Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Perception is Reality

Sadly I admit,
that your perception is reality,
albeit your reality,
but still reality.

If you see me a certain way,
that doesn't mean that
I am that mean person,
it just means that's how you see me.

I don't want you to see me that way;
I want you to know my intentions,
I want you to see both sides,
I want you to understand
who I am,
as I need
to be heard,
I need you to listen.

Perhaps as that youngest child
long ago
whose voice was unheard,
I need to find a way to be heard.

I need you to know
that I am working hard,
trying hard,
that my knowledge counts
as something.

I need you to see both sides.
Why is it that with you
my voice is like nails on a chalkboard.
Are you even listening?

You say your words--
You get up,
you leave,
you shut me off.

Maybe my approach
needs to change.
Maybe I need to let go of what I need.
I need to listen.
I need to meet you where you are.
I need to understand your reality.

Now will you try to get mine?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Forget it All

This time of year,
it's more than I can bear.
I can't keep up,
with all my stuff.
Too much work to do,
I am never through.
I am sinking in the grading abyss,
some things  I just miss.
Trying to climb out
In anguish I shout.
Sleep deprivation gets to my head.
Forget it all--I'm going to bed.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wisdom Waits

Wisdom comes in times of quiet and solitude,
resting quietly beside me,
nudging me forward.
Driving moments, shower moments, blogging moments--
those times when wisdom beckons, 
and I press inward, 
Write with us at Two Writing Teachers.
and see my internal reflection
with all its inadequacies
and wonder who I am, 
who I am becoming,
and who I haven't become. 

Cynicism and Impatience,
my manipulative friends,
molding me into someone
who I don't want to become,
I am disfigured--
expecting too much from some,
not giving enough to others.
Losing focus of what's important,
not meeting people where they are,
and struggling to love my neighbors, 
both young and grown.

Empathy and Compassion beckon me.
Wisdom waits.
In my moment of solitude,
I am alone and disfigured,
pressing inward and
looking on.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Friend Beyond Words

When we first met, she told me we would always be friends 
even if it didn’t work out between her son and me.
I left her son two months before the wedding—
still she remained my friend.
I went back to school to become a teacher—
she paid my tuition, 
telling me she wanted to see me become 
the great teacher she knew I could become
only asking I one day do the same for someone else.

She met the man I would marry—
she told me she could see why I waited for so long.
She welcomed my children
calling herself Granny Anni.

Exhausted from trips to doctor, my dad dying of cancer
like one of my family, she took him to doctors’ appointments,
giving us a rest in a time of need.
When Dad died
she came with goodbye balloons for the kids to release into the air
notes on strings, a tangible and personal goodbye for each grandkid.

A heart shoved aside, an aortic aneurysm, 
three more surgeries to brave
she presses on with strength and fortitude.
Her family and friends watch in amazement
as strong as ever, physically and mentally
her new nickname
Hurricane Anni, she is on the move
strong, stubborn, and steadfast.

Keep my friend, Anni in your prayers as tomorrow she faces her second open heart surgery. Pray that the surgery goes well and that she is able to paint again one day soon.

Anni Painting

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sock Sestina

A Slice of Life with Two Writing Teachers
Each week we blog as teacher writers.  

A Sock Sestina

Enveloped in comfort,
A blanket for my feet
With coziness of toes.
My fuzzy socks
put me in a happy mood,
cozy and off work.

Uncomfortable at work
Socks falling down, feeling dis-comfort.
I am in a miserable mood
with socks scrunched up at my feet.
I'm throwing these socks away
as a favor to my toes.

Why should I separate my toes?
With socks that are too much work
Toes should should be one in their socks.
Toes divided--that is not comfort
for your feet
Toe socks, in my world, you have no place.

Striped, patterned and colorful socks you enliven my mood,
Elaborate detail to my  toes,
and happiness on my feet,
Having fun at work,
This is a sort of comfort
with whimsy of my socks.

A hole in my favorite socks,
Can't find a replacement any place,
Cold and without comfort,
Nothing to cover my toes,
I think I'll stay home from work,
And put a blanket over my feet.

Socks with sandals on your feet,
Have you no dignity for your socks?
Maybe you're retired and no longer work,
To speak of this is not my place,
Be proud of your ugly toes,
and enjoy the breeze of comfort.

