Monday, February 11, 2013

Small Smiles and the Word of the Week

The past two weeks of my life have easily been the most stressful consecutive weeks of my life.  Two members of my immediate family have dealt with major health concerns and had surgeries, and one of my boyfriend's oldest and dearest friends passed away in the line of duty as a police officer.  Experiencing all of the stress, fear, and worry that came along with these situations made it difficult to focus on anything else.  I felt like I was floating through my day, hazily responding to students and colleagues, losing my train of thought in the middle of tasks and conversations as my mind would wander back to the worries.  Even my students could tell I wasn't myself.  It was as if they were tiptoeing around me everyday.  I have never heard my classes so quiet and reserved.

While those worries don't go aways, they are eased in knowing that my family and friends are constantly praying for the situations with which I am currently struggling.  I've been doing a daily reflection that my principal gave me (on a particularly bad day when I was an emotional basket case), and it has provided me so much peace and centeredness as I start my day at my desk each morning.

Another thing that has brought brightness to my school day is my students. Something I've never blogged about but have used in my classroom since I began teaching last year is the Word of the Week.  Word of the Week, or WotW, is one of my favorite standing lessons that I do each week.  Every Monday, the bellringer is a short worksheet that asks students various questions in order to help them understand a new vocabulary word.  Then, beginning on Tuesday, students can use the word in a sentence during class in order to get a piece of candy after class.

This leads to some really great sentences, like this one:

"Ms. Herring, I really comprehended that lesson, thanks to your great teaching!"

And some sentences that make it sound like they've never learned English before:

"Ms. Herring, you sure comprehended that lesson to me this afternoon!"

When they really "get" the word, their sentences make me smile, especially when the word is so far out of their normal vocabularies.  When it's obvious that they totally don't get the word, and they butcher it terribly on the off-chance that I'll give them candy, it makes me smile even bigger.

Lately I've been reminded about the importance of small smiles.  Sometimes, even in the middle of the worst weeks, all you need is one of those small smiles to get you through the day.  Fortunately, the Word of the Week this week is "embody,"  so I'm sure I'll be getting plenty of small smiles out of hearing them try to use that!