My One Word

VOICE.

When I joined a conversation with a broader education community during this past year, my teaching was transformed. I realized that everyone has something to contribute. We all have different experiences, locales, giftedness, and interests. I began to find my voice.

I like the way Malyn Mawby, a wise woman who blogs at Love2Learn, describes this. She wrote a great post called “Of Hopes and Dreams” where she shares about what she wants for her growing children. Her hope for her children is not just for “happiness,” which is vague. Instead, her hope is for her children “to find and use their voice.” Nice!

Voice has been on my mind lately, as I consider the one-year anniversary of the transformation of my teaching. I want to continue to grow and contribute, so I have decided to join the 30 Goals Challenge led by Shelly Terrell. The first goal is a Me Manifesto.

Today my manifesto, which is continually developing, centers around the word VOICE.

  1. I find ways for each of my students to develop and use his/her voice inside and outside of the classroom.
  2. I share my voice with the world.
  3. I join with other passionate educators and pre-service teachers who are finding and sharing their voices.

Throughout the challenge, I will share more about what drives me. It will be good to develop this manifesto over the course of the challenge.

My students’ latest project. They shared themselves and were very proud!

Taking Pictures with Words

In my driveway before the drive began

The roads were 100% snow covered in some areas, and I had precious cargo in the van with me–students on the way to a quiz bowl meet. There were dozens of photographs jumping out to be taken, but I had precious cargo and I couldn’t stop–we would have been late and there were several cars in the ditches.

Since June, I have been taking many more photographs. Most of them with my point-and-shoot camera, and I am no expert. However, I have gone from the one who didn’t have a camera, or if I did, the batteries were dead to one who is always prepared and on the lookout for photos.

Last summer I received a tweet from Sheri Edwards inviting me to participate in the June, July, and August Project (#JJAProject) which was started by some fellow teachers. After that was over, a few of us continued with the Teachers’ Foto Friday (#TFotoFri) once a week group. Now, about 20 teachers and I are attempting the #T365Project, a picture a day in 2012.

But back to my snowy road trip.  This was the first snowy day of the year and only the second of the whole winter! I was so taken with all the beauty, finding photographs everywhere I looked — from the quick sparks and snowy powder shooting up from the blade of the heavy snow plow in front of me to the gentle, intricate flakes falling and melting onto the warm windscreen of the van.

Today, instead of taking the pictures, I could only talk to myself about them.

Some more photos I missed…

  • Powdered sugar snowfall sprinkled evenly on the oxidized railroad bridge.
  • Hay bails lined up in formation with uniform helmets of snow.
  • Festive and frosted evergreens, missing during Christmas, now found interspersed among the bare deciduous trees.
  • Thin ice, now snow-covered, proved to me it was at least thick enough to hold the deer whose tracks ran down the middle of the river.

After a long day, we turned around and retraced our steps, the snow mostly gone after a sunny winter day. However, the images continued to come.

  • Reflective tape danced in the sun as the box cars and tankers rumbled by at a train crossing, train art graffiti occasionally broke the rhythm.
  • Golden grass, bent in the breeze, absorbed and reflected the late afternoon sunshine.

Without my camera, I discovered that my year-long photography adventure is making me a better observer, a better describer, and a better writer. As a literacy teacher, I couldn’t help but wonder if taking photos would have the same effect on students’ writing. What do you think?

Will a photography challenge help students observe, describe, and write?

When they find themselves unable to get a shot they long for,  will they take pictures with words?

One of the photos I took after I arrived at our destination.

In Memory

Today would have been my mom’s 90th birthday. I have been thinking about her so much lately. I miss her a lot. She was loving, fun, and selfless.

Clockwise from upper left, 1988, 1949, 2006, today

My daughter wrote two sonnets about her grandma after we saw her for the last time:

jalapeño sweats
i
I’d never seen my Grandma grey and worn.
This shrunken woman in the hospice bed
cannot be my grandma. My grandma lives alone
in Yucca Valley, hiking on the dirt

roads with muddy furrows that sink like
the laugh lines on her cheeks. She conceals
wispy hair under immaculate wigs. Despite
sore hammer toes she works her sky-high heels.

That day I hiked the furrowed roads alone,
adrift amidst waxy Creosote.
Stringy jackrabbits, baby quail gambol,
flitting through dry gulches like rowboats.

Somehow I didn’t want to be inside
Spring Break two thousand ten, when Grandma died.

ii
Spring Break two thousand ten, when Grandma died,
I arrived in time for bon voyage,
the convalescent odors scattered by
tamales, Spanish rice, tortillas, guac,

and Grandma, a bit tipsy on boxed wine.
One last boisterous fiesta while the Reeds
were still a family, whole and feeling fine.
The jalapeño sweat displaced the needs

that lay beneath the cornered hospice sheets.
The jalapeños were what got to me,
the smiles against those hospice whites.
The laugh of one you love is therapy

with nebulizer and glass of sweet rosé.
I’d never seen my grandma worn and grey.

By Maria Krebs

And one I wrote after she died.
Screen shot 2010-04-25 at 8.51.03 PM

Close to Me

A Winter’s Day Walk

Today I walked to the post office during my prep period. The weather was in the 40s, but it seemed warmer since the sun was shining and the humidity is low.

I have decided to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather.
I took tons of photos downtown by the post office.
I went to lunch recess outside.
It’s been a glorious day.

I never noticed these interesting doors. Each one on the SAME building!