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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

No choice but to pause

At Christmas
We have no choice but to pause
As shopping halts,
Traffic dissipates,
The focus on gifting fades.
No choice but to pause
As we think of
Those we love.
Our children,
Their children,
Our nieces, nephews, cousins,
Our friends.

No choice but to pause
As we think of
Tables, pews, couches,
Where we once sat,
Places where we gathered
To celebrate family and friendship.

No choice but to pause
As thoughts of those 
No longer in our lives
Fill our hearts
Like my mother
Who would have been 88 today,
My brother, who would have
Gobbled too many gingerbread.

In just a few hours,
The hustle and bustle of returns, bargains.
Works, business, travel, adventure,
Living,
Will overtake the pause
Of Christmas
Yet thought of people,
Rather than gifts
Will linger as today's pause
Gives way to tomorrow.









Friday, December 21, 2018

The Days Are Getting Longer

I remember feeling rushed for time on this darkest day of the year, the first day of winter. I remember crating lists for the grocery store and for gifts while attending faculty or team meetings. I remember waking up in a cold sweat not sure if I could get "it" all done before the big day. I remember still needing a tree and still unsure of gifts. I remember feeling pressured to make the holiday "great" for others. I remember feeling rushed and wishing I could add a day to the calendar.  I remember feeling sad as the holidays descended on this darkest day of the year.

This morning, on the darkest day of the year, the first day of winter, I was stuck in traffic for nearly an hour due to a car hitting a utility pole on a major thoroughfare. Later, I watched a pricey Ferrari scoot around traffic in order to get ahead of the crowd. This afternoon, the darkest day of the year, the first day of winter. I watched an SUV skirt under the descending gates of an oncoming train.  He/she made it with seconds to spare.  I could feel the tension and stress in each of these drivers and am grateful that while stressed, I do not ever remember traveling so fast or taking such risks on tdays are his darkest day of the year. 

As the Grinch states so well, Christmas will come without ribbons or tags,  It will come without packages, boxes or bags. 
As the Farmers Almanac confirms, tomorrow is going to be longer and brighter! 
As Annie sang and as those of us who have lost or been desolate know, the sun will come out tomorrow.
As the calendar promises, there are still 4 days for whatever needs to get done.
As store managers promise, stores will open early tomorrow and in most places, on Sunday, and on Monday.
As those of us who have been around the block a few times know, the days are now getting longer and there will be time to get done what must be done....and the rest of it really doesn't matter...

As those of us who have been around the block a few times know, Christmas will come will come without boxes or tags.  Christmas never comes from a store. Christmas may be a date on the calendar; the real meaning of Christmas is a celebration of hope and new beginnings.  
As Clarence says in It's a Wonderful Life, "Each man's life touches so many other lives.  When he isn't around, he leaves an awful hole."

Hang in there.  Don't drive crazy.  Don't rush safety. The days are getting longer, for sure.
\







Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Good-bye Students

I've had hundreds of antsy young readers who finally cracked the code as the year came to a close. I've had  scores of reluctant writers who finally transformed an idea into a text as the year wrapped up. I'm always sad to see the year of learning and growing come to an end.

I've had many eager grad students and a few reluctant ones as well over the years, Sometimes, I'm lucky enough to have students more than once in their journeys to be effective teachers with strong research-based foundations and abundant teaching strategies. I'm always sad to see the semester of learning and growing come to an end.

I've gotten mugs, soaps, and a few poignant thank you notes over the years. It's those notes and the reflections that I treasure as they remind me that while our paths diverge at the end of the semester, our shared journey has made a difference.  

I got one of those notes today.

"Thank you for always believing in me and empowering me to become a better teacher..... It is very emotional for me to say goodbye"

That, sums it up for me as well. As another semester comes to a close, I know I've done my job, but it is very hard to say good-bye!  




