Saturday, January 20, 2018

#DWHabit - Word of the Day - Inspire

I chose a word different than the one put out by Jennifer Laflin.  Today I chose the word inspire.
Let me back you up to the beginning of 2016 so that you understand why I chose this word. In May of 2016, three weeks before the end of school I had both knees replaced. I had lived with bone on bone with bone spurs between for several years. I was at a point where I was using a cane on my good days and a walker on my worst. I was inspired by a student I acquired half way through the year. He'd been in a terrible accident. He had to learn to walk and talk all over again. He was a gifted student who lost all of that. Yet my last day he said to me, "Just do everything they tell you to do no matter how much you don't want, or how much it hurts and you will be walking again in no time." I let him know at the beginning of the next school year what an inspiration he had been to me. Every day in the rehab facility when I thought I couldn't do what they asked I pictured him.

That summer I saw a teacher friend of mine at a writing retreat and thought how wonderful it would be to do something like that. She sent me the information and I applied.  The Hermitage Artist Retreat in Manasota, FL chooses five teachers in the state of Florida to spend three weeks working on our art.  I had to send in samples of my writing and letters of recommendation. Imagine mine and my student's surprise when I opened my school email and learned I had been selected as one of the five. That was inspirational.  However, the most inspiring part came from meeting the other four artists. There were three visual artist, and another writer.  They inspired me to step out of my comfort zone.  Katie worked a lot with textiles.  As a quilter, embroiderer, etc. I just considered it a craft for me. She taught me that it was also an art. I have always, up until three years ago included sewing in some form in my classes.  Because of her I've started looking at ways to bring it into my lessons next year. Jennifer was so bubbly. She does a lot of drawing, cutwork art and a lot of upcycling.  Between her and Holly Pisaturo who works at the Hermitage and creates jewelry I started creating jewelry for myself. I have a collection of jewelry that is broken etc. that was given to me for that purpose.  Following Jenny's site has shown me how to look at pieces that others consider old and used to create something new.  Gerald was a painter. He inspired me to continue painting. In my house are the two paintings I have done.  I love painting with acrylics. At one point my husband and I owned a ceramic shop.  I am looking forward to painting some of the pictures I took while at the hermitage.  Bryan was the other author with us. He read and critiqued my work. He made me feel like I was one of the best.  For some  writing is so easy and natural. For others we have to work really hard.

I have been inspired over the last few years by some of the best around.  I work hard every day to inspire my students.  I have one who has a God given talent for writing. She wrote the following poem I had posted on my other site.  She informed me that she is writing a novel. I've been reading it and it is great. Now she is writing a companion book of poetry to go along with the novel. I am sharing the poem she wrote for me. She has inspired me to continue to write daily.  What will you do to inspire others?

A Poem for Mrs Stiles
One day I walked
into a room
labeled Language Arts
where I could learn 
how to put pencil to paper
and unleash the magic.
The magic that waits
beneath the white,
so my messy scrawl
could burn through
the snow-colored shield.
The little candle 
in my pencil
could melt through the paper.
And the worlds I've gone to
through think black crevices
in the pages of books
are extraordinary.
An I loved Language Arts
through the first school.
Elementary school,
And it was almost as great
as the library
where I could travel through
little black lines
in otherwise blank walls,
into worlds of magic.
For those years 
my candle burned 
in the same little room
in the same little school.

A new, bigger school
where I could see the sky
through patches of blue
in the hallway.
In middle school
where I headed to 
Language Arts
my heart in my throat
because my teacher would be
an author,
who had wildfires in her pencil,
and knew how to 
burn through the paper
and create portals
to other worlds,
where anything was possible.
And I only had my candle
She welcomed us
I liked her 
in moments.
I was glad
she was the one chosen
to show us how to burn 
through paper 
with flaming pencils.
Mrs. Stiles
I look forward all day
to Language Arts
where anything 
is possible.
And we can write
About spinning torrents of wind
and flames unquenchable.
Neat, orderly writing
Or wild, imagined tall tales.
with rhyming sequences
and corresponding syllables.
Or free
like an eagle
flying into the flaming sunset.
You helped my candle
grow into a flame
dancing on a torch.
You've been a great teacher, 
Thank you for showing me
how to put pencil to paper
and unleash the magic.
The magic that waits
beneath the white.
Now my messy scrawl
can burn through
the snow-colored shield.
Thank you.
I'll see you next year
and good luck.

Madison B.

Friday, January 19, 2018

#DWHabit - Word of the Day - Kind

We tell our kids from the time they are little to be kind.  We talk to our students about acts of kindness. Then we turn around and let someone upset us and the first thing that pops into our head is how to get even with them.  What happened to the words "Be kind"?  I've been thinking about this all week as we, my students and I, have delved into Romeo and Juliet.  Students yesterday were talking about the scene at the beginning where the servants started a fight amongst the Montagues and the Capulets by throwing out insults.  They, who were not initially involved in whatever incident had started the feud years before had been taught to hate the other family to the point they were trained to be unkind.  How often do students pass us by and overhear us say something unkind about someone else? Then when we overhear them discussing someone in an unkind manner with their friends we take the opportunity to jump on them? 

Growing up in my family I was known as the "Peacemaker". I did everything in my power to stop arguments amongst my siblings to the point of letting them walk all over me. I was the butt of many jokes because of this.  Somewhere in my twenties I started learning how not to be a doorstop.  Unfortunately the scales began to tip too far the other direction.  I found myself making comments to my friends about people that were unkind.  I had someone tick me off one day and telling a friend of the injustice made the comment to them that if the other person thought I was all up in their business, then they needed to just wait because they would see how much I could be in their business.  I mulled that over for about two weeks and realized I was doing the very thing I detested in others.    So why am I writing about this, besides the fact that the word of the day is "kind"?  Because when something gets into my head and won't let go I have dreams.  This week it manifest itself in a dream that wouldn't let go. I even have a name for the picture book that will eventually come out of it. It is called "The Misunderstood Monster".  It is a book about showing kindness, getting to know someone before we judge them.  The dream was three nights ago and the storyline and the images are just as vivid today as they were when I woke up. I have started storyboarding this because I want it to remain fresh in my mind.  While telling one of my new teachers at school about my dream, her words to me were, "Who are you going to get to illustrate this?"  Even she saw a picture book in it. I want it to be a reminder not only to the kids, but to parents and grandparents who read that book to those kids that they need to show kindness always.

Your mission today?  Go out and show kindness to someone.
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