Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Final 2010 Slice

Yesterday I posted a reflection on the benefits of participating in a challenge to write every day for a month over at Two Writing Teachers blog. I noted that again this year I am so impressed with the writing knowledge I've gained through this experience. Not something you can read about in a trade book, you have to live it.Today being the final post, I am realizing how much I have learned about setting a goal then pushing towards it and how that will affect my teaching.

In my classroom many children come in with a variety of difficult life circumstances. The issues they are living through really tug at your heart and you wonder how they got up and made it in for yet another day. Knowing this can sometimes make it hard for a teacher to set high expectations and follow through with consequences. "Oh the poor thing," we may tend to think as we feel our limits waiver.

But after forcing myself to write everyday, whether I wanted to or not, has opened my eyes to just how important it is to follow through on a challenge. Now, I'd never compare my comfortable adult life to the painful, chronic conditions some of my students experience. No way. But I do realize there is tremendous satisfaction in completing a goal. That is a valuable feeling I want all my students to experience over and over again.

So, I'll walk away from this year's slices knowing how to teach writing more effectively. I'm also much more aware of the importance of setting and monitoring goals. Whatever they may be.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reflections on Facing a Challenge

This is my second year joining up with Ruth and Stacey's Slice of Life Writing Challenge. Once again, I've found the benefits of writing everyday for one month--of putting one's thoughts out there for others to read, are numerous.

There have been many times, especially when I'm at a loss for a post, that I've found myself thinking, "Hhmmm, this must be what the kids feel. This must be why I get those blank looks". As writers who have set a goal of posting everyday, we push past this moment and get something down, if only to go back and edit it later. That pushing oneself along is a valuable skill which we want our students to develop.

Every day for a month, we have considered our message, chosen our words, revised our writing. We have practiced all the very skills we stand in front of a group of students and instruct them to do. But unlike so many classroom teachers, we have experienced it. We have lived the writer's life.

Now we can teach with the depth it needs.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Educators Deserve Spring Break

Before I moved to and began teaching in a college town, I had not really heard of nor experienced Spring Break. Most rural school around here get off a few days for the Easter weekend, but not a full week for Spring Break. Now, it is a part of my teaching year and to me it needs as much recognition as the First Day of School or Parent-Teacher Conferences. Why? Because as educators, we deserve it.

I'm on my third official day of Spring Break 2010 and I am becoming more aware of just how much time we teachers give to our classrooms. I've always been conscious of this, but as this year's break passes along, I am taking special note of activities I can attend to, linger with, appreciate. My time away from my classroom and students is uniquely mine for this week.

For instance, when reading I can look past the professional development articles and books to whatever my heart desires at that moment. For dinner, instead of working at my desk munching on something like popcorn I threw into the microwave, this week I have the morning to plan, search recipes, even run to the store for an ingredient. Instead of planning lessons for the week, my priority is spending time with family.

We work so hard in this field. With serious budget cuts we will be taking on more, instead of less, in the coming year. We so deserve and need a Spring Break. Maybe two.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another Burden Proposed for Teachers

I couldn't sleep last night, due to this annoying spring cold. So I turned on the tv in my bedroom, hoping to pass the time or find something to lull me back to sleep. No such luck. I flipped from channel to channel, then settled on a "news show" (term used loosely here) that actually had the opposite effect. I found myself wanting to call in to set the host straight, until I realized this was a taped piece from who-knows-when.

The panel of "experts" (again a loose term) were talking about the ultra violence allowed on tv, etc. and the correlation with teen crimes becoming more violent. Their loud, distressed voices described both recent tv shows and movies along with footage of young teens being led off in handcuffs for sad, sad, crimes.

So ok, that would be enough to keep me from drifting back to sleep as I teach children who will quite soon be those teens. I am aware of the effects visual images have on kids, because I use visual modes on a daily basis for teaching. But what really provoked my anger was the host insisting teachers correct this problem in the classroom.

Yes, she actually stated that teachers should be providing classes and lessons to help our youngsters discriminate between popular culture and making good choices. I guess she feels we should put aside the academics we are originally hired for and tackle a issue created by Hollywood.

