Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bolstering the Human Spirit

She said they broke his spirit;
She said it wasn't fair--it
wasn't right.
He fought the good fight,
Trying to do right,
in the midst of his plight.
Some didn't see it that way,
and tore him down each day.
His heart always good,
For truth he's always stood,
He'd had enough;
And just gave up
An altered fate;
Partly because of hate.

That woman broke the young boy's spirit,
Her voice I know and fear it,
he had to bear it.
She called him dumb
in front of everyone;
perhaps her sinister idea of fun.
Over nothing he did,
He accepted this bid,
Averted my eyes,
All I did was sigh,
I didn't even reply.
I let it go to avoid her going for me,
Should have spoken up for her class to see.

I try not to break a child's spirit;
sometimes I do--I fear it,
in what I do or say,
in my sarcastic way,
Outside myself I see how it hurts both young and old,
I realize, I must challenge and change, not become cold.

I should bolster the human spirit,
Nurture each person around me to be able to bear it,
When others tear them apart,
I can be the voice to help heal a heart.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Juggling

I walk the tightrope,
precariously perched atop
a narrow wire,
as I try to travel without falling.

All the while
I juggle many balls for all the roles I play--
                     wife
           mom              daughter
       sister                      teacher
         adviser                    friend
       committee               another yes
                     another project      

I can't seem to get this
juggling thing down.
The balls fall to the ground.
I pick them up,
wipe them off
and start again.

Even an expert juggler,
can't juggle all these balls,
Maybe before another falls,
I should choose which one to drop,
then I should leave it on the floor
and walk away.



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Noooooooooooooooo....

Nooooooooooo....

I failed.
I didn't get my post in.
Comments closed.
Are you kidding me?
Life is too busy.
My principal resigned.
My yearbook is not done.
I have to do subplans for Friday.
I have a deadline in my face.
I was editing articles.
I was writing.
I was posting comments on the yearbook site.
I didn't post.
I failed.

So if I post twice on Thursday,
I mean it was just a little after midnight.
Am I still a slicer?

After 28 days, I failed.
Dangit!!!!!!!!!!!

Still I Write...

Life is too busy,
and still I write.
I need sleep,
and still I write.
Maybe I should
just copy a story
from the yearbook,
that I have edited,
revised, and taken over,
stealing the voice of some poor,
innocent child,
so that "my book"
will meet my own standard.
Articles, captions, blogs...
still I write.

Friday is my deadline.Then, break. Not too soon. I think I can make it without going over the edge.
I know when my principal tells me to take an in-house field trip with my staff the day before a break, that I am showing some signs of stress. The annoying thing is that there isn't room for yearbook during the school day--something about reading and writing standards.  AARGH--really? What about authenticity?  Late days with staff, late nights at home... Our book is not just about pretty pictures. We are capturing the year at my school, doing real writing and publishing, and running a little mini-business.  Sigh...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Deadlines



I am the most permissive indulgent person I know in terms of the deadline, until I have an absolute deadline. Student writing I will always accept, even the next quarter. It's all about mastering the standard, right? Who cares when in the year you do that?

The yearbook has 2 deadlines, but I only meet the final deadline. Even then, I am a bit late. This attitude causes stress for me. Here I am the week before spring break, and I was up at 4 AM, editing yearbook pages.

There are non-absolutes, and then, there are absolutes. When it comes to getting a book printed and made and distributed, the deadline is important. Yet I am scrambling, once again, this year...

Back to the grind...maybe my writing will have some depth after my deadline...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blogging on a Cell Phone

And I call myself a writer,
As I write with my thumbs,
The thoughts flow faster
Than the thumbs,
But life is too busy
And it is too late
For me to do better
Than this.

My yearbook is due
And I have pages
To go before
I sleep.

Occupying Space



Watching the world
fly by
I see
so many times
we are not together
only occupying
the same space

Texting
Talking
Tweeting
Watching
Emailing
Updating status
Playing games

A device per person
as 3 people sit
on the same sofa
together
but not

Being present
means showing your screen
to someone else
a text across the room
a virtual game with a friend



Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sharing Humanity



After this  month,
I will miss sharing humanity
with you,
my fellow slicers.

What will I do
as I seek the understanding
of someone who
gets what I get
who understands what I understand
who struggles as I struggle?

