Sunday, October 30, 2011

You Matter Sunday

We've been friends for almost a quarter of a century.  We raised our kids together--everything from diapers to driving. We cheered those kids on through rock bands and basketball teams, high school musicals and college tests, dating to weddings.

We bought lake trailers next door to each other. Learned to golf together (although she is now MUCH better than I am).

We cried and hugged through the deaths of parents and the birth of grandkids. I can't imagine her not in my life.

She is one of the strongest women I know and also one of the best friends. She taught me how to stand up for myself. She got me to go out and have fun and until this year, always rode the roller coaster with me.

She buys me presents she keeps for herself. Or gives them to me early so she doesn't keep them for herself. She always has chocolate stash that she willing shares if I need it.

She keeps treats for the dogs in the area, although her family says she doesn't like dogs.

She shares my love of Bobby Sherman, the Osmands, the Jackson 5 and American Idol.

We know the same "lullabies" and can sing the words.

She cries easily and loves fiercely.

She's my friend and today is her birthday.  We can't be together, but I want her to know how much I love and appreciate her. Today and always.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Little Things

It was a week of big things:  Two nights of conferences, post observation conference, and the commercial project in speech.  How was I going to focus on one little thing like Ruth challenged us to do in her post? Looking at the big things took all of my time!

But this morning as I uploaded pictures from a visit to our oldest son's last weekend, I found myself smiling--at the happy, giggling smiles of our grandkids, the proud smiles of our son as he holds his youngest, Grandpa's smiles as he plays with them all.


How
Can something so small
and perfect
Create such a
Large swell of feeling
Inside me?

How
Can those upturned corners
and sparkling eyes
Melt my heart and
Make my arms ache?

How
Can the giggles that escape
and grab my soul
Still be there
Today?


But those smiles weren't the only ones that I thought about:

Student smiles as they walk into my room, excited to work on the current project. They talk, they giggle, they show me what they've done.

Parents step into my room with such trepidation.  Each one wondering/worrying that I will have something bad to say. Each one hoping I will make a difference in their child's life. Each one smiling as they realize that I truly like their child--even the naughty ones--and will do my best to give them what they need, whatever that may be.

Stepping into my principal's office after conferences for a conference of my own.  My first real evaluation in an extremely long time took place last week. We were meeting for my post-observation conference. His smile and welcoming words put me at ease immediately.

A simple little thing that makes the world a better place....

'smile!' photo (c) 2006, seanbjack - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Of Course, It's Monday!

'monday' photo (c) 2011, Sean MacEntee - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/A typical high school Monday--a little bit of everything and conferences to boot!

The morning went well. Kids worked pretty hard on their commercials. Almost all of my alternative school kids showed up. And someone put apple bars in the lounge.

Life was good.

Until after lunch.

Two groups were working in the hall and in the reading/writing center outside of my room.  Something that goes on most every day. I was in the classroom when I heard a crash/clank.  I went into the hall...

"What?" Surly voice, surly look, defensive posture.  This was not good.

I give my best teacher stare, "What is going on?"

"He called me a c&*^%*%$er," the surly one replies (rather calmly, I might add).

"He laughed at our story," an angry young man on crutches answers, "And then he kicked my crutches!

Dealing with 16-year-old boys for quite a few years, I am not surprised by the language, but I am angry about the crutch kicking!

"I'll see you both at 2:15."

That should end it. Meeting with Mrs. Day after school normally ends a confrontation.

Normally.

The jawing and posturing continue. I don't catch it all because they are mumbling under their breath. All I know is this is escalating at a rate I don't like.

I snap my fingers and point. "With me!" I command, with no room for refusal.

I march them to the office, a place where I hate to dump my problems, but this situation quickly became out of control and I needed to diffuse the situation.

On the bright side, a parent thanked me at conferences last night and said they see a real difference in their child. More confidence, more self-esteem, more enthusiasm for school. And they credit my speech class for a lot of that.

See, Mondays aren't all bad!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Whispers

'IMG_7030.JPG' photo (c) 2008, David Poe - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
They speak to me at odd times.  Sometimes in the morning during a quiet cup of coffee. Sometimes  while I play outside with Chloe.  Last week, they kept whispering to me during Creative Writing and I just had to put down the papers I was reading and write down their stories.

Will they continue sharing with me?  Do they want the world to know about them?

