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Represent: Five Minute Friday

It’s finally Friday and time to sit down and breathe for a few minutes as I join my Five Minute Friday writing group on this week’s prompt: Represent.

One of my greatest joys as an educator is watching my students grow. Already this school year I’ve witnessed students gain knowledge and new ideas. The student who came in on day one and refused to do anything is now actively participating in class. Laughter and learning fill my classroom as ninth graders enjoy the environment we’ve created over the last month.

A major shift that I have made this year is reframing what a grade represents in my class. Gone are the days where teachers could get away with giving grades based on behaviors. Turning work in on-time is a life skill, but if the work is late (and correctly done) what should the grade measure?

I’ve wrestled and fought to get myself out of the mentality that grades represent the overall efforts in the classroom. I set absolute deadlines at the end of every unit, but there are no penalties until that point on a student’s grade. There are other punitive measures, of course. But the biggest shift in my mind has been that grades should represent learning not behaviors. Turning work in late is a behavior and falls under those consequences in my classroom.

What are the results?

A month into this school year where my focus has been standards-based grading, I have made more positive connections with students than in any year prior. The pressure to perform a certain way is lifted from their chest, and the freedom to learn in an authentic way has replaced that. Students have multiple opportunities to show mastery of content and growth, and the are less failures in my class than ever before. In fact, I don’t believe anyone is failing–because their grades represent learning not behaviors.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Spontaneous: Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday and that can only mean one thing on the blog–Five Minute Friday! This week, I am joining friends from the link up to write according to our prompt which is Spontaneous.

Do you ever feel the urge to restart?

Right now, I wish I could crawl back in bed with my husband (and our daughter who made her way into our bed at some point in the night.) I woke up this morning after hitting snooze a few too many times. My preset coffee pot didn’t work and I think it’s actually broken this time. My head’s a little fuzzy from having stayed up too late watching Grey’s Anatomy last night. And my preplanned outfit for teaching on Constitution Day is wrinkled because my daughter saw it laying out last night and messed it up.

Despite all of my efforts to produce a smooth Friday morning it’s already shaping up to be anything but smooth.

I’m already running behind and I’m going to have to stop and get a coffee on the way to work. I need to iron my t-shirt, but I probably won’t if I’m being honest.

I just want to curl up in bed and restart.

It’s days like these that can make teaching a difficult job. I am an Enneagram One, and when my well-planned mornings don’t follow routine it can throw me off. I depend on the order and efficiency to start my day and when those things aren’t there I can get moody quickly.

Studying the Enneagram taught me many things about myself. It allowed me to recognize my habits and gave voice to my inner dialogue. Because I read about the Enneagram in Ian Morgan Cron’s book I also know that spontaneity is not natural for me. I thrive on planning and organizing my life as much as possible. But one thing I have learned about being a One is that as unnatural as it may be that being spontaneous every now and again can breathe life into the routines.

Today, I will seek out ways to be spontaneous in the midst of the chaos. Maybe I’ll try a new food or go for a stroll on a new path. Whatever may come today may opportunities to deviate from my plans bring the restart that I so desperately need.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Generous: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday!

I’m excited to join my FMF community this weekend to discuss our prompt. I already know what I want to talk about and this title is a great way to describe the subject at hand. Join me as I explore the generosity of a woman who gave of herself in the name of country and God and remained generous in that service until her final moments.

photo credit: SkySports (England)

Yesterday the world stopped spinning for a moment. We joined in a collective silence as news broke that Queen Elizabeth II of England had passed. You don’t have to be British to admire the country’s longest reigning monarch, and one of history’s longest legacies. Her Majesty was beloved throughout the world and remained a solid foundation throughout her 70 years of service to her country.

While she reigned on the throne, England experienced…

-15 prime ministers

-The expansion and union of the Commonwealth territories

-The tragic death of the beloved Princess Diana

-The Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union

-Several acts of violence

-Natural disasters

-Periods of both economic hardships and prosperity

-COVID-19

-The death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II

Over the next several days, the country will mourn a woman who saw her duties as Queen through until the end. She served her country even in her final days by appointing Liz Truss as the new Prime Minister of England less than a week before her own passing. The sacrifices that Her Majesty made to remain the grounding force in a rapidly changing world will be remembered. She was generous with her life and gave in service to her country for 70 years.

