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The Timmins Hex

21 Aug

On the second last day of school, I learned I would teach 7th grade this year.

On the last day of school, my Mom died.

It has been a  summer of coming to terms with a lot of change.

In mid August, I met with my new teaching partner to get up to speed on what happens in 7th grade reading, writing, and social studies.

Last week, I attended a TCRWP homegrown institute last week and met with the 7th grade team. I accepted the print copy of the reading unit that was handed out at registrations, the one district has decided 7th grade will pilot this year. Just one more step towards making 7th grade a reality,  I thought.  As the week rolled along, I sat with my 6th grade teaching partner during class, but met with my new 7th grade colleagues when we met as a grade level.

I knew that the admins at my school had applied for additional funding (APU) that would allow me to stay in 6th grade. My 6th grade teaching partner had spotted the assistant superintendent in charge of middle schools on Monday and had politely but fiercely, advocated for the APU. For her, it meant not only losing her teaching partner, it meant she would go from a 120 minute Humanities block to 80 minutes. She was justifiably fired up. He told her he would go to war for us and that the decision about that funding would be made on the last day of the TCRWP Institute.

The night before our TCRWP institute ended, I had a little conversation with Mom. She was a very competitive Yahtzee player and, as an opponent shook the Yahtzee dice, she would make a “TSSSS” sound with her teeth to curse them. We affectionately referred to it as “The Timmins Hex”.

Mom grew up poor in Timmins, the mining town in Northern Ontario she ran away from when she was 15 because she knew what her life would be like if she stayed. She wanted more. Timmins holds a sort of mythic place in the minds of her children and grandchildren. The Timmins Hex was part joke, part family tradition. And yet, the night before that additional staffing decision was made, I had a little conversation with my Mom asking her to invoke The Timmins Hex.

I checked messages all day, distracting me from some of what we were doing. I was torn between being a realist – knowing that there were needier schools that were probably also asking for additional staffing – and being an optimist. I ran errands on the way home disappointed I hadn’t heard anything.

The message light on my home phone was blinking as I walked through the door. After walking Lucy (who really has to go when I get home) I listened to the message and called my principal back. Despite my sincere belief that the decision-makers would say “No”, they said “Yes”. I was staying in 6th grade after all that.

A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could imagine  ghost Mom, floating around the table in that meeting room, putting The Timmins Hex on those decision makers, helping me out one last time, her last Yahtzee.

tn-huge-yahtzeesingleplayer

 

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