Tuesday, November 27, 2018

#sol18 Thinking and Thankful

Thanksgiving, 
Has given way to 
Black Friday, 
Small Business Saturday,
Cyber Monday,
Grateful Tuesday
Frenzied Hanuka prep, 
Abundant Christmas lights,
Jam-packed shopping malls,
Gigantic decorated trees, wreaths
.
Leaving grateful hearts,
Thinking about many blessings,
Slightly strained belts,
Thinking about abundant tables,
Grateful grandparents,
Thinking about grandchildren,
Hopeful parents,
Thinking about children,
And yet-to-be-born children,
Somewhat stressed students,
Thinking about end of semester papers,
All thankful for today,
All optimistic about the future,
All looking ahead.

On the afterglow of Thanksgiving,
On the eve of December
On the edge of the semester,
Facing a busy month,
Facing many challenges,
Facing piles of papers,
I'm thoughtful, thinking, and thankful.
Pretty sure Thanksgiving
Is more than a day.








Tuesday, November 6, 2018

#sol18 Slice of Life: Choices

The reminders 
Litter lawns, crowd corners,
Fill mailboxes,
Overwhelm ad space,
Red signs, blue ones,
Negative ads, 
Better be wary ads,
Reminders of political affiliation
Rather than who they are,
Rather than what they want to do.
Asking us to vote against.

I struggled to find
How candidates stand on issues.
Amidst the plethora 
Of warnings and ultimatums,
Amidst the exaggerations,
Amidst twisting of the truth,
Amidst red seas and blue waves,
Yet, I finally made informed choices,
Based on issues
Not just on color of the sign.



Monday, November 5, 2018

Cold and Dark With a Touch of Stars and Rainbows

Overnight, the leaves changed color, the days grew shorter, and jackets needed to be found. These clear reminders of the colder, darker, and often bleaker season upon us made me a bit melancholy. So this Twitter message was probably meant for people like me who want to see their "cup" as half full! 
Message received! 



Tuesday, October 30, 2018

On the Eve of Halloween

I had a "sunrise" seat on the early morning train and watched what seemed to be a scene from a Halloween movie unfold over the Hudson. Usually, I just follow the crowd up and down the stairs and through the turnstiles, like lemmings to the trains, but perhaps inspired by that orange glow burning in the morning sky, I noticed the people in my cohort.  
There was the girl with bright orange hair, an over-sized jacket and what appeared to be Doc Martens boots?  Are they back in style, I wondered or were they from her mom's attic?  
There was the man with tousled hair, who looked like he had just rolled out of bed and onto the train, sitting next to a man with monogrammed cuff links peeking from behind a suit that appeared tailored just for him. 
There were a flock of boys in uniforms, one a foot taller than others, heading to school.  
There were people napping, nodding, watching their phones, listening to iPods, reading the Wall Street Journal, pursuing social media, and playing Candy Crush, but there was no one talking.

As we went underground, I realized there was an endless sea of diverse, different but seemingly peacful zombie like creatures heading into the bright orange sunrise, on the eve of Halloween. 

Was I the only one noticing and feeling a bit uneasy?  


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

#Rainy Tuesdays

It rained EVERY Tuesday in September resulting in wet (ruined) sandals, wet (ruined) shoes, wet (ruined) umbrellas, wet (ruined) laptops and phones and messy (puddle-filled) commutes via buses, trains and cars! SO as September came to a close, I invested in rain-gear for my feet and a new umbrella.  I was confident that I'd get prepared and then the rains would stop.  After all, there was NO snow at all during that winter after I got a snow blower!


The sun was out when I headed into the city on the first Tuesday in October and it had all the appearances of a lovely early-fall day. I didn't need to worry about those clunky water shoes so I donned my new slip-ons and left the rain jacket at home!  Interestingly, my grad students also noted the Tuesday without rain situation, happily!

