Tag Archives: Slice of Life Story

Celebrating the signs of Autumn

18 Sep

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All the leaves are green
except for those on the tree
that stands sentinel
at the top of the street.
Its yellowing leaves
are the harbingers of Autumn.

There are other signs.
They appear most mornings,
announcing the change of seasons:
slippered feet on cold floors,
car lights turned on
for my dark drive to work,
jackets, worn to work, but
casually carried home
on warm afternoons.

Back to school
comes long before
Fall really begins
and I long to wear
tights and sweaters
and to feel the chill disappear
as I pull on my hat and gloves.

 

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Thank you, Universe!

11 Sep

I may have mentioned my deal with the universe, the one where, if the Universe let me stay in 6th grade, I would go to Outdoor School this year and not grumble about it.

There were many reasons why I didn’t go last year. one of them had to do with compensation. Teachers had to be away from home for three nights, with no financial compensation and I was going to be out-of-pocket for Lucy’s boarding fees. All teachers were given was an additional personal day.

Yesterday, at my union meeting I found out that we are going to be remunerated for those three nights at a rate that made me cheer.

I have several months yet to think up the woodsy name I will put on my wood cookie nametag.

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Look out Outdoor School. Here I come!

Gesundheit

4 Sep

On the second day of school, I collected the communal supplies – tissues, wipes glue, notebook paper – and planned to put them away at the end of the day Thursday. I was hoping that leaving the tissue boxes on the back table might lead to a few more arriving. Instead, it led to something else.

Thursday afternoon, we were in the midst of our informational writing sample. The students were super focused and working silently.  I was keeping busy, alternating between  puttering on a project and walking around, monitoring their progress. I looked up to see a student get out of his seat, sniffling. Ignoring the open tissue box sitting on my desk he walked straight to the pile of tissue boxes and tore one open. He took a tissue, blew his nose, left the box on the table, and returned to his seat.

This struck me as funny. Although I was glad he felt at home, I’d never had a student take such initiative before. I normally place several tissue boxes around the room in strategic locations. I guess because it was the beginning of the year, I’d forgotten to do so.The only open box was on my desk.

Did he see that box? I have no idea. Clearly the boxes on the back table were the ones that caught his eye. The lack of tissue boxes around the room caught my attention. When I finally put them away after school, I was sure to leave four boxes out. I opened them and placed them around the room, which was now, truly ready.

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First day follies

28 Aug

“Can I help you find a room?” I asked the sparkly clean but perplexed 6th grader who was wandering the halls at a strange time.

He pulled out the paper with his new schedule, transliterated from computerese into sixth-gradish. “I’m looking for Mr. Nelson’s room,” he said pointing to the class he was looking for.

“Oh, his room is there, ” I replied pointing, “but that class isn’t now. You should be in the gym for PE.”

“But I just came from there,” he said, brow wrinkled.

“Just go back and tell Mr. V you should be there now. He’ll understand. It’s why  only 6th graders come on the first day,” I said encouragingly, and smiled.

Off he went.

And then he was back.

This time, though, I had my elective class was in my room. I brought the young man in and we began what looked like a “Who’s on first” comedy routine.

In the end, we figured it out. He’d gotten a bit ahead of the schedule, so I sent him on his way. I saw him later, coming out of Mr. Nelson’s room at the right time.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“I got this now!” he replied over his shoulder as he walked confidently down the hall to his next elective.

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LOL

14 Aug

I love when kids laugh out loud during independent reading. It warms my heart to know that someone has connected so deeply with a book, and it puts a smile on my face.

Yesterday, during our TCRWP reading training, our afternoon session had teachers as students, watching the skills the TCRWP trainers were modeling for us. Following the mini-lesson, we were given time to read from a book we had chosen. The room was very quiet – everyone was reading or making notes about their book – until I laughed out loud.

The thing is, I was so surprised at my outburst that it made me laugh harder, then snort. In an effort to get myself under control, I put my forehead on the table. I was silent, but it took a few moments to still my shaking shoulders, I was laughing that hard.

