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Sunday, May 21, 2017

#celebratelu2017 Our Actions and Our Words Matter

You may not think so at first; however this post IS about teaching, as well as livig.

I noticed her, leaning close, reading to him as I entered the lobby almost every afternoon. He did not seem to be listening; his eyes stared into the distance as if he were looking into the distant future.  Yet, she continued reading, patting his arm at times, deep into the story.  

Then, one day, she was in the lobby, alone, just staring at the door.  My eyes met hers and I smiled, greeting her with a sincere, “Hello,” even though I had that sinking-pit-in-the-stomach feeling that he had gone to that spot in the distance.
 
“Good to see you,” she said slowly, her eyes filling with fresh tears and her voice shaking.

Somehow, I knew I had to acknowledge her missing partner.  “You’re not reading today?” I asked. 
“He’s gone,” she said, her voice no longer shaking, “but we finished The Silent Stream.  It was Tom’s favorite and I knew when I finished he would be ready to go. Thank you for asking about him.  It means the world to me that you care.”

I held her thin hand for just a moment sharing that Silent Stream had been one of my dad’s favorites as well.  Rachel Carson was a name bounced around dinner table conversations when I was growing up!  “Such as small world,” she smiled, “and I am so glad you stopped to talk today.  I miss him so much.”

I thought about the need to carry on the legacy of caring for the environment as well as the need to care about people as I drove home that night. "Our actions matter," my Dad said many times as we conserved water while brushing our teeth and composted long before it was trendy to do so.  

I thought about the brief interaction with a woman whose name I still did not know, as I drove home that night.  Our words matter, as Peter Johnston says, in the classroom, in the boardroom, in the doctor’s office, in the hallway, and in the nursing home lobby.    


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

#sol17 Jack in the Box

I remember reading books dedicted to grandchildren and articles about grandchildren written by those I respected in education such as Shelly Harwayne and Dorothy Strickland.  At that point, my own children were still finding their paths towards adulthood and grandchildren were not yet on my horizon.  I remember reading and wondering what made those children so special.....but now I get it.
Children and amazing miracles but grandchildren are that last chance to watch the miracle of life unfold.  Grandchildren are ours to love on, read to, listen to, dance wiith, sing with, play with, watch grow, laugh with, and learn from, one last time. Grandchildren are not only our last chance but also our greatest gift. We notice more, laugh more, and discipline less.

This is Jack, in a Box.  He is one of my 3 grandchildren who have rocked my world in the last 18 months and forced me to stop and notice not only language learning through the lens of academic research but who have also forced me to rethink the miracle of exploring a wonderful new world.

This is Jack, in a Box after waving Bye Bye to his mom and after settling in to play with his Mimi and a box.  Of course, most of your toys can fit in that box.  Of course, you can sit in a box and Mimi will read to you.  Of course, a box is where YOU can have your own house in the house your parents chose for you.  Of course, a Jack in a Box has meaning for those of us who grew up with such a toy; however, for MY Jack and his Box, it is a place where until it falls apart, you play, put your books, set your lovey, set your favorite toys and learn the power of environmental control.

 This morning, I give you MY Jack in a Box, my grandchild who adores dirt, rocks, and things that move, known as Vroom Vrooms.  Jack knows the power of an empty box filled with all his valued loveys and books to fill a rainy morning.   

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Name Droppings: Marc Brown

Marc Brown, yes, Marc Brown of Arthur fame, came to my school!  That in and of itself made the week, perhaps even the YEAR, special!

He was charming, just like haracters and just like I thought he would be!  Marc Brown not only shared his newest, yet to be published book, Mary McScary, but also connected with staff and students as he shared tales of his life!  It seemed too good to be true that his THIRD grade class and some of his teachers inspired his amazing characters.  Marc Brown shared pictures of his home on Martha's Vineyard and his menagerie of carefully named goats (one was named Hillary Clinton), adorable Oreo looking cows, and prolific chickens.  

Just when I thought my cup was overflowing with joy, I was gifted the opportunity to eat lunch with him.  Yup, there I was, sitting right next to Marc Brown as he ate lunch.  Here is the central message of the day: Always be nice and kind to students, parents, everybody.  You just never know when someday, it might take 40 years, you might be lucky enough to find yourself sitting next to someone you admire, whose characters you have adored, and whose presence leaves you smiling for days.

There is only one lingering regret I have for the day.  Star struck as I was, I did not find the courage to "prove" what I have told many struggling beginning readers needing a sight-word-focused story found in a 1981 Houghton Mifflin basal reader called Help Help!  For many years, I have suggested that THE MARC BROWN wrote that cute beginning reader of few words and lots of laughs! On some level, I'm more convinced than ever that it was his work as the story and its characters are for real, just like he was!  However, I passed on my chance to know for sure! I'll just have to keep up the pretense!