However, a few hours after immersing ourselves in miscue analysis and collaborative models there were 4 severe storm warnings and 2 tornado watch warnings on my phone. The sky was ablaze as I left the city and at one moment I wondered if it was THE storm or fireworks somewhere? The rain started slowly but increased in intensity, volume, and duration.  I knew that it was rain and yet it felt as if I was being pelted with rocks!  I knew it was thunder and yet if sounded as if the skies would open an swallow me hole.  I knew that the rain would eventually stop and yet, I wondered if I would have to wait till morning to finally be home!  There was hydroplaning and sloshing and flooding in spots.

Yes, there have been years of bone dry earth and water rationing as we endured droughts.  Yes, there are still areas of our country and the world that would welcome a deluge, Yes, I know now that buying rain shoes and an umbrella was not enough of a deterrent for Mother Nature,  So, next Tuesday, I will wear my rain shoes, carry an umbrella, hope the rains go elsewhere, but be prepared for rain.  Can you hear me Mother Nature?


Saturday, September 29, 2018

#celebratelu Celebrating Sun

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun shiny day!


I had to go looking for my sun glasses when the sun came out today after many cloudy days and lots of heavy rain. The yard sale signs popped up like harbingers of fall and the walkers, joggers, and bike riders emerged from hiding to embrace the sunshine. The homecoming floats gratefully paraded down Main Street and the cheerleaders danced in gratitude for the opportunity to celebrate under clear skies. There was still a chill in the late September air that seemed to remind us all the enjoy this gift and reminder that light follows darkness just as sunshine follows rain.  

The analogy to life was evident as I sat in the sunshine waiting for the parade to pass with a song about sunshine in my mins. There will be storms in all the chapters of our lives and there will be days when it is seems the storms will never end; however, if you hang on, there will be better days and sunny skies on the horizon.    



Saturday, September 22, 2018

#irs That IRS Letter

I had spent the day playing trucks, trains, and blocks with my toddler grandsons before stopping by Fairway for some birthday-weekend-goodies.  I was planning on spending the waning hours of the evening working on reading responses from my grad students and working on slides for this week's classes. I had every minute scheduled before bed.  I arrived home ready to roll.

Then I put my hand in the mailbox and saw it, a letter from the IRS addressed to me, the estate manager. The lump in my throat grew immediately to a size that allowed me to just barely swallow and  the my blood pressure soared to new heights as I imagined the potential questions, reviews. additional fees, and potential audit inside.  

I put away groceries and made tea and I was actually shaking by the time I opened the big fat letter with certain disastrous news.....and then.....I could hardly believe the words from the IRS....."can you please complete this survey about the time and money estates spend the fulfill their tax obligations."!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THIS survey I was glad to do...in fact...I abandoned my plans for the evening....drank 2 cups of tea....and was happy to share that I have spent.......countless hours.....managing estates in the last few years,,,,,and the IRS paperwork is INSANE!  I am hoping they sent this survey so that things might change in the future!!!!!!! Perhaps, others have complained or at least noticed?

If I had a chance to redo a chapter of my life, I would manage the estates of my mother and my aunt without a second thought.  Yet, the IRS paperwork is pretty intense as it stands now and without a tax attorney and/or an accountant who understands the difference in tax filings, you can be hit with fees, questions, audits, headaches and high blood pressure!

I'll set the alarm to work on slides for next week and celebrate that the IRS asked me what I think rather than telling I am wrong!!!!!

Moral of the story 1 for adults: NOT all IRS letters are bad news.
Moral of the story 2 for adults and for parents of children: ALL meltdowns are the result of not fully understanding the whole situation.  

Thursday, September 20, 2018

We all become stories and memories

I just finished Joe Biden's book, Promise Me, Dad.  I knew the ending before I read the first page and yet I read, finding inspiration and hope.

At one point in the evening, sitting on the porch with the distant sounds of a dogs barking and children bike-riding....my thoughts drifted to the power of a good book to take us away!  As a child, I regularly escaped in books.  As an adult, I am grateful for the reading and writing skills that allow me to escape into a good book.....even when I know the ending.......even when I know I will be sad.....

