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Miles to go.


Recently my friend John Spencer posted this lovely sentiment. I responded with a snarky comment. I’m sorry, John. You try to do a nice thing and I roll my eyes. I know you forgive me because you’re cool like that. The bigger question is, can I forgive myself?

This led me to consider well, everything. The art of relaxation, and if it’s possible for me to find this place called Relaxation: it’s just as elusive as Happiness, really good deli sandwiches on the west coast, and that other silver earring I lost. It may be hard to locate.

Peeking out from under this pile are two old Macbooks in need of refurbishing.

But telling someone to relax has the adverse effect. I knew it, and then I looked up research on why. That’s usually how I roll. Confirmation bias #FTW!

Years ago when I worked one of my many other jobs, I was a customer service rep for a credit card company. I was pretty good at it, too, and not necessarily naturally. One day I made the fatal mistake of telling a woman to “calm down.” Nope. I learned very clearly that telling anyone to calm down is the worst thing you can do. The words ‘calm down’ and ‘relax’ are triggers for PAY ATTENTION YOU ARE VULNERABLE THERE MIGHT BE AN ATTACK.

Thanks, amygdala.

Finding joy and little nuggets of happiness and pleasure are imperative, perhaps more importantly, though, is not apologizing for what we find joyful or pleasurable.

Hard to relax when students are being left behind.

I do know how to relax, and define it for myself. I understand myself pretty well, actually: I tend toward obsession, and also believing that I can affect change. Relaxation for me comes in many forms, but one recurring theme is a product: there is a scarf, a collage done in Pixelmator, a poem or another piece of writing, an idea list, etc. And if we’re all being really honest with one another: we cannot define what relaxation looks like for each other. We’re in different life phases. Now my husband and I are in the ‘two-sons-in-college-and-we-have-no-retirement-because-of-job-losses-and-can’t-get-a-home-equity-loan-because-of-a-misplaced-medical-bill-but-we’re-still-happy-anyway-and-trying-not-to-freak-out” phase. Many of my teacher friends are in varying phases of no children to small children to teenagers. In my five decades+ on this planet, in this country, the holidays have never been about anything else other than a tug-of-war between consumerism and reminders of ‘what the season is truly all about.’ Women especially are placed in the unenviable position of the producers of the season. Perfectionism and responsibility for everyone else’s happiness come at a cost.

I had a dream last night that (oh heaven help us…a dream sequence….!)

Okay– I dreamed last night that I was working, and taking a break, and my principal said an emergency call came from my sons’ old elementary school, (in another district) and they needed a half-day sub, and would one of us be willing to do it? I volunteered and went to teach a first-grade class. The room was set up as if I would be taking over permanently, and though the children were cherubic, the staff welcoming, and I was praised as a welcome addition, I wanted to go back to my original 8th-grade classroom, but wasn’t sure I’d be let back in.

No need to page Dr. Freud on that one.

So in the spirit of my warped sense of relaxation, I made some how-to videos so students can review some foundational skills/strategies. I am feeling more stressed and microscopically dissected than ever before when it comes to students’ success, but like I mentioned, that belief and confidence in my abilities to meet it sure does come in handy.

Kelly Love Creator Studio

So far:

  1. How to do a One-Pager
  2. RAFTS
  3. Short Answer Responses
  4. Formatting Word Documents
  5. OneDrive and Sharing
  6. Context Clues
  7. How to Write a Summary
  8. Friday Five Vocabulary
  9. Parallel Story Writing

To come:

Questioning: Creating Questions, Levels of Questions, and Discussion Pointers

Taking a break, a real break, is really good for our souls. A walk, a nap, trying something new or completing a project that repairs, replenishes, or responds are all good, good things.

I finished up providing feedback for students and their work/analysis of Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. Though I heavily scaffolded, (this was the first chance I had this year to walk them through poetry), they still managed to find and make their own meaning (thank heavens).

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

The other night my husband and I went out, and he shared this Neil Finn podcast with me. Neil Finn and Crowded House is our soundtrack to our lives. I sang along in my terrible, flat voice, and my husband not only didn’t care but encouraged me.

Relax? Find joy? Play a song and sing–and cry a little bit if you need to, too.

Theme song: Don’t Dream It’s Over



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Peripeteia and Anagnorisis: College and Career “You Are Not” Ready

This is a post you may not want to share; watch it and think about it before it’s Tweeted or posted on Facebook. I’ll post it, just because I love a good discussion. I’ve been labeled “pot stirrer,” but I can live with that. Keeps the good stuff mixed in.

My husband sent me this link to watch, Mike Rowe, Learning From Dirty Jobs. While watching it, it struck me, my own  anagnorisis if you will, about how many of my students who simply do not belong in the factory/cubicle setting of school. Now this is not a discussion on out-dated educational models we cling to like hole-filled rowboats, nor a diatribe about all the things we get wrong. In fact, we get many things right, very right. It is my belief that education is necessary because it is its own reward, its own existence. But I think about one student in particular who walks around the classroom and the campus like a caged tiger. Because we have gone to “war with work,” as Mike Rowe contends, we do not honor an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. This young man has zero interest in finding text evidence to support a claim. He has no engagement when it comes to sitting in fluorescent-lit rooms with algorithms and anagrams. He wants purpose. He craves purpose. He does have one: he comes to school to walk a girlfriend to and from class –it’s his one thing during the day he does well. He has no control over parents’ care, homes, and he is barely in control of his actions or deeds. (And when I say barely, the thin bubble between humor and threat has been scarred).

We are failing this young man in every way possible. We have filled his world predominately with middle-aged women telling him what to do, where to go, and when he can use the restroom. We have taken from his world any journeyman or apprenticeship possibilities, but put him in room with counselors who repeat on auto play “school is important.” Why is school important? What are we really offering him?


Our current banner of every child being ‘college and career ready’ has many holes in it. This is scary for me to write about. It’s scary because I don’t want to be perceived as classist. As being someone who doesn’t believe that every child doesn’t deserve the finest education the world can offer. I do believe, of course. But if I truly believe in the whole child, the whole human, then I am being hypocritical if i don’t call out the crisis of limitations.

We can’t all simply become service industry folks, waiting tables to pay off expensive college loans.  We do need to open the doors wide and true and provide opportunities for one and all. But our menu of choices are so limiting to our children, so bland and tasteless. Why can’t we offer apprenticeships to teenagers, or real mentoring or internships? I don’t know how to do this, and I can’t wait for “someone else.” I am a good mentor with those things I enjoy: writing, discussion, and art. But I have never castrated a sheep, or picked up road kill. I’m just a teacher. It’s a dirty job but…you know the rest.

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