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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, September 24, 2013

TAKING A COMPLIMENT


For as long as I can remember the rhythm of my life has included the following equation: school day ends=talk to Mom. 

As a result, my mother is often on the receiving end of ugly rants as I drive home.  Ranting tends to be one way I process issues in order to work through them to find solutions.  Ranting is also my body’s natural response prior to having a proper after-school snack. 

Sometimes I am centered enough to remember to share the good news (the plane landed safely stories, as my mom calls them).  Sometimes my day is so filled with goodness, there are only funny stories to share.  Sometimes I am feeling so good that I even brag a bit to Mom. (Only, for the record, it’s not really bragging if it is to your mom, since it is really a compliment to tell her what a wonderful daughter she has raised, right?)

Today, I shared the following story with my mom as I drove home:

After a particularly challenging last period, two of my 8th grade girls returned to my classroom at the end of the day.  They told me they had something to tell me.  In my experience, there is no anticipating what might come out of the mouth of an 8th grader.  So, I braced myself. 

And one of them unleashes this gem, “Mrs. Rush, we just wanted to tell you that we love your wardrobe!” 

The other girl immediately follows with, “Yeah, I mean, all of your dresses are so nice; you just always look so put-together.  You need to take us shopping or give us fashion advice!”

While this is not quite the kind of recognition I strive for as a teacher, I have to admit: it felt good.  I laughed and told them I will have to make my own ‘Mrs. Rush version’ of What Not to Wear.  They gushed some more before walking away. 

I didn’t really wait for my mom’s response before launching into another story, which surely led to another.  So it wasn’t until several stories later that she responded.  I walked into the house, my phone headset still in my ear, connecting me to my mom.  There is a long pause and she says, “Wow.  I just still can’t get over how amazing it is that you impressed today’s 8th graders with your fashion sense, at your age.” 

I am choosing not to take offense to the comment.  After all, it was someone who is old enough to be my mother who said it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

THEY


My week started with a headless bunny day (a phrase I coined based on an unfortunate Monday morning backyard surprise—compliments of an owl or hawk according to my people at Google)

I thought it was going to be a headless bunny week. 

After all, I have been in a dark, negative, headless bunny kind of mood.  Some might even call it a funk.

But then something happened. 

All of the ‘theys’ that have been the source of my angst became, well, human.  Right before my very eyes.  

They are by no means perfect.  In fact, sometimes I am not sure I even like them. Especially when they are creating and using assessment tools that don’t measure what I value.  Especially when they are swarming my classroom with clipboards and judgment.  Especially when they become little voices in my head critiquing my every move when I am trying, working, struggling to get it right. 

Maybe I should talk to them, I thought.  I sure would like to give them a piece of my mind, I thought.  They have no idea what damage they are doing, I thought.

So I asked, requested, demanded to meet with them.  And they showed up. 

I planned to be diplomatic.  I planned to wear a mask.  I planned to keep my distance.

But it turns out they are human.  I like humans.  I am human, too.

So, I shared my story with them.  I listened to them tell theirs.  

I felt lighter.  The little voices got quieter.   

Today was not another headless bunny day.