Which reminds me that, "In the end, we all become stories and memories." Margaret Atwood



Saturday, September 15, 2018

Celebrating Life

The sun came out on this sad day,
After endless gray skies.
At first, I thought it ironic
Then, I decided it was a sign
Of this new chapter,
Without pain and suffering.

As I dug for my sunglasses,
I thought that he might have requested
The sunshine, a light, so to speak,
A reminder of his journey
Towards a new chapter.

As I listened to a his family,
Remember their dad,
I thought of the power of love
To transcend unfathomable hardship,
And the power of angels
To shape the future.  

As I watched his family
I remembered this journey
Can have mile-high speed bumps,
With countless trials
Unfathomable challenges.
Heartache and heartbreak.
Sometimes, the journey is derailed
Yet, we are called
To persevere.

As I left the church
I caught sight of a babbling brook
Under an overpass,
And I remembered the Biblical verse
Peace is like a river
Ebbing, flowing, persevering, 
And I offered a prayer
For a peaceful journey
As the sun set
After a celebration of life
This sad day








Tuesday, September 11, 2018

#sol18 A September Day

I thought about the date as I nestled into my spot (leaning against a door) on the already crowded train. 
I thought about the whispered announcement so many years ago about planes and the World Trade Center as I listened to the announcement about shortened and crowded trains.
I thought about the lives changed in classrooms just feet from me as I watched a seasoned passenger whip out her knitting and knit on the steps of the train.
I thought of my colleague teaching in an adjacent classroom who lost the love of her life and wondered how many loves were lost that day.
I thought about the shock and sadness that descended on the city (and the nation) as I wondered how many of these people were on trains on that morning.
I thought about riding the bus home with students that day to make sure everyone had someone at home and wondered how many fellow riders lost someone that day.

I remembered that some lost all and some lost greatly; however, we all lost something that day.
I smiled as I watched the standing-knitter and all those who have persevered in spite of adversity as I geared for a September Day in a resilient city


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

#sol 2018 Happy New Year

Stopped by Staples,
Knowing the crowd would be there,
Just for old times sake.
Circled by DSW
Knowing I didn't need shoes,
Out of habit.
Said a prayer for first day jitters
Knowing teachers and kiddos will be stressed
Like always.

Remembered,
 The many first days,
The smiles, tears, laughter, fears,
The smell of new pencils and notebooks,
Fresh new faces, ideas, optimism,
The promise of fall despite the hear,
The magic of a fresh start
Happy New Year







Sunday, August 26, 2018

Thoughts

I've
Walked in ever-present mist,
 Amidst thatched-roofed, stone cottages, 
Between brightly painted buildings,
Beneath aged stained glass windows,
Bundled against the biting wind,
Along steep cliffs,
Around sheep, cows, 
Watched the white capped waves,
Listened to Molly Malone,
Thought of Maeve Binchy,
Wondered about ancestors, decisions, emigration,
Reflected on family, culture, loss,
Pondered the future,
Not quite ready, yet ready,
To return to real life,
To go home.






Friday, August 24, 2018

Moated Castle High On the Hill

Amazing to think...
Long, long time ago....
I do not remember when.....
In the age of knights and princesses....
Moated castles high on hilltops.....
Some family called this drafty castle,
Made of rock....
Without heat, running water...
Perched on a rocky cliff....
With windy steps to its turret....
Home.
Amazing to think....

#sol18 This Old House

I've been out of the writing routine this summer, so two posts in two days may overwhelm my 10s of readers....but like exercise, once I start writing, it gets easier.....

After decades of This Old House viewing and after embracing Chip and Joanna Gaines ship-lapped miracles in Texas, I know you can take an old house and make it "new" again.   I also know that sometimes, when you open a wall/floor/vent/drain......you might find that parts of the house were held together with old gum/baseball cards/rusted bolts......

