Showing posts from 2018

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

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…

Degradation in Isolation: Opening the Door to Verbal Collisions

There is degradation in an isolated system. When two objects collide, the energy available for more work is lessened. Momentum is compromised. But in an open system, this same collision exchanges any conserved energy with its surroundings. Mass may enter or leave the system and external forces may influence the system, and this is a good thing.This physics phenomenon applies to not only objects in motion, but ideas and information as well. When verbal collisions occur, dialogue both argumentative and acceding, there is a level of commerce, a network of correspondence that permeates through the trade route. Like the spices of Morocco reaching the far shores of New York City. Information has a path, a purpose. If we close our doors and isolate ourselves, we become limited in our thinking.

Narrow mindedness will prevail over avoidance. We need to purge misinformation, skim off the excess, the weight of ulterior motives and deception. But we can only do this if we step outside our protecti…

Think Big, Start Small: Be Ready for the Slump

Height Gives Perspective

You are at the precipice, the top of the incline. Peering out over the landscape, just before, the wheels unlock and you plummet. The metal wheels clattering against wood, making an exhilarating sound, like no other. There are screams of joy, with a little fear mixed in. Cheers of utter helplessness and happiness. Everyone on board, succumbs to gravity and acceleration and the ride of their lives.

Anticipate it, plan for it, don't counter act it. Don't get locked in phase. Keep the wheels well-oiled and the friction at a minimum. Lean in to the surge. Ride the peaks and valleys, arms held high, air whipping against your face. Tears rolling down your cheeks, as the tempest, gusts against your skin. It is awakening something inside. That inner child that you keep hidden, as you traverse adulthood. But, it is these moments, these fractional releases, that keep us motivated to continue.

As we near the end of the school year, classrooms tend to slow in thei…

The Nature of Consciousness: Butterflies and Metamorphosis


It is ridiculous to try and be something you are not. I live in a haberdashery – a warm hatchery of creativity and cleverness. We all do. It is my garden of butterflies- each floating effortless around me, their vibrancy luring me to a sense of calm. Our minds are unique, so much so, that even a distinguishable shade or hue of color, is interpreted and appreciated, in various ways. 

What is one person’s melody is another’s noise. In our minds we see what we want to see and ignore the rest. We open ourselves up to challenge and risk taking and close ourselves off, to other opportunities. Flickers become distractions only if we do not look at them head on. I close my eyes tight and let the fireflies return, throughout the day.

But the fireflies, like my nightly conquests, are temporary in my conscious framework. They twinkle and vibrate just long enough to make an impact. Like dragonflies, they live most of their existence as nymphs: remaining flightless. They stir up within me…

The Nature of Consciousness: Fireflies to Dragonflies

Fireflies You know that moment when you squeeze, your closed eyes tight and you see the yellow fireflies? The bright flashing lights in the darkness, of your eye lids. They are fleeting, yet numerous. My mind, much like the sparkles of this phenomenon, is a Mason Jar, filled with fireflies, a thousand fragile, luminescent flickers. Each bouncing off the sides in a desperate attempt to escape.

The translucent glass both a hindrance and a realization, that everything I conjure up, will not come to fruition. Most of them get trapped and flutter-less, fall to the bottom. Just like at the beginning of a summer evening, these fireflies, these specks of stardust, seem welcoming and exciting, but by morning, they are dust. Untwisting the lid, allows them to drift back into the curling, humid air. Each speck, no longer speaking the language of light. Once trapped and effervescent, now dim and forgotten.