Feet have their special place,
with happy toes housed in socks,
knowing comfort even at work.

relaxing in my fuzzy socks

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Evolution of Wishes

I wished I could be her,
a black woman teacher,
just for a day.
When I said that, she chuckled and said,
"Oh Maya, you would love it."
At the time, I knew she was right.
To be her would have given me
the attitude of a loving mom
who cares, who shares,
who doesn't take junk,
who demands the best.

Now my wish is different.
I wish I could share
some of what I have with others...
I have an energy that is contagious,
passion for what I do.
I have fun interacting, teaching, and learning.
working hard to engage, inspire, and reach.
As a student told me last week,
I am persistent--finding new ways for them to "get" it,
never giving up.

Last year, I  joked saying we would watch paint dry,
when asked what we were doing tomorrow.
A student gave an excited, "REALLY??!!"
Energy and passion are contagious--
and need to be spread up and down
the halls of our schools.

To help others
be present,
and to be willing to say,
"I don't know. Let's find out."

I might miss a detail,
get lost in a moment,
talk too quickly,
get behind on some things,
accumulate clutter,
forget to follow up,
but I am who I am
becoming comfortable in my own shoes,
filling them out.

Today a friend said to me,
"You have fun. I need to have more fun."
And now my wish is no longer
for me but for her.
Not for her to be me,
though she might enjoy it for a day,
but to find who she needs to be
comfortable in her own shoes,
as she discovers what ignites her passion
and fills her own shoes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stop Now

After stopping by my blog on too many a grading evening, I just toppled over. Well, I put my head down on my desk while I tried to regain my strength. I stood up to get a paper for a student and saw compassion and concern in the eyes of the 6th graders. Then, someone from the back said, "Mrs. Woodall, you need to go home." I mean too many late nights and early mornings, and I nearly fell out in class.

My husband tells me I should sleep more. My coworkers tell me I should sleep more. My students tell me I should sleep more. Until my body just stops, I keep pushing myself and don't listen to any of the people who can see what I'm doing to myself.

When I made it to the doctor, he tested me for strep, the flu, and pneumonia. All came back negative. I think my body was just resounding an emphatic, "Stop now!"

That was last Tuesday, so needless to say, I didn't make it through the school day, I hardly made it to the doctor, I didn't blog, I didn't make it my conferences--all I did was crash and burn.

Now I'm back. I have been up since 4:30 AM, and it is now 11:05. I have nothing of literary merit to write. I just am writing to say. "Here I am. Now I'm going to bed."

Thanks for making me write, even when it's not much. You Slicers are an awesome group.

Goodnight. I must stop now.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stopping by My Blog on a Grading Evening

      With my sincerest apologies to Robert Frost for what I've done to his snowy woods.

This stack of papers here they grow
Using  this rubric sure is slow
Cannot sleep, disturbing the flow
Grades due so soon, oh no.
I’d like to end my grading here   
And let this assessment just go.

You must think my assessment queer
To grade until morning is near.
I’ve had all of this Common Core rubric I can take
The grades are not too good I fear.

I reassess and give my head a shake
And ask if this grade is a mistake.   
The only sound’s the  pen’s sweep   
Common Core writing is not cake.

Some with analysis so deep.   
Yet so many more still to reach,  
And papers to go before I re-teach,   
And papers to go before I re-teach.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Around the Dial

My favorite local FM station is shutting down, becoming sports' talk radio. Just what we need more talk radio. Here is my poem for Dave FM. I will miss them.

Radio tunes to iTunes,
Pandora's box opened--
I should have Spotified
the waves of change.
FM now XM,
the dial,
I find nothing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tornado of Thoughts

Writing teachers, slice with me. Go to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/

A tornado descends,
the whirlwind
of to dos--
strewn about,
the cyclone of 
what's lost,

The tornado chasers grow weary
from the futility of the pursuit
of these tornado thoughts
Off the scale--
impossible to stop,
all around--
the "to dos"
the must dos,
the crucial,
the undone,

Suddenly the storm stops,
the debris of dendrites
strewn about--
a wandering mind,
driven to distraction,
creative bursts,
a spirit of inquiry
impulsive answering,
the havoc wrought
by the tornado of her mind.

