Saturday, March 28, 2015

Books by the Millions! March 28, 2015 Slice of Life Challenge-#solc2015



Almost all my life, I've believed you can never have too many shoes, boots or books. In fact, if you looked at my closet, you could easily say I feel that way about sweaters and blouses and skirts. But now, my thinking is definitely undergoing a change.

Today was another in a series of Saturdays, emptying Grandma's house and filling up my car. Last night I went to the library and closed the place, lugging in bag after bag of books. And today...after spending the morning there, my car was filled up all over again! It took me about forty minutes to lug those books and place them in neat rows on the overflowing library sale cart.


Grandma loved her stuff. She loved little chotchkies from Christmas Tree Shoppes, and she loved linen and lace, but the thing she loved most in the world, apart from her grandkids and a good recipe, was definitely a good book and an hour or two to read. 

So today, I honored Grandma. I returned all her books to the place she probably loved best too--the library. And as I lugged those boxes and bags up the stairs and through the sliding doors, I just couldn't help but think there's got to be a chair in heaven and a special place filled with books--a gigantic reading room where Grandma can take all the time she needs to settle into a great book!





Friday, March 27, 2015

The Little Things-March 27, 2015: Slice of Life Challenge #sol15





Some days, especially Fridays in a week filled with conferences, report cards, meetings, Donuts with Dad and Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBACs), it's all I can do to grab my bag at the end of the day, close my door and find my way to the parking lot. Today was no exception.

On days like these, it really is the little things that we do for each other that give me that burst of energy, that human connection I crave.

I have a teaching buddy who, despite all that's thrown at him, never seems to be able to do anything but smile. And we have a tradition...we grab a cup of coffee, rarely have the time to drink it together, but at least stand there for the few minutes it takes for our Keurig to brew, to spoon in the sugar and pour a bit of cream in and stir. There's no time to hang around the coffee urn! But those simple five minutes help me put a smile on my face, and go back into my room and plan, or clean, or answer emails, or spend time reading my students' work.

Little things, to a teacher, mean a lot.

A few years ago, we had the best faculty meeting...ever. Don't get me wrong,  if I'm immersed in great professional development, you'll never hear me groan. But faculty meetings?
No sale. I keep an open mind while we move through all the news we need to know. But at this particularly cool faculty meeting--the best ever, I learned a new skill for life.

It was a very little thing.

On the table was a tiny brown, felt bag with a drawstring. Never being one to wait, I gave the little string a tug, and voila! Inside...a thin felt point pen, a pencil and a rolled paper made of cardstock for
shading. Zentangle! I'd never heard of it, or seen it anywhere in my world on the internet. Zentangle is the art of drawing small--immersing myself in the moment, the particular stroke I'm attempting to create.

Now? Two years later, I'm still using zentangling, escaping into a self-created small world as a means to relax. On Friday nights now, I grab my felt tipped pen, my zentangle journal, sink into my cushy gold couch. And when I put my pen to the page, I enter a completely new world. There are commitments, no plans...just me, the page, and whatever happens to pop into my head on its way to the pen!

Slice of Life Challenge: 
For the month of March, I'm participating in a daily writing challenge, blogging, and posting, and reading other teachers' blogs. This challenge was started by two writing teachers, and can be found at their blog each day: www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Feel free to join me! It's a great way to keep story threading throughout your brain each day.
        

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Teaching Teddy Bears-March 26 Slice of Life Challenge: 26/31 #SOLC15





Teaching Teddy Bears


First, I asked for an easel,

and then I set it up,

right next to the tv set--

with the bunny-eared 

antenna.


Santa brought 

me other things--

a small ironing board,

and an iron.

A small doll with clothes.

Things that cost--

but were not dear to me.


I ran upstairs,

and snagged my teddy bears,

my bunny,

my kittens,

an old doll or two.

I propped them up

on the couch.


I grabbed the chalk,

white and pink

and green and orange,

with that horrible chalky 

smell.


I didn't care.

I was the teacher

and I had an audience,

God knows what I taught

my imagined pupils.

The cat, by then,

was long gone.


But I blathered on

anyhow--

that was what I imagined

from my own life in school--

that teachers should do!


And now,

each day,

as I swing wide my own

very real

classroom door--

they are my teachers!




We laugh,

we learn--we forge ahead,

a lifetime

of learning--

every day a new journey,

inspired by my

classroom

kids!


Slice of Life Challenge: 
For the month of March, I'm participating in a daily writing challenge, blogging, and posting, and reading other teachers' blogs. This challenge was started by two writing teachers, and can be found at their blog each day: www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Feel free to join me! It's a great way to keep story threading throughout your brain each day.
        









Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Little Engine that Can-March 25: Slice of Life Challenge 25/31 #solc15


It's been a long, long haul.

Over a very rugged terrain.

And for the very first time, publicly, I'm admitting to myself that even though I am and have been writing, finished up my YA novel...sent it out a bit, started scripting a MG novel, but I have really been running out of steam. Artistically stalled.

The events of 12/14, that horrible December day, despite my intent of moving forward, kept pulling me back and leaving me stuck. My work in the classroom has been focused on remaining upbeat and loving and supporting all the kids. I do love my kids! And that has taken priority over everything.

And then, this challenge rolled along. 

