For my Poppa

As some of you may know, my Poppa has been battling lung cancer for the past 6 months. On Thanksgiving Eve, after all of his grandkids had made it home to say their goodbyes, he released himself to the Lord. In honor of my Pop, I wrote a short piece that I thought I’d share.

I promise these eyes aren’t crying from sadness.

They’re full of memories, of life, of lessons.

They stream as the pools in which we fished and they tear as the dew from those dreaded rhubarb plants.

I will not cry for mourning but for memory.

I will cry for the strength, confidence, and inspiration you provided.

I will cry for the fried eggs, minced ham, and many nights spent in the “magical bed.”

I will cry for the numerous tums I consumed thinking were “poppa’s special mints.”

I will cry for your knowledge; your impeccable ability to know more than t Maury, Judge Judy, and the ESPN sports officials.

I will cry for trade-e-o radio, the oldies, and that blue suede Cadillac.

I will cry for the precision you taught; the tomato rows, blackberry pants, and fresh cut grass.

And I will cry for happy birthday song and the warm  “hello beautiful” I will never hear you speak again.

But I won’t cry for the times we had for they made me who I am.

I love you forever and always, poppa….until we meet again.

563944_449220451765366_366461765_n

New Generation

“What happens when you take the ‘say’ out of essay?”

“What happens when you take the ‘art’ out of article?”

These two quotes have stuck with me since the first general session at the NCTE ’13 convention. I couldn’t think of a better way to jump start “Re-inventing” than putting into perspective the flaw of our educational system. The flaw: taking the voice away from our students; taking away their control.

No one wins when we dictate our students learning, “teachers and students win AND lose together.” We write and read together. We speak and create together. We are one unit together in learning moving towards a future of knowledge.

Letting go of control is easier than it sounds. My number one “go to” is Inquiry Based Learning. I have to admit, if it wasn’t for our Methods course and Dr. Ellington, I’m not sure if I would have “clung” to this concept as I have. It completely breaks the “system” that I grew up in as a student…but let me tell you something; I LOVE IT. It creates the trust, communication, and freedom needed to have a successful classroom community. Students are in charge of their learning, and what student doesn’t love to be in control? Well, actually, quite a few; so how do we deal with the reluctant controllers? We scaffold, facilitate, and provide feedback.

In the session “Letting Go: How to Give Your Kids Control” there were many teachers who questioned this method of instruction. But no question went unanswered and without justification. Information and evidence of your teaching technique is all you need to be successful (minus the students LOVING what they’re doing). The speakers suggested keeping records of student reaction to this method of learning as well as collaborating with your department, librarian, and parents to gain accreditation.

It’s a simple process that produces complex learning.

And the best part? You actually get to SEE your students learning and they actually UNDERSTAND what they’re learning and HOW to learn.

I’m sold.

Post-Boston; Re-Invented

I can’t begin to express how thankful, blessed, and lucky I am to have attended such an inspirational, informational, and empowering event. Not to mention with some of the greatest company a girl could ask for. The experience I had in Boston is one that I will never forget. From the first general session I was hooked. Literally, I was fighting back tears from the joy I felt in seeing all these educators coming together for a cause; a cause for change.

I am going to refrain from reviewing my sessions in this blog because I would like to dedicate a personal blog to my favorite. This is just simply a thank you to everyone for making Boston and the NCTE convention absolutely AMAZING. I believe each and every one of us came out even more motivated and inspired to be a positive influence within the educational system not only for our students but also for our colleagues and the subject as well.

There is so much power behind reading and writing that goes unnoticed, un-praised, and unpracticed. It’s something I am definitely becoming more accustomed and adapted to.

There are also so many people in love with teaching and in love with promoting a change. I KNOW it is time for the change and I KNOW I will be doing my part in “spreading the virus.”

I hope everyone gets a great night rest in their own bed with no “street cleaners” at 3 AM. Thanks again, ladies. You all are the best.