The thing is, the paragraphs that got me laughing weren’t really that funny. They were some of Willow’s observations in chapter 4 of Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Counting by 7s. What made me react so strongly was that I recognized myself in her description because this is how I dress at home.

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Maybe you don’t see it as funny. You probably don’t dress this way, but when I am home, I wear a t-shirt and elastic waist shorts in the summer, and a t-shirt and elastic sweat pants in winter. I am not yet elderly, but Willow’s matter of fact description of my dress habits just struck me as funny at that particular moment, after lunch, in a reading workshop. I hope my laughter  during class warmed the heart of someone in that room and it put a smile on their face.

My Mother’s Hands

10 Jul

I’ve been writing about my mom for years, using her life to model writing strategies to my students. I combed through my writer’s notebook before sitting down to write what I would say at her funeral. Here is what came out.

 

My Mother’s Hands

One of my earliest memories is of
My mother’s hands
Cupping, then twisting, an apple
Breaking it into two pieces
Her hands seemed all powerful.

They were always busy,
My mother’s hands,
Especially in the kitchen
Where they cooked, then cleaned
“Clean as you go”, she’d say,
With a dishcloth in her hands.
The same hands that peeled turnip for mashing for Christmas dinner
And always remembered to set aside several raw pieces for my plate
Because she knew I wouldn’t eat it cooked and mashed

When I was in high school, working after school,
Hers were the hands that arranged a plate
And covered it with plastic wrap
And made Dad drive her to the pool,
So I could have the same hot meal as the family

I learned to knit from
My mother’s hands
She guided my little hands through the basics –
Knit, purl, cast on, bind off –
Then set me free to explore
Allowing me to make this craft my own.

Those same hands,
Pinned the hems on yet another pair of pants
Too long for her short daughter
And taught me the steps because,
As she said
I’d be doing it the rest of my life.

They played games,
My mother’s hands:
Card games, bingo, and board games.
And they could be competitive.
She loved winning at cards
And we all knew to watch those hands
That sometimes cheated at Yahtzee.
And we all dreaded being paired with those hands for Pictionary.
Art was not their forte, though they made us laugh.

Mom was not much of a reader
Unless you count Danielle Steele in bathroom
But my mother’s hands
Took our little hands
And led us to the library
Upstairs in Rockton.
I don’t think she could have realized where those first steps would lead us.

They wrote countless notes
My mother’s hands
In tiny cursive
Excusing absences
Giving permission
But the best note she ever wrote
Was the feisty, sarcastic one to the administration
At Brantford Collegiate Institute
Where she stated that,
Since she and Dad figured I was mature and responsible enough
To spend a year in Europe,
They also figured I was responsible enough to come to school late
When I had first period spare.
Go Mom!
You didn’t mess with her when she was riled.

I look at my own hands.
They are small like
My mother’s hands
We weren’t blessed with long elegant fingers
We share small hands designed for work
And so I take my hands,
Her hands,
My mother’s hands
Into the world and do my work
Just like she did.

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The elephant in my summer vacation

3 Jul

I love my job, working with gifted 6th graders. I especially love 6th grade because I get to guide these wide-eyed newbies into the world of middle school.

But our numbers are down.

Just over a month ago, our admin team came to tell us and said that our four person team would be reduced to a three person team if the numbers stayed the same. They also said they had applied for an additional position, which, if it were to be granted, would keep us a four person team. They also said that, if it didn’t come, we would go from 2 Humanities teachers to one. That meant my job or my teaching partner’s job.

I worried that last month of school. I was the newer Humanities teacher. I was the one who had changed jobs and/or rooms five times in the last six years. Finally, the last week of school, I heard that, although they were still hoping for the additional teaching position to be added, I would be the one to change jobs.

And so I am enjoying summer, trying desperately to ignore the elephant that is with me on vacation.

The team I would move to is wonderful.

I wouldn’t have to change rooms, though I would be teaching regular 7th grade.

Even though this year’s 6th graders have moved on, I feel as though I am leaving them.

I try not to check my email and phone several times a day, hoping for the message that say we got the position. It has yet to come.

I figure I can pretend and ignore the elephant through July, but once August rolls around, I might need to accept reality – unless that call finally comes.

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