I decided to take the leap. I'd been spreading my writing all over the place, a little blog here, journal entry there...the red leather one with the heart, the gold leaf paisley one with the magnetic front next. Spreading it all out. The heartbreak, the feelings the thoughts about those feelings. 

But this month, I'm re-learning a little something about this little engine called writing. It is the Little Engine that Can. I can write daily, and in one place again. I can reveal and then revel in the feelings I see on the page. I will not ever be afraid to put it out there again. 

The groundswell...the heart, that once was broken, is a mighty heart. I live in a strong community. And we save each other through our words. Writing is a healing thing. Writing is what I know best.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Roses for the Teacher--March 24: Slice of Life Challenge 24/31-- #SOLC2015



Roses for the Teacher: Parent conferences today...

Nervousness and tension, 
like a fever,
grab hold
and crowd my sensibilities.
I find myself scrambling
at the last minute
for more...

Scraps and remnants,
grades and journals, reading logs
and a published piece or two.

What parents really want--
is not that...at all;
no papers, no data, 
no curriculum-based 
evidence.

A little slice,
a peek 
into a window:
their child's school life,
and mine--
a chance to walk away
knowing
that I totally get
their child,
that I have hopes 
and imaginings
too.

AND--

that I care
about their child
almost as much
as they do!


(Today, when I swung open the classroom door to invite my last parent in--she held the most beautiful array of red roses out to me. "From your husband," she said. And then she smiled, "He must love you an awful lot!")


Slice of Life Challenge: 
For the month of March, I'm participating in a daily writing challenge, blogging, and posting, and reading other teachers' blogs. This challenge was started by two writing teachers, and can be found at their blog each day: www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Feel free to join me! It's a great way to keep story threading throughout your brain each day.
        

Monday, March 23, 2015

When Reality Slips Away...and Imagination Takes Over--March 23: Slice of Life Challenge-#solc2015

 Today, I hit the jackpot. I reached in and pulled an old favorite off the shelf, and it felt so right. Teaching, like writing, is like that for me. Sometimes, I can put my hand on the just right book, and it becomes a bonanza. 

The Velveteen Rabbit was all that and more today. The text is amazing, and I chose it, rather than the other preselected text I'd planned, because I knew it held a little magic door that pulled its reader from disbelieving to the magical state of suspended disbelief. 

My teaching point was wide and sweeping at first--"Readers! Pay Attention. Fantasy is a genre of mysteriously tangled plots, twisted characters and magical settings that test our sense of reality!"
We talked again about character driven versus plot driven storylines, and we dabbled into sharing about books we've read, and that knowing point at which the author has us in the palm of his or her hand. 

Margery Williams is a master, elegant, simple with a Silk Horse instantly becomes our sage.

Well, we didn't need to look far. Today, we read the page toward the end, where Bunny is left in the bracken, and the other two sharp-eyed rabbits come and test him...telling him there's no way he can be real! But Bunny knows better and he tells them so. After all the Boy has told him he is real. The boy has snuggled him, and loved him. But now, he feels that tingle, the little tickly feeling that makes him want to leap up and dance. 

He doesn't of course, not then anyway. That, is the tease. And that is the point when the author dangles the carrot, and we want so badly for him to leap in the air. The magical pen stroke of a masterful author! 

"Readers--today, I want you to find the place when you can feel that tickly feeling. The point in the book where the author creates that opening in the platform, and you find yourself completely sucked in!"

Author meets reader, and it is really is love at first (un)sight!
The ground falls away, senses take over and the heart leaps up for the dance!

Learning often has that tickly feeling, and today, it swept us all up and took us away!


Slice of Life Challenge: 
For the month of March, I'm participating in a daily writing challenge, blogging, and posting, and reading other teachers' blogs. This challenge was started by two writing teachers, and can be found at their blog each day: www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. Feel free to join me! It's a great way to keep story threading throughout your brain each day.
        


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Grandma's House--March 22: Slice of Life Challenge #SOLC 2015: 20/31


Today was a day at Grandma's House, one of the last in a series of cleaning, emptying, rearranging and reimaginings.

Each time we come, we know we're moving along the timeline toward the end zone for this wonderful home on the hill. March has always been a particularly busy month here. The month of March is populated with birthdays, and April is now too.

Every time I set foot on that front porch, even now with all the snow and ice, I see hanging ferns, white wicker, a family filling it with laughter and silliness, hors d'oeuvres and drinks. I see little kids rolling down the sloping hillside just to the right of the house. Teenagers plot and plan on the tall steps, watching the little ones for us. I remember the stories, the political debates, but mostly, I remember Grandma, and Grandpa too, listening to us all and taking it all in.

Today, we spent a lot of time in the attic and the basement, combing through the remnants of what's left to give away or toss. And today, I spent a lot of time, in my mind re-envisioning what it will be like for another family...maybe one with lots of kids, to live and laugh inside its walls.

After everybody else left, I sat in front for a few minutes and really choked back the tears. I've spent what feels like a lifetime coming to this house...first at the age of nineteen, the girlfriend, then later, the married woman hauling the grandkids...and even later, coming back just for the sake of enjoying conversation and a sandwich on a Sunday when nobody else was around.

Now, we're in the final phase. And I would like to think that all this work, all the lugging and un-combing and emptying is in some way a tribute to Grandma and Grandpa, taking care of a lifetime of things...that don't represent them, but give us a chance to consider every little thing and think about each other and what means most to all. 

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