Posts Tagged ‘humor’

Putting Myself Out There: Part 1

April 10, 2017

Oh heavens.

What a slippery slope.

It starts with sharing this video about the typewriter orchestra with my young writers. And then a conversation about how musicians see the music in everything. And how poets see the poetry in everything.

“Mrs. Levin, that would be cool to do.”
“Yeah, it would.”… “Hey…I have an idea. For your homework today I’d like for you to go home and find something that makes music in your house. Experiment with the sounds it makes. Then make a video of yourself with the music you created and share it with me.” (patting my own flexible back)
“Mrs. Levin, will you do it too?”
(putting on big girl pants) “Yep. And I think I know what I’ll do, too.” “Come to think of it (getting big for my britches), I think I’ll do hockey.”

Oh heavens.

Hockey mom.png

So I made a video. Originally, when I made this video, I was pretty proud of it. I definitely heard the rhythm in my head as I worked to tap out the different sounds with the stick and puck. I took a take and thought, “Hmm. That’s pretty good.”

But to my sons, to whom I showed that video? My teenage, hockey-loving sons? They couldn’t stop giggling at how lame it was. At how, when you look away listen for sounds, it’s just a whole bunch of random whacking noises. They just kept listening. And giggling.

And OH. They are SO right.

Here’s the link to the video. Go ahead and watch once, then look away and giggle while you hear the random whacking. (It’s OK, my big girl pants are still on.)

That got me thinking. How many times does this happen for us, or for our students? We make an effort – perhaps it’s a solid effort, perhaps it’s just a first effort. But we’re pleased with it, and we think it’s good enough.

Then we put it out into the world and realize (rolling our pride into a ball and shoving it into our back pocket) that we were wrong. That maybe we could have -should have- done a better, more mindful job.

I am going to share this video with my students for that VERY reason. They need to see that even grown-ups sometimes need a kick in the pants to do a better job.

Keep your eyes peeled for video, Part 2. As for me, I’ve clearly got stuff to work on.

When in Rome

March 17, 2017


Whenever I assign my kids creative writing, I like to join along. For starters, it helps keep my own creative juices flowing. More importantly, I want my students to see me as a writer, right along with them. I want them to see what successes struggles I encounter as I work to improve my craft.

Today, we had fun with poetry. The teachers are having a staff lunch on Tuesday (World Poetry Day!), and I asked my kids to write food poems to serve as placemats. We grabbed the construction paper, set out some markers, stuck on some cool tunes, and we had ourselves a writer’s workshop! The two poems below are my contributions. Not sure I’d call them exceptionally deep or earth-moving, but they were fun to write. (And, I hope, fun to read.)

The World in a Fruit Bowl

Joy: an apple
Upon first bite
When tongue
And teeth
And tastebuds
Find their perfect

Apprehension: blueberries
All together,
Baby and granddaddy,
Nestled in a bowl.
Sweet and tangy?
Achingly sour?
One way to find out.

Despair: that melon
You picked out the other day
That felt perfect
And smelt perfect
Only to reveal
Its darker self
As sandpaper
And mush.

I Won’t Do It (And You Can’t Make Me)

I don’t fall for those famous food lies,
“Open your mouth and close your eyes.”

Or that phrase guaranteed to sicken:
“Try it! It tastes like chicken.”

Another thing to make me say “Ew,”
“Drink it! Surprise at the bottom for you!”

And the best way to get me to fight?
“No dessert ’til you take that last bite!”

Lessons I’m Learning

October 11, 2013

Here I am, two months into my new job. I have to say that it’s already an incredible experience. Of course, a new placement  puts me on a learning curve. But quite honestly, I love that about life. I love being challenged and asked to do tricky things. Don’t many of us?

Here, then, is a list of just some of what I’ve learned. You might see some of these themes in future blog posts, but thought I’d sum up here.

1. It’s hard to leave colleagues. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my former co-workers. I miss the laughs we had in the copy room, the after school “book clubs,” the discussions and – yes, sometimes – disagreements we had about our kids and how we thought it best to work with them.

2. It’s hard to leave students and families. How strange it was to stand in the hallway that first day of school in my new job. Were this my old school, I’d be hugging and high-fiving just about everybody. I’d know all the kids’ names and be chatting about their summers. Instead, I kept quiet and soaked up the vibe. I miss those kids, and I hope they are doing well.

3. There will always be new colleagues, new kids and new families. I could say that I’m surprised and overwhelmed by how welcome the staff and families at both of my schools have made me feel. I think that would be a lie. Of COURSE they have made me feel welcome. How could I expect otherwise? The people I work with demonstrate tireless dedication to kids, incredible teaching skills, and some of them have a pretty wicked sense of humor. They amaze me every day. As for the kids, nothing beats their sincerity, their joy, and their enthusiasm for learning.

4. Leadership, leadership, leadership. I have always known how important great leadership (as opposed to management) can be. It’s amazing to be in a place where I can live it. I look at the systems and structures in place, and it’s clear to me that there is forethought, purpose and vision behind everything. Insert sigh of relief <<here>>.

5. Sometimes teaching IS everything. It has been a long time since I have been in a position to pour all of my energy into teaching. It’s almost scary what a difference that time and energy will do. More posts soon on some of the cool things my students and I have been able to accomplish in the short time we’ve been together.

6. Welcome to Disneyland. Around here, where schools are generously funded and richly supported by families and communities that give time and resources, there is a tendency for districts to say that they are like Disneyland. And you know what? They’re RIGHT. With this new job, I’ve gone from one Disneyland to another. How incredible it is to work in places where you don’t have to hold gift wrap sales to buy copy paper and chalk. How wonderful to be teaching children whose parents are so invested and involved.

But, my friends, even Disney has its other side. Discovering that fact in my former district nearly led to a possible burn-out and end to my teaching career. I can look back and say that now. Really. I think if I had allowed myself to continue on that path, I would not be teaching in another five years.

And as cynical as it might sound to say it, I know my new Disneyland will have its darker side. I can look ahead and say that now, because I’ve always known that any situation we find ourselves in can be at once magnificent and unlivable. Now, however, I think I understand how important it is to find a way through whatever problems come my way without actually internalizing them.

Until then, you can find me in line for Space Mountain. I’m enjoying the ride.