Tag: Babson

first day

First Day Back To Class: Kids, Teachers, and Moms

Posted on September 2, 2019 by

The first day back to class is always full of adrenaline, expectation and fun for me. I’m exhausted at the end of the week, but it’s a good kind of teacher tired. It reminds me that teaching is hard work – if you want to do it right. It’s the kind of fatigue that builds from beginning to create a community from nothing – the first step in letting kids know you’re paying attention to them so they trust you. And it’s beginning to balance kids, teaching, and motherhood – even when I’ve got an empty nest at home.

The first day, first class of 2019

The first day

In my very, very small reading class, I have the opportunity to connect quickly with my students. We sit on stools and cushions together around a low coffee-style table, face to face. The first day of school this year was also the day my son was leaving the nest and flying to college in Boston. Being a teacher mom has these moments of feeling stretched between two worlds – do we focus on our own child and their needs, or tuck that away and see the kids in front of us. Of course, I try to do both and sometimes it doesn’t work out so well.

The empty nest

This year I didn’t get to see my son off at the airport, and I was sad. I stuffed it away for the morning of teaching, but at lunch when I had a few quiet moments I texted him to see if he made it out of our house ok. Sure enough, he was on his way to the airport and said he’d call when he was settled. The call came just as the bell was ringing for my 5th-period reading class – what do I do? Greet my students with a phone in my hand? Ignore them as they come in the door, knowing it will be weird for them to not see a whole class full of kids? Ignore my son…somehow I needed to balance it. I wanted to show my students the human side of me – the mamawolfe side.

So, quickly I answered the call, hung up, and brought my new readers into a circle. Introducing myself, I told them how happy I was to be their teacher and told them that my own son needed help, he was traveling to college and asked their permission to be a mom while they browsed the books in my classroom library and relaxed.

Of course, they said ok.

Building the relationships

After a few minutes of helping Cam get his boarding pass situated, I was back to the group. And naturally, they had questions. How old was my son? Where was he flying to? What did he need help with? How many kids did I have? Did I have a pet? Where is Massachusetts? Where is Boston? What began as a dilemma had turned into a very teachable moment. We used our US map and found his college, and talked about moving away from home. Quietly, the dark-haired boy to my left said, “I just moved away, too. I used to live in Oakland, but now I live here.”

I was pretty sure no one else heard him. He kept his eyes down, either shy or scared or both. I twisted around and replied, “Oh wow- Oakland is sure a whole lot different from Davis, don’t you think?”

He looked up. “Yeah. It’s a lot quieter.” His voice was a touch louder, but I could still tell he wasn’t ready to open up. The other kids were caught up in their picture book selections and relaxed on beanbags, so I pushed a bit.

“How long ago did you move?” I asked.

His stomach rumbled in the quiet room. Even though we had just come from lunch, I whispered, “Are you hungry?”

“No,” he quickly replied, barely audible.

“Ok; I have granola bars and crackers if you ever want anything….”

“Granola,” he blurted out before I could finish. Silently I stood up, went to my cabinet and grabbed a chocolate chip chewy bar and a small bag of pretzels from my snack drawer. Without speaking, I put them on the table in front of him and sat back down.

Like any teenage boy, he gulped down the snacks as I sat next to him, reading along with my other students. He stood up, dropped his wrappers in the trash and as he sat back down beside me, he asked if I’ve ever been to Oakland.

The moment

That moment – like an electrical charge – broke the ice, the first step taken. We connected. I think he felt my care for him; his body visibly relaxed into his chair. We talked about my grand-doodle Ellie, and other kids jumped in to tell about their dogs. I promised to show a picture of her the next day, and suddenly the class was over. I asked if he knew where to go next, and his quick reply reminded me of what it’s like being the ‘new kid’ in school. Glancing at his schedule I suggested I could walk with him – he was going to one of my favorite teacher’s classes.

“Sure…” his voice came out in a whisper-question, but I went with it. As we approached his history class, I introduced him to his teacher as he greeted kids at the door, knowing they were both Oakland fans. He would be safe in there.

What happened next

In truth, that’s not all of the story – it’s actually not even my favorite part. What happened the next day was where I really realized the power of connections, and what we had done together.

“B” walked back into my room the next day and looked straight at me and said hello as I brought my stool up to the coffee table. The shyness of the first day disappeared, and as the other kids were wiggling around with their backpacks and books, “B” said, “Ms. Wolfe, I have a question. Did your son make it to Boston OK?”

Startled, I looked back at him and replied, “Why yes he did – thank you for asking. I’m sorry yesterday started off a little weird, but he’s there now and I’m here and ready to read!”

