Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Spreading Happiness

It's been an exciting two weeks at the middle school, not to mention that last week was birthday week.  I realize that most people probably view my obsession with birthday celebration as a little over the top, but it sure is fun.  So as long as I can keep it up, the tradition of week-long birthday fun will continue. This year was a much more subdued, less hectic version of birthday week, but it was still awesome.  The fun wound down last night with Girls Night painting at one of those BYOB painting places.  It was such a wonderful reminder that I am blessed with some seriously wonderful friends.

At school, lots has been going on, too.  We finished our study of The Diary of Anne Frank, and now we're writing our first research paper.  Last week, thanks to our school's awesome library media specialist, our seventh graders were able to Skype with a Holocaust survivor as part of their preliminary research for their paper.  Talk about a primary source!  Mr. Finkel was captured by the Nazis in Poland when he was eight years old and wasn't released until he was thirteen.  His story of survival is amazing, inspiring, and incredibly heartbreaking.  His goal in speaking with students is to ensure that future generations continue to fight against racial injustices.  He was so sweet as he answered the students' questions and interacted with them during the Skype, and I feel like they learned a lot.  I feel like I learned a lot, too.  It was so eye-opening to hear about the atrocities of the Holocaust from a firsthand perspective.

This week, our school got another awesome opportunity when we became the first school in Arkansas to partner with the American Heart Association and Teaching Gardens to build a Teaching Garden.  Our school is receiving the supplies to build and maintain a self-sustaining garden that will supply fresh produce to our cafeteria.  It is such an awesome opportunity for our students to learn where food comes from and how to cultivate and cook fresh, natural ingredients.

Needless to say, all of these awesome opportunities have enhanced our students' educational experience in the past two weeks.  It's been so fun to watch their reactions to these events!  Some of them are so excited and involved while others seem to be totally clueless to the awesomeness of these opportunities.  It's been a good reminder to me that our job everyday is to help kids "plug in."  Excitement and happiness is contagious. Even when I have a bad day, or I'm tired, or I'm not in the best mood, it's still my job to spread excitement and happiness to my students because their day might be going even worse than mine.  It's been easy to be excited with all the fun things that have been going on lately, but as we really dig in to writing a research paper, the struggle to make class "fun" really begins.  Here's to spreading some happiness to my students as they send me death glares while writing their first research paper.  It's going to be a great week!

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