Celebrate: Regenerative Practices

It’s time to Celebrate this Week with Ruth Ayres.  I’m thankful for all of those who join in this practice. Read more celebrations here.

celebrate link up

This week was a roller coaster, up and down. Each day required reconstruction.  I’ve got a road I want to travel; sometimes our learning path requires significant detours and roadside stops. Sensing where students are relative to where I want to take them is most important.

This week I celebrate the regenerative practice of writing.

Writing allows my thoughts to be tangible. It lets me hold on to and maybe connect pieces. Writing can feed me. It allows my brain and body to connect with something solid. Be it ink and notebook or the keyboard and screen.

This week I celebrate the regenerative process of listening.

On Friday, I caught this conversation on my local NPR station between Noah McQueen and President Obama.   Noah, an 18-year high school senior from Maryland, spoke wise words. Words I wanted my students to hear. They listened hard to Noah and the President. Afterwards, I listened to my students.

I didn’t ask for them to share or to write. I just waited.

Mostly it was quiet.

Then, V said, “He seems a lot older than 18.”

R said, “That was beautiful.”

I agree.

Happy Saturday.




Welcome 2015: My One Little Word

A new year, a new one little word.

My 2015 OLW has been with me for a while. It’s been lurking, hanging out with wonder, my 2014 OLW. Waiting in the wings. Helping out when needed. Saying here I am,  psst over here. I’m here.

I worried that this word was too direct. Too single minded. Too pushy. So I tried on a few others. Some words were beautiful and might fit someday, but not right now. Some words were tempting. They looked magical.

But this word kept whispering in my ear. Driving, I’d hear it on a podcast; browsing through a magazine at the grocery store, there it was again. It could have been the Honda Accord phenomenon. You know, the thing that happens when you buy a Honda Accord and then you see that car everywhere. You’re sensitized to something, so you see what was there all along. Which brings me right back to my one little word’s promise. The promise to see what I’ve been missing, what was there already. And it has nothing to do with the visual.

You see, I’m not taking it all in. My thoughts and words are strong and often overpower other words. I’m not really listening.

I thought I was listening in my classroom. I quieted my voice, and made a space for student voices. I recorded their thoughts in my notebook. I started to capture their words with my phone.  I continued to jot and ask follow up questions in response to or to solicit more.  Later, I’d review their thoughts, play the recordings to flesh out my notes. I was stunned: there was so much I did not process initially.

What was said was filtered, perhaps hidden, by my thoughts. I had tried to create questions that were open ended that showed no prompting or bias, but my understanding was skewed. Sitting at my dining room table, reviewing student’s voices I had recorded, LISTEN stood up and said pay attention.

I am not taking it all in. I ‘m hearing what I am listening for, or as Gordon Hempton, an audio ecologist, calls listening “for something in particular.” I had no idea.

I thought I was listening to my daughter. She’d say you never listen to me. I thought that was just the typical teenage cry. Now I wonder.

I wonder, what else am I not listening to?

Here’s to this year’s OLW.recite-14h15lu


Slice of Life: A Chicken Moment

The last slice before Christmas and all through the house, all creatures are sleeping as I work on this post. Thank you to Two Writing Teachers Blog. You, Anna, Beth, Betsy, Dana, Stacey and Tara, give us so much daily and then this Tuesday time and place to share.


Dinner was being made by many hands last night. That’s a nice thing about the holiday season. Meals together that are made together.

I make the salad.

My son cooks the sliced chicken.

My daughter heats the sauce.

Reaching and bending around each other, the table is set and food is placed.

The sauce is ready and my son starts to pour it over the chicken.

“You stir it,” my daughter tells me. “It tastes better when you do it.”

“How old are you! 6?” her oldest brother teases.

“No, 7,”  she shoots back.

These moments happen infrequently outside of this space we carve out for holidays. Usually everyone is running to their commitments. Making reports and then moving on to the next challenge. Rushing towards success, to independence, to grow up.

At this chicken moment, I remember times when she has asked me to make her a sandwich, toast the bagel, make a smoothie, sit beside her during a sad or scary movie. Not because she is can’t do it, but because she wants me to.

This slice of holiday life is fleeting, but present in tiny pockets of the day to day. Something to listen for in the new year.

I stir the sauce onto the chicken, making sure all the pieces are coated, and smile inside.

Happy Holidays, peace and reflective moments to you all.