Sunday, January 19, 2014

Old school

          Next weekend is West Side Montessori's annual Open House.  As I've been an extra-curricular yoga instructor for -- oh, my gosh -- fifteen years, I was asked to create a tri-board with pictures and information about the Yoga for Kids program.
          "No problem," I told the Admissions Director.  "I'll have it ready ASAP."
          After gathering the board and some colorful paper at the Dollar Store, I drove to Meijer to have some pictures printed.  Then, realizing I had given away my tracing letters in my exodus from public education in 1999, I called a friend who still teaches for Toledo Public.  They arrived yesterday morning, and by nightfall, I had cleared off the dining room table and got down to business.
          The moment I picked up a pencil and started to trace one of the letters, memories came flooding back.  The smell of Elmer's paste and Magic Markers.  The sound of chairs scraping against a tile floor and pencil cans being accidentally knocked off of a desk.  The sight of child's face when he/she realizes that learning can be a lot of fun.
          I spent eleven years with Washington Local Schools and experienced firsthand the technological shift from typewriters to computers.  From mimeograph machines to copiers.  From writing notes home to parents to sending a quick email at the end of the day.  For the most part, I embraced these changes as they gave me more time to prepare the classroom and work with my kids. 
          As I spent most of my career as a first grade teacher, I wanted the room to be bright and inviting.  Colorful and eye-catching.  Educational and inspirational.  So to that end, I traced and cut colorful letters until blisters formed on my thumb.  I drew pictures from my favorite picture books and featured one a month on our "Awesome Authors" board.  And each week a child was highlighted as the "Special Kid" with a poster board story I created with photographs and a short biography. 
          And even though it took hours and hours, I did most everything by hand. 

          So last night, I laughed as I flipped the letter over so the tracing marks wouldn't show on the final project.  Old teaching habits die hard....particularly for this Virgo girl.  I used fancy scissors to trim the photographs, then embellished them with little cut-out clouds.  It was delightful to watch the project come to life...and even more exciting to know I hadn't lost my teacher's touch.
          I was old school back then...and truth be told I still am.  I love taking my time while knitting a sweater or a sock.  The days and weeks and months tending the ever-growing flowers and herbs in my garden.  The slow and steady pace of writing a manuscript.  What takes time asks more of my attention.  More of my talent which can improve as I practice.  And for me, in taking the time to let the creative process ripen, I find even more inspiration.
          One of my friends recently wrote me a sweet note commenting on the blog, "For what it's worth."  Sue said that her sister, a master quilter and knitter, "measures time in projects, not days or years."  I love that idea...that time is not linear, but exists in each sweater or blanket or poster board or lovely flower bed.  
            So I'm off to knit a little, write a little, and practice a little on my yoga mat.
            It will be time well spent, I'm sure.

Miss Ingersoll's Class -- First Grade Thanksgiving Feast, 1996