Saturday, January 3, 2015

Cultivating Flowers

"Why did you become a teacher?"

I get asked this quite a bit in tones ranging from sincere inquiry to rhetorical distaste.  And now that I have my Ph.D the question and flavor have morphed into "What are you going to do now that you have a doctorate?"  The expectation is that I should move up, as if teaching is a stepping stone toward something greater or more important.

I've never viewed it that way.

I became a teacher for two reasons.  First, I love school.  Our educational system is deeply flawed but if you can tune out incompetent administrators and misguided politicians there is a heart.  That heart rests in connection.

Connection leads to my second reason.

I became a teacher to be a steady presence in a child's life, to be someone who will listen.  Adults have so much power to alter every aspect of a child's day.  How we react to things can deeply influence a child.  This can manifest in how we respond, quite literally, to spilled milk or engage a child who is confused about a concept.

It is my responsibility to nurture that child so he or she feels safe to express confusion.   I am continually aware of my responsibility to be a loving, positive influence.  I do not always succeed.  There are days I am tired or not feeling well and on those days I am not always the teacher I want to be. But I get through those moments and try to forgive myself for being less than my students deserve.

So, this year on my birthday I was touched to receive a birthday card from a student I taught in kindergarten and first grade.  She is currently in fourth grade and now her little sister is in my first grade class.  Her card contained a semantic web describing how she sees me.

Her little sister's card had just four words; funny, good, cool, and crazy.

I'll take it!

...They also gave me a copy of Curious George in Yiddish!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Doctor is in!

It has been an exhausting few days with much to celebrate...

On Monday I successfully defended my dissertation and then celebrated my birthday the very next day.  I couldn't have given myself a better birthday gift than to add those three simple letters after my name, Ph.D!

I am so blessed by the outpouring of support and love from those around me.

It's bliss!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Headless Horseman is such a fantastic visual - scary, beautiful, and compelling - I adore it.

This terrifying (and evidently amusing) tale has captured the imaginations of our first grade students.

Ever since we read it to them last week they have been acting it out on the playground, building the drowsy, dreamy landscape of Sleepy Hollow in the block area and asking over and over to borrow my only copy of the book (we read the Step Into Reading version).  The names Ichabod Crane, Katrina Van Tassel and Brom Bones are uttered on a daily basis.

So, when it came time to think of a pumpkin decorating idea for our school's annual pumpkin contest it came as no surprise that the children wanted a Headless Horseman pumpkin.  Hmmm...what would that look like?  After some experimentation it was decided that we would keep the pumpkin itself rather simple (painted midnight blue to resemble Ichabod's midnight encounter at the church bridge and an image of the Headless Horseman) but create a book to accompany our pumpkin.

The book is below.  The drawings and text are fully credited to our first grade class.  It is interesting to see which bits really stood out for them.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Upside Down

Things have been wonderfully "Upside Down" since my last post - school started again (my 19th year!) and I completed my dissertation (my defense will take place on November 3rd!).

I anticipate a rebirth of this blog after graduation but in the meanwhile I wanted to share some of my favorite Halloween books (see sidebar) and repost the video (Upside Down by Jack Johnson) that kicked off this blog back in 2007.

Who's to say
I can't do everything
Well I can try
And as I roll along I begin to find
Things aren't always just what they seem.

I'll share this love I find with everyone
We'll sing and dance to Mother Nature's songs
I don't want this feeling to go away.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Featured Blogger

The folks over at the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Kids website have selected me as their featured blogger.  Deaf and Hard of Hearing Kids is an expansion of and is "a place for the deaf and hard of hearing to communicate".

They wrote some really nice stuff about me and Follow Your Bliss so if you have a moment please click on the link above and check it (and them) out.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


I had romantic notions of a Hemingwayesque summer filled with a disciplined balance of writing all morning and replenishing the spirit late in the afternoon.

But, I am not Hemingway.

The mornings are too full of distractions.  The sunlight calls to me during the day and it is a struggle to ignore it.  Avoidance leads to inertia. I've spent days refusing to commit to not committing. When that happens, nothing is accomplished.

It turns out my work habits are better suited towards how I imagine Edgar Allen Poe must have worked.  I am most productive when it is dark and everyone has gone to bed.  Distractions cease and I no longer feel as though I am missing something beautiful.

I am a whiz from midnight to four a.m.

I may not have had the most adventurous summer but with my rhythm established it has been productive.  I completed data analysis in July and am currently on track to eek out a completed draft of my dissertation within the next month.


I see some late nights in my near future.


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