Sometimes Dishes Break

Sometimes dishes break… even the ones you love… the ones that you have cherished for years,  saved for special occasions, or something brand new… sometimes they just slip out of your hands, get bumped by someone who was a bit clumsy, or tip because they were teetering on the edge, and before you know it, you are sweeping up the broken bits of something that can not be fixed…

When I was first married I broke a lot of things… my husband would get upset and tell me that I just didn’t care enough about this, that or the other thing… He would get upset with me and I would be hurt or angry and try to defend myself… what a waste of energy… that attitude, that we made mistakes or had accidents because we didn’t care almost cost us each other… we went through a rough patch, developed a new vocabulary to deal with small hurts without letting them get big and and soon it just became our little joke… when something would crash to the floor one of us would say something about not really liking it or not caring about it…  we would pick up the pieces together and move on…

The truth is, some things can get bumped and just in the nick of time they can be caught before they crash to the floor… life is like that… a constant catching as things topple over… a bit of super glue to mend what was not caught soon enough …. and when you really cherish something that has shattered, you can still pick up each piece carefully and create something completely new and even more beautiful… a mosaic

If you don’t use the things that you love, they can never be broken… but they can’t really be enjoyed either… Some of the most beautiful mosaics can be created from things that have been broken… remember that…. And always look for the joy

SEX is Not a Bad Word

“Sex is NOT a bad word”… I shouted this… in my classroom… to 6, 7 and 8 year old students…. everyone froze, but only for a flash.  So, I had to shout it again, with just a bit more volume and conviction.

Moments earlier a concerned child told me that a classmate found a bad word in one of our library corner books. ‘Oh, my!’, I said… and I went to take a look.  Being unable to find the word myself (or the book), I instead, found the finder.  They were not going to talk and would not utter the word found, but they did point to a book that was a class favorite.  It was one of our heaviest hardback books, about 12″ x 18” and over an inch thick… a child’s encyclopedia of animals.  It really is a beautiful book, full of colorful, realistic drawings and photographs of all animals from amoebas to humans… it has tons of interesting facts and quite a few scientific words. My students pour over its pages, showing interesting pictures to friends.  It would not be uncommon for three or four students to be gathered around this book oooooing and aaahing for a whole reading period.  I grabbed the offending book.

A buzz was in the classroom, because everyone knew that our class favorite had a bad word in it, most of them had been shown the word, and the book may be put away behind the teacher’s desk (a veritable black hole of confiscated crap and stacks of books and papers) never to be seen again.

Here is how this went:

“What was the bad word”

“I don’t remember”

“You do, what was it?”

“I am not going to say it.”

“You can tell me, what was it?”

“It is a bad word, I am not allowed to say it.”

“It is okay to tell the teacher, you can tell me the word. You are not in trouble.”

“My mom said I am not allowed.”

“Okay, let’s find it in the book and you can show me.”

At this point he turns to an easily found page towards the beginning of the book (he had obviously become an expert at finding it from showing the rest of Room One the offending word).  It was the page on protozoans, sponges, or maybe some other basic sea creature and had a beautiful diagram of one such animal, labeled with all of it’s parts… Right there at the bottom of the page was the word, with a line connecting it to a blob inside the organism… SEX cell… There it was.

Okay… here’s what happened next…

“Ah, I see. That is not a bad word. You CAN read me that word.”

“No, I can’t.  My mom said it is a bad word and I am never allowed to say it.”

“But you can show it to everyone in class? Hmmmmm. I think you can read that word to me, because this is a science book in our classroom and I am asking you to read it. You can do that.”

…. we sat in silence for a long time… My student was set on not reading the word, I read it, I explained what that word meant in the book, and finally, in frustration, I shouted out “Sex is not a bad word” – twice… And then “Everybody stop what you are doing and meet me on the rug! Now!”

