I have been absent without leave from my website. I created this as a way to connect with others and share my voice. It was a good intention, one that I neglected. I do that! I will think of an idea, put lots of time and energy into its creation, and then abandon it. Sorry website. I’ll try to do better.
I must be missing the classroom as I have drifted to several sites that support teachers and their job/mission this week. The latest site that “found” me is here: http://www.teachingheartfirepoetry.com. Since next week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, I propose that we take a few moments… maybe even more than a few… to stop and visit this sight with an intention of honoring yourself (if you are a teacher) or honoring a teacher who made an impact upon your life.
First let me say for those that don’t like poetry, Don’t Hate! This isn’t some complicated literary site that may be boring and difficult to understand. No one will ask you to explicate anything, to read iambic pentameter, or to look up literary terms. If you are a “math or science person,” you may still appreciate the messages. Just do your best to suspend any judgment until you see it. A quick look around sealed the deal for me. Notably, the website’s mission is “… to inspire and support teachers, and to honor and thank them for the work that they do.” Well, it had me at HELLO! The mission statement acknowledges that teaching is the hardest and toughest job in America…Um, Yeah! Don’t you just love it when you finally hear those words from somewhere else besides your head? Not surprisingly, I actually own the book Teaching With Fire that is the inspiration for this site. I bought it many years ago when I was still a classroom teacher. It helped me to focus on the important issues on days when I was out of gas. In today’s world, what is the next step if one has a successful book and a passionate mission? Creating an online community, of course. Just like that, the book has developed into a beautiful one with a Teachers Blog and Teacher Talk Interviews. These options allow teachers to create a space for reflection, the challenges, the successes, the resistances, and the joys of their work. The way to participate is to send in submissions. Additionally, the website has a Thank You, Teachers Project where individuals can submit Thank You letters, and publicly recognize the outstanding and complicated work that teachers do. Thank you letters are formatted and are posted on a Thank You Letter Gallery Wall. What a way to show gratitude for the hard work of teachers! I hope that you can take time to explore this supportive space. If you like it, share it with your colleagues or a special teacher in your life. Even better, if you are a parent, say thank you to a teacher, and, if you are a teacher, become a part of this supportive community.
Incidently…Who would I acknowledge? Many teachers, first as a student and then as a teacher, influenced me and my practice in countless ways. Most that taught me are gone. I can only imagine a conversation or note acknowledging their contribution to my life. Mrs. Bass (1st grade) was a drill sargeant. I feared her as a young girl (I wouldn’t tell her THAT), and, looking back, I can see how she loved the “first grade me” through spelling, math, and reading… pushing me to my best self. Mrs. Wagner (3rd grade), sweet, gentle, and neatly coiffed, created units about states and birds that I remember parts of to this day. Pragmatic, professionally-dressed, and inspirational, Mrs. McCann (5th grade) convinced me that I was as a “smart” young lady with lots of potential. The importance of learning to read and to write well…beyond just enough to get by… was a gift from Mrs. Lacey (8th grade reading). Senora Green (Spanish), a native speaker, impressed the importance of learning about other cultures and languages. Mrs. Schilling (9th grade English) displayed an enthusiasm for the English language that lit my fire for reading and writing. I can go on and on here, and I haven’t even touched my college years or the mentors who influenced my teaching practice.
That Was Then, This Is Now
After 25 years in the classroom, I have come to believe that teachers are born to teach. I know I was. When I was a little girl, I used to play school with anyone who was willing, even dolls or pets. As I grew older, I imagined myself in front of a class and pictured how I would teach reading, spelling, or penmanship (yes, we had to learn how to form letters properly). A small scholarship in education to a small school in south Louisiana sealed the deal for me. I suspect that most of us have our own stories of how we landed in the best job ever! I settled on English Education as a major with a Psychology minor and the rest is history. As an educator, I loved starting Hamlet to the moans and groans of students, knowing that when we got to the end they would have a change of heart. It was a challenge and a joy. Over my career (depending on the school) the challenges changed, but the joy of leading students to a different idea or attitude never left me.
Finally, I would love to hear what you think. What were your experiences, challenges, and successes as a student or as a teacher? Who helped you, led you, informed you? Click on over to Teaching Heart Fire Poetry and acknowledge that person. OR you can email me or just post a comment on this blog. One final thought, if you want to support me as I continue on this writing journey, please fill out the newsletter form that appears at the bottom of this post. I would love to stay connected!
Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!” — Robin Williams
YES! For this girl, the party starts outdoors. Spring is one of my favorite times to plant the containers on my deck. Beauty is in bloom! The heat of the summer hasn’t set in, and I love sprucing up after the winter foliage is cleared.
Here are 5 ideas that I used to create a spring display on my deck:
1. Size and scale matter. I match the containers that match the scale of my outdoor space in size and number. I have a VERY large deck with 14 large clay pots that I replant every season.
2. I decide on a specific color scheme according to my taste and purpose. Loving the clean look of white, I look for plants within that color scheme that will attract butterflies, birds, and bees. Next, I decide on an accent color to throw into the mix, this year… BLUE!
