September 2004 Archives

September 12, 2004

Work update...

When I last spoke about work, things were not exactly going well. My assistant (bless her heart) was fending off attackers as I was being pressured to back down from my position, and the staff was being forced to change their schedules, all for the convenience of 3 teachers. Turmoil in my usually peaceful media center made for unhealthy conditions, as evidenced by my now 3 week old illness.

Our principal made an executive decision and the schedule changed. Before, I had my K classes coming at 10 and 1st grade at 10:40, which 4th grade complained bitterly about, saying they couldn't get in to check out books or take tests during their ELA time. Because of that, my 1st grade classes now come in at 8:15, changing their resource schedule for one day a week, changing my schedule (and my assistant's schedule, who works the rest of the day in the office) 4 days a week, and confusing the hell out of the rest of the school, who is used to having open book checkout and computer lab time during that slot.

Now, ELA (English/Language Arts) is a time when the three homeroom classes split up into three reading groups (high, medium and low) and switch teachers for an hour and a half. ELA should not be confused with AR (Accelerated Reader), which is a reading program designed to allow students to read books and take tests on the computer to earn points. ELA is curriculum, driven by the Standard Course of Study. AR is comprehensive reading practice, driven by a software company. ELA should be hands-on, in class lessons, led by a teacher qualified to teach their group of chosen students. AR should be something extra, offering incentive to students to practice reading so that they will end up reading for fun on their own later.

I believe this is the root of the problem, one that no one else has brought up. 4th grade has changed their ELA focus to AR testing, something that will seriously affect their students learning. Need evidence? Last year, guess what grade and subject was the one where we failed to meet expected growth in the EOG tests? You got it ... 4th grade reading. Hmmmm ... with a new principal on board, she may take some time to catch this but I will do everything in my power to make sure she does. And if it happens again this year, I think a bigger change is in order, bigger than changing my media class schedule.

That aside, work is going fairly well. My lessons are going along well, despite my illness. I'm looking forward to the NCSLMA conference in Winston-Salem this week, which will take me out of school Wed.-Fri. My principal has agreed to let me borrow her laptop while at the conference so I may be able to blog for part of it, though I will be with Shiela, one of my favorite friends to share these conferences with. She is also a media coordinator, just a couple of years older than me, but she's been doing this for 22 years already and has seen it all. She gives me perspective and encouragement and has helped me every step of the way. She is also unstoppable, a ball of energy, and I get the feeling I may be pretty worn out at the end of this!

More to come ...

I'll have to write later about life outside of work, which is going along fairly well, also. I spent an excellent day in VA yesterday and maybe, just maybe, I'll have a picture or two to show from that trip. (but shhhhh ... I'm not supposed ot have taken any pictures ... there's a story there :: rolls eyes :: )

Off to celebrate Jazz's birthday ... yes, it was yesterday, but, well, that's a long story too, one I'll have to get into later. Now, I have to get into "girls' day out" mode.

September 9, 2004

My Mortality...

The house phone call rang at about noon, while I was talking to my sister on my cell phone.

"I think I'm having a heart attack. I just called 911."

In the split-second of silence, thoughts swarmed through my head.

She's dying.

I need to get dressed.

There goes my Saturday.

I told her to call the doctor but did she listen?? Noooo ...

I didn't even take a shower this morning ... I look like shit!

I can't do this alone.

Holy crap, she's dying.

Then I said "I'll be right there. Relax. Everything will be alright, Mom."
Continue reading My Mortality....

September 3, 2004

Currently reading...

Lost Wax
by CK Williams

My love gives me some wax,
so for once instead of words
I work at something real:
I knead until I see emerge
a person, a protagonist;
but I must overwork my wax,
it loses its resiliency,
comes apart in crumbs.

I take another block:
this work, I think, will be a self;
I can feel it forming, brow
and brain; perhaps it will be me,
perhaps, if I can create myself,
I'll be able to amend myself;
my wax, though, freezes
this time, fissures, splits.

Words or wax, no end
to our self-shaping, our forlorn
awareness at the end of which
is only more awareness.
Was ever truth so malleable?
Arid, inadhesive bits of matter.
What might heal you? Love.
What might make you whole? Love. My love.

Summer reading for me has included a pile of poetry books (Rukeyser, Rich, Sexton, Williams, Dove, Olds, Atwood ... 2 or 3 a week) that only served to remind me of how I want to write ... and how little I can write any more. When I read this piece, it literally sucked the air out of my lungs. Though I am a huge proponent of editing, I know there are instances where overworking your words can make them sterile, brittle ... a technically perfect poem can be the goal but if it has no soul, it's merely words.

Yes, I'm writing again ... all that reading was intellectual WD40.

On another level, I wonder at the subtext, the way Williams weaves the relationship through the poem while, at the same time, keeping it as an external stimulus to the story by opening and closing with "My love ..." This is a poet that knows how to use a split second in time, a seemingly trivial human moment, and turn it into a broader, more universal message while still keeping it terribly personal. Something to aspire to.

(please excuse cross-posting ... also on Poetry Cafe messageboards ... just trying to illustrate where my writing chops are and possibly warming this place up for some poetry again. Though I've just given myself an impossible ideal to live up to. *DOH!*)

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