Silence is the hardest part of teaching.

A year ago I acknowledged the humanness and brokenness of my job and being on the front lines of the public. Today, a year later, I could write the same post.

What amazes me most about the crazy beautiful occupation is that lives change in my class. I am not their savior. They are their own saviors. I get a front row seat to the angst turning into purpose, the brokenness mending, and the ability to overcome. Again I am thank God for the blessing and the opportunity.

-MR

Mommy Rhetoric

“[Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”
― Jim Henson

And I would add to that quote…how you made them feel. 

The stories that we cannot tell are the hardest part. Some you just cannot tell. Some you don’t tell because it isn’t your story. Some just don’t feel right because they are tiny moments of human connection that to type it all out for the world to consume feels like it would somehow minimize its humanness.

But we do have to keep ourselves in check and acknowledge that we are humans and with that humanness comes brokenness. We aren’t unfeeling robots who don’t recognize that the world exists outside of our classroom. Or at least I am not.

Those moments when I want to clamp down the hardest because they aren’t figuring out MLA or reading as in depth as they should…

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I loved once.

“Grief is love’s souvenir. It’s our proof that we once loved. Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world: Look! Love was once mine. I love well. Here is my proof that I paid the price.” 
― Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior

Which is hard to believe sometimes when most of the time you feel unlovable and that is not a pity me statement. Instead, it is 42 years of pent up “ugh” being shown, told and directed to how love looks.

It is kind. It is easy. It is hard. It catastrophic and minimal and the list can go nauseatingly on. My problem was always thinking I needed to be mad at all the people who said it. A sense of regret all wrapped up in resentment because I didn’t love the way the TV showed, or my relatives told me, or how the books I immersed myself in painted images. They all had so clearly loved and who the hell was I to question that?

Me a girl who has had a long and windy road of loving people for all the wrong reasons. IMG_1611The love usually filled an empty space with a bad relationship I had no business being in. A friendship that worked because I let it make me feel like I was not worthy of love. A misdirected passion and love for a career that I could deeply care nothing for. None of that was me despite my best acting attempts to make it so.

And I suppose the argument can be made that love came easy to me when I married a man who did really love me and that love was and has been equally returned. But in all honesty…I have never made it easy. Again harken back to this idyllic concept of love and what it was supposed to look like compared with what it did look like. That idea is pretty hard to live up to when there is no happy hallmark music and things like trigeminal neuralgia exist.

The world fills us with these unrealistic expectations of what love looks like and the belief that real love is easy love; but I am here to tell you after spending what I hope is at least half of my life feeling let down and not good enough for that brave four letter word. Let it go. Let it all go. Love who you want and how you want.

Love because it is hard. It is harder because it is worth it. And don’t let the world tell you what it looks like. Only you get to decide what you feel and how you feel.

I am so sick and tired of that. I have lost five people in my life that I loved dearly. Some were lost in death, some were lost in communication, and some were lost because I walked away or vice versa. One thing remains consistent, I cared way too much about how others thought I should love. When instead I should have loved the way only I know how.

I remember at my grandmother’s funeral feeling like I was smothering. Go stand by her. Tell stories about her. Nod. Cry. Hold her hand. At one point, I left the funeral home and walked across the railroad tracks about half a block away to a bakery. In that bakery they had the most beautiful peek-a-boo cookies. I bought one and I sat on a bench and I ate it.

I sat there for twenty minutes in silence enjoying that cookie eating a cookie I loved, beside a person I loved in a moment that I found a whole lot of love in. But it didn’t look like the love I was supposed to be feel experiencing of sorrow, sadness and tears. But I realize now that that was my love, my expression of it, and that was my grief…my way. A tiny taste of my childhood, on a warm July sunny day sunbeams in my face, a bench with a hand to hold.

I show my love in words, in actions, and in moments. I also show my love in ways that embrace me whole heartedly. If you love me, you love all of me…the anxious me, the obsessive me, the compulsive me, the wordy me, and all of my faults fully exposed.

I know this now more than ever. For me love is sharing my faults and admitting it is not easy for me to love the way the world tells us to love. To love through the hard stuff, to love when it doesn’t look pretty or sound romantic and to love when it would be easier to not love.

