October Open Write with Ethical ELA

Ways of Looking with Susan Ahlbrand

Ten Ways of Looking at Time

I
When it began

My childhood prayer
growing up in a
“Thief in the Night” church:
Jesus, please don’t return
until I grow up and
get to have my own family.

II
When it’s focused

Softball practice in the park,
softball games every Saturday
and one evening a week,
playing catch in the street until even
the streetlights didn’t make it
safe enough to continue.
Ironing, (yes ironing!) my
Bobby Sox Softball uniform,
getting it ready for tomorrow.
Begging someone to play catch again.

III
When it’s squandered

We never found the time
to sit together regularly and
talk about faith and life
and the Bible
like we always planned to.
What happened?
Now those high school years are gone.

IV
When it’s lingering

That falling asleep time being held in your arms
after we make love is the best sleep of all.

V
When it’s not enough

Saying goodbye to my Mom in 2010,
a brother in 2012, a sister
and sister-in-law in 2018. No
more “see you laters.”

VI
When it’s unsettled
Covid-19 in 2020, 2021? 2022?
What does the future hold?

VII
When it ends

Will I be ready?

Tritina with Susan Ahlbrand

Reading

Do I choose or am I chosen by reading?
Sometimes I am lifted out of myself, with a stab
To my heart. Unexpected riches that grieve.

Riches that turn into empathy as I grieve
The axe for the frozen sea within is my reading
As Kafka wisely said books are to stab

Not to make me happy, but to stab.
Books to affect me, allow me to deeply grieve
It is not for the faint of heart, this reading.

Quick pain of the stab and subsequent grief comes from reading.

Take a Word for a Walk with Anna J. Small Roseboro

Hope
Is Hope a winged bird perched
Or flying? Hope who owns nothing–
Makes room for Hope, love, grace–
She’s able to soar, Hope filling
the heavens. God, please more Hope

Allusion with Anna J. Small Roseboro

Rights attacked
Racists backed

Covid fear
What a year

Vote them out
Make it a rout

Good Jesus
He sees us

Swamped boats fill
“Peace, be still”

Calms the storm
Hearts transform

True Jesus
He frees us…

“Don’t fear the deep
I’m not asleep”

Bodies in Motion with Sarah Donovan

Each of us scrambles to borrow a bicycle. Not that many years
Ago I would hop on my own bike and pedal to the start
Of the Go Pink ride. I am in a new time and place, though, so I
Borrow one.
Sorry, there’s only one gear that works, my friend tells me.
We ram the old broken thing in my van and drive it
Home.
It needs a new seat, says my husband. Ride it down
The street to the shop on the corner, and we’ll see if he has one.
 He
Walks along, I ride. The crank arm breaks
On the two-block ride.
Two, three or three-and-a-half for the saddle;
Five for the gear shifters, ten for the crank, five for the
Derailleur. Why not take
A new one? Only 45 BD, 
the shop keeper says.
OK, says my husband.
This one is foldable, good for the car, the little man says, as we
Wheel it out of the shop. Back home,
We put it in our car. I set my alarm for
4:00 a.m. The alarm goes off, I stumble and
Pull on my pink tee-shirt backwards, extra wide shoes to
Alleviate pain from Morton’s neuroma, eat a banana and drive
To the Cycling Bees shop. Bahrain
is flat, the trip is ten
Kilometers, the seat is wide and cushy, my borrowed helmet is too big. I
manage to finish, in all my out-of-shape glory, at the end of the pack.
Thoughts of coronavirus
Haunt me as we talk, sometimes too close–them without
Masks. This is the first bicycle ride of my
Sixties. I remember rides in my
Twenties a bit differently. I devour
Huge plates of pasta at the campsite in Half Moon Bay,
Gorge on ice cream in Monterey—so much more gratifying
to fuel up on a bicycle than in a
Fossil-fueled vehicle. We pedal up
Hills, race down, and try to avoid semis through Big Sur,
80 to 100 miles a day. We do it all
Again the next day.

That was fun! The Cycling Bees have another ride next
week, how about it? The route looks charming,
 my friend says.

Nah, I’m OK.

The Isolation Journals and Studio Visit with Nadia Bolz-Weber

Prompt 112 last week from Nadia Bolz-Weber was writing about “Things I’m not proud of…” Here is more:

Write a confession—something you did or said that you still carry with guilt and shame. Then write your own absolution, honoring the aftermath of your actions, calling in grace.