How will I seek positive growth
as I reflect on my challenges
and try to appreciate the shared humanity of others?

Who will read my blog if I write?
How will I find a real audience?
Will this moment in time leave me?

I think I need this shared humanity.

Hmmmm....31 days may not be enough for me...


Thursday, March 22, 2012

That Class





THAT CLASS

Do you have a class, 
you know the one,
THAT CLASS?

They come in all
levels and sizes,
and they don't happen
every year.

Still, 
THAT CLASS
is the one full
of conflicting personalities,
people struggling
to get along,
a dysfunctional family,
negative,
disruptive,
unaffirming,
angry, 
often wounded.

In THAT CLASS
only a few work
together, seeking
peace.

At some point,
you try to reign
them in,
help them get it
together,
Your hands up in the air,
another strategy fails
for THAT CLASS
to become a community.

How do you help
THAT CLASS
become a community,
be nice to one another,
work together 
in peace?

Because
THAT CLASS 
has me at my wit's end.








Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Power-Writing from Jeff Anderson

Jeff Anderson's Power Write from 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know

1. Teacher displays two words. 
2. Students select one.
3. "Write as much as you can as fast as you can, as well as you can for one minute. Go."

My husband gave me two words:
DOG    BACKPACK

My backpack is an abysmal hole of doom.
Things go in never to be seen again.
I can't seem to find anything in my backpack.
It is the dark hole of my existence.
I wish I could find my keys.
I know I put them somewhere in my backpack.
I wonder if I have any food in my backpack.
I can carry three laptops in my backpack.

--------------
Okay, so no Pullitzer for me here, but interesting.

4. Teacher calls time. "Stop writing. Life your pencil up in the air. Draw a line underneath what you just wrtore. Count the numbers of words you wrote."
5. Students record word count under the line.
6. Teacher records results for each round on a chart.
7. Repeat for a total of three rounds.

Just one round for me tonight. 67 words.
I wonder what my word count would if I wrote by hand.

I haven't tried this with my students yet, but I will soon. Anyone tried this?




Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This Is Just to Say

Check out what other slicers are writing: http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/.

This Is Just To Say


I have finished
the sub plans
needed in
8 hours

and which
you may not
understand
at all

Forgive me
I tried to
make the lesson work
without me there.

Note: I would have rather eaten juicy plums, much more delicious than my sub plans.

This Is Just To Say


I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sometimes


Check out other Slicers at  Two Writing Teachers.

My little boy he loves like his daddy—much more in actions than in words.
My son doesn’t say I love you. He shows I love you. After drafting this piece, I don’t think I need the words anymore.

Sometimes

Sometimes I love you
is quietly and comfortably leaning into me
as I sit at the soccer field.

Sometimes I love you
is gently waking me up,
“Mommy, read please.”

Sometimes I love you
is just in the tone of voice,
“Mommy.”

Sometimes I love you
is in the sleepy and sweet way
he says good morning.

Sometimes I love you
is vying for position.
No, Sarah, it’s Mommy’s turn to read with me—
you’ve had her two nights.

Sometimes I love you
is in the words,
“Mommy stay,”
after we’ve finished reading together.

Sometimes I love you
is in the way
he wants his mommy when he’s hurt.

Sometimes I love you
is in the look in his eyes.

Sometimes I love you
is snuggling on the sofa.

Sometimes I love you
is in the way he lets me
pat his forehead,
hug him,
and finally now
kiss him.

Allotted  two kisses a day,
Don’t use both up in the morning.

Oh, he won’t kiss me,
but I get two,
not on the lips,
the forehead or the cheeks only.

Always I love you
is beyond words.
Always I love you
is not expecting someone
to love the way I love.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Two Worlds Collide




Check out other Slicers at  Two Writing Teachers.

Two Worlds Collide

How I long for the 20th century.
The smell of books,
the quietness of a library.
The card catalog,
rows of drawers
of light brown oak,
filled with cards
telling me where to find
what I’m looking for.
not an easy search,
many deadends,
more questions,
sometimes changing the search,
sometimes questions unanswered.