In theory, we do a form of this all through the day. Problems pop up in our classrooms, therefore we teach kids solutions and positive behaviors, and expect our schools to run smoothly.

But to place the solution for this societal problem on teachers is outrageous. I did not hear a call for all of society to stand up and demand better controls over what children are exposed to. Writers, directors, actors were not challenged to consider the effects of creating such pieces. It was not suggested that the profits of such work could be used to counter its bad effects.

No, they took the easy target. Toss it onto teachers. Not just educators, but today we are society's social workers.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Rainy Roads

I was the passenger tonight as my daughter drove down the two-lane highway. We were heading back home from a nearby small town. Rain peppered the black asphalt road. Our headlights illuminated fat drops that appeared to bounce back off the pavement at curious angles. I looked closer to make sure it wasn't hail.

Wipers were needed the entire trip and they slapped back and forth in rhythm as we talked. Occasionally house or outbuilding lights were visible. Shafts of light competing with tall, black trees. Contrasting geometric forms of light and dark.

We entered the city and the rural beauty began to fade. Our peaceful drive was ending.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Break

The last Friday before Spring Break is a curious mix of needing to get academics covered, yet wanting to acknowledge the student's anxious behaviors and set the lessons aside. We did a mix of that today.

In Read Aloud the student teacher finished our chapter book and led a rich discussion among the students. A few small reading groups met, but it was also a time of finishing up work.

I announced the upcoming Clubs after Spring Break while they munched on cookies V. made herself last night, along with a special Mexican bread A.'s mother sent in. We took a long walk to the science trailer with time to observe seasonal changes in the small wetland.

Spelling test follow lunch and recess and we buckled down to review how we did on the practice MAP test. Then it was outside for fresh air of playing and filling bird feeders. Math MAP and room cleaning--Spring Cleaning, they called it finished our day.

It was productive in many fun ways.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


The staff gathered in the media center anticipating the presentations by the three candidates. Our school principal is moving up to a board office position. In the last few years we have had several administration changes, so all are somewhat tired of this process of change. But this is the first time our input has been requested.

The three nervously tell about their experience and vision for a school. We muse over them, share impressions, and head home.

Announcements are made tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Short Term Memory Problem

We have had to start our school days with a brief social skill/friend awareness lesson lately. There are lots of topics, but it usually comes down to following the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you'd want to be treated. It so easily rolls off the tongue, but can be hard to follow throughout the day.

This morning I had planned to cover how the book, It's B.O. was first and foremost a nonfiction book and not one to be passed around the classroom while smirking at the chapter called Down Under. "Remember boys and girls, the facts of life are just that--facts, and not something we laugh about."

But two of the offenders were absent (providing hopes for a calmer day ahead) so in my head I put that lesson on hold. And as only fourth-graders can do, someone got us started on a topic by stating, "P. is telling everyone that L. and Y. (girls) like M. (boy). The immediate looks of confusion and disgust on said students faces was priceless. We all burst into laughter.

So there was the lesson and I dove in. To illustrate I thought I'd draw a diagram of how this rumor was passed from student to student. We stared at the configuration. One line stopped abruptly at S. I praised him for stopping the rumor. I heaped accolades on him for standing tall.

However S., looking rather sheepish, felt the need to explain his actions.
"Well, really Ms. E. it wasn't that at all. It's this short term memory problem I have. I can't remember the rumors to pass them on."

Oh my.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So Far I'm Fighting Test Anxiety

We worry about our students feeling state test anxiety as they prepare for and as they take the test. But we teachers sometimes succumb to teacher test anxiety.

I felt it most in my first year in a general ed classroom. It also was the first year of our close-the-achievement gap, model school year. We were all quite nervous. It truly was high stakes. We practiced, taught strategies to read and respond, went over practice tests and retaught how to do better. It was exhausting. Not to mention the hoopla with an assembly, well wishes cards from younger grades, warnings to get a good night's sleep. Those activities probably did have a good effect. I'd like to think they were not in vain (in ignorance, maybe).

This year from the superintendent, through our school administrators, to my grade level teacher there is a feeling of "We have taught the best we can, now let them show what they know". In my room the kids and I jokingly refer to it as the Mmmm test as we can't bring ourselves to say MAP test, for fear we will start to become anxious.