The recovery effort--
where to begin?
What to tackle first?
One thing begun,
interrupted by another
Two things begun,
both undone.

Needing redirection,
forgetting the essentials,
leaving out what's important
caught up in distractions,
never getting it quite right,
encumbered by her own whirlwind,
missing moments and losing sleep
lost in the violence of her own storm,
a self-created vortex of despair
her tornado of thoughts.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Finding Space, Making Time


Ah...it's Tuesday, almost Wednesday--
Time for
finding space
making time
to write.
to write, again.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Common Core--You're a bore!

Common core,
you're a bore.
Appendix C,
the writing I abhor.

I'm venting here...

I just printed out an "exemplar" text from the Common Core site. This 8th grade informative/explanatory text does not even have a lead. Really?  Are you kidding me? This is a model text. My units are given to me to modify, the exemplars meet the standards, but they are boring. Boring. This formal academic style of writing with so little voice is scaring me tonight.

Tomorrow my students and I will evaluate this writing piece according to the standards and the rubric and discuss what makes it good and discuss where it can improve. I am wondering if my students will notice how boring the writing is and how it does little to engage the reader.

Of course, engaging the reader is no longer a part of my standards. Here are my standards:

W.6.2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
  • Introduce a topic; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
  • Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
  • Use appropriate transitions to clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.
  • Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
  • Establish and maintain a formal style.
  • Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from the information or explanation presented.
Should I even focus on leads/grabbers? Do they even matter any longer?  

Here is the student sample texts in case you're interested:

There are parts of CC I am enjoying, but there are other parts that have me asking where am I, where will I go, how will I find myself in all of this?

Common Core,
you're a bore.
I will not become you're whore.
I will swim until I find the shore.
I will find a way to do more,
than just achieve the score.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Responding to Text? Responding to Life?

Two Writing Teachers
I love my children's teachers this year, the way they encourage deep and fun literacy in the home. This weekend (and every weekend this year) I will be writing my third grade son a letter to respond to the weekly letter he writes me in class. The teacher won't be reading our letters; he will just be helping us communicate and write to one another. Already in my first letter I told Michael things I don't often tell him out loud. I think this letter writing might be good for both of us.

My kindergartener Sarah's fun literacy activity was to bring home a mentor text and the class animal (the mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie). We had so much fun with the mouse, and we penned our version of If You Take a Mouse to Sarah's House to put in Mouse's class book.

This makes me reflect on my classroom literary experiences this year. I think my literacy focus is solely on textual evidence and deeper reading; therefore, I am afraid I am losing some of the connections that make literacy and writing personally meaningful. My students seem to be enjoying the change and the challenge of exploring the deeper meaning of text. The problem is, though, that I have little time to help them find their own voice, that one that makes meaning out of life, that memoir voice, that poet's voice. I must find a place for that in my curriculum.  Responding to text is a necessary skill we must all have; however, responding to life is equally if not more important. 

Given the state units to implement and given the new CC curriculum, I am trying to find a way to keep what is sacred to self-discovery while adding what is necessary for college and career readiness. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thoreau was Right

On my cell phone I blog,
ending another day too late
after staying awake,
not to grade as intended,
but to plan-- to make things better...
To prepare for tomorrow,
To practice my European geography,
To work on my map,
And to fix the obnoxious colors
on my school website,
To remove some clutter
from my computer,
To check my Facebook,
To research a proposal
for some leadership writing project thing.
Sleep comes too late.
Thoreau was right.
My life is frittered away by detail.
Not enough sleep,
not enough exercise,
not enough time with those that I love.
Maybe tomorrow I will fritter less
and be present more.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Almost Midnight

11:40 PM
Almost midnight,
no blogging yet,
deadline approaches,
I don't wanna write.
Too tired.
Brain drained.
Time for bed.
Too much to do.
Need sleep.
No deep writing thoughts.
No pontification.
Empty words
filling the space of a screen.
Another box checked.
Blog completed.
Now I'll sleep.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hopeful Anxiety

"I was full of hopeful anxiety." This was my heartfelt sentence crafted after leaving the data team meeting when I quickly tried to craft my imitation sentence to go with this week's mentor sentence  from Paulsen's Hatchet, "I was full of tough hope."  

