Thursday, July 17, 2008

I've been in the garden lately. . .

This summer has been textbook in terms of renewal for me. After the students left school, I spent a little time getting everything finished up, played with my wiimote, and attempted to tidy up a bit. Since then, I've been in the backyard with my children, vacationed at the beach, and returned to the backyard. In an effort to improve our family's carbon footprint, I put up a clothesline and have found that the change of pace that brings to the day amazingly therapeutic. No longer do we have laundry day. Instead, we do one or two loads (very weather dependent) over the course of a day. Hanging the laundry outside and taking it down is actually a pleasure, my children help a little and play a lot and I love the peace of listening to them as I'm engaged in the rhythm of the clothesline. We just got a bill, and in less than a month, we'd reduced our kilowatt hours over the same time last year by just over 100! I'm no Doug Fine, but it's a start.

So what does this have to do with literacy and technology? Hmmm--I've been doing some reading. I just finished Girls Like Us a very big book about three singer-songwriters of the 60's/70's. Reading it led me to break out Carole King's Tapestry and teach my children to enjoy singing along and dancing around the living room. Of course, I've been reading children's books aloud by the dozen each day too.

While I didn't go "off-grid" except at the beach, I did back way off. The blogs I read (and commented on, thanks Kim Cofino) the most were gardening blogs. I've struggled with some rabbits and squirrels who seem to think my garden is their personal salad bowl. This may have something to do with our yard being the only one without a resident dog or cat, but it has gotten really annoying. We seem to have found a way to keep them eating only a small share with the combination of a fence, dried fox urine (really!), and creative trellising.

The end result of all this backyard time was that by the time I was due to head for the airport to catch a flight to Memphis and the Laptop Institute at Lausanne, I was having trouble remembering exactly what it is that I do professionally. However, seeing old friends at the opening and talking with some fascinating new (to me) folks at dinner the first night, I felt myself begin to shift. This is really a fantastic conference and I'm so impressed with Stewart Crais who directs it. Everything was of high quality and the vendor presence is very low-key. This is a conference driven by philosophical exchanges among educators about the power of technology to empower students and inspire teachers. I'd like to write more about it soon. I've written a new (and huge) "to do" list that excites me rather than fills me with dread.

So here's my question: What does renewal look like for you?


Paul V said...

To begin, I saw your comment on Clay Burrel's post and thought to come and take a look. Now I'm subscribed.

Renewal...summer throws me for a loop. It's almost like jumping off a moving treadmill and having to catch myself so I don't fall. Since I have MS, I work really hard to rest through the summer so that I can have energy to teach the rest of the year. I have a daughter and refuse to give all my energy to my students.

Reading blogs and trying to write my own has kept my brain active and thinking about the classroom. We'll vacation in the GA mountains soon and that, too, should bring a renewal of spirit.

I enjoyed reading about your garden, and I'm going to have to give a laundry line some serious thought.

Sarah Hanawald said...

Thanks Paul! I like your treadmill analogy, it's really appropriate for so many situations when stopping something feels more dangerous than just staying on, yet jump off we must. I hope this summer and the trip to the mountains brings you peace and the energy you need for next year. Depending on your daughter's age, she may like helping you with a clothesline--let me know if you decide to try it! I've got pictures :)