My Assistant {SOL}

July 1, 2014
Listening in to Kay as she reads to Tim.

Listening in to Kay as she reads to Tim.

For the past three summers, my youngest son has been my assistant during summer school. Tim doesn’t have any extra training; he’s just a young man who is willing to help. His first year of helping, I modeled how to catch the kids acting appropriately. I remember hearing him stop mid-sentence, “Tom, stop ta…. I notice how Sam is standing quietly with his voice off. I notice Sally with her eyes on me.” After class that day, Tim said, “Hey, catching them being good really works.”

I finished teaching kindergarten two weeks ago and wouldn’t have survived without Tim. My hat is off to kindergarten teachers. These kids are inquisitive, attention-seeking, and energetic. During a read a loud, the kids would be captivated, participated, and definitely cheered for more. We had fun.

The kids loved having Tim's full attention.

The kids loved having Tim’s full attention.

During small group instruction, Tim would circulate among the students who were reading independently from their book bags. He doesn’t know any specific strategy except for listening. Tim would ask them questions and encourage each on a job well done. He also helped keep the kids focused. I loved capturing him one morning listening in. I wish I had Tim during the school year, to be a live audience and respond positively to the efforts each kid makes. Does he plan to be a teacher some day? Maybe not the professional kind, but he’s definitely learning the life lesson of assisting others.


Did I mention…? {SOL}

February 18, 2014

Did I mention my children to you lately?
Did I mention how my thoughts are on them so much these days?
Did I mention that the years, months, days now seem like hours left to share?

Did I mention how I do Wesley’s laundry so I can see a glimpse of him each week?
Did I mention he is a junior in college according to credits, is playing baseball, mastered the 6 minute mile at 5:48, is learning to throw a new pitch and looks promising to be on the varsity lineup?
Did I mention I text him just to say I am thinking and praying for him to receive a delightful, meaningful response in thanks?

Did I mention Tim is playing basketball and is a team vocal leader?
Did I mention his timid personality is changing into a confident, quiet young man, who is trusting the words of his parents and Lord?
Did I mention he loves helping the little kids during the mid-week youth activities and is learning to be responsible, trying to be gentle through play and gracious with words?

Did I mention Elizabeth loves helping people?
Did I mention she likes volunteering at the blood drive, loving on her preschool mid-week kids, teaching and admonishing them?
Did I mention the wrestling coach relies on her to take charge of the stats, equipment, and even his keys (which he continually seems to misplace)?

Did I mention my kids decide to talk to me in the middle of an activity and how I am listening?
Did I mention how time has passed too quickly for this mother of teenagers?
Did I mention how I love my children, grab hold of the moments, and tuck them into my memory?

Did I mention … these fleeting thoughts on a cold, snowy morning are just a glimpse into my heart?


SOL: A Bee Story to Celebrate 500!

October 29, 2013

Yesterday during my second grade group, O said, “There’s a bee flying around there, Mrs. Gensch.” I looked up at the light and sure enough, one was buzzing around. It’s October. What is a bee doing in my room? I usually ignore the flying creature, but A chimed in, “I think I may be allergic to bees.” This announcement caught my attention.

“What do you mean by maybe allergic?” I pried with a concerned look. The bee continued to buzz around, dipping closer to us. What lotion did I put I today anyway? I thought to myself. Bees are attracted to different fragrances. Maybe it is my hairspray? For goodness sakes, stay away, I commanded the annoying pest.

“Oh, my mom is allergic to them. My dad is and so are both of my sisters. So I think I might be,” she stated matter-of-factly. My look of “And tell me more please” spurred her on.
“Oh, I have never been stung.”

That did it. I grabbed a book and headed over to the window where the bee was banging against the pane. I thought about calling our custodian (who is a gem by the way) but that would take too long. I had reading to get to and this little, distracting gnat was not going to get in my way of teaching.

SMACK! Got it!

O, A, and C had been watching me the entire time. They cheered when the critter was smushed. “Wait! There is another one,” O pointed out from a safe distance. By golly, he was right. Another bee was bashing its head against the window. “Yes I wish you were outside,” I stated aloud.

WHACK! It fell dead on the window sill. “Whew!” A stated wiping her forehead.

Yes, I was thankful too. Seeing the unmoving bug lying there, I noticed several others, like twenty or more. What???? More have been in my room?!

We finished group time, accomplishing my primary goal. Then I hunted Mike, our custodian, and told him the story of the bee annoyance in my room. I am anxious to be rid of these! And I definitely do not want an “I think I might be allergic” child having an attack in my room. Look out bees! You will NOT conquer me.

(This story is in honor of my friend and writer, Tammy Shultz. She has the BEST bee story ever and hopefully you all will hear someday. Our BONS writing group have enjoyed her story. Today marks my 500th post and I am so glad to honor the stories we share. Hugs to you friends!)

Yippee!

Cheers!

Fireworks please!