Occasionally, I get a twinge that I should pull out material from years past. Or I worry I didn't cover everything on the state standards (well, we will have over 2 months of school left after the test). I start to ponder the 7 or so students that left my room this year and the 7 or so that transferred in. Did I loose the high scorers, or the low ones? Then I catch myself from such foolish thoughts, look around the room at these great learners, and get to work focusing on this day and this day only.

Monday, March 22, 2010


I met the other two panel participants in the lobby of the journalism school. We chatted and got to know each other, a school board member, a city-wide PTA director, and myself-a classroom teacher. Soon we followed the young J-school student to the studio.

It's then I wished I'd brought my camera. It would be so great to share this place with the students back in the classroom working with our student teacher. The heavy door, black cloth covered walls, cameras and bright lights, cords everywhere. Chairs and coffee tables arranged facing those cameras. My nervousness increased.

The three of us were left alone, so our chatting began again and in looking back it was these times of conversation that helped me through the ordeal. This and a lot of prayer. We clipped mics, heard last minute directions and we went live. The moderator had the trained soothing voice, but strong questions on our community's mind. We three were there to represent three different perspectives on education in our town, specifically our school board and the upcoming bond issue.

Well, the time did fly by, sort of. I think in panic mode time is warped in a strange way. Some of my answers came out clear and thoughtful. Other times I was even wondering in my head-as I talked-what his original question was and how far I had strayed from it. A large screen showed online questions and feedback which we could read as we talked-another strange sensation. The Q & A over, we again chatted as we walked through the building, then out into the sunny, warm day. Said our goodbyes and wished each other well.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


We walk into the tiny shop and try to orient ourselves. Looks like the web roping is placed to guide us off to the left. What are those small, low green blobs? Oh, cute modern chairs. For adults? Apparently as there are even tinier plastic chairs stacked nearby bearing a sign saying "For children only".

I was expecting the usual cafe table and chairs for us to have a sweet treat and converse one last time before my sister, her children and my mom headed back to their homes. Well, we won't be sitting at the typical table. We begin to figure out the yogurt. It's the new help yourself, mix your own choices type of place. We stare at the labels, then start combining. You pay by the weight, which we tried to keep in mind, but the creamy yogurt that swirls out as you press and the multiple yummy toppings were hard to keep to a limit. We load everything from fresh fruit to cheese cake on top.

Cups and spoons in hand we lower ourselves onto the small green seats and dive into desert. We talk about upcoming trips to each others homes. Our days together are coming to an end. Over a sweet treat.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Game Night is On

"Roll the dice, it's your turn", my nephew announces.
"Five," the girls say.
"Would you like things from the Flintstones or furniture in a house?" my team asks.
So goes a night of Outburst Junior.

When my extended family gets together and it includes an evening, there is almost always games around the kitchen table. It is a tradition begun by my parents years ago. When the grandchildren were younger, my mother was the person to gather the kids to the table and teach the more simpler games, like Uno. Now that those same grandchildren are ages ten to young adult they tend to choose the games that involve shouting out and create laughter such as Outburst.

It allows all generations to come together for competition, but mostly for fun. Outrageous moments are retold as "Remember when..." stories and we loose track of time as the game continues. Laughter, good-natured ribbing, fun. Game night.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Mid West Teacher's Writing Evening

We gathered in the library, after what was for many, a tiring day, actually a tiring week. Following greetings and hearing about the evening's agenda we settled in. Teachers practicing what they ask students to do daily...write.

Pens moved across paper in our personalized journals. "Just write," a co-leader had said. "Write about your day, your life, anything that comes to mind." We began our task rather quickly compared to previous sessions. Less time wondering about our topics.

The presenters moved us through information, student activities, and mentor text. Through challenging ourselves as writers, sharing our words, complimenting each other. We dined, laughed, planned.

We closed our journals, gathered papers and pens and said good by. Glad we took the evening for we had grown as writers and teachers of writers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Our Roles

This profession of teaching goes so beyond what is measured. In fact, most days it is hard to write a job description for fear of leaving out some aspects of what we do. As I reflect on today's work, I think about all the roles we teachers have and also how important it is to have the support of a community of teachers who work along side you.