The one and only “easy” love that I have ever been given is for my beautiful, precious daughters because I want them to know that the world is wrong and that love isn’t always beautiful and easy, but for me as their momma my love for them is true, consistent and without fault or matter with no ifs, ands or buts that could possibly come with it. Love is always there for them…boundless and endless and unconditional.

The rest of the love I have to share with the world is a choice. My choice. If I tell you I love you then you should know it is because I mean it. If I don’t tell you, but I show it chances are that that love is really real to because I am willing to be me with you. And if I tell you and show you watch out world cause that is fierce and meaningful.

I believe in love above most all things. I believe in the people I love even more.

-MR

Who is that girl?

In my interpersonal communications course, I have been teaching about the face negotiation theory. You know the one right?  The one that birthed the expression, “Saving face” or “about face”. This idea that we have faces for people, places and times. I remember being holed up in my bedroom after recovering from my surgery and doing in depth grade work on face and I immediately thought of this picture.

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This is a picture that took me four years to actually look at. It was the holidays. My girls were so tiny. We were moving my husband’s grandma from one part of a nursing home to another. Her health was declining. We were in her apartment to go through her things. She had to pair down on a lot of her possessions. My husband’s aunt snapped it because she got a new camera and I didn’t want it taken at all because I was just sure of the absolute truth it would hold and capture.

One thing was missing. My guy. My guy who just that day was released from the hospital. I was two days into barely understanding my life had just changed in the most significant manner. I have always been good at just absorbing hardships, but not this time. I just spent the previous four days conquering every single fear I ever possibly held. I saw my husband on his knees begging to end it all. The problem with that is I had no idea why and what was really going on. I then left my tiny young children alone in my home in the middle of the night to drive my husband in a blizzard to the hospital. The next four days were inexplicably the hardest I have ever encountered. I went from taxi mom to wife beside hospital bed to cell phone talking/advocating for a husband who couldn’t speak.

And seeing that paragraph there and summing these transitional weeks into a paragraph does no justice for what that “face” is hiding. The simple act of helping an elderly woman “pair down” felt impossible and very last thing I wanted to worry about. My three reasons for being there and doing that were my daughters. I didn’t want them to know the world of pain I was in. The same sentiment went toward my husband’s family. My mother in law likely the only one who knew most of it because I needed to lean on someone that loves him as much as I do.

But I bring this image up now because I would never look at this picture. It has been on my fridge since that night and the four years since. I have maybe looked at three times sense and each time I did I couldn’t even look that woman in the eye because to me she is everything I am not. I barely recognize her.

I get so frustrated with myself now because I get all twisted up over the inability of public education to adapt themselves to my career path. College instructors in high school classrooms. Or I get flustered about the way system works to keep kids where they want them based on things that have little to no control over. I feel so powerless.

Then that woman there, she had power and she was me but I feel so disconnected from her and yes I know that is how survival works. I was in survival mode. I did it because I had no option. But my life isn’t much different now. Trigeminal neuralgia is a part of my daily existence, but I never talk about it. My life changed so dramatically that is no longer my new normal, but my normal.

But that woman, she could conquer mountains. She loved her people so fiercely and fully and powerfully that she literally could have moved heaven, earth, a large car all before 9am. But now, I forget my kiddos spelling stuff. Or my husband’s parent teacher conference schedule.

I have to keep reminding myself that that face is there. It is who I see in the mirror every single day. This is not some existential crisis or me taking myself back. But what this is me revisiting a promise I made to myself and I am sure if I looked hard enough in my archives I would find that actual written promise of it. But I told myself I would never forget what felt important and my very precise ability to cut through the crap and get to the heart of what matters.

As the days and years pass I try and remember that face and the ability that comes with that face because I need her. We all need her. She gets it done and doesn’t sit and complain about the obstacles. There are ALWAYS obstacles. ALWAYS….ALWAYS and I have ALWAYS moved passed them.

No infinite wisdom here from MR. Instead, a reminder that we all have that face even if we don’t feel like it. We are inherently meant to and equipped with the will to do and be better than who we currently are.

-MR

Moving On in Mrs. E’s Classroom

Heyla, my students continue to march forward in their perspective courses. Hoping I can offer some ideas or base models for you and your classroom.

4.15.16_blackout_poem_2English 9 – We are now moving into our next unit which focuses on research skills, poetry and figurative language. Students are required to research a poet they choose and provide a presentation of their poet and how their life gave them inspiration in their poetry. They then have to present a poem and point out figurative language. To practice this we read Poe’s, “The Raven” and looked at figurative language. As well, we did black out poetry with pages from Dicken’s “Great Expectations” because the vocabulary in the book is good bring up the depth of knowledge of a relatively pretty easy activity.

