Winter Break is Here!

Winter Break is Here!

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We recently finished classes. I can’t quite believe that I’m 3/4 of the way through graduate school. This break couldn’t have come at a better time. I feel very ready to kick up my heels with a strong cup of coffee and read the first non-education purchase I’ve made in quite some time.

Grad school makes you extremely grateful for the quiet pockets of in-between time that belong completely to you. I get to decide how I want to spend the next three weeks! Crazy, right? Honestly though, I think graduate school is good preparation for what my teaching schedule will feel like. And, I kind of love the busy time, because it makes reading the biography of Rin Tin Tin feel so decadent.

I was thinking that for this blog post, as sort of a holiday present to everyone, I’d share some of the things I’ve enjoyed in the quiet moments between class over the past year. Some are super regional and some can be enjoyed by all. Consider it my stamp of approval, along with my invitation to you to take some time for yourself over the next couple of weeks for things you really enjoy.

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The first thing I highly recommend is that you go out and rent Beasts of the Southern Wild. It was filmed independently in New Orleans and is an excellent representation of some of the young, powerful voices operating out of that city. Plus, the little girl in it might be the best performance of the year. If she doesn’t win an Oscar, I will be very upset. I even recommend you download the soundtrack, as it is fierce. After you finish listening to it, check out this podcast where they nominate it for a Golden Brick award. Filmspotting comes out every Friday, and it is excellent for long CTA commutes. It also helps you feel connected to what’s happening outside the world of school, which is very important to my general well-being.

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The next thing I recommend you do is listen to this song. Yes, it is about snack food. It was written by middle school students in Minneapolis. In their after-school RAP club. The instructor said that the goal isn’t for the kids to feel like they can be rappers, but rather that they feel like they have an outlet for creative self-expression. I am all about youth empowerment, so when this song comes on my iPod, I have to stop what I’m doing and dance as hard as I can. My taste in music this year has been greatly diversified thanks to  Dance Dance Party Party, which is another thing I’d highly recommend. All of the stress from the week melts away on the dance floor each week. It is my absolute favorite thing in Chicago, and, awesomely, it exists all over the country.

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My final recommendation is education related, because it will always inevitably come back to school with me. On a particularly stressful day, I happened to turn on This American Life to catch their Back to School Edition. It came during the teacher strike, so I wasn’t sure what it would contain. What I found was a truly brilliant talk about a focus on social emotional learning for students who live in poverty. Despite its serious tone, I felt inspired and rocked to the core to try to find ways to incorporate the Illinois State Social and Emotional learning standards into my next lesson. I hope that some of this brings joy to you for the holidays (and beyond)! Cheers!