Our literacy specialist is in our classroom daily and her influence goes so far beyond reading. We are implementing a new role for a student to help with her challenging OCD behaviors. We have tried many strategies with this particular girl, but this week she is making progress. We breath a sigh of relief and hope it continues.

Another student has tears and can't make it through writing workshop. I send her with a pass to the office and later find our principal ministering to her pain. Teaching her how to make it through grief, as well as just simply listening. She'll be better able to face the challenges of the day now.

At lunch we discuss (read--unload) student behaviors and moments of the morning. I was sharing an idea the literacy specialist had just given me to help a few disconnected boys. The lunch bunch teachers remembered some skills those boys had exhibited in prior years in their classrooms thus contributing to my next steps.

A short email to the principal and vice principal let them know of a potential problem after recess with a boy struggling to make correct choices. A plan of action is put into place.

The vice principal also emails to set up a time to meet after we both read through some material we were provided on a child's condition. We will get together to problem solve, plan, and most importantly try to understand the underlying cause of behaviors. Later the school psych examiner stops in to talk about the same child.

So much asked of us as teachers because of so much our students are experiencing in their lives. So much assistance lent my way. All of us working together

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Tomorrow my sister, her children, and my mother will drive half-way across our state to my home. It is a visit I always look forward to. My grown children do also as we have many pleasant memories of our family together.

I'm cleaning rooms that get little use, but I'd like them to sparkle in anticipation of our guests. Sheets, towels and other items are being laundered. Tonight I'll make dishes of apple crisp and for my nephew, macaroni and cheese. My daughter has shopped and stocked the kitchen.

Though this is work, I'm beginning to feel getting my home ready for loved ones is part of the whole enjoyable process. Though tomorrow it will be so much better.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ill Days

We are getting quite a lot of learning accomplished in our classroom. It is that time of year where routines are so learned and predictable that kids just sort of float through them. Well, most of the kids do. During mini lessons and other teaching times many are attentive and can answer in a manner that lets me know they got the gist of my talking. It is a satisfying feeling.

But it is also cold and flu season. They come up to ask to go to the nurse so many times I truly loose count. The same ones over and over. Usually the nurse sends them back, I suggest putting their heads down for a while, I empathize. Some stick it out and later return to their old selves. Others' bodies finally succumb to the assault and are sent home packing, not to return for a day or two.

So glad I got those flu shots and have that stash of hand sanitizer in my top drawer.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rap Wins

We had about ten minutes before needing to line up for lunch and recess. I had several housekeeping items I could have them accomplish, some papers to hand back, reminders to go through, you know the usual to-dos for a Monday.

We just had ended a productive persuasive writing workshop period and two on-screen writing inspiration thoughts came to mind. Watching a Week in Rap or seeing Ms. E.'s blog. Week in Rap might create some issues to add to their persuasive topic list to write about later. It is a fast paced current event video, which I can't believe I haven't shown it before now to this class. I also have not shown this group my blog. Those Slice of Life pieces of mine just might spur them on to great heights as writers.

I set it up..."We don't have time for both sites so you will have to vote on Week in Rap and it does have rap music included, or my blog, so I can share some of my stories.

"So put your heads down (a necessary step among fourth graders) and only vote once (again necessary)."

I looked out at a sea of head tops resting on desks. "OK, raise your hand for Ms. E.'s blog." No movement, not one single hand, crickets chirping as I waited. "Alright, raise your hand for Week in Rap." All hand go up.

Maybe I need to find some good tunes.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Laundromat Musings

It is a bit of a dreary place, the laundromat. I hadn't been to one in years, but today I needed to use the giant washers and dryers to clean up bed spreads and sleeping bags in preparation for next week's company.

I walked in and was hit by the smell which is a mix of dryer sheets, detergents, and hot dryers. Oh yeah. It is all coming back to me. Those college-student days, beginning married life, living in the country with only collected rain water. Those years with out the convenience of ones own personal laundromat.

