Category Archives: #SOL

My Daughters are Home

Posted to Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge

The house is full.
My daughters are home.

I still say “home” even though it’s not really home to them anymore.

It’s not the home they grew up in,
not where they lived for 4 years and
10 years when they were little
and before my oldest went off to college.

It’s the home we built after they graduated from college
and they were no longer living with us.

It’s the “home” they come to when they come home.

It’s home because we’re all together,
and together we make it home.

My daughters are home.
They fill up the house.
Every corner is taken with their belongings.
Every table top is cluttered
with books, cameras, and electronic devices.
All the bedrooms are occupied.
The bathrooms look used.

Evidence is everywhere.
It screams, “We’ve been here.
We’re here still.”

They mark the territory.
It becomes theirs.
We welcome them.
And there is balance in the world.
All is right after all.

Until they leave again.

Then, my husband, my son and I readjust,
find our center because it has shifted.
It takes a few days for our routines
to make themselves present again
even as we fight the change
because it means
we’re on our own again.

My daughters are home.

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Filed under #SOL, family, Uncategorized

Electrical Storm

This afternoon there was an electrical storm.
Apparently, we’ll be experiencing these more often this month
at the same time that the bad weather starts to diminish.
Hopefully, May will be a better month, for the weather
and for changes I am hoping for.

Winter here has never been like this before.
In fact, we’ve never had an actual weather report before.
The weather here is generally constant in the winter.
Sunny skies, rain in the afternoon, sunny skies after that.
Temperatures hovering between 15 and 20 degrees
with a strong sun in the middle of the day.

But, this winter all we’ve had is
rain, rain, and more rain.
Cold temperatures that linger and linger and linger.

Fortunately, today I worked late as I waited for my son
who was practicing for the school play.
So, I didn’t experience the electrical storms
though I heard the noise but didn’t see the lightning,
if that makes sense.

My husband was at home
and that was a different story.

There was a power surge.
The lights went out.
And, so did the TV.

Our second-hand TV is dead.

I could be sad about that.
But, I’m not.
I’d rather read anyway.

My husband is definitely not happy.
No more soccer matches.
No more local news channels.
No more cooking shows.
Only Netflix on my computer
for now.

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Filed under #SOL, weather

Grateful

Today I’ve been thinking of that saying, “when one door closes, another one opens“. You know the one I’m talking about.

Sometimes a door closes and it’s not a surprise. Although you’re hopeful, deep down inside you know what the outcome is going to be even before you go down that path. But, even though you hesitate at first, you open that door and go through it. Otherwise you’ll always regret not trying. 

So, now I am looking for another door. Or, as my daughter says, another window. A door or a window to slip through and find what I’m looking for. 

Sitting outside in my porch, overlooking some pretty majestic mountains, I am humbled. I am healing. 

Things happen for a reason, don’t they? Although my reason is yet to be revealed and my next steps are still tentative, I am grateful. 

I am grateful for my family. 
They’ve always got my back.

I am grateful for these mountains. 
They help to clear my mind.

I am grateful for the quiet breeze that plays with my hair. 
It reminds me of life all around.

I am grateful for a community of educators that nurture, encourage, support and celebrate each other. 
It sustains me.

I can just see that door open up a crack. 
The window is big and transparent.

I am ready.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this weekly space to write in a community of other writers.







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Thank You

Source:
http://www.planwallpaper.com/static/images/thank-you-clothesline-752×483.jpg


I had a hard time writing this post. In fact, I kept putting it off all week and now, a week and a day later, I am forced to write something. I feel like I should have a big, inspiring story about a former student who contacted me years later to thank me for being his or her teacher. 

