Sunday, February 25, 2018

Every Journey Starts with a Single Step

I am so thankful for Ruth Ayres, who extends an invitation to share the celebrations from our week.  Here's what I am celebrating today!

Last September I took a big step in my journey as a teacher. I began working on my Master's degree. I am ready for a different turn in my journey, and I knew this path was the one I needed to take.  

Looking back at that first assignment, I remember the tears and the doubt and the fear, and I honestly didn't know if I could do it.  With the empty nest on the horizon, I knew it wasn't a matter of running kids here and there and being present in their lives. I had the time. Teaching full time is a challenge, but now that I had taught 6th grade for three years, I felt comfortable with my curriculum.  The workload wasn't the problem.

My biggest fear stemmed from own self-doubt.  Could I really do this at my age?  At the age of 54, many teachers are thinking about retirement, and I am thinking about stepping out into a bigger circle in the education world.

Today, I celebrate learning, as my first semester officially ends this week. Yes, I did it!

When I chose step as my one little word this year, the decision to go to grad school was a big part of it.  Now I am ready to swing my arms back and jump to the next rock.

And I can't wait to see where this journey takes me.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Table is Full, Momma

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for creating this space for me to share my corner of the world.

Our son is away at college, although "away at college" equates to only 60 miles.  I know I am lucky because I get to see him more often than most college parents.

Although my daughter still lives at home, my husband and I have slowly adapted to a quieter house, lower food bills, and less laundry.  But it is still difficult to see one less plate at the dining room table.

Our dining room table has been our gathering place. We have laughed and cried.  We have rolled out cookies and played board games.  We have carved pumpkins and completed homework.  We have written research papers and filled out job applications. But nothing gave my husband and I more joy than sitting down and eating a meal together.
Life happened at our dining room table.

Our dining room table has changed.  I have moved to my son's spot, and books and papers are stacked at mine.  My husband and I eat meals together, just the two of us.  Now, I grade papers by myself instead of helping the kids with homework. The baked cookies are now half-batches because they go stale before we can eat them all.

Yes, the dining room table has changed.

Recently, Ethan came home for a Sunday afternoon visit, (and if the truth be told, a home-cooked meal!) As we all sat down to eat, we shared stories and laughs, just like we always have.

My husband looked at me and said, "The table is full, Momma!"

Yes, it was.
Life still happens at our dining room table.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A Hole In My Cape

I believe teaching is a difficult profession, yet one of the most important and rewarding. Children sit in our classrooms today and tomorrow will be the ones leading us, taking care of us, and making decisions which will impact all of us.

That is a humbling thought.

Many people see teachers as super-heroes.  If this image is accurate, then my cape got a hole last week.

Without giving too many details, I was verbally attacked by a group of students.

I was in the middle of working with them through a difficult text, and they were not doing their part in the learning process.  Because of their behavior, I stopped teaching and had a conversation about the importance of learning, graduating high school, and finding a good job in order to support themselves.  I told them it starts in sixth grade.

I am sure many of us have had similar conversations at some point with our students.

Sadly, they took my words, twisted them, and spit them out with a "strong dislike" for me, teachers, and school in general.  They became enraged and took that rage out on me.

The next day, I talked with the dean of students, and I requested that no suspensions be given.  However, I assured him I would stand by the consequences they thought would be best.

Later that day, a few students came in and said they owed me a thank you for not getting them suspended.  Another one asked why I would do that.

A third one, who was not involved in the incident but is a student in the class, quietly replied, "Because she is nice."

I didn't do it because I am nice.  I did it because after much thinking, I felt it was the right thing to do.

  • I want them to know they have a voice, but that doesn't mean their voice needs to be disrespectful or full of hate.  Suspending them would only send a message that their words don't matter to me. I want them to know they have a voice in my classroom.
  • I know suspending them would not lead to the results I want.  I want a community of learners who listen to each other, who question perspectives, who discuss problems, and who collaborate and work together to find solutions.  Suspending them would not get me those results; it would only feed the anger.

I know that I need to learn from this experience as much as they do. Reflecting back on that day, I have questions of my own and answers to find.  Why do they dislike school so much?  What can I do to teach them how to handle disagreements? How do I show them to use their voice in a positive way? How do I rebuild those relationships? How can I get them to understand that literacy is the key to opening up their world to all that is possible?

But the most important question I have from all of this is where do we go from here?  I have a three day weekend to think about how I will handle things on Tuesday afternoon.  
Yes, my cape got a hole last week, but thankfully, I know how to sew.  I will wrap that thread up in resilience, compassion, and respect.  And hopefully, we will patch that hole up together.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Kaleidoscope of Color #PoetryFriday

It's Poetry Friday, and Sally is hosting the round-up and sharing some terse verse with us.  Check it out!

This week I wrote a poem using the 15 words or less picture prompt from Laura Purdie Salas. This image is from artwork found in an airport!

It reminded me a little of stained glass and a kaleidoscope.  Here is my rough draft.

Photo by Laura Purdie Salas

a kaleidoscope of color
stretches to the sky
perfectly placed pieces 
just beyond my reach