How I love the 21st century.
iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Netflix,
Words with Friends,
the new social drawing game,
texting, Facebook, blogging, Pinterest,
sucked into the abysmal reality.
Everything and anything
one Google away.
Answers under my fingertips,
easy to find,
easy to get sidetracked.
easy to find my time sucked away.
I Google, read, Google, read,
Immersed in literacy, reading on my Kindle,
beeped away by
the evil doubleteaming pair,
the iPad and the iPhone--
the bell of the uninvited visitor.
I must answer the door
to the virtual world.

This virtual reality
is  the new reality.
Monopoly, Scrabble, Life,
Who needs a board—
There’s an App for that
How I miss the time,
journaling was in a spiral notebook.
Playing games involved a board,
with the family sitting at a table,
everyone present,
here and now.

How do I keep myself
in the here and now,
in my world of virtual reality,
filled with distractions.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Isn't This Great?

Check out other Slicers at  Two Writing Teachers.

This is a villanelle, a poem inspired from one of Paul's slices, http://birdsandtreesofthemind.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/slice-14-villanelle/.

Want to know more about villanelles?  A link for you:

This year I enjoy collaboration because we work well together and allow each person to be who he/she is. Still, collaboration is not without it's struggles.

Isn't This Great

At my school, the teachers all collaborate,
we learn from others, sharing what we know
Planning for kids’ learning isn’t this great?

documenting time spent, this some hate
trying to work together to make things flow
At my school, the teachers all collaborate,

to become as one, is this our fate?
disagreeing about the way to go
Planning for kids’ learning isn’t this great?

some come unprepared--some come late,
different pedagogies and what we know,
At my school, the teachers all collaborate.

Showing a new way to integrate--will they take my bait?
sometimes people think I'm just trying to glow.
Planning for kids’ learning isn’t this great?

some come together yet others berate,
is this about documentation, merely a show,
At my school, the teachers all collaborate.
Planning for kids’ learning isn’t this great?




Friday, March 16, 2012

God at the Easel

Check out other Slicers at  Two Writing Teachers

God at the Easel

I think I’ll paint the sky today
see if anyone’s watching.
dipping the paint
into the palette 
choosing light blue
and covering the canvas.

Going back to the palette,
this time an amber hue
back to the canvas.

To the palette
this time for the little girls
who love pink
to see if they are paying attention
to God’s grandeur.

Lines cover the canvas,
not lines of symmetry
but more like
swooshes and swashes
as if to proclaim,
I’m painting outside of the lines
and you can, too.
As if saying,
there is not one way to live.

God steps back
And looks at the painting,
That is good.
Today my people
will look at the sky
And say,
it looks like God painted
that sky for me.

Living as a Poet


Check out other Slicers at  Two Writing Teachers

Living as a Poet

Living as a poet
is different
your mind’s eye must
uncover
what you see.

 Beauty
needs words
captured on paper
so the beauty won’t
escape like water
falling
through
a sieve.

Images need words,
so we can hold onto
a peaceful sunrise,
a child's embrace,
the look of love,
a mother with her child,
 keeping the beauty with us,
so we are
never abandoned,
never alone.

Images need words,
so the non-poets
can become more like us,
seeing the world
through our eyes,
our rose-colored glasses
recognizing beauty
and letting go of the cynicism and spite
just for  a moment.

Images need words,
The poet knows,
The poet will sit
for hours
with beauty,
trying to capture her essence.

Without words, you cannot
capture the Iceland landscape and sky.
On one side dark,
   a midnight blue hue
       sheltering the shadowed landscape.
The other side,
     the landscape of greens and grays and browns,
       that last as far as the eye can see with
         the starkness of the land,
              a sheep on the crest of a hill,
                  and amber hues covering the sky,
                  a warm blanket of comfort,
      Not even the panoramic camera
         can capture the shelter and warmth
              this landscape provides.

        Words need poets,
poets need words,
        the world needs poets,
                to tame the badness,
                    to find the goodness,
                         to seek shelter and warmth.




Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Stubbornly Stuck







I open the Ziploc bag
shake it, clouding the ocean,
The contents stubbornly stuck,
like the large man
whose ashes filled four Ziploc bags.

The Marine Congregation of divers
accepts the others curious of this underwater ceremony.
Dad, still seeking an audience,
would have loved this moment.

The peaceful, clear waters of the Keys
filled with a murky mess
from 4 Ziploc bags,
a massive cloud of underwater smoke.

The sun shines from above,
where other family members 
are voluntarily secluded
from this underwater funeral.

