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Residue becomes Weight: Departures and Arrivals

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This is dedicated to every educator, who packs their bags, peruses the map and continually, journeys to new places. Ventures off the beaten path, sits down with the locals and swaps stories. The teachers that see the climb as beneficial and the setbacks of travel as opportunities to take detours. These educators are the wonders of the world, the world heritage sites and every moment of awe, as we make our way across the globe of learning. Thank you. 






Departures and Arrivals

Arrivals and departures are constant. We may not be standing in an airport terminal or a train station, but the daily shifts of entry and exit are continual. We often feel rushed to make our getaway, to step clear, of the outgoing bustle. But, eventually our minds slow and roll into the gate, leaving us at our destination- the end of the day. We are constantly taking off, coffee in hand, and landing, with a night cap, before bed. 

Sometimes we travel with luggage- papers to grade, lessons to write, while on other trip…

Listening While We Listen, The Hidden Tracks within Student Communication

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Vinyl and 8-track

I remember a time when vinyl and 8-track were the only method of personal music immersion. In our cars, plastic on plastic, sliding under the floor boards, large colored capsules, holding within them, the reels of history: Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Elvis Presley. I would kick them out of the way as I climbed in my parents car. The shoddy tape organizers, always sliding to the floor and sending the contraptions sprawling. They felt durable to me, a kid, but actually they were fragile. More often than not, they became cracked and the tape, exposed, ended up in the garbage. But, soon, I would see a new one appear, like magic. As a child, music was very important to me. It was a connection with the many, that I lacked with my peers. It was an anchor. I would race home from school to listen, to ABBA, Journey, Fleetwood Mac, to name just a few. It was a time when my voice became music and music became my voice.

These vessels of rock, classical and blues they embodied my gen…

Introduction Podcast: Rhymes, Collisions and Relevancies

https://soundcloud.com/melissa-chouinard-149000412/introduction-podcast-rhymes-collisions-and-relevancies

Coming to the Center: Desks Pushed to the Middle, Last Student Out

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Coming to Center

As much as every school year is unpredictable, aqueous and complimentary, each with their own chorus and melody, they are all dependent on one thing- relationships. While some days are eventful and exciting, others are monotone. Not every day can be a roller-coaster ride. Many are rides on the merry-go-round. It is the optimism and passion, the thrill of the ride, that sets the tone. As consistent and repetitive as merry-go-rounds can be, you still have options: horse or carriage, tall or short pony, pink or white mane. This is why each time the music stops and a new batch of riders, runs to their 'spot,' the excitement elevates. As the organ chimes, to begin the round-about, smiles cross every face. Everyone is ready to begin, it increases in speed, then as it slows, the landscape becoming permanent once again, passengers disembark not with sadness, but with a contentedness, that the experience was worthwhile. This is what great teachers do, they make a merry…

A Picnic in the Park or A Day at the Beach: The Excitement of Unpredictability

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Grass and Sand

A blanket, some refreshments, a tall tree, or large canopy. You ease in to a picnic. You wander around until you find the right spot. You may bring a Frisbee to get some exercise, or a good book to just sink into a quiet niche, with a cold lemonade. The sayings go "Life isn't always a picnic, or life isn't always a day at the beach." I have heard both. I guess it all depends on your ideal outside excursion. If you live near a beautiful park, or on a coastline, an afternoon outside, might be your jam. But, in an urban area, with little sandy solitude or grassy knolls, inside might be more to your liking. If a beach is nearby, a quick dip in the ocean might be a weekly event. If you have options, you are more likely to partake in the offerings.

Like life, where you live, play and relax is dependent not only on your location, but your personality and outlook, as well. I grew up at the beach, it was literally a two-minute walk from my high school. I howeve…

13 is the Magic Number (or Place Should I Say)- A Weekend in Chicago, a Poetic Perspective

Don't blink. Don't miss a second, I tell myself, half asleep, stumbling on to the bus in the dark. It is 4:30 am and they forgot to turn the back parking lot lights on. There is a line of cars with their headlights on, facing the bright yellow school bus, providing some illumination, as suit cases roll across the sidewalk. Parents are hugging their children and spouses. I have three of my children going too, so I have shuffled them to the back of our transportation and hugged my youngest son and my husband good bye. They wave as they pull into the darkness. A head count later, and we ourselves pull away and begin our journey to the airport.

At first, there is silence, it is welcoming. But then a giggle, another giggle, and students begin to rouse and get excited. The conversations infused with laughter and anticipation. Security, breakfast and we are in line, luggage in tow. As we stand in line to board, we hear an announcement wishing "Beckendorff quiz bowl team good luc…

Shadow and Shade are as Important as Color and Texture on a Classroom Canvas

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Shadow and shade have an ominous connotation. There is a sense of something lurking in the darkness. A feeling that one is not seeing the whole, picture, that they are obscured. But, in the world of art- they represent a silhouette, a reduction in light, that causes other objects to be illuminated. In our classrooms, it is the elevation of confidence and joy, that with every counter-shade becomes heightened and defined.



All paintings, no matter how beautiful, need shading. This is what fills them out, gives them depth. The strokes of the acrylic, illuminates the breadth of consistency, but the hue determines the layers and perspective. We get the image to pop off the canvas, when we add a little shadow on its edges. We do not want our masterpiece to be flat and matte. We want it to be distinctive and vivid. How can we create a harmonious, natural piece of art, without seeping into a garish, artificial mural? We have to stay within the lines to keep the contrast visible. Yet, we must g…