Some things have changed. The attentive young man came out from behind the counter to walk me through all the steps of getting your laundromat card loaded--they don't use quarters anymore. And this place had five kinds of beer on tap. What? This seems like one of the last places I'd want to enjoy a drink. Sipping suds as I watch my clothes rotate over and over.

There are still the college students walking in, shuffling back packs from place to place before setting their heads in a book. Youngsters run around trying to entertain themselves by rolling laundry carts around in a slightly dangerous manner, then begging parents for money to insert into the many game and candy machines.

People smile and say "Hi" or "Excuse me" when squeezing by, then we keep our eyes on our own business. Old ripped cover magazines dot the rusty stands. A pool table bears a sign to not fold laundry on it. No problem as it's spotted top is not where I'd consider placing clean items. Someone must have washed a rug that unraveled as there is yarn and string in piles of the floor.

Yeah, despite the pleasant people inside, this laundromat is dreary. I'm feeling quite blessed my Kenmore pair is waiting for me back home.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hearing Wedding Bells Again

My son just called to invite me to join him and his sweet fiance to look at ways to create their wedding invitations. So here we are again, off and running into wedding planning.

My oldest son had a beautiful wedding nineteen months ago. Being the mother of the groom, one typically does not take on as much responsibility and has time to watch from afar--providing she can be comfortable with watching and not inserting opinions. But in both wedding situations the girls were somewhat on their own, thus traditional roles were modified.

In the earlier wedding my daughter-in-law (and my son) did a marvelous job and we all look back fondly at the memories. Now we begin a new wedding process. Different personalities, different expectations. I am so glad to be invited to join. Off to invitations and then on to the many steps of wedding planning.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Persuasive Pieces

This is a great time of year to cover persuasive writing in fourth grade. Students know the workshop routines quite well and have a good command of the steps in setting up a writing piece. They have created a list of personal topics which contain the practical--school uniforms, to the whimsical--having your birthday off. They can list the pros and even the cons of their topic, as one should consider the other point-of-view, then they can turn these reasons into a paragraphed persuasive piece.

Today I whipped them into a writing fury by talking about an issue dear to their academic hearts. I told them that due to the upcoming budget cuts next year, there will not be a science teacher. Classroom teachers will be taking on that subject. Their devastated faces stared at me. Then the heated discussion began.

A while later I announced, "O.K. get your pencils going and write your persuasive pieces. " Rough drafts of letters to the newspaper, school board members and superintendents were started. We googled quotes to fit. They were off and running. Engaged in an important to them topic written as a persuasive piece.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Appreciating Our Town's Diversity

I dropped off two students tonight. M. guided me to her home by pointing, as her English vocabulary and confidence does not allow her to tell me where to turn. T. could give directions and we chatted about how it is to learn English. I so appreciate the organizations and individuals who provided the means to get here and now the everyday assistance to refugee families. It so contributes to the richness of our school and our greater community.

I wanted to grab a bite of dinner before heading off to a meeting and the closest spot was a new Mediterranean cafe and small food shop. The menu pictures were divine and so difficult to choose from. I wandered around the shop as my meal was being prepared and my head swam as I tried to figure out names, what the product was, and how it would taste. I wished I had the cooking knowledge to make a purchase and go home to create dishes from these exotic looking tins and bags.

Driving along, I realized I often take for granted the true diversity of the town I now live in. We appreciated its influence on our own children as they grew up here and I am aware of its existance. But today I thought back on towns and communities I have lived in that were comprised of very little cultural diversity. They were great places to live filled with great people, but I really like the town I'm in now. I appreciate its diversity.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Golden Rule

I'll read part of the picture book titled, The Golden Rule, tomorrow to start our day together and to continue my emphasis of the week. See a few folks have been struggling with the whole concept of treat others in the same manner you would like to be treated. They tend to live a self-absorbed, impulsive lifestyle which is causing hurt feelings on the receiving end of those around them.

Today we reviewed our class chart that spells out why we are entitled to and how to have a peaceful day. The poetry pairs work following this were productive and peaceful, but later I think two students misunderstood and thought I was teaching what to avoid doing for a peaceful class.