“B” smiled and cracked open his book, settling back into the grey Papasan chair I had brought from my son’s bedroom at home. “B”, about the same age Cam was when he used to curl up in it, too, relaxed in his safe space.

I had to go over to my desk for a moment…I knew the tears were coming. Being a teacher-mom is like that. Relationships happen in the most unexpected ways at the most unusual times. Opening up to kids and letting them see YOU helps them open right back up and lets you see THEM. And that’s where the magic can really start to happen.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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College Tours In Boston: Visiting Northeastern, Babson, Harvard and Bentley

Posted on April 5, 2017 by

Part of my teaching job is running our AVID program, which specifically prepares students for college and careers. I absolutely love that part of my job. I love helping kids see their futures, plan their goals and prepare for their dreams.

When it’s my own kid, I love it in a different way.

It’s like investing with someone else’s money. You care, you try to make the best choices to ensure a strong return. I do all that with my students. But when it’s my kid, sometimes my emotions get in the way.

Like when my youngest child is starting to prepare to go to college.

And when he says he wants to move across the country when he graduates next year.

I’m not sure if it’s really any easier the second time around. In 2013 I wrote about taking my daughter on college tours to Oregon and Washington, and I shared my feelings about her moving to go to school in Utah. I wrote a letter to her, and each year I’ve tried to share the changing emotions and dynamics of parenting your child from afar.

With my son, I’ve got a similar, yet different challenge. He wants to move from our home in California to Boston to fulfill his college dreams.

I’d never been to Boston before; neither had he, actually. So while most of his friends were doing the University of California college tours over spring break, I figured we’d better take a road (er, air) trip and check out the other side of the country.

Now, I’m pretty west coast. So is he. We love the mountains and the snow doesn’t bother us – lucky thing, since Boston was full of it. Our first stop was Northeastern University, located smack inside the city. In fact, we had trouble telling where the city ended and the campus began! Northeastern is a unique college offering a program called ‘co-ops’, where students are able to work at paid internships for 6 months, three times during their college experience. It makes the total number of years in school longer, but what a cool opportunity!

Can you believe these are dorms? Boston’s buildings are so full of beautiful architectural details; it makes walking around the city feel like strolling in an outdoor museum.

Our second stop was Babson College a very small private college in the suburbs of Boston. Babson is known for their entrepreneurial business program; in fact, they only offer a B.S. in Business, and students are able to concentrate on different functions of business as they earn their degree. Babson was the most beautiful campus we visited. The buildings were mainly brick, and the campus was a combination of grassy open spaces and forests of trees. I can only imagine the fall colors!

Despite having to trudge through the rain and snow while touring the campus, I was happy that we got to see what winter would look like in the northeast – definitely different spring conditions here than in California!

We were pleasantly surprised to see that despite their historic appearance, most buildings we toured were very modern inside.

Babson is known for hosting international students, as well as offering study abroad programs aligned with many international businesses.

I thought this classroom was particularly cool – the walls are whiteboards, and freshmen students spend an entire year utilizing this space to create, pitch, plan, market and sell a business. I love the real life applications – students will definitely learn if studying business is their niche!

The dorms below all center around a grassy quad. Most Babson students live on campus – can’t you just imagine this on a sunny day, full of students studying on the lawn?

Babson’s mascot is the beaver…

From Babson, our next stop was Harvard. My first impression? Tourists. Everywhere. Visiting Harvard’s campus felt more like visiting a historic monument than a college campus – kind of a turn-off. I don’t think I’d want to have to navigate people with selfie sticks on my way to class every day, would you?

But then again, if you want to feel like you’re going to school at Hogwarts, Harvard might be the place for you!

Our last college tour was Bentley University, another smallish private school located in the Boston suburbs. Bentley is another beautiful campus located along and atop a hill. That means a LOT of stairs! Bentley is also known for its business program, and the campus also had the beautiful historic feel of a northeastern school.

Bentley has its own trading room, where students learn investing skills by utilizing live stock market access.

It was pouring rain during our Bentley tour, but like Babson, can you just imagine the trees bursting to life? Or the brilliance of the fall leaves? College in Boston definitely will be beautiful, wherever he chooses.

Bentley is larger than Babson, but still has a nice community layout.

Many private colleges require interviews as part of the admissions progress. At Bentley, I got to nervously wait outside. I appreciated the descriptors!

As much as I love college tours, I couldn’t wait to see a bit of the history of the Boston area. Top of my list was Salem – the witch museum, taverns and walking on the jetty were such a special way to end our memorable trip.

Four days and four nights were just enough to get a taste of Boston, and enough to get me thinking of all the other adventures and restaurants and coastlines we could see…the bright side of thinking about my boy moving so far away, I guess.

Until next time…

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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