Pick it up

I’m sitting outside, barely able to see this laptop screen because of the bright and the sun, eating watermelon and sourdough bread, leftover from last night’s evening with friends, and listening to music. Words and phrases jump out at me when they can, behind the keening of the cicada on the tree, and confirm why I do what I do and how I feel at this time of year.

Time to move on build the skills Time to elevate and never stand still Time to excel with no time to kill Time for progress it’s time to build – (The Herbaliser, Time 2 Build)

Get up! What we slowin down for? Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up! We got a whole nation to restore Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up! We gotta really love each other more (KRS-One Pick It Up)

So this is it. The last Sunday before 4 PED days, the 2nd to last Sunday before kids. Back in June I reflected (or (p)reflected as I like to call it ;) ) a bit about the year to come. I’m excited that I was offered the position I wanted, as a teacher in the alternative program at HSB called Directions (I spoke a bit about that here.) I am a grade 11 core teacher. I found out on Wednesday what that means: I will be teaching English, Math (not sure yet if that is grade 11 math OR Grade 10 math or both), Grade 10 repeater science, Economics, Ethics and Religious culture, and possibly civics. All of that layered within social skills and personal development curricula. Luckily I’ll be working with a tight teaching team – 3 teachers and a special ed technician – in a wing of the school that is quite separate from everything else. As are the students – they wear a uniform (their decision, no one else at the school does – outside of the jeans that don’t cover their butts and the caps that inspire teachers to mutter, mid-sentence, caps please, as they walk down the halls) and they are not allowed in the regular school environment. These are students with troubles, and the idea is to keep them away from the environment where much of that trouble has played out in the past. I am psyched about working in this community. I’m also a bit wary of the challenges that I know are to come when working with needy students and teaching subjects I have never taught before. I can’t say I am not, but like everything else – if it needs to get done it needs to get done and it does.

“…the only way to get a thing done is to start to do it, then keep on doing it, and finally you’ll finish it,….” Langston Hughes

I always find this time of year…ambiguous and full of possibility. Logically, I know the courses I will be teaching, but in my heart, until I know my students, I don’t. So 10 more days of ambiguity…and then it’ll be time to pick it up for real.

…home page image for this post was found here

Introducing TracyRosen.com

aka (sound) tracking it.

I wanted a place to write about all that other stuff, the stuff that isn’t directly about teaching but definitely figures in to the background of my teaching self.

Music, videos, film, current events, stuff that makes me go ahhhhhhhh.

There you go. Click the image to go see.

What it takes.

To help others to make a better world is healing.” Harley Wylie (Huu-ay-aht First Nation and American in ancestry. His mother went to a residential school in Port Alberni where she was regularly beaten for speaking her Native language. from Straight.com After the Settlement Comes Healing, Closure by Carlo Pablito)

Male fireflies flashing in unison, from The Millenium Bridge Simulator Project of the University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering (2000)

Male fireflies flashing in unison, from The Millenium Bridge Simulator Project of the University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering (2000)

I just commented on Jose’s rich post What Will It Take? and my comment or, rather, the feelings that were stirred in writing it, are rising in me.

Cynicism poisons my motivation for change. I know this about myself so I purposefully disallow it. I shake it off when I feel it coming. I have to. Some have called me a blind optimist and I’ve become comfortable in that. I refuse to allow any part of me to believe that something I see as necessary won’t happen. I think that is why I became a teacher… “Teaching is the greatest act of optimism. ” (Colleen Wilcox)

George Carlin also said “And then there are the times when the wolves are silent and the moon is howling.” The challenge is to maintain hope and positive energy until it is our time to howl again.

As I prepare myself for a new school year – one that is certain to be rife with challenge – I am paying attention to what I read, what I listen to, what I feel, what I add my voice to.

I’m filled with struggle and hope. I am deeply cut by how we can treat each other.