You can read my blog from last school year about mentor sentences. I love them. I love the warm up style of inquiry into craft. I enjoy finding the sentence that is well crafted and related to a skill or craft I need to teach.

This week my 6th grade students have noticed pronouns, the shift in point of view from Paulsen's sentence to mine, unusual word pairings, forms of hope used as different parts of speech, and much more. Tomorrow my students will write their own sentences. I look forward to seeing their unusual pairing. 
What I am enjoying with Hatchet is trying to write like Paulsen writes pairing unusual words together to emphasize meaning.

Hopeful anxiety expresses much of what I am feeling now at the beginning of this school year with too much to do, too little time, changes in administration, increased expectations, more emphasis on test scores, a new leadership position, and my continual OCD tendencies that have me planning well into the night (and sometimes AM) to make things just right.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Raising the Bar

The bar has been raised,
The ladder climbs high in the sky
Nervously I cling to the next rung,
afraid my hand might slip,
and I might fall short
of the high expectations.

Feeling the rung below with my foot, 
I check to make sure my footing is secure,
I reach up, grasping carefully,
Secure my footing again,
reaching for the next rung,
hoping I can climb the tall ladder,
placed before me.

In the middle of my climb,
I am asked to pull my peers up, too,
nudge them along,
help them climb this sky scraping ladder

Kids are on this ladder, too,
No longer climbing the kid ladder of the jungle gym,
they, too, must climb the grown up sky scraping ladder,
Make the grade,
Pass the tests,
Walk the walk,
Manage themselves,
stay the course,
letting go of child's play.

I have farther to fall,
I have a great distance to climb,
and I must carry others with me.
Please don't let the ladder topple over.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Middle School Drama

I have a theory
I told the middle school teacher
who was spending her summer
working at a boutique
that middle school teachers
act like middle schoolers.

We gossip and get caught up in drama.
We don't accept differences
and meet others where they are.
Arrested development,
trying to work out our own,
lifelong drama.

Shocked, she responded that my theory
matched hers, and she had never heard
someone with the same theory.
We exchanged emails,
so we could support one another
from afar as we both take on a new role,
leading departments.

This year I resolve to not be typecasted
in the middle school drama,
by playing well with others even when challenged,
by rising above the negative talk--instead seeking solutions
by not judging others even when I feel judged,
by fleeing from conversations that I can't change to positive, and
by dissuading others from tearing down kids by focusing on the positive and the potential.

Only then can I avoid being typecasted
as I take on a new role,
releasing myself
from the shackles
of arrested development.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Don't Want to Write

 The alarm sounds late Monday night.
It's time to write my Tuesday post.
Too tired--I'll do it tomorrow.

Tuesday comes.
Check up at the doctor's office--
I begin my villanelle
as I wait--really?
A villanelle in the waiting room--
like I'm going to finish that!

In the afternoon,
the migraine knocks me out.
I am in bed all day.
I can't write.

Minutes left for my Tuesday slice.
I must slice.
Last week on vacation,
I did not slice.
I must slice.

Vacation gave me inspiration.
The waves. The beach. The kids.
Cumberland Island. Driftwood Beach.
Special times with my husband.

Running off a sandbar
with my niece and laughing
with the reckless abandon of a child.

Tonight my head hurts
as I think about inspiration.

The motions of my fingers
on the keyboard.
No controlling idea--
just a jumbling of thoughts.

Maybe next week
maybe tomorrow
Summer devoid
of routine and the remnants of the migraine
making my brain too tired--
I don't want to write.

And I call myself a writer...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Everyday Annoyances

The plastic geese across the street
patriotic ribbons adorn their necks
complete with stars and stripes,
sentries across the front lawn
A patriotic noose for the birds'
"independence" celebration.

Summer reading program
at the local library
showing R. L. Stein movies
on the TV screen
just above the shelves
of my daughter's requested author
of children's literature.
My head interrupts the movie
as I guitiily search for a book.
Our local library journey distracted
by a loud movie  based on
the "literature" for the 
summer "reading" program.

The "like" button on Facebook
doesn't make sense.
No, I don't "like"
that a friend has resigned,
that a child has died,
that I am home with a sick child throwing up.
How is it that these posts get a thumbs up?
Perhaps it is the hope for the future,
the joining of humanity,
or something else that compels
people to press "like" when
another button is really needed.