May her legacy live on through the reign of Charles III.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Root: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday! I’ve been less present than usual as I’ve worked to settle in to a new school year. Now that August is in the rearview, I hope to return to my usual writing routines. This week I’m excited to be back with my Five Minute Friday community. Our prompt is Root.

vase with a plant inside that has a long root.

I’ve struggled the past few weeks to stay disciplined. My favorite hobbies and activities have taken a backseat to the school year as it unfolded. Much of the free time that I’m used to having for ME was spent preparing (or surviving) the beginning of a new school year. Now that the calendar says “September”, I can begin to put down roots and return to the activities that bring me joy.

-Writing/Editing

-Reading

-Bullet Journaling

-Meal Prepping

-Working out

-Art

-Organizing

August is usually spent carving up and assembling a foundation for the next nine months of the school year. Extra energy goes into planning and implementing strategies for student learning to take root. I come home exhausted each day and my vocal chords are always aching.

As for this year’s students, I am very pleased. They come to class eager to learn and ask great questions during lessons. Their roots have been planted and now is the time to return to my roots. To writing. To editing. To reading. To bullet journaling. To meal prepping. To working out. To art. To organizing.

How can you return to your roots in this new month?

The Ameri Brit Mom

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View: Five Minute Friday

I made it to the end of my first week of school! It’s been exhausting, but so rewarding. I can already tell this year’s students are going to be a lot of fun. So far, 100% of them have participated and that type of engagement is hard to come by in a high school classroom. I’m counting that as a win!

This week, I am joining the Five Minute Friday link-up and our prompt is View.

A sunset view out of a window. The colors are vibrant and beautiful.

I have a dear friend who is suffering. Watching her wrestle with ailments and health issues at such a young age is breaking my heart. My view of the impact this is having on her reveals only a fraction of what it is like to live with these symptoms. She is living with the cloud of a diagnosis weighing on every thought and decision. I cannot imagine how that kind of weight feels.

But for me…

Fear is a very tangible feeling right now. It is heavy. It is thick. It is in my mind constantly no matter how much I try to ignore it. I try to change my point of view, but the shadow of fear is still there.

This week is crucial. And as we wait for a diagnosis and we pray for the best, I have faith that whatever is ahead can be conquered. I’m choosing to have hope despite all odds. That doesn’t mean that fear is absent, but it does mean that I choose to view this journey as just a detour.

The road is still in view ahead and there is much to still be traveled.

*Please join me this week in sending thoughts and prayers to my amazing friend!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Forget: Five Minute Friday

This is the first Friday of the new school year. I am up early and adjusting to my morning schedule. Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Friday without joining my writing pals from Five Minute Friday. This week our prompt is Forget.

image of a small, budding flower with the word "forget" overlaying the photo.

As a new school year begins, let us forget

The past three years, and all their regrets.

All the trouble we faced when we walked in the door,

May we forget each one so learners can soar.

There is hope in beginning

A clean slate, a new chance

To forget all the worries,

And step back in the dance.

There are things that we’ve learned from the world in these days,

Like how teachers should really update their ways.

We grew as a profession-we adapted, reset

Some of those changes we shouldn’t forget.

But it’s time to return to what’s best for our kids.

Distancing and hybrid learning is not what it is.

They need classrooms with teachers who love what they do,

To inspire them to wrestle with things that are new.

Together we can make this the best school year yet,

If we all commit to the goals that we set.

We can achieve so much more when our focus is clear.

May we forget all the struggle and have a great year!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Chance: Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday, and finally the heat spell has broken in the UK! This week the weather broke records and while it felt like we may all just melt we have survived in a country lacking the infrastructure to stand up to excessive heat. I’m joining my positive writing community at Five Minute Friday for this week’s theme: Chance.

What are the chances that I will make it home next week without delay?

