Student Poetry 2: ‘Center’ by Kait

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins. My students and I are liking this one. Click to view source.

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins. My students and I are liking this one. Click to view source.

We’re reading Impulse by Ellen Hopkins, a novel written in free verse about 3 teenagers at a psychiatric hospital for trying to commit suicide.

I asked my students to write some of their own poetry, as if they were there with them. Here is one that Kait recently sent me. She has agreed to let me post it here.

centered in feeling so unbelievable
unbelievably small.
so here i am
here we all are
wanting, hurting
absolutely nothing
here i am wanting to feel pain
any, any, any sort of pain
to make me feel here, alive
in the center
getting centered in
just desperately wanting so much more.
so much more then this, then ever
confined in the center
of a world that is filled with colors, emotions, feelings
pain and hurts
i see grey, i feel nothing, i am nothing
and here you are
here i am
screaming loud and clear in this sound proof room
here we are in the center
centered in
feeling all sorts of different kinds
of nothing.

I’ve been asked to talk

So. I’ve been asked to talk. I don’t have a problem talking. My students would certainly back that one up, with an eye roll or two to boot. I’ve spoken in front of 100s of teachers. I’ve spoken at my sister’s wedding (made that speech up on the spot). I’ve spoken to small, intimate groups.
But I’ve never spoken at a funeral. I remember asking myself how they could do it without falling apart when witnessing others speak at the funerals of their loved ones. And here I am, about to do so myself.

My grandfather passed 2 days ago. He was in his 92nd year. His nineteenth with his present widow, and that after 3 months shy of 50 years with my grandmother. He was born in Poland but made it here as young child somewhere between the 2 world wars, luckily before his home town of Chelm was occupied by the Germans. We never did know his exact birthdate as pretty much everything in Chelm was destroyed during the war and his mother didn’t have the best memory. He grew up on the plateau in Montreal, where he spent much of his youth making a few extra dollars playing pool and he continued to play pool with ‘the boys’ until not too long ago. At one point when I was a kid my family got a pool table and I can clearly remember him saying, Tracy, come, let’s play a game. We’d go in the basement and I would stand there watching him break, then proceed to very calmly sink all of his balls. All the while with his cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth, the ash curling longer and longer. I never did get a shot, but he liked the company.

My grandfather was a tailor by trade and he owned a fektry (read factory), also on the plateau, where he made a line of woman’s sportswear. He was a great tailor, but didn’t really have an eye for design. When I was in elementary school I asked him to make me a pair of jeans. He did, right away. In a plasticky purple fabric. I was mortified but wore them to school the next day anyway. Don’t think I wore them again after that though.

As children my sister and I loved spending our weekends with Bubby and Zaide, much to my parents’ delight. We’d spend Saturday with them at their charcuterie in Le Cartier building on Peel and Sherbrooke in Montreal. We’d sit squished in the backroom with Monty, their Saint Bernard, eating candy and playing with old ledgers and calculators. Sunday I’d go get bagels with Zaidie while Bubby cooked up a mess of eggs and breakfast and then we’d go bowling. My Zaide Jack would chauffeur us around everywhere, he did whatever we wanted and especially whatever my Bubby wanted. All she had to do was call – Jacky… and he’d come running.

He would do the same for his 2nd wife, who he married within a year of my Bubby’s passing. He wanted to spend the winter with her at her condo in Florida, she didn’t want to live in sin, so they eloped. He had a happy 2nd life with her. Yesterday, when talking to the Rabbi, she said – he was a good man. In all of our time together we never had a fight. We had our disagreements and he would go in the other room to think. After a few minutes he’d come back and say, you’re right. He was a good man.

2 weeks ago we thought he had a stroke, which turned out to be seizures caused by a brain tumour. He was whisked from Florida to Montreal by air ambulance. He was in and out of consciousness for a week or so, then started getting stronger. They took out all of his tubes, thankfully granting him the humanity of no longer being tied down to save himself from ripping them out of where they needed to be. They had him standing up, even walking. He told a funny story or two. Monday morning he felt bad, at 4pm that same day he died.

