Dirt in My DNA

It felt like nap weather.

But I had an appointment with myself to put on grubbies, and between the rain showers, work in the front yard, continuing the weeding and trimming.  I can still see the clods of topsoil coming up with the oxalis which I was pulling out by the fist-fulls and chucking into the waiting wheelbarrow by the sidewalk.  The dark soil, the pale lime green shoots and stems…the crunch of slightly composted leaves from fall…

All of a sudden I was genuinely happy.  It surprised me.  “Why does working like a dog in the dirt bring me joy?” I wondered.  On the Scottish side, I come from farmers and tough people who traveled to new places, earned the money to buy land and worked hard to make it produce.  They were also orators, preachers on horseback, with a few artists thrown in there.  So, yes, gardening is therapy for me.  It connects me.  The cleaned up yard, the order satisfies me and I know that the spring leafing out will look good.

But I think that happiness was about something else too.  I was finally getting to do just exactly what I wanted, and that felt nice. Dirt, or no.  Like it was my free choice and my time.  So many weekends even have been committed to events and the work week sure doesn’t afford me much unstructured time.

So, I was weeding and pruning another bush back, admiring my artistry.  And the cool, quiet afternoon stayed the same time all day, with only a few neighbors walking dogs by and no interruptions.

I realize there is something aesthetic about gardening and urban farming that I forgot over winter.  Healthy plant life is clean and vibrant, and wonderfully designed.

IMG_2175

Writing Club

I titled it “Finding My Voice” and pitched it to third through fifth graders who stay after school in a day care program.  Then others wanted to join, so I opened it to anyone who would come back an hour after school is dismissed and write with me.  We’ve been meeting two times a week for awhile and the survivors who stuck with it have their projects going.  They are mostly in the after school program.

It interests me to see that three boys have taken off with free verse for their own stories  having read Love That Dog and Hate That Cat. A worthy mentor text. They are getting voice into their pieces and they are engaged.

I was conferring with one writer this afternoon when I realized that, in writing intervention, usually the students do not know how to write dialogue.  I jumped up and asked.  They wanted to say yes, but the thumbs were down.

So we used the scene the student was working on and we co-wrote on a chart the dialogue, pointing out the conventions.  And I urged them to put their character words and thoughts into the scenes.

I settled back to give them one more stretch of writing time.  In closing, I pointed out on the calendar how we have only a few more sessions and talked about our read around celebration.  One writer asked, “Will be be able to come write after that?”

“No, not after the club ends,” I said gently.

“Then how about next year? another asked.

“Maybe,” I smiled.  I was pleased to realize they value this time and space and the writing experience.

 

Evening

IMG_2161

Where are those words that get to the quiet…

That take the shell of talkative day off

While I putter in the garden?

Where folk amusement lingers…

I dampen the blanket of worm castings over flower seeds

Expecting, waiting for things…

IMG_2163

Here fresia got tucked in with succulents…

Everywhere marvel of sunset color saturation

A calm, clean feeling, noticing how alive it all is.

IMG_2162

 

 

Thinking About Writing, Again

Where does personal, expressive writing fit with our college and career requirements for deeper and deeper analysis of real world problems?

Portrait of a young writer

I dictated that question to myself driving to work the other morning.  Students I encounter, along with every opportunity to think with teachers about writing instruction, fuel more questions but fewer answers for me.  But blog tonight is to do a think aloud.

This recorded morning thought is maybe more about trying to understand why there is a chasm between “creative” writing and “academic” writing.  Is it an imaginary or real dichotomy as in versus?  Is it similar to our cultural belief that art is merely “creative” while other endeavors, such as science and math are pure and “academic?”  Or maybe just a hardening of the categories?

Several weeks ago, visiting author and teacher Tom Romano,(Fearless Writing) said to a group of us at SJAWP:

Teachers feel great pressure.  They’re conscientious.  This thing about academic writing…It is that.  My article in English Journal is academic: It’s in a peer-reviewed journal. We have a skewed notion of what ‘academic’ means.

Romano EJ May 18 indel mmnts

I’d like more college teachers and professional writers to help public school teachers understand what academic means.

