Slice of Life: What Matters…

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hIt’s late Monday night and I really don’t have the time to write. But… Tuesday is means Slice of Life and I hate to miss that. Thank you Two Writing Teachers for being there and making me write when I wouldn’t. It is a good thing. Join in. Read, comment, add your own. Become a part of this community who writes even when we don’t have the time.

School is becoming a reality and it’s not the students that are causing me anxiety, it’s everything else.

There is this new computerized districtwide grading and attendance system. Which one of those words doesn’t make you want to break out in a cold sweat? I’m trying to ignore this, or at least set it aside for now. But, I  had to face IT today.

I wanted to do a what I thought was a simple thing, something I do every year — send my incoming students a letter. This wasn’t small or simple because of the new computerized districtwide grading and attendance system.(Hear an echo?) Our poor office staff, who are angels,.helped me through the process of sending a computerized message and email to these select students. Then there is the other thing — we are in the process of looking for a new principal. Then there is the new WiFi — not sure of the access code yet.  But wait. Stop. Breathe.

What matters? Sixty humans that will soon become two ecosystems –whose lives and futures will intertwine with mine. They have already started to work their way into my heart as I set up the classroom to support their next steps.

What matters

a safe place

voices valued and heard.

What matters


for the expected

and unexpected.

Who knows what I might hear.






Thanksgiving Lessons

celebrate link up

The best part of my  Thanksgiving celebration was listening to siblings and cousins, aged 15 to 20, talking about what they had in common, the focus of their lives, school.  They are what the world would consider successful students. Good grades, ya da, ya da. I just listened and learned.

I got in trouble. I was always talking back. Don’t know why I did that.  It wasn’t what she said, it was how she said it.

This comment was from my son. Now he never got any real trouble in school. Never a trip to the principal’s office. Teachers consistently put that comment on his report cards, “Pleasure to have in class.” Yet what stuck out for him was how he got in trouble in kindergarten. I know for a fact that the majority of kindergarten was a good experience. But what this 19-year old held on to was how he got in trouble.

Wow. A tiny bit of negative is so powerful. Powerful and kinda scary.  I don’t blame the teacher at all. He probably did something wrong and needed to be held accountable.

Thinking about the second part of his comment is interesting. Don’t know why I did that. He wasn’t sure why he kept talking back. Students aren’t always aware or mindful of their actions we are holding them accountable for.

This brings me to the third part. It wasn’t what she said, it was how she said it.  Ah, there is the crafty part. How we say it. The outcome can seem to be the same, yet the means to getting there so very different. How we get there may matter more than what we get our students to do.

This brings me to another bit of conversation about a teacher:

She shared the perfect amount of stories and she’d listen to our stories.  I learned a lot in that class, but I didn’t really appreciate it till later.   

Wow. Stories matter, what we share and how we listen matter. And  sometimes that learning isn’t realized till later.

My children and nieces are those successful students. They didn’t give up or as “get off the bus as @teachkate and @MaggieBRoberts share in their blog. But what about those fragile, for whatever reason, students that look like they are on the edge, how we say it, how we get there matters. That may just keep them on that bus. We are not “just teachers.” We have a tremendous responsibility to keep students present and engaged in their process.

Here are some lessons I’m taking away from my 2013 Thanksgiving table:

The process creates outcomes.

Stories help us along our path.

Outcomes are not always apparent.

Most of all, listening matters.2013-11-28 14.58.10