Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Quick Note --Tuesday Weekly Reflection 4/12

A Quick Note --Tuesday Weekly Reflection 4/12

I promised myself I would try to blog once a week after the March challenge.
I am tired. I need to go to bed, but I need to keep my promise.
It would be sad if I could not keep up with one blog a week after undertaking the 31 day challenge. What an invigorating challenge!

The workload has not diminished.  Life continues...There have been happy and sad moments this week. I continue to work to uphold gratitude in every moment. I hold gratitude close to my heart. Slowly I extend my arms into a challenging situation with palms up to carry gratitude into the situation.

Since it is way past my bedtime, I will share:

One proud moment:
Last Friday, I was so excited to hear several students from my Creative Writing class read their poems. The students have a true love for writing! They have a true reverence for words.  Their poems ranged from extended metaphors, to using nature to describe a social injustice, to describing vividly a profession.  The goal was to emulate famous authors.

They came up, they read...Students gave warm feedback to each other. Students snapped for each other.  Unexpected volunteers (usually quiet students) added their names to the list of presenters and came up to speak their words!  I was so excited.  I could not hide my joy: my joy as their words reached our ears and hearts. I still need to work on encouraging some quiet voices...

As the presentation ended, I thanked the students for performing without notice.  That night, I changed my regular lesson when I allowed my tired body and mind to acknowledge that students had just finished midterms and needed to do something different. Just as I thanked students and started to move on to the next activity, they said, "What about you? Why don't you perform a poem?"

I looked up at them and literally jumped for joy.  I grabbed my Chromebook. With joy, I said, "Wow, you want me to share.  No one ever asks me to perform." I even removed my purse which I wear messenger style and pretended I was warming up for a race.  They were all laughing with joy.  And then, I just started reading a poem I had written for my 31 days Slice of Life Challenge.

I lost myself in the words.  They listened...I did not have to stop to ask for quiet. They gave me warm feedback, and we moved on as a community of writers.  WOW! What a moment. We are all writers willing to do the hard work...Willing to hear cool and warm feedback.

They were also excited to see a vocabulary word in the poem and the play on words with "in vain" and "vein."

It's 11:17 p.m., so I will simply say one thing I can do better next week, I can try to write another poem.  I will challenge myself to do the Social Injustice poem I assign to students after we read "Strange Fruit" by Van Meeropol. If the students can live up to the challenge, I need to do so....

I want to thank my students for appreciating the power of words.

Here is the poem I had published earlier in March as a Slice of Life Entry:

I Am Hungry- #Sol16 - Day 16

"I Am Hungry"   -  # Sol 16 -- Day 16

I am hungry for a poem
I am
starving for letters
cooked into words
that emit an aroma
of understanding
an aura of love and

I am hungry for letters
that will weave a colorful
tapestry of joy
to shield the already
saddened from the daily
breaking news of
human hands stopping
human hearts.

I am searching among
the shelves of supermarkets
for words to create a recipe
whose secret lies in
healing the hurt
who feel a need to hurt back
letters to anoint
the bruised hands and
feet of those who have
endured more than my
letters can spell.

A spell of letters
a cauldron of stirred words
that will rouse the hearts
of leaders, soldiers, young men
trained to starve for
the blood of newborns
whose umbilical cords were
severed before their lips
learned how to suckle
their mothers' milk.

I am hungry
for words to rock
to sleep childless
mothers and fathers
siblingless brothers
and sisters.

I starve for words
to lure
young boys trained
to hold uzis
before they can
steadily hold a
pencil to search
for letters to
remind them of
back home under a tin
roof hosting baked bread
a mother's or a father's
and lots of love, love, love
words to help them learn what
it is to understand, be confused
words that elicit the power
of compassion.

I am hungry for letters to
cast a spell that will free
kidnapped daughters and sons
I am searching in the
jungles of blinded drugged
human souls for letters
to convince and compel
those who hold the gun
cuddled against their heart
to stop
lead lost daughters and
sons back home under the
spell of love and safety.

I pick through
the dumpsters
of rotten words of hate
murder, genocide
in hopes of finding letters
that will drive away
the man's
the woman's
loneliness as he
she grabs a needle
filled with poison
a hunger so deep
so blind he
she needs to poke a hole
through her skin
a hunger so gut wrenching he
she injects a needle
of desperation
into her parched vein
now starving
for chemicals
that can exhume one
to infernal heights
just as it can enshroud
one in living

I am searching
in vain to fill the
veins of the hurt
confused and lonely
eyes red yearning
for the next fix
young face already
looking  old not
with wrinkles but
with skin pulled taut
stretched to cover
all the bones of the living
dead whose mind and
soul under a spell of a fix
reach for that needle
the breaking point
the breaking news
reveals the daily

I am looking
for strings of letters
and fortifying twine
to weave a net
and catch sparkling silver
fish streaked with the blueness
of peace
fish that can be magically
to feed dry parched
lips whose tongues
have only tasted for days
the bloody chipped
rotten enamel.

A confetti of letters
swirl above my head
like a halo of
words I cannot reach
words that cannot teach
that war, poverty, hunger,
man-struck deaths of bullet
Should cease.

I am hungry...

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Weekly Reflections --- Tuesday Challenge 4/5/2016

Weekly Reflections --- Tuesday Challenge 4/5/2016

For my 31-day challenge, I posted blogs about my personal life.
For the weekly Tuesday entries, I hope to reflect at times on my teaching.

Two things that did not work this past week

1 Rushing...When I am excited about a lesson, I rush to it and through it. I need to remember that my students need time to digest this new information that is not new to me. The beauty of teaching is that a classroom filled with students' rich discussions always brings new perspectives to the known.

2. Last week, I did not feel very well.I felt tense and stressed. Though, I tried to remain as pleasant and patient as a teacher, I was not very patient with myself. I pushed myself to exhaustion instead of listening to my body.

Two things that worked this past week

1. I tend to plan too many meetings during my prep. I tried to honor my prep time, so I could accomplish much planning alone and/or with a colleague. This week, I hope to dedicate more time to grading.

2. In all the 22 years of teaching vocabulary, I have always written the sentences with context clues and left a blank for students to infer the right word.  In a recent workshop, I was reminded of the importance of letting the students use and repeat the words. After introducing the meanings, I provided sentence stems in which I used the new vocabulary word and students then completed the sentence with clues. This practice during class allows students to demonstrate understanding of the word: The young man asked his boss to augment his ____________, so he can _______________________. *Note the concerned vocabulary word is in bold.

Students then read their completed sentences to each other in small paired groupings. The focus is on the context clues.

I still create my traditional fill-in-the blank for tests, but this new method for class practice is the best thing I learned this week.

Wishing you all a healthy and productive week.