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Meinertzhagen's Haversack: Using Red Herrings, Ruses and Escamotage in the Classroom

What is Meinertzhagen's Haversack?

Meinertzhagen’s Haversack is actually a reference to the Haversack Ruse, employed by British Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen during World War I. In 1917, the British were having a difficult time defeating Turkey and taking Gaza. To create a ruse or 'red herring' Colonel Meinertzhagen doctored a bunch of fake war plans, put them in his bag, tricked a few Turkish soldiers to chase him on horseback, and during the course of the chase, Meinertzhagen dropped the bag, deliberately.  He had filled the bag with fake letters from home and rations as well as some money, to make it seem as though it was an important bag he really didn’t want to lose. More specifically, however, he put doctored maps and military plans inside to throw them off track. He made sure the nap sack seemed legitimate and valuable. The Turkish soldiers found the bag, or haversack and were so convinced that the documents inside were authentic, that they sent them up the chain of co…

It's A Jungle Out There: A Students Perspective

Introduction: Hurricane Harvey impacted every one of my students in some way. While some lost their belongings and had to relocate, others gave back and volunteered in their community. We were out two weeks and students were watching the news, dealing with the disaster first hand, studying at home trying to stay focused on school, and many were dealing with the situation by just being kids: playing video games, reading books and catching up on their favorite television shows. No matter what activities they participated in over the unexpected break, now each student is dealing with the affects in their own way. Throughout this week, our first week back after the storm and flooding, our actual second week of school, I sat down during one-minute check-in's, at table talks and even yesterday at our first quiz bowl tournament of the year and asked my students questions, listened intently to their responses and gained a lot of insight as to how a catastrophic event like Harvey truly per…

F.O.M.O. Feeling of Missing Out- Harmonizing the Learning Environment After a Setback

Obstacles occur in every classroom. These complications can be almost indistinguishable and easily overcome or they can be dynamic and life-changing. As educators, how we deal with a disturbance or interference makes all the difference. Either way, large or small, as teachers we need to have strategies in place to help our students recover from them. They need a stronghold on routine and familiarity so that when they re-enter the classroom, their footing is solid. Students need to know that the foundation of the learning environment is consistent with what they remember, what they are already comfortable with. The first few days need to be structured but flexible. Have conversations about what happened, but keep them short and get back to learning quickly. By having a review of previous content, students will begin to feel more connected and at ease. Just talk, make connections, let students feel comfortable with what they have learned, before you add new information. As facilitators,…

A Tear in the Fabric of Space and Time

Nothing feels the same after a catastrophic event. The colorful looks washed out. The vibrant becomes dingy. What was once routine, going to the school, becomes complicated. Learning no longer takes precedence. When students return to school on Monday we are having an activity schedule, so we can spend some time in the morning block to just talk and reassure our students. We have 10 teachers who have been displaced due to major flood damage. We have many students who have been relocated for the same reason and many new students entering our school because they are now living with family members. Things will feel and look very different. It feels like a tear in the fabric of space and time. Yes, I am a huge Whovian (Dr. Who) fan and the aftermath of Harvey feels very much like a blending of two worlds: one shiny and active, the other in slow-motion, every new action trailing behind the last.

The Doctor never runs away from a challenge, well sometimes he does from danger, but he always …

Happiness: Pervasive and Perpetual

What does happiness look like? Pink: wispy, magical, sugary goodness like a puff of cotton candy. The shininess of a Mylar balloon, floating calmly above the excitement and laughter of celebrating children. The perfect semblance of wind and water as a line of surfers, anticipate their next wave. Finding 'flow,' the transformation of thought into purpose, forgetting problems or adversity and losing yourself in the moment. The locality of desire, determination and direction. Yes, happiness is visual and colorful. But, happiness is not merely external reward or acquired revenue. It is communal and boundless, family and friends. A beautiful image only you can see. A smile that emanates from a memory as fresh as the day it occurred. Happiness is also exclusive, cozy and personal.
It is often forgotten in times of struggle or endeavor, yet it is omnipresent. An internal continuance, within us, pouring through our minds, even in the darkest of times. It may trickle or dribble, but it …

There and Back Again

You just want to help. You collect items and deliver them to shelters. You offer your time, they say we have plenty of volunteers at the moment. Go check at this place or that. You walk around in a haze because you honestly do not know what to do. How you can make the biggest impact. Financial donations of course are helpful but not meaningful. You want to offer help to those who are under-recognized. Maybe undocumented. The fear of deportation keeping them in their homes. You want to be anonymous, sneak in and do some cleaning, then vanish into the shadows. You do not speak Spanish, but you understand anguish. You speak devastation fluently. You are seen as a foreigner, so you have to coax your way closer. Smile, offer a hand to shake. They will not let you close but they will accept supplies. They will smile and nod.

There are shelters and churches, food banks and police stations but many refuse to go, to seek help. There are so many in need, that it simply becomes overwhelming for …

'Weathering the Storm' Means More Than Just Surviving

I was working at the Katy ISD STEAM center last Thursday night. It was crowded with high-school students working on their robots. Not a cloud in sight. Students were focused on their task when several phones beeped with text messages, mine as well. It was an update from our district that school was cancelled for Friday August 25th. The hushed voices became a din of excitement as the news spread. Students began to call their parents and I could hear one particular conversation as the student came out into the reception area to be able to hear their parent over the commotion, "Can I stay at Rogers tonight school is cancelled for tomorrow? I know, I do not know why either, but it is a day off." The cancellation was for preparation, evacuation and taking shelter before the storm hit. Yet, with the hullabaloo occurring around me it felt more like a vacation, at least for the teenagers in the building. The adults became somber, knowing that if our district cancelled school, Harvey…