This girl loves…a bad day gone good.

Words that inspire...

Words that inspire…

Do you ever have one of those days where you just want to be somewhere else?  You wake up and you just want to crawl back into bed.  You want to drink your tea and watch Netflix or curl up with that book you just started.

Today was one of those days.  That is until I got to school.

It started with Her Story.

She had turned it in early because she was going to be out of class for a few days.  I saw her over the weekend and she asked if I had read her story yet.  I told her I hadn’t had  chance, but that it was on my desk waiting for me.  She didn’t know of my migraine on Friday or the mound of papers sitting on my desk.  Then I saw her at school today and she asked again, “Have you read my story?”  I felt like the world’s worst teacher.  It was still sitting, unread, on my desk.  So I told her, “I have a free period next hour and I promise I’ll read it then.”  Had I known that this piece would change my entire outlook on the day and reconfirm why I love being a humanities teacher, I would have fought through the pain of my migraine and put this on the top of my “to-grade” pile.

I recall this student saying she had nothing to write about during language arts last week.  I asked her to look through her chart of ideas and try to find something.  After a few failed attempts, she asked if she could write about not being able to write.  Feeling that students need to take chances as writers I said, “You can try.”  And try she did.

Throughout her I-can’t-think-of-anything-to-write story, she wrote a piece full of dialogue, inner thinking, and precise details.  (These are all strategies we are currently emphasizing in class in order to write powerful personal narratives.)  My favorite parts included the dialogue between us, particularly the part when I told her she could try.  I like to think she included this because allowing her to try was what made this beautiful piece of writing come to light.  The imagery created was one that teachers dream about, “I try to think of something to write but my mind fees like a black hole swallowing every idea.”  Brilliant!

Then, to put a cherry on top of an already inspired morning, my students surprised me with their text-to-text connections between A Snicker of Magic and The Dot.  

Today was International Dot Day and my class celebrated by reading the book The Dot and completing an art project using pointillism.  In discussing the theme of the book, three of my boys said that they thought the book was trying to tell us what our shared-reading book was trying to tell us.  That, everyone has a talent.  Making these text-to-text connections shows their deeper thinking and understanding of the stories they are reading.  What more could a teacher ask for?

To round out the day, while having dinner with my youngest brother, I told him of today’s “highs”.  He said offhandedly, “It’s so interesting to see how your profession brings out your passions.  You became a teacher because you were told you’d be good at it and, through teaching, your passions have ignited.”  I’d say that’s a pretty fair assessment of today’s events.

I have known since the first day I set foot in my own classroom that I wanted to teach.  Today, and other days like today, reminded me why I still want to teach.  These are the days that keep me going.


This girl loves…words.

Emotional words

Emotional words

Lately I’ve been struck by the beauty in the world.  In a world where there is so much ugliness, I feel this is a rare feat.

This search for beauty started when I began taking pictures.  Once started, I couldn’t stop.  I saw beauty in the new bloom of a flower, the red and yellow hues striking against the brown landscape beyond it.  I saw how the lines of an old door made patterns in the wood which had to be captured.  The beauty of the world through the camera lens lent itself to seeing the beauty in other places, books.  No longer was beauty confined to what my eyes could see; it was in the emotions that words would evoke in my mind.

I remember despising reading as a child for there were no pictures.  So much like Alice, was I.  It was not until later in my life, after having a little more life experience under my belt, that I was able to create these pictures, on my own, in my head.

The first experience I can remember having with words was while reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.  Her words touched my soul.  After having lost her father, Francie Nolan cannot even imagine feeling happiness once again, as the man who brought life into her world and made her feel special, was now gone.  Her graduation was fraught with despair as she returned to her classroom to collect her final papers.  Unexpectedly sitting upon her desk were flowers, flowers from a man she knew to be dead.  Eyes welling with tears, I wondered if his death was a cruel joke and that he was actually alive, that the author had not left me in despair.  Alas, he was gone and I, for the first time, cried alongside Francie.

I was only twelve years old, but I understood this loss.  I had felt this loss.  It was at this point when words started to take shape and form.  This was to be the beginning of a lifelong affair with the written word.

As of late, I have been reading and analyzing Shakespeare’s words.  I discovered the beauty of his words after taking a class on medieval literature.  It began with studying Petrarch’s sonnets and ended with Shakespeare’s sonnets.  From there I started to see how the words from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet were truly poetic.

I have found meaning mostly in words having to do with love, loss, and lessons.  As I look back at that twelve-year-old girl reading emotions for the first time, I understand how this thirty-four-year-old woman is consistently struck by words.  In a quote from one of the greatest writers of 21st century, J.K. Rowling, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”  Cheers to all of the lovers of the written word.