
center it
point and click
snap, snap, snap
quantity over quality

Through the years
I’ve evolved
no longer
am I satisfied
with mediocre

Now my photos
have to
tell a story
make the viewer
wonder and
question

The focus now
is less
on the famous
or touristy
and more
on the ordinary

Catching glimpses of
everyday life
made interesting
by the angle
the framing
and the focus

Color and
lines
grab my eye
intriguing me
enticing me
to take the shot

The goal to
get the perfect shot
the right angle
subjects in and
out of focus
framing it just so
better than editing later

More concerned with
quality over quantity now
many shots
don’t make the cut
but the ones
that do
are just right

Here are a few of my favorite shots:

A Reading Kinda Day #sol18

Today was a walk around, stop for a while to grab a bite to eat or drink, and read, read, read kind of day. It’s been a long time since I’ve truly gotten lost in a book and spent the majority of the day reading, and I’ve missed it! All too often, I’ll read in short spurts, distracted by technology or something else I have to do. Lately, my reading life has been in a slump, and while I’m always in the middle of a book or two, it’s taking me longer and longer to finish a book.

Today, as I read, I got swept up in the story. I found myself stopping for longer stretches, breaking out my book to read, tuning out the noise around me. And boy was there noise today! I heard cappuccino machines steaming, blenders whirring, spoons clinking, patrons gabbing, music blasting, fans spinning, motorbikes speeding, horns honking, drills drilling, and hawkers yelling. Somehow the noise took a backseat to the story, becoming the soft backdrop, rather than the main event.

I managed to read over half of my book, and I plan on reading more tonight before bed. Of course, reading is on my agenda tomorrow. Frankly, other than trying more delicious food, it’s the only thing on my agenda. By the way, I’m reading Turtles All The Way Down, John Green’s newest book.

Here are a few shots of my day, in between my reading sessions.

Days Like These #sol18

Days Like These

It’s days like these I love
waking up
when I want to
in my own time
easing into the day
no beep-beep-beep
breaking the silence
disrupting
my quiet, peaceful slumber

It’s days like these I love
being alone
no agenda whatsoever
free to do
what I want
when I want
taking my time
or rushing around
it’s up to me

It’s days like these I love
exploring a new city
no map to guide me
no predetermined list
of must-sees and
must-dos
just going where
I’m led
pulled by my desires

It’s days like these I love
resetting me
forgetting my many
responsibilities
and just living
in the moment
reflecting on my own
happiness
on days like these

Life-long Learner #sol18

For the past couple of days, I’ve been attending the IB Global Conference in Singapore. Different than a workshop, where you are focused on one topic the entire time, the conference allows you to dip your toes into many different topics throughout the conference. At the moment, I’m trying to process all that I’ve learned. My thinking has been challenged, and I realize that I need some time to reflect on the new information I’ve gleaned, synthesize it, and decide whether it’s valuable and applicable to my school context.

So far, what’s excited me most is this whole idea of student agency and how we can empower students to take charge of their own learning. I’ve listened to teachers and leaders present their experiences with an entire grade level who co-teaches in an open, student-centered space where students make their own schedule for the day, share their experiments with letting students choose what, how, and when to learn, and heard about how the shifts in the PYP will put student agency at the forefront.

Another idea I’ve been drawn to this weekend and been thinking a lot about is how to differentiate professional learning for teachers. Attending a few sessions centered around PD has given me much to think about. One thing I’ve come to realize is that I need to change my teachers’ perspectives on what PD is. I am energized to unpack the ideas I’ve gathered, pair it with the research I’ve read and my own ideas to come up with a bigger understanding.

Since this week is my Spring Break, I’m looking forward to having some time to really reflect on everything, rather than jump back into school like I usually have to do. I hope to post more of my thinking in the coming days and weeks.