Thursday, October 25, 2012

Living to Work

I am the worst.  It's been a month since the last time I had a chance to sit down and write.  Let me just tell you that it has been one busy month.  I feel like my life recently has been one giant to-do list after another.  A friend told me recently that the key to not getting overwhelmed by everything is to realize that we really are living to work.  We spend 90% of our time at work, and so it's better to just accept the fact that sometimes, or a lot of the time, it's going to take over our lives.

That's why I have recently decided that it's so important that, at least occasionally, we get paid to play.  I decided this after I did a couple activities with my students this week that felt like getting "paid to play."  On Tuesday of this week, I had to figure out a way to teach color symbolism is a meaningful, memorable, and somewhat concrete way to a group of 7th graders whose abstract thinking skills are still developing.  This ended up turning into a little game I created on the fly that I will henceforth be calling "Color Symbolism Charades."  I gave each student a color symbolism chart and asked them to choose one color and study its positive and negative associations.  Then, they had to draw a picture that represented that color and its associations.  When the students brought them back the next day, I was simply going to have them present their drawings.  After a few kids in 1st period sleepily shared their pictures with the class, I decided we needed to wake up a bit and make this a guessing game.  I told the student to describe or act out their picture and have the other students in the class guess which color they had chosen using their chart....

Talk about engagement!!  I was quickly left out of the game as the students guessed each other's color symbolism, explained the color symbolism to people around them and excitedly participated in the game.  I think I could have left the room, and they would have kept playing.  I couldn't help but smile at how awesome it was that my students were being totally nerdy and yelling competitively about color symbolism.  It was music to an English teacher's ears :)

After finishing color symbolism, I decided it was time to get in the Halloween spirit.  I turned off the lights, playing scary music, and read a scary story to my class today.  Of course, then they had to analyze it for the five elements of a short story, but not before they had the opportunity to get a little scared.  One student even said, "Ms. Herring, you have a great scary story voice."

Anyway, I say all that to say that not all jobs allow you to get "paid to play," but a lot of times my job allows that.  Grading's not always so fun, and instruction can't be exciting every day, but on the days when the kids are so excited they could keep the lesson going on their own, or on the days when I grade an essay with such vivid voice that I can't help but smile from ear to ear, I know that I'm getting paid to play.  It's on those days that I feel ok about living to work.