Or will they continue to just whisper, never fulling revealing who they are?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Harriet the Spy


What a coincidence!  My post yesterday for National Day of Writing credited my love of writing back to when I read the book Harriet the Spy as a child. I wanted to be Harriet. I wrote in my own little notebook as I spied on the world around me.

Then, this morning I am checking my Twitter feed (mrsday75) and a tweet by Sharon Creech caught my eye.  All it said was "Harriet the Spy" and gave a link to the Children's Book Almanac site.  Who knew that on October 21, 1964 Harriet the Spy was published. And somewhat controversially, it seems. Harriet was a new kind of children's character in the '60's.

And, I wasn't the only child to want to be Harriet.

Now, if you'll excuse me. I need to go revisit an old friend's neighborhood!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why I Write: National Day of Writing

What I write:
Grocery lists
To-do Lists
Scattered Poetry
Scrapbook journals
Diaries
Journals
Comments to kids
Notes to colleagues
Thank-you notes
Facebook messages
Tweets
Birthday cards

Why I Write:
To keep in touch
To Share
To Learn
To Explore
To Rant
To Create
To Give Encouragement
To Leave a Mark
To Record My History


But really, I write because I always wanted to be Harriet. You remember Harriet...Harriet the Spy ?  After I read that book, my life changed.  I took my little writer's notebook and roamed our neighborhood, spying on the neighbors and writing down what I saw. I wanted to be Harriet.

Eventually, that writer's notebook became a diary. I wrote down inconsequential things that meant nothing to no one. I remember keeping real feelings locked inside and only wrote down what I thought people wrote in diaries.

Mrs. Henke and Creative Writing entered my life in high school and along with her a love of writing poetry (notice I didn't say a love of teaching poetry). My diary became a journal (really--what is the difference if it still is full of the inconsequential), and my writing became the fluff of silly teenage girls everywhere.

With college and an English minor, I wrote as I imagined the great writers wrote. Stuffy. I hated it. And writing left my life for a good long time.

Except, of course, for the annual Christmas letter, which I tried to make as creative as possible.

And, now, I'm back. Writing for me. Writing because I can't imagine not writing. Writing about life so the world (well, mostly the grandkids) knows I was here. Writing so others know I cared.

But, seriously, I write because deep down, I still want to be Harriet!



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thief of Dreams



Inadequacy
Creeps in,
Stealing creativity,
Squashing ideas,
Putting out the fire.

Inadequacy screams,
Better than you have tried and failed.
Inadequacy whispers,
Just shut your door and teach.
Inadequacy writes,
What makes you think you are good enough?


Inadequacy,
The thief of dreams.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's Not the What, It's the Who!

It's 5:00am and I woke early.  Not sure why, but I am.  I was going to post about being evaluated today, but I read blogs and checked Twitter instead.

I reread Christy's Slice of Life from Tuesday again because I love the way she wrote her post about the young man in her classroom. The intro, especially, grabbed my attention and I wanted to use it today as a mentor text with my freshman. But most importantly, she is connecting and making difference in that young man's life.

I read a new blog for me, but one I enjoy, JennM at I Hablo Espanglish. She made an analogy to the starfish story and two students at school.  One she kept from being bullied at lunch, one she helped get her locker fixed. She made a difference in those two lives.

And then Michelle tweeted a post. I generally read anything she tweets about because it's usually good stuff! And it was again this morning. A new blog to follow Justin Stortz at Pursuing Context. Justin comes right out and says the important theme running through these blogs--It's not what we teach, but who!

So, as I go back to looking over my lesson for today, as I make sure my room is in order and the SmartBoard works, as I teach a mini lesson on writing great leads for their personal narratives, I need to remember that the what I am teaching is not the most important thing in the classroom--although it might be the easiest thing to observe and evaluate.

These are


 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Living and Learning With Passion

Last week was Demonstration Speech week in my speech classes. I think it's my second favorite speech that students give. With this speech I learn my students' passions.  I learn what gets them excited about life.  Students who may struggle with other speeches shine when they give this one because this is where they live and love. This is something they enjoy.

I took pictures for the yearbook of students presenting their speeches, and wish I had them with me to include. You see, the speeches don't just take place in my classroom. The kids present everywhere. We were in the gym (lots of volleyball speeches), the parking lot (I think I could change my own tire after that one), on the track (learned to throw a shot put and do the long jump), and the back lawn behind the building (I can throw a pretty good spiral now).

Passion.

