haLfwaY tHerE


The buzzing alarm clock that startles you out of sweet, sweet dreams into the darkness of your frazzled morning is by no means friendly.  (BUZZZZZ…)  Open your eyes.  Quickly!  The abnormally freezing cold of winter; the unimaginable storms that continue to blanket our front lawns and backyard swing sets; the must to have snow boots handy at any given moment accompanied by a shovel and ice brush are in need of your attention – immediately.  The closed-eyed shower.  Fumbling and bumbling around while simultaneously getting dressed, blow drying your hair, making coffee all the while trying your darndest to remain quiet as to not wake other household members is…

Well…quite frankly…getting old; quickly.

The harried morning commute – windshield wipers flailing against the hail and tires shifting in the opposite direction to protect you from skidding– allows you to greet your students (with a smile, but of course!) on yet another cold and unpredictable winter morning.

You made it.

I made it.

We made it.

We have all made it to the half way point of our school year.  Students have pushed themselves in ways we could not have anticipated.  Educators have moved through obstacles with grace and poise.  Administration is pushing harder than ever.  Mother Nature has joined the club.

In the vein of reflection, doesn’t this seem like an integral point to stop…reflect…plan…and dig deep to find our reasons for trailblazing forth?  I think so.  So, here’s what I’ve been doing to keep warm during a brutally chilling winter:

To warm my HEART: I stop planning.  Aside from lesson plans, I have no plan.  I realize that when I stop planning every minute of my day, the most beautiful of moments surface.

From a quick drop in (“Just checking in, Ms. Bogdany.  You good?”) to a first-time-independent-reader so engrossed in Hill Harper’s Letters to an Incarcerated Brother he insists on marking pages to share with me as he passes by during the day.

From a very simple high-five in celebration of a special moment to a poet sky writing his inner most thoughts regarding his hometown.

Sky Writing

See the island of Manhattan, smaller borough
Back on Staten
Cross the county of the kings, then you make your way
to Queens…..

From a post-Regents philosophical discussion about Malcolm X’s beliefs and convictions to a colleague swinging by with, “Your previous Multi-Genre Writing students insisted that Ashlee, whom you didn’t have, show you her creative writing piece because it’s astounding.  They wanted you to see it.  Here it is.”

If my door was closed and my agenda had continued to take control of my day, these beautiful moments that inspire me, would be lost.

To warm my SOUL: I read voraciouslyI live in a sea of literature.  From gathering books from the laundry room’s shared library to the continually growing Francis Gittens Lending Library; I am never sans a book.  Often, I am juggling a few and that includes my new found interest with audio books.  From Room 382 to Apt. 2 (whether themed by topic or color) my soul sings in the presence of literature.

Books Everywhere

New books on display. Students love working among literature…lots and lots of literature.

Rainbow Library

Welcome to my rainbow library. It continues to grow with pieces I’d never imagined would find their home here.
(Feel free to click on the picture to take a peek at the titles.)

And really, what better way to keep warm (during this winter full of icicles) than with a book of choice; pomegranate spice scented candles; and blackberry-vanilla decaf tea?

To warm my MIND: I ask for help when I know I need it.  Yup, pride aside.  Wild, I know.  While I try to be all things for my students, there’s a reality.  And that reality is simple – no one educator can be all things for his/her students.  So, we must find those we trust, branch out, ask for a helping hand and push forward together.  It would be an injustice to not bring them into my ‘teaching loop’ to help motivate and encourage each student they’ve built trust with.  I need them to show me the way.

I also reach out to my PLN, no matter how far, they are always there to help guide, attempt humor, and support in soulful ways.  Their insight and guidance is always a surefire way to refocus my attention to the authenticity of educating.  Of this I could not be more grateful.

So, while we are all bundling up this winter and trying our very best to remain focused in-spite of the blistery weather – which does not seem to be going anywhere, anytime soon – we have much to celebrate.  We’re halfway there!  And instead of looking toward the finish line, let’s all take a moment to enjoy the snow filled scenery and the halfway mark.  It really is a warm place to be.


It’s warm in here! And so beautiful out there!



3 thoughts on “haLfwaY tHerE

  1. Charlie Bogdany February 3, 2014 at 8:42 am Reply

    Great writing, well done ,Love Dad


  2. Amy February 1, 2014 at 5:33 pm Reply

    Shanna beat me to it. The timing of this piece warms my heart better than the Texas sun in August. (See what I did there?) Sometimes the halfway mark feels like a beat down–at least to me. Maybe because our fall semester is shorter than our spring, and it’s more dread looking ahead than fatigue looking behind. Whatever the case, you remind me here to stop, reflect, breathe, relax…something I really am trying to do better. I rake the sand in my zen garden, shake around my rain stick, run my fingers through the peace chimes on the shelf in my classroom, and I remember why I wanted to be an educator anyway. Thank your for this piece (peace) today.


  3. shanakarnes February 1, 2014 at 10:10 am Reply

    Erika, first of all, I love the tYpInG oF yOuR tItLe!!! 🙂

    The warmth of your heart, soul, and mind are so well stated and so needed at this time of year! I love your plans for keeping all of those parts of your teaching self intact. And I ADORE your color-coordinated bookshelf! I hope to try to do that this month while I have time thanks to all of our snow days.

    A pleasure to read your optimistic writing, as always. Miss you!!


What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: