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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Teacher As Writer

Most of the time I sit down to write, I am not sure what I am going to say. I have so much to say that I don't know where to begin. One of the Dons (Murry or Graves) said that writing is a tool for knowing. That is isn't until you write that you can know; know the way you think about a given issue without the muddle.

When I am walking, I think the most genius things. I have great ideas to write in my notebook. I come across ideas that I want to explore but most times, I do not stop to record them on my phone, so by the time I sit down to write, those pristine thoughts are replaced with a muddle. That is how I feel today. And that's okay... okay that I have so much in my mind, writing is great for that, but not okay that I am in the habit of letting those sweet thoughts slip away.

Today, I will invest in my writing by stopping to record thoughts as they come. Today, I will love myself enough to be my own thought paparazzi. This morning, I stumbled upon an article written about Donald Graves by Tom Romano and it just what I needed. In the article, he included this piece about teachers writing regularly:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Time Blocking



Yesterday, I read an article by Darius Foroux titled "Time Blocking: Improve Your 
Focus and Get More Meaningful Work Done"There were two quotes in the article 
that struck me: 

It’s Steven Pressfield’s famous analogy, from his book The War Of Art, for getting work done.
"The amateur only works when inspiration strikes. The pro sits down every day and puts in steady work. The key is steady. Not irregular or extreme."
“The sure sign of an amateur is he has a million plans and they all start tomorrow.” 

Oh, the truth of those statements. How many goals have I pushed aside? How many grand ideas have I forgotten? How many times have I committed myself to accomplishing tasks only to let something else of less importance bump it out of the way? I don't mean to bash but I am totally tired of not being an effective manager of my time. SO I am, once again, committing myself to working this method. Hey, true failure is giving up, right? I will not. So here is my commitment: 

1. Create bullet journal.
2. Set aside time for planning
3. Look at the plan throughout the day and adjust accordingly. 
4. Keep trying! 👏👍👌 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Good Lord Grant Me

Dear God. I just want to take each day at a time. I love this prayer. Serenity, courage, and wisdom. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Just Like Mr. Rogers' Shoes...

Sitting in my car changing my shoes, I thought of good ole Mister Rogers. I reminded myself of him, changing into my more comfortable shoes. Boy has my perception of shoes changed. Back in the day, my main concern when it came to shoes: cuteness. Shoes didn't have to fit well or be comfortable. I could walk in uncomfortable shoes all day long and not be discouraged about wearing them again. I would look at others' shoes and be a bit perplexed when their shoe game didn't meet my standards. From there, I would judge them, "Oh Lawd, please don't let that ever be me!" When we were young, a few friends couldn't believe that I could wear heels period, let alone all day. Equating high-heeled, hella cute shoes with youth was my default.

I still remember thinking about my mother's shoes, penny loafers, and wondering how she could wear them for almost every occasion. Now I know, comfort matters. As my thinking transitions from cute to comfort, I find it really hard to balance the two. Comfortable shoes are rarely cute and if they are, they are super expensive or do not fit my feet. All my life my feet have been long and skinny: a Nordstrom, mail-order-custom type of foot. And you know what that means; extraordinarily high prices line the box of almost any shoe that fits my foot and style. 

On the bright side, I have feet to be thankful for. Big, skinny feet that deserve to be comfortable. So, no matter what, I will keep my feet focused on comfort.

Thank you, Mr. Rogers 💙




Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Slice of Truth

Be thankful
Dry clothes
Roof over my head
Change in pocket
Full stomach
I am just 
A paycheck from broke
So 
I'm choosing to be thankful
Regardless


In Nikki Grimes' Garvey's Choice, Manny candid words reflect his struggle with weight in "Slice of Truth". Just as I struggle with weight, I also struggle with money. A friend of mine always says, "things will get better..." and so I hold onto that hope of a brighter financial day. But in the meantime, I will choose to be thankful for what I DO have today. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

You Should Write

My mom is a very special person. When she gives you a compliment, it is a genuine compliment. She doesn't sugar coat a thing.

Today she told me that she loved my writing. She said that I should write a memoir. She said my writing included just the important details. She said it is clear and concise. She said I should write. And then she said it again. Laura Lee, you are a great writer. It meant so much to me.

I think now since my mom said it, I should believe it.



Why Am I Hungry?

Sitting here trying to focus and my stomach is aching for food. The fact that I JUST ate, I am assuming, has absolutely nothing to do with it. Why is it that when you are trying to diet (a.k.a insert any other word you want to... eat healthy, monitor intake... it is still a damn diet) that your body is hungry every waking moment? Okay, I will just speak for myself. I am hungry every damn moment I am awake. And if I am sleeping and I wake up, the first thing that comes to mind are chips--tortilla chips, potato chips, goldfish chips, pretzel chips, CHIPS.