Every day I find
the everyday error
of the words "every" and "day" joined
when that is not correct.
Why this grates my nerves so,
I do not know?
The confusion of an adverb with an adjective?
The syntax error of the meaning of something that happens
each day versus something that is common.
I move we join the words for good
and my everyday annoyances
will lessen.

Perhaps I'll buy some geese
and let them sit with me on the sofa, 
and watch a bad movie
based on a bad book,
so that my everyday stressors
will not happen everyday (error intentional).
I'll post about it on FB,
and you can like my status and
give it a thumbs up.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer Break

This is summer break--
why am I pondering my new future,
reading Common Core stuff,
planning with teachers,
mapping my new curriculum,
modifying units,
pinning resources,
creating webmixes
and trying to prepare for the new year.

This is summer break--
time to play with my kids
time to let go of responsibility
time for fun and relaxation
time to sit back and just be with family.

This is summer break--
a time I can almost find the balance
between school and home,
of course, school exists
without classes to teach
or papers to grade.

This is summer break--
up late with a good book,
or with Colbert and my husband,
up early watching cartoons
or building forts with my children.

This is summer break--
a strange mix of
and reevaluation.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The News Today

Facebook photo shared. Caption reads, "Please pray for the family of this sweet little girl. She touched so many people in her short life." I look at the daycare picture realizing this little girl was my daughter's preK classmate.Tears fall. She was only 5, Sarah's class friend. Too young. Too sweet. Too soon.

Trying to make sense, I search for the news. Headlines read,"2  5-Year-Old Girls Drown in Backyard Swimming Pool".  Tears fall.

I try to respond to the news on Facebook. My words are insufficient and inadequate. What can my words do? Words cannot bring back a life. Words cannot help the griever know I hurt too. Words cannot show the pain my heart feels for the loss of their little girl. I can't feel their pain. I can't take away their pain. 

What can I say? I hurt for you. I am sad for you.
I am sorry for your loss.I am praying for you.Let me know if there is anything I can do.

Tonight I hug my son a little tighter. Tonight I hold my daughter closer. Tonight I fall asleep snuggled next to my daughter. When my husband wakes me up, instead of getting up I pull myself closer to my daughter, and the tears fall. When I finally get up, I gaze down at my daughter's sweet face with tears in my eyes and prayers in my heart as I think of the tragic loss of Sophia.

Still my condolences seem inadequate. My words seem incapable of healing me or anyone else. My words seem like they can't find meaning out of life...or death.

A forced blog with words of insufficiency, lacking the catharsis I want. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Nordic Roots

In the stark openness a simple brown post crosses another—the sign reads “Stakkholtsgjá”.  The earth colored ribbon is the worn path surrounded by the rugged terrain. Rocks are  blanketed in green moss. The glacier’s gray gravel has been tossed to the ground and flanks the river. Surrounded by the short foliage and the moss blanketed rocks, we travel in single file. The walls of the earth shut in on us, forcing us to the other side of the river. The only sound is the sound of rushing waters and breathing concentration as we cross the river in silence, rock to rock with foot slipping futility as we attempt to stay dry. Again, the walls of the earth shut in on us, and we travel to the other side. The chasm opens to us, a foreboding welcome like Mordor as the greens turn to gray and the walls close in. We climb on the stark rocks as we continue our Viking adventure, one step at a time, traveling through this river hole in the earth. Ending our darkness, a light shines from above, the green mossy rocks return, water rushes forth, and nature’s shower refreshes me. I look up at the light and am sprayed with a cleansing shower. My Nordic roots are revealed, as I realize that I ,too, am a Viking.

Nordic Roots-drafting

I guess I'm double dipping, as I begin my summer writing workshop with Teachers Write, and I resume my weekly slicing. Here is my writing activity for today.
My prompt is in bold.
My writing is in italics.

