Slice of Life: I Walk the Line

How often does one get to stand up for what matters?

It started in the dark. In the rain. Armed with laminated signs, rain gear, and caffeinated energy, teachers walked. All day for our students. A choreographed act of belief.

Today offered the chance to do the right thing.

Tomorrow, and until students get what they need, we use our voices and walk the line for the future of public education.

I embrace this opportunity.

Embracing 2019

Yesterday, my students returned to their classroom after Winter Break full of their usual energy and enthusiasm. All felt as it should be. But in buildings where adults manage issues that ultimately impact the future of my students, other things were happening.

As we read the next chapter in Some Kind of Courage, adults discussed their future. In a conference room somewhere in Los Angeles, my union and my employer confronted each other, again. Perhaps they were talking over whether or not my students will have a nurse on hand when they suffer an asthma attack. Maybe they were discussing the merits of psychological social workers in schools where the majority come from households who qualify for subsidized meals.  Possibly they were debating the merits of librarians and counselors in the high school my students will go to.

As my students and I analyzed a letter of an immigrant at Ellis Island in the 1800s, other people were making decisions that will impact their long and short term future.

When I worked with Leah on her blog post, I suspect our newly elected Governor Gavin Newsom was making his inaugural address. I wonder, does he plan on sending his adorable two-year-old son to a middle school with a class size that exceeds 44? How will this man I voted for the address the wealth gap in our state that mirrors the “…achievement gap in our schools and a readiness gap that holds back millions of our kids”? Will he step up for my students?

I have two more days with my students. To read the next chapter, write another article, develop a conjecture, do another experiment. It breaks my heart to acknowledge I probably will not be with them on Thursday. Perhaps this is what it takes to move the second largest public school district in the nation in a direction it needs to go.

Last night, with all of this running through my heart, I finally settled on a word for 2019.  One to hold on to. One that will allow me to step forward in a direction that is true to my beliefs.  A word that is positive and active. My one little (but powerful) word for 2019 is

Here’s to embracing all the challenges and opportunities, adults and children that 2019 presents.

Picture this

He whines.
I look up.
Bothered by the disruption
my annoyance is met with a look.
“What?”
He continues to stare. Probably thinking unkind thoughts.

Rousted from my comfort, I check
the bowls. Full.
The answer must be outside.

I open the door
out he prances,
paws in pursuit.

Done. I presume
returning to where I left off
when
I sense I’m being watched.
My unslakable explorer awaits.

seeking cat.JPG

Keeping Track of Myself

The light streams in the east facing window next to my writing space. And if I look to my left, I see copper wind chimes. Still. Perched just outside on an arbor that is at the forefront of the hillside. The photo in the header, what I saw as I walked up to my cluttered desk this morning, inspired me to open up my neglected blogging site. A new look for a new year. And with that, a reflection the year that has passed.

Last year my teaching life changed to include a new type of student and new content. Both fascinated and overloaded me. So much information swirled around me. I felt like my student, Steve”,  who had so much going on in his head he couldn’t decide what to write about. When he did start to write, he’d get distracted by another idea. Exactly. Too much stimulus did not allow my mind to settle enough to write.

I learned a lot last year. A lot of content and pedagogy around each domain. One of the costs of all that learning required me to step away from blogging. Last year my writing life changed from blogging to list making and notetaking.  A surprising benefit of this overwhelming stream of informational was that reading for pleasure became a necessity.

Last year, I learned about myself. I was overtaken by new learning. And in the process, l lost my bearings. Today I feel like I’ve pulled out of the swirling current of content to take a look. Take a breath. And realize the flow of learning and children will continue. Get over it. It’s on me to seek out still waters, to pull out, look back, and find myself.

The year ahead looks no calmer than the year that has passed. Personally and professionally it will be turbulent. As always. But this year I’ve made simple, measurable goals around areas that matter to me.

Reading: log books read on Goodreads.
Writing: a post a week, journal most days. poem a week
Making: a weekly photo that could become something
Family/Friends: daily contact with three individuals, a gratitude journal to keep track
Professional: three professional reads; one conference.

I shy away from metrics, but this year I want to capture what was done and what was undone. That is something I resist for many reasons. Mostly because I’d rather look ahead assuming the past could be better. But this year I’m giving it a go.

Here’s to a new year and new goals designed to capture memories and keep track of what matters.