Flowers and Failures/ Roses and Graffiti… This is Teaching

From three years ago, when I returned from sick leave at the end of the year. Please excuse the typos– I had hand surgery.

And today was a day of grace in teaching; we dared to say, we missed each other, the students and I. I said it first…but…heads popped in, SHE’S BACK~! I am doing SO WELL I almost felt like a fraud…being gone 2 1/2 weeks and coming back WITHOUT the brace I’ve been wearing all year and without the stitches.

I’m under no illusion that peers are paramount to sophomores; however, I am under no illusion that truly this was a day of love.

We missed you. I missed you guys. Whose birthdays did I miss? How was the test you just took?

And these flowers and the balloon. NO NOTE.. Just sitting on my desk, from two young ladies…not the best students. In fact, one very BELLIGERENT young lady who cost me “check marks” on my evaluation. My boss asked, do you now who those are from? No, I said. And then she told me and we both wondered, since this young lady had a dean in all her classes last year. She has lots of zeros and is currently failing the class, but usually manages to JUST PASS. I support her Latina leadership activities–the car washes, the dances, the study groups. Keep the ticket, I always tell her. I cannot make it. Go ahead and sell it again. And she does. I see her do it.

A few of the truly rowdiest kids from last year’s CRAZY 8’S stopped by. They thought I had retired without saying good bye. They asked if they were the reason I was retiring and I told them… I wrote a blog about you all. Remember the day _____ was crying and you all helped him? You all made sure no one made fun of him, you protected him, you were kind and funny and good? Yes, they said, we remember. Well, I told these two lads, I wrote a blog and I borrowed the quote I STAND UP FOR YOU.

Can we see it, they asked? No, I said. My creative writing is personal, but I want you to know that I got it. I knew that last period of the day was not a good time for 30+ boys in a hot classroom reading LOTF or Les MIs or… Macbeth.

And then I am under no illusion that they are part kids. A young lady pointed out that the sub didn’t notice THERE IS A BOOK OR A PART OF THE BOOK ON THE PROJECTOR FOR THE SMART BOARD AND THERE IS A FUNNY BANANA BACK THERE! BACK THERE!!!

Indeed. Some sophomore had ripped Les Miserable in quarter and tagged it up with..um..um… um… male… parts…. in pencil…. showing his / her utter contempt for the novel. I have a feeling I know who did this, but I simply took it down and said I’d be dusting for fingerprints. After one class a young man asked if he would be is super trouble???? Whoever did it?

I don’t know what you are talking about, I said. I don’t see any book up there, do you? Besides, I heard whoever owned that book was going to read most of the parts of Macbeth this week, right? It’s not me, he said, but I’ll read anyway. The girls in the class just winked at me and pointed at the boy….

Roses and graffiti. Flowers and failures.

And most of all, it’s about us, about being a human being during this time of high stakes testing and pressure and CCSS and…yes, dare I use that word?

It’s about loving your students enough to miss them, teach them, honor them, and…dust for fingerprints. 🙂

Changing Seasons Type of Day

img_2303  Trying this blog entry from my cell phone–that’s risky! I am outside and just do not want to go INSIDE and log onto a computer… 

What an odd day, a day mixed with joy and sadness. 630 AM—still dark—road closed ten seconds before the intersection where I turn to get to work and a truck started pouring hot tar in two lanes. Semi ahead of me kept knocking down tree branches (too big for the small amount of the lane still open) and construction cones. I had to get out of the car in the dark to move the cones, but finally a construction worker let me through.

11 hours of work (part time !) Some middle school kids on the college campus today. So cute. So loud. Sipping their pumpkin spice sugared drinks waiting for the presentation they were here for.

Some students asked if I could teach them next term.

Drove home in the dark.

Sad loved one’s health news.

Two more poetry rejections.

Glad I’m part time. This won’t happen often. To work in the dark. Home in the dark.

Glad for modern medicine which may help family member.

And frogs! I’m sitting outside in the dark with my trusty tennis racquet (you know… in case of critters) and with a spotlight hearing LOUD FROGS. It’s that warm now!?!??!! Wind blowing off so many remaining leaves.

Love hearing those frogs. Thought I’d not hear them for months, until spring.

Truly a changing season type of day.

(Picture taken with my little camera phone while sitting in the dark, soft rain… back flashlight light on the bush. I’m such an adventurer.)

Thanks for reading; may your seasonal changing days change well, with kindness and hope.

I Never Thanked Them

img_1003    Today I met a woman about my age.  She told me how many times her children thanked her for moving to America to give them opportunities they would not have had in their small town, which she characterized as small, unsafe, lots of guns, lots of drug dealers.  She raised five children here in America, all in college or college graduates.  And now it is her turn, she said, to go to school.

I was so bitter and angry growing up I never thanked my parents for anything, not even the now obvious sacrifices they made so we children could go to good schools.  I was too busy feeling like a victim to appreciate they sacrificed a lot–I didn’t see it at all.

As I walked in the woods this afternoon, I was full of regret.

Is it possible to thank the dead?