So it was when the plumbers came to repair a leaky toilet tank.....I was optimistic it was not a huge job....and it wasn't...but the partner asked casually, "Is there any other job you need us to look at?"

I hesitated, fully aware of the Pandora Box I might be opening.  Yet they seemed nice enough and had come out as soon as I called in about my emergency leak!  So, I mentioned the tub drain that was SLOWWWW at best even with regular visits from the likes of Draino.  And, I mentioned the kitchen sink that was also SLOWWWW at best even with regular visits from the gallon jug of Draino.

And they moved in....so it seemed....for two hours they kept bringing in supplies.....I was thinking I would need to serve up a meal!  They went up and down the stairs....."Check this out, Mam.  It looks like someone put screws in to hold this pipe together.....It's really soft....that's not good..."

I knew it wasn't good because I recognized the handiwork of a former owner who also used screws to hold the heating pipe together.  Holes filled with screws and bolts eventually blow...

I knew it wasn't good because I recognized the tone and hidden grin.  My dentist has the same look when he looks at a broken crown and says, "That's really soft.  That's not good."

I suspect at lease one of the trips to the truck was to ask his secretary/partner to order a new Beemer or to book the trip to Aruba.  He might have also called my dentist to share the good news.....

Then, he presented me with a bill and the "news" that we would need another appointment to finish the job.  It was clearly reminiscent of the dentist office...and their hourly rate is about the same....

Monday, August 20, 2018

Purple Soup

I bought purple carrots at the local farmer's market. They looked and tasted like carrots, but their rich purple color was more powerful as food coloring!

I started a soup base in the usual way with a whole chicken that simmered for a few hours.  Then, in a pot next door, I sauteed a leek or two, a pepper or two, a stalk of celery or two, and a bunch of now infamous purple carrots.  As I added the kale, a few minutes later, I saw a sight I never expected to see: the carrots turned EVERYTHING purple!
I wondered if the purple color would impact my enjoyment of the chicken soup even if it didn't impact the taste?  Looks are powerful and can influence how we think things taste/are.

I thought about the power of "one" small ingredient (or one small person) to change the course of events!

My mind wandered to a long ago memorized poem....
I never saw a Purple Cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you anyhow
I'd rather see than be one!

and thought of its next stanza

I did not plan Purple Soup
But at first I thought it fun.
But that purple threw my soup for a loop
I'd rather see than eat one!


Saturday, August 11, 2018

New Year! New Car!

The back to school ads filled last week's papers and filled my soul with smiles and dread and thoughts and questions and fears and and wonders and concerns and promise and reminded me that this new chapter of life was real. I don't need to make a pilgrimage to Lake Shore nor to Staples. I don't need to buy 10 marble notebooks with sassy covers - one for each of my reading groups. I don't to buy new shoes and a back-to-school dress. This year.

However, in this new chapter I do need to either fix up my still-young-but-high-mileage-Mazda and figure out what that current whine indicates (calipers!?!?) or splurge on a new-to-me-car as I prepare for this chapter as teacher of teachers and mentor to many! I do not have the skill-set to maintain an aging (mileage-wise) car.  I do not have a back-up car when this one decides to deal with the ravages of high mileage. So, "get a newer car" was high on my summer "to-do" list.

I'd looked at new and gently used cars....Mazdas, Hondas, Fords, Toyotas, Volkswagons... I'd been to dealers where I felt gentle put downs and one where I could not find the exit door fast enough. I actually had one dealership where they asked me if my "husband"  knew I was buying a car?  I politely headed to the door and did not look back!

Buying a car  is not for the faint of heart nor is it a task for those of us who tend to over-think and over-analyse! Plus, gender-age-bias is alive and well in America!