Speech – My students are working on persuasive speeches and I model it for them doing a speech about “The Semi-Colon Project” and actually how we need to target the things we can change as a society for teenagers such as; poverty, drug use, abuse and stigmas. Again, I am focusing on my students evoking because they very much understand “woke” and I want them to see and practicing, “Evoke”. This also can very much tie to an argumentative paper they are writing for me for dual credit English.

English – We are working on argumentative paper where students must demonstrate 51o9m1i4H2L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_argumentation skills and persuasive techniques. We are finishing this up, so that we can prepare and move into reading my favorite book to teach which is Tennessee William’s play, A Streetcar Named Desire. I love teaching it because of the dynamic characters. To prepare to read it we actually look a lot at literary theories of reading to help students find way to more academically articulate what they are reading and how they are reading it. The method I use to do this is via a lecture that I created. It is not too exciting.

Mass Media – We are finishing up listening to our podcasts and I assigned a photo story where students had to tell an autobiography of their lives through a series of 10 pictures with no captions. After that I am not sure where we will head. I have been thinking of shifting one of my projects around to do a social media viral video. I just don’t know if I want a remake or a newly created one. We shall see. It is still in development.

Next time I check in I will likely have some more exciting activities. A lot of what we are doing are building up to more exciting projects.

Let’s see where I left off…

It was probably week # 4 into 5. Once we were in throughs of The Crucible and Animal Farm and not much was happening my classroom blogging went quiet. So to catch you up to where we are today.

English 101/Dual Credit English – We finished up The Crucible and I always have my students act out the final act where they can maintain the story line, but change up the language and settings. They always do so great with it. This year was no disappointment. I even had one group flip it into a pirate setting. Woah…did they have fun! After that we always finish up with a Socratic Seminar, which brought up some great conversation.

Then we moved onto rhetorical analysis. To help introduce the language we read a few different articles and practice it. The three are linked below:

I have been working with my juniors a lot with the word and concept of “evoke”; this rs=h_176.jpegidea to make their writing and analysis/synthesis of it should be looking at it to evoke. These three articles all do that. The first creates tons of controversial and anecdotal evidence of gender and language differences in the classroom. Then the 2nd article also allows for some understanding how much power language in general has which in this article comes from both the author and the topic that the author talks about. And finally, Laura’s resource is amazing at the “ick” factor and really get the students to focus in on the words being use. Which is a great place to start when learning how to write a rhetorical analysis. They are working on final drafts for their papers right now.

English 9 – My students just finished reading Animal Farm and wrote a paper and completed a presentation on theme within the novella. We are moving onto poetry and I really want to jazz it up this year. Every year I feel like I teach it the same way and it is just not doing it justice especially because the large amounts of poetry that is being mass marketed to all teens in the aisles of grocery stores now. I need to help them read smarter and more analytically. It is just such a great opportunity. Within that learning I plan to go over and work more on writing process. I think I will use a version of The Townie Teacher’s Writing Boot Camp. They will be doing research on a specific author and presenting their work while also dressing as their poet and memorizing a poem.

Mass Media – My kids are currently working on podcasts in class. I always start this unit with another resource from Laura Randazzo. Can you tell I just love Laura? If you can’t…you should know this…I do. She has some amazing and highly engaging resources for ELA classrooms.

Limetown_logoFrom there I found an awesome resource on The Moth (podcast website) for educators. I then turned it into a my assignment sheet. My students and I listened to Limetown Episode 1 and the kids get hooked. They love the drama, sound effects and story line set up. It also gives a good example of that specific type of podcast. Then we listen to the narrative type of podcasts posted on the Moth website which I give them which you can see here. My requirement for the podcast is 5-8 minutes of podcast and one commercial that demonstrates for me a clear understanding of who they think their audience would be for their podcasts. For example, a podcast targeted for teenagers maybe selling hot cheetos. They love listening to each others and they love creating them. I also include information about storylines.