All I could think to do was embrace the beauty around me, the trees, wildflowers, gorgeous sky and say thank you, Mom and Dad, I wish I had thanked you while you were alive.

I hope my life itself and my embracing of literacy have shown my appreciation, but I doubt it.  I took it as my due while I tried to distance myself from my family, my neighborhood, and especially my father.

Thank you, Mom and Dad.  I wish I had told you that while you were alive.  While you were far from perfect and even destructive at times, I acknowledge you made big sacrifices so we could have a better life.

How I wish I had told them that while they were alive– thank you for the sacrifices you made so we could have a better life.  No, that’s not good enough.

Thank you for helping me have a good life.

Day 1 Adult Literacy Training Completed

Fantastic job by Literacy DuPage, part of Pro Literacy America. Professional. Cordial. Encouraging.

One interesting fact that came out is that several of the future tutors wish to tutor to WELCOME immigrants to America. To combat the negativeness of the tone toward immigrants. To let them know we welcome them.

We get matched with a student next week. Then two more training sessions until we are official literacy tutors.

We even get an official tote bag and card to identify ourselves at libraries where we will tutor.

Oh. These are all volunteers.

Well done. Well done. Seeing a positive side of this beloved America. I know there’s greatness there in her people.

More to follow. I’m exhausted!

Thanks for reading.

Off to Start a New College Term

And off to meet the students. I love teaching. Always an exciting day! I teach developmental English at the community college, and I love it. I believe strongly in the mission of our community colleges, and view them as great institutions.

Oh– and a picture from a nature walk the other day.

Wish me luck, and thanks for reading.

From my phone.

Cry, Beloved America

img_1024     Many educators become pensive at the end of the summer; as we get ready to return to the classroom, we cannot help but think about how we won’t have much time to actually *think* for months at a time as we enter a whirlwind of teaching activity.  Think now! Think!

This summer I have been thinking about a novel I read long ago, Cry the Beloved Country, a novel published in 1948 and written by Alan Paton. (See more here: Cry the Beloved Country.)

While this novel is a renowned novel about South Africa, the urgency, sadness, and beauty of the country strikes me to this day and the title–Cry, the Beloved Country.  This is how I felt after seeing Spike Lee’s latest movie, The Blackkklansman.  Cry, beloved America. Is there hope for us? Is there? Can we reach across the years and miles and truly love and respect all Americans?

The news from Washington? Cry, cry, beloved America.

And then I think of returning to the classroom next week and I could weep again for other reasons.

I so strongly believe in the power of literacy to improve lives, and I am so very proud to always have been a teacher of literacy in a nation that educates all students. All students.  I am no longer teaching high school, but when I see my class rosters and check into the background of my students I feel very proud, happy, a bit scared, but mostly so very excited to be a reading instructor at the community college level.

My students, as they usually are, will be those for whom English is not a first language, or those whom struggle with reading and writing.

That’s why I am there, to help them. To create lessons that will invite them to the literacy table, a great strong table.

I so desperately believe in the great promise of educating all students and I so strongly feel pride in our community college system.

So come to class students; I am waiting eagerly to meet you and start our literacy journey together.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Back to School, Educators?

Wishing all educators returning to school this week all the best! 👍🍀❤️.

For those not returning? 👍🍀❤️.

For adjuncts not knowing if we will have a paycheck or not but still need to prep? 😱

🙂

I love y’all !

Teachers: Back to School– Do you know where your students are?

empty desks back to school    I love teaching.  Educators, are you too getting ready for back to school, whether it is back to teaching pre-K or at the university?

I love to see these desks fill up. It’s a great yearly rhythm, a great chance to start over each term, each class.  Who else gets that?

Now, I wish my students would register! We will have a great class together, I promise you. There’s magic in the classroom–let’s find it together.

Thanks for reading.

Publications, Updated

 

typewriter-vintage-old-vintage-typewriter-163116     Some of my poems, short stories, and nonfiction articles are included in books and magazines published in the UK, Greece, New Zealand, and the United States.

*Coffin Bell Journal,2018
“Herstory,” a poem, to be published October 1, 2018

*Spillwords Press, 2018
Stopped by Laura Lee at Spillwords Press

*Tuck Magazine, June 2018
Tuck Magazine

*Tuck Magazine,  May 2018
Tuck

* Southernmost Point Guest House (UK)
Poetry

* Journal of Modern Poetry 21 (Volume 21)
JOMP Volume 21 Dear Mr. President

* Journal of Modern Poetry 20 (Volume 20)
JOMP Volume 20 Poetry Writer’s Guide to the Galaxy

* Journal of Modern Poetry 17 (Volume 17)
JOMP Volume 17

* Magazine (New Zealand) , Raewyn Alexander, Publisher
Raewyn Alexander NZ

* Fiction in: http://staxtes.com/2003/
“Between the Sunlight and the Skipping” in English Wednesdays

*Poetry in: https://poetsagainstthewar.org/ Archives

* Illinois English Bulletin, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, nonfiction article about teaching in an alternative education program.

* Poetry in Marginalia, Elmhurst, IL