In my little world, if I move students to write more personally and help them loosen up to be more expressive, that clearly motivates most of them.  I get more writing. Working from their own experiences, they have start-up material then can go research.  Mentors can help them try out moves to improve their writing style.  Comparing their drafts and thinking about various genres and formats they could use, as well as monitoring their goals as a writer, lifts the level of their thinking.  But, should I rather be having them do lots of close reading of a passage and another passage and analyze, and analyze and analyze it, then write a response?  Will that better prepare them for academia or for the writing they need to do in their careers or the “real world.?”  (thought for another blog: what is the real world?  money?  being?  hm…)

Is there valid “school writing” that I ought to be teaching? I missed it. Wasn’t taught in my day.  Is our main concern rightly to prep students to respond to the CAASP  ELA performance task and their other exams? Is that where “academic” comes from?

Is there a plan to get students to deep analytical writing without going through the processes that professional, published authors describe?  Which seem to be deeply personal and creative…

Maybe this is where the voice memo to myself in the car on the way to work came from:

Last week I stumbled on the Harvard Nieman Foundation website LINK   It exists “To promote and elevate the standards of journalism.”  This held me strongly, because I saw the film, “The Post,” which reminded me that basically I believe the reason we need to teach students to think and write well is so that they can tell the truth.  Truth to power even in the face of corruption, which will alway be where there is power.

The rich current articles featured in The Narrative News on the Nieman Story Board amazed me, as did their commentary on “why is this good?” Narrative nonfiction from news writers unpacked thinking and experience on all the current issues.  “Wow,” I thought.  “I’ll bet college teachers would love for their students to write like this.” I was amazed to read, too, that most future newscasts predictably will be video, so composing a video will be a different kind of writing than the rules high school students use to write an analytical essay, won’t they?

Maybe another problem I don’t understand is that some academic writing is academic only. Literary criticism for its own sake?  It is deeper and deeper analysis of other people’s literature and, while the thinking and aesthetic exercise contributes to the mind and development of the young writer, does it get close to “real world problems?”  I follow high school teacher blogs, like Moving Writers because they clearly are trying to keep their AP students using “mentors in the wild” — meaning the prolific kinds of digital texts.  I think the main thing is that good writing is about deep thinking.

Why I am infatuated with investigative reporting and the narrative nonfiction I read referenced on the Nieman Story Board?  I suspect it is because I found writing there that begins with personal, up close powerful story – elegantly written with sophisticated thinking and information about the issue the reporter covered.

If nothing else, I want to know how to help students write for the real world.  If they can do that, then I won’t be worried about what they do with a few machine-score performance tasks.  They’ll be more than ready.

Today

Today.  Marvelous.  I have never seen this one before.

I rode the town bike I got myself as a Valentine present across town to the ashram where I like to meditate, chant and listen to a message from a kriya yoga teacher.

The decision to ride instead of drive was prompted partly by the clear sunshine and fresh air that sparkled outside.  Also, I’ve been wanting to do a little local biking again, having let that habit go awhile back when my cafe’ racer was stolen.

I felt excited when I put on my helmet and lifted the town bike off the rack in the garage.  I followed a bike path route that was interesting and had very light traffic, since it was early Sunday.  I will get used to this quickly I think, though I am a bit out of cycling shape.

The peaceful Satsang service ended with a beautiful song by the little choir which made me weep. Outside, I put on my shoes, got a tangelo and cookie from the hospitality table and sat and chatted with a friendly couple before I ventured back home.

I took a different route, trying to use a bike lane to reconnect with the way I came, but, after I pedaled up over the Hwy. 87 overpass and breezed down the hill to Coleman, I realized I’d be going home an entirely new route.  Which was interesting.  Today.  I’ve never seen this one before.

fullsizeoutput_27f0

I saw a neighborhood I’d never been in, and pedaled down the wide one way 10th Street with a great bike lane to head home.  This town bike is automatic.  I can shift at a standstill and it has 7 gears.  It feels completely different than my road bike, which is fast and light and touchy to shift, but not so great on torn up, track-lined downtown streets.

After making an uber healthy lunch I ventured out to the back yard where I planted flower seeds among the vegetables I’ve set in the garden.  Bending, breaking up soil, top dressing the seeds with a mix of potting soil and worm castings, then patting them down with the back of a trowel felt so…hopeful.  So springlike.  Expecting beauty.  Today.  I’ve never seen this one before.  And I usually don’t try to get flowers from seeds.

Later, I took a drive with the top down, soaking up more sunshine and fresh air, to visit a plant nursery in Campbell I’ve recently discovered.  I got a replacement lavender plant, and three more delphiniums, making five.

