You've Got Mail

They arrived unannounced.

No strange male voice chirping from the small speakers by the screen.

One after the other,

each with a different name.

Letters sent in the middle of the night,

from a place where tomorrow is already half over.

E-pal to E-pal

We open the message and leap into our new relationships




students in another world.



This is my final week in my current placement. My cartwheels look weak, floundering, and lazy. Excitement halted by the realization that moving on will mean leaving this room.

These students and their strange quirks.
These learners and the look in their eyes when they think they "get it,"
and the feeling I get when they do.
These lessons.
This curriculum (I heart VA History).
This on-again-off-again smartboard, the vindictive boyfriend that it is.
This CF, mentor, teacher, colleague, and fellow admirer of choreographical genius.
With each lesson, with each hour, with each day that rolls by, I am closer to the closure of this step in my journey. There are no more "If I can't get to this today, I can do it on Monday." There is a strange sense of urgency as the week rolls away.

I slowly pack up my things. Those post-it notes that clutter my desk, and my mind. The morning meeting activity I never got to (it was a backup - of course). My jacket. My pencil. My highlighter. My homework checking pen.

Will those second graders appreciate the slight sparkle to my ink?


Questions on Fire

Tonight there will be many students from class having nightmares.

Something about the sun blowing up to 4 times its current size and then imploding.

"Don't worry," he said. "You'll all be dead by then."

For when I'm solo...

Hold this here, in front of your mouth. Hold it there while you talk.

Like a superstar on stage, I will have it playing in my ear as I go live.


Podcasting and Air Quotes

The introduction of blogging into my life was swift and steady. I had been ready to blog for a long while, and even started one a while back.... but that just fell off my radar.

Jump ahead a few years, months, weeks, whatever. Thanks, Tree, for bringing me back to life.
Pause to celebrate my blog revival with a quick internal party. (Insert pause here).

As I reinstate my blogging, I have also embraced technology as a whole. Blackboard to blogging to podcasting, I clicked on one link to the next on my quest to understand the infinite possibilities of what the future could hold for my, or anyone's, classroom.

Right about this time a new guest arrived in our classroom - a guest to discuss and create a PODCAST!

Talk about perfect timing!
I morning-messaged it, I put it into lessons, I had students listen to a podcast made by another 4th grade class. I threw it out there like it was my job. Which, really, it is.

So we welcomed our guest - and we listened to him talk enthusiastically about the world of podcasting. We listened when he said we should keep our bodies still. We raised our hands when he asked for responses. And we sat stiffly as he approached with his super-scary ipod + microphone - and held it 2 inches from our mouths as we sputtered our thoughts.

Students, armed with the task of not stating names when they were being recorded, immediately adopted the word "friends" to describe classmates. A slip of the tongue, the release of a name, was followed by a slow hisssssss by nearby "friends."

I can't remember what he said; one of the friends. I do remember him using the term friends in his podcast response.

But he had a special touch.

Appropriately used air quotes.

Getting it off of the post-it and onto a page...

I have a cousin in first grade.
2 Vision tests + fitting for 2 new pairs of glasses = 4 eyes.
He called me today to tell me. I wear glasses.

4 eyes told me that now he will be able to read big books and use a highlighter.
(Which he sees me do often, with my glasses on).

I said "What big book are you going to read first with your new glasses?"

He says "It depends."

Me, stumped about his direction: "Depends on what?"

His reply: "What color highlighter can I borrow?"


Student: "What do you call it when you times something by five?"

Intern (me): "Um," (thinking of appropriate modeling of response)
"Could you please ask your question using different words?"
(Phew, that sounded okay).

Student: "Yes." (How official).
"When you times something by two, it is called 'doubling', times three is 'tripling', things like that. What do you call it when you times it by five?"

Awkward silence.

Student: "Would I call it pentupling?"

Me - amazed at his strategy in creating a new word:
"Way to use your prefixes! Who can we ask?"

Sidenote: Student wrote a note to our math specialist about this prediction, we are awaiting response.

Sidenote 2: Great thing number 1,487 that I learned from my CF: If you don't know, have them write a letter to an "expert." Even if you do know, confirmation is good!
I am empowered with each toss of a post-it into the trash can.


On Deck

Break out of the dugout.

Shirt tucked in, hair pulled back.

Solid aluminum. My trembling hands reach, sensing the life

–hits – homeruns – celebrations – frustrations – strikeouts – heartbreaks - tears

I stand there with history. I stand there with painful determination.

I watch from the circle.

I watch someone else in a world so close to me that I can’t even imagine myself there.

Their eyes are fixed. See how the feet move. Teeth clenched. See the hands firmly grip the

Watch the natural.

Stand ready

Stand the same

Stand alone


Watching the hit – the slice – the power – the cheering – the strength – the love – the dedication – the practice

The home run.

On deck.

First mumblings...

It's a new world, this classroom. There were natives there before me that constructed and created the land. They brought and bought and built goods. The reminder of the power through the name posted everywhere. They are king (or queen). Fine by me.
Can I borrow your stuff? You know... the stuff that you worked so hard to create. The stuff that you bought with the money your Grandma gave you for your birthday. The books that you first read while sitting on the floor in the library, then in the book store. The materials you sat through hours of lectures, seminars, and meetings for. Can I borrow all that stuff and every ounce of knowledge that goes with it?
The relationship created by a mentor-mentee is miraculous. The sharing of the resources, materials, and of the mind. The ultimate tools of an educator. An open environment that is handed over as a place to explore. The guinea pigs that sit (sometimes painfully) through the mumblings of a frazzled mess.
It's fun. The kids. But they are suddenly not kids anymore. They are in the classroom - they are students. They attach. They detach. Who am I to tell them what to do? Students know the "boss" - the king or queen - of the room. While you speak the same words, they hold different meanings to the GP's. "Please check your voices" (mousy) becomes "check your voices" (Intern level 1) becomes "CHECK your voices" (level 2) which then becomes "VOICES OFF" (Level -also known as "When is she coming back from the copy room?!?!"). It's not just getting them to listen... it's making it look like you have control. Just like they do. Just like the real teacher. They know the difference. It's not a blind taste test - the difference is clear.
I'm teaching them THIS? I'm their only source of THIS information? The accountability - suddenly it's not my knowledge of teaching that I'm worried about, but the ability of the student to learn. Ah-ha. I get it. That was the plan all along. Although that's still not on any rubric I have seen for my classes.
So, it's not my stuff. It's yours. And you are so gracious as to open your door, your drawers, and your life as a teacher to me. I, your student, try to look calm as you hand me your class. I make photo copies and I make lessons and I make mistakes. I will make you proud, I will teach them SOMETHING - eventually.
Sharing the laughs, the sillies, the inside jokes - that's my sanity. Sharing the resources, the knowledge, the ability - that's my life.

"Too late for second guessing To late to go back to sleep Is time to trust my instincts Close my eyes... And leap....
It's time to try defying gravity I think i'll try defying gravity and you can't pull me down."

In between

Of teaching in the classroom and doing assignments for grad classes.
Prioritize, they say.
Well, there are 21 priorities in one column, and they all have names and faces. And they will learn something from what I do (or so I hope).
In the other column is one priority, my learning (and my grade).
Where's the in-between?
Today's dilemna:
Creating imaginary word study groups for 20-something imaginary students - including instructional plans VERSUS Planning for lessons that will teach REAL students - fun, interactive, and significantly more tangible.
... or the lesser-known option of checking the class blackboard site every 30 minutes while writing a few blogs...
in between.