Odds & Ends

Sorry for not posting in a while. I've been savoring every single moment of summer. It's been wonderful! Here are a bunch of randomly associated thoughts that have been swimming around in my brain. . .

I'm officially on the countdown. Are you guys ready? Oh my, I don't feel ready at all. Union/BOE issues = me not being able to access my classroom until our first official contracted day back, whereas last year I was in my classroom for weeks ahead of time. I know everything will work out alright, but I'm a little apprehensive about getting everything done all the same. I just hope my order is in and correct.

In other news, our principal resigned over the summer and accepted an elementary school principal position about an hour away. I'm kind of bummed about this, as she was part of the reason that I accepted the position in this district. But I suppose there is the possibility that our next administrator and I pedagogically connect as well.

Moving right along, I truly feel energized to begin. I am making a serious commitment, as I've mentioned, to daily chunks of independent reading time. A healthy portion of my back to school night will be dedicated to the discussion of independent reading at school and at home. I want parents to not only know and understand that I value independent reading for their children, I want them to see the tangible research that demonstrates that there is no stronger predictor of student success, testing or otherwise, than the amount of reading for enjoyment in which the student is engaged.

One of my former professors offered an awesome session on Boy Meets Boy and issues in teaching LGBTQ lit last week. It was so very invigorating. Among other things, I learned that our state, New Jersey, is one of only two states to earn an "A" grade from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (or GLSEN). GLSEN issues a report card every two years; grades are determined by the presence, or lack thereof, of a host of laws that include specific language to protect the rights of LGBTQ individuals.

I took away some affirming ideas from our session. To start with, my professor discussed something I feel strongly about. To paraphrase, she discussed the idea that we often shy away from addressing conflict in schools. We avoid discussing topics in order to--so we believe--accommodate our students and save them from feeling uncomfortable or awkward. But, this truly is not the purpose of schooling. If we are to contribute to our students' abilities to think critically, creatively, and empathetically about any number of issues they will encounter as social, emotional, and, let's face it, political agents, we are amiss to not aid them in the process of not only feeling uncomfortable about their perceptions at times, but in seeing that there are ways to consider the perspectives of others in respectful ways. Addressing topics that can make students feel conflicted in the classroom is our duty. Helping them work through complex issues and see the world through the eyes of another, if only for a glimpse, is the second imperative at work her.

In terms of justifying, so to speak, the presence of LGBTQ literature in the event of a challenge, my professor introduced the powerful idea of citing that fact that educators are bound by law to create a safe environment for every child. I am lawfully responsible to make sure each student feels safe. One out of every 10 students is or will be LGBTQ. Two out of hundreds of the books in my library are LGBTQ lit. There is a problem with this picture. I'm going to remedy it.

If you're still reading, I hope your preparations for your classroom this year are going splendidly and I wish you a happy start!


I'm Only Breathing.

I can't believe I've never posted this before--have I? I love e.e. so much. Sometimes his words remind me a little bit of Walt Whitman.

i am a little church(no great cathedral)

i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
--i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
--i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)



It was a stormy Sunday around here, and I can't think of a better place to spend a stormy Sunday than a bookstore. Thank goodness for Barnes & Noble gift certificates (and my 20% off teacher card). I have used book suggestion lists in the past, mostly from Atwell's resources and the CTL website. This time, a few of the titles were recommended by Kelly Gallagher in the appendix of his book, Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It.

Here are the new additions to my classroom library, most of which have I not read yet (28 days left!):

I am beginning with what I'm assuming will prove to be the fluffiest of my purchases. I figure, I sometimes tend to buy books based on what I would be interested in. I generally shy away from ones that look cheesy and gimmicky, but some kids really go for cheesy and gimmicky. We're supposed to be meeting the needs of every reader, right? And for that matter, sometimes we need cheesy and gimmicky to balance out serious and thought-provoking. Come to think of it, I'm the one who just finished Jodi Picoult's Mercy--pretty cheesy itself. And I haven't read either of the following two books, so as far as I know they could both be deep, intellectual literary territory. So here they are:

Here are the two non-fiction titles I picked up today, the first of which I discovered whilst doing my Junior practicum. My coop used an excerpt from Always Running during a memoir writing unit. The second, Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence is by Paul Feig, the creator of Freaks and Geeks.

I cringe to admit that I have NO Chris Crutcher in my library, despite the fact that I had the distinct pleasure of meeting him and hearing him speak last year in Maine. Here are the two I picked up today; I unwittingly purchased Ironman when I had thought I picked up Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes.

And I started this one tonight. Right now, my feelings can be summed up in a word: "meh." I hope my feelings will improve as I read on.

In related news, I'm rereading Ender's Game because I love it so, so dearly. It's everything I remember and more. I want to read the whole quartet over, I think.