But, sadly, I don’t have a story like that though after 30 years of teaching, it seems like I should. At least, I don’t have one big story. I have small moments. 
It seems like those should count, too. They’re important. Aren’t they?
I can excuse myself by saying that of the 30 years I’ve been in education, I spent seven out of the classroom, and so I lost contact with a lot of kids and their families. But, that sounds lame. What is true (read: less lame) is that I have never stayed more than six years in one school site and I’ve moved from North to South America and back again twice. It’s easy to sever ties when that happens. 
Nevertheless, I do have one small moment from this past year to share. In January one of my students moved away and for a few months after that, we were in touch via email. My student would write about how much she missed our class, what she was doing and, in one memorable email, thanked me for being a strict teacher. 
Bye miss I will never forget you, from all the teachers I had you’ve been the funniest, hilarious, and the one who most teached (sic) me. I like you most…because your’e strict. Take it as a good thing because you are preparing us for the other grades. THANK YOU. You’ve also been very funny. Never forget me because I never will.
This was from a student who spent the entire time she was in my class trying to undermine or poke fun at everything we did. I could never call her out on it, but I knew she was doing things behind my back. The fact that everyone found her charming, and I found her sneaky, made my suspicions that much harder to handle. 
Social media has facilitated staying in touch with families of former students. Facebook, LinkedIn, email, and Twitter make it easy to track down just about anybody you want to find who wants to be found. 
I know that my students from my first few years of teaching are out there somewhere. They’re in their early 30’s. I sometimes wonder where they are, what they’re doing. How they turned out. Do they remember our year together? 
It took me over 20 years to connect with a teacher who was my mentor in high school. I don’t know if I’ve ever told him how much he meant to me at the time. Even after reuniting face-to-face a few years ago in NY, I never got up the courage to thank him for his support, encouragement and unconditional faith in my potential to become whatever I set my mind on becoming. I wonder how often that really happens. There are definitely stories out there, but how often do students contact their former teachers to thank them? I wish I’d told Mr. G how grateful I was that he was my teacher. But, I still haven’t done that. Does that mean I care any less? Does that make him less effective?
I’d like to think it doesn’t. But, taking the time to reach out makes us feel appreciated and loved. 
As I move into my 31st year in education, although I have no regrets there are many things I wish I had done differently. I hope my hundreds of former students out there know that I love them and wish them well. 
And, I hope it’s mutual. 
I learned so much more from my students than they could have ever learned from me. 

Thank you for being my teachers. 

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Filed under #CompelledTribe, #SOL, appreciation

Writing Does That For Me

Writing has always been a cathartic activity for me.

I write when I’m upset or confused and, after just a few minutes, I start to feel better.

Writing about failures or challenging situations helps me clarify my thinking so that I can sort through the muck and figure out what my next steps might be.

Writing allows me to uncover what was hidden and is no longer so.

Writing can free me up so I can discover a better version of myself.
To uncover something I didn’t know.
To sift through the parts in order to get to the whole.
The whole that matters.

Writing does that for me.

And, just as quickly, a perceived barrier to making my writing public can shut me down.

If I can’t write publicly about a controversial topic without feeling vulnerable, then I feel lost.

Untethered.

Groundless.

Without a backbone.

Trapped.

I want to write without worrying that I will offend someone. But the fact of the matter is that every piece of good, honest writing will always offend someone. If that someone is a co-worker, friend or family, then I have to censor myself. Either I have to dance around the topic or simply write for myself, rather than for a larger community. Of course, while there’s nothing wrong with that, this is the kind of writing that begs for an audience outside of myself.

Sigh.

So, the last few days have been difficult. 

I have been working with my students on declaring strengths, and setting goals and plans for reaching those goals in academic and social areas. 

And, it has been hard! 

We haven’t done any reading or writing outside of what was needed for setting goals. 

Tomorrow my students will confer with their parents about their goals. 
I look forward to seeing how my students frame their goals and how they respond to their parents’ questions. 

I look forward to stepping back and thinking about this process. About how to make it more authentic. How to guide my students to set goals that are truly theirs. Goals over which they feel ownership. In order to do this, I will be asking my students for their perspectives. 

After the feelings of frustration and helplessness wear away, I will reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly in order to hopefully create something better and more meaningful.

I can already feel the waves of frustration and anger slipping away. I feel the calm settling in. 
I am ready to witness my students’ brilliance shining through.

Writing does that for me.

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday

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#EdCollab and #TWOTC twitter chats

I participated in back-to-back Twitter chats tonight. Two hours of fast-paced, free professional learning, coaching and collaboration. Ideas, encouragement and pure inspiration that I will take back to my classroom tomorrow.

#EdCollab and #TWOTC

Back-to-back learning opportunities.
My choice.
My needs.
Nerdy teacher heaven.

