Tag Archives: Slice Of Life Story Challenge

Either/Or

5 Mar

Either/Or, the first book by Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard,  explains that human existence is marked by the contrast between a hedonistic/aesthetic life and an ethical life based in duty and commitment.

Sunday afternoon, I was faced by my own either/or,  existential dilemma: the hedonistic enjoyment of knitting or  the ethical grading of papers I promised my students I’d return next week.

Duty won, but I allowed myself a few breaks – not knitting breaks – to walk Lucy and enjoy the beautiful early March sunshine.

I gave myself permission to knit later Sunday evening, while I watched an episode of season two of  Victoria. It seemed like a reasonable payoff for doing my duty.

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Dear {insert parent name}

3 Mar

Dear {insert parent name}

You signed up for a conference with me, but should have signed up with{insert teacher name}. I have deleted your appointment with me because you can’t sign up with more than 1 teacher. Sorry about the confusion. It has been a confusing process for many people, including teachers.

I sent this message to a number of parents yesterday. Up until this Spring, each teacher has scheduled their own conferences through SignUpGenius. We created our own schedule, had a unique link and sent it to our parents.

For the first time ever, we are scheduling centrally using PTCFast. One of our administrators created the schedule and classes for each teacher. When parents enter the site, they have to click on their child’s teacher. Because we are a middle school, students have multiple teachers and most teams aren’t conferencing with the same group of kids we saw in  the Fall.  You can see the confusion.

Slowly but surely, the corrections are happening. There are still 10 days before conferences, so I anticipate that all the wrinkles will be ironed out before the first conference.

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Perseverance #SOLSC18

1 Mar

A few weeks ago, while I was at ALA, I got an unexpected email from Ellie Terry, author of Forget Me Not,  the book my Mock Newbery Club chose as their winner.

A friend had alerted her to our results on ALSC’s Mock Election site and she contacted me, offering a free Skype visit with the group. Of course I said yes.

Emails circulated, invitations to students were sent. My only instructions to the students  were to come with some questions in mind. Yesterday it happened.

I had never done a Skype visit with an author before and this went so smoothly, I hope to do more! Okay, there was the glitch that the Skype app on my school computer was out of date and required an administrator’s password to upgrade. Fortunately, I tested things the day before and found a work-around: Facebook Messenger!

Ellie asked the girls (yes, it was all girls who made it to this before school event) to introduce themselves and then began by showing her rock collection that connects to the story. After telling a little about herself, the book and her process, she opened it up for questions and the girls did not disappoint! We had a really great visit.

The thing that stuck with me was this: Ellie Terry received over 300 rejection letters – I think she said the exact number was 326 – and she has saved them all. She has them laminated in a roll and shows it at school visits to talk to readers about perseverance. She had a belief in her characters and the story she wanted to tell and kept sending it out into the world believing it would eventually find its place.

Today is day one of the Slice of Life Story Challenge in which I will write one Slice of Life Story every day for 31 days and comment on the posts of other Slicers. It starts off easy and gets hard. I run out of ideas. I don’t feel like commenting. I get busy. This year, when I start hitting that wall, I will think of Ellie Terry’s roll of rejection letters and I will persevere.

 

 

 

 

True confessions of a car stalker

11 Jul

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I’ve designated myself the parking police.

I park on the street and it has suddenly become hard to get a parking spot. So, I have become a parking detective – and snitch.During the school year, I became anxious if traffic was bad, worried these new (and unknown) interlopers would hog a space.

City laws say that you have to move your car every 24 hours, so I began noting which cars didn’t move.   I looked a little further into parking regs and learned that the city has a parking hotline. Suddenly, I had a tool to handle my concerns.

I confess, I have only called on two cars. There are criteria that have to be met.

A vehicle that remains in violation for more than 24 hours and one or more of the following conditions exist:

A.    The vehicle does not have an unexpired registration plate, fails to display current registration, or does not have them lawfully affixed to the vehicle.

As an example a vehicle with a temporary registration or a TRIP permit counts as having current registration while the temporary registration or TRIP permit is valid and visible.

B.     The vehicle appears to be inoperative or disabled.

As an example a vehicle with a flat tire is inoperative, but a vehicle that might have an impairment that is not visible is not an Abandoned Vehicle.

C.    The vehicle appears to be wrecked, partially dismantled or junked.

As an example a vehicle with a missing windshield would be considered partially dismantled. A vehicle with a missing or damaged door window would not be considered wrecked, partially dismantled, or junked as it could still be legally operated on public highways.