Quick as a wink, there they all were, staring at me as I held up the offending book.  We had a big discussion about what that word meant in that context… That humans are born to be either the male sex or the female sex, we all have a sex, and also sex is the word we use for how animals reproduce… then we talked more broadly about words and how many words can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on how you use them and who you are speaking to. Words like stupid, hate, ugly, pig, rat and more can be used in a good way or a bad way… It was a deep lesson for young children, but our favorite book was back on the shelf and we have not had a ‘bad word’ incident in a while… No shit. 😉

Building An Effective Wall

I just read that the ‘Wall Proposals’ are due on Wednesday.  I had this picture in my mind of people all over the world sitting in little teams contemplating materials and design.  Suddenly I had a flash of a children’s story I read to my first grade class every year: The Three Little Wolves and The Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas.  From the title you can see that the classic tale is flip flopped and the sweet little wolves are terrorized by this big mean ugly pig.  The wolves like to play games like badminton, hopscotch and croquet … they try to protect themselves by using not straw, sticks and bricks, but iron bars, metal plates, concrete block and a video surveillance system… each time the Big Bad Pig blasts their home to bits with dynamite, sledgehammers, or his ever ready pneumatic drill.  Finally the wolves give up trying to build this fortress against their enemy….

I imagine our wall as their final house, a wall of flowers (or better yet edible plants) swaying delicately in the wind, having a similar effect on boarder dwellers, as the wolves flower house had on the Pig…. as one draws near our wall “they are filled with the fragrant scent of flowers”… their hearts grow and they begin to dance.  At my wall they may pick a strawberry or snack on an apple before shaking hands with the boarder control, who tend the wall, take selfies with the crossers and welcome them to America.

Gone are the people dying in the desert, gone are people dying in storage containers or the backs of overheated trucks and gone are those profiting from human trafficking…

I am sure there are holes in my dream… but if you don’t have the dream nothing can ever change…

Never Give Up!

Never give up… the show must go on.  A lesson confirmed by my 17 year old son last night at his final performance of his senior year.  Just as he was about to go on stage for his last ‘big number’ his mic went out.  Panicked, he was trying to change the batteries and finally just pulled off the battery pack, tucked in his shirt and stepped on stage.  The band is really amazing, but without a mic on, the singers are almost impossible to hear.  He knew that… and he knew that this was his final performance.  He told me that all he thought about was that no matter what, he would be heard.  And he was.  He sang much of his part up an octave so he could really belt it out.  The adrenalin rush pushed him beyond what he had done during every rehearsal… and he made it work

So, this is the lesson… at our time of crisis… when things are not going our way… don’t give up… that is the time to sing up an octave and really belt it out!  Do not let the band drown you out!  This current political craziness is threatening to silence us at one of our most important moments… sing loud, sing strong, and put it all out there… Never give up and always be heard!

 

Yes, certainly…

I love my job.  Every day is something different, a challenge, and often a joy.  Teaching young children I have the power to make a difference in their lives, the lives of their families, and hopefully an impact on society.  If you have read my blog before you know that I have very strong political opinions… I am a liberal, believer in universal healthcare, pro-choice, anti organized religion, LGBTQ supporting, science believing, spiritual, singing, dancing, mother, wife and teacher.  Most of those things I leave at the door.  I do not bring my politics and  other controversial beliefs into my classroom or impose them on my students.  I just don’t. It wouldn’t be fair or right to do so.

When my students cheered because Trump won the election I said that many people were happy and that I hoped he would be a great president.  I try to promote the idea that all presidents wanted to make our country a better place for us all. We wrote our letters of congratulations to President Trump on November 9th, and mailed them off to Trump Towers… it would have been nice to get some recognition that they were received, but oh well.

I am not giving up on what I believe is right for our country.  I am working in my own way to support the causes I feel most passionate about, to write, and to motivate… but I am also wanting to challenge the ideas of the opposition.  If we don’t continue to challenge them, if we just sit by quietly as health care is lost, people are rounded up, and our education system is decimated we will have no one to blame but ourselves…  But that is not what this post is about.

This post is about what we can do in our own towns and communities to create the world we want to live in and to leave to our children.  Sadly, not everyone is willing to do what is necessary… but in my small sphere of influence, I am working to make it happen.  The things I teach in Room One can be a guideline for making a better society… So, this is the beginning of a series of Room One rules that illustrate some core ideas about how to do just that.  Here is just one of my rules and my thoughts about why it is important:

  1.  If you get out of line you can have your spot back.

For years, teaching young children, I would hear ‘He got out of line, he has to go to the end!, ‘He got out of line and now he is trying to cut me!, or (with a bit of a shove) ‘He is trying to squeeze back in!’… I have heard many teachers tell their students that if they get out of line they would have to go to the end. In fact, I used to say that myself.  It just felt sad and sometimes I would make an exception… But now, in Room One, if you need to get out of line because you forgot to grab your coat, get a drink,  tell someone something, or for no good reason, you just need to say please hold my spot.  When you get back to the line you say, excuse me, may I have my spot back and the person is supposed to say (we practice this), “Yes, certainly.” Even if you forget to ask someone to hold your spot you can get it back… That is the rule.