*Optional: Burn after writing.

This was powerful for me. I wrote and wrote about things I am ashamed of. Of words that I have spoken to my own children and my students. My tongue is  too sharp. Over the years, I have felt the millstone around my neck getting heavier and heavier, a sad reminder of the little ones I have offended. 

Then He said to the disciples, “…It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. 

~Luke 17:2

I wrote my confession and then shredded, instead of burning, it (due to the smoke alarm in my flat).

As a result of Nadia’s prompt, I subscribed to the Studio Visits at The Isolation Journals. Tonight I got to go to my first Studio Visit with Nadia Bolz-Weber and Suleika Jaouad. It was a lovely hour spent soaking in grace and hope and peace.

God, I thank you that you understand that I am complicated, so many folded together layers of humanity. So much to be ashamed of, yet so much to rejoice in. So much fruit and life and joy and service. I thank you that you have gradually given me freedom to grow past my mistakes, actions, and words that shame me. You are never surprised by what I do, you love me and forgive me. Thank you. Thank you, Jesus, for picking up the pieces and patching me together with you, the living Word of God. Amen.

Hope, Engagement, Well-Being, and Genius Hour

I happened to see a tweet from @mrstg recently. She had retweeted @bundtjd message below:


There was “much to think about from this presentation” by Brandon Busteed, education director of Gallup. In the speech, he addresses business leaders about the future of education.

Early in the speech he asked the listeners what they remember about their best teacher. According to people surveyed, teachers care about us. In addition, they know what makes each of their students tick, so they individualize for their students. They are also relational. These are the important things people think of when they think of the teachers that made a difference to them.

He says we neutralize the best teachers because we continually take away their ability and time to care, individualize, and relate. We ask teachers to meet different objectives — those measured by standardized tests, rather than care, individualization and relationships.

The future of education is not about knowledge. We can’t compete on knowledge. “The cost of knowledge is trending toward free,” Busteed said. For instance, MIT’s courses are all available online for FREE. Though you can’t get a degree by taking them, you certainly have access to all the knowledge.

If we want students to be successful, we don’t drive them toward success by working on standardized tests only. In fact, there is a negative correlation in the 30 or so countries that took both the GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Measure) and PISA (Program for International Standardized Assessment) tests.

Schools with an over-emphasis on standardized tests neutralize entrepreneurial spirit. Many entrepreneurs and innovators drop out of school or college because of that — Mark Zuckerberg, John D. Rockefeller, Oprah Winfrey, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Ellen DeGeneres, Ted Turner to name a few.

According to Busteed, standardized tests can only account for one-third of the success of our students. Hope, he says, is actually a strategy when it comes to school success. We can help students have hope.

As educators we need to get out of the knowledge business and into the learning business. Busteed goes on to say that hope, engagement and well-being account for as much as one-third of the variance in student success. (That’s one-third — the same as standardized tests!)

We can take at least some of our time to give students choice in what they are doing in school.  Genius hour gives students (and educators) hope, engagement and well-being. Read what Melina, a high school senior, says about this kind of learning:

Read more of Melina’s beautiful words on her blog post.

In this age where knowledge is ubiquitous, and no longer belongs to the teacher to dispense during lessons, school needs to change. We need to inspire students to become lifelong learners. Genius hour can begin to do that.

Busteed suggests students have these three rights. They should be able to come into school every single day and say YES to:

Brandon Busteed said every student should be able to say YES to these.

Would your students be able to say YES to those rights?
Don’t we owe it to them to let them say YES?

Goal #4 – Reveal Their Strengths

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

–from A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

This is a timely goal for me. I had a tough week.  It’s tough to be a junior higher. I remember those years, and this week I was reminded of them. My junior high students need to believe in their strengths. I long to convince them they are meant to shine–each one of them.

  • They don’t have to put others down to find their own genius.
  • They don’t have to plagiarize because they are afraid to do their own creating and producing.
  • They don’t have to avoid, ignore, or do worse to those who are different than they are.
  • They don’t have to hide who they really are to be accepted by the majority.

I want to reveal their strengths so they believe they are “brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous.” There is room for all the children of God to shine. I want them to believe it.


Today I have no answers on how to do that.

Goal #4: Reveal Their Strengths from #30 Goals Challenge 2012