Kneeling above the ocean floor
suspended in prayer
I try to let go.
floating,
hands clenched,
head bowed,
trying to be still,
but still a newbie.

Prayers said.
Reality realized.
Tears and sobbing,
the regulator slips.
My instructor
wordlessly gestures,
"Okay?"
Like Hell, I think, I just shook Dad out of a Ziploc.
"Okay," I answer back with the hand signal.
I cry and swim, in a daze.

Another diver, concerned,
"Okay?"
"Okay."

Daddy's little girl,
fatherless in this big ocean.
Daddy's little girl,
on her checkout dive.

I look around,
Dad's spirit is here.
His underwater church,
the place he knew God, 
even if he wouldn't admit it.
I feel my prayers answered.


A check out dive,
for me newly certified,
for Dad many years ago,
and for Dad again,
the ultimate check out dive.
We are connected in this dive,
as Dad wanted us to be.


An eel poking out of a crevice 
like the beginning of my healing
finally emerging from the dark shadows.
I swim off with my brother,
feeling the peaceful warming 
embrace of an underwater current.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Prose Version Written June 2012



Wordless Gestures
Reaching into his vest, Dave pulls out four large Ziploc bags, hands one to me, one to my brother John, one to his wife, and keeps one for himself. We gather in a circle, Dave gives the signal, and we all open our bags. Shaking the bag, I watch the contents slowly disperse into the ocean. Some of the contents are stubbornly stuck in the bottom, and I find myself struggling to empty the bag. My dad was a large man, and his remains from the four Ziploc bags cloud the once clear water of Winch Hole in the Keys. The dive club suspended just above the ocean floor is ceremonially huddled around the winch, with additional random divers joining the marine congregation in curiosity about this new underwater event. Even after his death, Dad is still seeking an audience. He would have loved this moment, I think. The absurdity of it all—my brother and I and two of Dad’s diver friends shaking these bags while disturbing the peaceful, clear waters of the Florida Keys.
Looking beyond the massive cloud of underwater smoke, I peer above to the white light shining from the sun and the bottom of the dive boat where my sister, niece and mom sit, voluntarily secluded from this underwater funeral. Looking back down, my thoughts return to my dad and I think, “He is dead. He has been reduced to a cloudy, murky mess.”
Returning to my sadness, I fall to just above the floor of the ocean, remembering my training I am now completing and realizing I must pray without letting my knees disturb the ocean floor. Floating on my knees, donned in scuba gear, I clench my hands together and bow my head in prayer, trying to say goodbye to my dad, trying to be still and relax in this moment of sadness.
Prayers said, reality realized, the regulator almost slips as I find myself sobbing in sadness and almost laughing in amusement at this moment of intense underwater emotion that I must control. What a spectacle this must be as I try to breathe and cry simultaneously.  Looking up, I see my ever-present instructor, Richard, beside me wordlessly gesturing, his face full of empathy, questioning, “Okay?”
I gesture back. “Okay,” I think, “Like Hell I’m okay; I just shook my dad out of a Ziploc bag.”
I swim and cry, swim and cry, trying to keep my mask on, my regulator in place, and my head up.
David, the scuba club president sees me swimming in sadness and signs, “Okay?”
“Okay,” I sign back, in reality wanting to flip him off for asking. “Whatever Dave—how can I be okay? My dad’s remains are spread throughout this water, and here I am Daddy’s little girl alone, fatherless in this big ocean.”
I think to myself, “What would Dad want his little girl to do?” He wouldn’t want me to be stubbornly stuck, hanging on to my last bit of him, wasting a precious dive on my tears and mourning. He would be proud of his little girl, finally after all this time, a certified diver honoring his dying wishes and becoming a scuba diver. Dad would want me relish in the moment,  follow my big brother, and enjoy the beauty of the ocean. He would want me to honor him in my check out dive, at the same dive site where he had his check out dive, and ultimately where he had just had his true ‘check out’ dive.”
I swim on for a few minutes and finish my check out dive with Richard. He shakes my hand while another diver takes a picture, recognizing that I am officially a certified diver after my 20 minutes with him on the last dive of my training. He gestures to my brother that we will now switch dive partners, so I swim off with my brother, and Richard swims off with his wife.
Released to my brother, no longer crying, I am comfortable following John through the water and begin to see the beauty that made this the place where Dad wanted his ashes spread. John and I swim together in peaceful silence. I follow him, and he points out all the beauty he sees: an eel poking its head out from under a crevice, a vibrant blanket of coral, a school or two of fish in an array of colors.