I’ve been following the news out of London Heathrow, and things are looking grim. So many long-haul delays and flight cancellations flood my newsfeed. I’ll be heading home at the end of the month, and I am not looking forward to all that is involved with airport travel.

Security can take ages when you travel with a family of four. I’ve stood in lines at Customs for over an hour with a whining toddler in tow. Airports are not always the most efficient at moving people from Point A to Point B.

The chances are pretty high that we will spend more time than at the airport next week.

And if I am stranded in an airport next Friday, chances are that I’ll not be able to join in on the weekly link-up.

Here’s to hoping my chances are better than I’m predicting for arriving home without interruption. If all goes to plan, I’ll be joining you all next week from AMERICA.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Propose: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday from the UK! This week I’ve done a lot more relaxing and reading and that has been my way of coping with this British heat wave. This morning I am joining my favorite little writing community with our Five Minute Friday prompt: Propose.

This weekend our family is embarking in our first ever camping adventure. I’m embarassed to admit that at my age I have never camped in a TENT. Cabin adventures are some of my favorites, but when my sister-in-law initially proposed a family camping trip I was a bit nervous. I love the great outdoors–so don’t get me wrong. It’s just the idea of only a thin layer of fabric separating me from the nocturnal animals that has kept me from really pursuing this type of experience.

Now, it’s the morning of the trip and I find myself excited. I’m looking forward to all of the family time ahead. We have packed some great foods and plenty of drinks that I am also looking forward to devouring. I even walked into town yesterday and bought a new book to read while camping.

So while I was nervous when this idea was proposed initially, I am pleased for the day to be here and to be preparing to make these memories with my family. Who knows, this may be the beginning of a long line of camping trips in our family’s future.

(Photos of this trip will be here next week so be sure to check back!)

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Trust: Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday and my first weekend in the UK. I’ll be here throughout the entire month of July and so the next several FMF posts will be inspired by my travels abroad to spend time with family. This week our prompt is Trust.

When we travel abroad there is a wealth of trust we put in others. We trust that the pilot has been trained and knows the flight path well. We trust that TSA is completing the security checks to prevent dangerous people from embarking with us. We trust the airline to check our bags in correctly instead of damaging or losing our cargo. We trust customs officers to let us cross the border. We trust that taxis and trains are running on time to get us to our final destinations. All of this trust is to ensure that we are safely delivered and the mission completed.

Have you ever had a flight where trust was misplaced?

I’ve flown to England every year since 2007 and so I have a mental list of times when my expectations were not met by those I trusted to get me from Point A to Point B. I’ve had luggage lost. I’ve had to spend six hours on the tarmac. I’ve had flights delayed and flights cancelled.

Luckily, my most recent excursion was free from mishaps. My trust in the airlines and their personel was not betrayed (this time). And as I sit here, thinking about our journey from Columbus to Detroit and then to London, I am thankful that things went off without a hitch this time. These next few days will be spent adjusting to the five hour difference from EST. There will be lost of naps, exercises, and reading sessions to help my body adjust to moving ahead in time.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Guess: Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday and if you’ve been here for a while you know that means Five Minute Friday! On Fridays, I join other writers from around the globe to publish a post inspired by the same topic. This week, our prompt is Guess.

Guess what is coming up soon?

The Ameri Brit Mom is gearing up for the annual trip to England. The name of this blog comes from the fact that I am American married to a British man. We spend one month every year visiting his family and friends back in his hometown. Our trip is just a couple of weeks away and I guess you could say that we are getting excited.

While in England, we usually end up traveling quite a bit. Our homebase is with my father-in-law in Eastleigh (a borough of Southampton). My mother-in-law lives in Portsmouth. My sister-in-law is in Yeovil. And there are various family members scattered throughout in places like Brighton and Dover. I will be doing my usual posts which showcase our journey and travels while in England.

Here are some posts from last year to get you excited about what’s to come:

Quarantine in UK

A Father’s Day English Cream Tea

Long Awaited Cousin Time

Summer in UK

The Ameri Brit Mom