Monday, June 8, 2009

Creating My Own Homeschool Conference and a Plan for More "Teacher Inservice"

Our local homeschool conference was this weekend in Houston. I have attended for three summers now and received great encouragement each time. I had pre-purchased my ticket and was ready to go...until I sat down on Thursday night to read over the seminar schedule. There were lots of new speakers and several new workshops on all sorts of topics. But none of them spoke to me and where I am in my journey. I couldn't justify spending two days and a half a tank of gas to sit listening to talks that really didn't apply to me at this time. Not that they weren't great; they were. They just weren't great for me.

Immediately a thought jumped into my mind, "Why not plan my own two-day conference?" Dh was already planning on staying with the kids and I really needed some time off re-ignite the fire that had somewhat dimmed in recent months. I made my own schedule, packed a bag full of books and goodies, grabbed the laptop and headed off to Panera Bread, a place with free Wi-Fi and yummy food. I think their Cinnamon Crunch Bagel and Honey Walnut Spread just may be my new passion in life. ;) I spent the next two days reading, researching, listening, reflecting and journaling. I was able customize my day and utilize so many mediums: books, websites, blogs, message boards, my trusty journal and seminars on MP3. It was wonderful, enriching and a very motivating time.

I missed the fellowship of friends but most of them were not attending the conference this year for various reasons anyway. I also missed walking around the Exhibit Hall at the conference; it's so fun to see all the great resources out there. But I had fun replacing that with time walking around Lakeshore Learning. I found some great things to add to our wishlist!

Saturday when my "conference" was done, I thought back to when I was a ps teacher; we had regular "Staff Development" and/or "Teacher Inservice" days scattered throughout the year. They were nice days to recharge batteries, get some fresh ideas and have a little fun in the process. As a homeschooler I could definitely benefit from some ongoing "Staff Development" so I decided I will try to schedule my own "Teacher In-Service" days about once every eight weeks or so. Next time I will invite other homeschool moms to join me. We may all be doing different things but just to be able to visit on our breaks would be such a treat!

Here is the schedule I went by:

And here are links to most of the things listed in the schedule:

Charlotte Mason, Volume 6 in Modern English at Ambleside Online
HANDLE Therapy
Grace Based Parenting
AO - Ambleside Online
SCM - Simply Charlotte Mason
Laying Down the Rails MP3 from SCM
Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival
Higher Up and Further In Blog
Handbook of Nature Study Blog
Lakeshore Learning
Masterly Inactivity e-book from SCM

If you are thinking about your own planning your own conference/teacher inservice here is what I would suggest for your consideration:

1. Start making a list now of things you might like to do. Research online seminars you can download and or CD talks you can go ahead and order so they are ready. What homeschool related books are sitting half-finished or maybe haven't even been started? Any new curriculum you've been wanting to take a good long look at? Order the catalog now so it's ready. Need time to do some goal-setting or long term planning?

2. Then, prioritize. I tried to make the majority of my conference a time of enrichment. Conferences are supposed to motivate, inspire, introduce new ideas or new ways of doing things. Make sure your conference has plenty of time for personal growth, not just practical planning out your year (although I did a tiny bit of that, too). This is a time to recharge batteries! What will recharge you?

3. Make a schedule and stick to it, just like you would at a real conference. The accountability of having mine printed and on the table next to me kept me on-task and not mentally wandering off.

4. When I made my schedule, I tried to alternate between reading, computer time and listening. I didn't want to be staring at a computer screen for 4 straight hours or plan all my reading back to back.

5. If you have a laptop, research places with wi-fi, preferably free to keep costs low. If you don't but internet access is needed during your time, consider going to a library so you can use their computers. When choosing a place for my days, I chose restaurants where you order at a counter and get your own drinks; tips are not expected. If you go to a traditional restaurant and sit in a server's section for several hours, it is appropriate to tip him/her enough to make up for the money s/he would have made from all the tables during the time you sat there. Now if you are there during a dead time and you are really, really low maintenance (don't need your drink refilled every two minutes) , don't worry too much. Can you tell I worked at restaurants for years? ;)

My two days were just the start of my plan to fight off the burn out I've been facing. And what a great start it was!


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bye-Bye Long Hair

I cut 10 inches of hair and donated it to Locks of Love. I was ready for a change and it was great to be able to help someone else at the same time. It is still long enough to pull back but just barely. I will miss my long hair but with Houston's lovely heat and humidity it would have been stuck in a pony tail for the next four months anyway. All in all, a good move for a mom about to spend the summer at the pool and beach with her sweet boys! :)


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Our First Butterfly Emerged!

This actually happened a few weeks ago but I forgot to post the pictures! This is the monarch that emerged from here... The chrysalis changes from its jade green to completely transparent. I took this photo at 5:45 am as I was headed out for coffee with a friend. I was so hoping she would stay put until I got home.

Unfortunately Mother Nature didn't honor my request. ;) At 7:15 am Dh took this photo...

Gorgeous! She hung there until about noon when she started to flutter away. I ran out with my camera to get a photo and almost tripped over this guy below right outside my back door (I took this pic after I had moved him into the shade until I figured out what to do.)

The next few hours were spent tracking down someone who would take and rehab this Mourning Dove. There have been doves nesting on our roof since we have lived here. They have brought us so much joy over the years so we really wanted to help him. It took most of the rest of the afternoon to find someone who didn't live an absurd distance from me but in the end it was so worth it. The lady I brought him to took one look at the bird and said that one dose of one medication would fix him up. Without it he would have died very soon.

Encounters with nature in our tiny suburban backyard. Who knew?! :)