Dueling Laptops

Dueling laptops,
we two teacher lovers sit,
across from each other,
the kids are in bed.

No date.
No Scrabble with music.
No late night movies.
little conversation,

Music and papers,
brief thoughts exchanged
a sentence shared
from a paper,
an idea compared.

Grading,
Planning,
Blogging,
Logging.

When will it end?
The papers smother us.
Struggling for breath.
Can't breathe.
Until spring break,
when the duel ends.





Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Descending Fog



How's your brother?
friend?
mom?
Cancer. Tumors. Hospice. Inoperable.
Weeks. Days. Who knows?
Life is fleeting.

A silent prayer
for those hurting.
Let go, I tell myself
as I imagine losing
my brother, my sister,
my husband, my little boy, my little girl,
another friend or coworker or parent.

Reading my sadness,
the morning fog descends.
I don't see
the bunny scampering
in front of me.
Brakes slammed.
Thoughts interrupted.
Thoughts amplified.
I sigh.
Life is fragile.

Tonight.
A text message from an old friend
with thoughts of time flying
while he misses things.
Life is flying.

The bunny lived,
still I am missing things.
For a moment
the fog lifts as
I remind myself
Life is fleeting.
Life is fragile.
Life is flying.







Sunday, March 11, 2012

Self-Imposed Barriers

My View
Slumped over the bench,
white towel on his head.
dirty clothes,
a stuffed backpack.
Is he homeless,
living on the streets,
on drugs?
I wonder if
he's going to ask for money,
Should I buy him  a hotdog
while I'm buying lunch
for my friend and our kids?
Or will he refuse,
only wanting money
to feed a habit.

The View of the 5-Year-Old Child 
Hey, there's a man
with pigeons surrounding him,
he looks silly with that towel on his head.
Is he feeding the birds?
I'll go see.
The birds are gone.
Mom says we scared them away.

I'll go play.
Hey, that man has a bag with food,
he's feeding the pigeons.
I'll go sit with him.
Hi, my name is M--.
Thanks for the food.
We sit.
Feeding the pigeons together,
with the food in his plastic bag.
That's my mom.
Oh, thanks for sharing your food.
See ya.

My View Now
Why does it take a five-year-old child
to reach out to someone
with no walls, no barriers,
to be an instant friend?
Strangers for only a moment.
Maybe the will and love
and friendship of children,
could make the homeless long
for a home,
a family
and people to love.

Why does it take a five-year-old child
for me to step outside myself,
recognize my judging eyes
and see beyond my
self-imposed
 barriers of
   Prejudice,
     Fear,
        Bias,
            Insecurity
freeing me
to love.




Why I write...


Some days I write because I made a commitment.
Some days I write because I think it may keep me from being committed.
Some days I write because I have something I want to share.
Some days I write because I am working out my life in words.
Some days I write because the world's beauty needs words.
Some days I write because the world's ugliness needs words.
Some days I write because misery loves company.
Some days I write because I want to share my joy.

I'm slicing away at my life with words.
I'm busy.
There's no time for this.
I am working out the world around me.
I must make time--
for growth,
for sanity,
for pedagogy,
for wisdom,
for insight,
for community,

To help me live my life with more
passion,
authenticity,
intentionality,
focus,
empathy,
awareness...

I have written in different genres.
I have written about school, my children, my stress, the world.

I have been more disciplined than I have ever been,
even more disciplined than I was for the three weeks of the Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project.
The seed has germinated.
I am growing.
One day I won't need an audience,
but I'll always want one.
A community of writers
helps us all grow.

I'm writing right now
to avoid assessing
the writing of others.

Wisdom of a 14-Year-Old

Wisdom of a 14-year-old Student

Advice
Go home--it's past 5.
Your family is waiting.
Go home--it's past 5;
you've lost your filter.
Mrs. Woodall,
I can't believe you said that.

Advice Again
The phone rings. Still at school--
Yearbook deadline is past.
Make it up to your husband--
buy him his favorite candy bar
on your way home.
Make it up to your husband--
give him a foot massage.