Two Minute FreeWrite (place)   Stakkholtsgja at Thorsmork, Iceland 1996 Ravine. Gorge. Walls of rocks. Scattered stones form a bridge as we cross the river to make it further into the gorge. Wordlessly we cross. I am a Viking. I am one with the land and one with them for the first time. Walls of moss surround me. The chilled wet air glistens on my skin. As we go further into the ravine, the Rewarded by the a waterfall at the end of our journey. This is hard to remember.
Writing from Senses (Now…if your place is real and you can go there, go there now.  I’ll wait….If it’s far away, find a picture of it. If it’s not a real place, put yourself there in your mind. Now write for one minute about each of the following:
Everything you SEE – Pay attention to big things and tiny things. Search for concrete details.
A single brown post crossed with another, sign reads “Stakkholtsgjá”  An earth colored ribbon, worn path surrounded by greens and browns and grays. Rocks blanketed in green moss. Glacier’s gravel comes in many shapes and sizes, creating a pathway beside the river. In single file we walk the ribbon path surrounded by the short foliage that hugs the earth. Stark gray stones contrasted by mossy green plants. Walls of bright green moss. Blankets of moss green plants. River with grey rocks scattered across, natures stepping stones
Walls of mossy rock envelop me. The green nearly  disappears as we turn to a crevice in the earth—water, rocks, and a cavelike opening beckons us inward. WE climb on the large rocks as we continue our Viking adventure. The green mossy rocks return as some light shines in from above. In this chasm in the earth, light shines from above, water rushes forth, spraying us with nature’s shower.
Clarity of water
Yellow purple flowers
White water rushing forth

Everything you HEAR – Be specific. Don’t just say “a scraping sound.” Say a “high-pitched, raspity-raspity-screeeeeaking noise.”  You can make up words if you want. If you aren’t in the place, try to find a video. Or guess what you might hear.

       The steady and nervous breathing as we concentrate to avoid falling in the icy water.
       Water rushing over rocks, swooshing over the earth
       Gravel slipping below our feet
       An occasional splash of a foot slipping
       Mini waterfalls
       Rain falling through the crevice of the earth
       Natures shower
       The wind that
       Sighs of concentration
       Footsteps over rocks, feet slipping

Everything you SMELL – Especially pay attention to the smells that
surprise you. If you’re not in the place, pictures can help you smell. Look carefully…what would that dumpster smell like?
Earthy, mossy, life, chilly damp air, smell of perspiration, dirt, mud, earth, clean, crisp, air fresher and cleaner than anything I have experienced

Everything you FEEL – Weather, wind, things that land on you or brush against you. Again – pictures help you imagine if you’re not there, and if it’s not a real place, try imagining images and then assigning sensations from a similar place that might be real (desert, tundra, etc.)
    Nordic breeze rushes through my hair
    Cold, crisp moist air like a mint in my mouth
    Foot slipping frustration
    Uncertainty of traveling a new path
    Comfort in the Nordic silence
    In touch with my Viking roots
    Kinship towards the land and the people
    No language barrier as we travel in silence

This will be inserted later. The words aren't flowing. I can't figure out how to restrict the beauty of the land of my Nordic roots into one paragraph. I will come back to this. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Planning to Write

Day 1 of Teachers Write! 

I am supposed to carve aside some time, possibly getting rid of something to set up a writing plan. Day 1 and they want me to plan--blah--it's summer. I'm writer not a planner. Well, I could be like Bradbury who says he throws up in the morning and cleans up in the afternoon; however, I know during school there isn't time for me to throw up in the morning. Let me look at my itemized questions and try to see my way through this, as I develop writer's discipline. 

1. What you found that you might be able to cut out of your schedule or cut back on to make time to write.
I could set aside technology, the phone or the iPad. 

2. When you’ll be writing each day & for how long. Remember to be realistic. 15 minutes is fine to start.
I like writing at the end of the day; it's a time that I like to use the      written word to process the events of my day. I would like to write at least 20 minutes, a minimum of 5 nights per week. I like the idea of winding down by reflecting on my day. One thing I do now to make sure I write each night is a set an alarm to go off on the night I write. I guess I can add the alarm to all nights, knowing I promised to write 5 nights per week.
During the summer time, my writing will be less structured as to when I write. It's summer time not schedule time. Too much summer schedule makes me unhappy. 

3. Where you’ll usually write.  This can be different places on different days, depending on your schedule.
I prefer the laptop sitting on the sofa, sipping hot tea, kicking back and sorting out my thoughts.