I am jumping for joy at this accomplishment. It surprises me. Little by little this summer, I have been watching the numbers. Only a few more. Gather some more. Share. Grow. Now it’s here.

Today as I readied myself for my Slice of Life this week, the number flashed at me like neon lights. My smile grew. This accomplishment is something I am celebrating! Ice cream may be in order! :)

Yes, today I have written my 500th post.

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SOL: My Start-Over Wand

October 22, 2013

Children. Do certain kids come to mind when you hear that word? Your own? Maybe it’s a kid you adore or the one who drives you crazy? I would love to say that I adore every kid I work with, but I don’t.
Truthfully, I really do try to like all the kids I work with. But, sometimes I just tolerate them with a smile on my face. I really do want to adore them. I guess I like them, but sometimes, one or two kids’ behavior is down-right annoying. And since I am being truthful, they bug me.

The thing is the two kids I am thinking of right now are not trying to be annoying (at least the majority of the time). They are just children. They come from different home rules and different social acceptances than my expectation. Usually, they are just being silly. They are first graders, six and seven year olds full of energy, not wanting to sit in a chair and listen to phonics skills. Nope. They want to laugh or wiggle or tell a joke.

Today, at 2:07 p.m., these two boys came in to my room giggling. They had smiles on their faces and were anxious to share their jokes with me. I did listen for a few seconds and then directed their attention to the day’s lesson. One kid’s focus did not turn off from his goofiness, to which I kindly redirected him once, twice, and yes, three times. Finally, I took a deep breath, smiled at the blonde headed student, and said, “J , I really need you with me and we’ve had a rough start. I am going to wave my magic wand and we’ll start over again.”

I smiled, waved my hand over his head bringing a smile to his face, and we began anew again. Intervention time went smooth and J felt good about his learning. He had smiles and participated.

I realized I could have been grouchy (and was heading in that direction), but wanted a positive learning experience.
Not sure how J will be tomorrow, but I sure am glad of the choice I made today.

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SOL: Why I Teach

October 8, 2013

Data is the driving force in choosing students for groups. Lots of numbers!

Collaboration with teachers ensures the programming is supportive. Lots of lunches!

Plans are executed with fidelity. Lots of reflection!

At the end of the day, what matters most is students! Lots of stories!

Ready to learn...

Ready to learn…

One laugh ...

One story …

Laugh 2 ...

An add on …

Sharing stories ...

Reflective story …

The reason for teaching ...

The reason for teaching …


SOLT: I’m Rich!

October 1, 2013

“I’m rich, Mrs. Gensch,” a tooth-gaping first grader exclaimed enthusiastically. My expression said, “Really? Tell me more.” He continued, “Yep. I got two dollars last night for one little tooth.”

My smile spread as I nodded in his excitement. “Wow, two dollars?! You’re lucky. I think I might have gotten a quarter when I was little, usually a dime. The tooth fairy must think you are really special,” I replied.

The kid smiled. “Maybe. I think it’s just because you’re kind of old. The rates have gone up since you were a kid.” His reading partner just nodded in agreement.

Kids… honesty is not always the best policy.

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SOLC: Writing Group = Stories!

September 24, 2013

sols_6May came and we were wishing each other best wishes for the summer. June arrived, filled with new friendships at the AllWrite!!! Summer Institute. But one was missing. July charged us up with cottage chatter and laughter. But one was missing. August began anew and our schedules were jammed. Everyone was missing. October was too far away and so one September night was reserved, anticipated, honored. No one missed.

We arrived with hugs and laughter. The table was set and smiles radiating. We were together. We finally were sharing our stories.

Tam, Ruthie, MH, Tammy with our new notebooks. Thanks my friend!

Tam, Ruthie, MH, Tammy with our new notebooks. Thanks my friend!

Our writing group sometimes writes together, sometimes takes moments for notebook entries, and sometimes shares pieces written. The whole night is about sharing in the writing process – gathering, planning, drafting, revising, editing, and definitely celebrating!! This past Thursday night was mainly about sharing our stories. We listened and questioned, prompted and uplifted. This night was about pouring our thoughts and enjoying our friendship. Without these nights, our writing would be quiet, possibly unnoticed. It would be waiting for any celebration. Without this night, I wouldn’t have been nudged to write from the heart.Harley Moments

I have some new stories that are stirring from the depths of my heart. The writing is not grand, but it is real. This writing is true and has just begun to blossom. My desire to write has hightened and time in the morning is being carved out. This writing may not be published but it will be shared. The story is too meaningful to not share. 

From our BONS night, Ruth lovingly presented each of us with a notebook. Others dear received them too. This notebook came at just the right time to hold the stories growing from my heart. Thank you, my dear friend. Thank you to my BONS. Without your listening, my stories would remain silent.


SOL: Unconditional Delight!

September 10, 2013

Welcome our new addition to our family, Harley.

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For many reasons and much debate, my husband and I finally decided to let the kids have a dog. At the animal shelter, this Beagle/ Jack Terrier mix tugged at our hearts. He didn’t bark for our attention. He sat politely and wagged his tail.

