Thursday, May 24, 2012

3 Nights Away

Several months ago I submitted paperwork to attend a training this week in Spokane.

Lucky me, my request was granted! Better yet, I was allowed to use 2 personal days to spend some time with my parents before I go back home.

Tonight is my third night on my own, away from home. This is a rare occurrence for me. I miss Mark, but at the same time, it is soooooo relaxing to not be in charge of anything for 3 days!

I am enjoying this little mini-vacation to the max.

Yesterday I attended a rich training with literacy expert Cris Tovani. She flew in the night before from Denver, where she teaches half time and does literacy work half time. (Hmmm...I know what that life is like...) An added bonus for me--my colleague Penny from Portland also attended the training. It is so much better to attend a training with a buddy. Not only is it friendlier, but I get more out of the training when I can check in with a partner throughout the day. Penny and I already have a de-brief session on our calendars in a week or so.

That's Cris Tovani on the left of me, and Penny on the right. 
The woman on the far left is the gal from Spokane who organized the whole training event.

One of the discussion questions that hit home for me was figuring out the difference between what is "rigor" and what is "hard." Rigor is a big deal in education these days. We're supposed to be teaching children in ways that are rigorous and relevant. Everyone wants to be a rigorous teacher, wants their students to be able to do rigorous things. Sometimes (maybe most of the time?) "rigor" carries the connotation of being hard. Throw the children to the wolves. If they can't handle the rigor, too bad!

So Chris brought up the question of "rigor" versus "hard" and asked us to apply that question to an activity we enjoy. Of course I thought of hiking.

When hiking is hard--My feet hurt or I'm out of shape. I have the wrong footwear or not enough water. I just want to get it over with and never do it again.

When hiking is rigorous--even though the trail is steep, I feel strong to conquer it. I am challenged but not overwhelmed. When it's over I feel stronger and better and ready to try it again.

It was interesting to think about those differences and apply it to reading for teenagers - what I want is rigor for my students, not hard, miserable reading experiences. I'm also doing a lot of thinking about how I can take Chris' ideas back to my staff, where I'll be training all the teachers--not just the English teachers--in ways to guide our students into successfully tackling rigorous reading passages that matter in their lives.

Then last night and most of today I've been with my parents. They are so dear to me. This week Dad underwent his first chemo treatments for leukemia. He had to be in Spokane every day this week for the treatments. Since my parents' home is a 2-hour drive away from Spokane, they drove their travel trailer to a beautiful little RV park near the Cancer Care facility. This has made the medical appointments much simpler for them this week! Dad can nap and rest, and Mom can fix meals they like.

Dad is doing so well with his treatments that the doctor doubled up his chemo dose today, and Mom and Dad get to go home tomorrow. I'll drive up to Colville with them to spend a few hours in their beautiful little mountain cabin, and then I'll head back down to the Spokane airport in the evening to fly home to my sweetheart.

Bonus activities on my mini-vacation:

  • yoga stretches every morning
  • not fixing any meals
  • reading through all of my thesis this morning to prepare for the last (?) round of revision
  • working on a little side $ project for ODE for a few hours                                                           (I know that doesn't sound vacation-ish, but it's been hanging over my head, and it was a gift to have some time to work on it. Plus it will help pay for this trip!)



Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

It sounds like a wonderul little break! With as crazy as this school year has been, you deserve some time to yourself, and the chance to see Nana and Grandad is a bonus!

Enjoy the rest of your mini0vacation!!

Annemarie said...

Sounds wonderful . . . hope you enjoy your time. What a gift to see your parents AND attend this conference.