What Our Mothers Teach Us

Over and over again, I learn the things our mothers have taught us.  I sit here, today, at my mother’s kitchen table with a cup of tea in hand.  My mind has been drifting between the challenges that life is throwing me today and the challenges that lie ahead for our daughters and our sons.  Something big is in the air and I can’t help but think about the generations of women that have come before me and wonder if they sat at kitchen tables, thinking, sipping tea and watching, and participating, in the history of their present.  Did they feel it?  Was it in the air then?  And, then?  And, then, too?

During the first days of school, when we are all finding our footing and easing into our stride, students learn about me as we create classroom communities of learners, writers, and, hopefully, thinkers.  Often, I am asked about my political affiliation.  Affiliation.  It seems assumed that I must affiliate, fellowship, belong, agree with, partner with, union with…  That I must belong to one side or another without consideration of other sides or with consideration of only one side.  The one side.  Yikes.  There are more than two sides to every story and there is also my side.  I have a side and it matters.  Right?  I only reveal my independence and reassure students that I take my civil disobedience and allegiance to thinking very seriously.  I love to knit wool, but that does not mean I am a sheep.

During the first days of a newly elected presidency, I hope we are not just marching, but thinking about what happens after the march.  In pink Pussy Hats we scampered, gathered, and marched.  We were like brides marching toward our future and creating a world for our children to enjoy or endure or survive.  Like brides, we were sure of our choices, dressed for the role, and willing to take a risk.  The wedding is over, the needles have moved on to new projects, and now it is time to put the march into action, to recognize what is in the air, and finish the job our mothers bequeathed us.

Our mother’s bumper sticker proclaimed that we should question authority. Our bumper sticker promised we could have it all.  What will our daughter’s bumper sticker promise?

ELO – I Rant

rantsThis is a rant. Occasionally rants merit value. This is such a rant. This does not apply to the majority, but as is true in most cases, it is the few that ruin it for the many. If this does not apply to you, then now worries.
It may be unfortunate, but there are higher expectations of Writing II students. These expectations reach beyond student writing abilities which are truly expected to be elevated to the level in which you are learning. This course level allows me to afford you far more opportunities to grow as a thinker and as a professional. It is, therefore, discouraging, to notice that some students are clearly not ready, or mature enough, to handle the independence I can afford in Writing II.
I was discouraged to observe students spending valuable Writer’s Workshop enjoying the use of their handheld technology rather than staying on task. What I observed was not a quick check of information, but an engaged activity spanning the first quarter of class. No. I do not call you out as I would want. I hate being a high school disciplinarian. No. I am not insulted: although, I should be discouraged that you are wasting time and valuable space in this class.
You are not hurting me. You are hurting yourself. Of course, that is your business, but hurting yourself in my classroom becomes my business and I would rather you choose to be someplace else, the place you would rather be, if you do not want to participate in the day’s activity. It is a choice and I wish you would make it.
You are hurting your fellow students. You are wasting their time and their energy and, most importantly, you are being disrespectful. You are asking them to think thoughtfully about your writing but you are not willing to do the same for them.

I hope your future co-workers are as tolerable of your disrespect as your classmates seem to be.

Do you have rant of the day?  Share it here in comments for 5 ELOs.  This opportunity is available until mid-night on March 28.

Paradigm Shift

What will you do?

Each one of us is responsible for the whole of humankind. We need to think of each other really as brothers and sisters and to be concerned for each other’s welfare. Rather than working solely to acquire wealth, we need to do something meaningful, something directed seriously towards the welfare of humanity as a whole. ~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Take Care

I think it is sometimes important for me to remind students that they need to take good care.  This is a good reminder for me as well.  As I am sitting here this morning, with cup of coffee in hand and the sun shining through the windows of my home office, my mind is racing in circles thinking of all the things I have to do.  Each role I play in life brings with it things to do.  What I have discovered is simple.  There are very few times when there is nothing to do.  This is a given.  Having things to do is a fact of life.  Managing those things to do is the key.

There are many things to do this weekend.  As a teacher, I need to tweak, revise, and proof for the next week.  I need to plan what is happening online and in the classroom.  There is also that new class, new material, and new beginnings this semester.  There are meetings and appointments to prepare for.

