Friday, September 30, 2016

Adapting to life in Vermont

In 2012, I moved from just outside of Philadelphia, Pa. to Middlebury, Vt. This was a significant transition for both myself and my entire family. Through, this process I learned that although adapting to a new environment can be very difficult; with the right tools and frame of mind the transition can be peaceful. Here were some of things that helped me through my transition to a new state and new community.

Middlebury, VT - Photo Credit:
My faith is a huge part of who I am. My wife is originally from Vermont, so when we became engaged we decided to get married in Vermont. The first time we visited Vermont after our engagement we went to see the Father of the local parish. We just knocked on the door of the rectory and Father answered the door with such kindness that I knew at that moment that this community was the place for our family. I put my trust in the Lord, prayed, performed acts of love, and everything worked out just fine.

"The Lord is my light, and my salvation."  (Psalms Chapter 27)

Love – Is there really anything else to say?
"Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians Chapter 13 4:7)

Do you know what really put the icing on the cake? Well, it was really something very simple that is sometimes forgotten: 

"The simple act of a stranger taking the time to greet someone new and introduce themselves made me feel welcome in my new community." 

Mr. Hill and his 7th grade class enjoying "Jeans and Jerseys" Day.
It was very evident everywhere I went that the community I found myself a part of cared about one another. While I am new here at St. Francis Xavier, and I am already feeling comfortable because of this same simple act of kindness. From on outsider’s perspective it was not just an act, but a value that permeates through the community, a positive part of the culture here and a key facet of the virtues of this community.

Middle School Teacher

Saint Francis Xavier School
Developing the whole person:
Academics, Faith, Community and Character

Interested in learning more about Saint Francis Xavier School? Just fill out our inquiry form and someone will be in touch!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Mornings, why do you even exist?

After 3 years of staying at home with my kids (now aged 5 and 3), I’m back at work. I’m so happy to be back at Saint Francis, doing a job that I love. But, somedays, I feel very lucky to have made it to school in one piece! Getting two kids and myself ready to be out the door at 7:00 is not an easy feat. The fact that I can’t wear my yoga pants to work everyday makes it even harder! Just the other day, I popped the button on my pants. Not because they’re too small (well, maybe a little) but because I was rushing to button them and pulled too hard. My husband (who is very helpful) keeps asking, how can we make this easier? In the moment, of course, it’s “we can’t!” This is said with as much attitude as my threenager gives when we tell her she can’t have pirate booty for breakfast. But, in all seriousness, there are things we can do to make our working parent lives easier. Here is a list I’ve come up with, some of these things I already do, others are possibly just a pipe dream. One can hope!

Make lunches the night before.
This can seem like a very daunting task. If you’re like me, after work you are so exhausted you’re tempted to ask your 5 year old make dinner and your 3 year old to pour your wine. :) But, I’ve found that if I make tomorrow’s lunches as soon as I get home (BEFORE sitting down, sit down and it’s all over) it makes the morning that much easier. My son eats peanut butter and honey every day, so sometimes I make sandwiches for the whole week at once and freeze them. By lunch, the sandwich is good to go. 

Do you need some lunch idea inspiration?  Check out the blog: "What Lisa Cooks".

Pick out clothes the night before.
This is a great thing to do with your children. If they don’t wear uniforms, it’s even harder. Let them pick out their clothes, down to the socks and shoes, the night before. This can clear up some of that “No, I don’t want to wear my blue socks, I want my pink socks!” stuff. In my case, I need to make sure they have clean uniforms. Pick out your own clothes too. This one, I have yet to master. But, I know when I do my morning will be so much nicer!

Get up early!
If you are like me, you need some quiet time. This will not happen for me if I don’t try to get up at least a half hour before my kids. It’s so much easier to get things together if you’re doing it without the kids running about. I use my time to have a quiet cup of coffee and relax then eat my own breakfast and begin to get myself ready. Some days, I actually make the kids breakfast before they wake up and put it on the table. Those days are the best days. They don’t happen often.

Have a specific place to put school stuff.
For us, this place is currently the floor in the living room. But, one day, when the mood strikes us, we will be putting up hooks for their backpacks and jackets with baskets below for their shoes, boots, winter gear, (yes, I said winter) etc. The goal would be to make sure all of this stuff gets into the basket when it comes home…...if I think it, it will happen, right? Really though, if it’s all in one place that saves you the time of running around looking for things in the morning.