Thus, they were put on restriction. Restriction means you have lost movement among others. You line up separately, use the bathroom alone, others sharpen your pencils--you get the picture. Hopefully, this works quickly for the two on restriction. It is severely restricting my peace by having them under foot.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Conscious Choice

Reflecting on my exhaustion post of yesterday, I decided today to look at the brighter, happier moments along the course of a fourth grade teacher's day. I turned the music up loud on the drive in and sang as the car cruised into the day.

I shared some freshly baked muffins with my student teacher. She is quite competent and a delight to work with. Don't know what I'd done without her as we received three refugee students not knowing any English this year.

I acknowledged the order she, myself and the literacy specialist have created in our first hour of reading workshop. So many rich discussions, strategies used, and books enjoyed.

Later, after walking through the steps to add another persuasive piece to their journals, I made it a point to linger over those students who are really "getting it". I can't wait to see them implement our revising lessons.

And I had to laugh at the rather unusual events that make up a teacher's life. Like when I noticed an annoying rattling noise coming from A.'s shaking hand as the student teacher taught social studies. What did she have? Oh my ... it's that tooth she lost earlier rattling around in the tiny orange tooth chest you get from the nurse. What other profession deals with tooth treasures? I even chuckled at my adept jumping for the trash can and getting it up to M.'s head while avoiding getting you-know-what on my own clothing from a child experiencing the flu. Glad this aging body can still react so quickly.

I tried very hard to continue through the day looking for those bright spots. They really are there. I also tried to not get bogged down with what could be termed the dark times of the day. Yes, S. did throw a punch and yell "What the #@**?" across the room, setting us back a few minutes today in math. I talked with others, made a home visit about it, and didn't let my brain ruminate on the exhaustive points of the problem. Today was a choice to find happiness in my career. They really do exist.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Feeling Exhausted

Teaching is an exhausting job. Yet when I entered this field, several decades ago, I did not head home most evenings feeling this way. Our district, like many others, is dealing with less state monies. So one of the ways to budget this shortfall is to cut specialists jobs and place their areas of teaching back onto the classroom teacher. More to teach, more to cover in an already full day. Thus one of the reasons for my exhaustion.

I also teach in a school where our challenge is to close the achievement gap. That gap doesn't describe just an academic chasm, but can include a family resource, life experience, financial, and behavioral gap. Just to name a few. Trying to meet the needs of those gaps or link up services that do is trying. For the past five years, our school has been fortunate to be able to support families with personnel or services that minister to the gaps. But it appears that support will face the chopping block of budget cuts. So teaching in a school where students begin with disadvantages is exhausting.

It's that time of year for school board member elections and for the school board, along with various district officials to develop the budget for the upcoming year. Do they understand all that goes on within our individual schools? Do they grasp what we as teachers manage during the day. Those questions are exhausting.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Facing the Blank Page

For me, one of the most beneficial aspects to participating in Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge is this--understanding how it is to face the blank page. Don't we all see it in our classrooms from time to time? It happens to even those most prolific of writers.

Of course, I'm not talking about those students who still in the seventh month of school, following our many lessons, our topic list making, our strategy discussions, answer my "Why aren't you writing" question with a whiny "I don't have anything to write about". Those kids are the avoiders. For one reason or another, they try to avoid writing and require some creative work on my part to get the pencil moving.

I'm thinking of and connecting with students who, for one reason or another, just look at the blank page a little longer on a particular day. They realize they should be writing for their own growth as a writer as well as the fact that I, as their writing teacher, am expecting it.

Posting every day during the month of March forces me to take a sincere look at what it means when students experience this. I'll be rethinking the comments I make when this happens to them. I'll see from both sides what it means when one faces the blank page

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Some Saturdays start with what could be called early plans. Errands that must be done in a timely manner, coffee with friends, getting on the road to a relative's house. Those Saturdays break the weekday routine and feel purposeful.

But some of the best Saturdays start in a delayed manner. Meaning acknowledging the time on the clock and reflecting what I'd be doing on a weekday. Then rolling over, adjusting covers, and feeling so grateful for no plans except--glorious sleep.