It is not about eliminating conflict or complaining, it is not about where you stand in line or the reasonableness of why you got out of line… it is about treating other people the way you want to be treated.  If you get out of line for any reason would you like to get your spot back?  If you forgot to grab bananas at the grocery store, you might leave your cart in line and run back to get them… imagine if when you got back someone had shoved your cart aside?  You want to be treated kindly. So, in Room One, everyone gets their spot back. It is polite.  It is the right thing to do.  It makes people happy and it is easy.

How can this apply to the world?  Imagine the on-ramp of your local highway, imagine the line at the bank, post office or market… imagine what is the right thing to do and make that happen… we have moved away from worrying about others’ feelings – political correctness has become a bad word – the pendulum has swung – pushed by some very angry people who would never give you your spot back… Time to push back and show what it feels like to say “Yes, certainly”, and really mean it.

 

 

Watch Those Chickens!

I am so very disappointed in the Republican senators… 50 of them voted to put Billionaire Betsy DeVos, devout private school graduate, business woman with a BA from a private religious college, whose children have never stepped foot in a public school, in charge of our national public school system!  I am appalled that they are putting their trust in her and I am saddened that they didn’t have the guts to stand up and say we can do better and we must do better for our children and our education system.

I should not be shocked.  Is it possible that the republican senators who voted her in are worried about the wrath of Trump… they could possibly be the subjects of his next tweets.  These same people have decided that someone with no political experience, no diplomacy and absolutely no decorum will rule THEIR roost… I applaud those two Republican senators who broke with their party and voted against this nomination… but two was not enough to make a difference. It is shameful, but now SOP, for this new administration… we are now ruled by billionaires… November 2018 can not come soon enough.

I wrote emails to Senators.  What else could I do?  I sat and watched the news as our public education system was turned over to someone who does not believe in public education.  Much like Trump’s pick for other departments and agencies, she does not believe in the very thing she will now be in charge of?!?  I am sickened thinking about someone with no vested interested in public education leading reform… I am horrified that someone with no educational experience or teaching degree will decide matters of the utmost importance in public schools.  I am worried that my little rural school will suffer financially because of her misunderstanding of all things that have to do with what happens in public schools on a daily basis.  I am fearful that science will no longer be taught and that the cry for prayer in schools will become louder and stronger.  I worry that good talented teachers will decide that enough is enough and that they will take their talents to another field.

Let’s shake things up, they say.  Let’s put fresh eyes on this issue… A new sheriff is in town… but really it’s the fox guarding the hen house.. .

What is our next move?  A nationwide strike – by parents, teachers, administrators, and support staff?  Am I even allowed to suggest that? If it is led by parents and students would more people listen? Where are my fellow pussy-cap marchers? There must be something that can be done!

Wow, what a crazy time we live in… you better hold on to your chickens!

Your Sky

I have hated it when I heard people comparing our current president to Hitler.  To me it was going too far, too harsh, and would alienate those we wanted to sway… But this ban  on people  is Hitleresque.  And, those who are carrying out his orders, knowing they are unjust, unkind and unconstitutional are just like the troops who followed orders to keep their jobs. I applaud Ms. Yates for taking a stand and saying she was unwilling to do something she believed to be wrong. We all need to be ready to do just that.

We have elected a madman, a loose cannon, a maniac, and someone with no forethought to the most powerful position in the world!  You shook your finger when we said ‘the sky is falling’… well, it is… he just insulted and fired our Attorney General, banned people from seven countries, decided that someone who ran an alt-right newspaper should be in on all intelligence meetings, put forward someone who is not an educator to run our education system, and is clearly mentally unstable.

Maybe YOUR sky isn’t falling. Perhaps you drove to work today just like any other day, picked your kids up at daycare or from the bus stop, went to the local Mexican restaurant or grabbed a pizza… maybe you are home, warm and comfortable after a hot shower, food in the oven and a glass of wine in your hand… Maybe you are surfing the internet deciding where to take your next vacation, or getting together with your friends for Bible study.

Maybe YOUR sky isn’t falling…

YET