Monthly Archives: June 2015

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During most of the year, my time is spent mostly in my classroom. It is a place I love to be. Early mornings and late afternoons  offer me peace and quiet. A large space to think and create, all mine. No one asking me what’s for dinner. No one asks me to help them find something. No chores to do, bills to pay, appointments to schedule. I crawl into a cocoon of sorts. Well, sometimes it feels like a crawl.

I am not so sure this is a good thing.

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Having spent the past week mostly in my home, I have found myself appreciating it in ways I never have before. The peace I have found here is healthy and reinvigorating. Getting reaquainted with my husband is nice too. Just sitting outside, soaking in fresh air, breathing, looking at hills and trees, smelling grass, hearing bird songs and hummingbird wings– amazingly wonderful.

I am asking myself why, why the newfound wonder? Well, it was a TOUGH year. And to be honest, my classroom has become less of a creative workspace and more of a work workspace. As the union chapter chair of my school, I was responsible for lots of work this year as we hired a new principal. Then we waited for her to arrive as two interims took turns keeping the ship moving forward, with varying degrees of sucess. And when she arrived, I was adjusting to new leadership, and helping everyone adust… And then there was the tiny issue of negotiating, organizing and working hard for a contract with a district that didn’t see fit to offer us a decent raise after eight years of no raises and three years of furlough days. Plus, day to day talks with teachers who all have good questions and want my advice – sometimes. By the time I got to my classroom in the morning, I usually had had two or three significant conversations that had nothing to do with my agenda for the day!

That doesn’t sound like a creative, peaceful, private workspace to me. It wasn’t.

Perhaps it is normal to feel like this after a year such as the one I had. Perhaps it is those twenty-seven years talking to me. My OLW for the year was balance. I don’t think I have been very good at it. Maybe it should be OLP for one little phrase and then I could make mine “The pendulum will swing wildly back and forth” because here I am, sitting in my backyard, chilling. Thinking about how much I want to stretch this time out.

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Thank you Ruth for the celebration space. There are lots more to read here.

I’m off for a long walk and then I might take a nap. Celebrate me home!

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Telling Stories

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Today is a good day to look back and celebrate what this week brought us. It’s gloomy and gray outside. Time to find some joy inside.

Thank you Ruth Ayers for creating a space for me to do this on Saturdays.

People tell stories all of the time. We tell stories to make sense of what happens to us. We tell stories to remember what happened. And we tell stories to have fun.

As I cleaned out my classroom this past week, stories began to tell themselves to me. As I dusted off the top of the cabinets, I found cards from a game up there. Just a few, but they told the story of the rainy day game day where someone thought it would be funny to toss a card up there without me seeing. I bet they giggled. I had no idea.

Crawling under the tables and unplugging the computer cords and cables led me to discoveries of notes passed, crumpled and then discarded. Little notes and plans for recess. Secret stories, never told out loud.

Stacking up books inside of boxes led me to stories I tell my students, stories of the lives that can be led when books are a part of your world. I wish this for them probably more than I wish anything else. Be a reader. Find the magic inside of books. It will always be there. You just have to find it.

Clearing up piles of papers reminded me of difficult stories this year. Within the stacks I found office referrals, few in number, but biting and angry, telling stories of times where I failed at handling things in-house. Stories of the times we couldn’t make it work. But we found ways to reconcile. It was never easy. But always worth every ounce of strength and patience and time.

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On the inside of the cabinet in the corner, which serves as my sort-of desk, I tape up inspirational quotes, thank you notes from former students, and need-to-know numbers and bulletins. As I went through them, throwing out ones I no longer need, I found handwritten book recommendations from my dad. This former principal and teacher always used to buy books for my classroom, but he’d read them first, and then leave little notes inside, giving me his thoughts about what kind of reader would like it. I miss him everyday, but seeing these notes makes me smile at the stories we read together, the words I still have from him, the connections we still share through our love of teaching and children’s literature.

Some of the stories we tell aren’t completely true. At a few end-of-year parties I heard stories that I experienced differently than the way they were told. This always amuses me. We love to embellish and retell stories so they grab our audience a little tighter. It is fun to do this, it is a part of being a storyteller. But there was one story that was told that I didn’t recognize. Well, I recognized the beginning. It is a story of how something significant happened at our school. But the teller was revising it and leaving parts out, and adding in parts that never happened. I understand why this happens, it serves a purpose for the storyteller. It fits their narrative. But I was troubled and hurt at being left out. And a little amazed at how far from the truth this story traveled. But I get it. Power is power. We claim it through our stories.

Yesterday, as I neared the finish line of my marathon classroom cleaning, and reflected on the stories bouncing around my brain, it struck me. We can tell any story we like. We can keep it in. We can let it out. We can revise it, change it, but it still exists. And– it is just a story. Truth, revision, retelling– all part of the art of storytelling. My classroom keeps lots of stories within its walls. Some shout out. Some are never told. Many (hopefully many, many) more are waiting to be told. I can’t control how others tell their stories. It doesn’t matter anyway.

I get to live and tell mine.

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