Posted in In The Classroom

An Unsent Letter To My Students

Things I’ve wanted to tell my students, but I bit my tongue instead:

I have never been so amazed at the wonders of God seeing sooo many unique individuals – even among families! Every individual child brings something new to the classroom and is irreplaceable.

A Greek Temple made out of Legos, recreating the scene from Hercules. By an 8th grader.

Your brain works in ways I couldn’t ever predict – and it’s brilliant!

I consider it a privilege to teach the smart kids in my class. I don’t take credit for their intelligence or pat myself on the back when they do a good job. I feel honored to have had their attention and their efforts instead.

I go home and cry when I’m blown off. I take it personally even when I know better! I know that a teacher can only do so much and a student’s behavior is a reflection of their attitude… And yet, I can’t help but beat myself up for not doing better.

If I did my job better would you be a better student?

I despise homework and busy work. I wish my classroom could be a Socratic environment where we all learn from discussion, sitting there talking about big ideas. However, without assignments many might like being in my class was a waste of their time. And they wouldn’t have work samples to turn in to their contact teachers.

Most of the time, I’m just happy you are here! My satisfaction comes from seeing the gears in your head turning as you learn something new.

Some of my 7th Graders

I love how opinionated you are. And passionate. It’s a breath of fresh air to see you have such big thoughts about our world, and it’s welcome in my classroom.

I think you are too young for social media, and trust me – you don’t need that kind of negativity and comparison trap in your life.

I don’t really care how well you read or write. I do care whether or not you put any effort into my class. If you show me you care, you will not fail my class. No way, no how.

I make a lot of mistakes. I have struggled with ADHD and Dyscalculia all of my life. I forget things, confuse things, mix up things quite often. And I freeze under any kind of confrontation. But because I care about you, I stay up often hoping I didn’t let you down.

Some students have to work twice as hard to produce the same results as others.

I hope I made a positive impact in your life some how. That you will move on to High School and then as an adult, remember your middle school years and remember me with good memories.

Posted in In The Classroom

Dress Up is The New Cosplay

Every time our organization does a costume themed day, I always challenge my students to take it one step further and make it a HISTORY day.

6th Grade

That’s right. Cosplay is no longer reserved for geeks at Comicon. I think this is a creative and expressive way to learn material! And in some places it’s the fabric of their culture. In Virginia there are civil war battlefields that do cosplay re-enactments with brilliant actors. In Hawai’i, the Polynesian Cultural Center is basically 80 Islands coming together to cosplay for tourists, using the funds to help foreign exchange students get a college education.

So the first day we had was “Dress Like a Book Character Day” in October, and all my students participated though not all were historical characters (although the T-Rex certainly argued that he was!). I had been teaching a lot about Egypt so I dressed as an Egyptian goddess and so did my daughter, but we never agreed on exactly which one we were dressed as. My oldest son was a Roman soldier and my youngest was a WWII Infantry soldier.

My Oldest, Anakin

Then we had crazy hair day in February. This was a chance to do cosplay only from the neck up. I had the 5th and 6th graders create laurels to wear for Ancient Greek Olympics Day which happened to coincide with Crazy Hair Day. End result is we wore laurels over our crazy hair while playing olympic games (the original pentathlon) and performing puppet Greek Drama.

Funny story: I decided to go “Viking” because that’s what we were learning in our 7-8th grade classes and I did my hair very braided and blonde (I was a brunette at the start of the school year)… And then felt like I couldn’t stop. Maybe I had seen enough of Lagertha on the History Channel to feel all brave and what not, but I decided to see what all I could do with black and gray smokey eye shadow, red lip stain, and my imagination. I did the fiercest warrior face and then completed it with bruising and bleeding because no legit shield maiden would look “pretty” after battle.

Well, can’t say I look a LOT better on regular days…

Problem was I scared a lot of younger students. Poor kids. And some parents were concerned about what kind of institution their kids were going to.

My class had fun with it. The older kids definitely got it.

