I don't know how two years passed since tending to this site. But, let's just move on. It is time to dust off the site and begin again.The reader in me is thrilled with beholding a new page and setting out on a new journey.
"I should have been able to do better."
(taken from "The Vigilante Poets Of Selwyn Academy" by Kate Hattemer)
The main character Ethan references the above quote by poet Ezra Pound who, at the end of his long and controversial life, looked back on his work - his legacy - and notes this regret.
The sentiment resonated. It is how I felt about the past year. A nagging sense of falling short kept overshadowing all that had been achieved. There had, of course, been many achievements. Those success stories paled though, against the glaring spotlight of "I should have...I need to... Why didn't I...".
And I know this line of thinking is a teacher trap. Perfectionism rears up to distort and taint high expectations. I kept repeating the "yet, not yet" mantra to hold the darkness off but....
It is "these days of gloaming" that Thomas Newkirk describes so vividly in his wonderful "Holding on To Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones". It is these periods that makes you question everything that you do. I recognized that moment Mr. Newkirk writes about when he observed a classroom and noticed two boys playing in the sandbox and totally ignoring the teaching that was going on. He says that he "was so grateful, so relieved, to see those boys—who could care less about writing—in the sandbox. This, after all, was a world I knew and could live in." (p.169). I knew that feeling.
That is the imperfect world I know. I am so grateful for Tom Newkirk for acknowledging the silences of teaching and writing about the language for difficulty.
In Hattemer's novel (which I would recommend), Ethan takes the Pound statement as a battle cry. He challenges himself and others to do better because they should. In Newkirk's book, he advises teachers to embrace and celebrate the many small moments that occur. It is these small moments that will create the needed light. By living within the small moments and staying with them, I think I will do better.
I am grateful for:
* the comeback of green.
* the blooming of our yard's first flower - despite nightly dips into the 30s.
* White fluffy clouds splattered on a deep blue sky.
* No gray. No gray. No gray.
* School vacation!
"What?" I detected a note of panic in my voice.
The man at the photo counter explained again, "Didn't anyone tell you that we don't offer one-hour developing services for disposable cameras any more?"
Uhm, no. "But, I need these done. Today." I told him as if the outcome could change. "It's a school project. The students took all these pictures. We're a little behind schedule. They need to be uploaded tomorrow." Just to clarify, I added, "On the internet." I noticed that I was tapping my fingers on the counter. Like a crazy customer.
"No one does it anymore…CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid. We can send it out -- but it will take at least a week," he reiterated. I took back the five cameras. Yes, five. Not counting the two I left accidentally behind at school.
Driving home, I reasoned, it made sense. Of course, disposable cameras would be impacted by all the changes in technology: cell phones, digital cameras, and ipads. But, you would think they would post signs or tell the poor customer at the register. I vowed I would email all those drugstore companies and demand changes on behalf of all the other unsuspecting buyers. I berated my own obliviousness.
The next step, once home, was to grab my laptop and find an alternative solution. Yes! A warehouse store. I called. The good news: they could do it in a hour. The bad news: they no longer put the pictures on a CD. A few weeks earlier they had removed the machine that allowed the CDs to be made.
"What? How will I be able to upload the pictures on the computer?" Why did I use disposable cameras? It seemed like such a good idea. Let the students take them home. After all, it was a special project. We don't have digital cameras/devices at school. Wouldn't it be cool to have lots of pictures? Now I found myself caught in the cursed in-between of film technology.
"No, I don't have a scanner. My school doesn't have a scanner!" I don't know why I felt I needed to tell the store this. It then hit me that I was going to have to take pictures of the pictures with my cellphone. Before all this though, I needed to sign up and pay for a membership at the store so I could drop off the cameras.
At school, I handed out the photo envelopes and asked the students to select which pictures they wanted to submit. Over the course of the day, several students came to me confused. Each pulled out the strips of negatives that had been included. "What are these?"
"Obsolete," I said, holding the strips of an earlier time.
What I am grateful for this week:
- A snow day (even though I will regret it in June). You cannot beat the childhood thrill of learning snow is coming.
- Getting home safely from school in the treacherous snow (the day before The Snow Day). Despite slip-sliding and a nearly empty gas tank (hmmm).
- Being warm and inside in the midst of a bitter freeze.
- Beginning a new year with new beginnings.
- Coke, couch, blanket and books.
I am not an organized reader. I am not an organized person. The fact that I have remained so faithful to my Goodreads account for so long astounds me. Upon writing this, I think it is the only record-keeping form that has not (so far) been abandoned, forgotten or lost.
I track my Reads but…I cannot commit to the To-Read shelf. The thought of an ever-growing list makes me hyperventilate. An avid follower of teacher/library blogs, I could easily see myself filling the shelf with hundreds of titles that want to be read and should be read. I falter under Expectation.
I confess to keeping a to-buy list on my Amazon account. My shopping cart is never empty. I tell myself I have to put pre-orders there because I have no memory. Some favorite author titles are included, and maybe, a few (10 or so…20?) book recommendations (via blogs) that somehow slip in. And a couple of titles I find from Amazon's "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…." But that's it. The looming Shopping Cart icon with the running total keeps me in check. And then I realize the cart is overflowing and some purchases must be made: For the Good of the Cart.
Skyping with Barbara O'Connor today was thrilling. The kids came prepared with questions and were excited. We focused on "The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester" which is nominated for our district's Young Readers Award.
Our fourth- and fifth-graders are beholden to Barbara O'Connor's generosity.
Some Skype visuals:
Okay, tomorrow is the big Skype Visit with Barbara O'Connor:
1. Email tech to make sure Skype software is working. Check.
2. Reassure self. It will work. No problem. Check.
3. Scoff at reports about snow (more snow?). As long as it starts after 10:30, we don't have to care.
4. Book trailer for "The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester" viewed. Check.
5. Readers Theaters scripts performed. Check.
6. Ordered more book copies. Check
7. Students excited. Check.
8. Teachers excited. Check.
9. Oops. Late in confirming visit. Check.
10. We are ready. Check.
Have you ever thought "Wouldn't it be awesome if…." and never imagining it would happen?
Well, the awesome is happening. Our fourth and fifth graders will be skyping with Barbara O'Connor. The Barbara O'Connor. The author of so many fabulous books including: How to Steal A Dog, Greetings from Nowhere, and The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis.
Our upper-grade students are reading twelve titles nominated for a Young Readers Award. One of the titles is O'Connor's The Amazing Secret of Owen Jester.
I told the librarian about the possibility of trying to arrange a Skype visit with O'Connor. We agreed that it was short notice, her schedule was probably jam-packed, it was totally unrealistic but….wouldn't it be cool?
And, wow. Barbara O'Connor responded within days. She is graciously squeezing us in. The librarian and I jumped up and down. There is a waiting list for Owen Jester.
We can't wait!
An Elementary Literacy Specialist, Reader, Quiet Follower of Teacher/ Education Blogs.