The delphiniums are a Christmas present for one of my bff’s. She gave her friends a day of scrapbook making as a gift.  I gave her a month of having her backyard graced with flowers to look lovely with her outdoor furniture.  She loves blue.  I re-potted the five delphiniums into bigger containers and watered them.  Next I will have to find something artsy to stake them with.  They should be gorgeous in June.

And now, the sun is setting, and it’s time to make something good for dinner.  And return to school teacher mode, after a healing day in nature.  A day unlike any other, like no two snowflakes or fingerprints match.

 

 

write SMALL

text

I was texting a wonderful reading staff developer friend how glad I was to be attending her workshop coming up in April. She sent me the clip below, of her grandson,

My chance to use the clip in a writing lesson came up today in a Saturday workshop at SJAWP for students and teachers of grades 3-5.  We were writing creative nonfiction about things we would fix.  I was demonstrating how, even in nonfiction texts, especially in creative nonfiction, writers choose places to slow down and write SMALL.  They unpack info and statements and significant parts with sensory detail, and write actions bit by bit.

The young writers came back after snack break and the clip was on screen.
“Play it again!” they said, and I did, and prompted them to gather in the meeting area, and showed it again.  Now let’s do this in our writing…

“Play it again!” some chanted.

To connect with their writing: I asked them to choose a line or a part of the morning discovery draft to write SMALL, in slo mo on a new page.  I had written an anchor chart. To demonstrate,  I told a summary then read a sample of “small writing” from Patricia McLaughlin (because the highchair scene with baby is so accessible) and the same for a passage from Nicola Yoon (because I’m reading her now and love her voice).  Finally, I mentioned my blog post (from yesterday) as another example (turning 19 words into 1,000).

The writers went off to take their topic/project and rewrite a scene to report it, to report the sensory details, to report the feeling, and to transcribe the mind movie in their head into words.

They settled into that writing deeply.  Teachers were trying it.  I know that the instruction about show don’t tell for narratives is not new, but I loved the way my friend’s movie clip engaged my visiting writers at workshop this morning.  And it worked for getting voice into nonfiction.

Yes, I spent my morning teaching two workshops and debriefing with teachers.  Now, on to more weekendish things.

 

Feline Friend

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 4.43.44 PM

That was December 17. The photo is a snapshot on my phone while at the vet posted on FB with 19 words.  And, except for one tearful late afternoon of downloading every photograph of this exquisite cat from FB to put in a GoogleDrive folder, I have not written about that day.  It has remained encapsulated.

I have had short “conversations” out in my backyard, mostly letting the way I say “Mickey boy…” and “Hey, Mr. Miaow…” the sound of my voice, slide out into the air.

But I am stalling.

The emergency vet was kind and busy for a Sunday morning.  The short drive to the animal hospital usually had a soundtrack of wailing protest and kitty singing the blues, but the only sound from the carrier on the front seat in front of me was a heave and that awful retching I’d heard for what seemed countless mornings and evenings.

Poor guy.  It is humiliating to be taken to the vet, but to come out of your carrier with the slime and saliva of your own barf was low.  The vet tech gently cleaned Mickey up and he barely protested.  When the vet came in, after what seemed like a week long wait, Mickey had started resting on my pea coat, a jacket I’d had recently had cleaned, but which was now fuzzy with white fur.

The exam was brief:  My cat had lost a tremendous amount of weight, and had become weak and spiritless.  He had nothing at all in his intestinal tract. The option to do barium x-rays weighed with the odds that, should surgery be needed, Mickey might not make it through a procedure…all these things were calmly explained by the tall, quiet vet.

“Your cat is starving to death.  Which is a terrible way to go.”

“You’re putting words on things I came in here kind of knowing,” I began, and was already fighting back tears.  “I wanted to know if there was a blockage…”

In a short exchange, I had to decide what to do, and yet I already knew, so I said, “I don’t want him to suffer any more.”

The vet and technician left us alone for awhile.  I figured Mickey knew things were not going so great.  I sniffled and held him, and let him huddle on my coat.  I had asked the vet not to leave us in there too long, so he apologized on return.  “I’m the only one on duty this a.m. and we have a couple emergencies.  The vet tech took Mickey out and gut a catheter in his paw.

Like the big cat, I crouched over Mickey on the exam table.  I leaned my face down into the fur on his back.  He was still and trusting.  I loved him and when his body started to back up as the injection sent in, I held him still, gently, with quiet words.

In a few seconds he laid over on his side. The vet wrapped the towel around him.