Breathe and take some time.
I know there are mornings and days where if feels like there’s barely a second to take a breath. I have them often. When it feels like everything is chaotic, it’s the best time to stop. Pause and breathe. You are a great parent and you are doing your best. That’s all we can do. And take some time for yourself. We have to take care of our needs in order to care for others. Yesterday I got to walk in the woods alone. That’s my happy place. Go to yours when you can. Ask for help. You’re not alone!

Pleasant mornings, make for pleasant days. Think about what you need to do to make your morning better. I hope this list of things helps. If you have others you’d like to share with me, please do!

Saint Francis Xavier School
Developing the whole person:
Academics, Faith, Community and Character

Interested in learning more about Saint Francis Xavier School? Just fill out our inquiry form and someone will be in touch!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Homework Planner - Your New Best Friend!

A homework planner is one tool in school, which helps to establish successful organizational skills, from the very beginning of the school year to the very end of the school year. Many adults have planners/calendars they use to help keep them organized at work and home as well which is a wonderful way to model the success to their children.

Homework planners are used to keep track of many tasks. First of all, a homework planner has pages for daily assignments. There are also monthly calendars to write in long term projects and assignments, tests, special school events, vacations, sports practice times and birthdays just to mention a few. Homework planners often include some excellent reference pages such as prayers, Holy days, maps, states, countries, abbreviations, grammar help, science charts and math notes.

After a full day of school, classes will often write down homework together. This is an excellent opportunity to work on listening and copying skills, listing accurate assignments and dates and most importantly being responsible to keep track of these assignments by completing and turning them is on time. These organizational steps are not only helpful to the students, but also for parents. The homework planner serves as a wonderful means of communication for parents to know what there is for homework, short and long term.

Homework planners should be brought home each night. Sometimes a student gets home and can’t remember if they had some or no homework. Students simply need to open their planner and check. This will easily help alleviate the possibility of any unnecessary stress by filling the planner out and bringing it home each night.

"Homework planners are excellent tools
in developing strong organization skills." 

All parents, I’m sure, will echo the importance of being organized and prepared for school and the future.

Most likely you will be using a planner to copy homework, due dates for projects, etc. Look at it! Some assignments are due the next day and some are given on Monday and not due until Friday. If you have soccer practice on Monday and Wednesday make sure you organize your time to do the work on Tuesday or Thursday.

Some helpful tips...
  • Never leave assignments until the last minute.
  • When you are done, put the work in your backpack where it belongs. This will make it easier for you to find in the morning at school, so you can hand it in on time.

Saint Francis Xavier School
Developing the whole person:
Academics, Faith, Community and Character

Interested in learning more about Saint Francis Xavier School? Just fill out our inquiry form and someone will be in touch!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Power of Choice

Before I was a teacher I was a nanny for a family of 7 children. Yes, 7 children! I was still in college, barely out of my teens, and responsible for 7 young lives. In order to not go nuts and have 7 children going 7 different ways, I needed a general management strategy for every day. Thank the Lord for education courses because right around that time a genius professor told us about guided choices.

The trick that makes this a win win, is that regardless the choice made, you as the adult get the desired outcome and the child gets to practice free will. If there is a child in your life that needs some gentle guidance try a choice.

Example: Your child likes to run into the road. (Clearly a choice needed some redirecting.) Give them the option that together you hop across the road like bunnies OR they hold your hand. Both choices give you the desired outcome, the child crossed the street safely and with you. The child will then feel empowered because they helped make a choice for their body. Everyone wins!

This can be used in the classroom or home. Kid's "hate" veggies? Let them pick what vegetable is put on their plate to eat. Kid's "hate" homework? Let them pick the way they practice their spelling list. This can be used in so many situations everywhere!

So, get out there, make choices, and good luck!

Ms. Alex Poirier
Kindergarten Teacher
St. Francis Xavier School

Saint Francis Xavier School
Developing the whole person:
Academics, Faith, Community and Character

Interested in learning more about Saint Francis Xavier School? Just fill out our inquiry form and someone will be in touch!