So, today, when deep inside I knew I wanted to be celebrating with someone who "really likes cars," I ventured into a car dealership because I had noticed many local license plate holders with the name emblazoned on them and because it was raining too hard to do much else!!  The sales-person was fresh out of college, but spewed facts and comparisons about his cars that lined up precisely with those I had found through internet research. He volunteered tidbits and comparisons between models without pressuring me to buy anything,

Then, in the warehouse - literally- I sat in her.  Gray-like-me-yet-brand-new and waiting for someone to adopt her to have adventures.  It took a bit of negotiations and it took a few phone  calls to make the deal a reality....but it happened as the storm raged outside and the rain poured onto the dealership's roof and caused flooding on local roads.

I still had some concerns/worries/anxiety after leaving a deposit and arranging for a trade time as I found my old faithful car - literally buried behind many other shoppers in the parking lot as the rain continued to pour from the sky. But as I recalled those three-point-turn strategies it emerged,,,,a double rainbow just as my phone died.....

I'm not yet sure of her name....but I am sure she is part of my back-to-school-shopping experience this year. I am sure she cost more than those 10 marble notebooks at Walmart!  

If only I had bought shares in Tesla? If only I was buying a Tesla?,,,,,,this would have been an an easier purchase! sigh.....perhaps?.......

Friday, July 6, 2018

To keep or to give away...

That is the question as I go through box after box. I look at each book, cup, picture...I envision this project would be so much easier for Marie Kondo, but I ask myself, "Will this bring me joy," as I decide which pile. At times, the sentimental part of me emerges and the "things" I touch bring back memories.
I've certainly kept some things that will never bring me joy and I have given away things I already regret! Yet, as we cleaned out a box of old treasures the other day, I was reminded that some "things" bridge generations by providing near instantaneous joy.
"What's this?" the little one asked.
"It's an old harmonica," I responded cleaning the dirty old harmonica on my shirt and realizing it needed a bit more cleaning before I would be willing to show how it worked!
"What does it do?" she asked.
So, I showed her how to breath out and make music.
"It's a music maker,"she said excitedly as she made it make music.
Th old harmonica had been around the block a more than a few times; however, it still is decidedly in the keep pile as it still has the power to bring joy, especially inside a "secret" fort.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

#sol2018: Fourth of July


I spent the morning, under an old shady tree, watching a Fourth of July parade. There was clapping, waving, juggling, and bike riding. There were fire trucks and police cars with horns honking and sirens blaring!

For local officials, it was a chance to see and be seen.
For children, it was a chance to be up close and personal with marchers and big trucks!
I must admit, there was something for everyone.If you look closely at the last photo, there was a reminder of one of the many freedoms we have in America: the freedom to READ!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

`Probably not needed

One project on my to-do-list is to finish unpacking boxes. I really want to get my home in order so I can find things (as noted in paragraph 2)! I made good progress towards that goal during the first week of my summer.......I found missing clothes, books, dishes.......I found a few treasures, like my spring jacket, a brand new sundress, and a lots of children's books, that will be put to good use! However, I've taken lots of items that I do not need and really do not want anymore to Goodwill. Most importantly, I realize MOST items not used for more than 2 years are probably not needed and probably not worth keeping!

Another summer project is to research and collect reading and special education assessments. I made some progress towards that goal unpacking boxes (see first paragraph)! I found a few folders, binders, and books that will be put to good use! However, I've placed lots of papers and books in the recycling bin. Then, I ordered a few new books and started Googling what other Universities were teaching as well as what other states were doing.  Most importantly, I realize MOST items not used for more than 2 years are probably not needed and probably not worth keeping!  The really valuable resources are all available online, anyway!





Friday, June 29, 2018

Diana King

An Edutopia tweet brought back memories.

I spent two summers followed by an entire school year learning Diana King's methods for teaching students with dyslexia. While I was already "certified" in the Orton approach after a year at Catholic University, administrators in my district hoped that embracing Diana and her very slightly different methods would squish requests to have students attend her Kildonan school.