My mother has asked me to talk at his funeral. I guess I’ll think some more about these stories and just talk about my Zaidie. I can’t imagine writing a speech.

Jeck (read Jack) Perelmutter Sometime in July, 1917 – February 16, 2009
He was a good man who lived a good life.

Carnival has almost left town

I am almost a week late with the 210th edition of the carnival of education. My life as of late has been rather…fantastic – in the fantastical sense. A glorious grab bag of illness – both personal and familiar –  and emotion. I’ve spent much of the past 3 weeks in emergency rooms and intensive care units. I’ve been off work for 3 weeks but returning this morning, which is a good thing since I organized a good bulk of my books by colour yesterday.

Can you say obsessive?

Can you say obsessive?

Though I’ve been going stir crazy for the past few days, a result of too much time at home and in my head, I could not spend more than a few minutes at a time in front of this computer. I apologize to all of you who wrote these wonderful blog posts and have been eagerly awaiting this last week’s carnival of education.

At this point, I want to get this carnival out there before the last carny truck has been packed up and is rolling on to the next town, so here are the posts! Organized solely by the date they hit my inbox, they are a mix of posts for the pre-pre-pre school to the university graduate covering all kinds of topics from the political to dealing with parents, to selecting schools. There are a few that might be considered our advertisements of the week and even one post about dating. I figured I’d include it in honour of Le Saint Valentin.


Tom DeRosa presents 52 Teachers, 52 Lessons: Week 4 posted at I Want to Teach Forever.

Andy Skinner presents The Problem With Monty Hall posted at Doomsday Labs AND Questions for Question Box posted at Doomsday Labs.

Shen-Li presents 5 Ways to Raise a Smart Kid | Babylicious posted at Babylicious.

ESN presents How to Get Straight A?s in College (with Minimal Effort) posted at Universities and Colleges.

Bogusia Gierus presents Subtractions and Decomposing Numbers | Nucleus Learning posted at Nucleus Learning.

Larry Ferlazzo presents The Best Places To Find Free (And Good) Lesson Plans On The Internet posted at Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day….

Matthew Ladner presents Munchausen by Proxyocracy posted at Jay P. Greene’s Blog.

Bill Ferris presents Getting grading done posted at Instructify.

Alvaro Fernandez presents Learning about Learning: an Interview with Joshua Waitzkin posted at SharpBrains.

Paul Cancellieri presents Nickel-Bee No More? posted at Scripted Spontaneity.

Super Saver presents Education is a Lifetime Endeavor posted at My Wealth Builder.

John presents Stamp Collecting – Introducing Philately to Kids and Free Stamps Giveaway posted at One Family’s Blog.

Graysen Walles presents Teachers, Teaching, Heroes, Sheroes, | The Teachers movement, teachers, teaching tools, teacher resources posted at The Teachers movement, teachers, teaching tools, teacher resources AND Teaching, Teachers, Teaching Career, Education Careers, Public School, Great Careers | The Teachers movement, teachers, teaching tools, teacher resources posted at The Teachers movement, teachers, teaching tools, teacher resources.

Kelly presents Stories from School: Practice meets Policy: Yes We Can posted at Stories from School: Practice meets Policy.

John Adams presents Public Speaking – Part 1: Introduction posted at Review the Facts.

mister teacher presents I’d like to use a life line posted at Learn Me Good.

Lisa Nicol presents Education Slashed in Stimulus Bill posted at Read It and Believe It.

Pat presents How Can I Help My Students Be Creative? posted at Successful Teaching.

Britannica Blog presents Impatience with Bad Teaching posted at Britannica Blog.

Bellringers (Carol Richtsmeier) presents YB Disasters, Smackdown Meltdown & Goat Heads posted at Bellringers.

Ian Sherwin presents How to Brief a Law School Case | posted at Ian Sherwin.

