If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.-—Joseph Campbell

Posts tagged ‘teaching’

Anansi the Trickster

It is by teaching that we teach ourselves, by relating that we observe, by affirming that we examine, by showing that we look, by writing that we think, by pumping that we draw water into the well.  Henri Frederic Amielanansi

Yesterday in our after school folk tales class we read another Anansi story. Anansi, the trickster in West African folklore, often takes the form of a spider. Sitting on the table was a pipe cleaner spider with wiggle eyes and a Jolly Rancher sucker abdomen. I had the children’s attention.

We read the book, discussing the difficulty a spider might have taking a large python and forty-seven stinging hornets to the Sky God. The children were impressed.

Then we made our own spiders. The younger children’s chaotic spider legs were subtly adjusted as I hot glued the eyes. Everyone left happy.

Alas, I was so completely involved in the lesson I had no time to take pictures of the children.

When I got home last night a book I had ordered was waiting in the mailbox…The Tao of Teaching.

Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear.   Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching


Noodle Kaboodling

This weekend the arts festival was open to the public and I was assigned the booth most likely to have the highest traffic.  Noodle Kaboodle.

Swim “noodles” had been cut into discs by the wonderful women in the supply room. Each child gets a paper plate with one disc hot glued in the center (also prepared by aforementioned w.w.) The child then builds a sculpture using several loose ones, toothpicks and other plastic foam shapes.

My job was to hand out plates, foam and toothpicks, engage the artist (or not) in conversation about their creations, and help he/she put it into a plastic bag to take home.

It was non-stop. Friday night 5-9, Saturday 10-9, and Sunday 1-5.  A huge success. I’m exhausted!




Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.  Pablo Picasso


After a weekend of people, events and ideas…it’s Monday.

My morning pages are full of people, events, and ideas,  and as I write I begin to feel overwhelmed.

Before retirement, by this time in the morning, my school day was well underway. Today I am still in pajamas. How can this be? Am I’m losing focus?

I get up to take a shower, eat breakfast and begin to pin down my morning pages meanderings.

1) Finish reading Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks that was due over the weekend. It is next week’s book club selection.

2) Print out cat pictures from the internet for the after school lesson based on the book, The Boy Who Drew Cats, which will probably be tomorrow’s blog post. (see Pandora’s Box from last Monday)

3) Organize handouts activities for the interns’ lesson on classroom organization for tomorrow.

4) Make cranberry walnut muffins to deliver to my brother and three other friends this afternoon.

5) Pay two more bills, return library book, buy stamps, and deposit a check on the way to Barnes and Noble to spend time with my newest writing buddy.

6) Write today’s blog about…well, this.

A bit more routine might help me balance all this crazy energy I’m feeling.

Pandora’s Box

pandorasboxYesterday in my after school class we read Pandora’s Box by Jean Marzollo.  It’s a wonderful telling of the classic myth for children of all ages. The children couldn’t think of a hot cereal (oatmeal), related the curiosity of what’s in the box to Christmas presents, and had many suggestions about “bugs” released into the world when the box was opened.  Oatmeal? Bugs?  Well, it’s an updated version.

foldingboxAfter the story each child made his/her own box, colored the outside to stimulate curiosity, wrote HOPE on the inside bottom where it would safely remain and filled it with scraps of colored paper bugs to be released when the lid is opened.  A visual reminder of this timeless tale.


It’s All Connected!!!

paper chain A wood laminate floor will be installed in half my house tomorrow. How will that affect those rooms?  How will it affect the rest of this place? Will everything look dingy and outdated? This  house was last “decorated” twelve years ago for a person whose ex had just moved out. I’m not that person now.

How do the wall colors affect mood? What colors inspire creativity? Serenity? How can meaningful collections be arranged into so they are not just clutter? Do I need more furniture, or less?

I begin some online research (aka Google.)

What do I do if I hate housework but appreciate a clean house?