Still More Advice
Here's what you can say,
Just tell her she can't expect other people
to work as hard as she does.

Action
I tell her,
suddenly realizing the message is for me, too.
She says she's going to bake that boy some cookies;
we comment on his wisdom and insight,
and the reality that our
expectations for others--
are too high.
We can't expect others
to work as hard as we do.

What will I do,
offer my Advice--
Seek wisdom from people of every age.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Added note: This wisdom is from a male. Several responders thought the 14-year-old was a female. I revised and edited a bit to try and show that.



Saturday, March 10, 2012

I think too much.



I think too much. That is what one of my school leaders tells me. It's true. I overanalyze. I question myself. I question others. I question motives. I stress. I pontificate. I play things over and over again in my head.


I Google a lesson like I am a CSI detective. I can't stop trying to figure out stuff--what's the best way to do this? What have others done? How can I tweak this?  My teaching will never be good enough for me. I question my decisions and actions each day.


I am a very social person, but I often feel like I don't belong. I am an introverted extrovert. I hate big parties because I am overwhelmed by all the catching up and all the talk that is said a thousand times (e.g. How's work? How are the kids? How's your husband? What's new? How's your family?). These questions matter, yes, but so often I feel like they are answered on a superficial and comfortable and socially acceptable party level.  Most people expect to hear everything is fine; even when it isn't. Oftentimes, we say we are fine; even when we are not.


I am a part of this new writing community. I don't respond to others blogs enough, and I begin to question why nobody responds to some of my posts.  Like, you're not busy, too...I know you are. It's okay.


In my class, I love to give power over to my students. I don't want to be on stage with an audience. I want to see what they can do, what they can create, who they can become.


In my writing, I want an audience. I want people to agree with me. I want people to disagree with me (well, maybe not too much). I seek affirmation of my thoughts and words.


When my students write, I don't always give them affirmation at the end. There is a rubric, there is a grade, and then what else is there? Class moves so fast, so much to cover, sometimes we don't take time to discover...who we are, where we are, where we are going.


So, day 10, why do I still write? I need to learn to write for my own growth. I am not a 12-year-old. I am a 43-year-old. I need to write for me, for my own growth. I need to write in order to continue to discover who I am, who I am becoming, who God intends me to be.


I need to write, so I will see the world as God intends me to see it. Here is what I've seen lately:
The luminescent petals of the pink azaleas.
The white light peaking through the morning clouds.
The horses grazing in the field, tails swishing.
A little girl plopping down next to a homeless man, sharing in conversation, as the homeless man shared bread with the girl and side by side they fed the pigeons. Unencumbered by societal expectations, this 5-year-old engaged this man with no fear and no judgment.
The sadness and stress on the face of a friend whose loved one is dying of cancer.
The house whose front window gets hit by the headlights of each passing car and wondered why the house was build that way and wondered what they think as the lights shine right in their living room.
I noticed the trailer park sign that read "Nebo Road Estates" and began to think of how to some people that small community, with a playground, and parents waiting with children for the bus, just might be their version of estates--and who am I to judge that?


Yeah, sure, I think too much. Thinking too much, that's who I am, and who I will always be. I need a place to let those thoughts simmer. I need to write about all these thoughts, so I can both contain them and release them, and so, I can continue on my journey with my mind open and my spirit pure (or at least, a bit purer than it would be without writing).







Friday, March 9, 2012

Grammatical Issues



I am okay with children and their grammatical issues, but my tolerance for adults is rather low.

Here are some things that really get to me:

  • Good is an adjective; well is an adverb. You are not doing good unless you are feeding the homeless and doing good works.
  • Every day is two words unless it's used as an adjective. Open everyday is not correct! Everyday sale is correct.
  • Affect is a verb (almost always); effect is a noun.
  • ______ and I is not always correct--this only works in the nominative/subjective case. Objective case requires me. PBS Kids gets this wrong a lot.  
  • Bring and take. Yes, Virginia, there is a difference. Bring ____ to me. Take ____ away from me.




