Drum Roll, Please…

After nearly six weeks of classes, I am proud to say we will have our Grand Opening of the classroom library on Monday! We had been using the books combined from the two 3rd grade classrooms last year all jumbled together on three little shelves (still better than the one shelf I had last year for my class!). We had to wait for a shelf to be ordered because the original request had been lost. The bookshelf did not turn out to be what I asked for so Resources had to add another shelf and will still need to put in side panels so that the books do not fall off. We are making progress! The students have been very patient, but also very excited. A couple students asked me nearly every day when the new book shelf was coming because I had told them they would be able to check out books after the new shelf came. One student told me he had had a dream that the shelf came. They are so expectant!

This past week, I cleaned all of the books (old and new) and made sure they were all labeled and had a sticker to show their level. I think I will have the students clean the books around Christmas. Maybe that will motivate them to keep them clean when they see how dirty they can get! This weekend, I arranged the books on our new shelf, researched some management systems for class libraries, and made classroom decorations to celebrate the grand opening. It looks so good!

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Our class theme this year is Guardians of the Earth. We are learning about taking care of the earth God has given us and not being wasteful. The bulletin board used all recycled paper and magazines. The background and edging were up from last year and I used them again. I made a paper chain out recycled newspaper and magazines instead of buying streamers. It looks pretty cool and yes, I will probably use it again. We also will have some cookies and punch (we will wash and recycle the cups and bottles) to celebrate before the students get to browse through the new books. You can also see me small group table in this picture.

I have kept about a dozen or so books back that I will add in throughout the rest of the year and I still have some books back at my house I will try to bring back with me after Christmas. I would really love to get them more updated non-fiction books and magazines. We will see how empty I can make suitcase coming back and how much I can fill it up again with books.

We also finally got the remaining chairs for our small group table about a week and a half ago and the students love using it when they do Work on Writing or Word Work. This week, I will meet with my guided reading groups for the first time. We are still waiting for leveled readers to be ordered, so I will have to be more creative with resources in the meanwhile.

I am so thankful to finally see everything coming together as I had envisioned it.  Here is the picture that I took coming in the door in August, two days before classes started and here is the picture I took today. All photos are my own.

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Remember

It’s hard to forget some things. Others things are hard to remember. This Friday, the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was a normal day in Mexico for me. However, yesterday, while online, I realized that I had never actually watched the original news coverage of the attacks. I was only 9 at the time and saw only parts of the coverage. That day seemed like a nightmare, because I didn’t really understand what was going on or why, but all of the adults around me were really upset. I watched the first two hours of footage from the attacks yesterday and today. This time it seemed like a nightmare because I did understand clearly what was happening and why. I cringed every time a new report came in of a new attack and every time a reporter’s voice quavered, fighting to remain calm and professional. It was sobering to think of the loss of life, of the fear that ensued, the loss of a carefree lifestyle, and of the ideals of American economy and security that seemed to crumble before our eyes as the towers crumbled.

It was not enjoyable to remember, but for some reason, I felt like it was important to experience it again, more than just remembering that it happened. Why? Why is it important to remember this tragedy? It is not so we can live in fear. It is not so we can harbor resentment. It is not so we can hold a grudge against the religion or nationality of the people who did this to us. As I spent time in prayer this morning, I realized why it was important for me to remember this. Empathy. I’m sure that all of you know of the crisis in Syria and several other nearby countries as the Islamic State uses terrorism and extreme violence to wipe out all who disagree with them. The refugees from this crisis are fleeing to all parts of the world, longing to be safe. This problem started nearly four years ago and even to those moved by it, it is hard to know how to help as the crisis drags out yet increases in intensity. I realized that because of 9/11, I could identify with these refugees in a small way. I remember what it was like to feel the fear and despair caused by terrorism. I remember the uncertainty of what tomorrow would bring. Fortunately for me, as I did not know anyone personally killed in the attacks and thanks to our country’s response to the attacks, I did not have to live in fear for long. Normalcy was achieved relatively soon after the attacks. For the Syrian refugees (and refugees from other countries in a similar situation), they are dealing with the terror daily. Instead of things returning to normal, violence continues to crescendo. They daily fear for their lives. When I remembered my own experience with terrorism (as indirectly as it affected my everyday life), I am moved to pray for those who are still experiencing that.

This morning, my church was celebrating the Mexican Independence and two baptisms. We were going around sharing prayer requests briefly and I chose not to say anything. I was not sure if I could explain what I wanted to pray for and if an event that happened 14 years ago or a problem in Syria were too far away to count as a personal prayer request. I was so encouraged when one of the very last people asked to pray for Syria. I went through most of the rest of church crying and trying to explain to my loving church family why I was crying. They are always so sweet to encourage me and understanding about me being alone in a country that is not my own.

I would encourage you to remember. Maybe in remembering, you will be moved to compassion for those who are experiencing similar or worse situations now. Maybe you will be moved to pray for those wounds that still haven’t healed after 14 years. Maybe you will be healed yourself. Here is a link to the first hour and a half of news coverage if you have not seen it or it has been a long time. September 11, 2001 As it happened

Here is a link to a Christian organization working to bring relief to some of the Syrian refugees in Europe. Samaritan’s Purse

Image is of New York City for unsplash.com.

A Change in Schedule

Many people have asked me how I feel about being in Guadalajara another year. Honestly, if feels right. Yes, I miss things at home, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to put more effort into improving my teaching and the opportunity to invest in my relationships here for a while longer. However, I knew that there were going to be some things I would need to change right away. Last year, I had a lot of stuff going on, including tutoring every day after school. This year, I am setting boundaries and only tutoring on Mondays and Wednesdays. I think it will be beneficial for the students to have tutoring in a group and also for me so that I have time after school on the other days to prepare for classes before resources and the printing room close.  See my other blog post. =)

Last year, I tried to have my personal time reading the Bible and praying in the morning before school. It just did not work for me. I like having that time in the morning…at about 9, not 6:30. Then, I would come home from school exhausted and get online. Now I am coming home from school and just resting in my upstairs room and spending time with God before I even turn on the computer. It has been so refreshing. So thankful we are not bound to a certain time or way of worshipping God. I am also thankful that rest is a good and biblical activity.