Blog Before Boston

Oh, alliteration, how I love thee.

 

So, we leave for Boston today. Who’s excited?! THIS GIRL!!! Time to learn some amazing things, explore a new city, and share small spaces with each other! I have to tell you guys, the preparation for this trip has been an experience in itself. The easiest part has actually been organizing my calender for the events. The most difficult-packing and filling gas. I’m sure you can all relate to the packing part. What to wear: pants or dress or skirt or wait-which shirt goes with these pants, this looks silly with a skirt, I don’t even own a dress-oh hey, scarfs! but which scarf with what outfit?! OH MY GOD SHOES, WHAT SHOES.

Needless to say, I accomplished committing to 4 separate outfits and jammed them neatly into a small carry on. Next to the clothes, I had issues with this “3-1-1” bologna rule. How is a girl supposed to fit her shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, hairspray, toothpaste, lotion, “smell good,” deodorant, and chapstick ALL IN ONE QUART SIZE BAG. I’m struggling. Hoping TSA doesn’t notice and/or throw any of my things out.

Next struggle, filling gas. I’m horribly embarrassed to share this, but I have to, the smell of gas on my pants is forcing me to. So approximately 45 minutes ago I was filling up at the lovely Commen Cents gas station. It was a typical fill up: card in machine, gas pump in car, lift handle, sit in car. Only this time as I was sitting in my car…the pump did not stop at full tank and proceeded to overflow all over my car. Frantically I tried to stop the waterfall de gasolina which resulted in gas on pants…and shoes….and hands. I seriously may be the clumsiest person alive.

Back to being excited for Boston, just look at this

boston

And this

boston2

And OMGOSH (shorthand) this

boston3

 

I can’t express how blessed I am to have the opportunity to explore not only a new town but also new knowledge. Pack your bags, ladies, T-minus 4 hours and 20 minutes till our journey begins!

Cheers!

 

Benefit-Risk Tension of Sexuality in the Classroom. What do you think?

 In the article, “Skirting the Issue: Teachers’ Experiences ‘Addressing Sexuality in Middle School Language Arts’,” sexuality in the classroom is described  as a “benefit-risk” tension. This means that although the teacher may be benefiting the students by educating them about sexuality, they may also be scrutinized for choosing to do so. The issue of sexuality is not required in the classroom setting but cannot be ignored. Middle School is the prime in which students undergo sexual changes and Language Arts is described as the subject that provides an “experienced-based pedagogy.” It is obvious that sexuality is of high interest to adolescents. If we are to teach our students material based on their interests then we must find a way to comfortable address sexuality in the classroom. A study was done among 14 teachers and proved that teaching sexuality in the classroom proved to be beneficial. However, the results also demonstrated that more than not the teachers practiced “avoidance strategies” due to anxiety of the subject matter.

Teaching sexuality in the classroom is very informative. Students can become aware of the risk of STD’s, pregnancy, domestic abuse, and sexual harassment. Teacher’s that were in the study done by this article discussed how any example of violence or fear can be connected to information about abuse and harassment. Sexuality is especially connect in the Language Arts classroom because literature is full of opportunities to address sexual issues.

To me, sexuality in the classroom is an unavoidable subject. Our students lives are consumed by the topic of sex. It would be ignorant for me as a teacher to try and avoid this part of their life. Instead, I want to embrace the subject matter into an educational process. I want my students to channel this interest into a productive and mature format. I also want my students to feel comfortable around me and confide in me with any issues they may have. This time in their life is full of changes and sometimes they do not have anyone available to help them through the process. Being open, honest, and informative with my students about sexuality is much more beneficial and rewarding to me than the risk of being ridiculed for addressing a subject matter our society thrives on.

I’ve given my opinion, what do you all think?

 

Puchner, L., & Klein, N. (2012). Skirting the Issue: Teachers’ Experiences “Addressing Sexuality in Middle School Language Arts”. Research In Middle Level Education Online, 36(1), 1-16.