Speech/Dual Credit – My students are finishing up the Inquiry speeches which is a speech where I allow the students to become researchers by creating their own human behavior experiment that they want to explore. They must track their research as they would in science with lab notes. They must have a driving research question, present their own results and then what they learned about themselves as researchers. This is a great example of informative speech and it also allows for their own self reflection as communicators. It also incorporates the use of data in visuals which they need to practice on. We are moving onto special occasion speeches next.

We just ended our 9 weeks and are heading into the 2nd 9th weeks. This year seems to be flying by. But life is good. I feel like we have finally hit our stride in Mrs. E’s class.

 

 

We called him Aiden.

We had a miracle baby once. I was the mom to a boy for a bit.

That…that seems like a lifetime ago. I looked very different and my values and goals had very different names. But one thing remained the same and that was my unending love for my children.

All I desperately wanted was a son. A boy to add to our brood of girls. Except there wasn’t a brood back then. Back then there was just one. We got pregnant easily and I made the false assumption it would be as easy with our next. And well it was not.

Long story short. We gave up. We thought maybe it was not in the cards for us and we began to make peace.

And in moment as cliche as ever and I was pregnant by surprise. A few blood tests a week later ended in the worst phone call that I have ever received. Followed up with a decision to be made.

Somehow I convinced myself that the most painful methods was the punishment I deserved. And a week later the sun was shining on my face and I wanted some resolution to a tragic story. My eyes were blood shot from crying and my arms ached for what should have been. We sought out some solace in picking a name for this tiny human who we believe to be our one and only son. I haven’t ever really shared that with anyone and now I am outing it here for a bunch of internet strangers to read.

But it is important these stories are told.  I am the 1 in 4.

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It goes without saying that was easily one of those most painful moments of my life. It also goes without saying I love my two baby girls that followed. My rainbow babies before there was even such a term.

Week # 4 Into 5

This week is a weird week because we have professional development on Tuesday. So we go Monday and then we have E-learning Tuesday and then the rest of the week is normal. The bad part about the new school year is momentum gets squished by days off. But it is all good.

Dual credit English – We are taking a break from our college curriculum and heading into some English 11 with Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible. We have been studying the history of McCarthyism and the Witch Trials. As well, I have been setting the stage so to speak for Puritan culture. I think sometimes the toughest connection for students to make is understanding the culture of the times. They apply our cultural norms and it doesn’t always make sense. For example, John Proctor cheats on his wife and his wife is NOT happy. Most kids don’t understand why she doesn’t kick him out and get revenge on Abigail. This week finally we dive in and just read and act out the play.

I usually teach drama key terms and stage production during The Crucible and I usually will use youtube videos of the play to reinforce those terms.

Dual credit speech – The kids are taking their first Unit # 1 test over chapters 1-4. We move really quickly since it is a college course. They are also doing their demonstration speeches. We started those on Friday and they will likely take us at least a week or two. We also start unit # 2.

24250701English 9 – We are reading Animal Farm and we read 2 chapters a night. I do a pre-reading activity that is kind of unique. But my students love it. They enter my classroom and there is a slide up on my board. The slide instructs them that I will not be participating in class today other than as an adult in the room. They have a list of tasks to complete for the period. However, they need to design the English classroom for the day how they believe to be most efficient for them. What usually happens is anarchy and serves as an awesome lesson we get to compare to the whole time to Animal Farm. Animal Farm is a satirical novella about animals that create their own society. My students love this activity.

Mass Media – We are recording and editing our “Day in the Life of…” videos where we are all Youtube stars. My kids always love this one and have so much fun with it. Then I will be introducing culture jamming/propaganda and I will share those resources with you next week. My students will create a culture jam and this always brings out the coolest projects. I love this assignment.

Step Into It.

She sat alone and thought I’ve got to find a way to take a breath because I literally feel like I CANNOT breathe. No really like I CANNOT breathe. So she takes a breath and another. And another for good measure. But that tightness still sits on her chest, a brick ready to sink in and revealing what is really on the inside and her secret will be out.

But she wondered, “What secret is she really hiding?” That she was meant for this and built for this. Is that such a bad thing? Maybe someone will make fun of her or find a way to jab her from the right and the left in quips that are meant to filet. (You don’t get to do that she says in her head. But her mouth utters nothing and she shakes her head in agreement. Bullshit…speak up!!!)

Because in her experience that is usually how people strike. They don’t strike straight. What ever happened to those people in Gwendolyn Brooks poem? Did they grow up? Did they just say they strike straight? Or did they just nod and let someone bulldoze them over?