And then Friday night at the lake, we had a little jam session in the store at the resort:


Here are guys, doing what they love. It might not be their job, but they kept their passion in their life. Some plays gigs on weekends, but they all play for themselves and for the joy it brings to their life.

Passion.

Today, I traveled with four like-minded teacher friends three hours from our hometown to visit another high school. We're observing a new way to teach kids. We'll be observing in classrooms of what I am sure are other like-minded teachers.  We have one thing in common--finding new and better ways to reach students.  We are passionate about our teaching and becoming better at  it.

Passion.

What's yours?

Monday, October 10, 2011

2 Songs

2 Songs


If I can only choose two songs, then I would have to choose songs that make me smile.

1. I'm Yours by Jason Mraz
2. Down At the Twist and Shout by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Both make me happy and I can sing along to both of them at the top of my lungs (not that you'd want to hear me).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

3 Films



3 Films


This might be as hard as the four books! Although maybe not a surprise:

1. Gone With the Wind:  I also saw the movie with my grandma when I was 11 or 12.  In the theatre.  Truly my favorite and one of my favorite memories.

2. Wizard of Oz: Again a movie with lots of  memories attached and one of my favorites.  This could be a blog post all on its own!  And just might be!

3. August Rush:  My husband and I watched this movie a couple of years ago. It is such a beautiful quiet movie about a young musical prodigy who uses his music to find his birth parents.  The soundtrack is one of my favorite things to listen to in the car.




Saturday, October 8, 2011

4 Books



4 Books


This will be hard. How to choose only four books?????

1. Gone With the Wind:  The first grown-up book I read. I was 12.  I have loved it ever since and find something new to enjoy every time I read it.  A must have...

2. Inkheart:  I fell in love with this whole series. But the first adventures of Meggie in the Inkheart world are my favorite. For anyone who has disappeared into a book they were reading....

3. Rebecca: This is another book that I discovered as a teen and I love it to this day.  This would satisfy my need for suspense and mystery.

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:  Doesn't a Harry Potter book have to be on a list?

Friday, October 7, 2011

5 Foods



5 Foods


1. Skippy Honey Nut Creamy Peanut Butter:  No other will do. In fact, if by chance another brand or another "flavor" shows up in my cupboard, it's probably for cookies or Chloe (she loves a little peanut butter in her Kong).  Peanut butter goes with everything--one of my favorites is as a dip for apples.

2. Grilled steak.  I don't usually order steak when we go out to eat because my husband and friends do such a terrific job on the grill.

3. Warm chocolate chip cookies and milk. I don't think this really needs any explanation.  A wonderful comfort food.

4. Homemade soups:  I love to make homemade soup of any kind.  They are all my favorites:  chili, chicken and noodles, beef and noodles, beef stew, cheeseburger, chicken enchilada.....mmmmmm.

5. Chocolate:  I have to have my piece of chocolate every day. And I have cravings for different kinds of chocolate. Sometimes I want brownies, sometimes a snicker bar, sometimes ice cream. It just depends.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 6


6 Places

1. Sandbar Beach Resort:  My favorite place in the world. Home of my soul.

2. Louisiana: If I have lived a past life, I'm sure it was here.  

3. Barnes and Noble:  Is there a more perfect store in the world?

4. My room at school: It's me. It's mine. My home away from home.

5. Vegas:  I don't know why, but I love it's tackiness

6. Any theatre, anywhere.  If you can put on a live show there, I love it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 7

7 Wants
1. I want to end bullying in my school--heck--I want to end it everywhere, but you have to start someplace.

2. I want to win the lottery and then create a technology wonderland in my classroom. Of course, first I'd have to have more than two plug ins in my room :)

3. I want a Prius.

4. I want to go back to Vegas--I'm thinking the four days off over my birthday might be a good time.

5. I want to wake up and be a size 12.

6. I want someone to come in and redecorate my house---of course, they'd have to clean it really well also. And they'd have to convince my husband to throw away the last 50 years of his life!

7. I want to see a Broadway show ON BROADWAY.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Let It Be Me (part 2)

Check out other slice of life stories at
Two Writing Teachers
"Really, those people don't matter.  Just ignore them. I know it's hard, but really, they don't matter."  Those words propelled me out my classroom door and I saw her. Swollen red eyes, sniffling nose, dejected look on her face. My girl, my project for the year. 

A former student accompanied her--another one of the lost souls who roam the hallways of high schools. Now the mother of two children, she speaks to my girl from experience.

"High school stinks. But get through it. It won't matter when you are out. I promise.  I talk to those same people now and it's all different."

