a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by TWO WRITING TEACHERS
Fire drill.  1:30pm.  Friday afternoon.  8th graders.  My co-teacher’s student teacher.  My co-teacher’s guest teacher. 

There is a reason they call them disaster drills.

I tried to pre-correct.  I tried to model a sense of decorum.  I tried. 

My 9th hour class exited the building quickly and safely.  Once outside, they split up to find their 1st hour teachers.  I broke away to find my 1st hour students. 

I approached a line of antsy, squirrely—well, 8th graders.  I wrangled them as best I could.  I held up my “Good to Go” sign when they were all accounted for.  I avoided engaging in conversation with them at a time when we are supposed to be silent. 

I stopped next to R.  He is usually quiet. 

“Mrs. Rush?”

I turned to look at him. 

“If this were a real fire they wouldn’t really make us report to our first hour teacher, would they?  I mean, what if I had to walk around the whole building to get here?”

I took a deep breath.  “Actually, R, we would expect you to report here in case of an actual fire.  In fact, that is the very reason we practice this procedure over and over again—so that you know what to do in a REAL fire.  That is also the reason there are teachers calling to you to walk around the building at a safe distance from it.”

“Yeah, but if it were a real fire they wouldn’t really care if we reported to 1st hour.”

By this time, I could see my efforts were futile.  If 9 years of public school system disaster drills had not convinced him, my attempts to explain certainly were not going to do the trick.  At 1:30 in the afternoon.  On Friday. 

For a moment I feared that exchange might be the nugget of school I would carry with me into the weekend. 

The classes around us began to move towards the door.  I held my class back to avoid being scrunched into the crowd.  To avoid allowing students to be swept away with other classes.  To maintain at least a semblance of control. 

Finally, I led my class into the building.  We merged with the sea of moving bodies. 

That’s when I heard it behind me.  A chorus of voices.  “When I say 21, you say VOICES.  21.”




“When I say VOICES, you stay STRONG!  VOICES!”




As we entered back into building at 1:45 on Friday, I was followed by 21 Voices Strong.  21 students, who started the year nervously asking if the mantra we are learning to repeat at the beginning of class each day would be shared with other classes, declared their membership throughout the hallways.  21 members of the Voices Strong class, which is my answer to the remediation-based interventions our system is currently putting into place, made me proud. 

Now that is one of the finest nuggets of school I have ever captured to carry with me into a weekend.   


  1. Ta-Da! Very good to carry into the weekend, & I understand exactly what you mean. Nice story Christy.

  2. That is exactly the kind of "feel good) nugget that makes me remember it is not just testing and evaluating that we do as teachers! Thanks - I needed to remember this week!

  3. Goosebumps and awesomeness!!! Yeah, nothing more to say than that. :)

  4. Kids are awesome when they have strong leaders before them. Way to develop a powerful community of learners Christy!

  5. This is awesome! You have built a great community Christy.

  6. I'm glad you could end on an upbeat mantra and not a nagging question!

  7. Lovely nugget! What a great moment.

  8. Awesome! I wonder whether the kids know how this changed the end of a week for you.

  9. See? Good things often emerge from disasters.


  10. Love the power that emerges from that call and response! I especially like that you looked for a better thing to take into the weekend and that YOU made that happen (for you and your students). Strong work you're doing!