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We were able to foster him over the weekend, but we knew in the first few moments that he was made for us. He has a gentle, unconditional thankfulness to us for rescuing him. We have unconditional delight for him.

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SOLC: I am the Cottage

July 23, 2013

The lake view refreshes us. Sitting on the porch, we share, laugh, and relax.

The highlight of the summer for our writing group is meeting at Tammy’s lake cottage. The view is splendid and the company is delightful! Tammy and her husband, Rex, have worked hard on the property, taking a shack hidden by foliage to a quaint cabin.

The welcoming cottage, the away place.

The welcoming cottage, the away place.

We arrived Friday afternoon, chattering about our recent family events. We relaxed on the porch, looking at pictures of the Italy trip, and gathering writing ideas. Ruth, who had an unexpected event, was not able to attend. This distance did not stop her from sharing in our writing lives (and laughter).

With writing pressing upon our minds, we sat as a group and brainstormed a poem – a poem about the cottage we love. After listing ideas on the side of the page, phrases and sentences emerged in the notebook.  A poem was crafted.

The BONS are around the table, adding ideas, sparking rhythms and choice words.

The BONS are around the table, adding ideas, sparking rhythms and choice words.

I Am the Cottage

I wait for them to come…

…footsteps approaching, cares freeing as they step through the door.

I am the place away.

I hold laughter, stories, and friendship. The BONS reunite, sharing bits of life.

I feed their stomachs and souls. Pork burgers and onion-potatoes sizzling on the grill.

I am the place away.

I watch the pontoon cruise. The sunset silhouettes against the rippling water.

I am the place to dream. Wrapping them in wood-warm walls, they slip into sleep.

I am the place away.

I rouse each gently with scents of bacon, blueberry pancakes and coffee. Early light through the windows shine, pulling them back outside.

I am the cottage…

another day is beginning!

We signed our names from our spot around the kitchen table.

We signed our names from our spot around the kitchen table.

Composed by Ruth Metcalfe, Tammy Shultz, Tam Hess, Mary Helen Gensch, and nudgings from Ruth Ayres :)

The draft of the poem with revisions and the list of ideas on the side.

The draft of the poem with revisions and the list of ideas on the side.

 


SOLC: How One Idea Leads to Another

July 9, 2013

sols_6This morning, I was reviewing my ideas for my slice today. I had one all ready for last Tuesday about paper, but helping my sister-in-law unpack appealed me to hard work until 11 p.m. last Tuesday. Exhausted, I fell asleep at the screen when I got home. No post.

For the past few weeks, my mission to organize the house – basement, two sheds, the main closet plus remodeling a storage space to an exercise room – has been capturing my energy. I am finding a sense of peace. I love order, a place for everything. Playing and revising a slice in my head while sorting this morning, I finally sat down to type. Idea ready.

Elsie’s slice popped up on my screen and so I decided to read a little first. Her pictures are delightful and I felt like I was on her nature journey with her. Commenting about the butterfly weed led to a memory that led to me sharing about noticing the beautiful plant at the zoo. The ZOO. Oh, now there is a fun, savoring day. And the idea came. No need to post about the thousands of pieces of packing paper nor the rummaging through belongings on my mission for order. No, the zoo is slice to share.

On Friday, Elizabeth, her friend Kirsten, Timothy, my niece Lexi, my mother and I all ventured to the Fort Wayne Zoo. I love going to explore the zoo and visit many on our vacations. I haven’t been to the Ft. Wayne Zoo in years, and memories flooded back. My kids had tons of fun watching the animals. They captured their crazy fun like little kids. We were nose to nose with the alligator and lion. The tigers cleaned their paws like our cat, Kippy. The Sea Lions jumped, splashed, and performed during their feeding to my delight. We rode a sky lift and walked and walked and wore my mom out. :) She savored the moments with her grand kids. Our smiles were endless and the pictures hold the delight we experienced.

river otter

River otter is so energetic and playful!!

The feeding show had the seals doing tricks! Awesome!!

The feeding show had the seals doing tricks! Awesome!!

The peacock flaunted his gorgeous feathers as if to say, "Want my picture?"

The peacock flaunted his gorgeous feathers as if to say, “Want my picture?”

Feeding the giraffe was a highlight. Getting licked by the long tongue was gooey!

Feeding the giraffe was a highlight. Getting licked by the long tongue was gooey!

Kirsten and Elizabeth posing beautifully on the frog. Many InstaGram pics were shared with friends that day. I just love their smiles!
Kirsten and Elizabeth posing beautifully on the frog. Many Instagram pics were shared with friends that day. I just love their smiles!

In the African Safari, the natives looked rather friendly. :)

In the African Safari, the natives looked rather friendly. :)

Smiles and laughter clear through the entire day. My niece, Lexi, had fun hanging with us.

Smiles and laughter clear through the entire day. My niece, Lexi, had fun hanging with us.


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