Donald presents A Simple Tip for Finding Good Ideas posted at Life Optimizer.

Batya presents Teaching English posted at me-ander.

Laureen presents Peace Through Breakfast posted at The Life Without School Community Blog.

Margaret Garcia presents Top 50 Blogs For Studying Africa posted at Online University Reviews.

Scott McLeod presents Dangerously Irrelevant: Parents are using online tools to push on schools posted at Dangerously Irrelevant.

Blogger John presents Reductions for Induction: New Teachers Take to the Hill posted at Stories from School: Practice meets Policy.

Soph presents Test Scores Provide Valuable Measure Of Success in D.C. posted at Homeschool & Education News.

OnlineCollege presents Walden, and 99 other Free Online Books posted at Online Universities and Colleges.

Bob O’Hara presents “You May Blame Aphrodite” posted at The Collegiate Way.

Hall Monitor presents Parents humiliate teen over grades posted at

Andrea presents Education Headlines Examiner: Colleges are failing to thrive in this economy posted at Education Headlines Examiner.

Nancy Flanagan presents National Standards: A Thought Experiment posted at Teacher in a Strange Land.

Dave Johnston presents It's the Teaching Stupid posted at Friends of Dave.

Joanne Jacobs presents To bus or not to bus posted at Joanne Jacobs.

Mathew Needleman presents Two Comprehension Resources posted at Creating Lifelong Learners.

Dave Saba presents No difference. posted at DoE- Dave on Ed.

Vicarious presents The Parents – Part 1 | posted at Dating In Islam.

And Joel submitted, via Twitter, SYWTT Celebrates Two Years – A Brief History (2007) .

She’s Just Like You

Insight from Alyssa, one of my grade 1o students, who has graciously granted me permission to include this here.

She’s Just Like You

We’re always going to have that one person, that we’re jealous of.
Because, they’re prettier than us.
They have more friends then us. Their parents let them drink.
They’re dating the captain of the hockey team.
She gets with every guy.

But what you don’t know is,
They’re pretty, cause they wear so much makeup. cause they’re scared without the makeup, they’re nothing but a face.
They have more friends then us, but most of their friends talk behind their back,
Their parents let them drink, cause they don’t care.
They’re dating the captain of the hockey team, cause they need the security of being popular.
She gets with every guy cause she needs to feel cared about.

This girl that you’re so jealous of…
is just like you.
She’s scared of what people think of her,
so she wears make-up to cover up the truth.
She wants to be accepted,
so she dates the captain of the hockey team,

She has so much going on, on the inside,
that she needs to make herself feel better by being perfect on the outside.
but the inside, needs more repairs.

Language Laws in Quebec’s Schools…time for a critical overhaul.

Student Ordered Out of English School
from the Montreal Gazette.

Nina Wozniak and son Kyle look over pertinent papers, including Kyle's Alberta birth certificate, in their N.D.G. home yesterday.

Nina Wozniak and son Kyle look over pertinent papers, including Kyle's Alberta birth certificate, in their N.D.G. home yesterday. Photograph by: DAVE SIDAWAY, THE GAZETTE, The Gazette. Click for Source.

Imagine knowing you have to send your child to school in a language that isn’t his mother tongue. Despite the fact that such a school is available. Despite the fact that part of the boy’s family, albeit extended, can legally attend the school. Despite the fact that he had difficulties in his French school but “is thriving” in his new English school.

Seems to me it may be time to take a look at Quebec’s language laws when it comes to schooling.

I believe that there are around 350 English public elementary and high schools in Quebec and each year we close more English schools. It’s obvious that the French language in Quebec holds strong now, the reason for the Charter of the French Language (Bill 101) in the first place.

We need to look beyond questions of language and focus on questions that bring us to the heart of learning. Our provincial curriculum places the learner at the centre of the educational process. How does this practice reflect that? How can we believe in a state-run education system that exists within a structure whose values do not jive?

Whoa. Disconnect.

Do you have similar disconnects in your education systems?