In both cases where I called, bright green tow warnings appeared. In the first case, the vehicle was moved. In the second case, it was towed on July 1st, almost a month after I called. Apparently Portland also has a problem with abandoned vehicles and has a backlog.

There are a couple of other vehicles I am watching. Two have been moved twice since the tow happened. One has been sitting for over a month. It’s plates are good through August. I am also vigilant about my own car and, make sure that if I don’t go anywhere, I move my car so no one thinks I’ve abandoned it.

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A tough weekend – #SOL17

30 May

I live in Portland, Oregon.

It was a tough weekend.

Bad news Friday night about racist comments and death on the Max.

Sunday, I woke up to the neighborhood next to me cordoned off because of police activity. Residents were to shelter in place and had to be escorted to and from their homes most of the day.

Monday dawned grey and gloomy, but, by late afternoon, the clouds had burned off and the sun was shining giving us perfect Memorial Day weather.

It is as though we hit bottom and were on the way up again.

Over the last few weeks, my team and I have had a series of meeting with a couple of families. One kid in particular had me very worried. He hit bottom about two weeks ago. Fortunately, school and family noticed and we have put some things in place to help him and he has seemed happier.

We’ve been having some troubles at school too, and each grade has had a presentation about empathy. As a follow-up, instead of doing what I’m supposed to do in my Enrichment class, I am teaching lessons from  The Educator Collaborative’s Global Kind Project.

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I will be honest and say that Enrichment is not my favorite part of my week. I teach it every other day and it is a mix of 6th graders from all halls and teams. And yet, doing the activities and reflective practices the project talks about has made it so that I am enjoying this class far more than I have over the last two years. I am now planning how I will use these activities to start Enrichment next year.

 

Both the student and my city have some work to do, but I think we are up to the challenge.

 

 

Not counting down

16 May

I’m not counting down to the end of the year yet.

Really.

There are six weeks of school left. It would be absurd to start counting down now.

But my brain can’t help it. It looks for patterns and makes connections. When my last morning traffic direction duty ended two weeks ago, my brain noted that I could check it  off my list of things that I finished for the year. And so it began.

Here, then, are the end of the year stats I have been thinking about lately, looking down from 10,000 feet.

Six weeks of school left

Only one five day week of school to go

Four more Mondays

Two more Fridays

One more staff meeting

Three more PLT meetings

Two SBAC tests

12 more Enrichment classes to teach

25 more days of school

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Life’s little ironies

9 May

I placed my groceries on the conveyor belt and sighed. After a long day at work, I was almost home.

The cashier finished checking the people in front of me, but, as I pushed forward she said, “Give me a minute. I have a mess to clean.”

I looked to where she went, under the end of the conveyor, where you stashes the basket you carry by hand. The basket that had been stowed there was oozing eggs. The cashier made three trips to and fro, getting more paper towels and spray cleaner. She grumbled a little about people who don’t mention problems and leave messes for other people to clean and I commiserated.

I didn’t have many items, and I was checked out quickly, with two paper bags in the shopping cart. Portland is plastic bag free. I parked the cart and carried my bags to my car, looking back to make sure I hadn’t left anything behind. Nope. I was good to go.

When I got home, I quickly tossed the frozen berries into the freezer and the yogurt into the fridge, then took Lucy for our afternoon constitutional. I would unpack the rest of the groceries when we got home.

I fed Lucy when we got home, then started unpacking the rest. It went a little faster that I expected, then poured myself a glass of mineral water. It had reached 72ºF in Portland!

I don;t know what caused the niggle in my brain. But something called me back to the fridge. Hey, where were my lemons?  I pulled out my receipt and sure enough they were on there, but they weren’t in my fridge. Weird. I looked over the receipt once more. Holy cow!  Two other items on the receipt were missing: celery and carrots.

The grand total was just over five dollars worth of veggies, but the pain in my life was huge. I was in no mood to run back to the store (though I did check the car, just in case.) So, I took the only action I could – I sent an email using the comments form on the store’s website. A feeble effort, but I let them know that it wasn’t the value of the items, it was the value of my time that was the bigger loss.

In the aftermath, I thought about the fact that, driving home, I’d been thinking over the fact that I didn’t really have a good Slice of Life story.  Ha! I thought, too, about the cashier, who had complained about people not doing the right thing. Ha! Ha! Life sure is full of irony, isn’t it.

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