Celebrating this week… a little tough to do, but I found it. You can read more celebrations here.
First, why is it tough? Well, I will tell you. I have been looking forward to attending the NCTE conference in Washington DC later this month. When I have been to large national conferences in the past, I have discovered I love being in the company of teachers and learners and hearing about excellent practices from my colleagues around the country. I use everything I learn– with my students, my colleagues and with other teachers in my community. I am also a Cotsen fellow, and have been granted some money for my own professional development. I have a plane ticket paid for as well as a spot at the conference. I also have a sub lined up for the two days I will need to take off that will be paid for by my grant. And… this week my new, interim superintendent said ALL travel is cancelled until January because we should stay in our schools and receive professional development there, or do it on weekends and holidays only. WHAT? This is a major frustration. So many things could be said about so much of his decision, but that wouldn’t be much of a celebration would it? Quite the opposite. Quite scary actually.
Speaking of scary… (here comes the celebration, I promise…)
Luckily, on Thursday night I participated in a little slice of heaven called Scary Stories. I have been reading for this event for twelve years. Each year I am transported by the fire, the dark, the open sky, and the magic that happens when other people share in a storytelling event. We don’t actually tell stories, we read them. There is a nice mix of kid-friendly ghost stories and mysterious tales, as well as more complex stories that adults appreciate. We have sound effects and a large bonfire. It takes a little over an hour. Magical, different, entertaining, plain fun.
This time, as I was reading I looked up into the sky and the small crescent moon was shining. The clouds were dancing around it and the wind was turning colder. The crowd was right there with me. It was a perfect moment. I was perfectly in it. I breathed it all in. It healed me a little – lifted a little weight off my shoulders.
It got me thinking about how much fun it might be to try something like this in class. Not scary– just good stories, short stories or chapters, that some of my students might want to read aloud to their classmates at a special event every few months. They could develop places where they needed music or sound effects. They could produce them using stuff we have around the classroom. Then we could move the furniture and sit around a fake fire (not sure what that would look like yet), and enjoy the listening.
There’s a lot of literacy involved in finding stories to read and developing them into productions of words, sounds and music. Being active listeners during the presentation is solid work as well. And best of all, perhaps we will make some of our own perfect moments, to help us through the other not-so-perfect ones.