Once I rise coffee is savored while reading, checking blogs, gazing at decorating and gardening shows. Nothing at all like the fast-paced, kid-crammed days of teaching. I so appreciate quiet, no expectation Saturdays.

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's still racism

My son called to ask--Didn't I want to come on campus tonight to show support? There's a rally on the steps of the administration building. I was tired, after the routines of our Friday lessons and those poor behavior choices. But the cause was a noble one. He had invited me and his siblings. It was a cause I would have drawn to his attention in his growing up years and now here he was, putting that awareness into action.

I met my daughter and we hurried through the cold night air, turned the corner of the old brick building and joined the gathered crowd. Articulate young people representing campus groups spoke, poems were read, candles lit, pledges made.

Question haunt my mind as I shiver in the bitter night air. Why are we still doing this in 2010? Why another gathering to protest an act of racism? Didn't we have enough of these back in the days when I was a student on campus?

Why did two young men consider, then carry out said act that ended in their arrest today? Why, in the cover of darkness, did they spread cotton on the lawn of an iconic black student building? How do we fight this thing called racism?

The answers came in the words spoken by the young people at the mic tonight. Take action to require diversity classes for all students. Engage with others who do not believe, dress, act, entertain like you. Prayer for guidance and love to rein down and prevail. A call to end racism.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Letting Me In

They give out just enough to let you know their pain. Just enough to let you see what prompted their actions.

I squeeze in moments here and there. Taking time from our academic schedule to ask what is it? What's behind this?

Little pieces of the puzzle in little bits of time leave me wondering.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lost on the Field Trip

We lost someone on the field trip today. This is a little hard to admit, but it was me--their teacher.

Not really lost. I mean I knew where I was. I just wasn't with the rest of the parents, students, and teachers. And I would have to admit at several points I really was clueless as to where they were.

It happened during our annual fourth grade trip to the state capitol.
"I'm going to put this group of lunches with the rest," I commented to the others as I stepped inside my cousin's office.
We were using it as temporary storage so we wouldn't be lugging 40 plus lunches and a cooler up and down the halls of our tour. But when I stepped out of the office...they were gone. No one in sight. No sign of them. Nothing.

I began walking down the wide hall before me, somewhat distracted by texting my cousin, but as I turned corner after corner I did not see nor hear any indication of our large group. I retraced my steps, then climbed a set of marble stairs. At the top I looked around, peered in a door to the visitors gallery, but still no one. I walked on to the other end of this rather large building stopping occasionally at various balconies to gaze below. Still nothing.

Perhaps they went down that first set of stairs. So I hopped into an elevator to travel to lower floors and search, but no group of ten-year-olds did I see. Time was passing. I should text or call. Then I realized that would be impossible as we had not exchanged cell numbers. Great. I could spend hours wandering around this massive place. Time to admit defeat. I couldn't do this on my own.

So I made my way to the information desk and humbly explained my predicament. Could they radio our tour guide and ask him where he and the group were? The teacher is lost.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Getaway

" Want to do lunch?" she asked. "Of course," I replied with no hesitation.

It had been a morning crowded with learning, but also discipline of willful children and their hurt feelings. Time away is just what I needed. A breather. Adult conversation. Laughter at our teaching predicaments.

Today would not be a lunch spent balancing a tray of food as I answered emails and shuffled those seemingly endless piles of paperwork that land on my desk. I will walk away from the papers and not look back.

We rushed to my car, jumped in, and sped away-feeling our cares dissipate as we drove down the road. We told stories of the morning designed to bring laughter.

Arriving at our favorite restaurant we followed the same routines which we have found get us the tasty food in record time. Some time spent reflecting on the seriousness of our troubled students and our answers for today.

But again, it was mostly time spent in adult conversation, laughter, and time away. Just what we needed.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Back to Writing

So glad the Slice of Life is up and running on Two Writing Teachers. I can't believe a whole year has gone by. While I've written in many other places, usually on paper-in journals-or snippets here and there, it has been quite awhile since adding to this blog.

So the challenge is on. Write every day for the month of March. Force oneself to focus on a slice, make the time to enter it, and do so in a timely manner. That is a challenge. But the results are so promising. Learn about one's self and learn about writing. Glad March is here.