Thursday, March 26, 2020

Happy Birthday, Robert Frost

Tree At My Window
by Robert Frost

Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.

Vague dream head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound.

But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.

That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.

The picture above is not the tree at my window, but it is the first tree I've seen in full bloom this spring. I wish you could have been there to see the cloud of bees buzzing hungrily amongst the blossoms. 

There was a crabapple tree outside my window growing up, and I memorized "Tree at My Window" in high school as a tribute to her. I need to re-memorize it. Maybe this could be my new hand-washing poem. I've been using "Loveliest of Trees the Cherry Now" and "Barter." My "playlist" could use some variety. 

My real reason for sharing this poem is that today is Robert Frost's birthday. And amazingly, though I've shared MANY of my Robert Frost favorites over the years (some, multiple times), I've never shared this one. It was the phrase "outside my window" in this Incidental Comics that reminded me of "Tree at My Window." (The comic also made tears spring to my eyes and his comments about the comic validated my NPM theme...more on that later.) Robert Frost's poems are wise and timeless. Here's to the all the best we humans have and will make, and here's to the things upon which we can rely, like Spring and Poetry Friday. Tabatha has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at The Opposite of Indifference.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

What It Means to Be a Teacher Today

So 2 weeks ago, I did a talk titled, "What Does It Mean to be a Literacy Teacher Today."  I focused on digital tools and all that was possible for our children. Then this pandemic arrived and our governor closed schools.  I can't put into words what it means to be a teacher today, but I saw three things that put into words all that I've been feeling.

First this, at Her View from Home, a piece that I've read over and over. Dear Students, We Didn't Even Get to Say Goodbye.

And then I saw this thread from Jessica Kirkland.  Read the whole thread and then follow her because she has lots of good posts during this time. I've been reading these words over and over again.

And then this (I can't find the link but this says so much.  I've always been proud and humbled to be part of this group we call teachers. And this....this is what we do.

I'm so happy to be part of so many incredible teaching communities as we figure this out together and take care of our kids and each other during this very difficult time.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Poetry Friday -- That Unexpected Something

Photo via Unsplash

Not silence, but close:
No noise wafts from the freeway
Just the trees dripping

©Mary Lee Hahn

Ron Padgett has a poem, "Advice to Young Writers." In it, he advises writers to "find/that unexpected something..." 

When I think back on the day today, my unexpected something has to be the silence this morning as I walked in the dark. Usually, I can hear traffic on the nearby freeway. Not today. Usually, there are lots of cars on the street -- early birds heading to work. Not today. Today, the unexpected extraordinary thing was the silence. All I could hear were the trees dripping from yesterday's delugenous (my invented word) rains.

Be sure to follow the link to Padgett's poem. You'll see that he's got more to say on the subject, and the ending might make you snort, so put your tea down.

Michelle Kogan has the First Full Day of Spring Poetry Friday Roundup today. No matter what, Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Ways I'm Staying Sane

photo via Unsplash

1. Schedule
After 3 hours of school work, I take a break for Creative Time (write, sketch, paint, bake), a non-working half-hour lunch, and a half-hour for chores around the house. After 2 more hours of school work, I break for an hour of reading and an hour outdoors.

2. Exercise
Every morning I exercise (strength and stretching or strength and walking). Every time I get up out of my chair, I also go up and down the basement stairs three times.

3. Chocolate
One piece every morning -- Ghirardelli, Lindt, Dove, or Whole Foods' 365 Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Minis.

Moderation, pacing, and patience.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


photo via Unsplash

In the course of a day, I rollercoaster from "this is scary/unnerving/overwhelming" to "this is such an exciting opportunity!" Over and over again. 

I'm doing my best to enjoy the ride and stay focused on the exciting opportunity we have ahead of us. This post by Seth Godin gives me hope that some of the changes in the way we "do school" can be lasting and positive. Here's the bit I like the most from his column:
"If you want to do a lecture, do a lecture, but that’s prize-based education, not real learning. If people simply wanted to learn what you were teaching, they wouldn’t have had to wait for your lecture (or pay for it). They could have looked it up online. 
But if you want to create transformative online learning, then allow people to learn together with each other. 
Connect them. 
Create conversations."
I brought home a few things from my desk to set out on a corner of the kitchen table. Each of these items has a person and a story behind them that will help keep me grounded. The poem by Wendell Berry has never felt so spot-on.

Now it's time to plan for some connections and conversations. Now I get down to the real work of making this "impeded stream" sing.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Importance of Community

photo via Unsplash
Yesterday we did our regular weekly grocery shopping. At the big national chain store, there was ample evidence of panic buying and stockpiling. Nearly every aisle had empty shelves and shoppers kept their heads down and their eyes on their lists or their phones.

Contrast that with the experience at our small, local, independent grocery store. People were acting like they live in a community: folks were taking what they needed and leaving enough for others. People were smiling and chatting with neighbors and with the clerks we all know so well.

Never downplay the importance of community.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Things That Matter

photo via Unsplash

I saw a tweet this morning encouraging us all to be historians -- open our notebooks and capture these times on paper in a format most likely to be "pass down-able." We should record our responses, our feelings, our points of view. I'm going to do that, AND I'm going to log bits of the journey with distance learning here as well. I started with my (very rough) poem, which was written Thursday and shared yesterday.

Here are some thoughts from the last day of face-to-face learning yesterday:

More than anything, my students crave the assurance that some semblance of our routines will continue. Will we have read aloud? Yes! I can do that with Screencastify. Will we do Poetry Friday? Yes! We can find poems online (especially at The Poem Farm) and share them with Flipgrid. Will we have morning announcements (my Social Justice Club wrote the features for Women's History Month)? Yes! I have access to the doc with the Women's History features and I can share them with Screencastify or FlipGrid. Word of the Day? Yes! Birthday ritual (singing in 7 languages) for the two who will have birthdays? Yes!

On Monday, we will receive direction from Central Office and begin working on the nuts and bolts of how to make Distance Learning happen. No matter what, I'll work to keep our routines intact.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Poetry Friday -- Uncertainty

photo via Unsplash

Twenty Questions in Three Voices With No Answers

Can I sleep in every day?
Can I play video games all day?
Who will take care of me?

How will I feed my children?
Who will care for them?
What if I lose my job?

Who will feed and care for my students?
How will we fill this gap in their learning?
How can we help?

Why are they taking away all the fun things?
How come we can't have our carnival?
Why is this happening?

How will I feed my children?
Who will care for them?
What if I lose my job?

How will we fill this gap in their learning?
Will testing season be cancelled?
How can we help?
How can we help?
How can we help?

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2020

At this point, I know as much as you do. Ohio schools are closed for three weeks starting Monday. It will be relatively easy for me -- no child care, internet access, lots of books to read, a garden to tend, a sorely neglected house to clean, art supplies, writer's notebook, April Poetry Month project to concoct. But for our families...

There's nothing we can do right now except wait and see. Will we be required to provide distance learning? Will our students have the support to do any of the activities we send home? How will our free/reduced lunch children be fed? How can we help?

I've missed the Poetry Friday community for the past few weeks. I cleared the last of my big hurdles this week with the publishing of the Casting for Recovery Ohio online auction. Check it out and bid, if you're so moved!

This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. Thanks, Matt! And good luck with Madness!Poetry.