“Now there’s only one suffering,” said the vet gently.

I pointed at Mickey’s open eyes.  The vet asked if I wanted them glued shut, and I shook my head no, as Mickey was returned in curled up sleeping position to his cat carrier.

At home I put him in the shade on the back table, while I got out a garden shovel and thought about the spot.  A place he loved to sleep, among many, is under the smoke bush in the back corner, partly because the sun is on that spot late into the afternoon/evening.

The ground was hard.  Hardpan is clay that is like pottery.  I dug and wept and chipped away at another layer of dirt howling.  I sweated and moaned and pulled the broken dirt out and took a measure.  Not wide enough to put him in comfortably.  Not deep enough to keep varmits from digging him up. Dig, cry, dig, cry.

I put water in the hole to soften the ground and made myself stop and breathe.  My sides ached, my eyes were puffed up. Finally I went over and brought the carrier to the grave.

Mickey, such a good cat, as always, had closed his eyes.  I was so grateful to him. I didn’t want to lay him in the ground staring up with a shocked look.  I sobbed more because I thought of times I had marveled at what a good cat he was. I gathered bunches of catnip from the garden and laid them in as a cushion.  Then the blue towel and my magnificent black and white kitty were lowered gently into the dirt.

I didn’t want to put dirt on this lovely peaceful scene, but I had to carry on, so shovelful on shovelful went in.  I laid two brick pavers on top when the ground was level.  And I stepped back and wiped my grimy mess of a face.

I know I made some words to make it a rightful funeral, but I cannot remember them.  My garden supervisor, chief ratter, gourmand kitty, walking friend, and companion.  Gone.

And then, dumbstruck, I went in the house to begin life without a cat.  Except that, with so many memories of my feline friend, he was still with me.  Pulling out my yoga mat in the morning I felt the tug of his weight sitting on the rug, enjoying me sliding it out on the kitchen floor.  A hiccough from the refrigerator made me think I was hearing that awful barfing.

When I drove home from work, I was watching for the blinking love eyes, down the end of the driveway.  It felt strange not to be greeted.

The worst was no friendly plop when Monsieur Mickey jumped up on my bed to make biscuits before curling up to sleep next to me.

It still feels strange to be catless.  Some day, I’ll be able to open that GoogleDrive folder full of photos and write into some of the hilarious and more charming memories.

But for now, I’ve unpacked 19 words with 1,012.

writing cat

 

The Implications of a Milkshake

In the Classroom: My feet tap nervously on the tiled floor.  My mind is on cognitive overload and I have the feeling of wanting to throw up.  I wish for an interruption; a fire drill, a phone call to the room, an announcement over the school’s speakers, a yellow slip saying I have to  go to the office because my mom is picking me up early, just ANYTHING to get me out of the current activity we are doing.

I look at the picture on my desk.  It is covered in plastic so that the teacher can torture another child with it the following year.  It is a fancy glass, curvy with white liquid.  On top is a mountain kind of looking thing, white and perfectly done with a red cherry on top.  I have already figured out that the white liquid is milk so I know it comes from a cow.  I know this because even though I may not know enough English, I have had many interactions with milk: I pour it on my cereal every morning, my mom uses it to make a delicious breakfast we call “arroz con leche” (rice with milk), my dad loves to pour it over hot yams, my brothers and I put some into coffee to make it so yummy, I always have to grab a little carton of it for lunch and the carton has the word ‘milk’ in bright red, capital letters so without anyone telling me, I already know that “leche” is milk.

I know all this, but I still don’t know what category this picture belongs to.  And soon it will be my turn to go up, in front of the entire class, and stick this thing into its food group.  But I can’t figure it out.  There are six groups up on the board, each represented with a different color.  The teacher put the names of each group on a bright label, but that is all and I don’t know all the words. I already used my Spanish to help me know that fruit is “fruta” and vegetables are “vegetales.” But the other four are a big mystery and I just can’t make sense of them.  One label says, ‘Bread, pasta, potatoes.’ I have never seen or heard those words and so far it is empty.  Another says ‘Meat, fish and alternatives,’ and it already has a picture of what looks like a naked chicken all plucked and hunkered over.  I am guessing that is the place to put things that come from animals, but I am not sure.  The yellow group says, ‘Cheese and dairy.’ A student put a picture of a block of yellow in it.  What is that? I scramble through my mind, trying to think of my family’s once a week visits to the grocery store.  Had I seen anything like that? Did we ever eat something that looked like a yellow block? I didn’t think so.  The last group was small but it had an extremely long label, ‘Fats, oils and confectionaries.’