Next problem was that I was so tired by the end of class I forgot what my face looked like. Ran to McDonald’s to buy something quick to drink, and then decided to be all healthy and ran to Carr’s for ingredients for dinner (instead of making McD’s dinner). I thought I was looked at a little weird by the people at the cash registers, but didn’t even realize what I had done until AFTER I got home, started my instant pot, took a nap, and woke up to a truckload of make up on my pillow.

And all the while, my children giggled hysterically.

Posted in Family

ISO Long Lost Relatives

This is not an affiliate post!  I paid for my own test with AncestryDNA.com and was not compensated or even asked to leave a review in any way.  The opinions on this blog post do not reflect the views of Ancestry.com and are exclusively my own.

Legalities out of the way, my husband and I did our DNA profiles with Ancestry.  Yup, despite the fear that now they will keep our DNA and sell it to third party companies that would track us from now on (no research for this, just my usual paranoia), we spit into the little tubes, shook it up and mailed it in.

And the results are in!

I did mine to try to find more info about my family.  I was hoping to find matches on my dad’s side of the family.  My dad and I don’t have a lot of information there – my grandfather left from Venezuela to Germany sometime around 1966.  My grandmother kept her maiden name, and came from Prussia – whether the polish or the German side of it, who knows?  Enough world wars have changed the landscape of Eastern Europe.

 

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Possibly my grandfather?? Who knows!

I have pictures of my grandma as a nurse, and bike riding through Europe as a young woman fresh out of school.  I also have pictures of her exploring Venezuela, and some colored photographs of her in Bali.  I know she visited a relative in Australia and had a friend in New York City.  I know she had brothers because I remember seeing the sepia-colored photographs of young men in uniform.  But I don’t really know anything about her!

 

So I was hoping to find more on Else Karalus or Hans Heimig, and see if there are any second cousins anywhere?  Any pictures or connections to a “home land”?  And this was probably fueled by the realization that my homeland is destroyed.  I will never, ever be able to take my husband and children to Venezuela and show them my grandmother’s grave, or my childhood neighborhood.  They’ll never know what it’s like to visit the falls, or the Andes, or the Amazonian basin.  And that grieves me.

My mom and I spent some time researching her side of the family and found out that her paternal grandparents were European Jews that came to Venezuela seeking refuge.  News to both of us!  And I’m thankful I met my great grandmother, and have pictures with her, and she walked me to school, because there isn’t much in the way of documents on an orphan ex-slave.  But it’s ok, cuz I knew her.  Till her dying day.

Anyhow, it’s a very difficult feeling to explain; you are always an immigrant, but you never have a country to go back to.  And you are adapted to the United States, well versed in politics, geography, and history – but it’s never “home”.  It always feels like you know this information as an outsider looking in.  Somehow I went on the search for a “home country”, one maybe in Eastern Europe I could hope to visit and learn about one day in replacement of the one I lost.

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I’m such a mutt I’m a child of the world!!

East Europe – my paternal side,  Prussia, explains this perfectly.  Native Americans – I’m sure that’s indigenous to Venezuela, like the Yanomami.  These two things make up half of the genetic pool that is me.

Then it’s a smorgasbord of ancient history and migration patterns.  Vikings that sailed all over the Baltic sea and established themselves in parts of Russia and the Iberian peninsula.  Spaniards, conquered by Romans and then Muslims.  Celts that fled from the Roman invasion in Britain.  African slaves from Senegal and Mali, brought on Spanish ships to Venezuela after Columbus’ ill arrival.  Aside from Southern Europe and Ireland, it’s dashes of spice from people that moved and were moved, conquered and were conquered, all somehow ending up in the northernmost part of South America to make me.

And somehow, unexplainably, a pinch of Melanesian (Papa New Guinea/Australian Aboriginal).  I’m sure that one made an interesting story some years back…

But this comforted me because it gave me a lot of places to call “home”.  A lot more history to learn, genealogies to look up, and hopefully once my kids all graduate – places to visit!  I was never meant to belong to any one geographical place here on earth.  I’ve always been a traveler passing through, with my citizenship in Heaven.  Then I’ll feel like I’m truly home.  Until then, I’ll keep searching for family members.

Do you have interesting lineages or family histories?  Share below!