Thursday, March 8, 2012

Twilight


The purplish gray light shines, welcoming twilight. Standing out on the back deck, we  see each other in a newly wedded ambient light. His hair shines. His eyes glow. He says, “I love twilight—not day and not quite night.” He sighs a sigh of contentment. Our eyes lock. We go into inside to be alone together. The light of love shines across the room. Our only commitment right now is to each other. Life is all about us; everything else can wait. We enjoy each other. The papers to grade can wait. Dinner can wait. We relish in our love. We relish in each other.

The purplish light shines, signaling twilight. Dang. I’m late again. Just leaving school after an afternoon of paperwork and yearbook. “I’m on my way, honey,” I say. He sighs a sigh of disappointment, “I’ve already fed the kids.” My papers couldn’t wait. Dinner couldn’t wait.

Twilight, a time of change. Twilight. I long for twilight. I long for a time to just be. A time without routine commitments. A time to languish in my love for my husband. A time to let go and be the lover, the wife, the person I should be. A time to be in a moment and let go of all other moments. Time passes. I miss twilight. I long for it, but I do little to seek it out. I am caught up in commitments and to dos and am letting go of the sacredness of a moment. A moment that passes too quickly.

The purplish gray light shines, signifying twilight—in the backyard I stand with the dog. The kids are inside. Mike is inside with them.  I look at the sky and think back to a time when twilight was freedom. Twilight was a time with no to dos, no commitments, no children. Twilight was a time when we were all that mattered…

Twilight with its forgiving light shining on me, gives me hope. I must find the light of twilight in all its sacredness of twilight, that light that shines so briefly and so beautifully, so sacredly.






Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Art of Answering



With Apologies to Naomi Shihab Nye for my copy change sort of adaptation of  her poem "The Art of Disappearing"

http://audiopoetry.wordpress.com/2006/09/14/the-art-of-disappearing/

When they say
Aren't you over it?
say no.
When they start trashing other faculty members
remember how we all need to be met where we are
before answering.
Think of the stressors teachers are dealing with--loss of a loved one,
marital problems,
sick children,
loneliness,
too many preps,
burnout,
furlough days,
cutbacks,
struggles,
the call of common core,
district pressure--
Then reply.

If they say I hate this school,
I can't stand him or her
say why--why don't you try to change that hate?
It’s not that you don’t find the teacher she is speaking of annoying,
the one who sits in her chair yelling at children
or that other teacher griping all the time a demoralizer
or people's weaknesses in your school,
including your own tough to handle.
You’re trying to let go of the hate--and
remember something
too important to forget.
Students.
Their bright eyes when they get it.
Their excitement they can hardly contain their engagement.
The time a student was excited when she "really" thought
she was going to watch paint dry with you.
Their pains.
Their troubles.
Their struggles.
Their joy.
Their successes.
Their growth.
The future.
The love of learning without ever ceasing.
The reasons we're here.
The reasons we care.
Gently sigh...then,
tell them you have copies to make,
papers to grade, a student to talk to,
a new unit to create, a novel to write.
Your work will never be finished.

When a gossipy teacher spots you alone
in the teacher's lounge,
nod happily and become an orange,
brighten her day with inspirational stories
of the reasons your there.

When someone seeks you out
and you can find no table to hide under,
no copy machine to hide behind,
tell them all the good things
about your school.
Walk around being that bright happy orange.
Share the thoughts of the good you see around you,
knowing your school's future depends on it.
Maybe she will catch up or catch on,
And not drop a ton of morale killing bricks
taking you down with her,
to the slumps of teaching.
Then, maybe she will get over it
or leave for good.

My literary muse reading her poem: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xc20u2_naomi-shihab-nye-the-art-of-disappe_creation

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Christy Rush-Levine



Christy Rush-Levine,
her words are devine.
She’s commented on so many posts.
She’s the one I’d like to honor most.

Her blogging with pictures is infused,
Sometimes I am left confused.
By the all the places her mind goes,
Deep reflection from her it shows.

In her 30s only, it’s hard to believe,
She catches her thoughts, so they don’t go through a sieve.
I wish I had found my words in the last decade.
Perhaps, a better writer and teacher, I would have been made

I think you are all amazing.
For being a part of this SOLS crazing.

Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project planted the seed.
Now you all at SOLS are helping me to write and read.
And become the teacher and person I should be.
Thanks to you all from me.

Exhausted...

I am exhausted. You know, I work teachers' hours, so how would that be.  My desk, I can't find it under the mass of papers. Even the chair by my desk sometimes has papers in it because I don't sit there, either. I have a hard time keeping up with everything. Yearbook, teaching, grading, planning, family....