Right now I feel as if I have no control. I don't even want to have control. I want to stop by
Chic-Fil-A on the way home and pick up a gooey chocolate dream cookie. Then I would like some ice cream on the side. I digress.

All I can think about is fooooodddddd.

Until,

Until,

I try on my pants and they will not rise above mid thigh.

Then I am disgusted.

Right now, I need not be hungry.

I just ate.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Write that I (Written from the perspective of D'Angelo from the Wire)

If they ask,
Tell them I was bread against brick bosoms.
The hands meant to mold me
Instead pressed my back,
Shoved me towards the streets.

Doors slammed shut in my face
You tell me, what choices did I have?
My mother's mother was cursed with placenta pumping pain
Ingredients that might help me to cope
Cope with this world I was spit into

They told me that only sissies cry
And no one cares about my story

Tell them instead of their downward glare, I needed a hand up

When you write my story,
Tell them if they'd been me, pressed hard against brick bosoms,
What choices would they have made?


(Persona poem from Rhythm and Resistance edited by Linda Christensen)


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"Oh Mr. Wolfe" (Sydney)

This morning Sydney graced us with a clip from the Genius Movie about Thomas Wolfe. She typed up the words so that we could closely examine the text and we loved it.
Every voice piped up with "I loved the line..." and we were all immersed in the words that lifted off the page and became our own word cloud.

It is so wonderful to be surrounded by writers who share from their heart, connecting words with life.

Then I ruined it because we sometimes do. I saw a moment to stick in some content. Oh, the MVP strategy! Then Sharon asked the question, shouldn't we just sit with the piece of text, hold it close to our chest and breath it in for the life-sustaining element it is? And of course, the answer is yes. Everyone spoke about the delicate dance that we must perform in modeling and creating space for enjoying the text. Not just to analyze. Rachael asked, "Do we have to dissect everything until it loses its meaning or can we just enjoy a piece for what it is?"

Every day in the Summer Institute we read, write, share. Today Sydney had something for us that we couldn't have brought in ourselves, because, we are not her. And I think that when we open our classroom to our students' texts, we patch together a community. A community that says, bring in what your read, listen to, see... Bring in your pieces because we want to know you. We want to examine your fingers, trace the lines of its print with our eyes. We want to ask questions, we want to open ourselves to you and all your genius.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Nod to Enrique Alemán

Stolen Education is a very powerful film that provides a deeper understanding into the struggle and pain that lives and breathes in our present US school systems today. If we as teachers do not know and love the families we teach, we will be a part of the oppression, a part of the problem. As well intentioned as we want to be, we need to continue to learn and do better by our communities. We have the power to destroy a life. We have the power to lift a life. We have the power, together to mend our broken system. If not us teachers, who will? If not you, then who? If not me, then who? Borrowing an idea from Beaty, we are not our past's choices but it is up to us to make it right.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Autumn Leaves in the Summer Time #summerwrites17

6-8-17

Never do I feel more at home than I do jamming with Nat'l Writing Project folk. Summer Institute is my jam. I meet teachers who are truly the salt of this Earth, the best of the best, the sweetness of life that rises to the top. Committed to craft, kids, and, if that isn't enough, dedicate their summer to learning, growing, and spreading the wealth of their experiences with others.

Teachers teaching teachers. In my mind, it doesn't get any better.

Nathan came in and graced us with a piece of the past. The historical context he provided of the piece blew my mind. Made me want to pick up a book and read. Made me want to know more about Coltrane, music and my roots. I am so privileged to spend this time with you all.

I am in love!


Monday, June 5, 2017

Why I Write

I write. Even when I don't I am composing thoughts in my mind. They are fleeting thoughts, gone without a trace, hidden from recall, unless I write them down. Today in our Summer Institute we pondered the age old question "why do you write?". And so I listed some of the reasons I write. 

  • to remember 
  • organize
  • honor
  • understand 
  • to break information apart
  • to put it back together
  • to understand and figure out my next move
  • to forget or remember the past
  • sometimes I don't but it is always on my mind
  • to problem solve 
  • for purpose
  • to get better at writing
  • to remember the struggle I ask of my students
  • to model 
  • because I believe that clear, truthful writing is the highest form of thought
  • because I want to be a better writer
When I write, I remember I can do this, even when I don't. Words sink through to the depths of my soul, soaked in pain then emerge tight-fisted and strong.