As a mother, there are bangs to trim, clothes to wash, meals to cook, shopping to do so the things I have to do next week are not as difficult as they might be without the shopping.  There is also some roller skating to do and Sunday bread to bake.

As a wife, I need to reconnect with my husband.  We should hold hands while watching a movie, fold towels together, and not forget to kiss goodnight.  Our schedules are opposite this semester to help raise a grand-daughter.  I miss him.

As a person I need to feed my creative spirit.  Make sure the last of Christmas is packed away and pull out the hearts for Valentine’s day.  Should I make cupcakes?  Sure.  My studio is a mess, so add this to the list.  Blog a little.  Take some pictures.  Work on that baby blanket as it is nearly finished.  This all helps me to stop and take note of the little things in my life that I love.

All of this is good – even the have-to-dos.  But, I can’t do any of this unless I take care of myself.  I need to move, drink water and sleep a little more.  I need to sometimes just stop. I need to take care so I am good at what I do and that is what students need to do, too.  Take care.  Take a day off each week not to work, not to do school, and not to check e-mail unless it is for fun.  Pick a day, an afternoon, a morning, or even an hour each day to just be off.

My day off from school is Sunday.  I won’t check discussion boards that day.  I won’t answer student e-mail.  I won’t.  If I do, I expect you to call me on it.  I might have a good reason, but might not, as I am a bit of a to-do-aholic.  I will help you and you can help me to take better care.

~Ms. A.

I Believe I Can Fly


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

~Marianne Williamson

 Here is a form of writing invention that is often helpful when trying to find a topic to journal or essay.   Listing can take us to some very interesting places to write.

 Choose the very beginnings of a phrase and list all of the possibilities. Feel free to steal any of these to prompt your writing.   Here is an example from one of my own journals.

I believe… 

            …Kool aid makes me smile.

            …women, as a gender, are is pain.

            …men, as a gender, feel abandoned.

            …race is dynamic.

            …in good deeds done.

            …in good kharma.

            …there is a clown in every circus.

            …pizza is a food group and falls under chocolate on the food pyramid.

            …slow dancing sparks old feelings into new again.

            …the foam of surf tells a story.

            …divorce is too easy and infidelity socially acceptable.

            …my students do not know how smart they are or how smart they can be.

            …words are important.

            …time is artificial and should be deleted from life.

            …laughing is healing and hugs forgiving.

            …a good book, a hot cup of tea, and a rainy day soothes the blues.

            …to do lists can be good and can be bad.

            …starvation does not have to exist.

            …we, as a people, are selfish to the point of blindness.

            …the good ones do not run for President.

            …violence is a product of lost love of mankind.

            …children are worth it every time and no matter what.

            …love is enough.

            …beach bums know something the rest of us missed.

            …a look can make, or break, a child.

            …my students are insecure about their own potential.

            …there are people in the world who should be parents.

            …I believe we are all scared of one another.

            …believe in me.

Leave a comment including your “I believe…” statement.

~Ms. A

Dear Students,

It is nearly time for final exams. My students are writing students and since I do not believe that writing students can show all they know about writing and their own writing processes on a two hour multiple choice, true false, short answer exam, their final is a take home final essay and an in class activity which, of course, involves writing. These in class activities are often disguised as fun and games, and laughter is often heard from my classroom, but fun or not, students are thinking and that is the best kind of college thing to do any day of the week.

College, after all, should be like kindergarten; you should learn a lot and have great time doing it.

I offer students in class time to work on and write their final essays hoping that questions that would arise without me being there will work their way to the front of the classroom while I am available. I am a resource for this work and hope they will take advantage of it.
During this time, I catch up on grading and brace for the final grading of research essays, revisions, and journals. They have worked so hard and now it shows. Inevitably, my mind begins to wander a bit diving into what I will do next semester, how I might revise each assignment, which assignments I will get rid of altogether and what new ideas I will implement. Each semester is exciting because each semester, each class, is different.
I am forever looking forward, but at the same time, feeling sad that this group of students is moving on and away. It seems by this time of the semester we are just getting to know each other. I have discovered how smart and funny they are, how much they have overcome to be in college, how difficult it is for many of them to maintain coursework, jobs, and families. I watch them push on despite the odds and they are my heroes. I should tell them this.