If I give up my cable TV connection can I use that money for a maid twice a month?

Can a more inviting living space encourage serenity and creativity?

A new semester was last night’s concern before bed.  This morning as I consider changes in the appearance of my home, I begin to have ideas about how to change the classroom to invite safety and inspiration for the students.

And so it goes…paper chain

Once a Teacher…

Work while you have the light. You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you. Henri Frederic Amiel

Quotes like this can make me anxious.

I struggle with depression. It’s a family thing. It’s who I have been for probably forever. It’s the introvert behavior, the easily overwhelmed feelings, etc.

I want to get over it. Just be cured of it. There, I said it. But the truth of the matter is it is always there, just under the surface, ready to show itself, when I’m tired or hungry or I’ve overbooked myself and who-knows-what-else.

So I find strategies that might help. There are the obvious ones– Zoloft, morning pages, exercise, eating healthily. Then, of course, every time I think I’m “cured” I let the obvious slide, until it becomes…obvious.

But I am also a teacher, and as I watch some of my beginning teachers becoming increasingly overwhelmed and disillusioned, I begin to develop a plan, a lesson plan. Something teachers use to map out their day.

The format includes:

1.  A measurable objective (what I want to accomplish)…I’ve made a list for today.

2.  Motivation (a link to what I know and why I want to accomplish this)…If this is works, it could be next week’s seminar lesson on time management.

3.  “Plan of attack” (that’s not teacher language)…I add times to my list of things to do–how long each will take and where it fits in the schedule.

4.  Assessment (how well I accomplished the objectives)…I will check off each item as it is done.

5. Closure (a review of what was done/learned)

OK, I’ve taken liberties with this lesson plan idea. A purist (like maybe a teacher) might take me to task. But this is a structure I know. I’m ready to try it out on my day.

My life is a classroom.

Reveling in Who We Are

Accept who you are; and revel in it.     Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

I wasn’t sure where this little blogging adventure would take me when I first began.  And I certainly didn’t realize how important the title of this blog, “It Started with a Quote,” could be.

The quote I chose in the morning became how I interpreted the rest of my day.  I would choose certain quotes over others, thinking that might give me some control over my day.

Blah, blah, blah…I could go on talking about this in general terms…but let me give you an example.

Yesterday’s quote :

If we want to grow as teachers — we must do something alien to academic culture: we must talk to each other about our inner lives — risky stuff in a profession that fears the personal and seeks safety in the technical, the distant, the abstract.
― Parker J. Palmer, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life

My plan for last night’s intern seminar was to address some classroom management issues using research and an activity.  All well and good.  But with these beginning teachers becoming quite vocal about their frustrations and the Palmer quote running through my head? heart? being?, I had another idea.  Something more personal…with a twist.

I passed out 4 x 6 index cards.  For two minutes the teachers wrote about their frustrations in the classroom.  Then for another two minutes on the back of the card they focused on their accomplishments so far this year.  I called this thinking time…a chance to get their thoughts together.

The teachers then paired up.  One would answer the first question, while the other just listened.  (Eye contact…head nodding…no talking)  After a timed minute, the roles switched.   Then the first teacher would talk about the second question and the second listened.  Then the switch again.

When we had completed the activity, I asked for class feedback and the teachers were quick to volunteer.  Several liked being able to vent without being interrupted.  One learned by listening to another’s frustrations that perhaps her situation wasn’t that bad after all.  And most liked the opportunity to move into more positive thinking, although some admitted it was harder to do.

Class ended and the teachers continued talking, out the classroom door, down the hall and stairwell, and out the front door into the parking lot.  The conversations were morphing into how to use this activity in their own classrooms and how to encourage positive thinking.

I’m calling it a growth experience:)

Listening to Learn

Learning to Listen

Listening for Lessons

A Teacher and her Writing Practice

Writing Is My Drink

slake your thirst; find your voice


~ creative ideas for making a difference ~

...the house I live in...

A journal of life pursued