3. Axioms! Yes, please…”Less is more.” I replant 12 out of the 14 clay containers every season. I plant 8 of them with 3 types of plants from my favorite colors and 4 with three other types in the same color family. This year I planted Dusty Miller, Petunia, and SunPatiens in 8 of the containers, and Blue and White Delphinium, White Dianthus, and Alyssum.
4. Challenging myself, I experiment! I planted the Delphinium pictured above this year. I had never worked with that plant before but loved the tall stalk and lacy flowers. After planting, I staked them. I purchased inexpensive wooden dowels and raffia from Hobby Lobby and that did the trick.
5. Last but not least… I enjoy the process!! I’m usually anxious in the beginning. Have I bought enough flowers or have I bought too many? Are these flowers going to blend and create a harmonious combination? After everything is said and done, I relax as nature takes over and creates the beautiful displays that you see pictured. She never disappoints!
This website is a good resource for inspiration: Perennial Resource
I would love to hear from YOU! What are some things that YOU do to decorate your exterior design?
Go ahead. Say it! So I did. After all, how does one learn the value of integrity? Somebody had to stand up to this terrorist. No one else seemed capable. Growing up, I lived with an unpredictable bear. Anytime the bear entered a room, I automatically assessed his “temperature.” On this particular spring day, he was hot. I felt my heart quake. At 6 feet tall, the bear, his angry eyes flaring, towered above the teenage me. Umpteen attacks prepared me for the onslaught to follow. Knowing that poking the bear would insight rage, something in me, an integral voice, encouraged me in this “Standing Rock” hour. Ferocious, frantic, and enraged, the bear scoured his cave for his missing piece/peace. Frustrated, he drew me into his eyeshot. Feeling the tension build, courage rose within me, an undeniable fearlessness. I spoke what needed to be said. The bear lunged with grisly force. Blackened eyes, bruised face, streaming tears, frightened and gutsy all at the same time…it was a David and Goliath moment. Windows opened, exposed to the world, I wondered if anyone heard me. I appreciated their frozen fears. They had mastered the art of sheltering in place: to remain out of sight and silent, to comply, to overlook the bear in the room. Speaking was a critical decision, a high-priced “gift” to myself that has served me for a lifetime. In those marked moments barely uttering, I sang my strength, courage, and truth.
Now, hearing the voice whisper, shout and advise, I befriend it, creating a partnership. Nevertheless, sometimes I listen, sometimes I don’t. Isn’t that the way with collaborations? I have become a miner (or I could use minor), digging into internal claims and counterclaims. In the old days, miners took a bird with them into a mine… why is that? Is it because birds are sensitive to toxic substances and can signal a disaster? Prospecting has taken me to the top of “Pamper Poles” (one may need a diaper leaping from a 30 foot telephone pole to catch a trapeze… no net but tethered); to summiting a “Fourteener” in the Rockies; to sacred share circles in Bali; to incredible writing workshops in Colorado and Montana; to remarrying after 13 years of single hood post-divorce; and to intimate, authentic connections via pods of like-minded spirits. I carry that bird by my side. My growing edge is to honor and succumb to the whisper to write. Nailing my voice to paper stands my hair on edge and wrestles me to the mat. I get pinned by doubts, insecurities, and questions. With the same quaking heart and tenacity that allowed me to encounter the bear, I practice writing and I am able to confront the skeptic in me. Encouraged by a loving flock chirping, “You can tell a story,” I am inching out on that skinny branch. Creeping closer to the edge, I am confident I know how to fly.
Teachers: Have you discovered this resource? I came across this today and couldn’t help but think of all of you! I know from my own experience that I was always looking for new, interesting, and easier ways to engage students and to improve my practice. I did a little exploring on the site this morning, and it appears to be a useful tool. I know that your time is valuable and that you get spread thin at this time of year. I offer it to you as a way to lighten your load and supplement your material. If you don’t know about it already, you might want to have a look! I discovered lessons on many of the texts that I taught when I was in the classroom. The site has them organized by grade, theme, and genre making it easy to search.
At any rate, holiday time off is right around the corner; Merry Christmas and enjoy the much needed break! 🙂
I had to let go of one of my strongest, most loyal supporters the other day. He was my constant companion; his absence has left me feeling lonely, hollow, and adrift. Ever kind and gentle with feedback and forgiveness, and consistently honest and loyal with commitment and acceptance, he was a demonstration of living in the moment and of staying calm. With contagious courage, he served as a beacon of hope by demonstrating strength, persistence, and stability in the face of uncertainty and physical pain. He was an enduring giver of gifts, I a privileged recipient. In gratitude, I remember the experience of having another living creature love, adore, trust, and accept me unconditionally (perhaps for the first time in my life). Stuck in the quicksand of fear, I wonder if I’ll ever see his likes again. Today, I look for him in his familiar spots in the house or making his “rounds” outside, or I hear his footsteps on the wooden floor as he would often come looking to check on me. Disappointed and saddened, I remember he is gone. I miss him. Letting go has never been my strong suit. Perhaps, he is teaching me still. <3