Life is busy. I am exhauted.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mentor Sentences Rock!






For two years Jeff Anderson's book on my shelf had been a fleeting thought, a quick resource for a short grammar activity. Without knowing how to make his ideas work, I resorted to the daily grammar warm ups like others in my school and everywhere. Still, though, I wondered how I would make the grammar in context work, but I couldn't quite get it, since I had never seen it.  


After spending a day with Jeff Anderson at a conference, his idea of mentor sentence warm ups for grammar clicked, and I let go of the suffocating shackles of skill and drill non-contextual grammar instruction. The next day I removed those shackles from my ankles, and moved forward with mentor sentences. Letting go of that boring, trite, and tiresome grammar practice was like dumping a bad boyfriend.  

What do we do now?
We notice what real authors do.
We compare and contrast the writing of published authors and the teacher.
We create our own mentor sentences.
We edit real writing.
We transfer our knowledge to our own writing---IT'S AMAZING!

Breaking into verse...

I am free to be me, 
free to play with
words,
free to celebrate
language,
free to foster
thought,
free to promote 
inquiry,
free to engage
children, 
free to let learning 
happen,
free to let students
share their own knowledge,
free to share my own 
writing,
free to celebrate 
student writing,
free to keep 
it real,
free to build the bridge 
that transfers to real learning,
free to be
me.

Thanks to Jeff Anderson. Mentor sentences rock!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

She Reminds Me



“Push me on the swing;
don’t grade papers.”
She counts my pushes,
And floats to the sky
Legs pumping up in the air,
“1-2-3-4-5…98-99-100.”
She reminds me,
to put the papers away and play.

“Mawmee, let’s be girl pirates now."
“Ahoy matey!” I respond
in a pirate’s voice.
“No, we are girl pirates;
Use a normal voice.”
She reminds me
To be myself.

Off with the iPhone,
My backyard 4-year-old
Photographer captures
Pink petals of azaleas,
Nature’s beauty revealed,
She reminds me
To look for beauty in all things.

In the sandbox,
Shoes off despite
The chilly air
Raking the sand
Creating her own labyrinth,
A peaceful pattern of play.
She reminds me
To not see a maze of confusion
and to find peace and solace
in the world around me.

My little mini-me
Curly locks and pure sweetness,
Arm rested on me,
Head nuzzled in the crook of my arm.
Little voice calling, “Mawmee,”
In her endearing way.
She reminds me
To stop, rest, and relax.

“Mawmee, I love you,”
bright eyes behind her curly locks
look adoringly my way,
she hugs me
and she reminds me
how to love.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

More with Less




More with Less
More students with less funding
More papers with less time
More desks with less space
More trash to empty with less custodians to empty it
More demands on the principal with less time with students and teachers
More hoops to jump through with less focus on what really matters
More indicators of progress with less understanding of what that means
More technology integration expected with less operational computers
More expectations with less direction
More kids in need with less time to help them
More time at school with less time for family
More realization of how I should live with less doing of what I should
More informational texts with less poetry
More specificity of standards with less knowledge of how we’re being assessed
More of a race to the top with less certainty about the destination
More expectations for our readers with less help for those who don’t get it
More rigor with less clarity of what it looks like
More demands on us all with less understanding of how to meet the demands
More with Less


Please feel free to add your own “More with Less”
Now I  have more depression with less coffee left in my cup.
Doing more with less is reality, and sometimes it’s hard on us all. 
As I told my student last week, write down your problems so they will lose power over you.
More writing giving me power over problems with less stress overwhelming me.

Friday, March 2, 2012

An Open Door


An open door
advice sought.
Do I say
what needs to be said?
It might hurt,
a wedge driven,
between us.
Reality for each person
different.
Their drama unfolds,
truth sought.
Whose truth?
Shades of truth.
Anger and frustration,
no resolution.
 
Once I felt that pain
and opened that door,
yet I wasn't ready
to hear what was said,
needing only someone to listen,
so I could walk through it
and come out the other end.

To be silent
and listen
Asking questions
Without giving answers
allowing the process
to unfold.
Is that my role?
To keep the door open
without barging in.
I can't fix it
by fixing it.
And so I wait...