4. Who you told about your plans. Remember, sharing your writing plans with the people in your life helps to make them real and reminds your family & friends to give you that space for writing.
I'll tell my husband my plans for writing. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Course of Common Core

No longer staying the course,
I must find a way to chart a new course,
Adding what's new in Common Core,
trying to make it something I don't abhor,

Last year's student wrote a note of thanks to me,
for all I did to help her grow and see,
in the memoir she wrote in the fall
and shared at the end of the year,
The first time she told the truth of how she's in that chair,
the story of a sick loved on who fired a shot.
The remembering and writing helped her see it was more than an evil plot.
The process of healing and forgiveness began its course,
and now she has joy and is plotting her own new course.

Memoir writing,
the best way I know to make meaning out of life,
has helped my students
find their voices,
make meaning,
discover themselves,
grow and reflect,
and see the power of the written word.

What I wonder about next year,
looking towards Common Core,
a time of writing
in response to text,
in a formal style,
with no room for narratives in extended writing,
is how can I help my students find their voices,
as they try to make meaning
out of
the loss of a loved one,
the auto accident that killed a child,
the loved one's shot who paralyzed a child,
the fears overcame,
the lessons learned from friends and loved ones battles with cancer?

The power of language,
the meaning of life,
the authenticity of exploring our
through our words.

Is there still room for that?
Will I get a letter of thanks next year like the one  last week
from a student I haven't taught in a year?
A letter that thanks me
for instilling a passion in reading,
for helping the process of healing,
for changing a life,
for helping find forgiveness,
for helping her think about the tough stuff?

Or will I get a letter thanking me
for helping a learner understand
academic writing,
textual evidence,
formal style,

My state units are packaged neat and clean,
I will follow obediently,
but I must find myself
in the midst of change,
if I will help my students
find themselves.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Big Brothers (Version 2-Revised)

My BigBrothers

For Joel & Glenn

I borrowhis good stapler,
“Keepit, he says,
“I won’tneed it when I go.”
He knowsthe value
ofsharing what works
underthis roof.

Packingand stacking boxes
my otherbrother
pauseslooking through
theyearbooks--we laugh
and sharestories
of thetimes we’ve left behind.
He, nolonger a fixture,
closesthe book—leaving
hisshelves empty and forlorn.

Soon theywill both be gone;
these twoprincipals leaving me
like bigbrothers
off tocollege.
Neithermerely a boss,
principal,colleague, or authority.

Off toface new challenges,
leavingus, the family,
missingour big brothers.
My bigsister sighs—
knowingshe, the principal left behind,
bears theweight
ofpulling the family together
withoutthe help of
the bigbrothers.

Over theyears,
my bigbrothers have
challengedme and inspired me, 
directedme and redirected me,
frustratedme and led me,
provokedme and tormented me,
laughedat me and laughed with me,
acceptedme and encouraged me,
consoledme and watched over me,
befriendedme and defended me.

My bigbrothers listen,
andrespect the ideas and insight 
of theirlittle sister,
knowingthey don't have all the answers.

Making me
a betterteacher
seeingthe good in me,
meetingme where I am,
making mewant
to findmy best self,
balancehome and work,
be thebest teacher I can be,
treat allpeople with respect,
meet allchildren where they are.
These brothers of mine help me
navigatethe treacherous waters
as I tryto keep balanced
and staythe course.

Readingand responding  
to theverbosity in my emails and texts,
lettingme vent,
dealingwith my brashness.
All thewhile patiently,
helpingme through my struggle
to findmy best self.
Stillteachers, they help me learn— 
when tolet go,  how to let go, 
and howto back down.

Like alost little sister,
with mybrothers going away to college
sometimesI find myself
deflated,with tears falling down my face,
wonderinghow I will find my way
withoutthem here to guide me.

Maybe mybest self,
willemerge and even apart,
they willstill be a part of who I am
as aperson and as a teacher
as I moveforward.

I willlook back
and tryto find a little bit
of themas I’ve seen them
when theyfind their best selves
encouraginglike Barnabas,
as theymotivated, challenged, and inspired
cultivatingthe best in others.

Even whenthey go,
theiractions and words 
willresonate with me,
as Icontinue to try and find
my bestself
under newleadership,
with newchallenges, 
and with newobstacles.