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


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.