Inspired by Color and Joy

I have had the most delicious summer with the tykes at The Patch!  We’ve explored so many wonderful art forms that there’s no way to get all their works and our journey penned on this blog.  I’m starting from our most recent exploration and then will back track to cover our first annual art exhibit in hopes of getting the blog all caught up…..  Fasten your seat belt, the next few blogs will be coming at you with lightening speed!!!

The past two weeks we have been exploring circles.  The younger tykes created a canvas using painted circles, milk caps, milk cap rings, and foam circles.  It is stunning and I’m proud to say that they can all identify the circle shape.

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My older tyke created a circle project on his own.  We used a delightful piece I saw at an art fair as our inspiration.  I bought two prints for us to explore: circles and triangles……  This was such a cool process for him.  He chose all the elements, colors, and cut all the pieces.  It took him two sessions, and the final result is more stunning than this photograph can ever relay:

Will's Circles

I’m sharing these beautiful masterpieces in hopes of inspiring you to find your passion as you teach and guide the tykes in your classroom or in your home daycare.  I have been on the most amazing journey since spring 2014, and I feel for the first time, I am finally in my “sweet spot” as a preschool teacher…… Art and nature…. My passion in just two words…..

I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to “be” what I thought a preschool teacher was supposed to “be” and “look like”…..I’ve gone through the typical stages of “letter of the week” and other tried and true preschool curriculum styles. I just never felt like I was “doing” preschool “right”…..  I tended to burn out before we reach the middle letter of the alphabet and it was soooo frustrating and defeating……  I just never felt like the curriculum and I “fit” together…..I know now that I didn’t “fit” with the traditional curriculum…..

So, fifteen months ago, I began to explore the Reggio learning philosophy. It totally changed my focus, direction, and drive.  I have spent the past fifteen months redesigning my space, my supplies, and my day around a nature and art based philosophy that is tied together for a Reggio Inspired approach.  I am totally engulfed….. I cannot put into words how free I feel to explore with my tykes and how much more they are taking on in basic knowledge and in applying in their projects…. I have never been more satisfied or more energized than I have been since last spring…..

I’m sharing this because I want to encourage you if you are feeling out of sorts with your class and your teaching.  I want to encourage you to take some time, and I mean       T-I-M-E to reflect on who you are and why you are in education.

What drives you? What brings you joy as a teacher?  What “trips your trigger”?

These are all valid questions that only you can answer and once you pin point the answers you can begin to address how to bring the joy into your classroom.

Finding your passion will generate a cycle of passion that is passed onto your tykes.  It may still look like a traditional classroom.  It may look totally different.  But if you are finding yourself feeling “Blah” or out of sorts or out of steam, I am asking you to take some time to assess if you are where you want to be in your teaching career.  I’m asking you to think about how much joy you are experiencing on a regular basis and how much of this joy you are passing onto your tykes…..

Teachers give of themselves and their resources more than any other occupation.  We are a special breed.  We are relentless in our desire to make a difference.

We need to learn to take care of ourselves.  We need to find our “sweet spot” in order to not only teach, but teach with passion and drive……When we marry our passion to our profession, our occupation becomes joyful and fulfilling and satisfying…..

Here’s to finding your teaching “sweet spot” and your passion!  Let me know what you discover!

Until next time,

Patty

Bubbles, Chocolate and Advil…..

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I love love love being with and working with preschoolers.  In all honesty, I love love love it 98% of the time.  However, that 2% just about does me in.

Totally done in…..Check my pulse because my eyes are glazed over and there’s no response whatsoever….

I’ve been known to fill out on-line applications for jobs where children are not allowed, nor welcomed, or ever mentioned while at the office water cooler…..I’ve been known to toss down four or five cans of Diet Coke to just make it to the end of the day on a 2% day…..and…..I’m ashamed to admit this one, but, here it goes anyway…..I’ve been known to plop tykes down in front of the TV and play Max and Ruby not just once, but on repeat…..so it repeats…..many times….shameless for a Reggio inspired educator….I feel no remorse…..None…..Nada…..Zip…..

