Thursday, June 23, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spare Time? My June Reading List

What am I going to do with all this spare time?

Although I suspect it will be in shorter supply that it now seems, I just ordered about nine million books from Amazon. (My favorite store in the world)

Two guilty pleasures to start: the 11th Sookie Stackhouse book and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

A handful of books to satisfy my YA lit obsession: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Unnameables, As Long as the River Flows, Jacqueline Woodson's Miracle's Boys, Gardiner's Stone Fox, Theodore Taylor's The Cay, Bruchac's The Arrow over the Door and Geronimo, and Where the Red Fern Grows.

Picture books: Birmingham, 1963; Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge; Freedom Summer; Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves; Growing Up in Coal Country; and Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo.

My "Grown-Up" Choices: Invisible Man, My Own Country: A Doctor's Story, The Legacy of a Freedom School and Angela Johnson's The First Part Last.

And the professional ones: A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children (been meaning to get this one forever!), Nancy Atwell's Naming the World: A Year of Poems and Lessons, Still Learning to Read: Teaching Students in Grades 3-6, and The Next Step in Guided Reading: Focused Assessments and Targeted Lessons.

I can't wait for the UPS man. I'm like a kid on Christmas morning when I hear that truck in my driveway.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beginnings, Endings, and Farewells

For me, it's the hardest part of teaching.

We had a frenzied Friday, with sixth grade graduation at 10 a.m. Handing out yearbooks and collecting the straggler's money took up until about 9:30. Somewhere around 9:55, as I was frantically stuffing report cards that the computer refused to print until the last minute into envelopes, we realized we were missing one of the student's promotion certificates.

"Go ask Mrs. D to print another! (Since my printer has been broken for the last month.) Then sprint to the offices and get it signed! Ok, how fast can you all line up in alphabetical order by last name! We're late!" (In case you're wondering, not very fast.)

Ok, we made it. Somebody tells me, "Ms. M, you have to open the ceremony." (What! Didn't anyone else think about my paralyzing fear of public speaking!)

It runs smoothly and I get too caught up in being proud of the students sitting in the front rows to think about all the other people behind them. I make stuff up and steal lines from the 45 graduations I've been to in the past few years.

Hugs, photographs, goodbyes. Packing up the room with the handful of students who stuck around after graduation. Dealing with last minute nonsense of students deciding to sign each other's shirts with inappropriate content. Carrying stuff out to my car.

And then the drive home, and the music, and the more than 30 seconds to sit down makes me realize how sad I am, and the tears fall. What will become of them all? And I'm surprised that I'm sad. I've only been with these kids for 3 months. But I guess if you spend most of your waking moments with people. They're so funny and smart and unsure of themselves and yet confident. They drove me nuts and made me laugh and gave me a few gray hairs. And then, they're just off. And for most, if not all of them, I'll never know what comes next.

"In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work.
It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years."
~Jacques Barzun