In June I wrote about the pride I felt for the Canadian government’s apology to residential school survivors and families of survivors. I felt it was a step toward a positive future. I still feel that way, though differently. I am confused about this apology. I hear accounts of healing, I also hear accounts that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a sham, a tool wielded by the Government and the United Church to ensure that the truth never really does come out. That the Aboriginal leaders involved in the commission and the acceptance of the apology are working in tandem with the Government and the Church for these secretive and shameful ends. That the apology comes from a misguided place. That until genocide is acknowledged it means nothing. That there are mass graves of children across Canada. That those (i.e. Kevin Annett) who try to point out these facts are lying or crazed.

When I look to the centre of my confusion around this history – and the agonizing, wretched, ripping and at the same time damming effects that continue to resonate in our rivers and hearts – and dredge out my feelings I find myself focusing on the people and the acts that represent hope. On the healing journeys. I believe that by focusing on hope for the future we have it. And we will see more of it. This is how I am preparing myself for the new year.

Recently I asked readers, ‘What are you looking for?’ and Michael Doyle (go read the post I linked to with his name. do it. he’s awesome) created a strong image in response

I am not sure I can answer this question directly, but I will tell you that I am closer to it when I am sitting at a pond’s edge at dusk watching lightning bugs attracted to their own reflected light than when I am in my cortex, trying to approach this rationally.

I am attracted to your light. That’s what it takes.

Taking Action

I added a new plugin to Leading from the Heart this morning – ‘Possibly Related Classroom Projects’.

This plugin checks out the keywords of a post and matches them with keywords from classroom projects that need your help from donerschoose.org. It then includes links to those projects at the end of the post.

I initially saw this plugin at work on Clay’s blog, Beyond School, and then saw it again on Social Actions, a network I recently joined (It’s founder, Peter Deitz, is a fellow Montrealer – shout OUT!).

Not believing in coincidences, I knew it was time to check it out further. So here you go. Teachers have great ideas to help children learn and a passion for making them come alive – and can always use help with that. No doubt.

So this is my way of spreading the news about teachers who could use a helping hand. Check out the links below my posts. Who knows, maybe you can help out.

I have an idea brewing for my own use of both networks. Jim Murphy of Wounded Knee Skateboards and I have been plotting all summer to join forces in getting my students involved in raising awareness about aboriginal situations. Some of my students are Mohawk and involved in skateboard culture, so it’s my entry point for them to explore personal and community history. Still at the plotting stages, I’ll definitely be keeping you all posted as it unfolds and, if needed, we will be tapping community resources via Social Actions and Doners Choose.

Click on the board to see the board designs at Wounded Knee Skateboards

Keep an eye on us – we intend to be shaking em up, waking em up…

Ethics or (doing what we do)

Up at the top of this blog has appeared a new little grey box. Right there, next to Home. See it? Today I’m going to introduce you to it – readers, meet ‘Ethics’. Mine.

I’ve been thinking about all of these words I’ve put into this blog, into my comments on other people’s blogs, about which blogs I read and return to again, and again, and again.

What inspires all of this? What am I looking for?

Hope for the future. That’s what it is all about for me.
When I meet/see/do/participate/read/write about actions and people who care for each other as people, who help each other be our best selves – who show each other how we can care for each other.

Who don’t put up with the opposite.
Who stand by their beliefs no matter what.
Who write about them, talk about them
live them.
(caring is biological)

It gives me hope for a future with more caring than we have now.
It gives me hope that our children can learn a curriculum of humanity before and behind any other.

Words are powerful things for me. Once said or read they resonate in me. So I prefer to read and say ones that push toward our best selves. Our ever changing best selves.

Where do I look for them?
Everywhere I can. Lately that is

a new place for me, Here.

So I adapted and absorbed and hold before you my statement on ethics. Read my blog, participate, come visit my classroom (for real) to see more. Read the links above and in my blogroll to see even more.

And answer me this question to help me to understand more:

What are you looking for?

morning hug