Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sailing to distant shores.....

The turns in the road dictates the direction one takes in life and no matter what the wishes of others seems to be; ultimately the decision is ours to make. As I work alongside teachers and academic coaches, I must remember that my charge is to facilitate a stroll to the water’s edge, then, my responsibility rests in demonstrating “the tools of possibility” that are available. When constructive and informed decisions are made, individuals within schools are better equipped in potentially deciding for themselves which distant shore to sail.

In my interactions with others within schools, I am reminded of my own beginnings and I remember those who held my hand as I strolled down to the water’s edge. It was Esther, who was the first to give me feedback. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear; however, it was what I needed to hear in order to grow as a classroom teacher. It was Esther who walked alongside me for awhile as she demonstrated “these tools of possibility”. And when the bend in the road pointed in two directions, it was Esther who let go of my hand. And I, not knowing which road to take, turned around as she waved me on. I stumbled until next in line came Barbara who reached out her hand as well and side by side, we continued along the path.

Back then, I was given an opportunity, that taste of possibility to re-invent for myself all that lay ahead in my adventures to distant shores. So on this day, I leave you, my readers, with three gifts:

The first one is to slow down. I want you to know that in this race the journey along the way is important as well and sometimes, when we are focused on the brand new sneakers on our feet; the pavement below the rubber; or the tape right before the finish line we lose sight of our purpose. Then, possibility and opportunity pass us by and we don’t get to see with brand new eyes.

The second gift that I want to give you is one of time. I want you to know that the winners aren’t always the ones through the tape first. With that in mind, my gift to you is to take fleeting moments of time to hear the wind whistle on your back, to look up and see the soaring eagles fly in circles in the sky: to stop to breathe along the way to wander off the path for a time to sit on a rock and listen to the sound the river makes.

And the third gift I want to give you is the will to finish. Yes, we will find ourselves at the threshold of the finish line, and instead of racing with all your breath, my gift is for you to create those moments in your life that take your breath away. So remember in life and the work that is yet to be done, when you go out into the world: slow down, give yourself time and most of all have to will to finish.....until next time-Teach

Sunday, October 19, 2008

When you're ready, I'll be waiting.....

In the book, I’m in Charge of Celebrations. by Bryd Baylor, she talks about creating celebrations. It begins like this…..

“Sometimes people ask me, ‘aren’t you lonely out there with just desert around you?’ I guess they mean the bear grass and the yuccas and the cactus and the rocks. I guess they mean the deep ravines and the hawk nests in the cliffs and the coyote trails that wind across the hills. ‘Lonely?’ I can’t help laughing when they ask me that. I always look at them…..surprised. And I say. ‘How can I be lonely?’ I’m in charge of celebrations. Sometimes they don’t believe me but it’s true. I am. I put myself in charge. I choose my own.”

Though I discovered this book twenty one years ago when I was just beginning my journey as a teacher, still today, I find myself returning to its pages time and time again.

Once upon a time like my friend Karen, at an age she is now, I, too, ventured far from the place I called home. At the time, I was fortunate to learn alongside a diverse group of first graders who lived in the middle of the desert. It was one of those experiences that I carry with me.

One morning at the beginning of the school year, we ventured out into the desert which was our playground. In each of our hands was a sacred stone, a gift from the earth. We formed a circle amidst the cactus and the yucca. Then, we spent the morning telling stories to one another: those small moments that mattered. As each story unfolded the keeper of the stone placed it in the center forming a smaller circle to our own. When all these stones placed concentrically were returned to the earth, we joined hands and thanked each other. A celebration of sorts and as Byrd so simply put: “I put myself in charge. I choose my own.”

A Cree storyteller once said that…..
"…..stories are beings. You invite them to live with you. They’ll teach you what they know in return for being a good host. When they’re ready to move on, they’ll let you know. Then you pass them on to someone else."

Where are the stories in your life? When you’re ready, I’ll be waiting…..until next time-Teach

Shadow sketches of a life: my life.....

Sometimes a photograph placed in ones hand sparks a memory long ago forgotten and over the miles and miles of roads that I have traveled, an image resonates that can’t be freed until it is written on the page. A photograph contained within a scrapbook is one of many artifacts of a life created by a mother who gathered these treasures for all of her children.

Across the street on Prospect Hill, a white house stood next to a big red barn. And inside that white house eighteen of us posed in the back room of Mrs. Coffey’s home at the age of five. Interestingly enough, I remember all but two. A by-product of what happens when you live your kid-life in the same northern town.

The white house next to be big red barn is where we went to “school” and though the details of this time are shadow sketches, there are glimpses of what I know to be true.

In that same room where the photograph was taken, right before you entered the enclosed back porch was “the bright red chair”. Now that was something special, or it was believed to be at the time. It was the place of honor and Patty, Mitchell, Dean, Laurie, Nancy and Dolores; Keith, Randy Margaret and Karen; John, Paul, Lauren, Jane, Rhonda and Theresa wanted to be sitting there.

I’m sure I had my chance.

Some things never change. In my house, I, too, have a favorite chair that I sit in to write the shadow sketches of a life: my life. What about you? .....until next time-Teach.