Remembering the Reason

As everyone knows this is the season to remember, to celebrate, and to give. It’s a time where all that we have worked for since January 1st comes to its final moments….and when we gain our winter layer of joy.

Today is Veteran’s Day. Today I witnessed one of the most repulsive and selfish acts an American carelessly made.

I was in Dollar General picking up some dollar candy for my winter layer when I forced myself to stop fantasizing over chocolate and check out. I was the second person in line behind a middle aged woman. Dollar General was honoring our Veterans by offering an 11% discount to all those who have served or have family that have served. As this woman exited the store she turned and questioned “did I not receive my discount?” The cashier politely said, “Oh, I’m sorry ma’am, we ask that you tell us if you have served so we can apply the discount. I will gladly return the items for you and give you the discount.” The women snidely replied, “I didn’t serve, my grandfather did, and my nephew.” The cashier again apologized and promptly returned the items and began to ring them up again. However, since the transaction was a return she was unable to apply the 11% discount. The woman was furious. Despite the cashier’s sincere and constant apology, the woman refused to be understanding. She claimed that Dollar General was doing an injustice to veterans and she would no longer be returning to the store.

The woman left leaving the cashier an emotional disaster. She voluntarily expressed to me how heartbroken she was. My concern is, was this woman’s intentions of the discount in honor or her relatives or to save the $2 extra dollars?

Unfortunately, I believe it was the $2. And that sickens me. What sickens me more is that a fellow American was so rude to another who was clearly trying to correct a situation that wasn’t her fault in the first place.

So often we get caught up in our own lives, our own needs, our own concerns that we forget the reason for days like today, for holidays, or even just a “Monday.” I hope you all keep this in mind as the holiday season nears; remember the reason for the season.

Is this “real-life?”

First off, I’d like to let everyone know just how patriotic I am feeling today on account of my American flag cotton shorts.

I have been wearing them all day and even plan to sleep in them. Doing Poppa Washington proud. ‘Merica.

Secondly, I have had quite the strange day. I have discovered random quirks about myself I didn’t know I possessed. The first being that I cannot sing any Adele song other than “Rumor has it” without being SO off key that I force myself to stop-out of complete embarrassment-by myself.  The second being I discovered that I am an animal whisperer…except to the cats outside the PAC who shun me with every “kitty kitty” call I attempt. Just being honest here; getting rejected by a cat is about twice as bad as getting rejected by a human. So minus failing a chit-chat with the “PAC cats,” I will explain my epiphany of animal whispering (it’s not as weird as it sounds).

As I was coming home this late afternoon (which seems like evening because of the wretched time change) I was shocked (or should I say mortified) to find three deer just “chillin” in our backyard. They didn’t bother to budge as I pulled into our  make-shift driveway nor react when I opened and slammed my door (self-defense). It wasn’t until I was about 10 feet from dasher, dancer, and prancer that they decide to stand up. I was little intimidated…so I took out my phone….and took pictures (because ya know, when you feel threatened you whip out your phone and take pictures and what not). After my photo shoot with Santa’s reindeer was over, I proceeded to “kitty call” these deer…AND THEY CAME UP TO ME. I’m not kidding. I came an arm’s length from touching the little one. But then I got this twisted image in my head that the second I touched it the other two would come trample me. Don’t judge me, it’s happened…in movies.

The last thing I discovered about myself is that I am really resourceful. As I was emptying my scentsy, I managed to get hot wax all over my sweatpants (I discovered I’m clumsy too). The wax, after sinking through my pants and giving me quite the burn, dried. I pitifully tried to scrape off the wax and failed. I tried to use hot water and wash off the wax…and failed. Not wanting to do a load of laundry (lazy college student) I decided I would have to re-heat the wax, but how? The answer; a blow-dryer. So there I was sitting on my bedroom floor blow-drying wax off my sweatpants when I decided I was going to write this blog.

Bless you for reading this. The end.