Here are nine takeaways from these two chats:

  • When I am working with a student, I must always make sure to teach at the point of a child’s strengths and zone of proximal development.
  • As I grow and change my beliefs and practice, I will benefit from creating a “cheat sheet” with questions to ask students when I confer with them. Questions that remind me to talk less so that students do most of the work.
    • I need to ask questions like – 
      • What did you try? 
      • What will you try? 
      • What have you tried before? How did that go?
      • What can you try now? 
      • Tell me about what you did here.
      • What makes you say that?
      • If you knew the answer, what would you say?
  • I will stay focused on my students’ strengths and not on their weaknesses. I will celebrate my students for who they and not for who we want them to be.
  • In order to grow as a teacher, I need collaborators. Other teachers who want to dig deep, talk, probe and innovate with me. I need other risk takers who are also there for the students.
  • I need to listen more and talk less. Those doing the talking are doing the learning.
  • Starting tomorrow, I plan to ask my students: “What are you proud of?” @SteveWyborney The focus is on celebrating small and big successes that students recognize about themselves.
  • It’s important for students to understand how we learn so they can take charge of their learning.
  • Learning is not about magic or innate ability. It’s about having a positive disposition and engaging in hard fun in an environment where the learner is not penalized for his or her learning. @GosnellMac
I truly love Twitter chats. I always learn something new about myself. I am always inspired by other educators, and the generosity of teachers to coach each other into better versions of ourselves. 

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Filed under #EdCollab, #SOL, #TWOTC

Sitting in My Usual Spot

I am sitting in my usual spot.
At least it has been my usual spot for about a week now.
It has become my work space.
It’s where I sit to participate in online summer PD activities.
It’s where I read.
It’s where I write.

My usual spot is in a corner of the couch.
The arm rest is unusually wide.
I can pile my books, notebooks and even my laptop there.
And, I do.

I used to have a more conventional work space,
but then my husband, who works from home,
and was struggling to stick to his side of the desk,
finally spread out,
invading my work space.

One day, after many attempts at getting organized,
and not succeeding,
he told me that he was going to add an extension to our house,
so I could have my own work space.
I told him it was cheaper to tidy up.
That was months ago.

Before claiming my usual spot,
I set up a temporary, wobbly table against a wall in my bedroom
for a work space.
I used that for a few months.
Not ideal, but better than nothing.

I’ve reclaimed my conventional work space this week.
I cajoled and threatened,
until finally my husband took everything off the table,
stuffed it somewhere or filled up the trash can with it.
It doesn’t really matter,
but now I have my work space back.

But, I’m in my usual spot tonight.
And, instead of taking 100 steps in any direction,
stopping and jotting down what I hear, see
and anything else that comes to my mind (the Teachers Write assignment for today),
I am sitting in my corner of the couch.

I am writing.
Anything.
Because I am trying to take risks.
That’s what I pledged to do yesterday.
Instead of worrying about not following the assignment as described,
I decided to take a leap.
Do something different.
Write.
Instead of making excuses,
that lead to not writing,
to not taking risks.

So here I am.

It was relatively quiet a few moments ago.
Now, my husband has turned on the TV to watch a local soccer match.
This is a treat, though you may not know this.
We’ve been without a television for about a year.
Until just a couple of weeks ago.
Really, we didn’t miss much.
Except the soccer matches and the occasional Netflix movie.

I hear the sports commentator on the television.
I don’t know what he’s saying,
nor do I care.

Someone has turned on a set of lights,
directed at my husband’s and my shared workspace.
It shines far away from me,
where I am sitting,
in my usual spot.

The curtains are drawn,
but I can see outside the window as the night
curtain starts to go down.
A large cloud blankets the still, blue sky.
There is a smattering of lights.
Across the ravine,
I watch the city light up.

The wind has died down, though it was loud and strong an hour ago.

My son has turned on the lights in the dining room.
I can’t see him from where I’m positioned,
but I bet he’s sitting on a stool, at the kitchen counter,
with his iPad or a book or a drawing notebook, nearby.

And, it’s just another summer evening.

It doesn’t matter whether I take 100 steps,
or just sit in my usual spot.

I observe.
I notice.
I write.

Crossposted to Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday.

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Filed under #SOL, #TeachersWrite2016