Whose Jersey I Was Wearing

A couple of days ago, a line of Varsity football players barreled into my classroom. I’ve been known to offer encouraging journal writing times before big game days. Friday was a huge game day. The league championship was at stake against a higher ranked team. I thought they might have been there to ask to write with me. They weren’t there to write. They were uncharacteristically quiet, this group of boys. Shuffling their enormous feet. Smiling funny. “Guess what,” one of the guys finally said. “We get to pick one teacher to be with us on the field for Friday’s game…

What We Put Up With

When I was in fifth grade a boy I’d been sitting next to all year suddenly turned on me. He wore heavy boots to school and he began to make a sport of kicking me vigorously in the legs while I sat in my desk. His penis looked like a football helmet, he told me. He was going to ram me with it. The third time I stood to wait in line at the teacher’s desk to tell on the boy for hurting me, the teacher told me to please sit down. I needed to handle my own problems. Eventually the boy lost interest…

We Weren’t That Resilient

In response to the bell ringing that kids these days aren’t resilient the way their parents were growing up in the Wild West of the seventies and eighties suburban American neighborhoods and schools: I call bullshit. We weren’t that resilient. Those of us growing up in the seventies and eighties were not tilling Victory gardens and whittling useful things out of sticks that we found on the ground. I know. I was there. I can only speak to my own experience, and trigger warning, I’m not prone to nostalgia. Yes, we played outside with the neighborhood kids until the streetlights came on….

Read Books

At an interview today, a lovely journalist asked me if I read all the time. Answer: I do. I read every day. But reading isn’t a chore. This isn’t a blog for Puritans, despite the writer’s distaste for fun and compliments. When I was a kid, I loved the library. I spent hours there. I came home with piles of books. I read them with great pleasure. I love the library in the same way now, except that I can order books ahead of time and find them waiting for me there with my name tag attached. That’s like Christmas…

5 Things I Do to Raise a Conscious Child

Listen to New York Public Library podcast programs with her on the way to and from school. My twelve-year-old daughter is too young to read Beloved yet, but after listening to Toni Morrison’s reflection on the writing of it, she deeply gets why, for example, the success of  a children’s book glossing over the horrors of slavery is dangerous for young readers. Read together. According to a 2013 study appearing in Science magazine, reading literary fiction has a tendency to improve a reader’s empathy for other people in complex social situations. In my house, we set aside regular time to read…

Blogs I Follow

Two days left on this blog-a-day exercise for September. Stats say that people like it best when I talk about my hair. This is not a blog post about my hair, though a student I don’t even teach told me today he loved my hair and when I asked him if it was because it reminded him of his nana, he said no.  So that was nice. Today I want to take a bow to other blogs I frequent. They don’t fit into any category. They are well written and I like them for different reasons. Maybe you will too, so…