I found Diana's British accent endearing and her knowledge of linguistics amazing; however, I also remember her consistent before a break and before the end of the day quizzes!  Yes, she gave multiple quizzes to teachers every day and if you did not "pass," she would review and reteach until you knew it! 

In the course of my career, I've studied and been certified in not only Orton and King's methods, but also in Preventing Academic Failure and Wilson. While the sequence of instruction and format of a lesson vary slightly, the essence of each method is systematic, direct instruction in the phonetically consistent parts of written English.

There are new "voices" and programs for students who find learning to read challenging; but, Diana King's story is a reminder that teachers with lots of tools and tons of determination can make a difference in the lives of students with a "dyslexic" reading profile!





Tuesday, June 26, 2018

On the first day

I woke "on time" even without the alarm, as if I was poised to "get things done, on the first day! I  slipped into my bathing suit and a sweatshirt to ward off the early morning chill and slipped into the pool to warm up! Put daily exercise, no excuses on my daily schedule.

I headed to the pile of laundry where I sorted, purged, and began washing.  Put do the wash regularly on my weekly list!

I moved into the pantry and the fridge, next, where I removed questionable foods, merged duplicate containers, and organized the cleaned out spaces so that I could find things!  Put clean fridge on my bi-weekly list! 

I headed into the garage even though there was much more to do inside. The weather was near perfect and I knew that the 100 plus days on the horizon would not be good ones for hauling boxes.  The piles of now-falling-apart-boxes, valued treasures-memorabilia-collections, and really-more-like-junk were intermingled and to be honest, daunting (which is why this project has not been completed since I moved nearly 2 years ago)!  Don't put off for tomorrow what you can get done today, I smiled!

I remembered it would have been my parents 68th anniversary as I loaded boxes my mom packed for my not-yet-married nieces and nephews into my front seat. It's time to put them into the intended hands rather than in my garage, I thought hoping my mom would have agreed!

I was exhausted, but accomplished even if there were still many piles, closets and boxes ahead, as I climbed into bed to finish Brain on Fire. Put read for fun on my list this summer, I thought as I relished a first day well spent,

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Congratulations

In these parts
Families acknowledge graduations
With lawn signs saying
Congratulations.
Today,
I'm wrapping up 
A wonderful chapter
Filled with children, books,
Reading, writing,
Colleagues.
Tomorrow,
I'll be working on
The next chapter.


I Will Miss

"My mom said you were retiring," he said casually as I picked him up for our reading club.  "She said you were re-tired! I promise I will be good and listen and get a star every day and not make you so tired," he said sincerely.  
"Where are you going?" his friend and current reading partner asked. "Are you tired?"

Usually, I assure 2nd graders, like this duo, that I will check on their reading in the fall.
Usually, kindergarten and 1st grade students ask no questions about the future.
Usually, I assure 3rd graders moving up that I will be checking on them and stopping by their new building as they move up to 4th grade.
Usually, I remind students they need to read during the summer to make me happy in the fall.
This year is not usual.

Image result for changes image
"I'm not tired of kids like you, that is for sure! I am changing to be a teacher of teachers," I offered thinking they might buy into my idea if I sold it right!
"But you are a good teacher of kids," one of my group offered tearing at my heart and causing tearing my eyes. 

In my head, I heard the words of Kahil Gibran, "Your children are not your children.  They are sons and daughters of the universe yearning to be free."  
In my heart, I am sure the new "reading club" teacher will have new and exciting tricks up her/his
sleeve!

Yet, I must admit I will miss this kids like this duo:a reluctant reader and a student whose reversals are legendary.
I answered their questions honestly assuring them I would always be part of their memories of schools and that they were ready for a change.
I told them they needed to stay in touch and write to me.
I hope they will.

I will not miss the 4:45 wake ups.
I will not miss board/administrative and teacher agendas focused on "things" other than children's needs.
I will miss the students who found reading and writing challenging.
I will miss the miracle of struggling readers who begins to soar as the "code" begins to make sense.  It never gets old.  