“Lorena!” the teacher hollered my name and it threw me out of my long chain of desperate thinking.  Time was up.

With my heart hammering in my throat and my legs feeling like gelatin, I pushed away from my desk as if it was pulling me back, and slowly made my way to the board.  My sweaty, nervous hands began to tug at the picture, folding the corners.

“Don’t do that!” admonished the teacher.

His reprimand accompanied with his glare that I was getting all too familiar with, only made me feel small and to wish I could run away.  But I was stuck and my feet made their own decision to move me closer to the board.

The gaze of 20 something pairs of eyes on my back was tangible.  I couldn’t see my classmates, but I knew they were all watching.  I took another frantic look over the food groups pleading for a miracle.  None came.  No interruptions either.  With hesitant hands, I quickly jabbed the picture next to the naked chicken.  Milk came from cows and cows were an animal and this group had an animal in it.

The class burst into laughter.  Did they think I was being funny?  Or was this like all those other times when they laughed AT me, thinking, ‘jeez this girl knows NOTHING!’  I swallowed the hard lump of my heart in my throat, snatched the picture back and slapped it on the bottom group: Bread, pasta, potatoes.  More laughter, uncontrollable this time.  The teacher immediately stepped in, but first he shot me another glare.

Teaching Implications: No child, not even language learners or children of a different race, are empty vessels.  They come to the classroom having had experiences AND language that they can use to make sense of what is happening within the classroom walls.  We need to know our students, all of them, so we are familiar with who they are because they are people too. Let’s tap into their experiences, their knowledge, and most of all their language instead of thinking they know nothing.

Develop a community where students support and learn from each other.  We are not the only teachers in the room.  And our behavior is used by students as a model of how they should respond to each other.  Glare at a child and the students will take your cue as a sign of how this student deserves to be treated.  So they pick up on your glares and other body language and begin to treat the student in a similar fashion, often in worse ways.

Allow students to talk.  Establish your expectations for partner talk routines and group work.  What would have happened had I just been allowed to talk to one of my classmates about the picture in my hands?

We take for granted how much we teach with words, spoken words.  It doesn’t take too much time (especially now when we can easily search with Google images) to get visuals and incorporate them into lessons.  We can even make quick sketches in the moment to support new vocabulary.

Lifelong Implications: I am certain we all have nuggets of memories from our early school days.  There are many different reasons of why we cling to those memories.

This memory tugs at me quite often.  Because of it, I now see how in the preceding years of school I put my efforts towards fading into the classroom walls and becoming invisible.  I was not the student with a hand raised or the student who wanted to be table monitor much less line leader.  And if ever I was called on by the teacher, my face would first turn bright red and it always made my stomach go upside down and then I would barely mumble something out.  This still happens.

I was suddenly embarrassed by my family and our culture.  I had witnessed firsthand how everything I knew and was familiar with was not validated in school.  So what if we had milk in our house? The way we used it didn’t count in school.  Apparently all our visits to the grocery store didn’t matter because we didn’t buy yellow cheese in yellow blocks (ours was white and came in a wheel shape and we crumbled it over enchiladas, beans, and lots of over foods).  And our language wasn’t helpful.  Actually my first language got in the way of me learning.  All of this came to my realization from that milkshake.  And it has taken many years (honestly I am still working on it) to undo the damage and embrace who I am (Mexican culture and all) and to see how beautiful Spanish is and that it is a language worthy of knowing.

Lastly, I am so afraid of getting up in front of people.  After that moment, I recall almost dying every time I had to do a presentation or a report or a speech or whatever other confounded project teachers made up to get students to show their learning. I remember many sleepless nights as I lay worrying in bed.  Would they laugh at me, would they think I was dumb?

Just Forget It

The New Year is well underway, so make sure to get off on the right foot by forgetting about these items.  Just forget it!

10.  All the people that you slept with (or not) last year

9. The amount of times that you did not blog in 2017

8. The time you overpaid for some thing at the grocery store, by the way, toss the receipt

7. All previous attempts to lose weight

6. The evenings when you concluded a healthy salad dinner with a big slice of (insert flavor here) _____ cake with ice cream, whip cream, chocolate drizzle, cherry, banana on top while downing it with a (insert flavor here) ____ milkshake

5. Any and all cashiers who never ask about your day or you or how it’s going

4. The series of days you committed to watching an HBO series that went nowhere (the main character wasn’t ever dead and the mom was the real mom all along)

3. All mornings when you woke up crying…because you didn’t want to go to work!

2. Promises, promises, promises – do you EVEN remember what you promised? It’s to your benefit to forget them

1. Your 2018 New Year’s Resolutions

Caught!