Night-time is the time when my thoughts become electric, energetic and convincing. They are s…

Hubris to Humility: Practical Rebellion is Born

When we are good at something, we have a certain level of hubris. I know mine, rears its ugly head at times. When we put in our 10,000 hours, we often carry the audacity and chutzpah, like a badge of honor. We whisper to ourselves, "I am now an expert." What does expertise mean? Competency, proficiency, readiness. But, for many, it becomes a certain level of finesse and mastery, that often leads to self-importance. A sense of completion that can leave one stale and stagnate. If one feels they have conquered the beast, they raise shield and sword, as if to say I am undefeated.
A reinvention need not occur. Simply, a recognition of this presumption, is all that is required, to break through the ostentation. A mirror, is only bad luck if it is broken. If held up to reflect our flaws and see our strengths, it is personal wizardry, causing a shift in perspective. There is no magic moment, where this transformation takes place. The false confidence and determination, slowly gets di…

Prolonged Phase of Inertia: Overcoming the Drag

The Big Bang
As a child, growing up with Dyslexia, in the 1970's, I did not find school fun. Nor, did learning come easy for me. The standard classroom set up was, desks in rows, teacher at the front lecturing, students taking notes, and then a worksheet for homework. This was pretty much a standard routine, in all of my classes. We had some labs in science, albeit, a cookie cutter one, with step by step instructions, leaving no room for deviation or discovery. This regiment of learning is exhausting for any child, even more so, for one struggling with Dyslexia.
I had to adjust to my disability quickly, my teachers were not going to repeat the notes and they expected me to take thorough ones. They checked them at the end of class. This generally put me in a tail-spin, because I was so focused on trying to take notes, that I missed 1/3 of everything they were saying. Needless to say, I didn't get good grades. I was a left-handed, Dyslexic student, sitting at a right-handed desk (…

Call Me Maybe? The Importance of Communication

Human Nature

We have all been guilty of it, at one time or another: miscommunication. We have all been at the receiving end as well. It is a part of human nature to speak, without thinking our thoughts through. We react quickly, far often more than we, slow down and process new information, before we respond. It is not only misperception and befuddlement that spoils an otherwise pleasant conversation. It is our ego-centric view. Our self-centeredness.
Yet, our personal approach of self-preservation is a necessary component of our humanity. So how can we avoid it? It is built into our survival instincts. We can’t entirely. We can lessen its stronghold, be more generous and self-less. But, for most of us, our survival instincts are permanent and thank goodness. But, with a concerted effort we can be more mindful of this and make adjustments accordingly.
Another aspect of human nature is communication. The need to be heard and understood is ingrained, so deeply within us, that when we becom…

Listening as a Student Not as a Teacher: The Glass becomes Clearer: The Light Gets More Focused (Part 3)

Listen as a student not as a teacher. See the reflection, diffraction and refraction, as they do. When we as educators slow our own wavelength, sit atop the crest and just observe, quietly, we see things we would never encounter otherwise. The glass becomes clearer, when we take the time to polish our craft. The light gets more focused when we design the learning environment, to be student-driven. When curiosity and desire is not planted but discovered, solidification occurs. When students are the light, guided by their own decisions, their wavelength strengthens and focuses. This is when true learning takes place. 

Let students know that you don’t have all the answers.
As teachers and parents, we all want what’s best for our children. Empowering students, letting them discover their own answers is important. But, just as critical, is teaching the skill to be able to communicate, their ideas to others. If we can get students curious about a topic, they will teach themselves more than we…

Diffraction of Light Rather than Refraction: Why Change is Better (Part 2)

Reflection, abrupt change in the direction of a wave that strikes the boundary between different mediums. Refraction is the change in direction of waves that occurs when waves travel from one medium to another. Diffraction is the bending of waves around obstacles and openings. -Webster's Dictionary

Waves of Ingenuity

To me students are waves. Waves of ingenuity. Waves of energy and persistence. Waves of determination and eagerness. They have a deep seeded desire, to learn and grow and they are both flexible and ductile. They peak and trough, expand their minds and slow their thoughts. Their perspectives change, their ideas bend and alter direction. Most importantly, they gather momentum and influence those around them. They can brighten any room. To me they are light waves, reflecting, refracting and diffracting between, around, and off of, every surface around them. They are the energy in the room. The impetus of progress. They simply need a smooth, conducive, surface from which, t…