"I just want to go home," she sniffles.

"Walk with me," I answer.

I put my arm around her and the three of us walk up the hall.

" You matter to me," I tell her. "I want you to be in my class this afternoon. Somewhere, deep inside you, you have to find the courage to ignore them and take care of yourself. I know it's hard. I know you don't want to. Talk to your teachers. Tell them what is going on. Ask them to move you in front of their desk. Stand up for yourself. Don't let them win."

I talked and talked and talked. I hugged. I pleaded. I left her sitting in the counselor's office with her friend. I hoped she would be in class today.

She was. And before she left for the day, she turned to me and said

"Thank-you for talking to me this morning."

I patted her on the shoulder and answered, "Thank-you for making it to class. I'm proud of you."

Sometimes we don't know if what we've said ever sinks in, but every once in awhile, you have a moment like this and we remember why we teach in the first place--the kids.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 8

8 Fears
1. Something bad happening to a family member.

2. Staying overnight alone.  I hate it.  I still "let" my husband go on his weekend trips to his brother's or fishing with our son. I just don't like to be home alone over night.

3. Saying something that will seriously damage a student. I can be sarcastic. I need to watch that!

4. Heights.  I don't even like to walk on the dock at the lake.  Freaks me out.  And getting into a boat is scary too.  I do it because I don't want to be left out, but....

5. Snakes and other creepy crawlies (but not bugs).

6. Things that go bump in the night---you know what I mean.  You wake up to a strange sound and stay awake trying to figure out what it is.  I'm just a big chicken.

7. Hitting a deer on the road at night. I've done it once. Don't want to do it again.

8. Making a fool of myself and having people laugh at me.  I laugh at things I do a lot.  But I'm always afraid that I will do something really stupid that I won't think is funny, but those around me will.

I fight through most of these fears and face them whenever they come up.  But they are still fears....


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 9



Nine Loves

Obviously, friends and family would top the list. I'm opting for nine other loves

1. My Job!  Even though it can be trying. Even though there are days I would rather not go back. Even though teachers don't always get the respect they deserve. I love my job and can't imagine doing anything else with my life.

2. My Students (current and former)

3. Sunday night baths.  Don't call me at 7.  I am unavailable. Every Sunday night since the boys were babies this has been my time.  And no one disturbs me.

4. Rainy days where I can wrap up in a blanket and read all day.

5. Snow days.  Shhh. Don't tell my husband!

6.  Warm chocolate chip cookies and milk. 'Nuff said.

7. Tuesday wine night.  My husband works later on Tuesdays and it has become my habit to have glass of wine while dinner cooks.

8. Sandbar Beach. Our lake place and it truly is the most wonderful place on earth.

9. Really good chocolate ice cream.

I laugh as I read this list. I sure like to baby myself. But it I don't do it, who will?

You Matter Sunday

Today's shout out goes to the entire staff  at Crestwood High School.  This includes not only the teachers and administrative staff, but the paras, nurses, secretaries, and custodians. No matter what gets said around town, you are making a difference in the lives of the teenagers we see every day.

 I watch as you arrive early to work with the kid who just doesn't get it.
 I watch as you stay far beyond 4:00pm to do the same thing.

I see that you take students under your wing and give them the love that they aren't getting at home (and sometimes the kick in the rear that they need!)
I see you cry when bad things happen and you don't know what to do.

You take on jobs without extra pay because it's good for kids.
You work hard at creating a welcoming, learning environment.

For all this and more, You Matter.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

10 Day Challenge

Reading the blog of a former student, I found that she has started this blogging challenge. I don't know where she found it, but I liked it. So here we go. 10 secrets

1. I am a terrible procrastinator. If I can put it off, I do.

2. Teaching still scares me. I'm always worried I will screw some kid up for life!

3. I love sappy movies and books that make me cry.  They don't need any literary merit what-so-ever.

4. I still love Saved By The Bell.

5. My grandkids really are the smartest and the cutest kids on the planet. Sorry for the rest of you.

6. I've read Gone With the Wind about 20 times. I used to read it every summer. I've probably seen the movie that many times also!

7. Appearances are deceiving--I'm very disorganized.

8. I am a "bleeding heart liberal". Wait--maybe that's not such a secret....

9.  If it's on sale and I have a coupon, I'll probably buy it--even if I don't really need it.

10. It's hard for me to share the inner-most me, so these secrets are really superficial.