I was staring at my teacher plan book.  Admiring the blue lined boxes that indicated days and subject areas.  I took such joy in filling it in and seeing what the week would look like.  I was completely lost in it, still trying to see what I could do for Wednesday afternoon and what could get plugged in for Thursday morning.

Suddenly my classroom door opened.  I just heard the click of the knob turning and in walked the district personnel, four of them.  A whopping four DISTRICT people.  They entered in a line, fake smiles plastered on their faces because they always said, “smile when you walk in to the room, no matter what you see happening, just smile.” Then they each took a position at the back of the class, leaned against the counter, and held their precious papers close to their chests, still radiating those fake smiles but already I could see in their eyes the disappointment of walking in to the room and NOT witnessing any teaching going on.

I scrambled out of my desk, nearly knocking over my chair, heart starting to race, lump in throat forming and beads of sweat already on my hairline.  I looked wildly around for that damn book.  Jesus where was it?  Oh, I knew they were seeing this, but there was no way to hide it. Where the hell did I leave that thing?  I glanced back at my desk, nothing there aside from my mess of papers, confiscated toys (the ones I bothered to collect), water bottles, pens, erasers, more papers from the students, my beautiful plan book and hand sanitizer.

My eyes flew to the shelf beneath the whiteboard.  Giant TE’s were nestled in there with their bright spiral bound cardboard covers showing.  I saw the orange, yellow, and blue spirals, large enough to tear up and wear as bracelets, but nowhere was that small book with the black spiral. Now my palms were sweating, my heart was drumming in my throat that had entirely closed from the lump in it and I could feel the heat on my face letting me know my cheeks were turning the color of a bright cherry. I stole a glance at the district people still leaning against the counter, now making it very obvious that they were judging the class walls, no fake smiles anymore.  I wish I could just tell them that I meant to update the student work that still bore September dates and that the pumpkin decorations would get put away soon, I just hadn’t had enough time to get to it.  But talking to them was a cardinal sin, it was prohibited, it would mean breaking all protocol for a district visit.  THEY were not to be talked to.

I was certain that five painful minutes had passed since they’d entered and so far all they had seen was the teacher scrambling about the front of the room.  Dammit, I knew it was here somewhere. Eyes swiveling in every direction, I neared the easel overloaded with old charts, some dated from the previous school year (that was on my list to be removed too). I eyed the basket beneath it, crammed with markers, papers, whiteboard erasers, more papers (why was there so much paper everywhere?) but no sign of that stupid, freaking, damn book.  I was about to cave in and ask the students if one of them had seen it – they always could tell me where to find things – just as my eye saw the bloody thing behind the easel, opened up to the last lesson that I probably taught.  My heart settled back into my chest and a smile crept on my lips as I saw that I had even put post it notes into the book, well that would impress them.  I lifted it up off the shelf and was momentarily surprised to see a layer of dust slide off it.

“Ok, boys and girls come to the carpet and sit down,” I announced as I saw my third graders look up at me from their reading books. They slowly started moving and were soon seated in front of me.  I took the chair near the easel and flipped through the book to find the next lesson. As my eyes searched for where to start, I said, “Ok, so boys and girls, we have been doing a lot of writing…ummm we worked on our stories…”

“You mean small moments?” a student chimed in.

“Yes, our small moments,” I agreed. The damn thing was hard to navigate, I was still flipping pages.  Weren’t these district people leaving soon?  Didn’t they have a torrent of work to do at their offices? Then I saw a beacon of hope, the title of the lesson! I could figure it out from that. I launched into what I thought was spectacular teaching of writing.  And soon enough, as if they had seen what they needed to see, the district people left the room, single file, fake smiles back on their faces.  As the door slowly clicked back into place, I heaved a sigh.  One of utter relief.  I leaned back in the chair, drained from the maddening adrenaline rush. A small laugh nearly escaped from within me.  I closed the book, I was not losing this thing again. I knew exactly where I would put it.  Dismissing the children from the carpet, I tossed the book with its black spiral onto my desk to lay among the stash of papers.

 

Laura & Lorena: Inspiring Teachers to Write