"This sure is bittersweet," I thought as I pulled out the books and we began reading on this next to last day as Mrs. Ferreri, Reading Teacher.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Off Stage and All Year Round

It's been a week of winding down as I wrap up my days teaching students to read and write. To be honest, I have been a bit sad as the "lasts" pile up.  To be honest, I have wished I had a few more weeks/months/years; however, I know better than to utter such a thought in a school filled with squirmy students and sweaty teachers!

Image result for cliffordBut, last night, at an event with timing that can only be described serendipitous, I sat with teachers and editors at the publishing giant, Scholastic, to review a new series of books. I was a bit weary from the 95+ day when I arrived, but I left with much more than a bag of wonderful books to share with my students!  I left ASSURED publishers are working to provide books that will engage today's readers!  I left assured that publishers care about teachers' and librarians' perspectives.

I can't yet share the new materials I previewed, but as I sat in Clifford's home base and listened to the presentation, I was reminded of the many, many people who work "off stage" to support teachers and students!

So this SOL is a shout out to those who support students and teachers "off stage, year round." 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Lost But Found

My mom INSISTED I leave phone numbers and details about where I would be when I went away (in the days before cell phones).  This was essential because, "you never knew when "something" could happen and one would need to rush home! " she said.  In our cell phone controlled world, I sometimes think we have taken my mom's obsession to a higher level.  If I don't answer a text/email/call /voicemail right away, people can bet/angry. If I can't reach someone for a few days, others can become disgruntled or annoyed!

Recently, one of my cousins was lost.  To be honest, we talked last summer for the first time since I was a child! A large far-flung family and different lifestyles separated us, but this time it was my job to find her!  I thought of my mom's admonitions again and again as I tried lead after lead, and phone number after phone number. Finally, I connected with a first cousin, once removed, who followed a lead and did a "drive by.  Life quickly returned to somewhat "normal."

Yet, it left me with lingering questions about those who do not have a visible social-network footprint and those who are not found. It left me thinking about those lost in disasters, floods, landslides and thorough despair and depression. Sadly, not all that are lost are found. 



Tuesday, June 5, 2018

#sol18: Sandboxes

I thought of my own children whose over-sized sandbox spurred hours of creative play as I watched him load sand into the tiny cement mixer. A sense of peace seemed to come to my little guy as he took off his shoes and entered a place where all the concerns of a 2 year old's world seemed to evaporate!


"Everyone needs a sandbox," I smiled as my mind wandered to adults sandboxes! "That's what happens to me at the beach when I kick off my sandals and wander onto the sand," I thought.  "It's also what happens at the pottery studio (for some people), in the wood working shop, in the garden, and while playing the guitar or piano."

Perhaps, sandboxes are spaces where we are busy doing things that our minds do not perceive as work?  I think the definition of sandboxes needs to change!

sand·box
ˈsan(d)ˌbäks/
noun
  1. 1.
    NORTH AMERICAN
    a shallow box or hollow in the ground partly filled with sand for children to play in.
  2. 2.
    COMPUTING
    a virtual space in which new or untested software can be run securely.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Persistently swimming

I swam 5 of the past 8 days!  Some days, the sun was already warming the early morning air and thus the water felt cool/cold. Other days, like this morning, the water was a warm respite from the cool misty air.

Each day, I have multiple excuses as to why I should not swim.  Each day, I persisted, hoping I would make steps towards my goal. Slowly, but steadily, I can see the changes starting.  New goals, so to speak, replacing old goals.

As I did my rotating breast stroke and crawl laps, my mind wandered, remembering students who needed to persist when learning to read was hard.  A,B,C,D,E,.......multiple students for every letter of the alphabet swam along with me...lap my lap...reminding me how persistence is important as we work towards goals.

I guess you become reflective as you approach the end of a good chapter of your life. For now, my short term goals are to swim, persistently!