Although the Max and Ruby Marathon seldom happens, it happens because I have neglected to take care of me and I am running on empty physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and every other way that can be thought of.

I mean, think about this,  who in their right mind would want to be subjected to three hours of parentless bunnies? Ruby’s voice is soooooo annoying! Why won’t she just give up trying to convince Max that it is fun to play dress up???

Seriously Ruby, you need to grow up and get a life!

The bigger picture, is that, Ms. Patty needs to get a life.  A real life that has time to rest, and to play, explore new interests, connect to friends, and a home that is finally clutter free and organized…..

And this brings me to the meat of today’s post: Self-care

I work an average of at least 65 hours a week, 49 out of 52 weeks a year, and rarely take a sick day….Last June, I finally finished my Master’s degree in education. For three years I was putting in 15 to 20 hours above my normal work schedule for course work….Many nights I was up until after 2am getting assignments completed and was living off of less than 5 hours of sleep a night….This set me up many times for major seasons of burn-out….

Self-care is to a preschool teacher what a pacifier is to an infant. It helps soothe the soul when life gets hectic and stressful.  It took me a while of living crazy, before I began to really practice the art of self-care, but now that I am taking better care of myself, I have enjoyed these benefits:

My perspective is so much better and realistic at the end of one of those 2% days…..

I am kinder to myself when I feel like I totally bombed the day at the end of one of those 2% days….

I am encouraged and refueled to begin again the next day at the end of one of those 2% days….

Self-care will look different for everyone.  Here’s my short list to help you get started creating yours:

  1. Bubble baths – long hot with loads of bubbles.  If the water gets cold, drain some out and fill ‘er up again….Stay until you feel better and are totally relaxed. [2% days merit two-hour soaks for me….]
  2. A stash of comfort foods.  I keep a pack of gum, a bag of something salty, and a bag of something with chocolate in the kitchen area of The Patch.  Nap time is self-care time…..and on 2% days, self-care time is munching away until I feel better and I never feel bad in telling the tykes, “Ms. Patty needs this….”.
  3. Over the counter meds are always stocked in The Patch – Advil, Excedrin for Tension Headaches and an acid reducer….No joke…..I head off as much physical discomfort as early as possible…..
  4. My journal – I write until I feel better….
  5. Walking. In good weather, I walk the entire subdivision including the winding streets.  It’s three miles and its the best gift I give myself.  I really miss it when I can’t walk.
  6. A creative project.  I am a creative person – so, I have a project going at all times.  I scrapbook, I blog, I create journals out of cardboard and twine and beautiful paper scraps, I cross-stitch, I create my own curriculum for The Patch.
  7. I take myself out to eat at a really nice place.  I enjoy my own company and feel very comfortable eating out alone.  There’s nothing better than a cloth napkin and someone asking me, “Is there anything I can get you?” after taking care of tykes for days on end….
  8. Texture and color…..When I’m feeling funky and on the verge of a burn-out, I take an afternoon and go to my favorite stores and touch all the textiles and take in all the colors.  There’s just something soothing for me to experience beauty and design.  Call me silly, but, this has been such a healthy therapy for me when I am down and it helps me to choose to see colors both physically and emotionally, instead of greyness from not taking good care of myself…..

Self care keeps me grounded.  It keeps me energized. It keeps my perspective realistic.  It keeps my inner joy flamed. It allows me to live abundantly and with joy and with humor……When I’m in a good place personally, I’m in a good place professionally.

I hope these thoughts and suggestions have been helpful.  I hope they have encouraged you.

So, go get a pencil or pen or crayon and some paper or construction paper and begin creating your own list…..I mean it…..go…..now!  And let me know what you came up with and how you are doing…..

🙂