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Ramblings from a Southern liberal, Boomer, single parent, grandmother, reunited birthmother, cancer survivor, pop-culture observer, retired teacher

Most dramatic lymphoma posts are from June 2002 - February 2003 archives.

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The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I cannot go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree, but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

--Theodore Roethke


Joy's Updates - Straight from the Horse's Mouth.
Friday, January 13, 2006  
School Thoughts

In her blog Time Goes By, Ronni linked to an email chain letter many of us saw several years ago. It's the one about the list of compliments a teacher had her students make for the others in the class. At the time I read it, I was teaching a particularly negative group of students who made it a competition to put each other down, which is not unusual unfortunately. These were middle-school gifted students in an English class. That's a difficult time of life for kids and their parents. Getting them to actually compliment each other took some work, but they did it, especially when they knew their remarks would be anonymous. I typed them on the computer with a neat font and printed them out. It was interesting to watch them read their lists of over 20 compliments and try to figure out the sources. I also added one of my own in which I told each student what I found special and admired about each one and wrote it at the bottom of the list and signed it. Over the years, some students have mentioned that list and said that they still had it. If any of you are reading this, let me know is you remember that assignment.

I'm a sucker for those inspiring-teacher stories and movies. I've never gotten through Mr. Holland's Opus, Stand and Deliver, and The Marva Collins Story without sobbing. Sometimes I just cry.

I liked teaching in the gifted program (elementary and middle school) because I was with the students for so many years and could watch them grow. It was almost as if I were their aunt after a while. Our goals included higher-level thinking skills (critical, creative, logical, etc), communication skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking), and interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. They completed projects and activities around a theme we designed. Although the goals were the same, the curriculum changed every year. That kept it challenging which is why we called it Challenge Class. I loved working with those students. They are bright, funny, quirky, and energetic.

High school students were fun to teach since they are older and have more life experience. I spent about half of my 37 years teaching in the gifted program and the other half teaching mostly 11th and 12th graders. Honors English, creative writing, and art were my favorite classes to teach, but the regular English and US History classes definitely had their moments with wonderful students in them! I've been fortunate to get to know some outstanding, memorable students who have enriched my life.

Some students groaned when new students asked why they had to learn how to diagram a sentence or the parts of speech or some other aspect of grammar or literature. I'd light up and tell them I was just waiting for that question! I'd tell them they might be on Jeopardy or Who Wants to be a Millionaire sometime and would thank me for making them learn about all this stuff. Then I'd tell them the real reason is that all the subjects in school teach us to think different ways. I wasn't delusional enough to think anyone would run up to them in an emergency to ask about a possessive before a gerund or what the scarlet letter stood for. They would, however, need to know how to comprehend information, analyze it, evaluate it, form opinions, and defend those opinions. I told them I hoped they would learn how to think and how to learn. There's something to be said for the love of learning and cultural literacy, and I hope I inspired a few of them.

11:48:00 AM

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