We strike straight.

I always took that to mean being real and being honest. A trait I learned as a young 17 year old girl who had a boyfriend who was just a little too controlling. My response to his final command was, “No thank you.” Okay or maybe something a little less polite. But the power of that word.

She found her no in that moment. She found her ability to take hold of her breath and not hold it for so long. She breathed. She breathed in and out steadily. So what happened? What happened is she grew up. She found her dreams and she lived in them, so she dreamed bigger. She dreamed bigger and better and instead of saying no which creates a road block. She said yes which leads to a vast opening.

An opening of insecurity wrapped in self doubt, wrapped in minimizing herself, wrapped in being small and unheard and behind the scenes. Giving her words to others to speak so she could shine through them and noble as it was, it dulls her. Dulling her words dulled her and that brick. It is back. Holding tight and sinking fast. Her words falling out of others mouths. Over and over again.

She watched her words on the page. She even liked them a little. Okay not a little a lot. But putting them out there, a quip here. A jab there. She cannot breath through that and what happens if you cannot breath? And all the feel good sappy crap runs through her mind, why fit in when you were born to stand out, but is it that simple? Hell no it is not that simple.

What if they don’t get it? Or worse they get it and they hate you for it. I’ve have seen that side of people. It is ugly and it hurts and then we are back to that breath. She CANNOT breathe. She understands the game they are playing. You are not fitting in cause you are standing out and that is a threat.

And damnit. The words of so many….

“I don’t want to and cannot afford to fit in” – Brene’ Brown

“A larger part of why I don’t want to be boastful is because I learned a long time ago that I was a little girl who had no clue what she was talking about. Being big while also being small is impossible task for anyone.” – Rachel Hollis

Yes damnit. I hear you. I hear you over and over and over and I get it. But sometimes being small is easier because it hurts less. But damnit it feels so good to be my big ol’ self. The one with the accomplishments that are NOT minimized. The one who did just do all of that and is okay if you see it, know it and hear it. Oh and even better she can breath. She breaths just fine and sometimes I am her. And other times I am not.

But I will get it. That is the optimist in me. But the pessimist exists too. She is the one with the brick. But she is me and I am her and with that….Deep breaths, no smallness, only you and only stillness. They don’t matter. You matter.

Go. Hit publish. Step into it. Be bigger than your biggest fear.

I am her. -MR

 

Meal Planning – Week of Sept 3rd

I cannot not give credit where credit is due….all of my meal planning happens the same every week. Baby girl # 2 and I as we ride back from Fort Wayne. We talk aloud about food that sounds good and things that we are hungry for. For the last 3 months this has been how our meal planning has been happening.

Today was no different. Conversation goes:

Blog1Me: #2…what sounds good for dinner this week?

# 2: Hmm, I don’t know. What sounds good to you? What do we have.

Same conversation every single week. Then comes the long list of what we have in the freezer, our daily calendar and options.

This week is going to be the start of 21 Day Fix for me. Yes Labor Day means 21 Day Fix start for me. It is okay. I am so controlling that I don’t want to wait till Tuesday because of the holiday. It will be fine, I promise. Sooooooo….

Monday – We are having parmesan chicken which I make keto though I am no longer doing keto. My kiddos just love it. I have no measurements and all measurements are a guess. But it is sooooo good.

  • 1/4 cup of a Duke’s Mayo
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parmesan
  • garlic herb seasoning (no sodium)
  • garlic sauce
  • 1 tbsp of butter (not needed but makes it extra keto)
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (not keto – keep in mind the star should be the fats, garlic and chicken)

Mix this all together.

FullSizeRenderCover the chicken in the mixture above and bake at 375 until temp inside chicken reaches 175 degrees.

Tuesday/Wednesday – Pot roast which will be sprinkled with minced garlic and black pepper. I will pour 1 cup of beef stock on a rump roast and throw it in the crockpot for 6-8 hours. We will serve with sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes. My girls will want rolls as well.

All of these meals will be served with a salad and leftovers will be in my lunch.

My breakfasts will be these apple muffins (1 purple) and 2 hardboiled eggs (1 red) with a snack of almonds (1/2 blue). I will also include salads in my lunch (1 green/1/2 orange and a purple).

Thursday – Dinner out with in laws or left overs.

Friday – I am going to make a healthy pizza at home. Recipe to come.